We All Fall Down


vf_isabelle_icon.gif vf_shaw_icon.gif vf_thompson_icon.gif

Scene Title We All Fall Down
Synopsis It's far too late for a pocketful of posies.
Date December 25, 2011

The Apocalypse: Bloomingdales

Outside of the Hub is somehow even worse than inside. They all remember the city as it was, towering glass buildings, bright lights, full to bursting with people and car and noise. Now it's nothing but rotting husks of buildings and dust. The silence might be the worst part. Even the Hub chattered more than this.

Their trip has taken them farther from home than most people are comfortable with. But the areas closer have been gone over and over and over and, well, there's a sniper roaming that area. In the balance of risks, this may have seemed like the safer bet. Although, now that they're out here, the sun overhead and a sharp chill in the air, it might be less comforting to know that they're far from home, far from safety, and far from anyone who would be willing to help them.

A howl in the distance pierces through the quiet.

It’s been getting harder to go out, that much has been true. There’s the everpresent terror of Vanguard snipers, hunters, and the fact that any encounter with someone on the outside is likely to be hostile or fatal. Despite this, Shaw takes point to lead the trio as they come up upon the ruins of the city. The venture already has been a quiet, if stressful endeavor of planning, preparations of containment suits and personal effects tucked or positioned on the suit and within reach. Shaw’s include a darkly colored Jansport backpack slung behind him, a rebar knife with a handle of rope clipped with a water bottle carabiner to a mismatched leather belt loop, and his map of the city streets circa 2009 that has since been marked with several places he’s scavenged before over the course of the years.

He’s really not equipped for a firefight. That’s Thompson’s forte. Possibly Isabelle’s, too. And their primary objectives aren’t to get into a fight in the first place, but to gather supplies. It’s not a matter of a lack of supplies either, but how to carry it all back to the Hub without getting spotted by either Vanguard or feral animals. They’ve come upon a Bloomingdale’s, and further down the block are other commercial stores still with goods. Food might be questionable, though. “Stay in range,” Shaw advises to the pair as he plucks up the short-range radio into a gloved hand. “Take Channel 3.” Once he’s made his adjustments, he waits for them to ready and confirm.

The howl in the distance pauses the man and he looks up nervously. Head cocked, he acts like he’s trying to hear the meaning and originating direction. Either way, he shuffles from foot to foot, eager to get inside a sheltering area, out of sight in the open street.

The prospect of going outside excited Isabelle instead of making her weary. It had been awhile since she went on a scavenging expedition. She had brought her own nondescript dark grey backpack along, a tool belt snapped tight around her slim waist.

Among the supplies she brought, four emergency flares, a small portable blowtorch, a couple cans of hairspray (stolen from Brenda’s box of hair products), a long knife that sits in a leather sheath. A 9mm pistol fits snugly in its holster at her hip. She has 3 clips strapped to her thigh. Guns weren't her favorite way of fighting. Ability or not, Fire was her method of choice. A few firecrackers are tucked into her back pocket.

Brunette hair pulled into a bun on the back of her head. Her blue eyes are alert. She gives Shaw a nod and makes the adjustment to her radio. Unhooking a can of hairspray she removes an antique lighter. One she use to pull flames from if she didn't want to generate fire herself, that didn't happen usually but now on this day the lighter serves a greater purpose its value rising now that she was on the negation drug.

Izzy flicks the lighter at the same time as pressing the top of the hairspray nozzle down a soft hiss emitting before a roar sounds as the chemicals in the can blow through the flame causing a tongue of flames to leap forward. The fire reflects in her blue eyes and she flicks her gaze over to Shaw.

Just testing.

Thompson is equipped for a firefight. Should the worst happen and they get mobbed by dogs or infected, he's there to make sure they all make it home. He doesn't have a backpack, he has guns. Somewhere he has extra ammunition, such as they have left. He knows they can't last forever, and maybe that's why he's agreed to come along, hoping to find something to shore up the armory.

Probably not in Bloomingdales. But you never know.

