Threading The Needle, Part II


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Scene Title Threading the Needle, Part II
Synopsis Kain Zarek leads a team to rescue Michelle and Magnes while a battle rages through the ark.
Date January 12, 2019

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

The Commonwealth Arcology lay in ruins. Fighting has spilled down through B-Ring and its research levels up into the residential ring above. The distant thump of explosions send debris rattling from the ceiling. Smoke hangs like ground-fog over the water-stained white-tiled floor, and bullet holes pockmark the once sterile, now rust-streaked walls of each corridor.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

For one extraction team within the arcology, their mission has not been an easy one. While security within the arcology has been low, thanks to the interference of a team in the A-Ring promenade, getting to this point wasn't simple.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

"Bingo." Sidling up to the metal door at the end of the hall, Kain Zarek slides off his faded, pink Hello Kitty backpack and sets it down at his feet, turning to look back at Magnes with furrowed brows. The Cajun gives a thumbs up and raps twice on the door.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

"Ollie Ollie oxenfree," Kain says before reaching to the lever to the door, pushing it with his shoulder against the strain of rusty hinges, "your chariot awaits, Ms. Cardinal."

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

But there is just darkness beyond the door. Kain's brows furrow, jaw set, blue eyes wide as he shines a flashlight inside.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

"Oh shit."

Thirty Minutes Earlier

Maintenance Corridor B-12


Okay kids, ya'll know the drill.

A metal vent pops out with a kick, falling into a rusting maintenance shaft barely wide enough for a shot for person but twice as tall as necessary. Exposed and worn electrical conduits spark and sputter threateningly.

Ah'm gonna start us off, get in the maintenance hatch.

Kain Zarek slips through the open vent from the hallway, pulling himself up from his back and then dragging a dirty and battered pink Hello Kitty backpack in behind him. He unzips the top and pulls out a pair of wire cutters, a roll of duct tape, and a flashlight that he turns on and holds in his mouth.

Gonna patch in a radio switch to the light controls.

Quickly, Kain begins prying open the power conduits, tapping in to them with a kit from his bag and attaching a black box spilling with additional wiring. From the side, he extends a receiver antenna. Then, carefully, he begins duct taping the device to the wall beside the conduit.

Then its a waitin' game.

As a green light flashes on the box, Kain packs away his tools and takes out a small, handheld radio and turns back toward the vents, scrambling as fast as he can.

But just 'cause it's a watin' game doesn't mean the rest a' you get twiddle your thumbs.

Ling has been studying the guards throughout the day. Watching them, listening to them; even without her smoke form to help her slip through vents and cracks she's always been good at staying out of sight. She used to make a job out of watching people and listening into their conversation so she knew how to best out maneuver them in the business environments she had thrived in before coming to America.

Smokey, see if you can grab us one a'those keycards the guard carry 'round.

She watches as one guard passes by where she leans against the door frame to one of the A-Ring's anxillary rooms. It's not until she sees one young man with shaggy brown hair come rounding around the corner that she pushes up from where she stands, and with a feigned look of exasperation, starts down the hallway in his direction.

Now, Ah know you're good at not gettin' caught an' all, but we're at a bit of a disadvantage here, so be real good about not gettin' caught.

Eyes cast down at the floor, she tracks her movements very carefully; she tracks his even more carefully. Enough that when he stops to move out of her way, she keeps going. There's a several ways she could've done this that didn't involve something as cliche as colliding in to him, but after observing how this one guard in particular seemed to be a bit more out of it than the others… sometimes the simplest route is the best route.

Put to work those skills y'said you honed before ya' started working at Rapture, an' after everything went to the shithouse back home.

As she impacts into him, there's a sort of dance. Her moved planned, his impromptu. He curses as her weight falls into them. The narrowly avoid being a tangled heap of limbs on the floor, Ling bracing self against him as he tries to not backpedal so much he tumbles backwards. Her fingers move quick, dropping her red tinted glasses and pair of pens deliberately in the process to cover the sound of her unclasping the card from the guard's waist band.

Once you've got it, get it where it needs t’be and get into place. Hopefully by the time anyone notices, yer gone.

The card is slipped up the long sleeves of her shirt as she bends over to collect her things. He chides her; she doesn't pay attention, she just offers a half hearted apology to make it seem like it was an accident. The glasses are slid back up to her face, her impression unamused as she pulls herself back up to her face. She's fine, she assures him, and continues on her way, quick to get out of sight as quickly as possible.

She has a card to deliver.

Next up, it’s you Pipsqueak.

"Oo hoo hoo," Namiko says in a laugh as she opens a door into an old administrator's office. It isn't the desk and abandoned paperwork that have her excited, though. It's the radio equipment in the corner. "Oh, please still work, please still work," she says to herself as she shuts the door behind her and barricades it with the desk and chairs. She gives up on the filing cabinet— it won't budge. And, in any case, there's a PA system calling her name.

Shaw says he saw a sub administrator office on B-Ring. Abandoned.

When she comes over to flip switches— nothing happens. She looks up at the ceiling, letting out a frustrated sigh. Flipping everything back off, she follows wires in the guts of the machine, futzing and fiddling until the switches give her what she wants to hear.

Power’s still goin’ to it, though. You get through the lock on it, and… y’know.

A screeching moment of feedback over the loudspeakers.

