There are several buildings who once gleamed shiny and brilliant across the Manhattan skyline in this neighborhood. One of them has simply never recovered from a decades-old Magnetoing: its upper floors remain windblown, gusty, and deserted, and while parts of it may have become the refuge of some with nowhere else to go, its shell has been abandoned by signs of civilization.
This building, though, is more or less intact. Most of the floors seem dormant, but the lights are on and business -- of a kind -- is running across several of the lower floors, where once lawyers and accountants and worked. The glow of lights winks from what was once a familiar plush conference room in the heart of Stagram & Wolf. Amazing, life's little quirks.
There are a few potential accesses: in through a window/fire escape; in from a floor above; in from the access on the lobby downstairs. The building is, after all, an office building ... or once it was.
"This is vaguely surreal," Richard mutters when they've identified the very familiar building and offices. He's had Ciel set the team on the roof to begin; it's a less obvious entrance point than the lobby, at least. He's looking hard and focused in his dark body armor, his gun in hand put directed at the ground. Is there a door needing lockpicking up here?
"Only vaguely?" Diego wonders as he steps free of the portal, dressed in his armor with a gun in hand. His dark eyes scan the rooftop doublechecking for any movement or smokers. They gravitate to roofs.
Alistair is focused and quiet; he's checked his gun at least half a dozen times before they left, his gaze intent. Another version of him strapped down? He hasn't said a word about it. He scans the roof.
The roof access into the building proper is sealed by a fairly old school digital lock with a number pad -- currently not powered, and supplemented by an even more old school padlock dangling from it. There are no smokers. There are many, many meters of building between the crown of this skyscraper and the cozy offices down below with the power running.
Christian mimics Richard's expression and stance, although not deliberately. He isn't even looking at the man, rather covering the flyer's back with his own weapon pulled free and held up to frame his face. His brows are furrowed and his lips are pressed into a firm pout. "What does surreal mean?"
There have been a lot of quirks with this universe. "More or less surreal than your boyfriend assembling an evil X-Factor here?" Micaela questions with an amused quirk of her lips that doesn't match the sharp look in her dark eyes. She's as armored and armed as she has been thus far, a pistol already in hand. Can't take chances.
Kade has shaved his goatee since their adventure with alternate versions of their XFS colleagues in the underground. He looks a little younger without the facial hair (his old XF colleagues would recognize it as his preferred look from those days), but not entirely comfortable minus it. "I think I'm way beyond vague at this point," he murmurs as he steadies himself on the roof. Gun drawn and checked. To Christian, "It means: fucked up to the point at which it messes with your brain." He goes over to lock and examines it.
It's one of those old school padlocks tacked onto the door as an afterthought. Security on this roof is not, apparently, super tight.
"That is not," quiet Alistair informs Christian, "the standard dictionary definition." For the record. He shadows en route to the lock. He likes locks. They're puzzles easy to solve.
"Si," Diego says of Kade's description with a short nod. He glances at Richard worriedly as Micaela speaks, a frown touching his lips. "If we see him again - I will take him. No one should be made to face that."
"It means that they're in the Stagram & Wolf offices where I do a whole lot of my X-Factor jobs from," Richard says, scraping a thumb across his brow. His gaze snaps to Micaela with a flush of anger. He clearly hears Diego, but he doesn't reply to the offer.
"Those people are //not// us," Kade says in response to Micaela. "Any resemblance is just surrealism." It's not quite a snap, but it's close to it. He's been on edge for the entire mission, and being so close to the goal has only upped that. A look up at Richard. "I can deal with the lock. Blowtorch style. If we want to go in here."
Christian must not hear Alistair because he doesn't look over there and certainly doesn't respond to him. "If the layout is the same, that could turn out to be a good thing for us," he says smoothly, stepping aside to let someone better equipped handle the roof entrance. "...surreal," he whisper-repeats to himself.
Micaela brushes at her shoulder with a hand, like she's literally flicking away the glaring and near-snapping. Haters to the left. She mutters something along the lines of 'tell it to your therapist', but otherwise doesn't overly antagonize her own teammates. "Don't wait, do what you have to do," she asides to Diego.
"That's why we dropped on the roof," Richard tells Kade a touch impatiently in response.
Down Micaela. Glancing at his wife, Diego gives her elbow a squeeze as they move closer to the door, speaking without words. Understood. He waits for Kade to melt the lock, nodding at the suggestion.
There are a few things that are right about this world. The general geography. The phase of the moon, its waning crescent gleaming like a thin strip of silver-white above them. The way the metal Kade heats with plasma melts and breaks on the lock, leaving the door open to the emergency stairwell into the building.
The total darkness inside the stairwell seems wrong. Even the emergency exit sign that should be lighting them over the door is dead. They're far too high up to hear anything from the floors where power runs, promising the potential for action.
Richard slips in towards the head of the group as they make their way downstairs. But once they get far enough down, the darkness becomes distinctly less maneuverable. "Anybody got a light?" he mutters over the comms.
The darkness of the stairwell is absolute for only a few moments, until Micaela steps inside. She lifts a hand above her head and lights the air above it on fire like a torch--of the 'goes with pitchfork' variety. "Yo."
