Date: April 6, 2010
At the beginning of war, can there be a happily ever after?
A Rooftop - NYC
Governor's Island. From a distance it looks almost uninhabited but through the crosshairs of a high powered scope attached to an assault rifle, it proves to be very much inhabited.
Across the river, on the rooftop of a building, Cody Baker is watching every move of the agents milling around outside. She's dressed in the prototype body armor that was gifted to her by the scion of Lane Industries, it's much better than the ones they're wearing down there and she knows it. She knows every weakness of their armor.
With a calculating eye, she watches and records the movements of the troops, the vehicles, and the air traffic to and from the Protocol base of operations. Beside her is a radio absconded from the very same place. Though they've changed the frequency they operate on, she's determined enough to keep scanning the channels for signs of life. So far, there's nothing, that doesn't mean there won't be.
"I can already tell you anything you want to know."
The low, quiet voice breaks the otherwise silent day, coming from somewhere to Cody's left. Sitting on the edge of the building, legs dangling over the side, fingers curled against the edge of the building and drumming lightly on the sides, Gabriel turns his head to look in Cody's direction. A long, dark trenchcoat is wrapped around him, the collar pulled up, giving him a somewhat shady appearance. They say it's to not draw attention to yourself, but if anything, it only serves to draw more attention. Not that he doesn't have ways to easily lose someone.
A notebook rests beside him, and it most likely contains information on the operations happening on Governor's Island. How many guards, their rotations, prisoner schedules, entrances, exits, weaponry, anything you would need to know. Considering how used it looks, it seems Gabriel has been watching the island for some time.
"Won't do you much good, though," the ex-killer continues, standing up. "It's locked down pretty tight."
Quirking an eyebrow, Cody looks over at the man and one corner of her lips twitch up to a small smirk. "Gabriel Gray, surprised to see you up on my rooftop." She closes one eye and peers through the scope again, slowly moving the butt of the rifle as she needs to in order to keep up with the action on the ground. "Okay, I need to know where the Theta building is, and where they're keeping the people slated for Zeta and Kappa."
The blonde woman lifts her head again, turning toward him as she picks up her pencil to write down this hour's movements. The pages flip in the wind and it seems that this particular notebook is filled with something that looks like football plays. Along the borders of each page is a series of stickman doodles, five men deep and forty men long. It's a hella load of stickmen.
Folding her book after the notes have been made, she tucks it under her arm and faces the island. "No place is locked down tight enough. We've gotten people out before, we can do it again."
"It's all in the notebook— no idea which building is which, though. Not exactly something I've been paying attention to," the ex-killer replies, crossing his arms over his chest, eyes still focused on the island across the river. "And that's exactly why it's locked down so tight. The little stunt you all pulled to rescue people has them scared. Worried. They're afraid it's going to happen again, and this time, they'll be ready."
Cody could tell from her large collection of stickmen that they've definitely upped their numbers. They're not taking anymore chances. "Didn't you get enough out the first time, anyway? At some point, you're going to start cutting it too close. Things will get too risky, you'll go too far to save that one person… and you could end up losing it all. Is that something you're ready to deal with?"
"It wasn't our mistake that upped the quota of guards. Each of our escapees was declared legally dead and got out the incinerator just before they fired it up. Alpha didn't have a clue." The blonde woman grits her teeth and turns toward the building, narrowing her eyes. "But I know what might have tipped them off… Damned Primatech employees." Her voice drifts off when she puffs out her cheeks to let out a long breath of air, then she just doesn't say any more about it.
Tearing her gaze off of the building across the river for a moment, she studies Gabriel and purses her lips. "The people we've got out are safe… so far. Not happy with me, but at least they're alive. So what are you doing up here? Why are you watching them? According to your file… to be completely honest… it just doesn't fit your M.O."
