Welcome To Hell, Population Us


knox_icon.gif ling_icon.gif melissa4_icon.gif peter_icon.gif

Scene Title Welcome to Hell, Population Us
Synopsis After rescuing Ling from the Institute, Melissa, Peter and Knox try to get information from her, and convince her to hide out for a while from common enemies.
Date July 7, 2010

St. Joseph's Church

There is nothing entirely spectacular for Saint Joseph's. Its old Architecture somehow managed to withstand the bomb and other damage that has been done over the years. The front entrance is sadly blocked due to fallen debris, as well as other things done since The Bomb happened, as such everyone known to enter through the red doors in the back. Despite Damage to the front, it still manages to look like a quaint little stone church in the middle of broken homes and overgrown wild life. A last marker for those entering the Rookery. A Samaritan station for those within.

The inside holds a warm feeling, cracked window panes add to the chill one might feel here, but there are several rows of pews, with the Altar raised up in the center along the great back wall of the sanctuary, with the raised Pulpit off to the side and flanked by the baptismal font on the other. Old iconography still hangs here and there, as a chipped statue of Christ looks on from the western wall.

What was once the fellowship hall, as small as it was, has been turned into a small area filled with cots, so people can sleep, and east here if they want some food from the tiny kitchen. The church offices have been turned into a make shift nurses station, seeing to only minor injuries, where as the head Pastor's office remains just that, and a little more. Yes, this is where the current pastor also lives.

All in all it is a lot contained in a small space-but it stands here for its mission. To help and affect the lives of those still on Staten Island.

One Week Ago

Everything is muffled, glass is painful beneath Ling Chao's right cheek, her head feels heavy and rests limply against the glass-strewn pavement. Blurred vision recognizes that there are people standing in front of her, and her body tingles as she watches their white-clad forms slowly taking scuffing footsteps backward.

Shell casings fall from their readied assault rifles, fall to the pavement in slow motion with tinkling sounds ling cannot hear. The tinnitus ringing in her ears is all the sound she can have, even the muzzle flashes from the silenced rifles appear soundlessly, far more quiet than a silencer could afford.

A dark shape moves in quickly through Ling's field of view, brown trenchcoat flating out, a red scarf wound around the lower half of his face like a mask. One of the white clad men is lifted up off of his feet, and blood rains down across Ling's cheek. His body falls out of her field of vision, she can hear his bones breaking.

Blurry vision swims and Ling can see herself twisted around unnaturally, the lower half of her body laying in something that looks like a coffin, but there's snaky IV tubes slithered out from it, some still connected to her.

She doesn't want to black out when someone's legs invade her field of view, but she has no choice in the matter.

Four Days Ago

"…ome serious internal injuries, I don't know." Muffled speech sounds easier to listen to, but the words themselves aren't. Paralysis seems likely, given that Ling can't feel her legs when she awakens, vision is still blurry and her chest aches. A stained glass window in her field of vision shines brightly with colors of blue, yellow, white and red, serving as a backdrop for a darkly dressed man with tousled brown hair and a scruffy bears.

"Pete, we gotta move her to a hospital or you gotta' make a call…" Knox isn't a familiar man to Ling either, but he's motioning to Ling as though she were the subject of their conversation. Breath tries to form words and fails, but the hiss of noisy breathing turns both pairs of dark eyes down to Ling, and then down to her purple and blackened legs.

She'll never walk again, that realization comes shortly before she loses consciousness, falling into the peace that maybe — just maybe — that was a nightmare.

Present Day

It should be inhumanly hot here in St.Joseph's church, the sunlight burning through the cracks in the ceiling and some of the shattered windows implies that the sun has not forgiven the Earth. Outside of the church the thermostats are climbing towards 102 degrees, and yet inside the modest shade of the church it is 65 degrees and without a touch of humidity. There's no air-conditioner that could keep that level of cold ina building with this many holes in it.

Not unless you count Peter Petrelli as an air-conditioner. These days, he does serve as one when it's necessary.

