Truth And Punishment Part II


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Scene Title Truth and Punishment, Part II
Synopsis A search for infiltrators on Company soil fuels the fire for future revenge against an agent from the past.
Date May 18, 2010

Fort Hero: Ground Level

The ground floor of Fort Hero looks much in the way an abandoned military facility would. Decades ago this place fell into disuse, with tables left bare, desks pushed awkwardly to the corners of rooms or left abandoned in the middle of empty spaces. Loose pages of security documents relevant to the mid 1980s are yellowed on the floor, and the vast majority of the ground floor windows have been boarded up from the inside.

Despite all of this, however, electricity still courses through the building, and the distant hum of power generators somewhere below are indicative of life left within this cracked concrete hulk. The three floors above are much in the same, abandoned offices and storage closets all left in mild states of disarray from when government personnel were pulled out. The only notable fixture still remaining is a single freight elevator located in the western storage wing of the ground floor, one that still has power running to it. (Though there is also a stairwell.)

The Freight Elevator at Fort Hero is an enormous, industrial monster made from red-painted iron with a lattice flooring and folding rails that close when the elevator is in motion. Unlike a standard elevator, this freight elevator travels at a 45-degree angle downwards, running on iron rails and pulled by enormous chain linkages. Red and orange security lights flash while the elevator is in motion.

"Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night,
and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt."

— Sun Tzu

A security breach alarm sounds through the entirety of Fort Hero, a warning Klaxon blaring noisily thorugh the entire facility. Electricity has been reduced to emergency reserve power due to a generator disturbance that threw Fort Hero into total darkness just prior to Midnight. The Company has weathered many storms in the past, though most of the agents active at Fort Hero were not present in New York City under the Company's wing for the security breaches at the Bronx facility. This feels different, and in a way it is.

Fifteen Minutes Ago

Projecting his voice over the blare of an emergency Klaxon, Martin Crowley stands on top of one of the cafeteria tables, shouting to the other agents gathered. As per emergency security protocol, all active agents on announcement of a facility-wide crisis are to report to their pre-described security posts, and the majority of the Investigative Team happens to conviene at the cafeteria. "This is a Code Red emergency gathering, we have a presumed infiltration into Fort Hero by an unknown assailant and with unknown numbers. All agents are going to need to split off into individual teams to perform an eyes-on sweep of the compound!"

A murmur of voices behind the croak of the alarm at Martin's words. "Electricity is down across th' whole facility! Security systems 'ave been disabled an' we're runnin' blind! Agent Buckley is handin' out radios to some of you, keep 'em on at all times and report back anythin' you find!"


When the metal door to the auxilery stairwell to the ground floor bursts open, it is under the effective boot of the Company's senior administration advisor Gael Cruz. "//Ayers, Buckley, this is Cruz. What's your status?" Barking into the radio held in one hand, Gael Cruz steps out into the darkened lobby of the facility's ground floor, where red lights flash off of tiled flooring and abandoned desks and office furniture are haphazardly arrranged in a semblance of abandonment.

He's not alone, however. With the power off, Maria Delgado, Allison Richards and Veronica Sawyer were forced to ascend the auxilery stairs that follow the freight elevator. Thanks to the elevator blocking the top of the shaft, not even flight was a useful accessory.

"Have you found Campbell?" Gael asks into the radio, his other hand holding his Company issue sidearm, live rounds loaded inside as he sweeps the crimson-illuminated hall.

Fifteen Minutes Ago

When the door swings open, Gael Cruz stares vacantly down into the private quarters belonging to Timothy Pope, head of the Company's Executive Services's Command Division. Blood decorates his walls as much as the pockmarking of old concrete does. Crumpled on the floor of his room, Pope's body lies in a twisted, broken heap, arms snapped back broken and head twisted around in a manner that both broke his neck and crushed his windpipe.

Lifting one hand to cover his mouth, Cruz backs up to the doorway, looking to the agents he's been assigned to check out the facility over his shoulder, making eye contact with agent Sawyer as he does. "He's here," Cruz insinuates with a furrow of his brows, "Ichihara is here. He's inside the— "

«Cruz this is agent Shell, we've found an intruder on the north stairwell headed up to ground level, he— » The sound of gunfire and screaming pops and cracks over the radio, causing Gael to nearly jump out of his skin as he reaches inside of his jacket and unholsters his Company issue .45. He doesn't need to say where they're going next.