"The best modus operandi is not having a set modus operandi," Gabriel responds cooly, leaning against one of the heating units that litter the roof. "Maybe you should take that into consideration for your next attempt." The low rumble covers his voice, but not enough that Cody can't hear him. Trenchcoat billowing slightly from the excess exhaust coming from the unit, Gabriel looks away from Cody, eyes turning back to Governor's Island, his head tilted slightly to the side as he watches it. "Looking for someone," is the only response she gets, and with that said, he moves on to the next subject. "Either way, whether last time was your mistake or not, you'll have to deal with the consequences. It's going to be harder, tougher, and they'll be prepared. Mistakes could cost you lives, this time."
"Our next attempt is going to be the last one. We don't have much time left before their supposed deadline," Baker reveals as she picks Gray's notebook up and flips through it. "I don't even know if there's anyone left in 27 that's a viable target for us. The ones we were trying to get have already be transferred, as far as I know." She hasn't had a chance to get together with the woman she's dubbed as the squirrel on speed, but if anything had changed she's sure the woman would have let her know.
"Next attempt, I'm planning on taking more than a few of the mercenaries out." The word is full of venom and practically spat from her lips like the strike of a cobra. She has no love for private contracted soldiers, they're beneath her. "Have you located the person you're trying to find? If not, I have some people that could try to find him… or her. They're on the inside"
"If I had already located them, do you really think I would still be standing here?" The response is said with a bit of bite, but the venom isn't directly aimed at Cody. It seems watching and waiting these people has finally started to get to the man. "I'm only here to do what I have to do to get the person /I/ need. Zelda Bailey. Everyone else… just better stay out of my way." He lapses into silence after that, impatiently tapping his fingers on his upper arm as he keeps his arms crossed against his chest.
"Who knows, the Grinch's heart grew three sizes in a day and somehow I found myself on the top of a roof actually caring what these people are going through instead of the end game. Anything's possible," Baker mutters as she continues to flip through the book and study the carefully placed notes. The book is so meticulous that it's actually impressive, to Cody anyway. "So she's not in Building 27 as far as you know then… I never had the pleasure of meeting her while I was there. She never made it out to the barracks, so I'm assuming that she's a special guest?" With the twitch of one eyebrow, Cody examines the ex-killer carefully before turning back toward the building.
"It's never like that— in the books, TV, the movies," Gabriel says, even if his statement is rather ironic considering they both have superpowers. "His heart may have grown in size, but mine is exactly the same— that's not to say I'm not worried about the people that are still inside, but you can't save everyone. Sometimes you have to save the one that matters." Fingers continue to drum lightly against his arm, eyes shifting from the island across the river to his rooftop companion. "I don't know where she is. I'm starting to think she's not even on that island."
"No shit, Sherlock. Like I said, they've been transferring people out of 27. Depending on how long she was there, or how potentially dangerous she could be… She could have been gone for months now." Moving back towards the ledge, Cody purses her lips and grabs the binoculars to peer through them. "Problem is, I don't know where they're transferring them to, other than the programs are called Theta, Zeta, and Kappa." She twists the middle bar to focus her vision better and makes a sweep from right to left. Never left to right.
Rolling his eyes slightly, Gabriel uses his shoulders to push himself off of the heating unit, unfolding his arms from across his chest. "I don't care about any of that," he spits, turning himself slightly so he's fully facing Cody, even if she's still looking at the island. "All I care about is one person— and if she isn't there, then I'll take my search elsewhere." He leans over, snatching his notebook from beside Cody. "If you're worried about the others, and there are more of you trying to get them out— that's great. I commend you." His tone takes on a darker tone, bitterness and anger seeping through. "But I've gotten caught up in the troubles of our /special/ race more than enough times… this time, I don't want anything to do with it other than what I have to do to get Zelda back."
"Zelda Bailey, I'll put the feelers out for her and let you know if I find out anything…" Then Cody turns toward Gabriel and narrows her eyes a little bit. "If you think more eyes and ears can help, up to you. Someone in the system had to have seen her at some point." When he begins his laments about their racial troubles, the agent simply turns to him with a small smirk on her face and shakes her head. "This isn't about your special race. It's about the government selling a new type of weapon." Then she points a single finger toward Gabriel. "If you want to find her, do it quickly because after the sales start, you may never find her again."
