Time, Fate, Or Whatever


wf_cat1_icon.gif wf_francois1_icon.gif wf_lynette1_icon.gif wf_raith1_icon.gif wf_rue1_icon.gif wf_vincent1_icon.gif

Also featuring:

wf_colette1_icon.gif wf_heller1_icon.gif wf_huruma1_icon.gif wf_liza1_icon.gif

Scene Title Time, Fate, Or Whatever
Synopsis A dream of what could be shows a different picture to what is — even in the very near future, when the Ferry target Colonel Heller on his own turf.
Date June 14, 2011

Staten Island: The borders of the Reclaimed Zone… or is it?

It's a nice day to be out on Staten Island. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and there's a train pulling into the station.

The crackle of the radio parts into a discerning female voice, its timbre thick even on the waves. «Th'men inside have an extreme anxiety- it could prove t'be nothing, if it were not for th'reek of submissiveness. They mus'be submitting t'somebody- an'there are too few dominant minds inside of there.»

It rings warm in the ears of the three teams scattered in their respective locations just south of the station down the incline of grassy hill. There's enough dry brush and foliage to obscure the creeping approach of terroristic activity, and both Rue Lancaster and Liza Messer know the landscape enough to guide them all through it. The blonde, pixie-faced Company agent is crouched by a twisted tree and gripping a pair of binoculars, looking just anxious enough that maybe, rather than being landed on Team Recon, she would prefer to be close to the edges of visibility rather than counting on the assertions of the empath over the radio.

«I think that our Alpha is one of them. If I knew him better, I could be more certain, but- he is just as slippery as we are.»

But they all have a job to do, today.

Lynette and Cat are posted by ivy-riddled crumbled wall, one of the touches of pre-Bomb Staten Island that hadn't been as renovated as the train station below, and they can see where Francois and Raith lay all but belly-down on the rural terrain, rifles ready with a visual through twigs and leaves that carves down towards where the train has slid to a halt on the tracks. After Liza and Rue had led the way, they'd crawled forward, taking as long as necessary to get as close as possible and out of sight. Below, the ratio between soldier and construction worker is almost the same as the last time they'd scouted out this location.

Except for whatever is inside the train, and if Wireless' intelligence is correct, then it's Colonel Leon Heller behind the doors due to split open in the next few moments.

There's a certain image of Army Rangers, Delta operators, and even spies, and then all seem to involve a lot of kicking down doors, staging daring one-man rescue missions, and lots of sexy women. But really, a lot of it is exactly like this moment: Hiding in the grass and bushes, waiting for something to happen, hoping nobody happens to see you because you're screwed if they do. Just like the good old days.

On the job, Raith is at least professional enough to not complain about his current situation, much as he dislikes hiding in the grass and bushes and waiting behind the scope of a rifle. He's not here to complain. He's here to kill. When he gets the chance, at least. Could his position be better? Is there something down there he can't see? Awareness is the greatest challenge a sniper faces. It's why they have spotters. And wanting complete awareness is exactly why Raith, at this point, adds nothing to the airwaves, and waits for his spotters to assess the situation.

"Hmm. Our guest of honor," Lynette says with a crooked smile as she lounges there. She does not look like someone ready for the action that's about to start here any moment. More like someone lounging about as she waits for a waiter to bring her a martini. But at the same time, anyone really paying attention can see little trails of electricity here and there, through her hair, between her fingers, just little bits. Hints at adrenalin pumping beneath a cool facade.

She takes a moment to pick up her own rifle, even if she's not sure she'll be using once the excitement starts, but you never know. Being prepared isn't just for Boy Scouts anymore. "You ready, Kitty-Cat?"

This is really happening. Rue absently adjusts the band of the black knit cap she's confined her bushy ginger locks to, resting her other hand against the ground to maintain her balance. From her low crouch, she watches the train through a gap in the foliage. Were it not for the gloves on her hands, she'd be biting at her thumbnail out of nervousness.

Her own binoculars are brought up to her eyes, focus adjusted manually so she can do her own sweep of the area. If she or Liza miss something… They just can't miss anything. Rue tells herself she won't even entertain the thought, but her stomach is churning all the same. If Huruma's intuition proves correct, this is likely the only shot chance they'll have at this.

