Trial By Fire


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Scene Title Trial by Fire
Synopsis Squad-2 Begins its first test mission as a team
Date February 12, 2010

West Virginia

Carlson-Breckler Ironworks Ruins

From the approach through snowy skies, the Carlson-Breckler Ironworks in West Virginia looks like something that would belong in the ruins of Midtown in New York City. The four story ironworks factory is a crumbling concrete nightmare of twisted metal, shattered windows and tall smokestacks that reach up towards the sky, no longer able to belch black smoke up into the air. Within the interior of a helicopter, members of Frontline Unit-01, Squad-02 are given their first glimpse of where the training exercise is scheduled to take place.

The helicopter circles the structure once, with the pilot's voice crackling over the internal speakers. «Hope you boys and girls are bundled up tight in those suits, looks //mighty cold down there on the ground!» Truth be told, it's cold //inside the helicopter. When the bird touches down in the vacant and plowed parking lot outside of the factory, a flurry of snow is pushed away from the helicopter in a swirl of white around the black vehicle.

Sliding open the interior door, Diego Smith is the first out and onto the ground of the parking lot, the boots of his Horizon suit crunching the thin crust of ice on the ground underfoot. It's different, wearing the suits with the helmet on. There's so much visual input going on in the periphery that it could easily be misconstrued as distracting. Tiny indicator lights of heart rate and blood pressure, illuminated arrows on the inside of the face plate showing the direction of where team members are with surname identification tags like some sort of compass.

«Welcome to your first live fire training exercise, team.» The voice of Sarisa Kershner comes crackling over the headset intercoms connected to each helmet the members of Squad-02 wear. «The structure in front of you is a derelict ironworks factory, the kind of run down and abandoned structure you might find in New York in several regions. It could be filled with Chinese mafia, drug runners, or Evolved terrorists. Today— your opponents are slightly different.»

The helicopter's engine winds down and the door slides shut behind the team as they hit the parking lot outside. «This is a simulation of an actual Frontline mission you could face in the real world. We have a government-liscensed illusionist preparing a variety of seemingly real targets inside the structure, and she'll be watching you from security cameras placed throughout the facility. Your task in this mission… is to rescue five NYPD officers held hostage somewhere inside of the ironworks facility, from members of an international terrorist organization known as the Vanguard.»


«There are two entrances to the facility which have been supplied to your Intelligence officer. A loading bay area in front of you, and business entrance around the back. There is no indication where the NYPD officers may be inside, and rough estimations of at least //ten Vanguard terrorists, an unknown amount of which are Evolved.//»

Scratching the outside of his helmet as if that would help with the itch he has beneath it, Diego turns to angle a black faceplate towards Liz and then over to Prince, while Sarisa continues giving the run down of the simulation. «Your job is to hatch a plan of attack following your team assignments. For this job, Diego has all of the information pertaining to the structure and Liz will be the one formulating the plan. It will be up to your Commander to decide how best to carry on from there.»

«Since this is your first live-fire training exercise, you will be given as much time to prepare outside the facility as you wish. But once you enter, the simulation will begin. If you have any questions, your communications officer may relay them to me.»

«Good luck, Squad.»

Rachel step out of the helicopter in a move that is somewhat well practiced for the Marine, and judging by the smoothness with which she performs it she has finally gotten used to the armour. Her eyes looking around the periphary to get a feel for what is there and she smirks lightly before she says through the mics and to the rest of the crew. "I feel like I'm playing Call of Duty," Rachel states, an eyebrow raising as she looks down at the gun in her hands before she says, "Well, shouldn't be boring today." With that said, her eyes go over towards Elisabeth, and she waits to here the plan. That's always been her job, stand around and wait to hear where she is going and then go there.

The HUD in the helmet is driving Elisabeth damn near bonkers as she drops off the helicopter behind Diego. She doesn't rely on her abilities as much as some people, but to use certain aspects of them properly, she has to have her ears free. The input from the HUD is causing her to feel like she's sitting in a movie theater watching a 3D movie, and the sensation is disorienting. The briefing brings Elisabeth's head up to look toward the building, and she studies the structure for a long moment. Her job is to formulate a plan of attack, but …. Elisabeth has never been SWAT. Nor has she ever been part of a group that cleared a building. Not in the conventional sense.

"So here's the trick — in a real-life scenario like this, one of two things would work really well: infrared sensors or binoculars could help us locate warm bodies in there, *or* I could probably pinpoint an approximate location of at least some of the people inside using their own heartbeats as beacons. That won't work in the case of an illusion." She looks toward the soldiers of the group. "In this instance, those of you who've worked in the Middle East are more likely to have the advantage — I was not SWAT, I was a hostage negotiator with the NYPD before SCOUT. Would you clear the building the same way a SWAT team would?"

