To The Source, Part II


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Also Featuring:

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Scene Title To The Source, Part II
Synopsis Somehow, somewhere, Darryl Lincoln searches for the source of the three-beat pulse he's been hearing for over a year in his head… and it leads agent Ryans and Lee into the heart of the Ruins of Midtown and a confusing discovery.
Date July 27, 2010

New Jersey

It's been a rough few days.

The industrial parklands of Jersey City span for miles outside the window of this ground floor room at the Econo-Lodge just off I-95. Climate controlled air tastes stale and the old cathode-ray tube television in the motel room gets about ten channels of equally depressing news, mostly covering the paramilitary attack in Manitoba, Canada weeks ago. Analysts and talking heads are all yammering about which terrorist organization might have been responsible, interviews with the Canadian Prime Minister and his public secretary. This, juxtaposed against first hand accounts of the isolation of Tokyo in Japan and the finalization of the Tokyo Restricted Zone. It's like the entire world has decided to lose its mind collectively.

Sitting on the corner of one of the two beds, Darryl Lincoln isn't watching the television, but he does seem to be listening, even with the volume off. His murmuring ovice matches what's playing on the TV, even as he tries to write something wholly unrelated on the seventh notebook his handler has had to get for him.

Agent Lashirah Lee is eating into her vacation time, officially. Unofficially she's baby-sitting a paranoid schizophrenic who has diarrhea of the pen, writing down everything and anything that comes to mind, even commercials for Jiffy-Lube.

They're apparently having a Grand Opening in Trenton.

The clock on the wall above the television is six minutes fast, which means that Benjamin Ryans isn't late yet to check in on Darryl, but he's getting close. The clock is counting down towards when the Institute projected to move on Theresa Parmenter and Darryl hasn't been able to tune in to anything they've been doing, or at least he hasn't tried. It's been a frustrating waiting game, but at least for the agents involved — one in their favor.

According to official reports, Agent Allison Richards was attacked by an "unknown" paramilitary group coming back from Greystone Park. It's all a smokescreen of course, because the Institute knows that they were there, and Ryans knows it was the Institute. Neither side can risk openly moving against the other without throwing their whole hand out, because — right now — plausible deniability is their strongest tool.

Say it once, say it again: It's been a rough few days.

There is a series of knocks on the door of the room before the door is unlocked and Benjamin Ryans opens the door just enough for him to state calmly. "Coming in, Lee." He doesn't wait for a response before the tall agent slips into the room bearing gifts. He wastes no time shutting the door again, and locking it behind him, cutting out the sounds of people arguing and… various other activities.

The older man's eyes go straight for finding his Agent. "I wasn't sure if would rather cherry or blue raspberry… so I got one of each and I figure.. Darryl can have the other." He pauses looking at the drink holder in his hands. "Or.. you could have both." A rare smile of amusement escapes before he sets the holder on the table, along with a white plastic bag containing various types of chips and such.

"How has he been holding up?" Ryans asks finally looking to the man they are working to protect. "I couldn't risk Richard's isotope giving away where we are. Otherwise I would have had her here."

Lashirah sighs. This is NOT how she wanted to spend that carefully hoarded vacation time. The time she usually used to work on her cover identity… after all, bands do go on tour. Moral Authority was no exceptioon to this rule. She looks up at Ryans, grabs the cherry flavor, and sips, all without a sound. THEN she nods. "Yeah. He hears EVERYTHING on radio broadcast apparently." She sighs. "I've listened to more ads this last few days then I have in the last year." It should be noted the TV has been completely unplugged… as has the clock-radio.

"…hit new single from Battery's new album Witchlight after the commercial break." Darren says in murmured greetings to Ryans, one eye twitching as he taps a pen repeatedly against the pad of paper in three-beat rhytym. There's a jittering of his foot doing the same as he looks down tot he notepad, lips pressing together in awkward motions as he tries to debate what to write and what not to.

From the looks of things the Institute may have gone quiet since the altercation where Darryl was freed. "H- Hello," Darryl finally interjects over the conversation, swallowing dryly and looking down to his notepad. "Could you turn— turn that phone off please? It— it's distracting."

A few more notebooks are pulled out along with fresh pens and set on the table. "With hope, we'll have a place to put him soon." He says softly. "Then we can get you back to work before the caseload gets too high. I need my forensic scientist back before more cases show up." He offers another small hint of a smile, before reaching up to tug the fedora off his head and dropping it on the table with a soft tap.

Fingers brush through his hair as he looks over at Lashirah, then moves to stand near Darryl, head turning so he can see what it being written, though the tapping grabs his attention and he watches it somewhat distracted. "Out of curiosity, what are you hearing from it?" He asks calmly, pulling the phone out of his pocket and presses down the appropriate button. He won't be here long. "And how are you feeling today?"

"The drums," Darryl notes thoughtfully, "not all the time though, phones never drum all the time. Just when someone has something to say, or— " there's a squint, "or when it is saying hello to the sky." There's a look down to the paper and Darryl breathes out a noisy sigh, laying the notebook down with a wary glance to the door. "Where is Doctor— " there's a hesitation, then a furrow of Darryl's eyes. "Where is Allison? She— she promised me— she said I would be safe."

Looking down and aside, Darryl seems uncertain of things. Though he hasn't complained about his two watchers, Doctor Richards seems to have been able to make a bond with Darryl, for better or worse.