He takes up his radio, too, tuning it to the right channel and giving Shaw a nod. Calm. Serious. Until Isabelle decides to test out her homemade flame thrower. It makes him jump. And then laugh, the sound muffled by his suit.

"Ready when you are, Shaw. Lead the way."

Shaw jumps a little too with the small test of short range flamethrowers. He grimaces slightly, mixed feelings on the choice of such a flashy method of self-defense. It’s not his style. His is more like hit-and-run-the-fuck-away. But then again, Thompson’s got them covered. A couple of nods, and he waves them into the department store at the ground floor of the NYC flagship store. Back in the day, this was a place of primo shopping. Today, something similar. Just more with a little more life-threatening, rushed atmosphere. “There’s still coffee on the 6th floor café, if we want to get something to drink,” he reveals after they’ve gotten in a little further, away from prying eyes outside. It’s almost casual, just a little off from actual humor. He rounds the initial front counters at a quick clip, not delaying by looking at the offerings here. They’ll pass another mini food area, but the counters and pantry there likely are already raided either by previous trips or feral animals. He’ll not waste their precious time on that. The layout of the department store running up 9 floors leaves much to pick through.

But no ammunition, officially. Perhaps, though, fighting has spilled into the store before. Perhaps.

“Hair products next floor up,” he tells Isabelle, “Beauty and Accessories.” And jewelry. He takes them straight for the escalator that’s been frozen in time ever since the electricity grid died off.

There's a glint in Isabelle’s eyes as the flames disappear and she nods her head again before looking around them as they walk. The memories of being outside before the Hub give her strength, she survived out here, leading Brenda and friends. Brenda was the only one she got safely to The Hub, she had a record to uphold and her conscience couldn't take more of her friend’s blood on her hands, at least she thought so.

Smiling at Shaw’s ‘off’ humor she shrugs, “You saying you wanna take me out on a coffee date?” Eyebrows raised as they make their way to the escalator. Going up.

“I bet there's a few safes I can crack, who knows what people were hiding in there.” She didn't care about money, that was useless here. Though maybe a bunch of money being brought over to Magnes’ timeline… that line of thought makes Isabelle shake her head as she debates within herself. Too risky and greedy of a move. New weapons though, that was her goal. And to help Shaw out of course.

New toys though. And hair products for Brenda and for her makeshift flame throwing. “I owe Brenda for these.” Shaking the can in her hand.

Thompson takes up the rear as they head up. Gun out. Ready. He glances up at the pair of them as the banter gets tossed back and forth. He smiles a little, shakes his head, then turns back to watching their backs. "Safes will be in back rooms, offices. But in retail it'd be mostly cash. Maybe some lost-and-found. Part of me doubts Bloomingdales had a lot of hardware." By hardware, he means guns.

At the top of the escalator-turned-staircase, the trio is met with the wide open space of department store heaven, marred by years of dust and broken ceiling tiles. Flooded pipes. Shards of glass. That's from the jewelry counters. Metal is useful, after all, and someone before them cleaned them out. But Isabelle might notice a door, locked with an electronic lock. Long without power. Still locked, though. No amount of password-guessing is going to get her through it.

Thompson isn't looking over the leftovers, he's sweeping the area and making sure they're alone.

“In some places, going up for coffee meant sex,” Shaw replies matter-of-factly at Isabelle to her tease. He lets that factoid hang for a moment before he adds a little too straight-faced for it to be a tease, “Could be both, if you want.”

But then when they reach the top of the escalator and come upon the sight of cleaned out and destroyed counters, he makes a distressed noise somewhere between a groan and a close-lipped whine. Still, he jogs over to the counters to inspect them, scanning for any leftovers that might qualify as suitable for the intended purposes of the main objective. “Rings, rings, rings,” he utters to himself, having lost some sense of the others and left them to pick through what they will.