"All my training in this sort of situation involves boarding boats— which may come in handy stopping illegal ferries to Staten Island, or the pirates I kept hearing about on Harbot Patrol, but it won't do much to get us into a building." A building has a different mode of entry than a boat, and a hostage situation even more-so. Faye's grateful that no one's using the link yet— voices in her head would probably just be a distraction. Illusion means none of them will die, and the hostages can't die, but it's a prelude to real situations. Who knows what they'll face once they're let loose in New York City. This could end up being a piece of cake in comparison. "We might have to risk splitting up into groups."

Jumping out of the helicopter and onto the concrete through the swirl of kicked-up snow, Jeremy Prince looks around with a look of concern and anticipation beyond the screen of his helmet. He walks a few feet towards the building before stopping and turning around. He gives the rest of the group a helpless shrug. "Yeah, I was in Iraq, but I'm a doctor. I wasn't clearing buildings of terrorists or anything like that. I sat put and stitched up who they told me to stitch up." He looks between the members of the group, shaking his head. "But I've seen units do it, in training anyway. First order of business, we need to reconnoiter the area from the outside the best we can before we step in. Since we don't have infrared and well, they're illusions, we need to rely on our eyes."

"I saw on the way in that this place is pretty bad in terms of shape. Lots of busted out windows, holes in the structure - I suggest Varlane take it floor by floor, in the air, looking inside to see if there's anything visible. Once we have an idea what we're dealing with, we split the team into two groups and take an entrance each and move floor by floor internally."

"I'm getting some info patched in to this helmet thing from Command, looks like they got the name of one of the Vanguard guys inside the building." Diego quirks his head to the side, eyes flashing left and right across the HUD of his helmet. "Guy's name is Elias DeLuca, arms smuggler and according to this print-out here, teleporter. Looks like we got a match for you in there, Mills. Psych profile I got says he's a shoot-first ask questions later kind've fellow, also more interested in saving his own hide than following orders." Diego turns to angle a look at Elisabeth, then towards Commander Varlane, who's standing with her arms folded in silence, listening to the team and examining the structure of the building.

"Harrison?" Commander Varlane looks over her shoulder, brushing off some snow from the shoulder of her armor, "what do you recommend?" Neutral assessment of the situation is exactly how Varlane handles it, if they want to mold Harrison into a good logistics officer and think she's got the brain for it, than that's exactly what she's going to let this exercise do.

Rachel looks towards Elisabeth and then to Prince as he talks. She's quiet for a couple of moemnts, before she says, "I have had way too much practice doing this sort thing. Regardless, best thing to do when your clearing a building and you don't know what is inside. You go floor-by-floor. Starting with the ground floor and working your way up. Once you're in there, then we've got options. Commander Varlane and I are both somewhat mobile and can scout things out ahead of time. I can teleport up to the next floor above. Or, if I get a good enough look and there is a flat surface on the roof that another team member and I can stand on with an entry way in to it, I can teleport me and another person up there, and we can work or way top down while you work from the bottom up. Make them split up thier forces."

Rachel looks up at the roof for a moment, tapping her foot while she stands there and thinks before she finally says, "But the nitty-gritty of it, is that you /have/ to be methodical. You can only go the next floor once the floor you're on has been cleared of Tangos. Otherwise, you're just asking for one of them sonna bitches to jam themselves up your ass in the most uncomfortable way possible."

Her chin comes up; Elisabeth knows a challenge when she's handed it. "Within the realities of a situation like this, I recommend the communications officer get back in touch with Kershner and find out whether their illusionist is good enough to 'show' me heartbeats in a realistic fashion. Based on the last mission that I ran, I'd be able to give you an approximate headcount and a general location of them from here. No definite numbers, but I'd be able to tell you if there's a group of them in close proximity to one another, which would presumably be the five cops, since they'd be unlikely to separate hostages." She debates two approaches, taking Mills's experience into account, and then says, "Then I'd recommend a fast hit in two teams. A distraction team to engage — make it look good, clear from the ground floor up — while Mills takes one person with her so they can teleport to the rooftop and come in from that angle just above where the group would be located and deal with whoever's left on guard."

There's another pause. "If Kershner tells us that we can't get any additional intel, I'd recommend a different course of action. Mills can take the whole lot of us, yes? And they're going to be watching the ground entrances for incursion — so instead of starting on the ground floor and working our way up, let's take the whole squad to the high ground and hit 'em from the top down."

"Of course," Faye says to the group, a twinge in her voice, but no visible expression under the mask that guards her face. before she switches the communications for an outward line back to the boss. "«Agent Kershner, we need intel on if your illusionist can create realistic heart beats and sounds for the illusion, and if she can, to make sure that she's doing that now, so we can continue the scenerio as we would in a completely realistic situation.»" And if the illusionist can't they definitely need to know that too.

Jeremy looks to everyone as they speak in turn, kneeling down at a pile of snow and dragging one armored finger through it making a simple design in it for no apparent reason. Probably to occupy himself while the real soldiers work out what they want to do, content to sit by and do whatever he's ordered. He's a doctor first and foremost. And whatever they're planning is going to come down to how real this illusion is. Eventually he looks up from his snow art to speak up again. "So.. at any rate, if we split I think we should stick with groups of 3. That way, if one person goes down the other isn't completely alone."

