2007-09-28: Damage Assessment

Alice_icon.gif Mariska_icon.gif Bob_icon.gif

In the aftermath of Sylar and Kellie's attack on the facility, two agents are sent down to Level 5 to assess the damage and take stock of exactly who escaped.

September 28, 2007

Chapter Two

Truce

Damage Assessment


Primatech Research: Level 5

It's been kind of a shitty night. And it's segueing into a shitty day. Alice got arrived too late to help in the main action, but she's here now. And loading a really big gun as she walks the hallways. Her walk seems to have purpose. She's heading downstairs to help 'take out the trash' so to speak. Cue billowing black trenchcoat.

While some might inexplicably expect Mariska to arrive clad in skin-tight vinyl and wearing a pair of reflective too-sharp shades, she… doesn't. In fact, by contrast to Alice, she nearly looks the very model of sweetness and light in the universe — it's khaki trousers and an oatmeal heathered turtleneck with brown half-heeled boots from the closet today. Alice is loading a gun and this deserves some sort of explanation beyond the 'go assess the damage on Level 5' instructions that they were given moments ago. "What is Level Five?" Yeah. Start there.

Poor Mariska. She can't possibly be prepared for what she's about to see on this floor. At the bottom of the staircase, there are no standard lights - just yellow emergency lights, flickering erratically. Though the bodies have been taken elsewhere, it is clear that even the stairwell saw some manner of bloodshed last night. There is blood splattered on the walls, streaked across the floor. A gun is off to one side, burned and melted through, useless. The railing of the staircase, too, is mangled as if a corrosive substance had been poured atop it. It smells acrid down on Level 5.

Beyond the security door, locked and requiring a magnetic key and passcode to get inside, everything is quiet.

"We aren't paid to ask questions," is Alice's terse reply, finishing the loading of her weapon as the go down the stairs. When she reaches the door, she removes a keycard from her pocket and tries that method of unlocking the door to proceed first. "Anything blinks in there, we put it down and sort it out later."

Armed with a Company-issued taser and exceptionally aware of the 'don't. touch. anything.' vibe that is already pervasive even in the stairwell, Mariska lingers close to Alice but not near enough to be mistake for the other woman's girlfriend on surveillance. "Alright," is her response both to the 'questions' comment and Alice's instructions on how to proceed. She's ready… or so she thinks…

All told, it hasn't been that long since the last of the murderers left this corridor. Beyond the security door, which does indeed open when Alice uses her keycard, there is a grotesque scene. Several of the windows have shattered, broken class lying scattered over the floor. There is more blood here, thrown across the room in myriad patterns. There's no way to tell if it all came from the same body. There is only one visible casualty when the door is first opened: a petite blonde, some ways down the hall, lying on her stomach. From this angle, all of her features are obscured.

Alice's eyebrows go up just a tic. That's her reaction to the gruesome. Stepping to the side and bringing her weapon up, she says, "Silence from here on in, til we've cleared the area." Then she steps into the corridor, moving up against the left wall and checking her corners before she proceeds slowly down the hall.

Oh. So… apparently Level Five in The Company's private slaughterhouse. Good to know. Wait, strike that — this is NOT good to know! And, oh God! There's a body! Mariska? Not a cop. Not an Agent. Not a feeb. She's got no training on proper entry procedure and upon spotting the little blonde body down the hall, her first impulse is to run over and inspect the woman - dead or alive. At least give her some credit for not immediately calling out, "Are you okay?!" She's not quite that dumb.

The sound of broken glass crunching underfoot emanates from the cell wherein a body is decimated and unrecognizable against a wall. It can't truly be called a body so much as char and smears. The source of the noise is obscured, currently, but all the women would need to do is get a closer look.

Is she okay? The petite blonde doesn't reply. As Mariska gets nearer, the full extent of the woman's demise will become clear. While initially her hair shielded onlookers from the cause of her death, this close, there's no hiding it. The top of the woman's head has been removed. It isn't immediately clear where that particular part of her skull has gone. Her face is obscured by hair, matted with blood… and the inside of her head is an empty cavity.

There's an ID badge hanging from the hem of her shirt, face up. On it is a picture of a small blonde, looking straight into the camera with a no-nonsense attitude. Beneath the picture, it gives the name 'ELLE BISHOP' and an identification number.