“I would be inclined to agree with you,” the fiery woman says wiggling her eyebrows before she's shrugging her shoulders with a swing of her hips, “I’ll take both.” And Isabelle will let Shaw chew on that. She reflects his disappointment at seeing the trashed jewelry store with a soft sigh. Damn it. She just doesn't like to see the oddball of a man so visibly distressed. There's a pang in her heart and she grits her teeth as she says, “Don't worry Shaw, we’ll find something.” Now she's determined to make his dreams come true today.

She moves forward to the door with the lock and stares down with a tilt of her head, “No power.. means no opening with a password but..” Isabelle grins as she throws a look over her shoulder to Thompson and shakes her head, “Maybe if I burn the Bitch, or we destroy it.. it’ll pop it open.”

“God Lynette would be useful right now,” A full powered Lynette that is.

And then Izzy is angling her can down towards the depowered lock and she lights her lighter before pressing down on the tab on the can. A tongue of fire being aimed down on the lock.

Shaw has a lot to search through. Those counters stretch out to cover the center of the floor, between sets of escalators. What he might find promising, though, is that the storage cabinets under the smashed counters seem to be mostly intact. Whether or not they've been emptied is another story.

Izzy works her fire on the door locks and Thompson comes over to help her. He steps in to give the door a kick, testing for weakness. One, two, three and it swings open with a bang. Inside, the room is dark. There aren't any windows to the outside in there. What there is, though, is the briefest glimpse of movement in the dark. It would be easy to dismiss, if they didn't know better. But they do. Thompson sees it and he reaches a hand out to tug Isabelle behind him.

At the jewelry counters, Shaw's view of the door and the others is blocked. But there are a lot of reflective surfaces around him. And in that fractured vision, a dark-clothed figure comes into focus behind him.

Chewing both on his bottom lip and mentally, Shaw does indeed reflect on Isabelle's hip swish. But he's soon reminded of the real objective here. There's a lot of ground to cover, and the added bit of stress adds fuel to the urgency in Shaw's search. He pulls the knife off his belt, using the flat of the blade to force and jimmy open the storage cabinets beneath the counters, rifling through. If there's one thing about his scavenging, the man's fast as a burglar with a deadline.

The activity over by the locked door doesn't really stop him either, save for the moment Thompson kicks it open. Shaw winces at the noise because it is loud compared to the relative silence they all work in. From his half-crouched position, Shaw shushes his teammates from afar. And then with a huff, he starts to go back to working a lock open.

Until the shadow that reflects in a shiny, broken display appears behind him. There's no scream or shout from the man as surprise mutes his vocal chords rather than stirs them. Alarm kicks in, sending his whole body jerking around counterclockwise, his gloved knife-wielding hand jabbing out wildly for the dark figure, illusional or not.

Seeing that shadow in the room makes Isabelle’s eyes narrow, “We can’t go on a decent shopping trip anymore?” It’s sarcasm and she’s pissed off. Looking over at Thompson as he does the nice manly thing she shoves his hand off and tightens her grip on her flamethrower. “You gonna light it up or should I-” Her eyes catch on to Shaw and that dark-clothed figure and she gapes, no no not Shaw.

Charging forward without so much as a word the bartender slides on the floor, pressing the tab of the hairspray before aiming it towards the figure and allowing flames to shoot towards it. “Shaw!” She shouts as she angles the flames towards the dark figure.

Thompson looks at Isabelle as she shoves away his hand, but he doesn't have time to comment as she's turning the other way to run toward Shaw. He disappears into the dark, gun held ready.

Shaw's attack misses and for a moment, he might feel like he was seeing things because there's just nothing behind him when he turns. Nothing in the reflection. Just the cabinets he's opened and the jewelry pouring out of them. No rings yet, but it is promising. Perhaps.

Isabelle is who gets to see what actually happens. Shaw swipes at the figure, but it disappears before he can turn the whole way. And then the figure reappears to Isabelle's right, to slam a booted foot into her side. And then it's gone again. But definitely present. Neither of them are given too much time to contemplate it, though, as there is gunfire in the dark room where Thompson went.

