|Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy|
|Location||Homo Perfectus Project|
|Participants||Kade, Irene, Rohan, Vega|
|Summary||An early Christmas gift.|
Will and Misty's memories, alter or no, lead indirectly to the border of Mutant Town to the back entrance of the clinic that only days prior, Homo Perfectus Project had been operating out of. The windows of the sterile building reveal no light or movement.
Above it, a tan woman (sans horns) smiles down at passing pedestrians and cars. 'Thanks, Homo Perfectus!'
A nondescript black fan is the only vehicle in the small parking area. It has been stripped of its tires by looters and likely, much much more.
Rohan looks tense and tired. He eyes the van through the flurry of snow, and quirks a brow. "Doesn't look promising," he mutters, and loiters behind a convenient wall to search the immediate area with his mind, looking for any other minds in the vicinity.
Vega looks slight and younger than her years in her thick, dark coat as she slips over the ground without leaving so much as a footprint. Her dark eyes fix on the van in the familiar parking lot, narrowing slightly as her mind threads its way through the remaining technology. "Looks picked clean..."
Kade is dressed non-descriptly in a dark hoodie and jeans. Stinger in his pocket, though not immediately visible. He looks as impassive as possible, but it barely conceals tight frustration. He made some attempts to get the feds hovering around Mutant Town to care about the information they'd gathered but, if it was to any avail, he didn't receive any indication of it. He gives the Homo Perfectus sign a steady glare. "Hope they haven't cleared everything out," he says, in response to Vega. "Will and Misty legging it might've spooked them."
"The operation previously didn't leave anyone around to talk about what happened to them," Irene says, rather matter-of-factly for what is a grim observation. She steps out of of some shadows, dressed for the weather in a jacket and gloves, her hair tied up tightly and a silver cuff in one her. Her Eye glasses sit prominently on her nose. "So hopefully they have abandoned this pursuit. That's the van from video and description, though." Her gaze sweeps over the abandoned building.
Upon closer inspection, the van is quite clearly been picked clean.
Technopathic probing results in not a single ping of technological life from the building, even as the group closes the distance between it and themselves.
Any attempt to peek through the windows yields mixed results. Furniture structures are obscured by shadow, forming great bulky lumps of darker darkness in the unlit twists and turns of the clinic's rooms.
"No one about," says Rohan. He considers the door. "Come on," he says a little gruffly. "Let's go have a look." He tests the front door, just in case they ran off and didn't bother to lock up.
"Makes you wonder where else they're registered to do business," Vega muses, the pink fringe of her bangs just peeking out beneath the edge of her knit cap. "Homo-perfectus, that is." The words are bitter in her mouth as she speaks, rolling off her lips like a curse. "I'm not picking up any immediate technology." That doesn't stop her from keeping an eye out for security cameras and the like.
Kade tracks up toward the building, assuming a covering position not far from Rohan as he approaches the door. Stinger at the ready and looking for cover, whether the place is empty or not. "I might be able to deal with the lock, if it's shut," he says, with a waggle of his left hand. He has melty fingers.
"I'm sure they'll change their name, now. Anything will be registered under different names," Irene points out, looking over the van and shaking her head. She goes about peering through windows to, for all the good it does. She certainly doesn't come to anyone's beck and all. "...try not to leave /obvious/ signs of breaking and entering," she remarks, mildly exasperated. "Especially mutant breaking an entering. Unless you want to add to the evidence this is all mutant on mutant."
The door is locked, but it certainly isn't immunized against melting and without the electronic security systems active, there certainly is little incentive against lock-picking for anyone wanting to do the honors.
Inside, the reception and waiting area for the Homo Perfectus Project is no different from any other doctor's waiting room. It's chic yet simple. A delicate balance of business and comfort. The carpet is a thin silver-gray, darkened by lack of overhead light. The rows of chairs against the wall are blush but uniform.