Alice eyes Mariska sternly, but follows, noting the dead blonde on the floor. Shaking her head, she raises her weapon and starts to check the corners of the cell with another body in it. She's not walking in til she's reasonably sure that the body in there is the only thing inside.

Survival fail. What an awful way to die! Mariska's expression can't help but melt through shades of horror and sadness; she's human, despite rumors to the contrary, and thus experiences very human emotions at the most inopportune of times. She takes the woman's ID badge between her fingers and gently removes it from her shirt before lifting her head and looking over at Alice to make sure that — hey, did you hear something, too?

It is not, in fact, the only thing inside. Hear that? There is a very alive figure standing in the cell with the cryokinetic's… body. Don't worry, it's not another escapee. The waves of boiling anger emanating from the man could match the villains at this moment, however. Tan suit and dark tie, glasses, a bald head, air of authority. He's unmistakable. Bob Bishop. He stands, hands clasped behind his back, staring at the marks on the wall. "Amazing," he says calmly with a quick glance at the women. "How completely decimated a human being can become when faced with a thermonuculear radiation blast. This man could have caused unthinkable damage on the city with his ability. Brought around an early winter. Now he barely fits in a mason jar. A good thing."

Alice's weapon is trained on Bob Bishop as she enters the room. "Sir, with all due respect. I need you to get down on the ground, face forward and put your hands behind your head." Then, "I wasn't told anyone else would be down here." That gun remains centered on the man. "And if you really are who you look like, sir. I am so very sorry for your loss."

Mariska's only acquaintance with Bob Bishop thus far has come in the form of photographic face-to-face and the rare passing glance when they've passed one another in the hall — and this could either be judged as a very good thing… or very bad. However, while Alice plays meet and greet at gunpoint, the Russian woman suddenly gets caught up in a little fit of contrast and compare. Something's not right. Mariska stands up and nudges the body at her feet with the toe of her boot and then gestures with the ID tag at Alice. Can she read it from all the way over there? "This… is not her," she reveals in a thick Russian drawl.

Bob, when he turns an earnest, actual look on the two women unfortunate enough to be sent down here, lifts his brows in expectance at Alice. Is she really still pointing that at him? Slowly, he nods and lifts his arms, hands behind his head, the motion pulling up the jacket of his suit awkwardly. "Admirable following of protocol," he concedes as he turns about all the way. "My ID tag is in my left coat pocket." Of his loss, he says nothing.

"I really am sorry," Alice says, circling so as to get behind Bob. She lifts a brow at Mariska's words, before pursing her lips and lowering her hand to try and touch the back of the man's head. Anywhere that there is exposed skin, really. PoisonToad Tranquillizer GO.

When Mariska nudges at the body, some of the woman's blond hair slides back from her face. Her face is smeared with blood, but it doesn't take rocket science to tell that the agent lying face-down on the concrete floor is not, in fact, Elle Bishop. Her body structure is right, but her facial features are all wrong. Even the colour of her hair is a little off - but then, that's just nitpicking. But that's certainly Elle Bishop's ID card that was on her shirt.

Yeah, see? This is totally not the electrocrazy that everyone knows and loves… so, what does that mean for the man who may or may not be her father standing there with Alice? Mariska takes a step away from the corpse and peers into the cell. "You know her?" the Russian queries, gesturing to the body on the floor. It's almost a trick question.

"You really didn't have to do that, Alice." Bob does not seem particularly incensed by Alice's decision. She's wise to be suspicious. "Things may not be as they seem, but I am who I say I am. Unlike…" A nod in the direction of the blonde body in the corridor. The man's mostly bare head is still mobile, but won't be for long, given the agent's toxin, "That woman there. It's unfortunate that she had to die, but… inevitably, someone had to. I made sure it wasn't my Elle." Bob's tone of voice, no-nonsense, doesn't waver. "Now, if you'll just go on and finish checking the adjacent wing, I'll just stand here and slowly lose feeling in my appendages."

"I am sorry, sir, but we can't take any chances at this point," Alice says bluntly, stepping around the man and moving back towards the door. She shoots Mariska a look and asks, "Can you transport him out of here? I don't want to leave him defenseless down here, given the givens."

He'll… whu? Did he mean that literally? She missed the whole touchy-feely moment they had there and doesn't have any idea what sort of abilities, mundane or otherwise, that either Bob or Alice might possess. Mariska looks to the latter as if for advisement, deferring to the senior agent. Once direction is given, the Russian seems more than willing to comply, though not before tossing the ID tag she'd claimed back onto the body of the unfortunate blonde. "Where would you like to go?" the teleporter asks her tagalong; it's a courtesy she bestows upon very few.