"Ow," she says, rubbing her ear before she grabs the microphone and kicks her feet up onto the table.

Be bait.

"Hellooooooo Arcology!"

She figures the guard will figure out her location eventually, but in the meantime…

"This is Namiko on the mic, rocking what's left of the eastern seaboard. Today you all get a real treat— a live concert from Yours Truly dedicated to all those die hard Kenner fans out there. I hope you're not attached to your socks, because I'm about to knock them right off!"

With any luck them goons of Kenner’ll come runnin’.

A pause. Namiko glances toward the door, taking a moment to worry about the fact that the guards have guns and she doesn't. But her attention turns back to the mic and she hops up to her feet. To sing over the Arcology broadcast system.

"Tonight I'm gonna have myself a real good time, I feel alive and the world is turning inside out, yeah, and floating around in ecstasy, so don't stop me now."

They'll get the message, she's pretty sure.

An’ that’s where you come in, Smiles.

Silas lays on his front in a vent; in front of him sits a coil of insulated heavy cable, the last several inches of it scraped bare. Beside him, the back end of the cable connects into a small box with a simple light switch attached, currently set in the 'off' position, and from the back end of that, another cable snakes off all the way back through the vents and into another maintenance shaft, where it's spliced into a power cable carrying enough juice to do the job.

Like Ah’ said, there’s power in all th’ old conduits. Yer’ resourceful.

He's far enough back he isn't likely to be spotted from out in the corridor; the tradeoff for that is that he can't really see out there that well, either, but given that they have guns and he doesn't, that seems like a fair trade. He can hear well enough, though. He can hear, for example, what he's pretty sure are Namiko's footsteps as she comes down the hallway towards the old administration office… and what he's quite sure is her giggling as she opens the door. He hears something else, too — the steady patter of water from the pipe fittings he's loosened, trickling down from the ceiling tiles and forming a nice puddle on the floor below. He'd scattered some salt over the floor, too, just to make extra sure that the puddle was nice and conductive; the contaminants the water picked up from the ceiling (and the floor) probably would've been enough, but he'd seen no reason not to go the extra mile when the kitchen had such an ample supply of salt anyway.

Because what we need is a trap.

And now, as Kain said, it's a waiting game. He's fine with that; his part of the job isn't something he's looking forward to.

When the security team begins to converge on Namiko’s location, rifles in hand, plastic visors lowered, handcuffs jingling at their belts, they’re unaware of the situation they’ve found themselves in. When the lights cut out as they’re coming down the hall, their progress slows, flashlights cut through the dark, masking the presence of exposed wires in the mirror still water that too-brightly reflects the flashlight’s illumination. They’re expecting to confront a riot within the ark, an uprising by Michelle’s loyalists. When they enter a flooded portion of a hallway, when Silas grounds the power conduit on a coupling and sends the charge through, they aren’t fighting a battle with twelve insurgents.

They’ve fighting twelve thousand volts of electricity.

Screams erupt from the hallway, echo down long and winding corridors. A smoking smell of burned hair, charred flesh, and melted plastic fills the air in the hallway the security team perishes in. As their convulsing bodies collapse into the briny water, each member of the extraction team understands that the major obstacle in their path.

Once the deed’s done, we meet back up at Magnes’ cell.


Detention Cell B-8

It’s been a few minutes since the lights out in the hall flickered, creating dancing shadows under the cell door. Less since screams erupted through B-Ring, horrified and agonized screams of dying men. The sound of people gathering outside of Magnes’ penthouse style cell comes just a few moments before the keycard reader emits a soft chirp and the magnetic lock releases. The door pops open, out into the hall, and silhouette by erratically flickering lights, a tall figure steps into Magnes’ cell.

Hey,” Kain Zarek says, tossing Magnes’ backpack security had taken from him when they first arrived back to him. “Rescue party’s here, Princess. Let’s get th’ hell outta’ here before they throw us in th’ trash compactor.”

Magnes was standing there, waiting, because something was going to happen.

He catches the backpack and immediately starts heading for the door. Being negated multiple times over the years has prepared him. He might not be at his best, but he's at least not as completely helpless as the first few times he experienced negation. In part from regularly working out and trying to keep some measure of muscle built up for times like these. "We have to get Michelle. It's going to be tricky."

Sliding his backpack on, he slips out of the door beyond Kain, looking left and right. "She's under heavy sedation. They move her around to different storage rooms all over B-Ring. Actually finding her might be tricky."

He shrugs a bit helplessly. "I don't suppose we have any idea how many storage rooms there are down here? It might help to capture a guard. Or, well… I don't suppose you've seen West Rosen?"

Rolling her eyes at both Magnes and Kain, Ling folds her arms and looks around the surrounding area. "You have bigger things to worry about than West," she states rather flatly. "A guard might be a good place to start," she adds with a bit of reluctance. "I would doubt all of them know where she is at any time. Because if it were that easy, I highly doubt we would be standing here right now."

There's a moment of pause, before she glances over at Kain. "Trash compactor? Surely they could not fit a person into one anyway," spoke like a woman who has never seen Star Wars. "At any rate, I doubt it'll be long before some knows to come looking for you. Whatever we are going to do, we should hurry,"

"West is working with Michelle." Magnes quickly interjects.

"Whoa, check out these digs," Namiko says when they get a peek into Magnes' cell, "He's been sleeping prettier than me, that's for damn sure. I'm insulted."

