When The Wax Begins To Melt


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Scene Title When The Wax Begins To Melt
Synopsis The Institute makes a difficult decision regarding the status of Project Icarus.
Date August 11, 2010

Reclaimed Zone

The sound of thunder isn't from any atmospheric effect, but the distant crackling echo of a specific breed of teleportation taking effect. The static charge in the air causes hairs to stand on end, and when Lucas Eldridge appears in a flash of light and electricity in mid-jump, his black-armored body lands with a heavy slam of plated body armor on concrete.

Taking a knee, the hydraulics of Eldridge's suit hiss and whine and the visor of his helmet snaps upwards into the helmet. "Motherfucker," he breathes out the slurred curse, looking askance to the other armored man crouched on the corner of the same rooftop, helmeted head slowly shaking. "Basement levels are fucking frozen solid, I couldn't get around much because of the cold, some've the walls are frozen so fucking thick I couldn't risk trying to teleport through them or I might wind up stuck halfway in fucking ice."

The designation on Eldridge's companion's armor reads 00-01 in blocky white text, and as he turns to look down through his orange-tinted visor to the man in the 00-04 armor, his head dips down into a slow nod. "What'd you see on the inside on the upper floors?" Eldridge's question is answered with the sound of a digitally synthesized sigh escaping through the mouthplate of Desmond Harper's helmet.

«I found our security team, or what's left of them anyway. They were burned down to the bone right near the lobby, weapons and all. Half the lobby looks like it was exposed to a blast furnace. I don't even know…» Harper shakes his head, lifting up one glovd hand to trace along the side of his helmet by where his jaw would be.

"How's yer mouth doing?" Eldridge asks as he pulls his helmet off and holds it under one arm, running a gloved hand through his hair as he looks across the street from the rooftop they're on to the enormous and unlit hospital complex silhouette by the first scraps of blue dawn light shining from the eastern horizon.

«It was fractured, I had to head back to Boston to get Dooley to fix it.» Harper slowly turns as he's talking, surveying the grounds of the hospital's exterior.

"Dooley?" is perhaps the expected question from Eldridge as he rises from his crouch, lifting one arm to look down to a thermostat on the inside of his wrist, measuring the external temperature of his armor, needle currently in the green.

«Kaitlyn Dooley, she was one of Simon's 'rescues', they have her working down in Medical.» There's a grunt of frustration from Harper as he turns to look back at Eldridge. «I didn't go much further inside than the lobby,» he notes with a nod of his head to the hospital, «from the looks of things security is entirely gone, I switched to audio after a few minutes of scanning the entry halls and I could hear noises… drills, maybe a bone saw? I think Gregor's gone entirely off the reservation. Kershner was right,» is reluctantly admitted, «we couldn't control him.»

Eldridge nods slowly, rising up to stand straight as he walks across the roof towards Harper, "What're we going to do then, just report in? I don't feel comfortable going in there without the entire team, but we can't just recall them back from their deployment positions right now with Operation Hammerdown so close."

«We can't,» Harper agrees with a crackle of his voice over the speaker, looking to Eldridge on approach. «Let's get down to forward base and contact Pierce, then see what he advises.» With that, Eldridge steps to the edge of the roof, one boot on the concrete railing, then boots himself up. Eldridge follows suit with a whining hiss of his hydraulics. «Three, two— »

The pair jump on what would be the count of one, and as they begin plummeting down off of the six-story building, there's a flash of electricity in a sphere and a thunderclap sound accompanied by a brilliant flash of white light. When the glow subsided, there's firefly-like motes of electricity crackling in the air, but the two Institute agents are gone.

Reclaimed Zone

Miller Field

"Look, I don't know exactly how long it's going to take. We have enough men on hand, but depending on what the agents say when they get back we could be looking at a serious deficit of necessary forces." Seated within an air-conditioned tent situated in the heart of Miller Field, Homeland Security's Operations Director Jason Pierce looks as stressed as he sounds.

Scrubbing one hand over his wrinkled brow, Jason slouches back into the folding chair he's seated in, a land-line held between shoulder and jaw while he makes the valiant attempt to pour creamer into his steaming coffee with his hands. The folding table he's seated at is cluttered with maps of New York City dotted with push-pins and marked with latitude and longitude notes.

"Well, I understand that, Sir but— " there's a hitch of Jason's voice as he's cut off, eyes rolling while the carton of creamer is set down and a spoon is brought into the coffee, swirling black and white together to that perfect murky gray of coffee that's been burning in the pot for far too long. "With all due respect, mister Secretary, you're going to have to ask him that yourself. I don't know what Agent Harper is here for any more than you do. I just know that it's above my pay-grade at the very least."

Lifting his coffee up with one hand, Jason finally manages to pull the phone out from the crook of his neck to more comfortably be brow-beaten by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. "Yes, well, I sympathize with you sir. No I— look I understand. We just need to be in the clear with the security here for the time being. There's obviously a reason that I was called down to assist here, I just want to make sure that my hands aren't going to be tied when— "

Jason's cut off, but the smile he offers cuts quick across his mouth. "Of course, sir. Absolutely, you'll have full advisement on this situation as soon as I know for certain what's going on. I'll call General Cartwright immediately and get the George Washington sent up here so we can have that option at the ready."