Fishing around on his figure, Diego pulls out a small flashlight from one of his many pockets. The light blinks on in answer to Richard's question. "Si."
Alistair, too, pulls out a small flashlight from an interior pocket of his coat, and flicks it on. So many little lights now.
Kade disposes of the bent metal remnants of the lock before peering down into the stairwell, and then edging in. One hand is left glowing, matching Micaela's human torch. And primed in case he needs it, for less mundane fire duties.
Christian makes up the tail end of the team as they enter the stairwell, keeping an eye behind them to avoid being snuck up on.
The firelight and the flashlight gleam and shiver over the walls. There is a stale smell to the emergency stairwell. It's going to be a long way down on foot, though. This is a skyscraper, and the first floor with power is around floor 15. Each emergency exit door back into the building proper is marked by numbers -- flashing red in the flicker of the light -- to show what floor they're at.
Well. They're going to have a long walk down, then, but it's more subtle than the alternatives. It's once they start finally draw close to the 16th floor that Richard calls for a brief halt. "I don't know that we have enough explosive power to come in through the ceiling from above," he muses. "I can only take one passenger through the window, but me and Diego might be the best suited for distraction on that end while the rest of you come through the stairs. Or elevator." Hm.
"I can move very quickly when needed," Diego admits with an un-humble smirk. "If we are distracting that may give the rest of you more clearance to move." He wiggles his flashlight around as if this better explains Richard's idea. It doesn't, sweetie.
"I am just very quiet," says Alistair. "Perhaps best if I stick to the stairs." He glances around and adds, "I could slip into another universe as I go down the stairs and be an utter surprise in this one--but I am not sure if it's worth it or really best go messing about with more alternate universes while in one."
"Elevator?" Micaela grins and her eyes gleam in a way that does not bode well for...someone. Hopefully the AU selves and not her teammates, but you really never know. "Want to go raise some hell?" She asks Kade. That's what Richard meant, right?
Kade is not as young as he used to be. So he might look a touch tired after that long climb down. He just might. "How's your controlled descent?" he asks Micaela. With more emphasis on the 'controlled' part than is strictly necessary. He makes a low "Heh" sound as her phrasing, but nods. To Richard, "We can head down the shaft. See you all on the other side."
Gun in hand, Christian shows Alistair the side of his face. With the team dissipating, he's already making eyes for their target a floor below. His tone is a measured growl. "I don't care how surreal things get in there. ... You don't touch me." He slinks down the few steps it takes to get into position.
Did he use it right?!
Richard snorts a quiet note of wry humor for Kade's question. Well, that's an idea. His gaze flits between Alistair and Christian. "Probably best to keep to this universe for now," he murmurs to the former before he heads to the nearest window on the 16th floor with Diego to get it open.
The sixteenth floor is thick with abandoned offices. Most of them have been raided for furniture from elsewhere, so there's a lot of empty space, thick dust, and long, long dead office plants. It looks like the floor was once split between an insurance brokerage and an accounting firm. If anyone has any memory of the layout of the building in their own New York, they might find this eerily familiar.
The night outside is darker than a New York night should be, as they manage to get the paint-sealed window open with heraclean effort. The lights are on in the windowed room in the floor below, a soft spill of artificial gold hue escaping into the evening.
The dormant elevator shaft is every bit as silent as the stairwell.
Micaela gives Diego's butt a parting grope in a very sentimental goodbye before heading to a stairwell door above where the power is actually functioning in the building. It's dark, but between her and Kade, lighting is not a problem they have. "Help me out with this," she tells Kade, pulling at the elevator doors, prying them open. There is a moment where she peers over the edge, down into the dark, where her small torch does not reach. "Okay, don't scream," she says before wrapping her arms around his middle, maybe worried he'll think someone strange is trying to aggressively grope him again.
"Try not to shoot him," Diego suggests softly to the stairwell pair, glancing from Christian to Alistair. It's... uncertain who that suggestion is for. Play nice kids. "Si." Pivoting on a heel, he moves to follow Richard, before jolting in place at Micaela's grope of his ass. Lifting his brows, he winks at her before speeding off. No time for that now. To the window, to the wall! There are muscles and quiet grunting involved in them prying open the window to the outdoors, the odd blackness of the city greeting them. "It is like the stars went out here."
Kade grunts as he aids Micaela in prying apart the elevator doors. "This is not the kind of situation where I'm the screaming type. But. Seriously. Did I mention controlled descent?" Because he felt the need to mention it again. He braces himself and trusts Micaela to take him down.
Richard wraps an arm around Diego once they get the window open. "So have your gun read; we'll probably need to shoot the window." He huffs a quiet laugh at Diego's comment -- "Man, you can never see the stars in New York." -- before he takes off and sinks slowly towards the 15th floor.
"You're an adult now," Alistair says mildly. "Your safety is now your responsibility." That said, he slips toward the stairwell door, and examines it a moment before he opens it, to head down the stairs to the floor below as quietly as he can.