A massive aquarium. Five days abandoned without filtration or temperature regulation has ensured that all of its previous tropical occupants have passed on to a better place. They leave behind only a thickening cube of clouding water, their tiny lifeless corpses, and their contribution to a great putrid stench that lingers in the single-floor building's stagnant air.
"Something tells me the authorities aren't going to be too concerned about a broken lock on an abandoned shop," says Rohan. "It's a big country, after all." That said, he does not apply his breaking & entering skills, letting one of the others have the honours, but he strides right in, apparently comfortable enough with the results of his mental scan not to worry about ambushes. He glances to the aquarium with a wince. "As if i needed any further proof they're wankers," he says, examining the waiting room, stench and all.
"I can get the lock," Vega volunteers softly, glancing at Kade with a tip of her brows. Bending down, she smooth rolls up her pants and extracts a tool from a compartment in her leg. "It's mechanical." That seems like enough of an explanation to her. Sure enough, she's able to use the delicate piece like a key with a smooth turn of her wrist. The sight of the aquarium makes her lip curl.
Kade holds his hands up to Vega, and Irene, holding the former inside after she's dealt with the lock. Stinger still at the ready, eyes sweeping the shadows. Signs of brains or no, he's at the ready for...something. He lets out an "Ugh" at the smell of dead decorative fish, paying particular attention to the floors as he sweeps the waiting room.
"You'd be surprised," Irene says with extreme dryness, you know, as one of those (former) authorities. She pretty studiously does not watch while Vega opens the door, but she appears to expect the offer to open it as well. Flicking on a pen light, she scans the area a bit before taking a breath an walking in. That turns out to be more fortuitous than expected. "What a waste," she murmurs to herself, light catching on the lifeless bodies of the fish. Not evidence of anything beyond poor pet care, though. She moves beyond the reception area.
The front desk is emptied. Any computers or paperwork cleaned out. The doctor's office down the hall is in the same state. Much of the medical equipment that has been left behind has been destroyed beyond reasonable repair or cleaned of its data. The place looks wiped down.
Beyond the fishy decay is another smell. Pungent, like the forgotten aquarium, but fruity. Almost sweet. Old fruit, perhaps.
Everyone present is an experienced mercenary and/or investigator. Irene, Kade, Rohan, and Vega. Everybody's seen, heard ...smelled their fair share.
Have any of them ever found a dead body? Surely...
Rohan knows that smell. He's smelt worse. At least a New York winter is far colder than an Indian summer. He stops for a moment, blinking at the general state of the office, and attempting to pinpoint the source of the smell. He goes right to it.
It's been awhile. Vega's jaw tightens at the smell of it, gaze sliding towards Irene and then Kade. She lets Rohan gets close, shifting around the body to begin to take photos of the scene. "Don't touch anything that could leave fingerprints," she says pointedly, curling her leather covered hands in their gloves.
Kade swallows hard. It is, unfortunately, not a smell he's unfamiliar with, but it still hits. "Fuck." It's murmured low, barely above a whisper. He follows Rohan toward the smell of death. Eyes flashing on, so he's recording, and doesn't have to have the presence of mind to snap photos.
Once upon a time, in better days, Irene used to get phone calls to get her to come see dead bodies. She already went past the reception area where the others lingered and continues on. "Best not to touch anything at all, if at all possible," she adds, with a wrinkle of her nose.
Oh, did we say body? There definitely used to be a body ...presumably.
No, what they find in this room is not ...a /body/.
Down the long, thinly carpeted hallway there is a back room. Rectangular and poorly ventilated, with sterile white walls and no windows, it houses a wall of now-empty cabinetry, single medical examination table at its farthest end, and two padded stirruped chairs.
A broken glass jar has rolled to a stop at one of the chairs. Bits of glass splay out from its point of impact and whatever liquid it might have contained stained the back room's linoleum floor black.
It's not a body. It's a brain. Gray with only the faintest memory of being pink. There is movement in its intricate grooves like tiny pink-white threads, inching about. One, fattened only in its middle, rises as if to greet them as they enter or perhaps, to pose for a photo.