«No further intel is available from sounds of heartbeats. Our illusionist is capable, but I'm restricting her use of ability some. She can fool all five senses, but in the field you may have to deal with situations that are suboptimal for some of your abilities. Adapt and survive, Squad. Kershner out.»

Diego rolls his shoulders and cocks his head to the side. "Right, well— swell. Guess we got our marchin' orders though. What'dya you say, Boss?" Varlane looks over her shoulder to Diego, emotionlessly displaying the black visor of her helmet as she finally turns her back to the facility, voice chiming in over the interconnected communications device.

"Alright, we'll move in and I want everyone on me. Harrison, silence our approach. I'll make an anti-gravitic recon of the interior of the structure as best as I can, since my floating doesn't produce an optical flash like Mills' teleportation. Barring any game-changing positions spotted inside of the building, we'll divide into two teams. Mills, Smith and Prince will take the roof via Mills' teleportation ability."

Commander Varlane then points towards Faye and Elisabeth, "Crawford and Harrison will come with me from below. Harrison will keep the ground team's approach silent and be on a no-fire sweep unless spotted. Mills, your team will come down from above and we'll meet in the middle. Stick to small arms, we've got silencers on out Glocks. Shoot to kill, don't let anyone get away. We don't know if the terrorists will kill the hostages if they feel threatened. If we emerge into a situation where the hostages lives are in danger Harrison takes point if negotiations seem possible."

Commander Varlane takes a step towards the favtory, "Let's go."

Rachel blinks more than a little at Elisabeth, before her eyes go to Felicia and she nods her head a moment. "Two people at once, well, this'll be fun," she says to no one particular before she motions towards Prince and Smith. "Alright, get your rears over here, we'll get this over and done with. If I only get half of you guys through, I'm sorry in advance." She smiles at the both of them, before her eyes go back to Felicia and she creeps forward with her, waiting for her to go ahead and do the recon so she knows whether or not she'll get to lead her own team in. Okay, she might be going a bit far by saying lead, but her natural tendency is to take charge when there isn't a designated leader there with them.

Elisabeth nods briefly, quickly. With orders now in hand, she readies the weapon she's carrying for action — just in case — and says, "I can, by the way, silence gunfire as well. Within the area of effect, nothing can get out. So if you wanted to go in shooting, we could simply take out anyone in our path with zero noise."

"Yes sir," Faye says casually, unsure how the leader of the team prefers to be addressed and not seeming to take any chances with ma'am. As she moves to follow, she checks her weapon a few times, finding this akin to laser tag, but knowing that a missfire could be deadly. For them. Hopefully they won't get put in any situations where friendly fire would be a problem. Settling in close to Harrison, she finishes checking her weapon and then goes over the communications systems one more time. They have back up, in case of an emergency, but it doesn't hurt to check, especially if she can find any rogue signals.

Just a thought, she adds in a telepathic voice. They might be able to access our radio— well, the illusionist probably can, certainly, but in a real situation there's no telling they wouldn't be able to as well. If needed we can use this, but I'll have to relay anything that you send to the others. Her power is unfortunately only through her, but that doesn't mean she can't be a hub for emergencies.

Moving over towards Rachel, its clear even through the armor that Jeremy isn't exactly thrilled with the idea of being teleported - whether its because of who is doing the teleporting, or just the thought of the teleportation is - isn't as clear. "Uh, why don't you just take us one at a time? Wouldn't that be, you know, safer?"

When Rachel is awkwardly offering her query to the team about the numbers of people she can teleport to the roof at a time, Felicia Varlane is looking up at the blown out windows of the factory, crouching just a little in that armor she's still not entirely accustomed to, before making a very gentle jumping motion. When Felicia comes off of the ground, clumps of snow underfoot follow with her, bouyant and weightless in the air as if she were suddenly in the vacuum of space. That jumping push was all the gravitokinetic needed to give herself three stories of lift, drifting up into the air silently, gradually tilting in mid-air like some sort of slow-motion acrobat.

«Smith are you seeing this?» Felicia taps one finger to a button on the wrist of her sleeve, sending the helmet camera feed to Diego's HUD. No longer watching Smith receeding up into the sky, Diego takes a knee to try and study what's being down on the screen inside of his visor. "Looks like we've got three guys on the second floor, at a table. Large room, looks like it might've been a parts manufacturing area there's metal lathes in there with them, bunch of old tables. Looks like they're resting or— no wait, they're cleaning their guns.

Felicia's nearly entirely upside down by the time she reaches the third floor, legs straight up and arms crossed over her chest, like a high-diver preparing for the descent in the middle of a jump. «I've got one man on the third floor walking a hall, and— shit.» Immediately, Felicia's gravitokinesis turns off, and those clumps of snow start falling back to the ground, along with the brunette.