With backpack only half filled with random pieces of whatever he’s managed to stuff into it before he saw the shadow, Shaw stands there one hand shakily gripping his knife, the other the pack, confused and breathing short, shallow breaths. He can feel his heartbeat quicken further as his swipe gets nothing but air. He spins, facing the counters again and thus turning towards Isabelle. If he catches a glimpse of the figure kicking his friend and teammate in the side, it’s unclear whether or not he’s believing his own eyes at the sight of it.

It’s the gunfire that snaps him out of the shock, and while a part of him ducks out of reflex, the next action is his springing over countertop and running for Isabelle’s position. He doesn’t waste words, but grabs for the woman’s hand to tug her up. “We have to go!” Obviously, he’s all for running rather than fighting. The man does send a worried look in the direction of the dark room, but he’s probably trusting Thompson has far more capability in handling… whatever it is that has come into their midst.

A grunt escapes Isabelle as she is kicked in the side, dropping the lighter. It bounces just a couple of feet from her as she falls to the ground. “Motherfucker,” she gasps out taking a moment to catch her breath before Shaw is running towards her to run away. The pyrokinetic cracks her neck and holds Shaw fast as she pulls him over so she can pick up the lighter releasing his hand. Eyes survey the area for the shadow and she nods over at Shaw but looks towards where Thompson is, “We have to get him.” Her makeshift flamethrower is held out in front of her as she bounces on the balls of her feet over to where the dark doorway and Thompson are.

Blue eyes are hard as she looks over her shoulder at the surrounding area. A shadow, like Cardinal but not him. No, not him.. Someone else. Isabelle begins to feel as if this might not have been such a good idea after all.

But if they need to fight to get out, well she’s all too prepared for that. “Shaw stay on the defense baby, you know how rough things can get.”

Gunfire continues, echoing out from the room but getting more distant, as if there were more than just a single room beyond that door. But as long as there's shooting, that means Thompson is still alive. Although, by the sound of things, he is outnumbered.

Isabelle and Shaw might have the numbers here, but it's hard to feel like they have the upper hand. Izzy looks over her shoulder and the figure is there behind them, standing in the walkway several feet back. She has a chance to see now, how the figure seems to be all limbs. A gas mask over the face. The knives in hand. Long fingers drum against the hilt of a knife. And then they disappear. Shaw can see them reappear in front of them, already posed to throw a knife in Isabelle's direction while she's distracted. It goes flying toward her and the figure disappears again.


Shaking his head and though it’s not readily visible, in body, Shaw is fighting his own fight-or-flight response when the gunfire intensifies in the next rooms over, and Isabelle holds him. Tells him they need to get Thompson. “Too late, too late,” he protests though he stays where he is when released so Isabelle can retrieve her lighter. The latter, unspoken feeling of that phrase being that they’re all going to die… “We have to go,” he continues, fumbling and grasping the short-range radio to then shout into the device, “Thompson! We have to go!” Shouting because, Thompson’s got his ears full of gunfire right now.

When the shadow materializes again, this time to a haunting appearance of a gas masked hunter, Shaw gets that split second of staring right at the figure and realizes, right as the knife is thrown at Isabelle, where the weapon is headed. He jumps in front of the knife’s path, grabbing for the woman to cover, the backpack on his back taking the brunt of the blade. Then almost immediately, he lets go of her and slings the pack back around to the front of him. Spying the handle, his fingers reach for and pull the blade out before he looks at Isabelle quite seriously. “Let’s go get Thompson and get out of here.” It’s the first clear thought he’s probably had today.

And then, he grabs Isabelle’s hand and takes off into the dark of the room beyond.

“Wha-FUCK YOU!” Isabelle is grabbed and moved by Shaw with a cry. Did he just save her life? she could kiss him, but that will come later. With a grit of her teeth she steadies herself and looks at Shaw dead in his eyes before she nods fiercely, “Let's get him,” and then he’s grabbing her hand and they’re taking off together into the gloom of the room before them.