"Sawyer, watch out back…" Gael offers in a whisper, shoes crunching on broken plaster on the floor, his eyes tracking the glint of expended shell casings nearby. "Richards, the moment you see him I need you to try and get him to surrender. I don't know if it'll work with his ability, but you have to try." There's no answer coming over Gael's radio, is he too far away?

There's a wet, pained gurgle that comes from behind one of the toppled desks and the sound has Gael moving with quiet haste, strafking the open lobby before circling behind the desk to discover one of the Company's field agents, Sebastian Shell, laying in a pool of his own blood, bullet holes perforating his dark suit and once crisp, once white undershirt. He reaches up a shaky hand for Gael, blood trickling out of the corner of his mouth, trying to speak, but drowning in his own blood is complicating matters immensely.

Though Allison prefers to protect herself with her ability, she has her pistol out as well, held in one hand down by her side, half hidden by her body. The comment from Gael has Alli nodding, but she's looking around, searching for signs of the intruder. As much as Sebastian may be suffering, she pays him little need. A time and place for everything, and right now, it's time to work, not to feel sympathy. "It should work," she murmurs, sounding confident. Looking confident. But confidence, sometimes, can be misplaced.

"Got it," Sawyer responds to Gael's order, her dark eyes narrowing and her face blanching a touch at that tell-tale death gurgle that comes from Sebastian Shell. Without a healer, he's a dead man, that much is painfully clear — and there's no healer here in the small group. The fact it could have been any of them is not lost on her. With her back to the others, she has her firearm out, safety off, cocked and ready to fire at a second's notice — however, she nods once at the direction to Richards as if it were given to her. She'll give that a chance to work before firing as a second choice — but how long of a chance she gives is up in the air.

The orders don't directly apply to her as given, but the rifle-wielding Delgado still provides cover. It's something of an uncomfortable element, being stuck on the ground in this situation with ceilings mostly limiting mobility, but she's capable. Alertness has her observing their location, ready to react if needed.

"Jesus…" Gael murmurs, a hand smoothing over his goatee as he looks up and around the lobby, towards the deactivated freight elevator and then towards the front doors of Fort Hero that haven't been used since the snow became nearly impossible to manage. With some ten feet of freshly fallen snow blocking the exit, there's no way anyone managed to use that exit. The crackle of a voice over Gael's radio has his back tensing up and eyes growing wide as Corbin's voice interjects over the repetition of the klaxon.

«It looks like he's going down toward the tunnels. Is there any way to seal them off?»

Distracted by the radio, Gael raises his radio up and depresses the button, using the toppled desk as cover while he talks. "Negative!" He shouts over the warning alarm, "Security systems were disabled, the blast doors won't come down! Do not let him get away, Ayers! I repeat, do not let him get away!"

The lobby itself is deceptively quiet, save for the predictable cry of the security breach alarm blaring under the red lighting. Shaking his head, Gael looks back to the agent laying in a pool of blood beside him. He's silent now, and when Gael clips his radio back onto his belt, his freed hand moves to close the agent's eyes slowly.

"He hit us with our pants down, we put agents out on the street looking for him, the Haitian is with miss Petrelli… He knew exactly what we were going to do in response." Gael's words are delivered thorugh his clenched teeth, blue eyes alighting to Veronica, then over to Maria. "Delgado, if you get a kill shot I want you to take it."

Allison's gaze flicks back to Gael, a brow arching. "Should I bother to try to get him to surrender then? Or are we just going to kill him and be done with it?" she asks, tone dry, but mild. It doesn't stop her from looking, though, or make her look more ready to use her own pistol.

"Is that a kill shot on Batsu-slash-Ichihara, Paulson or both?" Veronica says over her shoulder, turning away from the snowed-in doors. "The problem is, now that we've been breached, any agent he's come across is a potential threat." The obvious Catch-22 is spoken grimly, as the agent pulls a tranq gun from her holster so that each hand carries a gun — one loaded with fire power and one with tranquilizer darts. "If it's an agent, I'm hoping we try to take them down without fatality." Even Paulson.