She's not really insulted. The others have already learned that she chatters when she's nervous, filling empty space with any and every word she can think of. Magnes will learn, too, no doubt.

"I'm sort of a celebrity, you know? I mean, obviously the people down here don't know. Shame, really. I could have had a real pillow, maybe." It's likely that she did have a real pillow, but the real problem is that it wasn't her pillow in her room— a problem that isn't going away any time soon.

"So, what? We lure a guard in and like, put him to the screws? Or do we put the screws to him? Kain, do we even have any screws?"

Silas tries to stifle his snicker when Kain reveals Magnes's nickname, but he doesn't entirely succeed. His smirk widens at Kain's trash compactor reference… though it fades quickly when Ling misses it entirely. He glances to Ling in disbelief, then to Kain; Silas had never really been a huge movie fan, but even he'd seen Star Wars.

Sadly, Magnes's revelations forestall any chance of following up on this newly discovered pop-cultural deficiency among their ranks; there isn't even time for him to banter with Namiko, which is a shame, because Silas would find that a lot more pleasant than the work at hand.

The thought that Rosen was working with Cardinal puts an unpleasant expression on his face… but it also explains why Rosen had let slip with that little tidbit about the banquet shootings being pre-planned. "I'll try to play nice with Rosen, then, if we run into him," Silas comments flatly.

The knowledge that Rosen is apparently in cahoots with Cardinal still doesn't help much when it comes to actually finding her, though. "Hrm. If I'da thought we'd have needed to pick someone's brains, I'd have tried to save some leftovers from the barbecue," he says, grimacing. "I don't think we have enough time to reset the trap, though…" he muses.

Silas looks to Namiko. "I don't think we're gonna be able to do much to lure just ONE guard at a time, either. Not after we stirred em all up," he says, frowning. "Way I see it, we can either knock on doors until we get lucky, or we can maybe do some vent crawling and try to scout first. My luck's never been that good, but if we're on a timetable…" he trails off, glancing to Kain.

Kain grimaces, teeth pressed together in a gnash of uncertainty. “Why's there always a fuckin’ complic— ”

A burst of light explodes into the hall, swirling like a tornado of luminous threads before solidifying into the shape of a short blonde woman in a mechanic’s jumpsuit with the sleeves rolled up. “Hey ding-dongs,” she says with a flick of a smile, both hands raised in a I come in peace gesture.

The tag on her ill-fitting jumpsuit reads M. RUIZ but that seems highly unlikely.

“Overheard your chatter in the vents, they've got her in a maintenance closet twelve doors down.” The blonde flicks a look to Kain, then Magnes. “Ria, by the way. Cardinal.” She snaps her fingers and creates a spark of light between them. “Welcome to the coup.”

Kain, flabbergasted by Ria’s arrival, stares at her with vacant uncertainty. “Wait a minute— if you can just laser fly or whatever th’ fuck that was why’re we pulling Grand Theft Varlane!?”

“Babe.” Ria’s brows furrow. “Who do you think took care of the other sixteen guards that went to get reinforcements?” Her smile grows and she very intentionally flicks her hair out of her face. “C’mon, walk and talk.”

"Ria Cardinal? So… you're Cardinal's sister or something?" Magnes asks while simultaneously beginning to walk toward their newly chosen destination.

He crouches down for a moment, grabbing a solid metal pipe, then nods to the others. "If you see anyone, ask if they're with Michelle. If they don't give an answer you like, hit them with something. If they have a gun, don't ask any questions to begin with, but you all know the drill. This isn't our first prison break."

The look Ling gives Ria is one of utter and pure suspicion. "Ria Cardinal the sister to a Cardinal? Colour me shoc-" And then she stops abruptly, as she begins to process something for the first time. She stares at the other woman for a moment, before her gaze slides over to Kain. "Do you think she's related to Richard?"

This is what she gets for not, at least on occasion, listening to Magnes.

But with that she chuckles. "You do not know the half of it, Magnes. Kain, I dare say they may be our forte at this point." Because something has to be. "A good start, would be to not just stand here. Let's go."

"Um," Namiko says from behind Silas. She leans out, lifting a hand, "It actually is my first prison break." Her tone is apologetic, her smile sheepish. But she can walk and talk. "Why is she in a closet? Why is she sedated? I've seen movies, that's not normal." She follows after Ria, stepping faster to catch up with her. "Have you seen our friends? Are they okay? My family's out fighting. We haven't been able to communicate with the others." She does her best to sound calm about it, but there's a jitter in her hands and a sharpness to her steps.

Silas eyes the blonde with a raised eyebrow; when she claims sixteen kills, Silas's other eyebrow goes up as well. I like her, he decides, moving to follow along behind. He narrows his eyes a bit at Magnes when he starts speaking, but so far nothing he's said is actually technically bad advice, so Silas keeps his bile to himself in turn.

Namiko, for all that it's her first prison break, has got some good questions. "Sounds to me like Don's afraid of her and thought just keepin' her locked up wouldn't be enough. But maybe he still needs her for somethin', which is why he hasn't actually executed her yet," Silas muses aloud.

Ria doesn't so much walk with the others as she does flicker like a poorly spliced film reel. Between her appearances, she's living ribbons of bright and crackling light that moves so fast it makes her “hops” appear instantaneous.