"I'll find her before that. I'll die before I let that happen." The ex-killer has no idea if this is true or not— if anything, it's simply words directed at himself to bolster his confidence. It hasn't exactly been an easy job tracking her down, considering he hasn't seen or heard anything about her, other than the small snippet of info Micah was able to find. And even then, it was nothing more than her name.
"Besides, don't you mean our special race?" Gabriel turns his eyes back to Cody, a small smirk playing at his lips. He may not know what her ability is, exactly, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know she has one. He has his ways. "This will end up being more than just selling a new type of weapon. What about when those weapons are put to use? It will only be so long before the public finds out about us. After that, they'll condemn us. They'll want us rounded up and exterminated. All because someone had a bright idea, and someone else let them do it…" Shaking his head, the man shrugs. "Zelda and I will be long gone before any of that happens."
"The weapons are already being put to use, it's called Beta Protocol. Where they test our capabilities against on our own soil. They have a deadline, April 15th. One of the people I released said he heard that people are going to run and hide if they can't pony up the billions for one of us." Cody's definitely in a rather somber mood, her eyebrows creasing in the middle as they knit together. Turning toward Gabriel, she smirks in response and rolls her eyes. "Difference between you and me is that I'm not up on their board. One, they think I'm dead. Two, even before I died they thought I was just a nosy agent." There's a deep breath taken and she sighs and shakes her head, "You have less than two weeks to make your little dream happen, Gray. Good luck."
Will Gabriel and Zelda get their happily ever after? The ex-killer seems very sure of himself and his idea, despite all that has gone on despite of and without him. It's been months since he last saw Zelda Bailey. Many things have changed in that time - for him, for her, for the world. That much is certain, especially as the woman Gabriel knows as Zelda Bailey certainly doesn't remember him.
If she notices her name being spoken of between the two people, the woman doesn't show it. In fact, she doesn't even show her face on the rooftop the two are talking on. Though Gabriel and Cody may not realize it, a wall has been slowly forming around them. It's invisible, impossible to see unless touched. It's the sort of defense that Gabriel may know, as he's seen it used to protect him before. However, this time it's a field that is much more sinister. It has slowly been wrapping around Cody and Gabriel in such a way that it would be hard to pinpoint. Until finally, the top closes around the two of them in an airtight seal. Once that happens, much like being trapped in a plastic bubble, their words will start to echo. They won't feel it automatically, but they now have limited air.
"My little dream? You're the one that's dreaming, thinking you're going to successfully pull off another rescue operation. Rescuing one instead of rescuing many is always easier, and regardless of that — " Gabriel suddenly stops talking, but his words linger on the air as they echo back to him, bouncing off of the invisible forcefield and causing a weird overall sound that most definitely isn't something you experience everyday standing on a rooftop in New York City. What in the world…?" Gabriel says, looking around them — his words still echoing, even if there's nothing to see.
As if going off of instinct, blue streaks of light begin to spark and crackle over his palm, before suddenly shooting out… only to bounce off of the shield, a small patch of blue shining where the electricity hits. It bounces around the rest of the shield, just narrowly missing Gabriel and Cody, until it finally finds purchase in the roof itself, sizzling out over the layered brick. He recognizes the shield surrounding them all too well, but it doesn't lend any relief to his worries. "Speak of the devil," he says slowly, looking around, "… but why is…"
The crackle of electricity is enough to make the agent pick up and take notice. She bends to the side when it comes a little too close, as though trying to dodge it Matrix style. It's lucky that it narrowly avoids her, because her duck is nothing close to something Keanu would have been able to pull off. Not even remotely.
"The hell are you…" Her words echo back to her and she frowns deeply. There's something definitely wrong, though Gabriel has his ideas, Cody has none. When all else fails, resort to what you know. What Cody knows is she's got two guns, one attached to either thigh and swiftly, they're pulled out. One is recognizable as a Glock, the other one of the tranquilizer guns the Protocol agents use.