The sounds of the gunfire echo off the wall. Someone using their ability outside of the Hub and they weren't sick.. were they? Izzy bites her lip, allowing her nerves to show for a second in the darkness. She feels obligated to get out of here even more now, with Shaw. She owes him and she takes these sort of debts seriously.

Isabelle squeezes Shaw's hand as she lets it slip from his grasp so she can get a firm grip on her lighter and hairspray. The firearm she has still hasn’t been touched.

He definitely just saved her life. The knife hits backpack instead of suit and Vör growls from her position. Frustrated. And further when Shaw takes her knife and keeps it. They head for Thompson and the Vanguard hunter starts after them, her movements unbalanced. She goes fast for a few steps then stops. Then scrambles after them again.

When they slip through the door, they're greeted with a dark room only lit by burning lanterns hung here and there. Once upon a time, this was a backroom set up with an office, safes, lockers… but now it has a small squad of Vanguard camping out in it. Lockers store clothes and food, guns and knives. Desks have been turned into makeshift tents of a sort with bedding tucked underneath them. There is evidence that they've been here for quite a while. It looks like a home, if a messy one.

And just now, it is very messy indeed. Bleeding bodies lie in heaps on the floor or flung across furniture. Bullet holes mar walls and doors. And Thompson, they can hear, is deeper in. He's shouting, sounds of anger. And fear. Gunfire doesn't echo down anymore, just the sounds of a grapple.

Isabelle's ankle is grabbed as they pass some of the bodies. A bloody hand grips onto her with what strength it has left.

And behind them, the door slams shut.

There’s no hesitation when Shaw’s running now, and definitely not a look back where Vör is coming after them. Not even a glance down at the nature of the knife in his hand that’s not holding on to Isabelle’s. Once Isabelle lets go of his hand, Shaw slows to a more cautious jog, then stops once they enter the darkened backroom. His eyes widen at the sight of the carnage, but also at the equipment and food and weapons. A moment taken to take it all in, he moves to pick up one of the guns from the dead Vanguard soldiers. The shouts from up ahead, where Thompson can be heard struggling, refocus him and he starts to go that way, but then spins and backs up a couple of paces with the sound of the door behind them slamming closed. “Isabelle?!” Shaw calls out in alarm.

There is more swearing as Isabelle charges down the dark hallway with Shaw, hearing their hunter behind them her eyes narrow as they slide to a stop in the room full of bodies and.. goodies. As the body near her grabs onto her ankle, she grunts and aims her makeshift flamethrower down, she sprays a jet of flames at the body and the body next to it. “Fuck!” she screams and as she breaks free from the weak grasp, her head snaps up behind her. “Shaw! Grab me a gun babe and run up to Thompson,” Isabelle cracks her neck as she wheels around to fully to face that dark hallway after the door slams shut.

“Mama’s gotta flay a bitch.”

And then the pyrokinetic is racing forward, eyes alight with anger. Her fuel when she uses her ability, this day it fuels her whole body instead and she gives a cry of rage as she charges towards Vör letting out jets of flame at the Vanguard operative. Her eyes alert for when the hunter tries to teleport again.

Isabelle is pissed.

The body makes a strangled noise as Izzy aims her fire down at it. Like some sort of dying animal. It gurgles and hisses, fingers grasping for purchase as if trying to save itself. It cannot. It was already too late before Isabelle put the nail in the coffin. However, its flailings cause the fire to catch on the clothes of the other bodies nearby. On the carpeting. On the wooden desks.

It is suddenly a lot easier to see.

And Isabelle gets the flash of Vör grinning at her as the pyro charges at her. Almost like she's enjoying herself. But then she pops, disappearing before the flames reach her. And opening up the way out. She reappears behind Izzy, though, and her hand grabs the back of her head to slam her into the wall of the hallway.

It isn't hard for Shaw to find guns, they're scattered about often still clutched in the hands of dead and dying Vanguard. The real problem is that the fire reaches the lockers. Food, clothing, these things are quite flammable and the fire surges, hungry flames reaching for more and more.