“Bingo,” Ria says as she appears next to Silas with an arm around his shoulders, “he's been keeping her alive because she's the only one — up until your boy Magnes here — who knew a damn thing about how the Looking Glass worked. Don’s really protective of it.”

Ria explodes into a blast of light and reforms beside Namiko. “Most everyone headed down to the hangar, a few folks are going for the sub,” she walks backwards a few paces in front of Namiko, “dunno who your parents are, kid, but I'll do whatever I can t’make sure you're all ok.” She flicks a look over to Magnes, then explodes into light and reforms next to him.

As Ria is sipping around, Kain finally mumbles a response to Ling. “She's as mouthy as Dickie. Just a little more hyperactive.” Squinting, Kain seems uncertain. “He never mentioned a sister.”

“Magnes,” Ria says with a little tap to his shoulder, “sorry I'm just circling back to this but— you said West Rosen is… working with my mother?” There's a distasteful expression on her face as she tenses, looking down to the floor and then to further down the hall in the direction they're headed. “Fantastic. That's fantastic. Awesome. Yep. Great.”

Exploding into a blast of light again, Ria moves ahead of the others and offers a nervous look to them all, then flash-snap-crackles ahead toward the end of the hall where she stops beside a shut door. Pointing her hand at it like a finger-gun, she clicks back the hammer of her thumb and there’s a snap-flash of white light that blasts through the door, which slowly swings open. Ria looks back down the hall to the others, turning away from the door. “We’re almost th— ”

The roar of automatic gunfire cuts Rianna off. She's struck, at least once, but then flicker-snaps away in a blast of light up into one of the ceiling vents. “This way!” Someone shouts, as four Ark security officers come spilling out of the doorway, reloading as they move. “Fire at will!”

Situations like this are always tricky. Disarming someone with an automatic weapon is usually a measure of so difficult that he normally wouldn't even try, but in those split seconds Rianna is shot at, Magnes immediately grabs the man's weapon while it isn't aimed at him, and simultaneously slams the entire weight of his foot forward into the guard's knee, trying to snap it backwards.

Very few people prioritize holding their weapon when their knee gets snapped in half. That's the general akido school of thought, according to Steven Seagal.

"Come on!" He uses the moment they're reloading to start trying to fall back while using suppressive fire, not insane enough to try to take four armed men without his ability. "Ria, use the pipe!"

If anyone can use this distraction to beat the shit out of four armed guards with the pipe he dropped, it's probably Ria, so he makes the calculated move of ceasing fire the moment he calls her name.

What a time to be negated. As gunfire suddenly rips through the way forward, Ling is only able to afford a moment's thought to the predicament offered by being negated. She skids a stop and almost scampers backwards, reaching to grab Kain by the arm as she makes a move for cover. "Seems she's about as thorough as Richard too," is Ling's contribution to their continued musings, looking around for anything she can make use of as a weapon.

When Magnes tells Ria to use a pipe, Ling's eyes widen, looking around for any sort of environmental debris she can make use of the moment. It's not that she can't fight without her ability - she's certainly had to before. She's just not particularly fond of not having all of her advantages.

"They'll be headed for the hanger." Namiko doesn't exactly look relieved, but having someone trying to get them all where they're going helps and she gives Ria a nod.

And then she ducks some gunfire. Her cover happens to be Silas first, before she dives for something less fleshy. She doesn't look around for a weapon, she just covers her ears— she's not used to the sound of guns at all, let alone in lonely hallways. She doesn't so much as peek out, she just squeezes her eyes closed and hopes.

When Ria pops into being with one arm around his shoulders, Silas is at first surprised. On the other hand, at least this is a nice surprise. He turns his head slightly towards her, one eyebrow raised, a hint of a mischievous grin curling the corners of his lips upwards.

Then she's off again, flickering from place to place with a speed that even Miles would probably envy; 'laser-flight', indeed. For a few moments, things seem to be looking up.

That, of course, is when the goonsquad jumps out at them, guns blazing. He sees Ria jerk as at least one bullet strikes home… but apparently it wasn't a fatal hit, as she's okay enough to be able to laser-fly out. He sees Magnes make his move, and as far as balls-out risky moves go he has to admit it's a good one, but he doesn't have time to stand still and watch; instead he scrambles back, trying to find some kind of cover. "Move, move!" he calls to Namiko, encouraging her to do likewise as Magnes lays down fire.

He hears Magnes encouraging Ria to use the pipe, and thinks frantically; if the goonsquad pursues, Ria would be able to drop from above and nail at least one of them, assuming her wounds aren't too bad… and if she does drop one of em, it's possible she might try to slide a gun their way. Silas would certainly appreciate that; he'd rather have his ability back, but a working gun would at least be a sizeable step up from where he's at right now.

Magnes’ ambush on the guard catches him by surprise, and the quick-footed and stronger man wins out by disarming the gun and sending the security officer crumpling to the ground. A burst of gunfire catches the guard who’d been kicked to the ground and he drops motionless with a jerk. The other four scatter, pinned in the same hall that they'd hoped to pin their targets down in.

Ria appears beside Silas rather than anywhere near the pipe, clutching her side and letting out a keening grunt of pain. Her knees buckle and she drops down beside him, one hand grasping at his sleeve. She's bleeding badly.