Gabriel may know the manner of their capture, but poor Cody is left in the dark with only the clue of 'speak of the devil' to guide her. The situation certainly has turned confusing for the man in a way that the perpetrator certainly isn't about to explain for him. Zelda doesn't appear when called. The guns aren't going to do the Protocol Agent any good - much like the electricity, it will only bounce about and cause those trapped inside more danger than before.
For a moment, the shield winks out of existence. And then, it constricts. In order for her to see how close to make it, the woman must be somewhere within view. But, she isn't making it easy to spot her. After a few minutes, the shield does the same thing. It winks out, then constricts. However, the only way they'd be able to tell that is if they were touching it or affecting it somehow.
"It's not me," Gabriel says, looking back at Cody. "It's Zelda. Looks like that reunion is going to happen sooner than I thought— but it doesn't look like it's going to go the way I thought." The only clue that the shield is winking in and out of existence is given by the random factor of their voices echoing, then not echoing— but echoing once again. Even then, Gabriel isn't sure why it's happening. "Something weird is going on," he says, looking at Cody's gun, a frown on his face, before looking back up at the surrounding area. "Do you see her anywhere?"
Making a slow sweep from right to left, Cody's sharp blue eyes pour over everything around her. She frowns deeply and shakes her head as she raises her guns level on either side of her body. With the way Gray's little burst of electricity didn't work to penetrate it, she doesn't have her fingers on the triggers yet. Rather, they are held flat alongside the barrels and ready to slip down at a blink of an eye.
"I don't see her anywhere…" She says, "Tell me everything you know about this, so I can figure a way out." The intermittent lack of echo isn't lost on the woman and, very slowly, she backs up a few paces.
Bonk. The minute Cody attempts to back up a few paces, she runs right into the edge of the shield. It shimmers blueish in tinge in a wavy ripple, not unlike a stream with an ankle dipped into it. The forcefield has constricted enough that one step either way will cause them to smash against it. And that's when the the echoing continues without any sort of interruption. It seems like she's found the cage she was looking for. All the fiddling and rearranging of her forcefield, however, has caused the one that was hiding her to flicker, change and fade to nothingness.
Apparently unaware of it, Zelda remains crouched in the corner of the rooftop, all but pressed against the edge in concentration. Her brow is furrowed as she stares at the forcefield, not at Cody or Gabriel. She's wearing a high collared white shirt, buttoned up to the top, however the glint of metal around her neck may be something that Cody recognizes if she's looking hard enough.
"There isn't a way out— not unless she drops it. I could get her from inside using telekinesis, but… I can't hurt her…" Gabriel trails off, still looking around the rooftop, but he ultimately focuses on their makeshift cage. Bringing his arm back, he propels his fist forward, punching the forcefield. His hand bounces right off, a small grunt of pain escaping him as the force splits open the skin on his knuckles, and Gabriel shakes his hand to help with the pain even as the skin begins to sew itself back together, a few droplets of blood running down his fingers and landing on the rooftop.
"Well, didn't hurt to try," Gabriel says with another small shrug, until a flicker near the corner of the rooftop catches his attention. "There," he says, raising a finger and pointing in the woman's direction so Cody can see her. "Zelda!" he calls out, taking the one step forward that he can, putting his hands up against the forcefield, the shimmer of blue surrounding them, "what are you doing? Stop! Take the forcefield down!"
Glancing from the man's hand to the small trickle of blood, a smirk lends itself to the face of the agent, "Apparently, it did hurt to try." Her attention is quickly averted toward the corner where the woman is crouching and both of the guns are trained on her. With Gabriel pounding on the forcefield, she can easily see where it is.
As her bubble boy counterpart proceeds to yell at the woman, the glint from the top of Zelda's collar catches Cody's eye. Tightening into a squint, she turns her head slightly to the side and clenches her jaw. "You know how you didn't care about Theta, Zeta, or Kappa? I think we just met our first victim…" Cody says quietly, "She's wearing a collar, if she was a resident of 27 she wouldn't be able to do this. That's a different kind of collar she's got on." Then her eyes flicker down to the roof and then slide in Gabriel's direction. "What about the roof? Can you bust a hole in it? Would we be able to get out that way?"