Wrapping his non-dominant arm around Richard, Diego smiles crookedly at that laugh. He never gets a chance to answer though, his breath taken by a quiet gasp as they descend. Instead, liking his lips at the sensation of his stomach dropping as they do, he readies his weapon to blow out the window.
"And thank you for that." Christian holsters his weapon, flourishing both hands in preparation for opening a portal. He pivots, crouching by the entrance to the 15th floor. Alistair can open the door.
So it turns out that Micaela's warning does not have to do with groping. (She does not warn about groping, the surprise is half the fun). "Okay..," she says doubtfully, because what she does next is tug them over the edge of that yawning pit of the dark elevator shaft into a moment of pure free-fall. Wheeee! They don't actually have that far to go, though, so it's only a moment before the shaft lights up from the fire Micaela generates below her and Kade, slowing their fall and bringing them to a stop in front of elevator doors. It's controlled by her standards. She shoves/flies Kade at the door emphatically. OPEN.
Kade does not scream. Or curse at Micaela. Much as he might want to. He does let out a grunting "Oomph" as he's shoved, and he gets to prying the door open. Or blowtorching it open, if necessary. Whatever gets them out of this shaft.
Alistair examines the door. He checks for locks, and also for anything that might make noise or otherwise warn people the door is opening. If it's all clear, he'll open it as quietly as he can.
Through the window into the brightly lit room, Richard and Diego can see ... what looks like a mostly empty office. There's a desk, a chair, a bookcase full of old style books, a low-slung black and white leather couch. In fact, it looks very like a lawyer's office. There is even a delicately fronded plant, growing healthily in a pot, tucked up against the window.
The elevator doors are shut. With a crowbar, they could pry open easily. In an elevator car, there'd be an emergency button to do this. However, at the moment, Kade and Micaela may be stuck blowtorching.
The emergency exit door is not designed to open quietly, but it doesn't look like it is locked. It looks, in fact, like it's designed to open inward, and never, ever lock. Lawyers' offices are good about following safety codes, maybe.
Once the door is open, Alistair and Christian can see into a brightly lit hallway. The carpet is plushly burgundy, of the kind that swallows sound, like if any dead bodies were to hit the floor. The elevator doors glow like brushed steel in the bright light of the open reception area. The walls are hung with mostly elegant paintings, although there is one glossy framed photograph that looks mildly out of place with the classy feng shui. The view from this hallway isn't great, but there is definitely a familiar figure visible from the entrance to the stairs. Lexie Brady is sitting on the high, curved reception desk. (Usually, you sit behind those, and not on them.) Apparently, she's been here long enough to get bored, because she's calmly adding a coat of paint to her nails when the door opens.
Caught up in Richard's arms, Diego carefully tries to open the window to that office by jiggling it a little. If that fails, he'll shoot it open in short order.
The window is locked. You can shoot it.
Finding the window locked, Diego lifts his weapon and unceremoniously shoots it. They aren't very good guests. Then, he brushes away the glass so they can enter without additional injuries. "Thanks for staying steady," he murmurs to Rich.
Micaela doesn't have a crowbar and her focus is entirely on keeping her and Kade aloft at the moment. It's warming up in the elevator shaft. "What is all that exercise for if you can't push the doors open?" She whispers.
"You got it." Staying steady is not terribly difficult for Richard. He moves in swiftly once Diego's shot it, though; if the window doesn't shatter completely, he should have enough momentum to slam feet-first into it to get inside the room. And from there, they can start trying to find the people and making a mess.
Alistair opens the door. It's terribly hard. He slips through. He'll leave it to the others to announce themselves.
The next grunting sound Kade makes at Micaela is annoyed, after that exercise comment. But it's a pretty common sound for him to make around her, so she might not pick up on the annoyance. In any event, he gets to blowtorching the elevator door open. With feeling.
The window shatters. Richard and Diego enter.
The room seems totally empty, serene and silent. There doesn't appear to be anyone in here. As they cross into the threshhold--
Richard and Diego both experience a moment of disorientation -- just a momentary blink. What were they doing? Looking around, they are clearly standing in the darkened room on the sixteenth floor. The window is open behind them, wind whistling a chill through it. Neither has any memory of anything past opening the window.
Rather than open a portal as he stalks in past Alistair, Christian redraws his weapon as he continues down the short expanse, takes aim at the receptionist's head, and shoots.
"Did we..." Diego trails off on his whisper, head whipping around as he looks around the darkened room. "Huh." He frowns, looking at Richard. "Well, let's do this." He glances down at the gun in his hand and wiggles it with a grin.
Richard blinks. There's a moment's hesitation, and then he steps close to Diego again. "Yeah," he says, snugging an arm around Diego and stepping out of the window again to drift down to the fifteenth floor. AGAIN.
Opposed Roll -- Christian=firearms Vs Alexandra=reaction+reaction
Christian: Great Success (1 6 8 4 7 7 3 5 7 3 3)
Alexandra: Failure (6 1 3 1 1 6)
Net Result: Christian wins - Crushing Victory
For some reason the descent doesn't cause Diego's stomach to drop out as they drift downward. He smiles a little. He's getting used to this flying thing. Arm extended, he prepares to shoot out the window once they are in range. AGAIN.