"She's been busy." The the short explanation that Benjamin Ryans offers up to the other man. "When she has the time and we can find a safe place to do so, we'll let her visit you. Soon… with any luck." How do you explain to someone about the tracking placed in his evolved agents?

Feet shuffle some as he moves to where other of the filled notebooks lay, to pick one and thumb through it. "And the taps? Three beats, Darryl?" Turning notebook spread open in one hand, thumb brushing aside the pages,Ryans brows lift slightly, "Are you able to explain those?" He keeps his voice level and even, almost pleasant, as if they are having a regular conversation about the weather.

Lashirah listens quietly. She's been working on an idea to solve BOTH problems. She slides a little card towards Ryans. It shows a very simple idea… a metalic paint, with a light charge running through it, to act as a shield against the radio-tracking… and would be the equivlant of a 'mild' bit of white noise that would ground out most all the background electronic noise, without generating a loud tone.

Shaking his head, Darryl seems to have no answer. "Three- three beats, all the time. Awake, sleeping, anywhere… it's it's always there." One leg jittering to the beat, Darryl reaches out for the offered Slush-O that Ryans has remaining, a faint smile on his lips. "I-I can't not hear it… not unless I have medi— medication." Glancing askance to the window of the motel room, Darryl's dark brows crease together. "Allison s-said she could get me s-some medication that— that could stop it."

The movement from Lee, has him turning a little more to look, brows lifting a little. The book is closed and put down gently, so that he can move to retrieve that. As he looks over what is written on the card, Ryans nods slowly. "I'll make sure to ask her, I should see her later today. I see if we can get that for you."

It's not a lie. As much as Ryans would want to keep the man tuned in, he can't even imagine what the poor man is going through. "Anything else?" While he's at it, he might as well get a request or two, since the guy is stuck. "Any special food requests, maybe?"

The card is held up and Ryans gives a firm nod. "Not a bad idea, Lashirah. I'll make sure this idea gets into the proper hands."

Lashirah says, "… I'd kill for a big mac, a large moolatte mocha, and a order of onion rings. Other than that… some more book."

"I— I am hungry, um, we— maybe we could order ss— ssss— " Darryl's eyes shut just as he's sucking on that Slush-O, his throat tightening and expression looking for all his worth at the moment like a brain freeze. Hunching forward, Darryl's fingers slack on the plastic cup and the SLush-O falls down to the floor with a pop of the domed cap and a spill of sweet ice slushie all over the carpet. There's a keening sound in the back of Darryl's head, fingers winding into his hair as he breathes out a noisy sound.

"O— Ohh— s— squad one in position. Squad t-two in position," Darryl's handsa clutch at the side of his head as he slouches right off of the corner of the bed to land on his knees in the slushy mess. "Target is hot, repeat— repeat target is hot. Confirmation is made of leak. Unknown white— white make is m-moving in on Parmenter."

Straining to vocalize, Darryl's head shakes from side to side, brows furrow and his jaw clenches. "It— it's— hh— harder to hear," he whines, "quieter— m— more background nn— noises." They changed their encryption method to something drastically different, likely. "Unit z— zero-four is en-route to intercept."

Darryl's eyes go wide as he looks up to Ryans, "It— R— Ryans it was a— it was a trap!"

Lashirah sighs, and this time she doesn't even hesitate, as she goes to the dresser. "Ryans, how are you with larger firearms?" She asks casually as she pulls out a decent .243 hunting rifle, offering it to him.

"Deal." He states firmly, pointing at her with the card, before tucking it into the pocket of his dress shirt, which drapes weird over his chest, thanks to the body armor he's been wearing lately. After the altercation with the Institute — not to mention his meeting with a man of a questionable manner — Ryans is feeling the need for the extra protection… so does some of the people above him in the Company food chain.

The sound of Darryl's sudden dropping of the slushie has Ryans whipping around. Even as the words are coming out of technopaths mouth, Ryans is pulling his phone out of his pocket to turn it on. "Dammit." He growls out, eyes intent on the screen. "I hope he listened to me and is watchign for a trap.

"Rebel." He says at the phone, invoking the name of the digital devil himself. "Do you have a way to see if this man that calls himself the King of Swords has a cellphone on him?" Blue eyes go to the rifle being handed to him, which he actually reaches for, taking it, moving to drape it over a shoulder, so if he has to run out the door. "I need an urgent message sent." He waits now, softly praying, "Be there."

A worried glance is sent Lashirah's way, before he looks at Darryl. A hand moves to grip the man's shoulder, forcing the Assistant-Director to leans over. "Stick with it Darryl… you can do that for me?"

"No! No you— you can't go without me!" Darryl pushes himself up to his feet from the floor. "I know— I know where they are, where they'll go! Without me y— you'll be blind! P-Please— please I— I h-have to help!" Brown eyes wide, Darryl stares at Ryans and takes a step over to the assistant director. "P-Please, I— I cant— there's too much whispers t— too fast! I can't t-tell it all. I— I need t-to get closer to where they're w-whispering from."

Wait, what?

"I— I c-can— I can s-show you w-where they are. I— I w-won't let them get away w-with kidnapping— w— with taking s-someone else again." Looking over to Lashirah, Darryl gives a jerking nod, his brows furrowed and hair toussled, knees darkly stained wet from the Slusho-O he landed in.

There's no answer from Ryans' phone. Not right away. After a moment there's a vibration from a text message:

Negative. I will try calling all phones in the vicinity. Leave Jensen to me, Agent Ryans.