"Aye aye, sir," Maria replies to the order. Naval customs take hold at times like these. Moments later she's off the floor and floating gently to the ceiling where she stretches out and presses her back flat against it. She may not be able to get far above any target which presents, but she can at least make use of what height is available and hopefully go unseen thereby. No questions are asked about qualifiers to the order, the others have expressed them.

Former executor of the Kill Squad, Gael Cruz isn't known for his implaccable tenacity rather than his mercy. Veronica's question elicits and furrow of Gael's brows and a turn of his lips corners down into a frown. "Ichihara's ability has a five mile radius on it, he's got to be close. If he's here, I want him dead on the spot. If he gets so much as line of sight on any of us, we could turn on each other like," Gael snaps his fingers, "that."

Standing up straight and away from the body, Gael looks down to his radio and then over to Allison. "If it's another agent… if we run into another agent he's controling, try to get them to surrender. Ichihara, do whatever it takes to stall him so Delgado or Sawyer can take a shot. He's too much of a security risk at this point to dare let him get away. Especially not after all the damage he's done."

Stepping out from behind the desk, Gael nods towards an open pair of double doors across the lobby. "Let's check out the north wing. Office spaces, I think the cubicles are still up there… there's a secondary stair access up to the Data Center beyond there, I've got Ryans and O'Niel up above us, but we should cover their backside."

Another glance is given to Gael, then she nods. But her pistol is neither brought into play to be ready, or put away as unnecessary. Caution and all that. And then she begins moving northward as directed, but slowly, looking about for anyone, friend or foe.

"Understood," Veronica says, meeting Gael's furrow-browed glance. "Just wouldn't want to be put down because someone got strings on me. Obviously, the fewer deaths and less contamination, the better." She moves away from the lobby doors toward the doors Gael indicated, leaving Maria to float along above them. "Delgado, can you watch behind and I'll clear the rooms with Cruz as we go through?" she suggests, dark eyes flicking to Gael to confirm the plan.

"Certainly," Maria grants to Veronica's asking. She moves along slowly, pressed close to ceiling, with eyes trained ahead to see both far and close. Her perspective has its advantages.

Gael and Veronica's approach through the double doors into the office spaces is a quiet one. With his back pressed up to one door, Gael nods his head in timing to Veronica's and they both pop out from the sides of the doorway together, checking each other's blind spots. The massive one-room north wing was once a series of clerical office spaces, likely used by the original researchers and military staff back before Fort Hero was decommissioned. Old cubicles fill the room, with a single center aisle directly ahead of the entrance and aisles adjacent to the window lined walls that are covered at all but the very top by snow.

Blue eyes scanning the old, dusty cubicles, Gael draws in a deep breath and begins to walk forward slowly, only to hear the click of footsteps on the tiled floor ahead of them. Gael motions to one of the cubicles in Veronica's line of sight and then ducks into one himself, peering out from around the corner of the doorway as a dark-haired asian woman in a white labcoat steps into view of the main corridor, with Allison and Maria directly in view. She has both of her hands raised, chin tilted up and dark eyes affixed on the two.

She's not an unfamiliar sight within the Company, especially for anyone who's spent time down in the infirmary. Hsui Mei Park is Sebastian Shell's partner, a bioengineer working for the Company under its cover organization Biomere, a colleague of Maria Delgado even before her appointment to the Company proper.

In one of her raised hands Agent Park holds a Company-issue side-arm, and while her posture makes it look as though she's surrendering, there's a certain deliberate slowness in the way she lowers the hand holding the gun, taking a considerable amount of time with the clear intention of aiming at either Allison or Maria, she's moving too slow to tell. It's like a deliberate taunt— shoot her, or she shoots you.

That bit of slowness, and the uncertainty of the situation has Allison speaking up almost immediately, even as her ordinary colored eyes flash bright silver. "Put the gun down without shooting anyone, then put your hands behind your head and leave them there. You will hurt no one," she says, voice a little quicker than usual, but still adopting the same soothing tone as she always tends to do when using her power on someone.

