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Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!
Dramatis Personae

Blink, Jax, Leo, Nick

2020-04-08


"Who tear gasses a clinic?"

Location

<NYC> Hellhound Bikes - East New York


Located not far from Jamaica Bay in a predominantly Latinx sector of East New York, this garage doesn't look like much from the outside. A low-slung squat dingy brick building with a hand-painted sign over front proclaiming it to be HELLHOUND CUSTOM CYCLES, this garage has a small office area with its own pedestrian entrance from the street at the front, containing a minifridge usually full of beer and beaten down old desk with a ledger and an antique cash register that no one ever seems to use. The rest of the space is roughly L-shaped, its walls lined with racks of tools and heavy workbenches with built-in steel drawers full of hardware and spare parts. There's a raised platform in the wider leg of the space for working on one motorcycle, and there's space in the narrower leg for parking at least three more.

With more and more patients pouring in every day, Hellhound Bikes has been bustling well past the emergency clinic's theoretical hours. But it's past midnight now and the place is relatively quiet. Much of the garage is filled with cots separated by privacy curtains that do not muffle the noisy breathing and occasional quiet cough from the patients too ill to be sent home overnight. Mountains of supplies make the office look strange and claustrophobic in the darkness. A large portable pavilion is set up over the driveway, though the folding chairs have been neatly stacked away to facilitate the thorough cleaning and disinfecting that happened before most of the exhausted volunteers went home.

Beyond the immediate bubble of the clinic's simultaneous ambience of solace and distress, the city, too, is both quieter and noisier than usual. The dreary, damp weather seems to muffle everything, and discourage those few who might have otherwise ventured out despite the apocalyptic situation in the city. Fewer cars rumble over the streets above, and fewer subway trains rattle through the tunnels below, but there there are plenty of sirens all night long as if to put a melody to the rotating red beacon at the top of the Empire State Building, faint and eerie through the soft haze of rain. Even the businesses still in operation are not open so late, but there are many lights on in sleepless residential windows. A crying child somewhere sets off a chain of barking through the neighborhood that sets yet another child to crying, and on and on.

With the volume of sick people even intermittently coughing in here, the conscientious disinfecting can only go so far. No doubt a slow creep of germ has been scattering onto surfaces here and there, for a time now. Even in Leo's sleep, there's a quiet push back against it, though. He's got himself a cot right in the middle of things, where he promptly passed out immediately after his last patient earlier this night, with not much more supper than a few gulps of soda and an apple. As he sleeps (soundly) things around him are continuing to disinfect, surfaces invisibly growing sterile -- and the patients around him, too, slowly being leeched of the pathogens within them. He's fallen asleep in all his clothes -- slim dark purple button-down with subtle yet startling flashes of crimson on the underside of the spread collar and the insides of the the cuffs and plackets, slender black plainfront trousers with red contrast stitching, his one concession to comfort removing his black woven leather belt and tossing it aside onto a chair.

Unbothered by the damp draft slipping in from under the back door, Nick has fallen asleep beside it. He's still in his MMMC cut (the patch on the chest still reads "Prospect") over a white t-shirt with 'NOT A WOLF' in bold black letters across the chest, and gray canvas cargo shorts, his thick brown fur keeping him plenty warm even on a makeshift bed of flattened cardboard boxes and newspapers. His keen senses are clearly not doing him many favors in terms of sleep. He stirs fitfully, his ears pricking at every surge of noise outside, whimpering softly under his breath every so often. That he hasn't quite come fully awake for over an hour speaks to his sheer exhaustion after his first day managing the clinic.

Jax is just emerging from the bathroom. He's a little fidgety, a little bouncy as he paces around the perimeter of the mostly-slumbering clinic, working his way back towards Leo's cubicle although not in any great hurry. He's dressed blandly today; dark denim overalls over a green and purple plaid flannel, purple Doc Martens laced up in silver. His thumbs are hooked into his front pockets, his steps quiet despite the restless twitch of his hands or dart of his gaze.