The agent stares at Darryl for a long moment, his jaw clenches. Last time he took someone with him, they died. Yet, to turn his back on 'The King of Swords' might ruin everything he's hoping to accomplish. What a way to be between a rock and a hard place. Of course, last time he didn't have his monster SUV.

The vibration of his phone has him glancing at it. "My thanks." The phone is tucked away then, no reason to bother the technopath.

Blue eyes go to Lashirah, as he leans over to pluck his fedora off the table. As he settles it on his head, he growls out the words. "Let's lock and load, Lee." He turns then for the door, taking a glance outside, before he opens it further. "Let's go Darryl. I have a vest that might fit you in the car." He knows he'll regret this, but he can't ignore it either.

The look of appreciation on Darryl's face is written so clearly that it might well be the more clear he's ever conveyed emotion to someone since being institutionalized. This isn't just to help someone in need, just to help someone out of the grasp of the Institute, this is karma for being unable to save his sister's life. This is Darryl Lincoln taking control of his life for himself, even if he needs a few helping hands to do it.

"W— We'll cut them off," Darryl insists in a shaky tone of voice, "interception of transmitted g-goods," is probably a quote fromsome television or radio advertisement or another, but right now it's exactly what this odd trio is intending to do.

Other than go head-to-head with the Institute, again.

Lashirah smiles and hauls the gun with, even though rifle is not her strong point. She places it on the seat, even as she buckles in. She'd been living in her vest since the incident… and she didn't see a reason to stop any time soon. "Shall we try to make the score two to zero, Ryans?" She asks with a mischevious grin.

"Sounds like a plan." The older man says, resting a hand on Darryl's shoulder. "Good to have you on board… lets keep you around, huh? So what I say goes." Blue eyes are shadowed from florescent lights by the brim of his fedora, but they still give the technopath a hard look. "I hope we have an understanding?"

The Assitant-Director doesn't wait for confirmation, he's alreadty hurrying out and points Darryl to the backseat. There is a short detour to the back of the large SUV, there he yanks the door open and retrieving a vest and a shotgun. Bringing a foot up, he kicks the door closed. The vest is tossed over the front seat to the back and he climbs in, passing over the mossberg to Lashirah. "I won't settle for less then two to zero." He comments to her, before glancing at the rear view mirror.

"Get that vest on Darryl."

Madison Avenue

The Ruins of Midtown

An agent from the Department of Homeland Security never has an issue crossing through the checkpoints into the Ruins of Midtown. That Benjamin Ryans' ID can get him places it can't get most other people is one of the fringe benefits of his job. This isn't a place he wants to go though, a place he wants to be. The Ruins of Midtown are a dangerous place, but this is — according to Darryl's instructions — where the signal is its strongest, where the information he's been tapping into has been broadcast from.

Madison Avenue has changed significantly in the years since the bomb. Skyscrapers are gutted, eviscerated things with explosed floors and twisted, skeletal frames. The roads are broken, cracked and littered with debris. Thankfully for Ryans, the SUV he drives has been equipped for off-road travel like this, even if Midtown Manhattan has now been classified off-road.

"W— we're not f-far… it's— it's l-louder here…" That the Institute has some sort of base of operations in the Ruins of Midtown seems suspect, but the broadcast transmission of the people who intended to kidnap Parmenter and did kidnap others is something Darryl seems to be able to intuitively feel and decypher. But for it to lead back here, to the scar of nuclear fire, is foreboding.

"I don't like this." Benjamin Ryans says softly, cellphone in the cradle already. "They already fooled a technopath once." Eyes flicking to the cellphone in the cradle — pretty much apologizing with the look for bringing that up — that has remained silent. At the moment he's inching along… of course, the growl of the engine isn't exactly silent. Coming to a stop, he doesn't go much further, for now.

Fingers lace to rest on the top of the steering wheel, head turning too look at the agent in the seat next to him. "If this is a trap within' a trap… this could go all wrong and chances are they already have eyes on us. We could lose our edge, but we could destroy what faith the Ferrymen have in us." His head lifts a little to look at the man in the backseat, through the smooth plain of the rear view mirror. "Are you sure about this Darryl?

"You risk capture by the Institute." There is no way to read what is on the old man's face, as he lays out the hard truth. "Or worse."

Lashirah looks at Ryans a moment. She doesn't say ANYTHING right now. But she has a VERY long set of questions she'd like to ask AWAY from many many an ear right now. She has handed the rifle to Darryl. It isn't her style, nor her strongest suite. She instead pulls out her service pistol, and makes sure a round is racked in as the SUV comes to a stop. "Ryans, if it's a trap within a trap, then we're already inside the net as soon as we went through the security checkpoint. We can only hope it isn't."

"I — I know wh-what I am," Darryl admits with a stammer from his seat in the back of the SUV, leaning between the front two seats to talk, one eye twitching. "I— I'm a r-responsibility to— to everyone. I'm the… the p-person they can't help. People p-pity me, because… because I was born sick." It takes a great measure of lucidity to admit something like that. "I— I know it's not, not just what I— what I do. I— I know I'm… b-broken…" Running his tongue over his lips, Darryl slowly shakes his head.

"D-Doctor K-Kurzweil told m-me once that— that people can't decide how they are born, only— only h-how they live." Hands trembling, Darryl looks up with visible anxiety and fright at his surroundings, big, open dangerous and unfamiliar. His paranoia and agoraphobia grip at his consciousness like talons from a bird of prey.

