2010-02-15: A Career in Crimefighting

Starring:

Erin_V4icon.pngCody_V4icon.png

Guest Starring:

Agent Hamm. (AAH. HAMM.)

Date: February 15, 2010

Summary:

Erin makes use of the list Tracy sent her.


"A Career in Crimefighting"

Hoboken, New Jersey

The house is in darkness save for the glow of the TV. It's the house of a bachelor, or maybe a widow, and an aging one at that; a man who lives alone, in any regard. The living room is nothing fancy. Decoration is nil, save for a few globe, a few statuettes, a painting of a dog duck-hunting, and medals on one shelf from years of service. He doesn't even have a dog. Just the painting.

Agent Hamm sits in his arm chair, feet up on the footrest, bottle of beer in hand. Beside him on the end table is an empty plate; it was supper. He looks less the strong, general-like figure he does at the Protocol here at home, but there is nevertheless a rigidness to the man. Greying buzz cut, strong jaw, face marred with scars here and there. The hum of race cars and announcers fills the drab living room — its source being the TV.

—-

Erin has two names written down. Two addresses. Two places where justice will be served! She kind of feels like Morgan Starr, Crime-fighting Porcupine at the moment, which is just fine. It's better to detach herself from what she's about to do.

It's not as nerve-wracking as she'd thought it would be, given that she's really already killed someone. It's hard to feel entirely guilty over WHO it was, but that it was an accident really gets to her. She even tried to fix it… But it was too late by that point. The drive over is pretty uneventful. Pop plays on the radio as she taps her fingers against the steering wheel. Perhaps it's bold of her to park just outside the house, albeit just a couple houses down the road. She doesn't want Hamm to see her coming.

Passing by the front walk glancing through the window to see her target relaxing in his arm chair, she hops the fence into his back yard.

"All right, now what?" she asks herself, muttering. Somewhere nearby, a dog barks, which makes her jump just a bit. Is it just her, or is there a million eyes watching her? She'll have to be sure to do this more carefully later. Maybe some rethinking is in order.

Trying a side door and finding it locked - of course - she heads further back. Windows! One of them must be open! Trying each of them in turn, she finds that they are each locked.

Thankfully, there's a snow shovel leaning against the house. Picking it up in gloved hands, Erin almost changes her mind. Breaking and entering isn't the best idea she's ever had. And what if—

"Hell with it," she says to her conscience, and smashes the window. Unwilling to crawl through the shards of glass still left on the frame, she reaches through, undoes the latch, and pushes the window open, before climbing through into a bedroom. Excellent.

—-

The instant the crash sounds, the man in the armchair no longer epitomizes laziness. He becomes the agent he is — the military man he's been longer than that. He gets to his feet, every muscle tense. Unfortunately, his gun is in the bedroom, in its holster where he shed it on a chair. So, as Agent Hamm moves to the unlit hallway, he pauses to take a heavy, bronze flying eagle statue (very All American) with him; any weapon in a battle.

—-

It's weird how she can just feel the cells in his body. Picture them with such clarity as she begins to mutate them, one at a time. It only takes a few to start the process.

In the dark bedroom, her eyes glow like two bright blue stars. A little brighter than normal, Erin thinks, but it might just be because she's got the tiniest bit of adrenaline coursing through her at the moment. With the shovel still in her hands - just in case - she crouches next to a dresser, eyes on the door of the bedroom. If she was more observant, she would have picked up the firearm, instead.

Oh, well. When choosing between bullets and ebola, the latter will always win.

Guiding the virus cells to multiply, they do so rapidly, filling the man's body in volumes way higher than what would be needed to destroy him.

—-

A heavy hand nudges the bedroom door open. By that time, something is already happening to Hamm. An unnatural, choking sound in his throat. A stumble in his step. These are only minor clues to a much worse fate, and a virus that has started to attack him much more rapidly were it running its course naturally. He gets far enough to see those two glowing eyes. It's all he needs to see. He makes the connection between his sudden illness and a person with glowing eyes instantly: one of them.