Seated in a creaky old wooden pew, one leg crossed over the other and dressed in a paramedic's uniform, Petrelli seems content to read, an old paperback novel folded open in his lap, a paper cup of coffee steaming in one hand. That St.Joseph's Church has been turned into a makeshift triage center for the last few days is a relatively well-kept secret, outside of the group known as Messiah.

Laying on her back on a folding cot in the middle of the church's aisle, Ling Chao looks better than she should. An oversize black tanktop reveals bare arms and hides her waist, no blanket covers her, but long and pale legs are bared to the diffuse light of indirect sun as healthy as the rest of her body, perhaps impossibly so.

Maybe it was just a bad dream.

The noise of a pair of wooden doors creaking open heralds the sounds of bootfalls clunking across the hardwood floors. "Pete," Knox calls out on his way in, looking up and around at the ceiling, sunlight bright at his back and the slim silhouette of a brunette woman behind him. "Man— it's nice in here…" Knox toothily admits as he strolls in, rubbing his hands over his bare arms with amusement at gooseflesh prickling up his skin.

Twisting on his pew, Peter sets down his book and looks back towards the front door, brows furrowed together. "Knox…" then looking past her, there's a smile on seeing the brunette behind him, even if a bit guarded of one. "Hey…"

Maybe Peter should be explaining why he has an unconscious and half naked Chinese woman sleeping in a cot next to him.

Eventually, sure.

Some people get to have moments, even hours, of downtime after work. Some people go from one disaster to another without any rest. Melissa, it seems, is in the latter group. Cages and bodies, to bar brawls, to mysterious meetings with people she's not sure if she's mad at or not. But she came, blonde now, and wearing color. Color beyond the red scarf. Truly it is a miracle. Or maybe she just hit her head really hard. Either way, she's wearing a red plaid skirt and a sleeveless black tee-shirt, along with fishnets and boots. Which means that almost all of her lovely scars are shown off. Maybe she's proud of them? Maybe she just doesn't care.

"It's a church, what's so nice about it?" she mutters to Knox, shaking her head as she follows him in, despite the fact that the change from hot to cold has her giving a little shiver as well. Then she's spotting Peter and pausing for a moment, looking at him for a full minute…before she glances at the unconscious woman and frowns. "Okay, it's been a rough couple of days, but I'm going to be a good little grown up and wait for an explanation before I start jumping to too many conclusions," she says finally, looking back at Peter, brow arching. "Should I be jealous?"

Okay, maybe she jumped to a little conclusion.

"Assassins aren't my type," Peter jokingly states as he sets down his coffee cup on the pew and slowly rises to his feet, looking down to Ling's unconscious form and then over to Melissa. "Rebel picked up an Institute van on satellite on the first, out in Jersey. Rickham and Kris went to check it out and they demolished the thing. Turns out they were making a shipment," Peter's dark brows rise as he motions down to Ling laying on the cot with one hand, then starts walking past Knox.

"She got hurt, pretty bad, in the extraction. We've been keeping her here until she wakes up. She has massive skeletal and muscular damage, I wound up having to take care of it." Peter looks back over his shoulder to Ling, then to Melissa. "She would've been paralyzed from the waist down, I decided to keep an eye on her until she wakes up, after finding out who she is…"

Knox walks over to Ling's bedside, arms crossed over his chest. Dark eyes sweep over to Melissa and Peter, and his head shakes slowly. "Her name's Ling Chao, public records has her as a former employee at Rapture, one'a Linderman's businesses. She ain't go no Registration, but got one'a them blood kits, she's positive. Probably why the Institute wanted her. I seen her face 'round Chinatown last summer, worked for the Triad a'think."

Brows shoot up. "Assassins?" Melissa asks, sounding surprised. And that has her giving Ling another, longer look. "Pity you guys weren't able to follow the van back to wherever it was going. More and more people are going missing," she murmurs, thinking about the conversation she overheard the night before, about Eileen.

She looks back to Knox, then Peter, and her brow furrows. "I don't get it though. You said would've, which suggests that you healed her or got her healed. So why'd you need to talk to me? Wanting me to take her in or something? My house is gettin' kinda full with Kendall and now Faron staying there…" And the assassin bit worries her.