On the other side of the block from the clinic, two NYPD SUVs and an unmarked commercial van, all of their headlights off, pull into an alleyway and kill their engines one by one. The two police vehicles disgorge two officers and spidery Sentinels each, while four figures in black tactical gear -- complete AR-15s, respirator masks, and goggles pour out of the van. The latter form up at once and stalk along the alley, New York's finest following in a rag-tag pack. The Sentinels rapidly overtake them all, moving in near-silence despite their speed. Two of them circle the garage to the front door, and the other two take up station beside the back door. The tactical strike team does the same, two slinking around to the front. The cops, at least, stick together and hang back in the alley, their body language uncertain.

Nick stirs where he lies curled in his nest, then goes still, one ear swiveling toward the back wall. His black nose twitches and he inhales in short staccato breaths. Then his amber eyes snap open, the hair on the back of his neck rising, a low growl rolling in his chest.

Jax's pacing stops shortly before Nick stirs. He glances first towards the back door, then the front. Then Nick, as the young man growls. A moment later he's heading swiftly to Leo's stall, crouching by the man's bed to shake him gently even as he's sending rapid texts with his other hand. From the outside, abruptly, the interior of the stall ripples and shifts, appearing to be unoccupied. "Hey." Very softly. "Leo. Cops are here. We need to go."

(Jax --> Blink, Flicker, Joshua): sos need evac (Jax --> Blink, Flicker, Joshua): [pinned google map location]

All four Sentinels breach their assigned doors at once in perfect coordination even before the pair of mercenaries have quite reached the front door. "This is the NYPD," the Sentinels announce, their neutral synthetic voices too loud to be soothing as intended. "Please lie on the floor and put your hands on your head. This is the NYPD..."

One of the Sentinels at the back door whirls on Nick, a metal tube unfolding from its body, and firing a spread of three darts his way. The other moves rapidly into the room, rotating as it does so in delicate balletic fashion. The two at the front door spread out and do the same.

One member of each tactical team ducks through the breached doors, weapons leveled, but their partners hang back. A wisp of psionic static curls into the minds all of those inside the clinic, deeply unsettling and distracting even to those without the training or experience to recognize such intrusion.

Leo curls up further under his thin blankets, first, pulling away from the touch with his eyes closing tighter. He tenses, eyes opening wide and snapping toward Jax. His reflexive apology catches half-formed on his lip, only making it as far as the first soft sibilant before cutting off. He rubs at his eyes, swings his legs over the side of the cot. "Go? Go whe..." His breath catches at the sound of the Sentinels' voices, his fingers clenching into the sheets.

Nick has rolled to his feet by the time the door bursts open, crouched low and snarling. He leaps aside when the Sentinel turns, but one of the darts catches him in his side, though it's hard to tell whether it penetrates, between his leather cut and thick fur. Rebounding, he lunges and tackles the first mercenary through the door.

Jax shoves his phone back into his pocket. His eye twitches as the strange mental fuzz hooks into his mind; a slight clench tightens his jaw. He gets to his feet, his eye closing as he gently tugs at Leo's arm. "Stay with me," he murmurs, low, just before both of them disappear from sight. His hand is still easy to feel, fiercely warm just above the other man's elbow. He weaves through the circuitous path between the curtained-off patient "rooms", keeping them as far as possible from the entering Sentinels as he winds towards the back.

The mercenary coming through the back door in the Sentinels' wake, clearly didn't expect Nick that close to the door or that quick to ignore the robot in favor of him, and does not have time to get a shot off before the wolf boy is on him. It's partly luck and partly training that he manages to keep his feet at all, but he's dropped to one knee and is awkwardly trying to fend Nick off with the rifle held between both hands. The other mercenary waiting just outside the door is pulling something that looks an awful lot like a grenade from his belt and throwing it into the clinic. It starts spewing smoke as soon as it hits the ground, the scent of tear gas acrid and familiar.