Having ducked into a cubicle across from Gael's, Veronica crouches in the doorway. Her eyes are wary and narrowed as she takes in that deliberateness of Park's moves. The hand that holds Sawyer's tranquilizer gun lifts, and Veronica aims carefully for the Asian agent's neck. Still, she holds her fire to give the doctor's hypnotic power and silver eyes a chance to work first — should the woman move too suddenly or Allison's power take too long to kick in, she's prepared to shoot.

Agent Park watches Allison carefully, halting in the motion of readying her gun before slowly dropping to her knees, laying her gun on the floor and folding her hands behind her head. There's a lift of both her brows as Agent Park straightens her back and situates herself comfortably on both knees, following Allison's request to the letter. Gael seems to breathe a sigh of relief, shaking his head slowly and leaning out from behind the cover. He nods to Veronica, an implicit order of do it anyway.

In that moment two very critical things happen within Maria Delgado's frame of view. With her vantage point of the scenario and focus spread back and forth ot the involved parties, she's the first to notice a confused and frightened look crossing Agent Park's face, the kind of dawning look of realization that comes when someone is beginning to realize something they were not presently aware of.

Maria is also keenly aware of Agent Cruz lifting his Company Issue gun as he steps out from cover, his expression losing that emotional and worried quality and clearly angling to shoot from the hip into Veronica. Maria only has a fraction of a second to make a decision.

Allison breathes a sigh of relief as Cruz begins to comply, and she takes a step forward, intending to remove the gun from Park's reach. She, unfortunately, doesn't notice that change on Cruz's face, is only looking for other potential enemies coming in from other potential entrances.

Glancing up at the nod from Cruz and exiting her own cubicle, Veronica's attention is on the surrendering agent on her knees before them. When Park's face grows more fearful and cognizant, Veronica's grows more frustrated at the situation, brows furrowing much like Gael's as she nods to the agent.

"Sorry about this, Park, nothing personal," Sawyer mutters quietly as her fingers tug lightly on the trigger of the gun, releasing the dart that will send the other into unconsciousness in a second's time.

It's at close range, with Maria being above the action. She spots the change in demeanor, and the movement Cruz is making. The rifle's aim is shifted slightly, so the bullet will hopefully go into the senior agent's hand. Maybe even the gun itself. Not an easy shot, but very makeable in her opinion at these close quarters. Breath is held, the trigger squeezed, then comes the sound of a single round being fired.

Credit to the US Navy's training, Maria Delgado delivers a wallop of a shot to agent Cruz's hand, not only striking the gun with the rifle round, but sending the then shattered bullet into a fragmentary blast, one sliver of bullet shard punching into Cruz's shoulder, the other slashing across his forearm while a third piece ricochets off of the floor and disappears into an adjacent cubicle. Immediately screaming as he drops the gun, Cruz staggers back and falls into the cubicle he had been using for cover while agent Park covers her head with the back of her hands and ducks down, pressing her forehead to the floor.

"Ah— Ah shit!" Cruz hisses out as he clutches his bleeding hand, laying on his back and looking bewildered. If the Company's reports are right, Akado wouldn't have felt the gunshot, but the reaction of pain from Cruz likely means that Akado has slipped his telepathic domination away.

"You— you shot me." Cruz bleats out, looking down at his bloody and trembling hand, blue eyes leveled up to Maria, wide and in surprise. "Excellent job, Delgado."

Allison freezes at the sound of gunfire, dropping to a crouch and lifting her gun slightly. Then she peers at Cruz, then Maria, and her still-silver eyes narrow. "So he's focusing on us, hmm? I wonder if he can hear us through his puppets," she murmurs thoughtfully.

The gunshot has Veronica crouching down behind the cubicle she just stepped out of, turning to stare with shock up at Maria and then at Cruz's laudatory remarks for Delgado. The stunned agent shakes her head, tugging Park, cowering as she is into the cubicle to stow while she sleeps off the tranquilizer dart. When she emerges she unwraps the Berkeley sweatshirt she wears wrapped around her waist (having gotten called out on the alarm, she's casual today in yoga pants and a t-shirt) and tosses it to Gael.