Opposed Roll -- Valerie=picture Walking Vs Christian=reaction+reaction
Valerie: Good Success (4 4 3 3 6 6 8 7 1 7 4 6)
Christian: Good Success (6 7 4 3 8 5 5 1)
Net Result: Valerie wins - Marginal Victory
Opposed Roll -- Valerie=melee+3 Vs Christian=melee
Valerie: Good Success (5 8 5 6 5 1 7 5)
Christian: Good Success (7 3 3 6 7 4 4 5 6 1)
Net Result: DRAW
Alexandra is already moving when they emerge from the room, nailpolish spilling across the floor. As Christian's gun comes up, she has taken a knee and flipped up a sawn-off shotgun out from its partial concealment within her black leather motorcycle jacket. His bullet slices -- not through her head -- but crashes in a nasty mangling of shoulder and tendon, burying itself deep into her arm. Whatever sass she was about to offer -- because there was surely going to be some -- is lost to a strangled grunt.
Christian has barely fired before he is struck from behind by the leap of a slimline figure of flyaway hair and flashing knives as Valerie lunges out of the photograph in ambush. Only his warrior's reflexes stop the immediate slash of her dual-wielded blades from cutting through to skin, but she's there and an extremely immediate threat.
Meanwhile, the glow of heat is slicing the elevator doors open, finally reaching the bottom of the doors and splitting to ease them apart so that Kade and Micaela can crash through. The sound of gunfire probably creates a little bit more immediacy for them too.
Meanwhile, down the hall, Richard and Diego observe the smooth, clean, unbroken glass pane of the well-lit lawyer's office.
Lifting his gun, Diego fires at the glass pane of the well-lit lawyer's office as they silently glide into sight. Bang.
The glass looks like it shatters, flying apart for the crash of the bullet, but-- there's a queer absence of the sound of the impact. It sounds a little bit more like the bullet didn't make a sound until it hit something further away. But the evidence of their eyes is plain. That window broke when that bullet hit it.
This is totally unsuspicious! Well, Richard's expression does twitch, but he still swoops in to draw inside the dark office. Let's see how this time goes.
Alistair is into the hallway a breath after the eager and young. His pistol comes up; he glances at Christian and Valerie for a moment, too locked in melee for him to pick one out safely, and he turns to take aim at the wounded Lexie.
Swooped into the office, Diego drops to the floor and swiftly looks around.
In no way does Micaela notice Kade's annoyance over her own. The sound of gunfire is alarming, though. As soon as Kade has torched and pried enough of the door open for them to get through, she rockets them onto the floor outside the elevator shaft in a quick streak of light. It isn't until she's well into the room--past where people are shooting at Alexandra--into the hall with the offices, that she stops and sets both Kade and then herself down.
Kade's eyes sweep the hall as he's rocketing through it. Trying to track the various doors on the floor they've ended up on. His child might be behind one, after all. The sound of gunfire demands immediate attention, though. He turns, heading toward it, pulling his gun and trying to keep himself against the wall so he can peek in before bursting into anything.
Christian grimaces as he locks his body against Valerie's. /Young and eager/, he lets his gun fall away to the lush, sound-absorbing carpet in favor of struggling to pull Valerie's arms up (and knives) up overhead -- instead, snapping at her with the only weapon he an think of ...his full mouth. A visible strand of saliva stretches from tooth to tooth as he bears down on her throat with an animalistic snarl.
Opposed Roll -- Alistair=firearms Vs Alexandra=reaction+reaction
Alistair: Great Success (8 5 8 2 8 7 2 7 4 3)
Alexandra: Good Success (8 4 8 3 8 2)
Net Result: Alistair wins - Solid Victory
Opposed Roll -- Alexandra=firearms Vs Alistair=reaction+reaction
Alexandra: Good Success (8 1 4 2 4 8 1 7 1)
Alistair: Good Success (1 6 8 6 8 7)
Net Result: DRAW
Opposed Roll -- Christian=melee Vs Valerie=melee+3
Christian: Good Success (3 7 2 8 4 6 1 2 8 6) Valerie: Success (8 4 5 2 5 5 5 4)
Net Result: Christian wins - Solid Victory
Actually, when Diego shot the window, it shattered in a perfectly normal way -- and now, as they slip into the brightly lit lawyer's office, it looks just as empty and serene as you could possibly expect.
As Kade and Micaela shoot past the combat, Lexie is struggling back up to her knees. She lifts her gun in a wild spray in Alistair's direction, the vicious blast of the sawn-off shotgun requiring little in the way of accuracy. Flying shot hurtles all through the room, goring holes in the nearest wall even as it sings right past Christian and Valerie. Their armor might take a few whistling spots from the blast. Alistair barely managed to escape the worst of the shelling.
Meanwhile, Lexie takes his shot in the center of her body. Her armor keeps it from being a killing blow, but as she drags herself on her elbows back toward the shelter of the curving desk, she's looking pretty the worse for wear.