"Nngh…" A sudden groan comes from the woman on cot, breathing quickening momentarily as she slowly begins to rouse from unconsciousness. Her body shifts just a bit, one shoulder rising and then slumping back to the cot. Another groan, and the Chinese woman's face scrunches. Breathing steadies, and a hand rises up and to her forehead, moving slow and week. It settles over her eyes. "«What in the world…»," she intones in Chinese, face contorting tighter. "«What happened…»" She hears voices again, but what they say isn't quite registering… not until the mention of her name.

Though unseen because of the hand on her face, Ling's eyes fly open as sudden realization washes over her. She jolts up in her cot, immediately regretting it as as soreness and residual pain washes over her, forcing her back a bit with a heavy wince. Pain and weakness, things she's very much unaccustomed to. Breathing quickened, and eyes wide, she looks around the room with hands clenched into fists. A single wisp of smoke rises up from her shoulder, eyes narrowing - as much as she concentrates, she's just in no condition.

«Who are you, and where the hell am I.» She doesn't think to use English where it might help. She's too pissed off - and in a rare moment, scared - to care

Knox is the first person to respond to Ling's wakedness, moving close to her and settling a hand down on her shoulder with very careful measure of force given how scared she is and how possible it would be to undo some of Peter's handiwork and accidentally deprive her of an arm. "English, girl. I don't speak take-out." Knox isn't the best public-relations man to have on call, but he is the best person to restrain a scared woman, especially since they have no earthly idea what she's capable of.

Peter's answer to Melissa is postponed by Ling's awakening, and as he turns to the brunette, his arms cross over his chest and his feet carry him to her bedside. "You were kidnapped, hurt, you should be okay but I can't tell if I missed any internal injuries… I need you to tell me if anything feels broken or if anything hurts." Slipping into his cover role of a paramedic, Peter takes a knee beside Ling's cot and waves over Melissa.

It's handy to have a living Morphine drip on-call.

Ling's babbling — because that's what it sounds like to Melissa — has Mel glancing over and her head tilting. She sighs and moves over, understanding what's needed once Peter asks about pain. "What he means to say is, you're safe. But if you don't use English, we can't help you," she says gently, stopping between Knox and Peter, looking down at Ling. She does her best to look sweet and harmless, which might be easier in a different outfit, but it still works…Sort of.

Eyes narrow when Knox's hand makes contact with her shoulder, attempting to squirm, with little affect. The words spoken to her go unheeded, unbelieved, trying unsuccessfully to wrest herself up - or better yet, slip into smoke and away from her. The only real result she can produce in her current state, unfortunately, are a few more stray wisps rising from her hair and fingers, at this point just becoming enough to be noticeable.

"Where is Doctor Cong," she intones in English, still squirming, fear mingling with a hint of helplessness and hatred for this moment because of it. "This is his doing," she says with confidence and anger, only giving pause when her eyes settle on her own legs - no longer the purple husks she had seen in her earlier haze.

Knox and Peter share confused stares at that, then furrow their brows. Knox rises up to stand, looking down at Melissa and then moving towards the doors of the church, pushing them both closed and remaining as much of a watch guard as can be possible given their choice of residence.

Peter's reaction is more like Melissa's, careful and attentive but more professionally so. "Easy, easy… I don't know who you're talking about, but he's not here. You were kidnapped, being hauled off to God knows where… some friends of mine rescued you, but you were pretty badly hurt in the crash." Reaching out to rest a hand on Ling's, Peter's brown eyes go wide for a moment, then are tempered by the furrow of his brows.

"I healed you… but I don't know if I fixed everything, there— there was a lot wrong. I need to know if you're hurt still, if you can feel anything." A brief look is flicked to Melissa, then back to Ling.

The looks to Melissa have her shrugging. She can numb pain, but she can't tell if someone's in pain. Just doesn't work like that. She watches Knox head off, then looks back to Peter and Ling. "If you are hurt, and you let us know, we can help. But we can't help if we don't know what's wrong." Sure she could just pour power over Ling, but it's a bandaid solution, nothing more.