The Sentinel that had attacked Nick pivots to take aim at him again, but does not fire this time -- perhaps waiting for the mercenary to disentangle himself and give it a clear shot. The other three Sentinels are moving through the clinic systematically, scanning each cubical and ignoring the terrified patients -- some of whom have fallen back into coughing fits. The two mercenaries who entered through the front door, however, are cutting straight through toward Jax and Leo. Their progress is impeded by the intervening curtains and beds, but though they are well out of sightline they adjust course when Jax starts leading Leo toward the back door, weapons at the ready.

Leo claps a hand over his mouth to stifle the small gasp that's escaping him. He does get up, though, stumbling along after Jax. Trying his best to stay quiet and stick close as he's pulled a bit disconcertingly along through the clinic. Jax can feel the jerkiness of his steps, uncertain and confused without being able to see Jax or even himself, but he keeps up well enough. His breathing catches, audibly harsher -- likely more in panic than anything else, even before the tear gas has had a chance to reach them.

Nick is far stronger than the mercenary and rips the AR-15 from his opponent's hands with a roar. It's unclear whether he intentionally flings it aside or just could not keep hold of it himself in the scramble, but whatever he planned to do next is quickly sidelined in favor of coughing. His eyes squeeze shut and his head shakes invluntarily even as he paws at his muzzle, stumbling back into a curtain.

Jax hisses quietly. A bubble spreads itself over the grenade, trapping the growing cloud of particulate before much of it has dispersed. There's a second wall -- hardly visible but extremely solid -- that has shimmered into being just on his side of the curtains that currently separate them from the approaching mercenaries. He and Leo snap back into visibility at approximately the same time the second shield goes up; his face is paler, jaw clamped. "Who tear gasses a clinic?" He's letting go of Leo, gesturing the other man to follow as he races towards the grenade. He's glowing suddenly bright as he stoops to pick it up, hurl it back through the open door.

The two mercenaries who had entered via the front door walk squarely into the larger of Jax's shields, one of them executing a textbook pratfall while the other staggers, momentarily disoriented. The two Sentinels that had come in with them continue their sweep of the patients. The one that had come from the back and joined the search, though, swivels around when Jax and Leo become visible again. It turns on a dime, reversing the unsettlingly smooth motion of its many legs with ease and skittering toward the fleeing mutants.

Ther mercenary who had just fended off Nick, albeit at the cost of his primary weapon, is falling back and pawing at the pistol holstered at his hip, trying to unhitch the strap that keeps it secured. His partner, still outside the door that he's blocking, is somewhat calmer, though he sounds a bit exasperated as he shouts, "Sentinel, primary target is approaching, he's -- behind you. Disengage from current target. Fucking piece of --"

He presumably breaks off because the tear gas canister he had deployed is suddenly flying back at him, and he hastily ducks out of the way. The Sentinel by the backdoor, which had been targeting Nick the whole time fires at him again, point-blank this time. Only then does it heed the mercenary's order, the sensor package and gun barrel on its body swiveling to aim at Jax even while the legs remain still. There's a slight delay accompanied by mechanical whirls and clicks before it fires again, impact munitions this time that will not pierce bodies but may certainly break bones.

Where before Leo had been slowly disinfecting everything around him, now as they pass through the clinic the air is, invisibly, growing thick with germs. They are short-lived where they don't find themselves a host -- or find the wrong ones. In the chance that any of his carefully curated pathogens do successfully reach the mercenaries, their progression is swift. Finding B cells to bind to, multiplying rapidly; the results are not quite as immediately catastrophic as they had been back at the jail, at least. This sharp proliferation brings with it only a heavy exhaustion, a sharp muscle cramping, a general sort of palsy. Leo himself is looking, perhaps, more nauseated than anything his diseases are potentially bringing, lifting an arm to cover his mouth as he squints his eyes near-shut and hastens after Jax.