Anger floods the man's face; so does sweat. Already, he's lurching forward, clutching his chest. "Show your face!" he roars. "Stop what you're doing and face me like a person!" He throws the bronze eagle with all his might as he falls to the ground.

—-

The glowing eyes close, but only for a moment, as Erin throws her arm up to shield her face against the incoming object. It hits the dresser next to her with enough force to punch through the wood.

When she looks back at Hamm, her eyes narrow. "No," she says quietly. Maybe she would have gone easy on him, if he hadn't just implied that she wasn't a person.

"Imagine if you were like me," Erin says as she continues pushing the viruses farther and farther through his system. "You're born with this ability you don't want, and because of that, people hate you for it."

When Hamm falls, Erin stands. It won't be too long, now, she's sure. Granted, she doesn't want to see the end. She wouldn't be able to stand that - not yet.

"This is gonna last for a little while, you sick sonovabitch. I want you to think about what you did to all those people before you die. They had families. Friends. The only reason you had to go after them was because they were born different."

She is very good at these ridiculous heartfelt and somewhat cliche speeches. After all, she does them for a living. "The best part is, when it kills you, the virus is just gonna burn itself out. They're gonna find your cold body right here on your floor, and they're not going to have any idea why you died.

With a dismissive snort, Erin starts to step over him, shouldering the shovel, as she heads toward the front door. She's got someone else to find tonight.


Cody's Apartment, New York

Repeatedly, Erin has told herself that she wouldn't do this if she didn't have to… That her actions could be saving many other people in the long run. Still, the fact that she's doing this at all will be a best-kept secret for years to come, if she has anything to say about it. Taine can never know. Neither can Beth. At least she does have one person she can confide in, if she needs to.

Breaking into an apartment complex is actually surprisingly easy. That, Erin's done before. Just wait until someone enters, and then follow them in. Then, it was to the apartment of Cody Baker, where she spent many minutes ever-so-gently picking a lock. It always looked so easy on TV; not so much in this case, especially since she was also watching out to make sure no one saw her.

The first thing she does upon entering is to make sure all the lights are shut off. Then, it's the the darkest possible corner she can find to wait.

—-

After putting some very long hours in at the 'office,' Cody finally managed to head to the grocery store and then home. She is armed with a little plastic bag in one hand and her keys in the other. She's dressed for the streets, a pair of jeans, an olive green sweater that is layered over a long sleeved cream t-shirt and her trust combat boots. Her long blonde hair is still braided into extremely long whips that are piled at the top of her head in that same topknot. Her co-workers from Building 27 were all told the same old tired story of extensions, apparently the woman spends more on hair care than she does on an apartment and clothing.

The sound of the key turning in the lock is a little loud in the silent apartment, as is the cerak of the opening door. The darkness doesn't exactly concern her, since she never uses the lights when she's not at home. Something about the utilitarian nature of the woman forbids her to waste it, not that she's energy conscious. Near the door, she places the overstuffed messenger bag, she's at home so she doesn't really care that some of the contents spill out. The first being her well worn leather notebook. After she moves into the kitchen, she unwraps the TV dinner and inspects it. Most people would be looking for health facts but not her, she's reading the long list of preservatives and other unhealthy ingredients. Tonight's flavor is mystery meat disguised as pressed turkey breast.

—-

Erin has no idea if this is the right person or not. Who cares? She's in the apartment, so it must be Cody Baker. Blue eyes narrow, beginning to glow - a spark that stands out painfully bright in the dark apartment. Erin's ability allows her to shoot first and ask questions later.

There's always anger. The scar down her arm always hurts when she thinks about that night on the soundstage — maybe Baker is even one of the people who were there that night. Mask-wearing, faceless cowards who couldn't stand the fact that Erin was different.

