ArchivedLogs:The Scouring of the City

From X-Men: rEvolution
The Scouring of the City

Warning: Blood, violence. Zombies.

Dramatis Personae

Anole, B, Chloe, Deanna, Deltressa, Dusk, Elliott, Flicker, Glow, Hive, Ion, Jax, Lucien, Matt, Shane, Steve, Teague, Tian-shin, Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Monsterling, Horus

2015-12-13


"{Let's do this, New York.}" (Part of Flu Season TP.)

Location

New York, New York


17:30. Wednesday. City Hall.

For all the destruction and chaos through New York, the steps of City Hall still look clean -- or is that recently clean/ed/? -- white and blessedly /not/ coated in blood. Flags rippling high to either side of the dais. For all the /building/ may look very stately, Elliott herself is looking far more functional. Combat boots, sturdy cargo pants, a heavy denim jacket over a functional blue top. In the upright carriage of her posture, the strong clarity of her voice, her confident ease in front of the news cameras, though -- clothing or not, she still seems just as in charge as ever. "{Food, safe shelter, medicine -- these things,}" she is saying into the microphone, "{might keep us /going/ in this storm, but they won't get us out of it. We've had time to collect ourselves, to find our footing. And it's time now that we use that to take our city back.}"

Beside the mayor, Steve is looking reasonably put together despite recent events. He wears a brown leather jacket over a red, white, and blue plaid flannel shirt and dark blue jeans. His iconic shield, a white star on a blue field at the center with concentric red and white bands around it, is strapped to his left forearm, a long knife sheathed at his right hip. He gives one firm nod at Elliott's last statement and takes his place in front of the microphone at her invitation. "{Throughout this crisis, we have seen just how much we can accomplish when we work together,}" his voice is firm and resonant, his blue eyes intense. "{That's what we'll need to do to reclaim our streets: pitch in, coordinate, and help one another. Let's do this, New York.}"


19:35. Wednesday. Harbor Commons - Media Room.

"{They both look so --}" B's claws are flicking out towards the large television screen, hir brows lifting as she watches the mayor's broadcast.

"/American/." Shane's teeth have bared in a bright grin -- though it's a little sharp. A little edged.

"Glad to see he's fitting /in/, at least." B sounds more dry than pleased, really, her own smile thin.

There's a flutter through the air, a /whumph/ of leather falling onto Shane's spiky head. A brand /new/ kutte with Shane's sharktoothed grinning skull and crossed violin bows, tossed from the edge of the room. In the doorway, Ion stands -- watching the sharkpups rather than the broadcast. His smile is broooad. Bright. "{Fuck all /that/, smalldogs, you heard them, huh? We got fucking /work/ to do.}"


06:25. Thursday. Far Rockaway, Queens.

It's hard to tell where hurricane damage ends and zombie damage begins, many of the more coastal buildings still battered and not-yet-rebuilt even three years out from Sandy. It /is/ clear right now that whether damaged or whole, none of these buildings are doing much good to the erstwhile residents of the peninsula. Through streets and alleys, down by the beach, milling in and out of broken-in doors on tilting bungalows, the neighborhood is crawling with the dead -- largely eerily quiet with all their prey long since gone.

Quiet, at least, until a gleaming red and gold figure shoots down from the sky overhead, landing with a thunk in the middle of a small park. Immediately there is a rattling, a chorus of ready groans sent up. A river of shambling bodies begins to converge on the playground where the figure has landed. Before he has fully risen, his hands lift, bright bolts shooting out rapidly to fell a half-dozen of the creatures closest and already grabbing for him. "Yeah, I hear that." he's muttering a moment later. "Well, they do say things get dead around here when tourist season is over --" This cuts off into another pair of blasts as more bodies draw near.

A few minutes later, a helicopter approaches and hovers above the park, now fairly clogged with zombies. A rope drops down from the helicopter and Steve slides down to land on the roof of the gazebo next to the playground. He's dressed in a heavy duty brown canvas jacket and dark blue jeans, a dusty blue helmet (with white wings painted on the sides) upon his head and aviator's goggles over his eyes. As soon as he has his feet under him, he pulls the iconic shield from his back and straps it to his wrist.