Her face is covered, it's always covered when it comes to operations like this. Vital bits are covered by body armor, also a prudent item Cat customarily avails herself of when she goes into battle. If there were only a piece designed to cover the neck, she wouldn't have the scar one hand lightly rubs at while she surveils the area ahead and waits for the moment to come when cover fire, her assignment here, is needed. There are grenades attached to her clothing, extra clips of 5.56 mm ammo, and the M16 rifle to fire them with are in hands and on her person. Alertness rules the moment.

And she's ready. Cat has battle experience with all but two members of this operational team, those being Lynette and Rue. "Maybe," she remarks offhand, dry of voice and stoic of demeanor. "We'll know soon."

Lynette's term for her, however brings a different reaction. The woman stiffens, hidden face turned toward the distance, hands clenching at the rifle more tightly as she shakes off the flashback.

She's growling when it ends. "Do. Not. Ever. Compare. Me. To. A. Candy. Bar." The only person she tolerated that from is two and a half years dead, and usage of a pet name that woman employed is a powerful trigger.

Such powers of impeccable memory are often both blessing and curse.

And so it is that the sight of Colonel Heller stepping out onto the platform is etched forever behind Cat's eyes. Polished leather boots and softer gloves set him apart from the other military men milling around the station, though his presence is apparently not worthy of much notice; no one stops what they're doing to salute him, and those who do realize that their superior is among them make a point to pretend they're so focused on their work that they haven't.

Pistol at his hip, the heel of his hand resting loose on the back of the weapon's grip, he looks off into the trees with his other arm held up to shield squinting blue eyes against the glare of the sun. This is just another routine inspection, and although the birds are probably cause for anxiety, the fact that they're still singing dispels any concerns he might have about lurking terrorists in the underbrush.

He does not know it yet, but this is a grave mistake on his part.

The emotional vibe caused by their superior's exacting inspection is an invisible thing, a scent on the air that only Huruma, from her hiding point, can accurate taste — but the rest of them likely have a sense of it as well. Francois doesn't say anything, choosing not to knock Raith's focus with muttered commentary or curses, but his silence sharpens into watchful alertness, tension heightening in preparation to get out of there when the shot is fired, and the window of opportunity is already beginning to close.

Liza eases herself up to stand out of her crouch, glancing up at the canopy up above and letting her binoculars rest on their straps. She glances to Rue, nods some sort of confirmation, and mutters into the radio: «All clear from where we're standing. Good luck.»

"Let's go," she advises, and begins to move out of the territory that could get pretty heated, to their first fallback position before retreat will be in action, signaled by sniper fire and the yells from down the hillside. She goes ahead of Rue, moving catlike through the familiar terrain, keeping a watch ahead while the redhead behind her watches their backs. The land is quiet, innocuous, with shifting shadows of branches in the light, mild wind.

Liza's boot plants on loose soil in casual, quiet step.

The blast sends birds scattering for the sky, Rue knocked off her feet by an invisible wall of force as Liza is tossed like a ragdoll in a different direction. Dirt, rock and broken vegetation rockets sky-high as the explosion cracks through the silence before anyone can breathe a word back over the radio, a dust cloud settling by the time the shockwave has passed in the time it takes to blink. Bruises already blossoming beneath Rue's clothing, tasting blood in her mouth and stunned into shocked, she will see out the corner of her eye the figure of Liza crumpled facedown, blood blotting platinum hair, and a leg missing half of itself.

The station down below becomes a kicked antfarm of activity.

Francois doesn't need to worry about ruining Raith's concentration: A distant explosion takes care of that without any problems. It's surprising enough that it pulls Raith's attention off his target momentarily: Just long enough for him to register that the sound is not accompanied or followed by gunfire. They still have the initiative.

In a flash, Raith rockets his attention back down his rifle's scope, hurriedly scanning the platform for Heller once again. After today, they won't get another chance like this one: The ex-spy is unconcerned about collateral damage, if it means a clear shot. «Do not engage,» is growled over the radio with cold, military discipline, followed by the low hiss of the man slowly sucking in a deep breath to steady his aim.

Well, that reaction gets a bit of amusement from Lynette, which proves that no one should really wait for an apology from her. Probably ever. "I didn't compare you to a candy bar, darling. I compared you to a small, furry animal. A kitty cat, as it were. I'd think a woman of your memory would recall the candy bar is a Kit-Kat. Don't worry," she adds as she turns her attention toward the platform, "No one's perfect."