Bob gives a sober nod to Alice, considerably stiffer than the last time. "Drastic measures, et cetera. We have a long road ahead of us if … we want to fix … this mess." Slowly, the man's voice becomes thick and stars to slur as Alice's toxin takes effect. "Agent Lensherrrr has put an effective paralytic intomybloodstream," he explains to Mariska. "Teleport!" he says without clarification. Anywhere Not Here. There's no time, he's run out of time to speak.

There's a sudden clamor, just then, at the top of the staircase. "Oh God, oh God, please! Pleeeeeeeaaaaase!" With no more warning than that, a lanky man falls, head over heels, through the stairwell. Only-no, he's no lanky. He's half burned or perhaps eaten through by something viciously acidic. He lays still, at odd angles.

Alice nods to Bob, expression softening only momentarily in a show of sympathy before it hardens again and she's back out of the cell. When the body falls through the stairwell, she raises her weapon again and moves towards it, checking rooms as she goes. Crap. It may not be Mariska's only exit out of the place, but it sure as hell is Alice's. Without stopping to check on the man, she's moving up the steps.

Aye aye, cap'n! Two to beam up! Mariska doesn't need to be told twice. She puts an arm around the slurring Bob Bishop and…

…goes nowhere. WTF?! Why is it that other Evolved are so much more difficult for her to hop and skip globetrotting with?? Is her unnaturalness somehow forced to conflict with theirs?? Or, maybe it's because Bob has been immobilized and thus his inertia somehow affects Mariska's ability to — you know what? Now is probably not the time to be waxing philosophical about the metaphysical ins and outs of folding space and other freakish things. Let's just blame it on the sudden distraction of the screaming, mangled man being tossed down the stairs. Oh, hey. That's no good. Suddenly instilled with profound incentive to GTFO, she tightens her hold on King Midas and guns for an escape! Once more — with feeling!

The man at the foot of the stairs writhes for several moments and becomes still again. His appearance is gruesome. Something out a nightmare. He's wearing bits and pieces of standard Company pyjamas; a patient, perhaps, from the hospital? Another captive?

Mariska and Bob suddenly disappear from the space, there and gone, just like that. Bam! The corridor is left with its eerie silence. The dead can't speak. …Usually.

To say all is quiet beyond the top of the stairs would be a lie, however. The building's structure is under duress from the fire, which is under control, but only just, and only recently. Some of the cells of the "less" dangerous inmates have been broken into — in some cases, their barriers just melted away, burned through. A few of the captives have simply been mutilated, like the man who wandered below. Like him, a few are clinging to life; unlike him, they hide away when they hear the slightest movemen.

On the plus side for everyone's immediate safety, the villains responsible are no longer anywhere in sight.

The man is eyed and Alice stares up the staircase, before turning her eyes back to the corridor. As Mariska isn't around, she allows herself an audible *gulp* before straightening her collar and heading back into Level 5, aiming for that 'adjacent wing' that Bob mentioned.

There are more horrible monsters in that adjacent wing, beyond a heavy security door, but they are still locked away. Safe and sound and none too happy about it. This is the wing Agent Armstrong wisely ran to earlier, as there is a secondary exit here leading to the above level as well. Thank God for small miracles.

Meanwhile, at a sixth floor apartment in Queens…

…Mariska and the super-stiffy Founder suddenly manifest in the living room, much to the animated displeasure of two snoozing cats. (God, please don't let the boss be allergic to pet dander!) Bob's a bit heavier than he looks when all of his limbs have gone limp and Mariska struggles to get the man onto the couch without knocking his shiny noggen against the pale hardwood floor. Unf! And… there! Whew! So, uh, now what? The novice Company woman looks down at the golden boy as if suddenly puzzled as to his presence. Does she stay? Does she go? Mommy instinct says… stick around. Don't leave the paralyzed man left to the tender whisker mercies of Ingram and Glock.

"I'll go… get you a pillow…"

Sure, the door looks like it's still locked up nice and tight, but Alice is taking all the precautions today. This is Level 5. It's a big number. Top secrety. Probably means bad ass prisoners or something. She grabs a radio off her belt and calls in some backup, and informing of Mariska's status.

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