"Wrap your hand up before you bleed all over… And tell us how it works. Last I knew, we didn't have a known range — can he use any of us in his range, or does he need to have met us first?" If it's the former, she'll tranq him too. If it's the latter — well, they're all one another's worst enemies.

Glancing up, Vee offers a slightly shaky smile to Maria. "Thanks. Good job, Delgado."

She isn't sure the senior agent's commentary is sarcasm, seriousness, or both. Maria doesn't appear the least bit regretful of the action. She also doesn't appear to be under anyone's control but her own. "I shot your hand," she acknowledges, "before you could shoot Sawyer. I'd suggest she tranq us all, but then nothing stops the target from puppeting her to go after other teams. If she tranqs herself too, then there's no backup for those teams from us."

In her Navy days, this was called Catch-22. Sometimes also snafu. And everybody knows what those letters represent.

Hissing sharply, Gael wraps the sweater around his hand, then looks down to where blood is blossoming at his shoulder. "Akado's ability works on a five mile area, he needs line of sight to do what he did to Park and— and me. Apparently he can use the same line of sight from someone he's already controlling to 'jump' to another target." At that, Gael looks up to Veronica, then Allison and Maria, making a weak noise in the back of his throat from the pain of his injuries.

"He could be anywhere right now…" Gael sits up and props his back against the wall of the cubicle he's in, offering a look to Veronica. "Sawyer, grab my radio, call down to Ayers and see if he's found Campbell yet." Blue eyes move to Allison, then Maria, "Richards, Delgado, keep— keep an eye out. He could be anyone."

"Believe me, my eyes are wide open. Any of you makes one suspicious move, I'm snatching your ability to move." And Allison doesn't seem the least bit apologetic about that, though she does murmur a sincere, "Sorry," along with a shrug.

"We should… announce intent on any moves that are intentional, so as not to have someone paranoid shooting us for scratching our nose," Veronica says, as she approaches Gael. "Notice that flat affect that Park had," she adds, not having seen the same look on Gael's face, though it had been there. "That might be something to look for." She reaches slowly for Cruz's radio, unclipping it from his belt and bringing it to her lips.

Pressing the button to speak, she keeps an eye on Richards and Cruz, glancing up at Maria now and then.

"«Ayers, it's Sawyer. Your team find Campbell yet?»" She should have shot the kid somewhere other than the arm and shoulder herself when she had the chance.

She's still pressed close to the ceiling, looking down at the cubicles and the team she's with, as Veronica uses the radio. Facial features are indicative of thought, assessing the situation. "Line of sight," Maria begins, "so we might be safe for now. He's not possessing any of us. Unless someone else is around who can see one of us and not be seen by us, the target can't gain control, right?" Her eyes are scanning for the presence of any other person among the cubicles.

Ceilings are good for that.

"That's how we understand it. None of us had any idea that Akado could implant a mind seed in someone through the eyes of another…" Evolutions of abilities, especially for agents listed as deceased aren't tracked, as it were. "We— we should be safe for the moment." Safe seems to be a relative term, however, safe from being mentally dominated and attacked, but not safe from the repercussions of the noise the agents are now hearing through the ceiling.

The whine of a helicopter's engines spinning up the whine of an engine straining against the abysmal cold outside.

Gael's eyes grow wide at the noise, looking to the ceiling, then over to Veronica, Allison and Maria. "Damnit!" Cruz shouts with a grimace from the searing hot pain shooting through his shoulder, eyes tearing up from how excrusiating a gunshot wound is, even if just shrapnel. There's a wary look to Maria, and Gael almost orders her to go after the sound, but there's no telling where Akado is at the moment, and if he is up on the roof, risking sending Maria spinning into the helicopter blades isn't high on his list of priorities.

Still no response from Corbin either.

"I don't know that I much trust should be safe," Allison says dryly, before she glances upward as well at the sound of the helicopter. "If we stay here, we're no good to the other teams, even if we are safe. But if that's Akado or someone coming to get Akado…" She trails off and glances at Gael.