Valerie struggles against Christian's strength, snarling and then making a sound of raw revulsion and rage as he lunges in for the bite. This is totally going to be gross.
Okay, that's actually pretty unsuspicious. Richard glides in with Diego without a reason to think there's anything odd going on with the window. He drops the other speedster off on the ground and lifts his gun to move forward.
Landing lightly on the floor, Diego zips around the room to inspect it briefly (and curiously), before hearing the crack of gunfire in the hall. That doesn't sound good. He doesn't delay as he heads towards the door.
Alistair pursues Lexie, taking a shot at her while she tries to drag herself back to shelter. He doesn't look at her face. It's easier that way.
Opposed Roll -- Alistair=firearms Vs Lexie=reaction+reaction
Alistair: Good Success (1 5 4 1 2 1 7 8 8 3)
Lexie: Good Success (1 7 7 1 8 1)
Net Result: DRAW
Opposed Roll -- Alexandra=electrokinesis Vs Alistair=reaction+reaction
Alexandra: Good Success (1 3 3 7 5 6 7 3 1 5 2 7)
Alistair: Success (3 3 5 8 5 4)
Net Result: Alexandra wins - Solid Victory
Christian's snarl is muffled as he clamps down, blocking visibility with the back of his shaggy, white-haired head.
There's a wet crunch. Human teeth haven't necessarily evolved to puncture things like major blood vessels through flesh and muscle, but a powerful enough bite can certainly crush someone's trachea and with it, their larynx. Christian slams Valerie back into the wall for good measure, using the momentum from that to leap away as he disengages. Major blood vessels or not, a shock of red streaks down his chin.
Pulling out his flashlight, Diego clicks it on swiftly and points it around the hallway in confusion. "Were the lights not just on?" He murmurs to Richard.
Opposed Roll -- Christian=melee Vs Valerie=melee+3
Christian: Good Success (5 2 7 1 3 7 1 7 3 1)
Valerie: Good Success (3 6 8 3 3 6 1 8)
Net Result: Christian wins - Marginal Victory
"There were--" Richard's gaze sweeps around in confusion. "Why are the gunshots--" And then he stops. He mutters a low, sharp word in an alien -- literally -- tongue. And then he calls over the comms, "They've got a psionic messing with our heads--" He glances around, considering other avenues, as if that's going to stop someone from ripping their memories apart. "Elevator shaft?" It worked for Micaela and Kade.
The sound that Alexandra makes as she turns and blasts Alistair with a lightning bolt from the core of her body is more akin to a roar than a scream, though there is a quality to both. The electricity crackles and explodes from her in a full blast.
Valerie lets loose with a gurgling scream, though. Holy shit. She struggles and kicks at Christian, thrashing against his hold. She lets her knives drop and manages to wrest one hand away, but she's not going for him; she's going for her own utility belt as her back impacts hard against the wall.
"Meet you down there," Diego says firmly, nodding Richard towards the shaft as he heads for the stairs. "Be more effective perhaps if we split up. I'll buy you a drink if you catch the psionic first," he says, flashing the other speedster a fierce grin. Without further ado, he takes off down the hall.
His own back slamming against the opposite wall, Christian throws up both hands. He flexes his fingers at the air in an attempt to open a portal before Valerie can do, well, whatever Valeries in this universe do.
Kade doubles back to the sound of shotgun blasts. It's incentive to move fast, gun up. Into the chaos where electrocution and biting are happening. He tries to slip in without being //immediately//. There is a //lot// going on in there at the moment.
As ever, Micaela is not as careful as Kade is. She doesn't throw herself up against a wall for cover. Instead, she rockets back towards the fight, unholstering her gun in the process. She lifts it as she lands and there is a moment of hesitation as she fires, like looking at Christian and Valerie she isn't /sure/ which is the evil duplicate. Except of course, they didn't bring a Valerie with them, so that's /probably/ their Christian. She might consider shooting them both for safety's sake, but she only fires at Valerie.
Diego goes for the stairs, and Richard goes for the elevator shaft. This time he's not drifting or gliding -- he's going at -- well, not quite full speed, because confined spaces, but he's going /fast/.
As Diego takes off down the hall, the psionic assault on him is sudden and thorough: a barrage of confusion rips through him as skilled but invisible fingers delve deep simply to uproot his memories and assault his present seeming with a dozen rapid fire instants out of the history of his life. As assaults go, it is cold and methodical. It's also focused, which leaves Richard temporarily free to recognize his own confusion. You know, temporarily.
Upstairs -- since, yeah, Diego and Richard are on floor 14 now instead of the 15 they want -- the door slams open in the hallway from one of the conference rooms. Irene charges into the hallway with a particularly aggravated expression. Vega's arms light her path before her with a crackle of electrical energy fizzing from them as she moves out, obviously using Irene as a body shield but then again why not. "Incoming," she sings out. "Elevator--"
Luka steps out of the room across the hall with a gun hefted casually in his hand, up against his shoulder. There is a certain irony in his voice as he says, "Can you keep it down?"
Serena is immediately behind him, obviously pregnant and very grim. Their armor matches each other almost identically.