“No, wait!” Shaw tries to stop Isabelle from taking on the Vanguard huntress one-on-one. The man second-guesses his action momentarily, especially as the flames start to lick up around them in the room. But since Isabelle tells him to get Thompson, that’s what seals the deal. Shaw spins back around, running away from Isabelle and Vör’s fight. “Thompson! Help!” Scramble all fighters. The man grabs up a couple more guns in his path, throwing them into his pack along with Vör’s knife, but leaving one pistol out in hand. His eyes sweep, searching wildly for the third teammate of their ragtag scavenging team.

Being slammed into the wall makes Isabelle cry out as her hairspray can rolls away. There are more in her pack but it's not really possible to grab those. Her vision blurs and swims and she groans. This fucking bitch! With a growl Isabelle throws her elbow back, it started as a reflex to being grabbed but she follows through with more force as she catches her breath.

Her knife is ripped from her thigh sheath and is thrust backwards towards Vor before she spins around to kick out at the vile woman.

Izzy coughs and stabs out again, blind fury working through her. The flames going up near the pair only seems to energize Isabelle, not in the sense of her ability but whether she's negated or not. Fire is her friend, Fire has always been her friend.

Vör manages to miss the knife, just barely, but leaves herself open to the kick. She falls back against the opposite wall with a thud. She rolls to the side to avoid the knife and grabs Izzy's knife-arm to twist it behind her. The pain to her wrist is considerable. It's obvious that Vör is aiming to get that knife out of her hand.

When Shaw goes to find Thompson, he crosses into an office that seems to have been kept a little better. There are some papers on the desk, but they are at least in stacks and not scattered all over. Thompson is standing over a man, his foot on the man's throat. Another man is prowling off to the side. It's clear they're in some sort of stand off. And all of them (some with more success than others), look toward Shaw when he enters. The call for help doesn't get ignored and Thompson breaks the man's neck before he moves to vault over the desk. Some papers do go flying then, the ones not being weighed down by a book. Drawings flutter to the carpet as the second Vanguard man starts firing at the two of them. Thompson shoves Shaw to the ground to get him out of the way of the bullets and shoves him outside the door. "Gun!" Thompson holds a hand out. Demanding.

The gunfire gets a reflexive duck from Shaw, then getting shoved backwards to the ground, he hits the floor with the flat of his ass and scoot-rolls a little. At Thompson’s demand, Shaw fumbles the gun in his hands up to him. “Isabelle’s fighting a ‘porter back there,” he reports to the man, “We have to help!” But there’s still the second Vanguard man inside the room shooting at them. Shaw scrambles to his knees, working up to his feet but staying low.

The blue eyed woman hisses as she misses with the knife and is thrown forward with her hand behind her back, “Ah you fucking bitch! Blood traitor, cunt bucket, filthy,” She grits her teeth against the pain with a wince as she plants her feet almost losing grip on the knife. “Fucking,” she leans her head forward, “BITCH!”

Slamming her head back into Vör’s nose, she tries to wrestle herself free throwing another kick with her foot as she twists herself to grab onto the teleporter around the waist with her legs and pull her in for another hard butt.

Thompson takes the gun, taking a moment to check it for ammo before he looks back for Izzy. And sees the fire, still spreading. "She's burning the place down," he comments, his tone halfway between annoyed and amused, "again." He looks back to Shaw, taking him in for a moment. "Don't worry about her. She's a fighter. You and me need to get into this room. I caught sight of some kind of roster." Of course, there is a man with a gun currently shooting at them in this room. "Stay put. Maybe try to keep the fire back."

When Thompson pulls himself back up to stand and turns toward the door, Shaw can see it— a slice through his suit and his leg bleeding.

Vör laughs as Isabelle insults her, sounding more than a little manic as she twists harder. "Am I? You're the one on a leash. Betraying your own blood, littl— " She words cut off when Isabelle's skull cracks her in the face. She lets go of her partner, but teleports away before she can pull it off again. It leaves Isabelle to fall to the ground. And it's clear the woman isn't used to people actually getting a hit in on her, because she moves from attack to withdraw. Or well. ish.