"Iron Man!" he calls out, pitching his voice to carry over the undead, "Draw them toward that skate park, please." One gloved hand points at the fenced area with an impressive concrete half-pipe as its centerpiece. The helicopter which had delivered Steve is veering toward it, others aboard waiting at the doors, ready to deploy.

"Iron Man." Echoed without yet turning, another volley of light preceding a crumpling of a half-dozen more bodies around him, "someone here on a first-name basis with --" He turns, glowing eyes focused on the shield and then the man who carries it.

There is silence. The red and gold figure stands still among the horde -- until it has vanished entirely beneath a crowd of grasping bodies.

Shortly after, there's a glint of sunlight on metal as he shoots back upward, bodies falling away from the suit and back into the crowd below. "Alright, Stars and Stripes," his answer comes as he shoots low over the horde, heading for the skate park, "let's hope all that ice is good and thawed."


08:47. Thursday. Flushing, Queens.

Perched high above the fray is a young man in a black stand-collar vest and black cargo pants. He wields a compound bow and has a complex-looking quiver slung across his back. He has spiky dark brown hair and wears tinted goggles. Were anyone standing close enough, they might notice the glowing blue letters traveling across the lenses of those goggles: 'He's on the move again. I trust you can keep up?'

He gives a short bark of a laugh. "Have a little faith, Director." Fits another arrow to his bow and lets it fly -- down, down, down and through a zombie's skull some fifteen storeys below as it's reaching for a man with a red, white, and blue shield. "I've got my eyes on him."


10:13. Thursday. Bronx Zoo.

A largely undefended source of captive prey, the zoo has drawn more zombies than most might imagine. The hungry dead have breached many enclosures, devouring most of the land-bound inhabitants, but setting many others free. The skeletons of zebras and tapirs and even bears litter their exhibits. Some big cats and apes, treed with no means of escape, lie dead of thirst but still out of reach, but least one jaguar, a small band of spider monkeys, and a pair of lionesses have managed to survive and stalk the zoo for their own prey. Exotic birds flit from tree to tree, as do small primates and all manner of climbing animals. Elephants walk the paths, trampling zombies that chew at their thick hide in vain.

Not nearly so nonchalant as the colossal beasts, nor so frightened as the small ones, Tian-shin works her way steadily through the Madagascar building. She wears a bloodied canvas jacket and torn black jeans, but looks unharried as she drives her sword up through the chin of a particularly tall zombie lumbering after her. The hallways helpfully prevent the horde from surrounding her, but still she retreats a little with every kill, drawing them through the circuitous exhibit route. Some of the habitats to either side look empty, but many inmates remain, surviving their neglect and watching the battle with huge, wary eyes.

There's a spark, a pop; Ion appears just around a corner, cracking a heavy length of piping over the head of a zombie just about to turn towards Tian-shin and starting in on the pack that's converging down this way. He is dressed eclectically -- he has his tall stompy boots and jeans, his battered and bling-covered kutte, but this is paired with a fleecey cap that is fashioned to look like an elephant's head, a trio of tentacly cephalopod /things/ wrapped clinging around his wrists, a very glittery rhinestone parrot necklace dangling around his neck. The hand that /isn't/ currently holding the pipe is holding on tight to a brightly swirled glass statue of a giraffe. "{/Shit/ look what I find! How awesome is this they got /all/ the damn animals around here --}" His excitement is punctuated by cracks of his pipe. "{... think the real giraffe got ate, though.}"

Strapped to his chest, Egg sports a fuzzy penguin cap, a large plush panda gripped in their wings. They're bouncing excitedly -- not at the violence, though. Twisting around in their harness, they're pointing towards one of the enclosures, where a group of lemurs stands pressed up close to the glass. 'Come,' they're demanding, indicating Ion and Tian-shin and the falling hordes around them, 'play!'


13:23. Thursday. Jamaica, Queens.

This building is, thankfully, not on fire. The unstable flooring and collapsing support are proving every bit as much danger as the dead that creep through it, though.

An arrow zings through the air, thunking sure and true through the eye of one zombie across the gutted fourth floor. Lucien is fitting another to his bow, taking aim rather than risking crossing the exposed and partially burned-out beams. One zombie, attempting to reach them, falls through the flooring down one floor below.