Plummeting towards the frozen pavement, Felicia stops only moments before she hits the ground, landing on a cushion of inverted gravity and weightlessness that sends a ring of snow blowing out away from her, and she lands in a silent crouch. «There's two men on the roof, we're just close enough to the walls where they can't see us. They've got light SMGs, you're going to need to take them out when you get up there, Mills…»

Rachel looks at Felicia, before she nods her head a little and says, "Shouldn't be too much of a problem, as long as those two are ready to start shooting as soon as we blink into existance up there. Not going to be able to have a hand on my gun taking two up with me." The private frowns a little while looking up at the top of the tower and hmming, planning her best plan of what to do. "On the same note, I could teleport and drop a flashbang, teleport away til it goes off, teleport back and wipe them up. Then teleport back to get those two," she offers, eyes looking between Felicia and Elisabeth.

Holy shit, Elisabeth has a moment to think. It's not like she hasn't seen a Varlane do that before…. okay, now that's a weird thought. Felicia said she only had a sister. So anyway… It's just damn impressive whenever she sees it. Hell, she always thought it was impressive when Petey flew, especially when he caught her. Her attention turns to alarm when Felicia falls, and her heartrate kicks into seriously high gear. Adrenaline spike anyone!?

Liz readies her weapon and says into her radio, «As long as your teleport doesn't have disorientation effects, I can silence the weapons fire while we take them out.»

The gravity acrobatics come as a shock, but it's difficult to tell considering the helmet blocks most of the blinking and mouth gaping from sight. That's going to take a while to get used to for Faye. Abilities have never been the high point of her day, but she's seeing that's bound to change. Weapon at the ready, she will probably be grateful for staying on the ground level for the most part. "Ready when you are," she says clearly, keeping close to Elisabeth for the time being.

Prince has his back turned to Felicia's trip through the air, so he doesn't see her sudden descent and quick stop before crashing into the snowy pavement, though some of the kicked up snow hits him in the back. He turns around sharply, accustomed to moving pretty swiftly in the Horizon armor thanks to Michael Spalding's skills. "Well, not to sound like a coward, but I like the plan that keeps me from possibly getting shot at the least. I'm game either way, though." Perhaps to illustrate this point, he checks his weapon, locked and loaded. Was his talk about not liking to hurt people just talk, or is it just that its an illusion that he's not afraid to open fire?

"Can you cover the roof, Harrison?" Felicia asks over her shoulder, squaring her shoulders. "If not I can switch you out with Prince, I can take him down through the front doors with my team. Since there's going to be shots fired up on the roof and we know that going in, there's no sense in giving an early warning. If you can't cover the roof from the ground, I'd rather you go up instead of Prince."

Diego straightens from his crushing, dusting snow off of his knees and sliging the combat shotgun he'd opted to take for the mission from over his shoulder, offering a look of his reflective visor to Felicia, then over to Liz. "Whatever we do, I've got your backs. No telling how many men are on the ground floor."

Rachel looks over at Liz before she replies, "Um, its not disoriententing for me. But, it could be for others." She looks back to Felicia before merely nodding her head, settling her gun and waiting for futher orders.

There's a long moment's pause, and Elisabeth admits, "I can cover things at small ranges, but I've never tried something as far as that — so to be on the safe side, I'd say no. I'll need to go with." She doesn't seem bothered by the team splitting up or with the mission as it stands. In point of fact, considering that Prince seems reluctant to actually engage in the firefight, Liz herself would feel better if he stayed near Varlane. She looks at Rachel. "I've ridden with a teleporter before — just make sure you're behind us and the bad guys are in front when we land." She steps backward, close to Rachel facing outward, and just before the woman teleports the group, Elisabeth puts up the silence bubble around them.

With the change of plan, Faye moves to stand near one of the males of the group, though in the suits it's difficult to tell genders, if one didn't know who they were based on height and other subtle things. They all look a lot alike. "If only we had two of you," she says in an honest, but quiet way. It would be handy to both have a silencer on each of the teams, ground and roof. As it is, the silencers will have to do their job for them… "Did we get any description on the teleporter? Do we know if he's one of the ones you saw?"

"Hey, slap me on the back of the head if I'm wrong here, but this is a training op, right? It might be a good idea for Harrison to hang back and see if she can silence the roof from here. That way, during the real thing, we'll know. They're giving us an opportunity here to test ourselves not just a team, but also as individuals." Prince, the ever present voice of reason, doesn't move just yet, but he nods at Faye. "Also, don't forget we may have more Evolved about. Those guys on the roof, maybe."

"I've got his face up here on my display, lemmie uh…" Diego looks down at the buttons on the back of his wristband, "press… I think it's this one?" There's a flash of a small picture onto the right peripheral view of all of his team members, a man in his late 30s, light eyes, short brown hair, dressed in a dark suit in his file photo. "Didn't see him in any of the video the Commander sent. Guess that means we're lucky— maybe."