The thought strengthens her resolve.

This is hardly a delicate process. Erin can see it very clearly as it happens. A normal cell, just going about its everyday business, suddenly mutates into something horrible, and replicates at an alarming rate. The first feelings of fever will manifest in seconds. Within a half minute, bruises will start appearing across Cody's skin, where blood vessles have burst. Pain. A temperature climbing higher than the safe range.

And when all that's done, Erin gives it an extra kick, pushing it farther. Not far enough to kill. She wants this bitch to suffer for what she's done.

—-

As Cody reads down the list, she begins to feel a little hot and nauseous, which is fairly funny becuse she was feeling just fine a few minutes ago. She turns to head toward the bathroom and that's when she spies the woman with the glowing eyes on the other end of the livingroom/bedroom. "Who- the… hell…" and then she drops. The fever takes over and she falls to the floor in a crumpled heap.

There's something unexpected about the suffering woman. The moment that she falls to the floor the long braids of hair fall away from her head, leaving her bald. Without being attached, they're revealed to be of various lengths from 8 to 10 feet long and the thickness and texture of a bullwhip. A serious weapon when weilded with an experienced hand. Unfortunately that hand is slipping between consciousness and unconsciousness.

A few spasmodic seizures from fever has her eyes rolling into the back of her head and a little bit of whitish foam or drool seeping from the corner of her mouth.

—-

Given that she's not usually a killer, Erin kind of feels sorry for the woman that she's currently murdering. She can't help wincing, despite knowing exactly what yellow fever does, and every intricacy of how it works. Of course, she's kind of confused when the woman's hair just falls out. That's not one of the symptoms.

"Payback," Erin says simply, crouching down on the floor to pick up and examine one of the braids. She can't really see it at the moment - the light in her eyes prevents that. But she can see a vague outline of it, feel it. Sighing, she goes on to explain. "You can't just put people in cages like animals and not expect that they'd be pissed off about it." She tosses the braid to the floor, where it lands with a thud.

At this point, she stops pushing the virus along. She'll allow it to run its course now, which should take a couple hours, at least. That's on purpose, actually. Erin doesn't want to be here for the death part - as long as she's not present for that, she's not really a murderer. Just a propagator. "You're going to be in a shit-ton of pain for the next couple hours. You can call 9-1-1 if you really want to, but I've made it incurable. They can treat it, but you're in the later stages of yellow fever, so, heh, you'll be dead before they can jam a catheter in you. Personally? I'd go run a cold bath and drown myself in it. Have fun."

Standing, Erin starts to head for the door. She doesn't look back, because she doesn't want to see it as it progresses. Leaving someone for suffering and death who truly deserves it is one thing. Enjoying it is another.

—-

"W-wait…" Cody wheezes from her place on the floor. She starts to drag herself toward the door, toward the notebook. Hopefully the woman is kind enough to at least kick it toward her on her way out. "M-my book… need… someone needs to know…" Even with all of her training, her strength, the woman just isn't strong enough to make it, when she collapses on the floor, another fit of seizures take over her body, this time with another side effect, something completely abnormal for the fever.

The woman's arm hairs sprout suddenly into a series of 3" long razor sharp quills and while she jerks on the floor her arm swipes across her sweater, shredding the front of it and the t-shirt underneath it. Then another fit of spasms take over and the quills fall away, leaving her arms bare. Underneath the sweater, the scratches along her skin begin to soak the tattered t-shirt with dark red blood. Then she tries to pull herself toward the door again, toward that camel colored leather book.

—-

Something isn't right here.

Erin isn't as perceptive as her sister, Janet, but something is clearly different here. Why would the Bad Guys who hunt people like Erin have an Evolved right in their midst? To know the enemy, of course. Duh. Still, it gives Erin pause. Long enough to swear.

"Jesus shitting Christ, What the hell was that?" she asks of the sudden growth of razor-sharp armhair. It's disturbing, first and foremost, but second, it signals that this woman has an ability.