The abrupt and discourteous assault on Diego's mind is enough to stop him momentarily in his tracks, leaving him skidding into one of the walls. A groan crackles through the comms, lost amid all the other chaos.
Richard is up (up?!) the elevator shaft in the work of a moment. Oh, are there people here? He actually doesn't focus too hard on them -- he's actually moving at speed to try dodging and racing past people to try and start checking rooms to try and hunt down their erstwhile psionic.
Opposed Roll -- Valerie=picture Walking Vs Christian=portals
Valerie: Great Success (2 2 7 8 3 1 7 1 7 8 5 6)
Christian: Good Success (5 2 7 2 2 5 4 4 8 3)
Net Result: Valerie wins - Solid Victory
Valerie manages to flip her fingers into her belt pouch. An instant later, she's simply gone from the field, even as Christian's portal forms to add to the wild chaos of this beleaguered reception area.
"Oh fuck." Those are the first words out of Kade's mouth when he sees Irene. He does not bother to aim his gun at her, assessing the other threats around him. He bites back another curse at the sight of Luka. It's still horror, but of a different kind. It shakes him for a moment, but he manages to get off a shot. At Vega.
Opposed Roll -- Micaela=firearms Vs Valerie=reaction+reaction
Micaela: Success (2 5 3 4 3 7 5 6 4 6)
Valerie: Success (6 5 1 2 8 1)
Net Result: DRAW
Christian roars in frustration as his the Ruzizi River breaks against the empty wall -- Micaela’s bullet cutting through it. Fish flop against the carpet as he closes it an instant later, dipping to retrieve the picture, ball it up, and toss it to Micaela. “BURN IT,” he sputters, coughing a few times in the back of his hand.
While chaos sounds overhead, Diego attempts to find his heading in the dark of the 14th floor. He shifts and moves to run against his confusion (away from his confusion?) unsure of where he is headed as panic sets in. Gotta get away.
Micaela's shot does not hit it's mark and suddenly there are a /lot/ of other people here. "Shit!" While she's definitely confused about Christian yelling at her--WHY?--this is not the time to ask a lot of pesky questions. She grabs up the photograph and flies back behind the wall towards the stairwell door, picture crisping and burning in her free hand as she goes.
It takes Alistair a moment to regroup. Any moment is too long in a firefight. He draws himself back upward, straightening up, and gripping his pistol, and begins to edge down the wall to take stock of the situation in the hallway. He fires a shot off toward Luka, who--he doesn't know.
Richard zips through the hallway peeking in doors. The most interesting room is the darkened room in the far corner, across from the one where he and Diego first made entry (and then had their memories messed with). In it, Blaze!Kade and Jeremy stand flanking the door at either side. Sleeping bags and fleece blankets and a little space heater in the shape of a penguin mark the attempt to give the room comfort. Both of them stand with extremely wired tension like something could go off at any moment. There are several kids still sleeping somehow despite the noise, but a number of them are awake, and have drawn their sleeping bags together to huddle in the corner of the room.
Opposed Roll -- Alistair=firearms Vs Luka=6
Alistair: Success (2 5 5 6 1 1 2 4 6 7)
Luka: Success (3 3 4 5 4 7)
Net Result: DRAW
A moment's consideration for Richard is not even long enough to register for someone else. He raises his gun to fire off a shot directly at Kade's head. His expression is hard.
Opposed Roll -- Jeremy=telekinetic Explosions Vs Richard=flight
Jeremy: Success (5 8 5 3 2 5 3 4 3 1 2 4 6)
Richard: Great Success (8 6 7 7 7 6 3 1 1 3 2 4 6 3 6)
Net Result: Richard wins - Solid Victory
The photograph incinerates in Micaela's hands. Valerie does not reappear.
Richard's gun fires. There's no time to react. There's no time for anything. Kade rocks back with the impact of the bullet, holing his skull through the center of his forehead. He falls to the floor of the room.
There's a reflexive, raw scream torn from a young throat across the room.
The gun in Richard's hands detonates. Metal flies in all directions. Some of it slices into his armor and maybe even through it. Gunpowder scorching sears into the walls. It's way too late. Jeremy is backing toward the children, plainly interposing his body between them and Richard. His eyes are wide and dark in the gloom and he's breathing hard.
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Kade=firearms Vs Irene=reaction+reaction
Kade: Good Success (3 7 3 2 8 3 1 6 6 8 1)
Irene: Success (1 8 4 4 6 1 6 4)
Net Result: Kade wins - Solid Victory
Richard shouts a word of pain when the gun detonates in his hand. He turns towards Jeremy, breathing hard, and there's a moment when his expression shifts to something almost pleading. "We're taking the kids home," he says. And then, quieter: "Please don't make me do this."
Kade's careful aim manages to slip his shot past Irene's guard to hit Vega. Vega's scream is as much surprised outrage as pain. Irene draws a long blade from a sheath at her back and starts charging Kade with murder in her face.