Beside him, a faint twitch of smile tips up at the corner of Deanna's mouth. "May as well just wait here. Let them all dash themselves to --"

She's interrupted by a small cry. From across the broken flooring, from behind the crowd of zombies. The zombies rattle, turning -- though up above them their prey is out of reach, peering down through a hole in the floor one level up where he clings to the beams. A young man in filthy jeans and torn flannel, enormous red compound eyes and four pairs of oddly jointed legs (two of which are bloodied, broken at visibly /wrong/ angles), small spikey chelicerae clicking a moment before he talks: "-- please --"

The thick crowd of zombies strain upwards, grasping now for the man overhead.

Chloe looks at the horde across the gap from them; fingers the remaining arrows in her quiver. Her lips compress, twisting faintly. "Is anyone else up there with you?" She's testing one of the beams stretching across the gap between them; under her foot it cracks, sending a shower of ashen splinters downward.

Lucien's arrow is still nocked, though he hasn't drawn quite yet. His eyes narrow in faint assessment of the herd. "I could certainly thin it enough --"

Across, the man has shaken his head. "Just me. They broke my legs, I can't --" Two of his legs clench tight around the beam.

"Waste of arrows," Deanna's voice is a low mutter, her eyes dropped to watch the shower of splinters cascade downwards, "for one goddamn cockroach."

Chloe steps back. "Floor won't hold."

Lucien's fingers have tightened faintly on his bowstring. "We need to clean this sector regardless."

The zombies are pounding at the wall; the young man's perch shudders, crackling as well.

"Be a lot safer to do from the ground." Deanna waves her team onward. "Best hope those legs can hang on tight."

Chloe's steps are light, picking her way carefully after the other woman.

Lucien is slower to follow. There's a zing and a thunk, and one less thump of hands pounding at the shaky building wall.


16:41. Thursday. Harbor Commons, Courtyard.

"{-- but it's fixed now, right? Because that was --}" Shane is crouched down by the side of his bike, webbed hands rested on his knees and his pair of swords crossed at his back. His clothes are mussed and bloody, his posture a little wilted.

"{-- you're not going to fall out of the sky.}" B straightens, giving the saddle of Shane's hoverbike an almost fond pat. "{Well. Probably not for another couple days anyway.}" She doesn't look much better. Dirty. Blood crusted on hir hands. A slump to hir shoulders.

Both twins perk, though, with the thrumming sound of wings overhead.

A gleaming metallic blue shape flits down. If /Sugar/ is tired she doesn't look it, still chomping hungrily at -- is that an arm? -- as she lands. There's a haze of shadowy grey clinging to Jax in the fading sunlight as he slips out of her saddle, though, and wanders towards the pups to fold both of them into a tight squeeze.

Shane butts his head lightly up against Jax's side, leaning gratefully into the hug.

"Should get some tea." B switches from Vietnamese back to English.

"Yeah." Not that Jax is quite letting go, yet. "When'd y'all eat last? I can fix up -- well. Somethin'."

"Uh --" Shane grimaces as he considers this answer.

But doesn't consider it for /long/ before there's a buzz -- not just from his phone but B's and Jax's as well.

Jax glances to Sugar after checking his phone. The pups glance to their bikes.

"... y'all should eat," Jax says, a hint of /fret/ creeping into his tone.

"You should rest." This answer comes from the twins, in tandem.

Shane is checking the straps on his swords, though. B reaching for hir gauntlets again.

"It'll be quicker," says B --

"You'll be safer," says her brother.

Jax hesitates a long moment, eye flicking between the pups. The faint haze around him begins to clear up as he stands up a little straighter, climbs back up into Sugar's saddle. "With y'all along --" He pulls in a deep breath. "Yeah. That I will."


03:07. Friday. Lincoln Center.

The lights of the legendary Lincoln Center and its festive holiday setup have been turned off, leaving the area shrouded in a veil of unseeable darkness -- until without warning, the square bursts alive with blinding light. The 30-ft concolor fir suddenly shines along with the back-lit water of Revson Fountain, which erupts like a mighty geyser.

Casting a great shadow, a petite figure steps out into the light. In a glittering diamond barbute, gorget, vambraces, greaves, and shimmering sollerets, they unsheathe one thin gemstone blade and then, another.

Predictably attracted by the great spectacle, undead begin to appear in the foreground.