Nodding her head once, Felicia angles a look to Prince. "This is a field exercise meant to simulate an actual assignment, we can test limits when we're not on a pass or fail objective here. Our mission is to secure the hostages, not play guessing games with our abilities." Ever the pragmatic one.

"Prince, Crawford, you're on me. Stay behind and watch your sides, we go room to room, if you find a hostage get them down on the ground and make them stay there, then move on. We don't have time to play shephard and corrall them outside. Harrison, you're with Smith and Mills. Hit the roof hard and fast, then move down to the third floor. We'll try to meet you on the second. My team will move out once you have the roof secure."

Rachel nods her head to the orders that are given. Looking at Diego and Elisabeth she says, "Alright then, ready?" She smiles at the lot, before she lays her hand on them and closes her eyes. She doesn't want to screw this part up. "Three. Two. One," she counts down so that everyone can hear, before with a blink of white light, the three of them perhaps find themselves on the roof.

Elisabeth is not about to assume that we're lucky. He's here somewhere. She'll follow Varlane's lead, though Prince has a good suggestion. "Both it and sonar mapping are something I'm working on, just haven't had time to practice much," she replies calmly. At the count of two, she envelopes them in the field, and at the count of one, she's got both eyes open and her finger on the trigger….

Staying close to the team leader, Faye takes a position behind her, to begin the sweep of the lower floor, paying careful attention to the surroundings, as well as the information coming through the link from those going to the roof. Live fire exersize or not, she doubts it will be life threatening. It just could be distracting if it simulates real pain and she has to feel part of it. Five hostages. Many Vanguard. They certainly didn't give them an easy assignment for the training— but the real ones likely won't be easy at all.

Prince looks a little defeated, raising his arms up in the air in an exacerbated fashion while shaking his head. "It's like I'm talking, but nobody can hear me." Despite his verbal protestation, he fixes his grip on his gun and moves in to take his position, ready for the task at hand.

Teleportation is an amazing thing, where the world seems to rush past at a thousand miles a second before just snapping back into place. When Elisabeth Harrison, Diego Smith and Rachel Mills appear in a brilliant corona of white light, the silence generated in a bubble by Elisabeth Harrison drowns out the screams of confusion that the two terrorists on the roof would have made.

Both of them, dressed in body armor over business suits level their SMGs towards the brilliant flash, and what should be warning shouts to the men down below come out as nothing but gaping mouths and flapping tongues. In front of where Rachel stands, Harrison raises her rifle and one quick squeeze, three shots are fired, finger eases back. How many times now does she have to go through that mental regimen, lean into the shot, brace against the shoulder, breathe out, squeeze the trigger.

One of the Vanguard terrorists goes flying backwards, the absolute silence of the gunfire accompanying a spray of his SMG up at the skies as his hand clenches around the trigger on falling back, leaving a drizzled trail of blood behind him as he does. The second gunman is firing from the hip, brows furrowed and mouth open, muzzle flash the only sign that a gunfight is even happening.

It's so real up there for them, and Diego is perceiving this firefight as if it were nothing but the bloody reality he'd seen over a year and a half ago at Eagle Electric in Queens. His body moves in unusually sharp and precuse ways, one quick sidestep around a spray of bullets and an effortless squeeze of the triggle of his combat shockgun, and what was once a terrorist is then a misting red cloud as he falls backwards, slamming into the door of a rooftop stairwell, bouncing off with a red smear on blue paint, then collapses onto his side on snowy concrete.

Racking the gun, Diego launches a smoking red shotgun cartridge into the air, whirling end over end as he leads with the barrel of his shotgun, marching across bloodied snow towards the rooftop stairwell in silence.

"That's our cue." Felicia notes as she begins making the approach towards the loading dock doors, motioning for Faye and Jeremy to move in behind her. The three head up the concrete ramp, and Felicia looks up at the rolling door, brows furrowed behind the visor of her helmet. Squinting, she drops into a crouch, motioning for Prince to move to one side of the door and Crawford to move to the other. She backs up, halfway down the ramp, then holds her hand out towards the door and curls her fingers up. The door rattles once, and then begins rolling up slowly, revealing piece by piece, the gray-clad legs of five men in business suits with body armor over their suit jackets. None of them look like the teleporter, but all of them look armed and surprised, reaching for weapons and shouting confusedly as that door makes it halfway open.

Rachel smiles faintly as she watches her teammates do what needs to be done so effortlessly. "Right, so that's the roof. Shall we head to the ground floor the old-fashioned way?" She smirks as she unchecks the safety on her gun and looks towards the others. "I'll take point," she asks of Liz.

Elisabeth gives a quick nod and moves into step behind the other woman, letting Diego take rear guard. Once they're inside the building, she would normally attempt once more to hear ahead of us but doesn't in this scenario. She uses hand signals to motion that she'll take the right and Rachel can take left.