Ling is caught between doors she could use for cover and a wide stretch of open hallway. Namiko has the same idea, somewhere behind Ling, propping open a door and ducking behind it. But Ling—

Is shot four times.

In the chest.

Bullets pass through her with almost no resistance, ricocheting off of the wall beside her. “Ling!” Kain screams as he lunges forward toward her from out of cover, only to stop when he doesn't see her drop. In fact, she doesn't seem hurt at all.

Thin wisps of smoke twist up from where the bullets harmlessly passed through her and she realizes something outstanding at the same moment Magnes begins to feel a prickling sensation in his extremities like a sleeping limb waking up.

They've got their powers back.

As Magnes feels his ability return, it's much like regaining access to a muscle he'd been straining to its very limit recently. One he's become significantly more familiar with using in ways he'd never imagined, but also, one he's been learning not to overextend more than is really necessary, especially in times where he might need it in the journey back home.

He fires what few rounds he has left while moving toward the guards this time, trying to give the others a chance to move forward as well. "Move in, now!"

Once his gun is out of ammo, he tosses it to the side and immediately focuses on making the guns of the other guards far too heavy for them to actually lift or really continue holding.

When they're effectively disarmed, he shifts into an outright run, reaching down to grab the pipe he dropped, then quickly tosses it towards one of their heads. The weight is increased, the course is corrected by the manipulation of gravitational fields, and soon it's mercifully entirely gone through the man's head like a massive bullet. "Two more!"

Ling's lips curl up in an malicious grin as she feels her ability returning, whisps of smoke beginning to fill the air around her. She looks back at the remaining guards as Magnes steps forward to take care of them, her body becoming hazier and hazier with each moment. "Oops," is intoned in a light, mockingly and airy sound as she looks back at the wall where the bullets hit, and then back at them.

In an explosion of smoke and fury, the cloud of blackness that composes Ling surges forward, between the the two of them, reforming into solidity enough to snatch up a knife from one's belt - which is immediately slammed into the other's chest. An elbow is thrown at the one still standing, before once more she is nothing but smoke.

Namiko jumps when Ling is shot, her eyes widening when the bullets miss her entirely. "Oh, that's cool," she says, mostly to herself, but a little too loud due to the ringing in her ears. Her attention turns to Ria when she reappears, and she comes out of cover, pulling her jacket off as she hurries over to her side.

She presses the jacket against her wound with a quiet apology— it doesn't feel good, but she does what she can to keep her blood inside her body.

"I got her," she says to Silas, "go get them." Her head tips toward the guards, but she looks back to Ria. "Keep breathing, okay? You're gonna be okay." She might sound shaky, but she manages a smile through it.

Ria's reappearance had… not been what Silas was hoping for. His eyes widen as she makes that low, awful noise of pain, as he sees the blood already soaking her side. No… he thinks, horror flashing past in eyes for just a moment before he can drive it back. He takes her hand, catching her as her knees give out, easing her to the ground. "You… you just keep your hand on that wound, okay? Keep the pressure on," he says, his tone gentle, soothing. "I gotcha."

Then, in that moment of horrified helplessness, he feels something change, a sense of subtle awareness returning to him, and he knows that his power has been restored to him. Quick as thought, fierce as fury, he throws his will at the gunmen, obscuring their awareness of himself and Ria; hiding himself and her from three people doesn't require his full attention, not with Magnes and Ling in there mixing it up.

Then Namiko steps in, pressing her jacket onto the wound. Silas looks up at her, and in that first moment he meets her gaze there's something wild and uncomprehending in his eyes; the look of a wounded animal cowering in its hole, ready to snap… then it's gone, his expression tightening a bit in reluctance. "Right," he says quietly, glancing over to where a single guard still stands amongst the carnage. He glances back to Ria. "I'll be right back, okay?" he says gently, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.

Then he's up. There's no expression on his face, none at all, as he strides briskly forward towards where the guard is still struggling to raise his weapon, now starting to panic; the more observant among the group might notice that the guard's eyes don't even track Silas as he strides forward. Of course they don't; it's an easy matter to cloud one man's mind, to keep him from recognizing death bearing down on him like a malevolent shadow.

The last guard doesn't react as Silas stalks forward, doesn't react as Silas slips around him behind him; he only starts to react when Silas jerks his head up and rips his knife across his throat, giving him an ear-to-ear smile in a flash of silver and a fountain of scarlet. The guard makes a surprised gurgling, gagging noise as he chokes on his own blood, forgetting about his weapon altogether as both hands start to go to his throat, but a second strike - this time an upward thrust behind the man's ear - aborts that movement, sending him crashing to the ground like a puppet with his strings cut.

Silas waits a moment longer, seeing if any more knifework is going to be required… but it looks as though the job is done for now. He scoops up the fallen man's gun, then strides back to Namiko and Ria, setting the gun down beside Namiko. "I'll carry her; do me a solid and hang onto this for me, okay?" he says quietly to Namiko. "We can switch off if I need to take care of anything else. And… thanks," he says, with something like genuine gratitude.

Then he turns his attention back to Ria, giving her his most reassuring smile. "I'm gonna carry you, okay? We can get you somewhere to take a look at that wound faster that way;I'll try not to jostle you too much For now you just keep pressure on it, okay?" he asks. He waits a moment, then reaches down to put her arm around his neck, planning to scoop her up.