Accompanied by the beginning piping notes of The Nutcracker Suite on the center’s comprehensive outdoor speaker system, Jewel prances forward into the onslaught.


12:13. Friday. Flatbush, Brooklyn.

Just one among many segments of the city currently evacuated and given up to the horde, the makeshift barricades that have been erected -- trucks and heavy cement barrels, cars driven alongside and atop each other, furniture piled up high -- are swarmed with clusters of dead, clambering and groaning and pushing at each other to get /out/ to where still-living prey lies beyond.

There isn't much by way of safe ingress into the area -- so when Jax arrives he is just dropped in, Flicker setting him down right in the middle of the street before vanishing to start combing the buildings for any survivors.

It takes no time at all for a hungry groaning cry to go up -- for one then three then dozens of zombies to turn, start shambling down the street towards him. Hundreds more pouring in from the side streets and alleys when they hear the moans.

Jax's hand lifts, crossing himself quickly. The tremble of light around him belies his methodical calm as the street erupts -- lighting up in a firework-bright display of scattering beams. Around him, a field of stilled bodies begins to pile -- steadily higher as the dead come. And come. And come.


15:23. Friday. East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

The streets are one thing. Wider. Open. The groans and smacks and crunches and thuds of combat outside come oddly distorted in fast-forward. The hallways and rooms of the apartment complex shift around him. Yellow paint and red paint, blue floral wallflower, green tile in this bathroom, Beanie Babies piled onto this desk and matchbox cars on that one. Flicker sees them all in still-frame. Snapshot. The weeks-old food left to mold in this kitchen, the clothes strewn on the floor of this bedroom. The greying face champing teeth at him from behind this door. Rotting fingers reaching across this counter. Uncoordinated steps stumbling down these stairs. Through narrow hallways, broken-down doors, jumbles of furniture and the ruins of lives -- with so many places to hide there are quite a lot of dead still lurking. But as the blur of motion whirls through the building -- they're not lurking for /long/.


18:27. Friday. Harbor Commons.

Night falls early now, and the western sky is good and dark by the time the parking enforcement SUV -- like most of its kind, pressed into service as zombie patrol vehicles -- drops Steve off. His pale blue eyes look hollow and bloodshot. His brown canvas jacket and blue jeans are filthy, though his helmet and shield, at least, have been wiped down. He trudges wearily into the courtyard and toward the Commonhaus, carrying his shield in one hand.

There's a flutter of large wings overhead, dark and trimmed in faint pearly sheen. Horus's tablet is strapped around his chest, screen currently open to his Twitter feed. He isn't updating anything just at the moment, though. Focused and intent, he is on a /mission/. He swoops down, low, diving straight for Steve's head. At the last moment he backwings -- though there's still a /clack/ as his large talons connect with the helmet, it's more gentle than his divebomb-approach would suggest.

His talons close in firmly. As he lifts off and away, he pries the helmet with him, tugging it of Steve's head and carting it off into the darkened sky.


03:07. Saturday. Harbor Commons - Guest Room.

At night it's the little things that linger. Not the attacks, the biting teeth or tearing nails, not the torn bodies and bloodstained floors. The wedding ring on a rotting finger. The sagging tattoo of a child's birthdate. The cast covered with get-well-soon messages. Dirty friendship bracelet knotted onto dirty arm. Tiny pink hearts painted in chipping nailpolish.

Across the courtyard, Flicker's dreams are filled with accusation. The screams of the living have morphed into rattling cries of anguish. The dead huddled with their families. Cowering in terror. Hiding in back rooms -- futilely; their cries end (and end and end) with the crunch of crowbar into skull.

Over in the treehaus, Hive's eyes fix steadily on the holographic structure in front of him. His shoulders tense, eyes narrowing in on his work. He adjusts his headphones over his ears, turning the volume of his music up-up-up on his computer.

There's a small whimper in Flicker's bedroom. His eyes open -- but only for a second, dreams fuzzier but not fully gone. Around him the world shivers. Shifts. When it's settled again it's the warmth of the treehaus around him. His eyes are still closed as he curls up on the futon instead, head pillowed now in Hive's lap as he relaxes back into sleep.

Hive's gaze doesn't shift from the work in front of him. His hand does, dropping to Flicker's head, fingertips combing slowly through dark hair. The easing of Flicker's posture is mirrored in the slow relaxation of Hive's shoulders.