But as snarky as she might get from time to time, the explosion cuts that right off, and she ducks a little out of instinct, and it's really only Raith's warning that gets her to sit still in the wake of it. Not that she's a charge at the enemy kind of girl, but her reactions to such things tend to be… dramatic. So she takes a few moments to calm herself down before she radios the others, as well. "«What the fuck was that?»" is whispered, but firm all the same.

Rue nods back to Liza after lowering her own binoculars. Looks clear to her as well. She doesn't quite rise to her full height as she follows along behind the blonde, being that a six foot tall redwood, as Sable Diego once called her, attracts unwanted attention. She creeps backward to make sure their retreat isn't spotted down on the platform and has only just begun to turn around when suddenly the world tips on its head with a concussive boom!

Or maybe that's Rue landing on her head? Her ears are ringing and there are stars in her vision. And is her mouth full of pennies? Lifting her head - or trying to - she spies Liza.

What's left of Liza. Which is more whole than not, but the prognosis is grim. Even the former part-time model turned full-time revolutionary can tell that.

Rue Lancaster doesn't even hear her voice in her own ears as she gives her panicked, but still low, report over the radio. «-sser is down! Messer is— Oh my God, Li—» Technically, Rue is down as well. But she holds out hope that she will yet get up again. Once she can figure out which way is up.

She seems about to respond when Lynette makes another comment of that nature, her fingers tensing on the rifle and posture rigid, but the intent dies with the sound of an explosion. Eyes swivel to try finding the source but fail to spot it. "Explosion," Cat remarks, pausing as first Raith's words then Rue's message come into her earpiece. Her own radio is used to speak and address the redhead. Can you evacuate her? What's the source of that explosion? Are you currently in need of fire support to cover withdrawal?

In anticipation of the answer being yes, her M16 is brought to bear and aimed in the most likely direction cover fire will be needed.

Dingy grey songbirds take flight in a whirl of feathers and unsettled greenery, off-key chirping yawned wide in its yield to a hail shower of stinging, smoldering dirt and displaced dust. The mine's crater is already still, visibility muffled low and close. Burning flesh has a very distinctive smell.

And there's something else.


A presence that's manifested silently at Rue Lancaster's prone back. Knight in matte black Horizon armor. Not especially tall, visor locked down and reflective sheen already thick with airborne grit.

It appears to be looking at what's left of Liza's body.

The dust plume of the explosion is beginning to flag apart in the shifting wind, Francois only earning a glimpse of it before his focus is narrowed right down the hill through the scope. Their target remains within visibility, but criss-crossed by moving soldiers as they move into action, construction workers all but elbowed aside as men in green and grey jump down onto the tracks and move to clambor uphill in a swarm.

Sudden gunfire does not come from the enemy, nor does it come from any of the three teams — across the other side of the station, the sudden bite of rifle bullets splinter glass and cave in metal, biting whatever personnel flesh is unlucky enough to come within range. A distraction, courtesy of the empath over the radio, drawing some of the heat only when she sees that the landmine's explosion is definitely signifying unwanted, stampeding attraction.

For a few, brief moments, Raith is able to mentally isolate himself from the world around him. The blast becomes a distant memory, and even the gunfire from Huruma sounds far off and irrelevant. A few, brief moments until the ex-spy squeezes his own trigger, the recoil of his weapon snapping him fully back to reality. A 7.62mm round has significant penetration capability, but that fact does not stop Raith from lining up, and then taking a second shot, just in case the first doesn't do the job. More rounds than that will require constant reassessment of the situation. As soon as he pulls the trigger, he must assume they know where he is.

Cat moves to cover where Rue and Liza are, or perhaps were, and Lynette stays on course, ready for cover fire for Raith and Francois. She won't fire until it's needed, but she's move definitely sitting on the trigger while Raith takes his shots. She's also ready with a little more oomph, but as much as she'd like to toss her electricity around, she's aware that giving away their position isn't too bright at this moment, either.

Liza has lost a leg. She should be screaming. The possibility that the blow to the head merely and mercifully knocked her unconscious are slim to none. Blood is spat out on the ground as Rue pushes up to sit. «Landmines. She's d- dead.»