Still stuttering, he catches Ryans' eyes in the rear-view mirror as they drive. "W-what kind of p-person would I— would I be? If— if I let s-someone get t-taken by… by the whispers an— and— and didn't— " Darryl swallows dryly, "and didn't help? I k-know what's right. I'm not th-that stupid."

With a heavy heart and a wipe of one hand over hs mouth, Darryl solemnly explains, "G-Good people d-do what's— what's right."

"In the past few months, I have been around some amazing people, Darryl. You number among them." Ryans offers him a small smile. "Your a good man, and I am better for knowing you." Thirty years of this job and it's been the past six months that have truly made the man open his eyes and look.

Blue eyes are still on the rear view mirror as he looks at the guy in the back seat, while answering the woman next to him. "Already in it or not, he still deserves to know the truth, Lee." Hands unlace and move to grip the wheel again, as Ryans lets the car creep forward. Lips pressed into a thin line of worry, while he glaces at the twisted buildings around them, almost expecting people to jump out at him.

"With hopes Jensen" — switching to the man's real name — "gets away alright… because I'm not sure we're going to make it in time." The words are spoke slow, distracted as he watches the world outside the front window.

Lashirah listens. The truth. That's a heavy statement. And she's not sure she knows the entire story herself. She knows enough, however, to be in deep trouble. She keeps her eyes trained at the roofs, on the side roads… making sure they aren't m oving into an OBVIOUS trap. The sutble ones…well, they'd have to deal with one problem at a time

Eventually, through the windshield of Ryans' SUV, the source of the transmission that Darryl has been picking up comes into view. One awkward, bashfully pointed hand towards a crumbling stone building solidifies that 202 Madison Avenue is where everything is going down. It's a cathedral, more pointedly the Church of the Incarnation, a 200 year old gothic cathedral smack dab in the ruins.

Most of the cathedral is buried now, post bomb, in the rubble of a skyscraper that collapsed down onto the cathedral, but a portion of the church and its black-shingled belltower remains intact. Outside, it is clear that the government's lap-dogs have set up shop. An armored, gray-white van is parked on the street alongside the church, its back hatch doors open and coffin rails extended, but with no visible coffin or occupants inside.

"Th— there," Darryl stammers, pointing to the cathedral, "I— it's there, they're there." Swallowing noisily, Darryl breathes in and out deeply, fidgeting in the back seat. "I— I can hear— th— they have someone there, m-mister Ryans. Th— they have— " there's a twitch of his brows. "They have someone, they're going to take her away…"

Lashirah sighs softly. SHe's geting very tired of white vans. She looks about to see if there's more lying in wait. But she also knows that her vision might not be completely trustable. After all, the LAST one wasn't seeable until they wer eontop of the bastards. She looks down to the pistol in her hands, and remembers some words between herself and coworkers back at the FBI… it seems like a lifetime ago now.
"… Three of us. Likely more of them. And this time I doubt they are going to be as surprised when a black SUV takes out the van." Lash isn't happy with the situation… Not in the slightest. "We already stick out like a sore thumb in this thing out here… Guess we best smash while the smashing is good?"

Brows tilt up at the mention of someone being picked up.. there is hope that maybe this is the target. "Alright, good job, Darryl. Good job. Now -" His foot presses down on the gas and the engine roars to life. "—make sure your buckled in and keep your head down." His plan… to pin it if he can, since just ramming it doesn't work. These vans are just as tough as the SUV. "If they don't see you, we're golden."

Hands gripping the steering wheel and his eyes narrow. It's time to be a pain in the ass for the Institute. He has no idea what brought abou this sort of change in him… maybe it was when Winslow gave up his life to Ryans… maybe it was when he watched the Institute bundle a little boy into those coffins… or maybe it was when Harper smiled that goddamn smile of his.

The SUV barrels down the distance between them and the van. With hope this isn't an illusion too. Who knows how many they have on staff. It's sad… he just got the scratches fixed.

Martin will probably bitch about how they can't have nice things with Ryans around.

Oh well! Tally-ho!

Engine roaring, pedal pressed down as far as it can go and the black, battered and bullet riddled old SUV careens towards the parked and unoccupied Institute van. Darryl lets out a frightened yelp, ducking back into his seat while the Lashirah braces herself for the iminent impact. Ryans' SUV comes hauling up onto the van then swerves away at just the last minute, grinding the side of his SUV against the side of the parked van, ramming it into the stone wall of the church and pinning it between a literal rock and a hard place.

When the SUV comes to a stop, Darryl is mumbling in the back seat, "C-contact, unknown vehicle present, securing c-captive…" there's a shudder as Darryl pushes himself up to his feet, "Th— They're taking her u-upstairs… w— we— " No, Darryl corrects himself, "You have to get in there. You— you have to save her, please!"

Lashirah frowns. "Upstairs… shit airlift." She says the words plain as day even as she looks out her window at the pinned Van. "All out driver's side it appears. Let's go."

Turning in his seat to snatch a rifle out of the back seat next to the man, Ryans pins him with a hard look. "Stay here. Stay down out of sight." Turning around he grabs the door handle and shoulders the door open. "I'll lock the doors." They shouldn't be able to get into the car with hope.