She crouches down so she's more on Ling's level, the look on her face sympathetic. "You should listen to him though. We're the good guys. We just want to help. That's all. I don't like seeing people in pain."

Eyes narrow a bit further on Peter, focusing on him for a moment, as if there's some hint of recognition. "You'll understand if I don't entirely believe you," Ling replies tersely. A hand rises up, balling up in a manner to allow her knuckles to crack as she sits back up a bit. Her other hand is withdrawn from Peter's, the Chinese woman still eyeing him carefully. "But I am fine. Immensely sore." Her knees draw back, shifting herself forward. "I'll ask again. Who are you, and where am I."

"My name's Peter," is the straightforward answer that doesn't come with familial baggage. "That's Knox," is added with a gesture over Peter's shoulder to the stoic man at the door, "and this is Melissa." Moving his hand from Ling's, Peter drapes his forearms over his knees, brows knit together in a look of searching uncertainty. "You're in a neighborhood called the Rookery," where she drove a literal knife into Liu Ye's back.

"Sore's good, that means the healing worked. You've… got a scar," Peter admits, brows creased, motioning to what looks like a black lump just barely visible beneath the bottom hem of Ling's oversized tanktop on the side of her thigh. It almost looks like a raised burn-mark in charcoal black, like a finger…

"It shouldn't be hard to hide, just… if I didn't heal you, you'd have been paralyzed from the waist down. Your spine was broken, you…" Peter's head shakes from side to side, slowly. "I did everything I could."

Sore? That can be fixed. There's a slow, deep breath taken, a look shot to Peter, then the part of Melissa that is connected to the pain of others reaches out, washing over Ling, and stealing the aches and pains. From this distance, with just one target, it's not even too much of a strain on her. She's even able to focus enough to look at the black hand print, to start to reach a hand up to her own hand print, though she stops herself halfway.

After she's sure that she's steady enough to maintain the effect while talking, Melissa smiles at Ling. "Doesn't that feel better now? I told you we were here to help."

"The Rookery?" Ling says with a bit of disbelief. More places she never thought she'd be returning to in her lifetime. "If you're trying to help me, you're doing a poor job." Not that they'd know this, of course. Or at least, she assumes. As the relief Melissa brings washes over Ling, she visibly seems to relax, almost on reflex. It's even reflected in her expression, which actually seems to soften a bit, a glance offered over to Melissa.

Eyes move down to the hand print on her thigh, considering it for a moment. "And why, exactly, would you heal me, Peter?" There's still that skepticism in her voice, and she's still eyeing him like she wants to place him. "I take it you don't work for Doctor Cong, then. Linderman?"

Snorting out a laugh, Peter shakes his head as he pushes himself up to his feet, looking Ling up and down and then resting his hands on his hips. "No, no… I don't work for Linderman." There's a wryness in his tone at that, then a motion of one hand towards his chest. "I'm self-employed," says the man dressed like a paramedic, which would imply anything but. "My friends and I are… I guess you could say we're friends because we have the same enemies. That van you were in, it's run by a group called the Institute. Full of scientists and researchers experimenting on people like me'n you…"

Peter's posture relaxes a little, head tilts to the side and one corner of his mouth creeps up into a smile. "Why don't you tell me what you remember about how you got captured?"

Melissa remains crouched by Ling, though carefully. Not only does she not trust this woman, but it wouldn't do to flash a stranger. There's an art to wearing a short skirt, after all. "Let me know if the pain comes back," she says with another smile, before falling silent to let Peter and Ling talk.

Ling scoffs at the idea of "self employed", shaking her head. "So you're opportunists," she intones at the ascertation that she was helped in the name of a common enemy. That, though, is something she can appreciate, and it wins her over enough to get to spill some information. "I was attending to a personal matter with a man named Bao-Wei Cong. He had men with him, for what good it should have done him. I was done with him, for the time being when someone burst in with gas, and-" she pauses, eyes narrowing. "That was the end of that." If someone were to really pay attention, they'd notice that the tips of her hair are far more ethereal now than they were previously.