The forcefield doesn't give against Gabriel's attempt to push at it. It's by all means and purposes a solid wall between them and freedom. The shimmer of blue continues for as long as the two people remain in contact with the field. Startled to notice them looking at her, the woman stands, but doesn't seem to recognize either of them in any sort of personal way. They are merely people she's seen files of.
Glaring, curious despite herself, Zelda stares at Gabriel. "How do you know my name?" She doesn't ignore Cody, however, she tilts her chin up in a haughty look and adds, "I wouldn't do that if I were you. It's a long drop. Plus, you're completely surrounded. Completely. You'll run out of air soon."
"Zelda!" Gabriel says, now pounding his fist against the forcefield. "What do you mean how do I know your name? It's me! Gabriel!" He stops pounding on the forcefield, as it isn't doing any good, and besides that, he needs to figure out what's wrong with Zelda… even if he has a good idea of what's going on. "Why are you doing this?" he says, loud enough so that his voice carries. "It's me!"
"Something isn't right.. she wouldn't do this," Gabriel mutters to Cody, turning his eyes on her for a moment before looking back. "Let us out!" he says in Zelda's direction, raising his voice again. "You won't let me die. I know you won't. Someone has done something to you— this isn't you. Let me out, and we'll fix it!"
"You're wasting what precious air we have by talking to me… Just keep trying to convince her to take it down." Cody begins to pace the bubble that they're trapped in. Then she sits down in a lotus position and closes her eyes. The woman's blonde hair begins to wave around her head and then grow, spreading around the little bubble and feeling around the base. Little spots of blue begin to appear everywhere she is touching it, it's obvious that the woman is trying to feel around for a tiny crevice or crack in the forcefield.
"She's been processed by one of the other protocols," Cody says calmly as she tries to concentrate, she's trying to stay calm and breath normally. Who knows how long the oxygen is going to last. "They have a solution that they can use to control us, if it's in the collar you might not be able to reach her. Do you have an ability that can penetrate the forcefield? Thought? Anything? What can you do that can't be blocked by this?"
"I know who you are." However, by the tone of Zelda's voice she doesn't remember who he is. It's a very different thing. The haughty, proud expression on her face isn't something that is totally unknown. Even when she knew Gabriel, loved him even, she could be a very proud woman. "Who says I'm here to kill you?" There's a smile and she watches the pair of them attempt to find any sort of weakness in her shield - there is none. Nothing in the shield, at least.
"You're wasting air." Strangely, that's an observation she seems to find some pleasure in pointing out. Is it the collar? A mindwipe? Whatever it is, it seems to be complete. Nothing Gabriel or Cody has said to her seems to have an affect.
"… Stop…" Gabriel says, hands sliding down the length of the forcefield before finally falling to his sides. "I could use telekinesis," Gabriel says, turning his head to look at Cody— and a little bit taken aback by the fact her HAIR IS MOVING AROUND BY ITSELF FEELING THE FORCEFIELD. But we'll freak out about that at another time. "But if I use it.. I'll have to hit her hard to bring the forcefield down. What if they're watching her? God forbid, what if she falls off the building? What if her collar.. explodes or something because I've touched her, even with an ability?" As he speaks, he can't help but raise his voice as all the scenarios go through his mind. He's beginning to breathe a lot heavier, too, although that's because the air is getting dangerously low.
"If she got hurt… even if the slightest, and it was somehow my fault…" Falling to one knee, Gabriel begins to wrack his brain for some way to get out of this without hurting or endangering Zelda. The times they've spent together, the time he WANTS to spend together after all of this, if she makes it out alive. Shaking his head, he doesn't even notice the difference in the air perception, how it's somehow being forced away. Then, it happens— suddenly, his own forcefield, something he didn't even know he could do, pushes outwards and slams against Zelda's own, canceling it out. Gabriel is caught off guard, not even sure if that was a forcefield— or if that was even him that did it. He looks over to Zelda, quickly, taking a tentative step forward… quite frankly, he has no idea what just happened.