Magnes takes a moment to look back at Silas and Ria, reaching a hand out to slightly lighten her weight, which might possibly help with the bleeding, but it's mostly to help her stay mobile a bit easier while Silas is helping her walk.

“Don't. Touch me.” Ria says with a hand warning Silas off. Blue eyes flick to Namiko next, not quite as harsh, but still fiery through the pain. She shrugs away from the jacket keeping her from bleeding, stumbles a few steps and presses a red palmprint to the wall.

“Sugar, we ain't got time t’bury you,” Kain snarls as he ducks out from behind cover, pulling his faded pink backpack up on his shoulders. “Now let the man help yo— ”

A flash of white hot light erupts from Ria’s hand down onto the wound at her side. She screams, a horrible and agonized scream as smoke sublimates up from where her jumpsuit blackens. Dropping onto her knees, Ria touches the wound, breathing in sharp and gulping breaths. Kain no longer has a quip. He stares down at Ria, who is struggling through the pain to stand, teeth clenched tightly together and eyes wrenched shut.

Kain's wide eyes flick to Silas, then Namiko, and finally over to Ling. Swallowing whatever it was he was going to say, Kain makes his way over to Ling and presses a hand to her shoulder. A wordless, affirming gesture that shows in the brief look he affords her. That was too close.

“Ok, Ah’ll just be Lois fuckin’ Lane over here while all y’all supermen handle the tough stuff.” Kain adjusts his backpack, glancing back to Ria as she starts to stand. Immediately thereafter, a klaxon begins to sound in the hallways, and Kain offers a worried look to the others.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

“Well, shit.”

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

“Someone… must've opened an outside door,” Ria says with her jaws clenched. “Might be the sub. We've gotta keep moving.” Forcing herself to march through the pain, Ria moves into the middle of the group. “We’re not far.”

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

"The Ark is a one way trip." Magnes says, as if it's something he's repeated many times. Kain and Ling have probably heard it quite a few times at this point, even before this world. Certain things he just finds himself repeating, when it comes to Edward's predictions.

"We have to make all of this count, we only get one chance. We're not getting out of here any way except out of this world or dead, so I don't want a single person second guessing or thinking about the sub." He starts to move forward, following Ria's general lead while trying to keep slightly ahead, just in case of more guards.

He keeps his field extended, just in case something tries to sneak from some uncertain corner. "Where's Elaine?" he asks, looking to Kain and Ling. "Is she safe?"

"I'm afraid I can't allow that," Ling remarks with a smirk over to Kain, making her way to one of the fallen guards and retrieving his firearm, quickly offered over to Kain. She offers no response to Magnes; they'll cross that bridge when them come to it. For now, they all need to focus.

She angles an uneasy look towards one of the speakers now blaring alarms. "Why is it so hard," she adds after a moment, before leveling her eyes on Magnes, "for us to go anywhere without it blowing up?" As in, more pressing concerns, kid. After that, she just follows along - no more banter. Time, it seems, is short.

Namiko takes the gun, but holds it like she's not sure which part of it is the most dangerous. "Sure," she says— she is not sure— and gives him a quick series of nods, too many nods, "it'll be like being a golf caddy. Back when we had golf. And ground."

She looks back to Ria, concern on her face right up until the light and the screaming. "Okay, that happened. That is a thing that just happened."

And then the announcement sounds, echoing through the halls, and Namiko looks a little sick. "It's okay. That's okay. Totally normal," she says as if to reassure herself before she follows along as well.

Silas's eyes widen, frozen in mid-attempt at assistance. His head tilts a fraction of a degree. Then his lips curl up into a half-smile; he comes to his feet and takes a step back, hands raised, palms out in a gesture of peace. "Alright," he says quietly. His eyes flicker to Kain at his interjection, that half-smile widening a bit - good to know that there's someone who isn't wanting to glare lasers through him right now - then back to Ria, his expression growing more serious. He assumes that Ria has something in mind.

His eyes widen a bit as he sees exactly what it is she had in mind as she spot-welds her side shut with laser beams. A muscle twitches beneath his eye at that hideous scream, but…

"Okay then," he says mildly. This is fine. He coughs a bit to clear his throat, feeling faintly nauseated at the smell of roasting flesh; him roasting people with a few thousand volts is one thing, it's a little more disconcerting when they do it to themselves. With laserhands. He peers at Ria for a moment as she marches herself forward, obviously still in pain, but she's made it pretty clear she doesn't want help so… okay then. Says about all there is to say about that. Though she seemed like she was wanting some aid pretty bad right after she'd gotten shot…

Silas shakes his head; there'll be time to worry about what's going on in her head later, right now there's a job to do. Hopefully no more complications, he thinks, tempting fate.

So of course things get worse, with that klaxon and announcements about environmental containment breaches.

Silas narrows his eyes. "Outstanding," he remarks drily. Magnes's ominous line doesn't even faze him; at this point he's so far down the rabbit hole that he's holding out for time-traveling Nazis or a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion or something before he gets too excited.

He glances over to Namiko and offers a dry grin. "We'll be okay," he says, doing his best to sound like he believes exactly that, instead of what he actually believes at this point. He moves forward with the rest of them, bringing up the rear with Namiko and doing his best to keep his guard up; he doesn't think he can veil everyone with his power, but he can at least be ready to shroud himself and Namiko if another squad of goons tries to ambush them.