06:30. Saturday. Canyon of Heroes.

As the sun rises on lower Broadway, a precession of garbage trucks breaks the morning’s padded silence and ushers in the sounds of city life. As if on tour, the convoy rumbles up New York’s historic parade route before coming to a gradual halt somewhere in the city’s financial district.

With clean, reflective skyscrapers towering above them, the trucks let out not unlike clown cars. In lieu of clowns, the occupants are the exception to all rules: too hideous and horrifying to even acknowledge.

A wave of fighters goes first. Brandishing every manner of home-made, post-apocalyptic weaponry, they form a great purging wall as they slip into the city’s depths.

A skyscraper herself, Deltressa is the first to step out but the last to disappear into the city’s underbelly. The healer hangs back behind the militant wing of her clan. With gentle coaxing, she shepherds the young, elderly, and weak back into their subterranean refuge.

Within a few hours, city employees from the Department of Waste Management appear. With bewildered expressions, they retrieve their stolen and subsequently abandoned property, attributing the mystery to one of many that will surely accompany this test of New York’s will to survive.


14:43. Saturday. Co-op City, the Bronx.

Co-op city is oddly quiet. Its streets have been hushed -- though only recently cleared, bodies not yet removed from its streets, with many of the surrounding neighborhoods still teeming its residents have yet to venture out into the streets. Dusk doesnt have this problem -- heavily laden with large bags criss-crossed over his chest, he doesn't seem particularly weighed down despite the bulging sacks he carries. He lands outside the first apartment building with only a quiet thump, fingering the knife at his hip before pushing his way inside.

If the people in the apartments are startled to have a vampire bat delivering their groceries -- probably the weeks of near-starvation make /most/ of them hold their tongue, at least.

A black and chrome Harley chopper pulls up outside shortly shortly after, its rider clad in a brown leather jacket, indigo jeans, and a red, white, and blue shield on his back. Dismounting, he lifts two grocery bags from the bike's panniers and steps inside.

Drawn by the noise of the bike, a zombie comes shambling out of gutted building. Its rattling groan can be heard from the front room, where Steve sighs and sets down the bags. "Happy holidays, everyone," he says with a rueful smile, pulling the shield from his back and ducking outside again. The zombie's rallying cry is shortly answered -- not many, three or four other voices groaning from the alleys of the previously quiet block.

Dusk is far less burdened when he steps back outside. Groceries gone, his knife now drawn and his wings rolling in a stretch behind him. "No respect for the holidays, these guys."

Steve straps the shield his his forearm. "Just looking for their own feast," he says softly, absently. Then, raising his voice a little, "There's nothing for you here but destruction." He waits a few beats. Kneels and and whispers something in Latin, soft and low. Crosses himself and, rising, sinks the shield into the zombie just as its hands reach out for him.


17:03. Saturday. Harbor Commons.

The sun has just set, and the sky is a lovely wash of twilight colors from brilliant gold all the way to velvety blue. A motorcycle cruises to a stop and Steve climbs off, looking significantly less bloody than he has the last few days. He wears a brown leather jacket, dark blue jeans, and combat boots. Making his way across the courtyard, he rolls his shoulders beneath the harness that holds the shield across his back. The weariness in his posture eases a little when he nears the Commonhaus.

There's a quiet chirrup of greeting as the motorcycle pulls up. A flutter of wings -- this time, Horus alights on Steve's shoulder. His talons curl inward in a very /poky/ squeeze, beak pressing down to gently tidy stray wisps of blond hair, lying them down neat and flat.

Though Steve almost certainly recognizes the vocalizations and the silhouette of feathered wings, he still starts a little when Horus perches on his shoulder. "Hello, there," his voice is tired, but he smiles. "Keep meaning to thank you for your Twitters. It's been very helpful."

Horus warbles in answer to this, soft and pleased, chest feathers ruffling out juuust slightly. His careful preening continues -- tuck, tuck, tuck, /just/ so, smoothing his beak along the top of Steve's hair until it is Very Precisely in place. Pat. /Pat/. Another quiet croon once he is done with this. His chest puffs out just a bit more.