Faye's not been a soldier for a long time, and even then she focused on rescue not… shooting people. But hesitation isn't an option right now. A moment of hesitation and she or someone else on the team could die. And if someone on the team dies, she might die soon after. The whiplash of losing a telepathic link to death would leave her helpless. They could be real people— and next time, they will be.

Firing now is the only option, to back up her team while the men are surprised. Hostages don't reach for weapons. These are the guys they need to take out fast and quickly. Silenced shots fire, and she doesn't worry about sparing ammo right now. Her sharp shooting isn't the best, so she supliments what she lacks in sharp shooting with extra silenced fire. She can reload before they move on.

Jeremy moves along behind, moving to the side of the door when given the order. He's got his weapon ready to go, and as the door opens, what happens is a flurry of motion that one might find surprising from the usually calm doctor. He rolls out, bringing himself up in a crouched position - thanks to Spalding's skill in the armor. His weapon hits his shoulder, his breath steadies as he squeezes the trigger with practiced precision - that's actually his own skill. The shots are silenced, making nothing more than a ffff ffff sound as they whiz through the air at high velocity, aimed at where he knows they'll go down fast.

See, the thing about being a doctor and a physiology major is you know enough about the human body and its anatomoy to help and heal. You also know how to hurt and hinder. Hippocrates, look at me now.

With the loading bay door only halfway open, there's very predictable targets for Faye and Jeremy to fire at, and while it may take a few extra shots of the snapping-pop of a silence pistol for Faye to hit the mark, both she and Jeremy manage to blow out the knees and legs of the Vanguard opponents that were revealed by the opening doors before they could ready their weapons. While gunshots may not have come out, screams at least did from the wounded men. One of them, still on the ground, reaches for his gun, crawling across the floor on his stomach before giving out from the excruciating pain and laying in a groaning heap on the floor, blood pooling out beneath he and his pair of associates.

On the rooftop, Diego moves to the side to allow Rachel to take point — the firebrand seems to like being in the thick of things, and being further back gives him more reaction time. She breeches the stairwell door, thundering down the steps on silent footfalls, only the telepathic communication of Faye's psychic link between the team giving them a reliable means of communication inside of Harrison's silence bubble. Thankfully body language is also an excellent tool for communication.

Leaving Liz to take up the rear, Diego fills the middle of the team as he follows behind Rachel. The pair make it to the bottom of the stairs, emerging out onto a mezzanine above a factory production floor, where dozens of old metal lathes are lined up row by row, with old metal wheelbarrows of rusted iron rods laying unused for who knows how many decades since this factory was in use.

Below the Mezzanine and across the open floor, Rachel, Diego and Elisabeth can see the people Felicia had spotted. Three men, seated at a table, their guns taken apart and tools cleaning the fixtures. What she couldn't see are four other men behind an intact wall, one of them with a rifle out, and five hostages on their knees, hands and mouths duct-taped. One of them has a handgun to the back of his head.

Another man, carrying a video camera, seems to be recording some kind of statement from the only ungagged hostage. Thanks to Elisabeth's silence, none of them hear their approach, but when screams rise up from the ground floor, then men at the table start putting their guns back together, and the men guarding the hostages start kicking them to the floor one by one, feet planted on their backs.

Rachel looks between the two groups of men, before she looks to Liz and points at the group with the hostages. She can do a quick teleport and start taking them out. Before she points at Liz and Diego and then to the group at the table. Implying that the two of them keep the other group busy. That done, the teleporter merely waits for a go ahead from their defacto leader without Felica in their group.

Well, that's easy enough. Elisabeth glances at Diego and murmurs, "We'd have been better served to shoot the guys holding the hostages from here, I think — now that they're laid out on the floor." Because the people on the ground can't hear her anyway. "There were only supposed to be about ten, and with just the guys here, I'm counting nine already. This is bad. And we still haven't seen a teleporter or anyone else hurling powers." Her eyes never leave the men she and Diego are supposed to be taking out, though, and she takes aim at the table to simply turn 'em into meat.

Shooting people is not pretty. Faye ejects the clip to do a quick reload of her sidearm, since she used most her bullets there. We got five down here— none the teleporter— they're down. No sign of the hostages, but they made noise, so we might have more company, she sends through the link, to all of them. The radio might work just as well, but she's warry about using the radio right now. It's easier just to think it, while she reloads. A glance is paid around, to keep an eye out for those reinforcements who might be called down on them, as well as wait for orders from the leader.

Hanging back, Felicia takes up the rear guard, making sure their backs are covered and that no one sneaks up behind them. Ears perked and alert, she has no telepathy of her own, but she's taken extra care to learn the way each of her team moves so that she can identify where they are without having to look directly at each of them. Focusing on the third hostile, she deftly aims two shots at them. Once she's convinced that they are all down and will not present a danger to her team, she uses hand signals to convey for her team to fan out and take weapons from the Vanguard as well as secure them and make sure there aren't any nasty surprises laying in wait for them. Understandably, this should be done as quickly as possibly so they're not caught with their pants down should those reinforcements arrive. With that in mind, she stays standing, gun at the ready for whoever may be coming next.