Reaching for the book on the floor - only to see what the big deal is - Erin flips through it. It's a bunch of stuff she doesn't understand, nor is she particularly interested in decoding it herself. Maybe if she takes it, she can find someone to do it.

For just another step, Erin heads toward the door. Maybe it's conscience that makes her stop again, though. Maybe it's just that a small comfort for a doomed woman shouldn't be denied.

"Fine," she grumbles, turning back around. Crouching near Cody again, she holds out the book. "You want this? You can have it." Erin holds it at arm's length, just in case those razor-hairs reappear. She dosn't want to be in the path of those.

As much as possible, she's attempting to not feel for the woman. It's hard, though, with the bleeding and the seizures. Crap. "I shoulda just left. Someone needs to know what, Baker? What's in the book? Plans for more kidnappings, world domination, the best pizza ever? What?"

—-

Even though the thought of ripping her attacker to shreds or choking her with one of the whips on the floor should have crossed it doesn't. Cody knows that there's not much time and someone needs to get the information to her contact, or at least take over her mission. "W-wait.. you have to…" she flips to one of the pages near the back and a photo of an Arabic man falls from the pages. "Azhar-Qahaar… Adham Sayf Udheen… Kappa Protocol." She swallows thickly and grips her chest where she'd accidentally swiped herself with her own quills.

When the new jolt of pain subsides, she places her blood stained fingers on the photo and pushes it toward Erin. "They're trading human … human weapons. You have to stop it… Stop the terrorists, no matter what. Samedi.. Sayf Udeen… don't know how many more. I think…" Her trembling hand reaches into the book and she begins tearing out the back pages and pushing them toward her murderer. With her other hand, she grips the dog tags around her neck and snaps one of them off. "Find Pyle in Delta Force… he needs a new agent."

—-

Reaching down, Erin grabs Cody's face, ignoring the stuff that's pushed toward her. "I am one of your terrorists," she says, voice barely above a whisper. "I'm one of the people you hunted down." Erin recalls the dream she had again… The one she somehow shared with her sister. In it, she pondered the fact that, if she was going to be labled as a terrorist, she should hve done something terrible. Well, this is it, she supposes. At least if they catch her now, it'll be justified.

"Erin McCarty, remember me? Remember makin' me jump off that walkway to get away? huh?" She gives Cody's face a good shake. Kappa Protocol, Delta Force. There's more to this than she realised. One hand drops to the floor to pick up the photo. "Is this your boss? Is this the guy comin' after us? Shootin' us in the ass with darts? Where do I find him?"

—-

"N-no… No, you're not … not yet…" Cody manages between her staggering breaths. "That man.. I was a hostage in Kuwait…" She closes her eyes and tries her best to try to compose herself, the only thought in her head now is that someone needs to carry on her mission. "He wants.. he wants evolved .. someone in Kappa Protocol is trading evolved as human weapons. You have to stop them."

What Erin says next while shaking her face gives her room to pause. The quirk of her eyebrows, the painted confusion on her face, she really has no idea what Erin is talking about. "No.. didn't chase you… Please just listen. Find Christopher Pyle, tell him.. tell him I failed. I'm sorry, I couldn't stop it. Delta Force… counter terrorism." Then she points with a shaking hand toward her messenger bag again. "Get.. get the computer."

—-

Cody should be calling Erin every name in the book. She's not, which means…

Erin narrows her eyes, looks her victim in the eyes. Her own become pinpoints of blue light again as she kills the viral cells in Cody's system. There's just too much that doesn't add up here.

This will not make the woman feel better by any means. The damage to her system is pretty severe, and while Erin can repair it, she's not doing so just yet. That'd leave Erin vulnerable, considering this woman is also Evolved.