And not alone either, Rue has suddenly realised. Blue eyes grow wide as she turns her head and blinks the figure in armour into focus. She holds very still, listening only to the sound of her own breathing. Which sounds deafening to her right now.

Did I tell Dad and Mom 'I love you' when we talked last? Will they tell my parents I'm a terrorist? Is it going to look like I just went missing? Will it hurt? Rue is certain she's about to die, and her thoughts race accordingly. In spite of herself, she utters one word: "Please."

Landmines. The word shit runs through Cat's head in each of several languages, and being unaware of a Frontliner bearing down on Rue she addresses the fearful redhead. «Landmines. Understood. Be very careful when you make your exit from there. Walk only where you placed feet on the way in, study the ground for signs of digging holes and refilling them.»

The M16 held at ready goes into action, a stream of rounds being loosed toward whatever targets are presenting themselves, her task to provide covering fire being launched into.

Helmets do not emote and the figure is still itself once it's turned slowly to size up Rue seated on the ground, breathing motion muffled by chestplate and exoskeleton alike. Paused too long, almost. The impression may exist that it isn't sure what to do.

Except then there's gunfire. The echoing, solitary report of a rifle and then a stream of more erratic fire.


Jolted forcibly free of his hesitation, the figure advances to wrench Rue effortlessly up over his shoulder, says, "Hold your breath," in a robotic monotone, and plunges them both into freezing darkness in a churn of pitchy vapor and stirring dust.

In the chaos, a clear shot does not remain a clear shot for very long; the window of opportunity opens to Raith and slams shut again in the span of a heartbeat as, through his rifle scope, blood blossoms and darkens the material of someone's uniform.

But it isn't Heller's. A soldier with his hand clasped tight on the colonel's shoulder, steering him toward safety, slumps like the cliche of a marionette with its strings abruptly cut, and hits the pavement of the platform with enough force that his head bounces and leaves an ugly smear on the concrete, though stitches and a concussion are the least of the young marine's worries. He in fact will not be worrying about anything ever again.

Heller twists a look in the direction that the shot came from, then down at the dead man at his feet, and decides it would be prudent to get himself out of the line of fire. He reaches out, hooking a gloved hand around the doorway that leads inside the station and disappears from sight in the next instant.

Rifle fire from Francois tails Raith's, and fails miserably beyond property damage, but he's already moving without allowing regret or defeat to paralyse. That can come. Later. When his scope isn't being blurred by moving bodies at a closer range. Rifle hiked up, he only makes sure Raith is getting to his feet before he is moving to fall back—

Vapour condenses into visibility, a dusty grey thickening quick into churning black coming to roil in their space and block the immediate way out, condensing into the shape of an armor-clad man holding Rue Lancaster's lanky figure barely a few feet where Raith and Francois had so quietly crept into their vantage point. Not completely registering Rue's presence or what it means, Francois instinctively raises his rifle — if only because it's what he's holding on to, sidearm safe at his hip — and by the time the redhead is being dumped on her ass on the leafy forest ground, the Frenchman pulls the trigger.

In not too many moments, both he and Raith will have more to deal with than a solo FRONTLINE security guard. But Lynette and Cat are in, inherently, a better, higher vantage to see it first, soldiers moving through the trees, moving to avoid gunfire. From the wrong direction. One goes down as a round pierces his leg from the pamnesiac's gun, another pummeled back as a bullet flattens into kelvar and knocks the wind out from him.

Return fire lances through the air and explodes brick just left of Cat, as the group breaks off accordingly.

Maybe the window will open at another time. For now, Raith has only one more order to bark before he, like Francois begins making his exit: «Bug out!»

The route of his exit is blocked, if only for the moment, by an offending FRONTLINE operative. Worst case, they're both dead. They aren't, so this isn't the worst case. Simply one that requires the ex-spy to, like his French companion, raise his rifle and fire, even if just to scare off their attacker. Maybe they'll even cause enough havoc to give everyone else a chance to slip off.

"Shit." It's the soldiers that get Lynette's bit of colorful vocabulary, but her attention is quite drawn by that armor suddenly appearing there. Which is probably why her ducking is a little delayed when the bullets come whizzing their way. "«He's got Rue,»" is a protest toward the order to bug out, as she fires her own cover fire back toward those soldiers. She isn't a great marksman, not with a gun at least, but she does like her chaos.