Blood runs down her face, but she still grins at Isabelle, shadows flickering wildly from the fire. And she turns to skip her way down toward Shaw. And she hums. It sounds distinctly like Ring Around The Rosie.

Turning his head at the sounds of screamed swearing from his friend and teammate, Shaw takes another gun out from the pack to check it. His eyes are round, chest puffing and huffing in short breaths of mildly controlled fear. That fear turns to a cold chill down his spine when he sees the punctured suit on Thompson’s leg. It’s all he can do to not tell the man, right away. There’ll be time after, if they survive this.

Thompson’ll be the first through the door, and Shaw waiting at the threshold to be a backup in case that’s needed. He stares back down the way of Isabelle and Vör, worried brow furrowing when the sounds seem to have died off there and been replaced with a sing-songy hum. With the chaos and fire, he’s not even sure who it is coming down the shadow-flickering hall.


That word is still ringing in her head as the teleporter ports away and let's Isabelle smack onto the floor. “Fucking,” Isabelle pounds the ground with her fist as she hits it with a smack. It takes her a few moments to get herself together but shaking her head she's climbing to her feet while rotating her wrist, the pain aching up to her below. Gritting her teeth, blue eyes narrow at the crazy woman.

She notices her skipping and towards Shaw and Thompson. “Oh hell no.” She whispers as she thrusts her knife out to hold it in the nearby roaring flames careful not to burn herself, Isabelle’s eyes reflect the flame as she watches the blade heat up.

Tapping her foot, she looks up towards where Vor skipped and then takes off running. Huffing as she goes, being silent isn't something she needs to worry about anymore. There's the roar of the flames everywhere and Isabelle pounds on the floor before leaping at Vör’s back with a cry, knife lifted high in the air above her.

With time to collect himself and a couple people to back him up, Thompson turns and steps into the room. He fires one bullet.

That's the last shot anyone hears.

Including Vör. She stops short, listening for anything that might tell her that she's not alone. What she hears is an incoming Isabelle. She turns, seeing her start her leap, Vör's eyes widen and she pops out of view. It's a cheap move. But she doesn't know how to feel shame. She watches, though, from further down the hall, as Isabelle's momentum sends her crashing into Shaw's crouched form. The blade of the knife digs into the wall centimeters from Shaw's face. An inch closer and Vör wouldn't feel so outnumbered. But as it is, she goes into actual retreat, porting out of sight.

And she doesn't come back.

When the source of the humming isn’t Isabelle but the dreaded Vanguard hunter, Shaw seems frozen, a mouse in the sights of a cat. The man might have the more fearsome weapon in hand, but she definitely has him. Then he flinches, not because the huntress is coming, but the report of the gun in the room behind him. For those few seconds, it’s just Shaw staring at Vör, a stand off.

Then with Isabelle coming at full steam down the hall, Shaw looks bolstered by the fact that she’s still alive, for one. Even though the sight of a pissed off Isabelle is equally as terrifying. He’s not got the gun raised when Vör’s disappearance results in Isabelle crashing right into him, winding on top of his sprawled form and the knife blade piercing the barest distance from his face. He loses his grip on the gun, the pistol dropping with a dull clatter against the linoleum. Shaw’s eyes are blank as he stares at Isabelle, caught in that moment where his life flashes before his eyes - however sad and pathetic it might be. Then, in the relative silence, he coughs into his mask. “T-Thompson… he’s…”

He cranes his neck to look up and back, trying to spot the third man of their team.

“Whoaaaaa fuck youuuuu!” Isabelle screams as she slams into Shaw and just barely misses his face with her knife. She knocks a knee hard into the wall with a cry out in pain. Inside, she's thanking God, the Goddes, the Universe and all their mothers for not allowing that knife to embed itself in Shaw.

“Oh my god, oh my god. I'm so sorry. I-” Isabelle stops herself cuz she's surging forward to plant a kiss on Shaw’s lips and her eyes close, there's a problem cuz there's gas mask on and so instead she ends up smooching the surface of her mask.