"Thank you for the...grooming, too." Steve chuckles. "Haven't really had time to comb since I got up, and good pomade is hard to find. I guess you haven't much use for either." He reaches the door to the Commonhaus and fishes his keycard from a pocket. "Well, good night, then."

The side of Horus's head presses gently against the side of Steve's. Another soft warble answers his good night. His careful preening job is promptly ruffled with the wind stirred up as he spreads his wings to take off again. The flap of feathers is joined with the faintest of clicks and an upward tug as Horus lifts off -- talons now curled around Steve's shield. Unhooking it from its support; the large round disc dangles beneath him as he rises up into the air and is soon lost from sight.


22:15. Saturday. Staten Island Mall.

"-- feel like such a zombie movie /trope/." Anole is saying this veeery quietly, from where he is rummaging through the winter gear section at JCPenny's. Though the halls of the shopping center have looked /mostly/ empty, there has, on occasion, been a rattling groan from some distant store, a shuffle of uneven footsteps. "It'll be nice to have decent /things/ though. Maybe come winter we can thank the zombies."

"Hey," Glow whispers, stuffing knit cap after knit cap into her pockets. Already she's picked up a parka to wear over her hoodie and two sets of gloves, worn on top of each other. "As long as the bikers don't show up, we should be good, right?" She snags a scarf off a rack and wraps it around her neck and face. "After this, let’s hit up the toy store. Get some stuff for the younger kids, courtesy of Zombie Santa." The young Morlock pauses. "If that's not already a movie, someone needs to fix that. Like, ASAP."

"No -- though there was a movie about Santa Claus /fighting/ zombies, does that count?" Anole is rolling up jackets as tight as he can manage, cramming them into a (shiny new!) duffel bag with its tags still on. "Oh. /That's/ why this mall doesn't feel right, I know what it's totally missing that should be here right about now." He slings the bag over his shoulder, a bright grin on his face as he starts to head out of the aisle -- beginning to sing a quiet but cheerful, "-- I don't want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need --"


09:13. Sunday. St. Martin's Church.

The atmosphere in the basement of the church, is lighter than it has been. There's a fairly decent breakfast -- /actual/ scrambled eggs and real sausage! Orange juice. Donuts. The coffee is still shitty but what can you do. Loading a plate up with eggs and sausage, Ion is as boisterous as ever. He's traded jeans and flannel for khakis and a button-down, though still has stompy boots and a heavy length of pipe strapped to his back. Tucked into a carrier beside Ion's chair, Egg is half-dozing, wings curled around a large (and slightly blood-spattered) panda plushie.

Steve must run a gauntlet of gratitude and back-slapping to get through the buffet line. Many congregants have seen him on the news 'fighting the good fight', which praise he receives with stammered thanks and attempts at deflection. /He's/ still in jeans and flannel, though at least neither particularly chewed up nor bloody, and while he has his long knife strapped to his belt his shield is conspicuously missing. He brings his heavily laden plate over to Ion's table, nodding at an empty seat. "{I join you, is good?}" he asks in Spanish.

"{Heyyyyyy Captain, what's /up/, yo.}" Ion's time at the buffet line was far quicker. He greets Steve with a /bright/ smile, a hearty back-slap of his own. "{Good, good, it's /great/, good to see you whole and un-/eaten/ man. Them biters give you an appetite, huh?}" He waves his fork towards Steve's plate.

"{My...appetite? Always much,}" Steve replies with a self-conscious chuckle. "{I am happy you also, not eaten.}" He is quiet for a moment while he shovels food into his mouth. Pauses to take a swig of his coffee (which, though terrible, puts a smile on his face). "{I have a maybe strange question. Many your things you have make...}shiny." The last word he breaks down and speaks in English. "{Would you mind to help me a gift for a friend who likes} shiny?"

"{Shiny?}" Ion signs this as he says it, before digging into his pocket and tugging out a lighter to hold it up, brows lifting in questioning. In the bright fluorescent light it glitters -- gleaming in white gold with tiny diamonds streaked down it like dripping water droplets. "{Shiny like this shiny?}"

Steve blinks at the glittering light reflected by the diamonds. "{Maybe?}" He sounds uncertain. "{It is for Horus, he likes...many strange things. I do not think he could /use/ a lighter. But, you know him better?}"

Ion laughs, here, bright and loud. "Oh shit, son. This for the oddbird? You think he /use/ that shit he collect?" He tosses the lighter to Steve. "{Take it. /You/ give it to him, he'll be well pleased.}"


17:57. Sunday. Tessier Residence.