Nick cannot avoid the Sentinel's dart this time, which catches him squarely in the chest. He snaps wildly at the air when it thuds into him, and though his steps are around it's hard to tell whether that's from the tear gas's effect on his sensitive olfaction or the tranquilizer actually penetrating and performing as intended. At least his eyes seem to have cleared somewhat, for he dashes over to Jax and Leo, falling in behind them to guard their rear.

Jax half-turns -- a moment too late, teeth gritting as the round catches him in the side. There's a sharp cracking sound as he stumbles back, an uncomfortably intense ripple of heat rolling off of him. His soft, "-- oh --" sounds a little startled, but his narrowed gaze on the Sentinel after this is focused. There's a brief iridescent soap-bubble glimmer around it -- a painfully bright-sharp series of lines zig-zagging their way through. He does not wait long enough to see whether the barrage of lasers has done their job, a wall unfurling behind and to one side of them as he ushers Leo towards the door, attention turning toward the mercenary still outside.

The Sentinel which had shot first Nick, then Jax collapses jerkily into a heap in the wake of the light show around its spider-like body, smoke rising from unremarkable-looking holes in its carapace. The other Sentinel that had line of sight to its targets also unfurls its weapon and fires, but the rounds bounce off of the barrier. Two more Sentinels come into view, but do not try to fire, perhaps learning from their fellow's lesson. They split up and try to follow the forcefield along either side to locate its edge.

Meanwhile, the mercenary who had tussled with Nick has gotten his pistol free and, *not* learning from the Sentinel's example, levels it at Jax and fires at the barrier. The ricochet makes a different noise where it strikes the ceiling of the garage, suggesting this was very much *not* a less-lethal round. The two mercenaries who had run face-first into the shield earlier, however, know better. One of them is talking into a radio clipped to his shoulder, "Blue Leader, they're going for the back door, your people need to fan out and back up Twister.

Twister, presumably, is the mercenary who threw the grenade and got it right back. He is presently demonstrating what earned him his -- nickname? Call sign? -- by whipping up a mighty spiraling gust of wind that sucks up the tear gas canister, along with some litter and a couple of poorly secured fabric masks from the cops who had been huddling back behind him and who are now fanning out to seal off the alleyway.

A spark of purple light appears near the trapped mutants and expands in rapid but wobbly, uneven waves into a roughly oval, roughly door-sized rip in space. Clad in soft pink pajamas edged with gray, Blink reaches out of the portal and physically yanks Leo through to the abandoned rooftop on the other side, though she is herself breathing hard and not too steady on her feet. "Quick," she calls to the others, her voice still hoarse, "I can't hold this long!"

Nick is panting heavily now, the sedative clearly having an effect though perhaps not as much of an effect as intended. He snarls at the sudden vortex outside the door, and yet again at the purple portal, but he does not hesitate to jump through it after Leo. He misjudges the distance and lands badly, tumbling to a stop and gazing around in vague disorientation.

Twister's vortex twists in mid-air and funnels the still active, still burning hot tear gas grenade and all the debris it had picked up back into the clinic and -- maybe intentionally or maybe not -- through the open portal even as he himself sweeps through the back door with the AR-15 leveled at Jax, the bewildered NYPD strike team following him closely. "Get on the ground now!" he roars.

Blink grits her teeth hard as she struggles to keep the portal stable. It's already looking pretty wobbly when the tear gas canister comes flying at them. She only barely manages to shove Leo out of the way, her yelp of pain from the canister hitting her cut off by coughing as she breathes in the chemical weapon. The portal wavers with her attention and abruptly snaps shut, cutting short her strained cry, "Jax --"

There's just an instant as the portal opens up where a stark relief washes over Jax's face, his breath rushing out in an abrupt exhale as the others disappear through it. He's just moving to follow when that roar sounds -- when it snaps shut. He freezes where he stands, not moving at all for a moment. Just staring at the space in front of him. Kind of intently. Swallowing, hard, when it -- continues to be nowhere but the clinic and the alley beyond. Slowly, silently, he lowers himself to one knee and then the other, planting his hands down flat before sinking down to the ground.