Luka manages to turn aside and take the strike across his body armor, which will hurt more later. Already in motion toward the reception area and badly bleeding, damaged, Alexandra, he kind of lags to a stop, his head turning as he looks down the hall toward the gunshot from the children's room, almost as though drawn on a winch.
Serena puts her hands on his shoulders and shoves him. "Go!" she orders him.
"Rocketeer!" Kade's eyes get very, very wide as Irene comes at him. "I need a little help!" He gestures to Irene. "Could do with a cannonball right now!"
Dipping down, Christian feels around along the soggy hallway carpeting for his gun but instead, comes up with one of Valerie's knives. "AHHHHHH!" His shoes slosh as he shoves off, rushing across the reception area with Luka in his sights and the gleam of metal in his hand.
Alistair bites his lower lip in concentration. He fires at the back of the fleeing Luka.
Jeremy looks, meaningfully, from Richard's face to Kade's corpse. He returns his gaze, hard and unwavering, to Richard. "This is the only future we have," he says. "Take it and it doesn't matter if we live or not."
Micaela's head whips around as Kade calls for her, assessing the situation in a quick second. It's probably not long enough. She reacts more to her teammate's call for a cannonball and the look of murder from the woman approaching him than logic. She blasts off from where she was standing like a rocket, flame streaking behind her, across the distance to try and check Irene like a hockey player.
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Alistair=firearms Vs Luka=6
Alistair: Good Success (8 7 2 2 1 1 1 8 4 5)
Luka: Good Success (6 7 3 7 7 1)
Net Result: DRAW
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Christian=melee Vs Luka=6
Christian: Good Success (1 6 1 2 7 6 1 8 2 7)
Luka: Success (7 6 2 4 4 2)
Net Result: Christian wins - Solid Victory
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Serena=melee+6 Vs Christian=melee
Serena: Good Success (7 3 6 5 7 4 4 4 5 2 8 1)
Christian: Great Success (1 5 8 4 2 7 8 6 8 6)
Net Result: Christian wins - Marginal Victory
Christian successfully tackles Luka to the ground, knives slashing wildly as he cuts through the body armor and begins to taste blood.
Serena lunges into the fray, shouting in surprise, and hauls back to slug Christian with a ROBOT ARM PUNCH. It's ridiculous that Christian somehow manages to deflect some of the worst of this impact. He'll probably still feel it later. He /doesn't/ get shaken off of Luka.
"You made this future for yourselves," Richard says quietly. He lifts his voice to speak to the kids behind Jeremy, although he doesn't take his eyes off the man. "We're leaving. We're taking you back home." And then, quiet again, he says, "Get out of the way, Jeremy."
Micaela crashes full throttle into Irene. Durable and unbreakable, Irene is still not immune to the laws defining momentum. She staggers, crashing to a knee temporarily as she is pushed back by the force of momentum, out of her initial charging path towards Kade. She snarls and begins to push herself back up again, lifting her blade for a swing at her attacker -- deflected, however momentarily, from Kade.
"No, I /fucking/ didn't," Jeremy says, and his eyes blaze with white hot rage. "This was /done to me/. This was /done to my son/." Burning with fury, he lifts his hands. It's a familiar gesture. Richard knows what it means. It's centered right on his chest.
At least two of the children are visibly trying not to cry any more, clutching each other. Nina is there. She looks shocky and blank. Nobody is asleep anymore, between gunfire and explosions.
Christian yelps, jolting with the impact of the metal arm. He doesn't hold tight to Luka so much as white-knuckles the knife that he's jabbed into the other man's body armor, bending to accommodate a dent somewhere in his other arm ---maybe his shoulder where is sits awkwardly now. He grits his teeth against the pain, shimmying around the knife to get it loose. He has to keep ...stabbing ...slashing.
"Oh, God," Richard whispers. And then he snaps forward at inhuman speeds to rocket into Jeremy. His arms find his neck. He squeezes his eyes shut a moment and /twists/.
Kade scrambles toward Micaela, once he is not under immediate threat of being murdered by Irene. Not that the threat has really passed. He tries to get to his old teammate and just help her get away from that.
Jeremy's neck snaps with a very familiar crack. The explosive threat does not finish forming.
Christian keeps stabbing and stabbing and stabbing until suddenly the blade has cut so hard and so deep that the blood is just fountaining.
Alistair heads down the hallway, pistol in hand. His eyes are on Serena and her metal arm, the threat from behind Christian. He shoots.
<FS3> Opposed Roll -- Alistair=firearms Vs Serena=reaction+reaction
Alistair: Good Success (1 6 5 5 8 7 1 2 2 4)
Serena: Success (2 5 4 2 8 3)
Net Result: Alistair wins - Marginal Victory
Alistair shoots. His bullet cracks into Serena's armor. She staggers back, turning almost reflexively to try to shield her gravid belly from the gunman. Her eyes wide and dark, she hisses a curse at him in another language and, forced back, slips into one of the rooms and slams the door shut. It's too late for her to help Luka any more now, and she needs the door to protect the only future she has.