"Get moving, Cat," she says, not sounding smug or sarcastic or any such thing this time, "I'll cover." She knows what Cat has in her memory is probably more valuable in the long run. But so long as Cat moves, she'll move, too, just sort of backwards and with a lot of gun fire.

Everything sounds so distant. The gunfire and the shouts from below. Part of that is from the explosion that's claimed Liza's life, and part of it is just because Rue's too numb to process what's happening. She does shriek when the figure in armour grabs for her, but it's short-lived as she follows instructions. Rue shuts her eyes tight and holds her breath.

And then finds herself in some completely different place. With Francois and Raith. Groovy. Rue barely has time for all of that to register before rifles begin to go off. Terrified, she ducks and covers her head, as if forgetting she needs to be trying to get to her feet so she can bug out, as per Raith's orders. She screams over the commotion, "Wait! He's one of us!"

She hopes.

Busybusy. Bullets impacting on brick to her left causes the masked brunette to move a bit to her right as she continues to fire and provide that cover. No steps are yet taken to leave this position, it's not yet clear whether or not the others are on their way, so Cat looks just in time to see the redheaded woman and the two men firing on the Frontline suit while Rue ducks her head and covers up.

"Not yet," she tersely informs Lynette, "they still need cover and soldiers aren't close to us yet. We begin our move out when we see them safely on the way, if they can." She's left people behind in battle situations before and can do it again, regrouping to help plan things like prison breaks to rescue the captured when she saw no remaining hope of assisting them…

But that's not yet the case.

Lead slaps into armor plating at such close range that the impact overlaps the report and FRONTLINE (as it exists in the form of this lone, dust-drenched set of armor) has to reel back half a step from Rue to catch himself. Only to have more fire railing up his flank before he can twist back into a violent turn of shadow and smoke that bullets bite through without visible effect.

A beat like a breath later, he reappears at Raith's aft to drive a fist up into the place where kidneys go. A full half-foot shorter than the Ferry's finest, he punches like a mule kicks and with about as much discrimination as to the target's well being: an abortive effort to twist arm and rifle away refines itself in time for half the weapon and a chunk of flesh from the older man's forearm to vanish when his assailant does, in a snare of that same inky vapor.

Exposed muscle and bisected rifle sizzle under a veneer of crackling black ice, vapor roiling rapidly away from sublimation that burns without quite cuarterizing. It hurts. A lot.

A few feet away, Francois' left with a split second to wonder if he's next before — he is next. Vapor snares back into bullet-cratered armor and the missing section of Raith's gun is swung like a brick at his stupid French head in the instant before he's plunged inexorably, inexplicably upward in a viper strike of smoke that condenses abruptly into FRONTLINE and Francois some 10 or 15 feet above ground. Then the FRONTLINer disappears again.

And Francois doesn't.

Meanwhile a small lump of hairy arm meat sizzles and disintegrates in the grass near Rue's huddled form.

Something black moves through the trees, as unafraid of gunfire as its counterpart down near Raith, Francois and Rue.

Gunfire from the ladies lances off the FRONTLINE armor and does something to knock it off balance, but it moves on and on, a sleeker but no taller creature than the first that had appeared in smoke and vapour. This one has no such powers at its disposal, relying instead on the strength and agility of the armor afforded it, charging up and up before racing headlong for Cat and Lynette.

Bright light as bleeding white as a flashbang suddenly blossoms in front of them in the form of streaming electricity leaping out from gloved hand and piercing the ground just a few feet from the crumbled wall of their cover. Flames lick up the brutalised foliage, but it's the least of their worries as a few more steps carries the FRONTLINE officer in range and launches a second bolt of electricity that soars straight for them in zigzagging leap.

Francois falls some ten, fifteen feet, no real time to make a sound other than thud, possibly crack, and the pained expulsion of air out of his lungs, stunned into temporary uselessness.

The hail of bullets is temporarily stymied with the interference of FRONTLINE original flavour and OS both, soldiers taking up position and fanning out as orders crackle and whisper through their radios.

Across the way, beyond the station and the train, there's the sound of further gunfire, distanced.