His eyes go to the phone. "Rebel… I'm leaving my phone here. Keep an… ear — eye — whatever on him. If there are problems Lee's got her phone." With that he's out of the SUV, holding the door open for the other agent, rifle gripped in his other hand, til she's out then he'll shut the door and lock it, handing the keys to her. "Should Rebel contact us that Darryl is in trouble… you leave me and get him out of here."

Then slinging the rifle over his shoulder and retrieving his handgun, Ryans moves out as quick as he can, watching for threats.

Watching Ryans and Lashirah through the tinted windows of the armored SUV, Darryl is forced to stare helplessly as the Company agents round the front of the church, weapons drawn, towards the open front doors. From the looks of things, whoever here was just getting here, meaning that Ryans has them — once again — with their pants around their ankles. Ducking his head in enough that he can eye the doorway, the interior of the cathedral is expansive and beautiful, even in its half collapsed state.

A shaft of morning sunlight shines thorugh a hile in the ceiling where twisted metal framework points jaggedly through the broken roof. Torn up floor tiles and boards are piled with concrete debris, and between the pieces of broken stone there are wildflowers and grass growing.

It looks like these men from the Institute were waiting here for something, because a coffin container rests in the middle of the aisle, open, and Ryans can hear a handful of people hustling out of sight, their footsteps echoing on the stone floor on their way up.

In the downstairs, there's only two retrievers, pulling on their gas masks and trying to get the gaskets tight on their suits. If the agents don't act now, they'll lost the element of surprise.

Lashirah reaches into her leather jacket pocket… she had transfered a few surprises into it earlier. One of them comes out now, as she flicks a pin out, then casually tosses a small round device over Ryans head towards the preping thugs and yells but one word as she looks away, preparing for the sound that is about to rock some worlds. "BANG!"

Leaning against a wall, his head turned to the sounds inside, Benjamin Ryans eyes — shaded by his fedora — narrow in concentration. Not much time at all, he could only hope they can act fast enough. He turns to say something to Lashirah, only to see the flash grenade. He has enough sense to duck and turn away from the explosive, as it goes sailing over him.

As soon as he hear the 'boom', Ryans is pulling out both of his hand guns from under his black sports jacket and dumping a couple of rounds into the stunned men, aiming for those unprotected parts.

Lashirah covers not only Ryans back… but keeps looking back to make sure they aren't circled around, keepingg to one pistol… her backup pistol still in it's holster in the small of her back.

Gunfire rips thorugh the church after the raucous noise of the flash-bang, sending pigeons scattering from the rafters and flooding with flapping wings towards the door. Triggers squeeze down, shell casings rain from Ryans' Company issue .45s as muzzle flash lights up the dark hallway and fluttering feathers come drifting down from the escaping birds. One of the retreivers jerks backwards when a bullet punches thorugh his unarmored chest, landing flat on his back on the floor.

There's another series of loud explosive bursts of gunfire as the second retreiver falls to the ground clutching his throat, blood spraying across the concrete and flowers as he lands on broken wood and stone. Three noisy sets of feet are running up into the bell tower, and Ryans can hear soemone racking the slide on an automatic weapon and heading down to a first floor door — one that likely leads to the bell tower's stairs just inside the church.

"Make sure they stay down, Lee." Ryans growls out, both weapons being shoved home into their leather holsters under the jacket. The rifle is then brought around and settled up against his shoulder. "One with an automatic… possibly three sets of feet going up the stairs, my guess she's with them."

He then swings out into the open, staying near the wall, the barrel of the rifle follows everywhere he looks, jerking this way and that looking for a target. Moving deeper into the church, large stain glass windows, some broken, a few still in tact, throw light on the church floor. As he steps into a pool of it, the multitude of colors flows over his form, before washing off down his back as he continues.

As fast as he can he's heading for that door, while watching for movement.

Lashirah covers Ryan's back, and sides… she moves with purpose, and speed. She keeps alert, listening, both for a call, and to make sure nobody is pulling a fast double-back on them.

It isn't quite doubling back, but it's close.

Outside of the church, there's a sudden glow in the air, a hazy and indiscinct sphere of blue light some five feet across. It comes islent at first, before an electrical crackle fills the air, followed by a high-voltage sounding snap as a figure encased in a suit of black body armor materializes in midair. He drops two feet from his appearance and lands in a crouch, the sound of hitting the street makes an audible and heavy clunk. Hydraulics hiss and whine as he moves to stand, matte black armor plates interconnected by external hydraulics brings this masked man to stand tall in face of the church.

His helmet is a distinctive one, with an orange-red visor obscuring his face against the scuffed and damaged black paint. A boxy 00-04 stenciled in white on the right side of his chest plating. «Harper, I'm at the recovery s— » The first thing that 04 notices is that his communication gear is malfunctioning, a gloved hand taps at the side of his helmet, followed by a hiss of frustration before he notices the black SUV rammed up against the van. «Son of a bitch», crackles over his external vocalizer as he looks up to the church, not noticing Darryl behind the tinted glass in the SUV.

Striding into the church, the black-armored figure only gets a few steps before there's another crackle of electricity and a field of lightning snaps around his body, causing himto disappear in an instant, leaving behind sparks in his wake and cutting a divit out of the concrete he was walking across.

When Ryans emerges into the belltower hallway, there's an Institute retreiver waiting for him, though Ryans' rifle greets first, a thunderous explosion from the barrel leaves a burst of red in the retreiver's chest, launching him up off of his feet and through a wood-slatted window and out onto the street. Racking another round with a cha-chack, Ryans feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as electricity charges the room in the moment before a crackling ball of lightning appears in the middle of the cathedral by Lashirah along with a near six foot tall man in matte black armor resembling a heavier cast of FRONTLINE.