Rohan stops short. His gaze fastens on the brain. He stares. He says nothing; he simply stares. One hand clenches into a fist.
"The fuck..." Vega says softly. She obligingly snaps a photo.
"What the fuck...?" It's kind of a question from Kade, but not one he expects anyone to answer. He touches nothing. His Eye records the brain, getting a video of its threads.
Well this place certainly wasn't to code. That's...probably the least of the crimes that have been committed in this room, though. Irene's flashlight sweeps the room quickly, back and forth, before she enters the room in what is a far more tactical action than is strictly necessary. So her light is pointed fixed like a spotlight at the brain for everyone to see--and get pictures of--when they enter. "Yup."
The maggot drops back down, burrowing beneath one of the brain's many folds. More movement appears just beneath the thin, off-colored surface but this brain, this mind, is dead.
Little by little, tiny flicking movements can be seen in the black stain that spreads out from the jar. More tiny worms, writhing around underfoot. Stretching blindly and hungrily outward.
Rohan swallows. He knows this room. He's been here before--not literally, but in other people's heads. Even now, he can feel the pain that was never his, the phantom of someone else's loss. "Echo," he says. "It's Echo. That's what they made of her." And he takes a step, from the squirming, pungent decay, the remains of his violator.
Vega's breath catches as she takes an involuntary step back, staring at the mass of brain and maggots. Shaking her head, she turns away to cast a beam of light along the rest of the room and examining the stirruped chairs. The beam is switched to black light as she does.
Kade's Stinger snaps up and aims at the brain. He doesn't fire, but he holds it there. "Careful," he says simply to Rohan. Low. More to say something than as if he thinks the warning is needed. He repeats (because it seems the only apt thing /to/ say), "What. The. Fuck..."
Eventually, finally, Irene lowers her light so it isn't directly on the remains of Echo. Though it's all still visibly /there/, so maybe that doesn't help much. Her jaw clenches, the expression looking all the more severe in the low light, but her thoughts remain her own. She doesn't make a move towards or away from anything, still as a statue. "Alright," she says on exhale, "This is worth calling in."
The maggots continue their ballet, inching both towards and away from what remains of Echo's remains. The brain of a true psychopath.
Once called, the authorities cordon off the area surrounding Homo Perfectus.
Dr. Pett, the lead surgeon, has fled the country. There are no signs of the mysterious man with the S-shaped scar and the one blue eye, nor any of this fellow U-Men. What new information the Feds may dredge up, they certainly don't share with it a ragtag group of four mutations.
...but Echo is dead. Oh, look. It's starting to snow.
"Dead," says Rohan simply to Kade, voice flat. As the area is flooded with the authorities, he stands in the snow. He lights a cigarette, and stands there, smoke rising from his cigarette, mingling with the snow. He says nothing, only standing there, smoking, gaze distant, a solitary figure in the snow.
Snowflakes catch in the dark waves of his hair.
Exhaling a breath of steam, Vega leans back against one of the nearby buildings as she tugs on the edge of her toque. It isn't as satisfying as a cigarette. She watches the flashing lights on the ground from a safe distance once the authorities cordon off the scene. "Well, that's that - at least for now."
Kade half turns to say something to Rohan, but ultimately just lets the other man go. For a long moment, he just watches the remains of what was Echo. There is no triumph there. Only disgust, more frustration, and so many unanswered questions. He edges away from the feds when it's clear he won't get any answers from them, crossing his arms tight against himself as the snow starts to fall. Less about the cold, more about tucking himself inward in as physical a way as he can.Irene did not stay at the former offices of the Homo Perfectus Project long enough to speak to the authorities. Especially considering the breaking and entering that was done. She suggested everyone exit the premises before making a phone call that was along the lines of 'strange smell, looked in window, body suspected to be found at address...'. Down the street she waited, arms crossed and leaning against a wall, just near enough to be sure that the police actually /did/ show up without being directly involved.