Before the barrier vanishes, before Gabriel has his moment of clarity or whatever it is he does, Cody's eyes open wide and she just stares at Zelda. "She's holding us… Shit… We have to get out." That's when she gets up and begins to waste air all on her own.
Her hair braids itself into a long tail and as Gabriel is down on one knee in epiphany, the hair is striking against the barrier like a scorpion tail. There's the explosion of blue against the barrier as it spears toward it over and over, trying to punch through. Until suddenly, it's gone and the long braid of hair flies through and mashes into the gravel and concrete roof.
In less time than it takes to think, Cody aims the tranquilizer gun at Zelda and fires. She's not going to risk anyone finding her.
Whatever happened, Zelda is just as confused as Gabriel is that her shield suddenly just winks out of existence. That's never happened to her before - in fact, she didn't even know that was possible. Confused and now panicked, several things happen at once. Gabriel, the man she's been hunting down starts walking toward her, Cody shoots her tranquilizer dart at her, and Zelda attempts to protect herself. Unfortunately, with all the force she's been throwing around to make her shield impenetrable, she's just not quick enough to throw up a shield in time to stop the dart whizzing toward her at the speed of a bullet.
An insubstantial shield flickers up in front of her, too slowly to do any good. The dart smacks right into her shoulder and though the other two aren't able to see it, her protective shield also disappears. The woman takes a surprised step backward. She lets out a pained cry and snatches at the dart lodged into her flesh, yanking it out and tossing it at them. "What was in that?" Already, she staggers a little, her vision getting blurry. "Wh…what…what did…"
After his tentative step forward, another moment passes before Gabriel finally gets his thoughts together— and he isn't going to worry about how he stopped the shield, or how he produced one of his own. He'll examine that later, because there's a much more important matter at hand. Rushing forward, he hears the dart go whizzing by his ear, watches it slam into Zelda's shoulder, and he spares one look of indignation back at Cody before his attention is focused on Zelda again.
"Zelda?" he says as he gets near to her, making sure to keep a little bit of distance in between them in case she's still on the rampage to kill them. The thought alone breaks his heart, and hopefully he can do something to stop it, if the tranquilizer doesn't get to it first. "Are you okay?"
"Something we like to call 'Swan Juice'," Cody says in a low voice toward the quickly fading woman. "It's a mixture of alpha solution and a mild tranquilizer. She'll be fine, but I suggest you grab her and start running. If she was just holding us, they're probably already on their way." The former agent saw the list of people who had been transferred already. An entire team of Kappa weapons is not something she wants to deal with.
So she slowly backs away from the two and toward her rifle. "There's a tracking device in the collar, they'll be able to find you if you stop. Don't try to just take it off, if I read the specs right, it'll explode. Try to find Rebel, he might be able to help you get it off." It would be safer if he just let her go, but then they'd know for sure that she was still alive.
"If you need me, my name's Baker. Rebel knows how to find me." And with that, the woman and her suitcase fall from the edge of the building. All that's really known is that there isn't a splat.
Zelda attempts to keep up her mission, attempts to protect herself from the people who have shot her. However, the tranquilizer and the power negating effects of the drug make that impossible. "S…stay…" She wants to tell them to stay back, stay away from her, keep any space between them and her. However, the drugs are quick acting and before she can even finish the sentence, she's falling forward, lulled into a drugged sleep.
Holding out a hand behind him in Cody's direction, Gabriel doesn't notice her fall away from the edge of the building. With Zelda quickly falling unconscious, Gabriel's attention is on her, and he steps forward so that he can catch her, the woman falling into his arms as she's lulled into a drugged sleep. Looking back in Cody's direction, he's a little surprised to find her missing, but he isn't going to worry about it. Looking around, he contemplates the situation for a few moments before scooping Zelda up into his arms, and heading towards the stairwell access near the center of the roof.