Dark eyes glance up at Maria and the ceiling, at the sound that worries all of them. "Or reinforcements, getting dropped off. Maybe if they're rendezvousing, the sound will help cover us as we approach from behind?" Sawyer suggests, before pushing the button on the radio again to speak.

"«Ayers… I repeat, have you found Campbell? Do you have visual on the helicopter? Can you give us any idea as to numbers?»" The volley of questions leaves out one important question: Are you still playing on our side, or are you a puppet, too?

She slowly moves to the floor, abandoning the ceiling's vantage point. "Getting out on the roof unseen would be good," Maria agrees, "but if the helicopter does pick him up and take the man away, I can track it and stay out of sight doing so. I've got the rifle with me, too. If I see Akado in the helicopter, I can shoot it down."

"That's ours spinning up," Gael admits in a grunt of a voice, pushing himself up slowly on shaky legs. "It's our helicopter, which means unless he found the primary and redundant tracking system on it, we'll be able to find it wherever he goes." Gael lifts his uninjured hand up to Maria, swallowing noisily and limping towards Veronica. "If we shoot down a helicopter in this weather we'll be drawing more attention to Fort Hero than is necessary…"

Grunting out a pained snort, Gael looks up as there's a rumble in the building followed by a flicker of the lights coming on, the warning alarms ceasing their incessant shrieking and the red emergency lighting turning off. There's a hiss of breath from Gael, still struggling with his injuries. "I won't risk you going out in that weather against Ichihara alone, altitude aclimated or not. With the wind and the snow and at night? We need to figure out what happened here…"

Gael swallows noisily, looking over to Veronica when her second report to the radio isn't answered. "They might be out of range, there's a lot of concrete between us and the lower levels, if they're still down there." Gael offers a look to Veronica, brows furrowed, "How's agent Park? Is she… " he was admittedly a bit out of it when Veronica shot her in the neck with a dart, Gael just knows she's missing.

"If we're not to check on the helicopter, then what do you suggest we do?" Allison asks, still looking around cautiously, as if expecting Akado to wander in any second, her pistol still out, though still down by her side.

"Maybe," Veronica says a little doubtfully, clipping the radio on her belt. "I tranqued her right before you tried to shoot me," she says with another shake of her head at just how close she was to being killed by a fellow agent. She moves to the cubicle where she's stowed Park to check on the tranquilized agent. "Once he's lost control of them, can he regain without gaining visual on them again? I'm thinking not, given that Campbell seemed to have seen him prior to each of the murders we've now determined to be actually Ichihara's doing. She safe, or should we restrain her somewhere?"

"Aye aye, sir." The rifle is still held ready to fire as feet settle on the floor, Maria standing there after at a position close to parade rest but for being armed. Silent now, she awaits orders from the senior agent.

"Ichihara makes a link with someone when he uses his power like he has been. As long as he's controling the same person, he can turn it off and on with impunity, which… means I'm a liability, unless he's managed to control someone else. Thankfully, I know how to tell if he's still in my head. I'm going to have Doctor Salonga do a sweep of personnel, check everyone out. If he's as smart as I always gave him credit for being, he won't try the same trick twice, but we can't be too safe."

«This is Ayers, just a minute, we might have him.» Comes crackle-popping over Veronica's walkie, a suggestion that has Gael breathing a little easier, all things considered. «We got him.» The relief of tension in Gael's frame when Corbin confirms that Luke was recaptured is welcomed, one problem down and so many more likely to crop up in the wake of what happened. With the electricity back on, it's clear to see the red spatter all over the floor that Gael is leaking.

"What we do next," he offers finally to Allison's query, "We take care of the wounded, move the ones we can't help down to the morgue…" Gael grunts out another pained noise, looking up to Veronica, "We figure out exactly what just happened to us and then…" Gael looks down to the blood soaking through the sweater wrapped around his hand, dark brows furrowed and his goatee accenting the toothy scowl he's giving the injury.

Gael trails off some, in the silence, "Then…" Gael mutters, looking up to Veronica, "Then we strike back, twice as hard."

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