The flap to the command tent opens with a brush of one hand, and having shed his armor agent Desmond Harper looks far less threatening than his Frontline Squad-Zero attire makes him out to be. The glow of an led in his bluetooth headset shines in the dim light of dawn only now spilling into the tent's plastic windows. "Director Pierce," Harper notes with a firm nod of his head on the way in, with Eldridge quiet behind him on arrival, adjusting his tie.

"Mister Secretary, I need to go. Agent Harper is back with the status report." Jason offers a silent nod to Harper and Eldridge, as he continues trying to extricate himself from the conversation. "Absolutely sir, you'll be the first to know. Alright, y— yes sir. You too." With an exasperated sigh, Jason clicks the phone down on the receiver and offers a slow shake of his head. Harper seems amused by this reaction, but only momentarily before his expression returns to a scowl.

"Difficulties with Secretary Parkman?" One of Harper's dark brows rise slowly at that rhetorical query before adding the more pressing, "It's worse than we thought inside."

Slouching back in his chair, cradling his coffee in both hands, Jason offers a slow nod and nurses the mug up near his mouth. "He's authorized me to get in contact with General Cartwright and we'll have the USS George Washington moving up by tomorrow afternoon at the latest. Exactly how bad is it in there?"

"Bad," is Eldridge's interjection, "the inmates are running the asylum. We're pretty certain that Doctor Gregor has gone completely off the reservation and is experimenting on everything he can get his hands on. We did a brief sweep of the facility, but the basement is completely frozen solid."

"Frozen?" is admittedly offered with a little disbelief from Jason, "what— the hell do you mean frozen?"

"I mean it's a block of ice. It looks like an arctic cave down there, some places the ice is over two feet thick, I couldn't get around very well down there. Harper and I pulled out before we encountered anyone." Moving over towards the coffee pot sitting on the edge of the table they're all standing around, Eldridge looks down at the black sludge in the bottom and rankles his nose. "You going to make the call?" he asks over his shoulder to Harper.

"Yeah," Harper mumbles, lifting an over-sized PDA out of his jacket pocket that reads SATCOMM across the top, thumb sliding over the touch screen, "give me a minute. I need to confer with the Director." Tapping the side of his bluetooth headset, Harper meanders away from the table but stays inside the tent. All eyes are on him as silence falls over Jason and Eldridge, who both exchange fleeting glances to one another, anxiously.

Harper's silence is only a few moments further prolonged before he finally hears a response on the other end. "Sir, I'm… sorry to bother you so early, but Eldridge and I have finished our assessment of the facility."

«Desmond, it's good to know you've returned safely. How is everything going at the Icarus labs, has it been infiltrated?»

Harper's lips turn into a frown at that greeting, and hearing Broome's optimistic assessment of the situation has him scrubbing at the back of his neck awkwardly. "We— We're of the belief that it was Gregor, sir. Possibly Doctor Cong as well. We couldn't find Doctor Mitchell anywhere. The security team we'd lost contact with was dead in the lobby from… I can only assume from some sort of pyrokinetic attack."

Silence hangs in the air, awkward and still.

«I see.»

«It's unfortunate that we couldn't be of any help to Dmitri. I had hopes that his time here at the main branch would have tempered his desire for results with moderation. Do you believe that a safe extraction of information will be able to be made in a timely fashion?»

"I don't think so, Sir. Not without the remainder of Squad Zero, and they're pinned down until the conclusion of Operation Hammerdown," Harper opines with a grimace, "and we run the risks of Gregor having gone outside of the boundaries for development that we'd established, which leaves us with the possibility of a weaponized H5n10 virus on site, or any number of worse possibilities."

«I see…» is Broome's reiterated tone of disappointment, «Then I think for the safety of the city and its people, we should consider Project Icarus a failure in its current form. You have my authorization to close down the site, Desmond. Make certain that we do not have a second Pinehearst happening this time.»

Harper's eyes widen at the sudden decision, mouth opening and posture stiffening. "S— Sir, what about the detainees still there. We— Gillian Childs is still inside the facility, sir. As is one of the Laudani replicants."

«We have no reason to believe either Gillian or Teodoro are still alive. It pains me to have to make this decision, but it is ultimately what he would do, and we must abide by his design and intentions. Being a leader means making difficult choices.»

Sliding his tongue over his lips, Harper bows his head in a tired nod. "Very well, sir… I'll— let everyone here know."

«Be strong, Desmond. Know that you're making the better decision.»

"Thank you, Sir." It sounds a bit hollow to say as a parting comment, but when Desmond clicks off his SATCOMM and turns to look back at Eldridge and Jason, there's a distraught look on his face that conveys the contents of his conversation with Broome effortlessly. In silence, Harper looks down to the floor and then exhales a sigh before elaborating on what Broome requested of him, and in simpler terms.

"We've been given the go ahead…" is heavily offered as a summation as Harper looks up from the floor to the two men waiting expectantly, "to close down the site." Jason bristles and offers a look to Eldridge, who seems to be likewise clear on what that means. Neither of them are questioning the orders handed down, but it's obvious neither of them likes it.

"We'll move to follow through tomorrow…" Harper adds with a solemn nod "…to cauterize the site."

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