Following Ria’s lead, the rescue party finds its way into a narrow maintenance hallway lined with exposed power conduits that look haphazardly tended to, as though the Ark didn’t have a proper electrician in recent years. The plastic-coated conduits are sparking and humming, and each noise they make causes Kain to jitter a little, tensing his grip around his handgun and its rapidly diminishing ammunition.

“There,” Ria says, pointing to a metal door. “That’s the one.”

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

"Bingo." Sidling up to the metal door at the end of the hall, Kain slides off his faded, pink Hello Kitty backpack and sets it down at his feet, turning to look back at Magnes with furrowed brows. The Cajun gives a thumbs up and raps twice on the door.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

"Ollie Ollie oxenfree," Kain says before reaching to the lever to the door, pushing it with his shoulder against the strain of rusty hinges, "your chariot awaits, Ms. Cardinal."

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

But there is just darkness beyond the door. Kain's brows furrow, jaw set, blue eyes wide as he shines a flashlight inside.

«Security Alert. Intrusion Detected. Arcology Environmental Containment Breached.»

"Oh shit." Kain stammers, staring down the barre of a gun aimed point-blank in his face. Hands up, Kain takes two quick steps back as a severe-looking woman with graying blonde hair in a tattered lab coat emerges from the room, a gun aimed on Kain. But as soon as she looks to her right and spots Ria, all of the panic and tension in Michelle Cardinal’s posture melts away, and she lowers the gun instantly.

Kain slouches back against the corridor, rubbing two hands over his face as Ria hustles over and throws her arms around her mother. “Mom! How’d you— where’d you get a gun? How’d you get unplugged from the IV?” Michelle, one arm around Ria, looks over her shoulder and furrows her brows.

“I had help.” Michelle says, as someone else steps out of the room, rifle carried low and at ease even if that relaxation doesn’t translate to the rest of his posture.

West Rosen, one of the men who presided over the massacre in the banquet, stands behind Michelle in the doorway. He doesn’t make eye contact with anyone.

“I need you all to take me to…” Michelle begins to demand, but then notices one of her rescuers. “Magnes Varlane. Perfect. That’s step one out of the way.” Quickly looking over the other rescuers, Michelle stands tall and confident, even as Ria seems to shrink in her presence, in the security her proximity affords.

“What’s your plan?” Michelle asks of the others, clearly having one of her own in mind.

"We're going to the others. Anyone who stands in our way gets tossed into a wall, we don't have time for a bunch of conflicts." Magnes looks to the others, then back to Michelle. "Then we're going to rip a hole in the universe and get the hell out of here so I can get my daughter back and maybe Kimiko Nakamura can give us a vacation somewhere or something."

He shrugs, tilting his head at Michelle. "You're the most intelligent person in human history, why are you asking us? The sum of my scientific knowledge was learning to understand a small fraction of one thing you were trying to figure out."

Looking a bit helplessly anxious, he says, "I'm mostly good at breaking out of prisons and fucking up until somehow everyone ends up saved." There's a pause. "Except the ones who aren't."

Someone isn't feeling the most high on himself at the moment. "So what's the plan?"

Ling's expression flattens when Michelle Cardinal steps into view, and her eyes close as she takes a frustrated breath as West follows after her. "I think the plan," she remarks as smoke ripples off her body, "is pretty simple at this point." Her knife begins to dissipate into smoke, fixing her eyes on Michelle.

"We get where we need to be. And if anyone gets in our way?" A look is offered over to Magnes, followed by a begrudging nod. "We handle it. Just point us in the right direction," she asks of Michelle and West. "I will scout ahead if necessary."

"Yeah, the plan is to run. And then jump to another world. A world with land." And then she could run as far as she wanted, across grass and through forests— hell, she'd take a desert at this point. It's like a fairytale she heard as a child, the idea of open space that wasn't covered in water. Namiko glances over to the others, then corrects her expression to something more nonchalant. "Which, you know, could be cool."

Maybe. Whatever. She's not pressed.

"Oh," she says, perking up again, "and not dying, that's also part of the plan."

A good look at Michelle Cardinal is enough for Silas to get an idea why Kenner fears her enough to keep her sedated; she strikes him as the sort who makes a very, very bad enemy. Tough luck, Don. This was always going to come back and bite you in the ass; it was only ever a matter of when.

Then there's West Rosen. Silas's gaze lingers on him for a long moment, but the other man won't meet his eyes. Well, whatever. Cardinal apparently trusts him… though it's interesting that no one apparently looped the younger Cardinal in on that. His gaze flickers from Michelle to Rianna, and back to Michelle as the others speak.

Mostly they seem to have said everything that needs to be said; Silas nods along here and there, lips twitching into a tiny grin at Namiko's enthusiasm. Then it's his turn; he nods again. "Yep. Break Magnes out, break you out; get the travellers home, try and make sure nobody dies along the way 'cept the ones tryin' to stop us." The ones who deserve it, he thinks, but does not say; that's a whole complicated can of worms with West Rosen standing right there, and one he doesn't particularly want to open.

Michelle slowly raises one brow, listening to the others. There's a subtle motion of her chin up and to West, and the rifle-armed man moves to the end of he hall and checks the intersection, giving an all-clear.