The ground floor, a large and open shipping floor looks much cleared, with the men that were cleared on entrance. It's strange, just how realistic these illusions are, every twitch of pain, the sound of their screams, even the faint scene of blood on the air is all tangibly real. There's no hostages down here, just the terrorists that were guarding the entrance, ones wholly unprepared for the assault that followed. With the team on the ground having cleared and secured the entrance, they can see a large double-wide pair of stairs that must ascend to the second floor.

Up on the third floor, Diego is crouching down, putting his shotgun on his back and looking at the exposed metal rafters above the machine shop floor. He examines the railing of the mezanine, and then turns to ELisabeth, then Rachel. "I can hop-scotch those rafters if I time it just right. I dunno how faro ut you can keep me quiet, but if you can do it fast enough I'm game. I shoudn't be sharpshooting with those slugs anyway," he admits, unholstering his pistol from his waist, "or we pop 'em from here but we should probably figure it out fast."

Down on the ground floor, Felicia's team can hear a crackling voice over one of the terrorist's radios. «What the hell's goin' on down there guys? Come on— answer me! God fucking damnit— King, get down there and see what's going on.»

Then, a much thicker and heavier voice responds.

«Affirm'tive, Sir.»

Rachel nods her head to Elisabeth and Deigo before she says, "Right then, lets go on the count of three again." Her eyes looking at the hostages all on the floor and she smiles a bit, makes it easier for her at least, long as she keeps her shots on a level plane, shouldn't be too much of a danger of hitting one of the hostages. Turning to look at Liz and Deigo she says, "One. Two. Three." At the three, there is the usually flash of white light followed almost instantanously with another flash by the hostages, the Marine's gun already spitting three-round bursts at each of the tangos. She looks down her sights, squeezes the trigger, finds another, and repeats the proceess, until all of them are dead. Hopefully.

When they leap into sight between the guys at the table and the ones pointing guns at the hostages, Elisabeth lets Diego take out the ones at the table with his shotgun. It's bigger. And she and Mills take down the ones holding guns on our hostages — since our guys are on the ground and the Vanguard men aren't, it shouldn't be that hard. With just a few spits of their weapons, the entire upper-floor team has taken down their tangos. And Elisabeth shakes her head and keys open the mike, "Commander, we've secured five hostages and cleared our floor. No sign of Vanguard Evos. Are we sure the intel was good on this one?"

Moving with Rachel forward, Elisabeth rolls one of the hostages so she can pull the tape from his mouth. "How many more are there?" she asks of him.

Stepping over to retrieve the weapon from the downed agents, Faye keeps her own side arm for actual use— just in case the illusion ones backfire or fail to fire at all. She knows her pistol, so better to stick with what she knows— "It sounds like we have incoming over the enemy radio. No hostages— we took down five, none overtly Evolved," she says through the radio, picking up one of the radios from the men to get the frequency if she can, so she can report it to those above, before she moves back to find a better defendable position, like someplace with cover, perferably.

"We can only go with what intel gave us," Felicia responds to Elisabeth. "Smith, nothing new from base?" Her gun is still in the ready position. There's a pause as she sweeps the room. At the word from Faye about enemy incoming, she tosses up a two inch circle of heavy gravity that rings around her three team. It's thin enough that there is very little that she has to worry about being caught in it. However, it should make any bullets tossed at them before they're ready drop to the ground quickly once they hit it. "As long as we have secured the hostages, that's the main objective. Mills, confirm there are no more hostages and teleport who you can outside. Harrison and Smith, secure those Mills cannot get out in the first wave. Be on the look out for DeLuca."

«Nada.» Diego's voice comes over the comms from upstairs, «We got a room full'a bodies up here and some happy lookin' hostages, but I ain't seen nobody who looks like Ray Liota up in here or anything.» Quirking his head to the side, Diego's sliding new shells into his shotgun and watching the prisoners. «We still got the second floor to deal with though, so don't be surprised if there's any surp— »

From there, Diego's voice just cuts off downstairs. With Prince checking the bodies of the downed Vanguard terrorists, Faye and Felicia are left to consider the implications that their intel was wrong, that there's more Vanguard than the ten in the building they'd initially considered. When Diego's voice goes offline, Faye and Felicia hear a clunk and a clink coming down the stairs, realizing just in time that someone just threw a flash bang down the steps. They're both able to turn their heads in time and try to minimize the damage, but Prince is caught blindsided by the attack.

The sudden bright flare of light and concussive explosion deafens the three downstairs, though the visors of their helmets do seem to reduce the flash effect and strangely the ballistic gel inside of their armor stiffens when the sound shockwaves hit,softening the impact of the concussive noise.