Jensen Raith has sustained a lot of injuries in his life. He's been punched, kicked, shot, stabbed, blinded, bombed, and even napalmed. He can deal with those types of wounds. Having a portion of his body just disappear, and the resulting pain and physical panic drawing his attention to the fact that he can see his own muscles when he has no business being able to do that? That's new. New enough that it actually takes him a few seconds to fully comprehend what has happened. And to make things better, his rifle is ruined, and if he's not overpowered, he is probably about to be surrounded with no way to escape. Oh, and exposed muscle.

This sucks.

Being charged at is no fun, and although it seems like this might be a good time to run, when that electricity makes an appearance, Lynette makes a sound like she might be offended. And if there's something she's not really afraid of, it's her own element being tossed about. That first hit has her jumping out of the way of debris and blinking to try to clear her vision around that burst of white. But luckily, she doesn't been to be able to see clearly to sense the bolt coming for them.

"Get down!" It's a warning for Cat, which she's possibly not expecting the woman to actually listen, since she starts toward the bolt, putting distance between herself and Cat. Electricity is sort of coursing through her, visible if one bothers to look, in blue-white jolts running along her skin. and when she gets close enough, her hands fling out in what would be a poor attempt to block, but when the bolt hits her, it ricochets, heading back the way it came after shoving Lynette back a few feet.

The blonde looks a bit surprised that happened herself, but she'll take it.

Or… maybe not. Rue's been known to be wrong before. She only lets out a panicked shout before she scrambling over to where Francois has fallen, eyes as large as saucers. She spits another mouthful of blood away from the both of them before she attempts to speak again. "Are- Are- Can you stand?" She's already moving the wrap and arm around him so she might help haul him up. Her own body is screaming in protest, but adrenaline fuels her.

She doesn't even realise she has tears streaming down her face, having allowed herself no time to acknowledge that Liza's death has devastated her. "What do we do?!" Whether she's attempting to ask Raith or Francois is unclear, but Rue certainly doesn't have the answer.

Time is up. This much is clear when the Frontliner begins a charge toward the position she occupies with Lynette and rounds have no effect. The first blast of electrical power impairs vision and causes fire from her rifle to cease, but Cat isn't waiting around for there to be a second. She turns away and begins to move from the area as well as legs will allow her to, diving for the ground when Lynette's voice advises that would be a wise course. From there, keeping low to avoid anything that might be coming her way, she continues to move in an away direction.

But in all of that, she can still keep communications up. «Under assault by Frontliner with electrical powers. Position untenable. Advise of situation.»

Vincent's breathing hard by the time he flushes back into tangible existence, again at Rue's back. Too much happening all in a rush, he sizes Raith up with a stare as brief as it is bleak before he reaches to hoist Rue up to her feet via a hand hooked up under her arm, delicate as Horizon engineering allows for. "He'll be fine." says the helmet, hollow and distant. Backup is coming. With their tanks and their bombs and their bombs and their guns —

"I'm arresting you," feels like an uncomfortably informal way to actually — place someone under arrest as he steps to escort her in an awayward direction, but it is what it is. "Come on."

«What do you think?» asks a shrill, high voice that crackles with energy and pops in Cat's ear. Colette Nichols is not known for her patience or her tact; if anything, her reputation in the Ferry is for the polar opposite. The older woman will hear her covering her radio with her hand, muffling the sound of the terse conversation happening well away from the station — to Colette and whoever else might be with her, the staccato report of gunfire sounds like far-off fireworks.

<Get the fuck outta there!»

The birds that had been, up until a few minutes ago, singing in the trees, tremble like leaves clinging to their branches in the face of gale force winds. There is not much the other Ferrymen who are in the area but hanging back can do except help cover their escape with whatever abilities are available to them. In this case, it's a blanket of starlings streaming out into the open to provide Francois and Raith with a cloak they can use to conceal themselves.

Rough hands seize onto the back of Raith's jacket, startling older— younger— whateverer man into moving as Francois is stumbling adrenalised to his feet and moving under the avian cue of retreat. The flood of birds spills through the clearing without discrimination, save for clipping avoidant so as not to smash into allies as the two make a run for it under the cover of the flock. The enemies is not so lucky as a starling peels off and makes a dive for the shining black helmet of the FRONTLINE officer attempting to apprehend the redheaded woman. Bullets will graze armor and do little more, and the hollow boned meatsacks of avian life won't harm the man beneath it all.

But it can spatter its contents in guts and feathers across half of his viser and turn his head, which it does, a ruby red spray of fluid dotting Rue's face, a violent intrusion in arrest. Colette's voice crackles in her ear as loud as the chatter in the officer's helmet.