At the mention of gas, Peter's expression turns into a lopsided frown. Exhaling a sigh, he looks back to Knox who seems equally put off by the description. "The men that were with him, were they dressed in white plastic suits, black masks with respirators?" Peter cups one hand over his mouth demonstratively. "Anything you can tell us… opportunists the better, because from the sounds of it I think we have some mutual enemies out there…"

Walking around the cot, Peter picks up a backpack beside one of the pews, then brings it over and sets it down. "Risa came by with some clothing for you, it should fit. It might not feel it right now, but it's hot outside…" Peter's brows crease together, eyes drift over to Melissa, and then back to Ling. "It's the seventh too. You've been out for a while."

Melissa's reaction to hearing about the gas isn't that dissimilar from Peter's. She grimaces. "Yeah, that gas is nasty. You're lucky to be here and not in a lab somewhere," she says, straightening and glancing to Peter when he looks at her. "And he's right. If they were after you like that, we do share an enemy, and it's one hell of a nasty one," she says, returning her gaze to Ling.

At the mention of clothes and the date, Ling's nose wrinkles. "The seventh?" she repeats, looking genuinely surprised. "What did you do, Bao-Wei…" she mutters quietly, even as she swings her legs over and picks up the backpack, looking inside. "They were dressed… something like that. I don't remember exactly. Doctor Cong was there to get something," she intones somewhat ominously before her gaze turns up to Melissa. "I don't know who your enemy is. This Institute? They aren't my business. Or weren't. My business lies with Doctor Cong." And how well that had played out.

Clothes are pulled out of the backpack, pants claimed before anything else. She's somewhat unabashed about changing anything at the moment - given her current state and changed clothes, it's clear that it's not something she has to really worry about anyone seeing, because the probably already have. "Tell me, Peter, what it is you want," she asks sharply. "I'm not a fool. I know no gesture like this goes without something demanded in return. I know that quite well."

"I want to make sure I don't have to rescue you a second time," Peter admits with a crooked smile. "Because right now, here? I don't think you realize how much trouble you're in." Leaning up against one of the pews, Peter looks down to his feet, crossing his arms over his chest and exhaling a sigh. "We may've pulled you out of the Institute's clutches, but they aren't just going to give up on you. If they wanted to capture you, they're going to try again… and they're going to come back with bigger guns, and more people, and maybe next time we won't be able to get to you in time."

Breathing in deeply and exhaling a shrug, Peter reaches up with one hand to scratch at the back of his neck. "Safety in numbers, you know? Me, Melissa and Knox are just three people, and we're sort've like a network, fighting people like the Institute. We can't tell you much right now, except that if this Bao-Wei's an enemy of yours, he's an enemy of ours too."

Taking a few steps over to Ling, Peter glances over to one of the remaining stained glass windows, then back again. "I'd like you to stay with Melissa for a little while, at least until the heat dies. You weren't tagged or anything, so they don't have any way to find you. But… if you return to a place you lived before, visit any familiar territory, you might get snatched again. That's all I'm asking, for you to settle down for a little bit."

Dark eyes move to meet Melissa, brows lifting. "As long as that's alright with you."

There's a glance to Peter, then back to Ling, and Melissa nods. "The Institute is very determined. They may well do their damndest to catch you again, and they'll probably use the gas as well. Negation gas. Prevents the use of any evolved abilities. And makes it a lot harder for us to stay away from them. But you should be safe at my place." Though she's mentally adding up how much more groceries are going to cost now.

"There are others at my house, and they'll help keep you safe. It's also out of the way, so we don't get many unexpected visitors. You'll be safer there than most other places in the city," she assures Ling, smiling to match the words. "Just hope you like dogs."

"No one was looking for me," Ling corrects as she begins to more appropriately dress. "I was looking for Bao-Wei. He happened to have this… Institute with him." She grits her teeth, a hand balling into a fist. "He got the better of me, and I guess left me with them." Her own foolish mistake, and one she was never going to let herself. Clothes handled, she rises to her feet - but not without a bit of a weak wobble. Arms cross around her midsection, eyes moving to Melissa, and then to Peter. "I don't need a babysitter. I can get around… unseen, if necessary." The idea of such was pretty appalling to her, in fact.