“Being smart doesn't always mean you're right,” Michelle opines, still holding her arms around Ria. “But it sounds like I heard what I needed to. If your Mateo is anything like mine was, we might be able to open a stable wormhole. But getting to a specific place and time is going to require a frequency relative to that reality, the molecular vibrations of that universe…”

Letting Ria go, Michelle checks the rounds in her gun and looks up to Magnes. “I sabotaged the Looking Glass a while back, improperly tuned the frequency modulator. I couldn't Your friends will wind up firing themselves into god knows where if I don't get back there to fix it.” Starting to stride toward where she sent West, Michelle pauses to look back at the others. “We just need to— ”


What the fuck.” Michelle blurts out as the alarm klaxons change their automated warning. “West!” At that call, West comes scrambling back down the hall.


“Get down to the reactor. We need that power to fuel Mateo’s portal and the Looking Glass. Go!” Michelle barks orders at West, who offers one wary look to the Travelers, then boosts up a foot off of the ground and rockets through the air like a missile, taking a sharp turn at the end of the hall and disappearing from sight.


“Would somebody explain th’ fuck’s going on!?” Kain shouts with wide eyes.


“The Ark has an organic nuclear reactor,” Michelle says with a touch of tension in her jaw. “And if I had to guess… Don just put it into a meltdown starts.”


"While West is handling that, we have to go. We can't just wait here. We need to get there and start on the repairs or whatever it is we need to do, and West will go meet us at the Looking Glass." Magnes decides, immediately beginning to walk in the direction he remembers being taken.

"I have to tell you something, Michelle, Miss Cardinal, sorry, I feel weird because you're my friend's mom." He shrugs, walking and talking at the same time, because they don't have much time. "Since I got here, I met myself, the older, I guess original version of me. He taught me things about my ability, and I think those things might help us get back home."

"I know the frequency of our universe, I learned that in my experiments with Rich and Mortimer. But more importantly, I know that people from different universes vibrate at the frequency of their universe. And this is important for one reason." He holds up an index finger. "My ability isn't gravity manipulation, it's dark matter manipulation."

He looks back at Michelle, looking very serious. "I think you can figure out what that potentially means for frequencies and getting us home."

As the meltdown warnings begin to blare, Ling pauses and looks around with dismay on her face. "What hell is this?" is a question asked to no one in particular, only sort of listening as Michelle and Magnes' talk gets more and more technical, until finally, she levels her gaze with the both of them.

"Walk and talk," she states with a small bit of irritation, even as as she turns to start doing the same. "Unless you like the idea of being buried at sea. Certainly not my first choice."

Turning to Kain, she places a hand on his shoulder and tilts her head in what she assumes is the direction they need to go. "And let's be quick about it."

"Not dying is a very important part of the plan," Namiko says, jacket still held in her hands tight enough to make her knuckles pale. Her voice is quiet, like maybe she didn't plan on saying anything out loud. Or perhaps, is unaware that she did. She nods to Ling's words, because she cannot agree more, and she starts walking. At a fast clip. "Let's go, campers," she says more purposefully, "we aren't done yet."

Silas pales as the alarms suddenly increase in urgency; he'd thought that Ria's little self-frying trick, alongside everything else, had pushed his capacity for surprise to its limit, but it turns out that the words reactor at critical are enough to push him into whole new realms of concern. It's what Michelle says, though, that really catches his attention. "Organic? What does that even -" he starts, but his brain, while definitely not anywhere near Michelle Cardinal's level, is all too happy to supply a possible answer to that; he knows what 'organic' means. It's not something he wants to think about. "Nevermind," he says, shaking his head and trying to ignore the faint pangs of nausea.

As the others start to walk, Silas moves after them, bringing up the rear. He frowns as Magnes speaks; he doesn't really get what the man is talking about for the most part, or what 'dark matter' is… but one thing Magnes says, about people vibrating at the frequency of their universe, sticks with him. He frowns uncertainly, slowing a bit. "Is this really gonna be okay?" he murmurs to himself, an expression of unease and doubt slipping past his poker face for a moment and making it to the surface.

But the others are still moving ahead, and Silas has no intention of being left behind; as Namiko had pointed out, the job's not done yet. He redoubles his pace, closing the distance again.


Staring at Magnes as the others begin to move, Michelle is taken aback by something he'd said. Lips parted and eyes wide, Michelle draws in a sharp breath, then exhales another and looks briefly down to the floor before finding her feet and moving ahead.


“Rich,” Michelle starts to say, but then cuts herself off. “No, Magnes. I understand exactly what the truth of your ability implies…” she says with a wary look over to Ria, who limps along with an arm wrapped around her midsection. “I understand clearly. But we… we may not have enough time. The Ark is set to implode if reactor integrity reaches a meltdown level, to prevent an ecological disaster.”


Brows furrowed in worry, Michelle’s expression turns to a wince when they pass by one of the wall-mounted alarms blaring a klaxon and shouting about the reactor’s overload. She says nothing, but the look of determination on her face becomes one of steely certainty. Silas’ question is the most salient of all of them, however. But it isn't one she's willing to answer. All she offers instead is, “We have to hurry.”


Wide-eyed and worn thin with worry, Kain quickly breaks away and hustles over to the room Michelle was held and snatching up that tattered, pink backpack like his life depended on it. As he makes his way along with the others, he comes up beside Ling and Silas and eyes them both side-long with a silent expression that answers Silas’ standing inquiry.


It's not going to be ok.

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