One knuckle-padded glove slams/ against Lashirah's back from behind, slamming her up against one of the walls with the force of the hydraulic powered exo-skeleton. Fingers curl into her jacket, lift her light weight up with one hand and bodily //throws her across the cathedral to smash down against the floor, her guns skittering away from her. There, in the doorway to the stairwell, 04's visored countenance stares down Ryans. «Little outside of your field, aren't you, Ben?»

He recognizes that voice, recognizes it from the hallway at Darryl's apartment, from the outside of the apartment building where the Incident took place.

Agent Eldridge.

Around Eldridge, there's smoldering debris, pieces of concrete seared off around the edges that look to have been brought with him in some form of teleportation ability.

He was right, it was the Institute all along.

The sound of impact behind him, the Assistant-Director swinging around with rifled raised at the black clad figure. "Well… fancy meeting you here, Eldridge." He manages somehow to sound pleased to see him, as well as look completely devoid of emotion. That hawk like gaze narrows dangerously from under the brim of his hat. Despite who the man is in front of him the rifle doesn't come down, it stays trailed on the other man.

His danger sense is telling him, they're possibly screwed, but then it told him that on the dam as well.

"I like the suit." The compliment come out flat - Ryans really doesn't give a shit. "Must be useful when kidnapping innocent people. Compensating for much?" He growls out the insult, eyes flashing with anger.

«Says the man who spent thirty years kidnapping children,» is tossed back with a static crackle from Eldridge's vocal modulator in the helmet. «You have a very big glass house to be throwing stone in, Ryans. But you've gone too far this time, you've screwed up too much. I'll probably get a medal for kicking your ass.» Though as Eldridge moves to advance on Ryans, there's a grumbled curse and a gunshot from inside of the church.

Eldridge jerks to the side as a high-caliber handgun round slams into the side of his armor, flattening like a mushroom but knocking him backwards. Layingo n the floor, blood running from a cut on her forehead at her hairline and from one corner of her mouth, Lashirah Lee has one pistol she crawled for leveled on Eldridge. One shot isn't enough, though.

The other fourteen rounds should suffice.

A semi-automatic handgun can empty its clip in five seconds, and that's all it takes for Lashirah to back Eldridge into a corner with the .45 caliber rounds. The only problem is, he's shrugging them off, the kinetic force is the only thing keeping him from advancing. Lashirah pulls herself to one knee, then lifts up her other pistol to save from reloading, opening fire on Eldridge again.

"Go!," Lashirah calls to Ryans, only to have Eldridge and a six foot section of the wall behind him disappear in an electrical flash as he reappear next to agent Lee along with a large portion of the building falling in smoking debris. Eldridge, seemingly unarmed, delivers a swift kick to Lee across her stomach, lifting her up off of the ground and sending her airborne over pews to crash down in the flowers.

Another gunshot, however, is perhaps the most unexpected thing in this entire scenario. A spark glows off of the side of Eldridge's helmet from the deflected shot, and a familiar — if not entirely unexpected voice echoes thorugh the church.

"Over here."

Standing silhouette in the doorway of the church, black suit caught in the wind and a notched, scraped up and old Company-issue .45 held in a double-fisted grip, the man with horn-rimmed glasses is a face that Benjamin Ryans can never forget. Glowering down at Eldridge, Noah Bennet offers a crook of his head to the side and a slide of his tongue over his lips. "A mutual digital friend of ours told me you could use some help. I owed Sabra a favor anyway."

Kidnapping children.

That was never Ryans gig, it was one of those things he could never stand, like much of what the Company did outside of the policing of Evolved. He's bracing himself for whatever Eldridge is going to do to him, Ryans is taken by surprise as eventually suddenly happen one after the other. "Lee!" He calls out, worried about the young woman as she lands in the flowers, but he doesn't dare go to check on her…. not yet.

"Bennet." The name is said with genuine relief, at that familiar sight. A small smile tugs at the corner of his mouth. "Your a hard man to get a hold of." Ryans is slowly stepping through debris, boots scuffing along the floor, the rifle turned to Eldridge again as he says. "Can't begin tell you how good it is to see you."

There's a crackling snap as Eldridge disappears again, and Noah is bolting ahead across the floor when Eldridge disappears, having an instinct for what people capable of teleportation are going to do, and knowing what the person he brought with him is willing to do as well. The moment Noah runs ahead, Elridge appears in a flash of electricity, withdrawing an overly large handgun from a holster at the small of his back, clearly intending to mean full business now.

As Eldridge prepares to open fire, there's a sudden explosion from a shotgun outside of the church, a noisy cha-chak and then another blats form a shotgun, both shots send Eldridge staggering forward, scraps of his armor torn away and sparks crackling over the back. He turns, looking over his shoulder to see a man older than Noah working a pump action assault shotgun.

Scott Harkness is an unfamiliar face to Benjamin Ryans, but not to the Ferryman. He may be old, he may be tired, but he's far from harmless. Eldridge opens fire at Scott, squeezing off a three round burst to the Ferryman, only to have scott take one hand off of his shotgun and hold it up in the air, creating a latticework of white and blue light that swallows Eldridge's bullets in mid flight, drawn into Scott's pocket dimension.