But she also doesn't like to be wrong. The idea that she might have hit a target who she shouldn't have is… Well. Frightening. She hasn't been a murderer for very long, and she's already making mistakes!? Couldn't be.

Couldn't be.

Her heart is starting to beat just a little faster in her chest, as the cool determination wears off, only to be replaced by an infusion of adrenaline. "You're not like the last guy," she says, sitting down, placing a hand on Cody's shoulder, almost comfortingly - if it wasn't shaking so badly. Her voice becomes desperate. "Look, I don't want to do this! But I have to protect people like me. I mean, I'm just trying to live."

The touch becomes healing. It can't repair the physical damage Cody did to herself, but the killed viral cells just start to revert to healthy cells. The pain subsides a little. "I can fix this. But I can make it come back just as easy. So if you try anything… I'm not even going to hesitate. I'll drop you like a god-damed rock. You understand? Gimme your word."

For now, the computer is ignored.

—-

"I promise… I won't.." Cody's labored breathing becomes just a little easier, down to panting now. When the pain in her system subsides enough, a new growth of blonde hair sprouts from her head in the form of angelic curls. Ironic really. It stops at just a few inches of hair, just enough to keep Cody from looking like one of the children in the Leukemia ward. Pulling herself up, she rests against the closest wall to her and closes her eyes. "I know it's not easy. Watching people like you… like us… get caught. It's not easy to do it… But I have to. They have to believe that I'm committed to Protocol." She coughs into her hand and wipes the mixture of mucus and saliva onto the shredded sweater. It'll be thrown away anyway, it's irreperable, sorry Dad. "It's bigger than anyone knows. There's more." She pauses, the sudden illness and the over exersion of her own ability has nearly exhausted her of her 'nutrients.'

Cody's stomach growls loudly but she remains leaning up agains the wall, unwilling to move toward some of her much needed sustenance, at least for the moment. "Why didn't you just kill me?" Her voice is quite coarse and quiet. The thought of mercy from a suspected foe is a concept that's completely foreign to her. She's been out of the country for much too long to recognize someone that isn't a killer being forced into this sort of life. "You could have just killed me and walked away… No one would have ever known."

—-

"While you're pretending, people are getting hurt," Erin replies bitterly, while unable to help a rather respectful glance at Cody's power over… hair growth? Certainly interesting, to say the least! "And I'm not even sure if you are pretending. For all I know, you could just be a whole lot smarter than Agent Hamm." Dead. Now Cody knows how. "Heh, I mean seriously? I'd say anything to keep myself alive."

But life isn't always black and white. Erin knows that better than a lot of people, considering the fact that she's willing to kill, for all the right reasons. Maybe part of it is to save herself, but she also has a kid to protect now. "Because," is Erin's simple reply. "Look, I'm your judge and jury. I'm not just— " Her expression is uncomfortable, almost anguished. "This isn't something I want to do. I don't want to have to do this. Something tells me I'm making a mistake right now, letting you — " Letting her go.

Erin leans up against the wall opposite Cody. Giving someone a disease doesn't take much energy. Curing it doesn't, either - it's the easiest thing she can do. Repairing damage that should be irreversable, though… That's just draining. She's trying not to show it, though, because she has no doubt that the second she appears vulnerable is the second she's dead. Or worse - "What was that you were saying about trading Evolved as human weapons? Is that what you're doing? Selling us? What, you didn't want that for yourself, so you're helping? Nice. That's just… Wonderful." Erin's shoulders slump tiredly. "I don't wanna kill you. But if it's between you and me… Well, there's your answer."

—-

"No… No, I'm trying to stop the trading." Cody says and she coughs again, bringing up another batch of lung butter. "Congratulations on Hamm though, that guy was an assho — .. He was the worst of them. Can I show you something?" She's infamous for this, not waiting for answers before acting, but she crawls the few paces toward her bag. Pulling on the strap, she reaches in and pulls out the computer, when she opens it the screen flickers to life and a few more keystrokes has just one of the answers for the other woman.