The lightning bolt from Lynette zeroes in on the second FRONTLINE officer, who is caught off-guard — her battle wear immediately siezes and locks, collapsing into a stiff-limbed tin soldier. Which only inspires a surge of renewed gunfire from the more mundane backup when they see the elite Evolved felled, two soldiers in immediate visual range lifting their firearms and emptying their clip with the intent to suppress and/or kill.

Lynette watches only long enough to be sure the armor isn't going to get right back up again, and then she turns to run sort of haphazardly after Cat. Her vision isn't exactly clear, but she's got adrenalin urging her onward. She's hoping speed keeps her from getting hit, rather than any actual dodging. But she's getting the fuck out of there even without the advice from Colette.

"Let go of me!" Rue tries to reach for Francois to hold on for dear life, but the FRONTLINE soldier gets to her first. Arrest is bad. Really, really bad. "No! No!" But arrest is better than death. Actually, with this crowd, maybe it isn't. Dragging her heels leads into stumbling along with Vincent, throwing a horror-stricken look back toward the other two Ferrymen, sight blurred by tears.

And soon blocked by a flock of birds. Blood adds new freckles to her face and the girl is simply too stunned to cry out. What she isn't too stunned to do is attempt to wrench her arm free so she can make a break for it. It's something of a miracle that Rue doesn't manage to tangle her long limbs as she attempts a mad scramble for safety. Trying to heed Colette's wisdom.

The voice comes back in answer to Colette's with a tone of annoyance and exasperation. «"Trying to ascertain status of Jensen, Francois, and Lancaster. They're unresponsive and may be lost.» Not said by Cat is the lack of any need for her commentary about getting out of there. She's been getting out of there since the Frontliner with the electric blasts made continuing their purpose of offering cover fire impossible.

She continues to get out of there, unaware of status on Jensen Raith, Francois Allegre, and Rue Lancaster. Believing them captured, dead, or a combo of both.

God. Damn it. What a mess.

Short one terrorist and with his vision half obscured by the bits of bird oozing thick across his visor, Vincent swipes once or twice at the muck and then ill-advisedly rips his helmet off, battery packs, exposed wires and all, to hurl it square at the littlest Lancaster's fleeing back.

If she's still on her feet when he churns bald and black of eye out of the air ahead of her, it's to find his bird-spattered gauntlet wrapped across her face in a grip and stiff-shouldered shove that promises to put her on her ass, if not flat on her back. "Maybe," he says, voice not so different from the robotic bass filter of his helmet when it's devoid of feeling, "you didn't understand."

This time, there's no answer from Colette — only panicked screaming in the radio's background.

Bullets split apart birds as the flock shifts to run like a river between the pursuing soldiers and where Lynette and Cat run for their lives, storming through tangling brush beneath a growing warm sun that will carve a day of hiding and running until they can find safe territory, although it's a story for a different day as grey hedges around their vision, minds splitting apart, growing further away like leaves scattered into the wind. Difficult to contain them all. Some people have limits.

The last thing Rue sees is not Vincent's face and the hand coming down on her's, but an angle of the forest from its ground. Two bullets slice through the air from different sources, one biting into the meat of her thigh, and the second imbedding somewhere that is vaguely both her back and her neck and promising to shed much blood. Her body is spun under the momentum of the bullets laying into her, bringing her down like a sack of potatoes with years of her life shaved short into fleeting seconds as the sun glimmers brightly and loose feathers drift like snow in the air, Vincent's boots sunk into the forest ground and the thunder of gunfire becoming distant, an echo.

She wakes up in hospital, but not because she didn't die. She knows, even before she remembers where she is, that she did.

Plastic sheets block her off from the rest of the wing, showing faint shadows behind it. A heart rate monitor clipped like a tiny plastic alligator to her finger, and fluid forcibly pushed into her system from the bag on the stand near the beeping machinery. People move like ghosts beyond the white, and she can feel the slight tip of weight and peer blearily down towards where dark hair rests on slender, folded arms against the rails of her bed, Benji Ryans not yet awake and only just beginning to rouse.

One by one, participants of the not so distant future are distributed back into their places, blinking awake in the dark from the forest chaos of gunfire and bright noon.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License