"This isn't my first gunfight," Harkness notes, followed by a noisy gunshot from Noah at Eldridge's back flank, forcing the teeporter to jump again in a flash of light, this time disappearing from the church. Noah takes the time to ecject his clip and reload another, looking back to Ryans.

"Parmenter is here," Noah explains the man you contacted was jumped by the Institute, they'd set a trap, probably for you. We came when Rebel had him contact us and clued us in on what was going on. We're here to take Lincoln and Parmenter off your hands, but only if we can get to her before the Institute does."

Stepping into the room, Scott is already pushing more shells into his shotgun, knee-high boots clunking over the floor on his way to Lashirah, crouching down at her side and checking her pulse. "I'll watch the ground floor," Harkness instructs, "Bennet, go with your friend there and make sure that teleporter doesn't grab her."

It's instinct that drives Ryans to swing his rifle around when another person joins the fight, but quickly the barrel is pointed down. Quickly, Ryans takes a moment to rush to Lashirah's side, fingers going to her neck only long enough to check a pulse. It's enough for the old man to be comfortable with leaving her.

The rifle's strap settled on the Company agents shoulder, before he starts back towards that door. He pauses near Harkness only long enough to say in a rough voice, kept low in case there are ears. "Watch her…. If I don't…" He doesn't have to finish those words, instead he takes a couple steps back, before turning away. It's a risk he's taking trusting these people, but what choice does he have?

A nod goes to Noah Bennet as Ryans is hurrying past him, shoes scuffing along the old flooring sending pebbles scattering. He reaches into his jacket to retrieve one of his hand guns. He eject the magazine and adds another as he starts up the stairs, keeping his back to the wall.

Hustling up the stairs behind Ryans, Noah keeps his gun trained up on the open stairways above. He's only ten feet behind Ryans the whole way, two of the most seasoned agents the Company has ever trained, working together against the government in some shadow war. Had either of them been told this is how they would be spending their silver years, neither man would've believed it true. What a difference the bomb made in the world.

By the time Ryans reaches the landing, he hears Noah's gun going off. There's a scream, and one of the Institute retreivers is plummeting down through the opening of the bell tower's stairwell. Noah offers a nod of his head to the technically older agent and continues following behind him, allt he way until they get to the door at the top of the bell tower's ascent.

Stepping to the side of the door, Noah gives a nod and moves into position to kick it open so that Ryans can be the first to respond to whatever's on the other side. "One, two…" and Noah lunges forward, kicking the door open with a crack of the old wooden frame, sending the door swinging out onto the balcony of the bell tower that overlooks the gray skies above the ruins of midtown.

Drizzling rain begins to fall from the sky, and Noah swallows tightly as he looks around the balcony walkway, no one there. It's only from Ryans' slightly left-shifted perspective that he sees what was dreaded. Standing with his back to the railing, black armor pitted from bullet contacts, Agent Eldridge holds Theresa Parmented with one arm around her neck, gun aimed out towards Ryans.

«Hello again, Ben.»

Time and time again these two very men proved you don't have to be evolved to take one on, it helps in the intensity of the situation to remember that. Ryans' respect for Bennet is as much as it ever was, so he doesn't even allow himself to be concerned about his back being to the man. It feels like a life time since he had worked with anyone that competent. In today's Company, agents like them are a rarity.

So when they reach the top and Noah Bennet kicks that door out, Ryans is quick to take point. His jacket flaring behind him, the Assistant-Director comes face to face with the Black-clad Eldridge.

"Eldridge." The name coming out like a bad taste in Ben's mouth.

His weapon is leveled at the Institute Agent, but he knows there is no way he can risk the woman with him. "What are you going to do now? Disappear like you did at Hamilton Heights when you took Shelly Winbrook?

"You take her…" The threat in his voice is clear, finger lifting to point at Theresa. "…and I will eventually find a way to take you all down." Ryans growls out angrily, the words rumbling. "Me and whoever else I can find, cause I doubt I'm the only one."

«Only doing my job and serving my country,» is Eldridge's self-righteous answer as he squeezes his armored forearm against Theresa's throat tighter. «You're on the wrong side of this, Ryans. You're going to wind up dead, and then who'll take care of those beautiful girls of yours?» The crackling warning over Eldridge's vocalizer has Noah offering a furrow of his brow, noticing the smoke coming off of Eldridge's armor in thin wisps.

"Must be hard," Noah offers, stepping in through the door, "teleporting the way you do. The friction, your suit's taken a lot of it, that's how you do it without hurting yourself, how you can push the number of times you can jump. It's not so uncommon," all those years of ability expertise coming to a head, "I've seen teleporters like you come and go, but you're cashed right now, aren't you?"

There's a look from Bennet to Ryans, and Noah steps out onto the balcony, gun trained on the man in the FRONTLINE-like armor. "You were in Thompson, weren't you? Not many people must be able to do what you do on the scale you can." A strong wind blows in from the ruins, driving the drizzling rain at Noah and Eldridge, rainwater running down in rivulets from his visor.

"There's nowhere to run now, let the girl go. You're not going to kill her, your bosses need her." But that's where Noah's played his gambit too hard, and where Eldridge has an ace up his sleeve. Did he teleport from the church foyer to the roof to get the drugged and weary Theresa Parmenter?

No, he teleported inside of the SUV first.