"Adham Sayf Udeen, he's a terrorist in the middle east. One of the worst of the religious cells. When he had me as a hostage he was looking for evolved." She quiets as the sound on the video feed allows Erin to hear the snippets of conversation between the two men passing folders to each other.

"Someone is trading evolved people to use as weapons against the United States. I belong to a little group that's trying to stop that." The video goes dead soon after the small byte of information is played and Cody flips the little computer closed. "I shouldn't be telling you any of this, if it leaks… a lot of people will die so whoever is doing it can save face." then she gives Erin a very pointed look, "I don't know what you've been doing to stay out of their clutches, but you need to hide. You're a pretty strong biological weapon, they wouldn't even need to try to explain anything. Just a natural plague… You have to stay away."

—-

Erin's not so sure she wants Cody to 'show her' anything, but she allows the other woman to go to the bag, anyway. Once it's on, she kneels next to the computer, obviously quite tired if her posture is any indication. She's stubbornly remaining conscious, though.

It'd be stupid to take anyone's word without extensive questioning. That's what Erin thinks, anyway, added to the fact that she's not known for being trusting. She believes her source over Cody Baker, of course. "There's no proof," Erin says. If the little group would help her take down the Alpha Protocol, Erin's not buying it. She's not going to sign up with the delusions of making a better world. It's so much easier and more efficient to do stuff on her own.

"I imagine that if I disappeared, a good chunk of the United States would know," Erin says. It'd be on a whole lot of news sites, surely. "And I really don't think these people want that kind of attention. Whatever it is, they haven't come after me since the first time."

They'd know where to find her, too. Either they don't want the attention, or Erin's just too dangerous to risk at the moment. Who knows? Granted, she's kind of playing Russian Roulette being out in the open like this. Pushing herself back to her feet, she scoffs, "I don't hide. Look. I really don't want to know anymore, honestly, except one thing. Is there anyone else in your club I shouldn't be going after? Can't guarantee that I won't, but I'll save them for last."

She ponders for a moment, then says, "You know, I don't know that you aren't gonna go to your boss and have me taken out as soon as I leave this place, do I?" Her eyes narrow, lighting up again.

Perhaps the end is coming!

—-

"I'm not going to pretend that we're good people, or even that we don't deserve it. Most of the people involved are soldiers that have been fed the line that we're terrorists." Not you, we. "They're just doing their job to save their country from an unknown enemy. Problem is, this time it's the enemy that's signing their paychecks. They just don't know it." Cody stops there and just shakes her head, gathering the pile of papers up and reinserting the loose pages into her notebook along with the photo.

"And you really don't, it's just something you're going to have to trust me on. Just like I have to trust that you're not going to blow my cover or leak any of this out to the world." She lets out a long sigh and looks over to the woman. "Noah Bennet, I've been pointed toward him to try to get some help on the inside. If he's on your list, talk to him before you do anything."

—-

As Erin's eyes continue to light up the room, Cody will start to feel… better?

The damage caused by yellow fever is extensive - especially what was caused by Erin's own special version of it. In the end, it's not entirely fixed, but the rest will resolve on its own. It's just too tiring to fix it all, and she didn't come here with the intent to cure anything.

In a way, Erin feels horrible. She almost killed someone who might just be trying to help, almost like Ivory Wynn, if he was to be believed. It'll make her second guess with the next one.

At least she can rest assured knowing Hamm was an asshole.

Not fond of double agents - Erin's more of the bull-in-a-china-shop type of fighter - she can't say she really would ever like Cody. Get it over with, take down the bad guys, and have a beer afterward! What does Erin know, though?

No promise is offered that she won't tell anyone… Mostly because she plans to tell Tracy as soon as possible. Abruptly, the woman turns toward the door and stalks out of the apartment without another word, making sure to give the door a nice slam behind her.

Well. One out of two isn't bad.

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