But while the glare in their vision is fading, Prince is effectively blinded, stunned by the high-pitch sound and as Faye and Felicia's sight comes back to them, the first thing they see is a towering man in black body armor lifting Prince up with a hunting knife driven into his ribs at his side. He's easily seven feet tall, and he throws Prince down to the ground. Whoever this illusionist is can fake the sensation of pain as well, because that knife in Prince's ribs feels just as real as any other blade slicing through soft tissue. Michael had warned them about edged weapons.

The towering, bald, dark-skinned man flips his knife around, already advancing on Faye and Felicia.

Upstairs, a gunshot rang out, followed by a snap and a rush of air. Diego manages to jerk his head away from the shot at the last second as a bullet impacts the brick wall beside him. Flickering through the room like a firefly, Elias DeLuca moves witha misquito's grace; up on a rafter, on a metal lathe, six feet free-falling in the air, each shot from his gun is a near miss to Diego.

The only shot that gets through, impacts square against Diego's right shoulder and flattens against the Horizon armor as if it were steel, the armor hardens and then flexes back soft again after reducing the impact. Elias flickers back up to the balcony— "Fuck you are fast." And reaches inside of his suit jacket to withdraw a grenade.

Rachel knows that trick.

Rachel doesn't even give Elias chance enough to get the grenade out as she is suddenly enveloped in a white corona, and then disappears, reappearing behind him as she jabs her combat knife into his back, her hand clenching at the hand with the grenade to keep it pinned, just in case it got primed. "Got him," she says over the com system, signalling that the threat to her team is cleared. Freeing Liz and Diego to go after the tall giant that is looming over the other team.

Elisabeth's response in that one moment is to stick with the hostages. Pulling her knife from her belt, she starts cutting the ties that are holding the five cops while Rachel deals with the teleporter and Diego covers us. The hostages have priority — and the other team has a gravity manipulator. «Hostages clear! Mills, get these guys out of here, then come back for us!» she orders. Because their orders were to get the hostages out. Dealing with the Evo threat waits until that objective is achieved in this case.

The gravity circle thrown up early was only enough to slow their attacker and not stop him. Felicia was anticipating shots being fired and not a full physical attack. When Prince gets pounced upon and stabbed, the Commander whirls around, gun trained on the hostile. It's too close to her team member and they're moving too fast for her to get a clear shot. However, as soon as he drops Prince in order to attack them, Felicia narrows her eyes at him in concentration. He's big, but certainly not the biggest thing she's affected the gravity of. As the man starts running toward him at full speed, he'll find himself suddenly walking on the air as the brunette raises his gravity. And then, after a second, she quickly adjusts it to make it heavy, slamming him into the ground with the force of a dumbbell being dropped from six feet. That should give Faye the distraction and opportunity needed to shoot the bastard. "Good, let's get the hell out of here and get an injury report."

It's a good thing Felicia's decided to provide a distraction for the large man, cause Prince's pain filters through the link and slaps Faye in the face. It makes her groan a bit into the radio, gritting her teeth to fight it back. It's not an entire transfer of pain, but it still hurts. Not quite enough for her to cut the bond entirely— surely they wouldn't kill a teammate on a training mission. The distraction, and attack gives her enough time to raise her reloaded weapon back up and start shooting, once she's sure she won't be hitting the distractor either. Then again, their armor is made to take bullets better than knives.

The moment Rachel drives her knife into Elias' back, and when Felicia slams King down on to the concrete floor with her gravitokinesis, both of their images flicker and fade away, disappearing in so much as a crackling wash of color and light and a rippling distortion. In that same instance, all of the subconscious pain that Prince was feeling seems to roll away, as if the world's greatest panacea for what ailed him comes washing warm across his body.

Upstairs, Elias and the hostages vanish from sight, along with the bodies of the terrorists. Whoever the illusionist is, her ability to transform the perceptions of the human mind is staggering because her illusion looked like it bodily picked up Prince and manhandled him. As the medic is catching his breath on the floor, a distortion of light redirects an illusory ripple from a woman taking a few steps out from the stairwell from the second floor.

Dressed in a Frontline suit of Horizon Armor, Agent Sarisa Kershner offers a crooked smile, no helmet in sight, just blonde hair wound up into a bun at the back of her head. She looks down to Prince, offering him a crooked smile, then depresses two fingers to the headset she wears plugged into one ear.

«Squad Two, mission complete. You suffered one casualty on the ground floor, and had this been an actual assignment you may have lost Prince.» As Sarisa is speaking, cameras are flickering into view around the ceiling of both floors. «For your first trial run, though, you did exceptionally well.» Crooking her head to the side, the blonde offers a smile, eyes diverting to Felicia.

«This answers my question I had about you as a team, and I'd like to congradulate you on an early success on your training down here in Annapolis. You have a few days or R&R, and then we're going to ship you off to NYC and get you situated with residences at the Factory— FRONTLINE's headquarters in New York City. You're more than ready to meet Squad-01 and get acclimated to your new home surroundings.»

Reaching out a black gloved hand towards Commander Varlane, Sarisa's brows furrow and she gives a quiet smile to the team leader. "Welcome to FRONTLINE."

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