Head tilting to the side, Peter furrows his brows. "They're going to be looking for you now. We killed four of their retrievers and smashed up one of their expensive containment tanks. If they didn't want you badly then, they're going to want you now, even if just to find out why we saved you. Look, Chao, we don't know how they find people like us, maybe they've got somebody who can tell were people are, maybe they've got good spies…"

Another sigh slips from Peter as he offers a pleading look up to Ling. "What good's going out at this alone going to do for you? If Bao-Wei's working for the Institute, then that's something we'd like to help you with, because it helps us. Nothing selfless about it, you're valuable and I'd like to protect a valuable asset."

Looking between Melissa and Ling, Peter offers a shrug. "A few days won't hurt you, will it? But if you insist on going out there and trying to do whatever it is you're doing by yourself… fine. I won't stop you. But coming from someone who tried the whole lone wolf act for a long time… it's not going to get you anywhere."

Melissa sighs softly and shakes her head. "I'm not offering to babysit you, chickie. I'm not a babysitter. It is so far from what I am it's not even funny. We're offering to just keep you safe until you're back on your feet. Because you know how you're not feeling any pain right now? It's not real. So how well would you be able to fight them off while sore and unable to use your ability, whatever it may be?"

A hand is run through her hair, and she glances to Peter, shrugging. "Like he said, a few days won't hurt you. But these people have taken some pretty damn powerful people. They've got a hell of a lot of resources, and I'm sure we don't know half of them. So please, just come stay with me for a few days. I'm asking nicely, not for my sake, but for yours. I'm tired of seeing people used and killed. I may not know you, but I don't want to see you dead or as some kind of bizarre lab rat."

Arms still crossed, Ling's face contorts into an expression of frustration. "I am not at all happy with this idea," she comments, standing straight, head tilted forward a bit. "However, you did help me. And if there is information to be shared, I am open to compromise. If Bao-Wei is working with this Institute, they have his records."

Her gaze moves back up the pair, taking a moment to glance over at Knox. "That is what is most important to me at the moment. I need… information on people from them."

Smirking, there seems to be an accepting expression dawning on Peter's face. "I think then, Ling, we might have some intersecting goals," he notes with a slow nod of his head. "I hate to have to run off on you, but I'm on my lunch break right now. I've gotta get back to Manhattan, Knox and Melissa can fill you in on whatever you need, and in a few days I'll come by and talk to you after… clearing something with an associate of mine."

Offering a wordless look to Melissa, Peter nods his head subtly and then looks back to Ling. "I mean it when I say keep yourself from the mainland for a little bit, there's no telling what'll happen if you try and get anything of yours from your residence. Melissa will gave some spare clothes for you, you're about the same size."

Ling in Melissa's style of clothing? Peter does have a sense of humor after all, doesn't he?

Melissa looks a little relieved, then smiles at Ling. "Thank you," she says, and it sounds sincere. "And hey, you need information, I'm sure we can help you get it. But c'mon. Let's get you back to my place. After being out for so long I'll bet you're starved. I've got some leftover pizza from last night, or we can order something in."

She looks at Peter then, though she doesn't say anything. But she doesn't need to, the look says it all. We WILL talk later.

Ling furrows her brow, looking unhappy at the prospect of foreign clothes, not being able to return home, and pizza, in roughly that order. "So be it, then." Hands fall back to her side, and she exhales, before looking up at Peter. "Make no mistake. I don't trust you. Any of you" And she closes her eyes for a moment. "But I do thank you for making sure I didn't end up in a box." If only they knew how hard that was for her to say.

As Peter's heading to the door, it's Knox but not Peter that makes a parting comment to Ling, his own brand of smile toothily crossing his lips. "Girl, you just summed up all'a our introductions…" Tipping his head into a nod when Peter opens the doors and takes the chilly air with him, dumping the church into sweltering heat and humidity.

"Y'feel that?" Knox asks with a smile, "Welcome t'hell, population us."

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