«I'll make you a deal,» Eldridge notes, motioning with a nod of his head towards the railing nearby where Ryans can now hear stammering noises, noises he'd been drowning out over the sounds of the wind and the distant rumble of thunder. There's fingers grabbing onto the edge of the railing, and just over the edge, Daryll Lincoln is dangling for his life by his hands, trembling in fear where Eldridge has left him.

«I'll trade, you for Parmenter.» They wanted Ryans all along. «Then your friend there can save Darryl's life. Deal?»

Brows furrow a little and Ryans shifts a little til he can see the tops of Darryl's hands. For once, Eldridge will see a slight widening of the agents eyes, before a steely glare is turned towards him. There is an almost resigned way he says, "Hold on, Darryl!" He calls even as he watches the Institute's man. "Bennet." The Assistant-Director slowly lowers his gun, jaw set. "Darryl needs a place. Make sure he has one." The gun is shoved into it's holster. "Keep an eye on the girls too, if you would.

"I want your word, Eldridge. No one in the Institute or representing them will come after her." His eyes flicker to Theresa, "Her boys need their mom." Always with Ryans, the kids are a weakness. The fact she lost someone in the bomb, doubly so. His girls are grown women, they don't really need him.

He then holds up both hands, a sign that the Company Agent is possibly complying.

There's a drumming noise inside my head that starts when you're around

«Sure,» is Eldridge's smarmy response thorugh the voicemodulator of his helmet. Noah is already backing towards where Darryl is hanging over the ledge, gun trained on Eldridge and brows furrowed. He isn't sure whether Ryans is insane or whether he has a plan, but right now the situation is as volatile as it can get, and Noah's job is the protectign of people like Theresa Parmenter and Darryl Lincoln — nor Benjamin Ryans; Ben knows the risks.

I swear that you could hear it

As Ryans creeps closer, Eldridge keeps his .50 caliber pistol trained on the old agent. When he gets close enough, Eldridge slowly lets go of Theresa and pushes her away, sending the dark-haired woman staggering, tear-filled eyes only now starting to realize what's going on as the drugged haze begins to fade.

It makes such an allmighty sound

Eldridge reaches out, grabs Ryans by the collar and presses the barrel of that .50 caliber monster to his chest, and this close Ryans can see the suggestion of Eldridge's face through the material of his visor, «You've made a lot of enemies, Ryans. Now you're going to get to pay up.»

There's a drumming noise inside my head that throws me to the ground

Noah is struggling to pull Darryl up with one arm, forcing him to holster his Company-issue gun and reach with both hands to draw Darryl up over the stony edge of the railing. But in that moment when Darryl climbs up, Eldridge sweeps his gun away from Ryans' breastbone and aims it over his shoulder towards Noah and Theresa.

I swear that you should hear it

"No!" comes a scream from Darryl as he throws himself away from Noah's grasp and leaps in front of Theresa with his arms spread, "No you can't have her!" The report of the gun firing at the side of Ryans' head deafens him in one ear, a shell casing spins hotly and burns against the side of Ryans' cheek and Darryl is blown off of his feet by the force of the gunshot.

It makes such an allmighty sound

Theresa lets out a high pitched scream as blood sprays across her face and Darryl goes falling backwards over the railing. Noah lets out a horrified cry and reaches out, trying to grab Darryl by the shit as he flies backwards, fingers far too late and far too slow. Darryl disappears over the edge of the railing, falling backwards from the belltower with droplets of blood trailing after him in the falling rain.

Louder than sirens

Noah withdraws his gun from the holster while Eldridge is surprised, allowing for Ryans in the horror of that moment to shoulder Eldridge back up against the railing, whipping out his own Company issue gun and firing it point blank range repeatedly into Eldridge's armor, each time punching a dent into the metal.

Louder than bells

Noah whips his gun up and another bellowing report of muzzle flash and powder burn and this time it strikes Eldridge square in the front of his visor, spiderwebbing the glass but not penetrating the reinforced material.

Sweeter than Heaven

Theresa slouches back against the far railing, her hands covering her mouth and nose, breaking down into terrified and confused sobs as gunfire rings loudly in her ears. Another gunshot from Ryans in the chest sends Eldridge flipping backwards in his heavy armor over the same stone railing.

And Hotter than Hell

In freefall, Darryl's vision blurs as he watches the bell tower recede from his vision, fingers grasping at the air and eyes wide. That he can see on the whole way down isn't a punishment, because he can see Theresa up on the balcony, he can see Ryans and Noah, he can see the people that deserve to go on as he falls, and he can see Eldridge falling with him.

I ran to a tower where the church bells chime

Eldridge curs his arms and legs in towards himself as crackling bolts of electricity course over his armor, one more jump, he just has to push himself a little more. Against all odds, and against any sense of fairness and rightness in the world, there's a crackling snap of electricity as Eldridge makes his teleportative jump, leaving sparks and smoke in his wake.

I hoped that they would clear my mind

Stumbling over to the edge of the railing as the rain begins to fall in a harder downpour, Noah Bennet can barely see through the water on his glasses, but there he is never the less, at Ryans' side, staring down at the man laying on his back, arms out at his side, dead on the pavement below them.

They left a ringing in my ears

There aren't words to describe what Noah feels, the horror, revulsion and anger welling up in him. But there it is, and there he goes, turning for Theresa with slow steps, his gun hand still trembling from adrenaline and rage.

But that drum's still beating…

This isn't over, not by a long shot.

…loud and clear.

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