Micaela crashes into Irene with the kind of impact that /she/ at least feels and will probably regret later, when adrenaline isn't so high. She's slowed down by the impact considerably, but she's still fast and has at least shot just past the immediate reach of the unbreakable woman and her swinging blade. She lands on her feet again with a huff, singing the ground, and turns to gesture like 'What now?' at Kade on the other side of the hallway, with all the violence and chaos between them.
There's a moment where Richard still holds Jeremy's body -- corpse -- in his arms. And then he slowly lowers him to the floor. He looks to the children with a raw expression and tries to swallow back the emotions that threaten to surface. "We're taking you home," he tells them.
Kade exchanges a look with Micaela, but it's not high on answers. He doesn't know. He gets on the comm, trying to get through. "Rider? Rider, you there? Caruthers. What's the situation? We're holding out best we can, but I don't know how much longer this can last."
Nina suddenly turns and retches. Give her a moment. She's been through a lot.
A few of the other kids start making their way over to Richard. At least one is holding his sleeping bag for like, no reason.
Irene has rounded on the fiery pair with her blade but pauses with deep frustration in her face. She goes to help the bleeding Vega back up to her feet, holding her weapon out at an angle, guarding both of their flanks as she stares at their assailants. "Stay back or I'm cutting your head off. This isn't a negotiation. It's a fact."
Christian lets out a dry, tremored sob as he hobbles up off of Luka. He coughs again into the the back of his bloodied hand and stumbles to his feet. His eyes find Alistair, pale against all that red. But that's it for acknowledgments. Must move forward. One handed, he does his best to dry the hilt of knife on the fabric of his shirt and pants. He does the same to his hand. Can't have that slipping. He settles breathlessly in the doorway with one shoulder sloped dramatically low.
Suddenly the pressure on Diego's mind vanishes. He is alone in the ruin of a dark and unfamiliar office building floor.
The expression on Micaela's face in return to Kade can pretty clearly be read as 'Well, fuck'. She was never the strategic brains of a given situation. She looks /ready/ to keep fighting, the look in her dark eyes sharp, air waving around her with a heat mirage. But she doesn't actually have a death wish however it may seem, so her gaze sweeps the room, taking in what is happening and who is there. And who is not there. "Where--" She calls into the comms, worry audible, "Diego? Where are you?"
"I -- I'm with the kids," Richard eventually finds the voice to say over the comms. "I've got the kids. This universe's Caruthers and -- Jeremy -- are both down." He looks in the crowd of kids and finds Nina. "Your dad's here," he tells her quietly.
"Fine," Diego says shortly into the comms, staring at the destroyed room around him. "I'm fine. I'll... find you in a minute." After he finishes sweeping this floor for any lingering persons who might be to blame for all this destruction.
Kade takes off at a bull's pace the moment he hears Richard's message. Off toward the room where this teammate has found the Xavier's kids. He barely registers Irene's threat. Or Micaela's call out to her husband, or low sobs. or the grim violence all around him. He just wants to find and hug his daughter.
Alistair stands in the hallway, behind that bloodied Christian. He turns and looks to Irene, and the standoff. "We have the children," he says to them. "Withdraw, and you can live. All we wanted was our people back."
Richard is standing there when Kade sweeps in, expression numb and his face wet. Blaze lies a short ways away, a bullet hole in his head, and Jeremy lies crumpled at Richard's feet.
"Done," says Vega before Irene has done more than scowl and grip her sword.
The kids are kind of milling around, mostly. There's another girl with her hand on Nina's back, watching over her as she shakes with shock. She's no longer retching. The girl squeezes Nina's arm and whispers to her.
Christian lets the knife slip out of hand. It lands blade-down and remains standing on end by his feet. "That wasn't really him." That's all he says. To Richard. His arm flaps to indicate Jeremy's body. He doesn't go in.
"Oh," Micaela says when Diego answers her, clearly relieved. "Good." Heat still surrounds her, she's still ready to fly at any moment, anxious and amped, but at least no longer worried. She does roll her eyes at Alistair's threats and pretty promptly abandons him to zip over to look past Christian into the room. She doesn't say anything about it though, showing some wisdom, maybe.
It all hits Kade in a rush. The sight of Blaze - of the man he might've become in another life - dead on the floor. And this world's Jeremy, not far away. He looks over at Richard for a beat, but all of this is noise in his brain he'll have to process later. All he sees is his girl. "Nina? Neeners? Honey?" He speaks softly but with sharp urgency, closing the distance between them and reaching out to put his arms around his daughter. "It's going to be OK. I promise. You're going home." His voice chokes, near breaking.
Alistair doesn't go to the room. He's keep an eye on the others, making sure they retreat, and no one threatens them. Or possibly he simply doesn't want to see.
At first she flinches from him in disbelief. Her eyes go past him, inevitably, to the body on the floor, to the not-Dad with the bullet hole in his head. That's going to take some therapy. But what doesn't is the way that she burrows into him in this raw and vulnerable moment. Her sobbing racks her as she hides herself in Kade's arms.
"Kane," Richard says in a raw, rough voice as he watches Nina burrow into Kade's embrace. "We're ready for extraction."
Thank God Ciel is around to get them out all the hell out of here.