It lasts a brief few seconds before Isabelle is pulling herself up with a wince because of her knee and an embarrassed look because of the failed kiss, “Uh… more on that later.”

Yanking the knife out of its holder, she winces again as she limps on her knee. “That's definitely bruised.” She hopes not worst.

“Wha, what about Thompson?” She’s still feeling the adrenaline of her tussle with the Vör.

"If you two are done," Thompson says from where he stands in the doorway, "with whatever you're trying to do." He nods them into the office. It's almost casual. Like there isn't a fire raging one room over. Like there's no puncture to his suit. Inside, the desk has been emptied out, papers and books sitting out on top instead of in drawers. Isabelle sees a drawing of a familiar face— Abby Beauchamp with shortcropped hair, featured with Cat Chesterfield and Helena Dean — lying where it fell on the floor. A series of drawings litter the floor. Sylar in one. Ruins in another. A cherub statue broken by gunshots.

Thompson is more interested in a collection of papers. He fingers through them as he leans over the desk. Shaw, though, might be more interested in something that could be seen as salvage: a book. Death Is A Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury weighs down some of the other drawings on the desk. On closer inspection, he can see the Brooklyn Central Library stamp and labels still holding on.

"Look here." Thompson lays down a particular sheet of paper. It looks like boring, scribbled information until he flips it over and they can see written across it: Amp moved again— Textile Factory 17.

Probably they don't mean speakers.

Wincing as his gas mask and Isabelle’s smoosh together with her efforts to kiss him, Shaw isn’t exactly resistant but, well, there’s some things to take care of first. He can feel the digging of his backpack against his back. “Thompson,” Shaw echoes the man’s name, his tone somewhat hollow, distant. Sad. But he doesn’t say anymore as the man comes over, instead gently pushing against Isabelle to get her up onto her feet, himself as well. It’s subtle, but he checks Isabelle’s suit for punctures or blood in the process. When they’re all set and the fire in the next room over hasn’t creeped into the hallway just yet, he looks back to the pair and also moves to look over all the papers.

He grabs the book, stuffing it into the Jansport. In go guns, other papers, the drawings, even some office supplies for good measure. A stapler, Swingline. The man’s soon heavy laden and not daring to try and put more into the bag lest the straps break. He peers at the paper that Thompson holds up, lips moving as he reads the words.

“We better get the coffee too,” he says after a pause, another glance to Thompson, and a look over to the glow of the fire in the room over. But he also probably means to take as much as they can of the Vanguard supplies that they can carry. “But, Thompson… we… we can’t fix you,” he says with a growing dread and a pointed look down to the man’s bloodied leg. And then his gaze travels back up to the man’s face. Shaw swallows dryly. He’s not sure what more to say.

Flipping Thompson off before she registers the tear in his suit. She blinks and looks over to Shaw, so that's what he was on about. There's a look of remorse in her eyes for the man but her mouth becomes a tight line.

“I..” her gaze trails over to the drawings and the piece of paper that is shown to them.

The warrior woman looks over at the two of them as Shaw takes the drawings and Thompson acts like nothing is wrong. Her brow furrows and there's sweat dripping down her face beneath the mask. Isabelle’s blue eyes widen, “Amp that must be what Mags is looking for,” she breathes and her gaze flicks to Shaw and then Thompson.

They might have just hit the jackpot.

“Thompson I'm sorry but,” she looks down at the knife in her hand. “We can take your guns back,” to be used, there is need of them but not of Thompson anymore. There's a look of remorse and she looks over at Shaw.

"I know, kid," Thompson says to Shaw. His eyes don't lift from the papers, though. "Plenty to gather here before you head back. I'll help look on the upper floor. Isabelle." He looks over at her. "You get Shaw, the goods, and this intel back to the hub." There's a pause before he looks at his gun, then back to her. "I need the last bullet."

And with that, he turns to leave the room, likely to scavenge in some other part of the building. It leaves the pair of them alone, as they will be for the journey home. Something found, something lost. Ashes to ashes.

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