The front door opens, closes again. Lucien's steps are quiet as he slips inside. He is sluggish, taking his shoes off in the entryway, setting down the carrying case for his bow and quiver, trudging to the bathroom to scrub (and scrub) (and scrub) the blood from his skin. His phone sits on the bathroom counter, email pulled up on its screen where a backlog of data sits, reports come in from the latest round of zombie-treatment test subjects.

Matt's footsteps can be heard descending the stairs a few minutes after the shower starts. When it finally stops, there is cup of hot tea waiting on the kitchen counter. Matt sits at the breakfast nook beside the back door, another mug cupped between his hands. He wears a black t-shirt with a detailed blue line drawing of a house, a tunnel spiraling deep into the ground beneath it, and blue flannel sweatpants covered with TARDISes. His eyes search Lucien carefully the moment he comes into view. "{How'd it go?} he asks, his French soft and quiet.

Lucien is barefoot when he heads to the kitchen, dressed in dark jeans and no shirt, phone in hand. He plucks his tea off the counter, continuing on to the breakfast nook to settle onto the bench beside Matt. His hand curls around the mug, eyes closing as he nestles in beside his brother. "{I suppose we have won.}" His tone is very dry.

Matt chews on his lower lip and leans against Lucien heavily, as though /he/ had been fighting all day. He lifts his mug and sips at the tea very slowly. His bright green eyes are a little glassy, focused on the middle distance. "{She's worse again,}" he says finally, closing his eyes. "{Much worse.}"

The tension that curls through Lucien can be felt less in his muscles and more in the ripple that tightens across the surface of his mind, clamping down, smoothing over. His arm lifts, wraps around Matt's shoulders, pulls him in closer. His other hand tightens around his mug. His eyes fix down, locking on the screen of his phone where it sits on the table in front of him, charting the progress of countless nameless people.

Matt tucks his head against his brother's neck. "{I'm doing all I can. It's not enough.}" He opens his eyes again and looks down at Lucien's phone, as well. His voice breaks, "{It's just not enough.}"

Lucien sets his tea down slowly. Just as slow, reaches to turn the screen off on his phone. "{No. It never is.}"


19:30. Sunday. City Hall.

Once again, the steps of City Hall are looking remarkably tidy as compared to the grime and destruction of the city in general. Elliott, in contrast to the functional boots and cargo pants she has been wearing in press appearances for weeks, looks the part of the Mayor once more -- a simple but neat dark blue pants suit. For the first time in many weeks, her words come in English.

"It would be nice to say that we did it. That we won, that it's over. The truth is that in many ways the hard work is just starting. We couldn't have made it this far without the hard work and bravery of so many people. The research teams who toiled tirelessly to find a cure to the new strain of illness; the teams of volunteers who kept the city sheltered and fed through the quarantine; the patrols who put their lives on the line making sure that our streets are once more safe for the living. After the past weeks, though, recovery won't happen overnight. We may have a cure, and we may have purged the hordes from the city -- but rebuilding the city is going to be an ongoing effort. We still need your dedication, and we still need each other."


23:49. Sunday. Staten Island.

These warehouses have been long since abandoned. The city's patrols have already cleared the area, swept it again -- and still, the streets look clear. Or did. A manhole cover pushes open, and then another. The pair of hands that emerges is greying, skin patchy and peeling off. One decaying body pulls itself up the ladder and onto the street. Then turns, reaching down to help a second zombie out of the tunnels under the street. And another, and another. Shepherding a river of its companions up out of the sewers and into the ramshackle buildings, as hastily as broken bones and decomposing muscles will allow.

The warehouses fill, quick and quiet with a throng of the dead. It takes quite some time for the last to make it out of the tunnels and up inside -- the final few close the manhole covers behind them. In the dim light inside the biggest of the warehouses, one of the dead has clambered up by a window, illuminated by a streetlamp outside. Its rattling groan draws myriad eyes its way, locking upwards as if seeking prey. The zombie's hands lift.

'So.'

Far across the city, Hive's eyes lift from his computer screen. A faint curl of smile touches his lips.