VILLAiny

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Location  • Grid:Early Saturday Wake-Up

Date  • 2020-05-30

Summary  • After a rescue attempt goes terribly wrong, an unaccepting Mage goes back ten minutes in time to try and enable members of Outreach to save themselves... with a little Haily Mary help from a brand-new friend. A handful that were destined for death or worse get a second chance to avoid their fate.

 

5:34 AM. It’s pouring rain outside. The weather in the region has been so fickle lately that even the locals--typically inured to such--are sick of it. The sunrise was eight minutes ago. The smell of coffee hasn’t even hit the air yet. That’s when there is a crash and ripple that rips right through several people connected to the Outreach Initiative. It’s different for everyone involved. In Avi’s case, it’s a combination of assiduousness and Awakened instinct; his dreams exploding and urging him to wake up. In Rowan’s, it’s alertness and the feeling like someone just screamed for her in a too-brief moment of desperation; a telepathic assault from someone familiar projected over distance by extreme emotion.

The time flips to 5:35, and it’s only been a second since these psychic explosions have rattled people in entirely different places of Portland, but both of their phones, in a completely different way than the psychic landscape, blow up. No number is shown. The caller is listed as anonymous or unknown. If the call is ignored, it seems to know and calls back a single second later. If the ringer is put on silent, it will then flip itself back to on and slowly increase its volume until it is answered.

"Oh-dark-hundred," the IDF called it. Good and bad things started at oh-dark-hundred. If you started it, it was going to be great. If someone else did you were about to add new words to your personal Thesaurus of Suck.

Avi did not start this.

He sits bolt upright in his bed instantly fully awake, despite the fact he only fell asleep a couple of hours ago. He looks over at the phone cautiously, then reaches out to tap-swipe the phone to 'on' and put it on speaker. The IDF taught him important lessons about what happens to people who put the phone against their head when taking calls from strangers, too.

"You obviously know who I am, so let's get straight to it," he states in a tone that's too calm to be rude. Forceful, but calm. Never let them see you get rattled.

That one, the Ladder taught him.

Naturally, Rowan ignores her phone. Because what the holy fuckwaffle was that?! Ahem. Right. Still reeling, she glares at the thing, swipes up, ignores the second call, silences it with much cursing, tosses it under her pillow. It eventually ramps up to blaring volume, irritating even through the muffling layer of fluff, and she surrenders. Though not without protest.

"Fuuuuuck, what?!" is snarled into the phone, and she engages the speaker and drops it on the bed in front of her, so that she can resume rubbing her temples. That kind of psychic assault is jarring at best, and excruciating at worst. This was somewhere toward the latter end of the spectrum.

They receive different calls.

Avi's sounds like modem or fax machine noise at quintuple the rate played for a few seconds. The call ends, but the caller definitely knew, at the very least, that he’d be able to use Mind and Time to recall and slow down the message. Doing so breaks it down into an entire situation update he can now recall at will (+note outreach) and gives him a list of the five hopefuls now considered confirmed KIA (one) or MIA (four).

Rowan, conversely, snarls into her phone and gets only silence in reply for just a moment. Then the other end of the line erupts into noise. Gunfire on both sides and a chaos of background pan. The panting into the speaker is a raspy, discordant addition. The voice of Freddie Buck sounds like he’s in a state of heightened shock. “Ro! I need ex-“ There is a loud noise followed by a momentary whine. “-RO, GET OUT OF THE SK-“ The last thing she hears before the phone is destroyed and the call ends is her friend take a five round burst to the breastplate.

"Slow is fast," he was taught by a Guardian. After unwinding-and-replaying that message, Avi takes the time to breathe precisely seven times. It's time to stop being Avi Ben-David, who has no idea what magic is and scoffs that such a thing exists. It's time to start being the Cavalier, who sometimes pretends to be Avi Ben-David, and who believes magic is real more than he believes Avi ever was real.

When all's said and done Cavalier looks over to the bedroom window, which in the semidarkness acts like a ghostly mirror reflecting a sharply-dressed Guardian who's in calm command of the entire situation. The real Cavalier stares at the reflection a moment before shaking his head, and when he reopens his eyes his real reflection has reasserted itself. Cavalier's wearing boxers, not a three thousand euro suit, he's not a Guardian, and he's clearly rattled.

He reaches for his phone, picking it up and tapping out a quick message to the Friar.

BURNER 3.

He then opens his endtable, pulling out an envelope and emptying the SIM cards within onto the endtable. Switching the SIM card in his phone for the one marked '3', he reboots his phone and begins to get dressed while he waits. Once done he taps out another message.

NOT AVAILABLE TO ASSIST - MUST ATTEND TO OTHERS - ON YOUR OWN. GOOD LUCK.

It's going to be one of *those* days.

Rowan's turn to be in a state of shock, it seems. Annoyance immediately dissipates, and the girl stares at her phone in mingled confusion, denial and horror. "Freddie?" she yelps, fumbling for the device as it goes dark and silent. Frantically tap-swiping at the screen, she tries to reconnect with her fellow resident advisor, going increasingly pale -- and she was pretty pale to begin with! -- as the attempt obviously fails. Can't connect to a destroyed phone, after all.

Flinging the covers aside, she snatches up the phone and rushes from her room into the dormitory hallway. The place is, of course, mostly deserted these days. Covid-19 made it necessary to shut down the school early, for the summer. Some students, herself included, had little choice but to stay. Nowhere else to go. It's on those that she's resolved to check, hurrying down the hall and opening doors to peer inside with one hand, while the other tries to call up Dean Perkins on her phone. He'd have to know what was going on, right?

... Right?

MEEH. MEEH. MEEH. MEEH. Perkins’ phone is blown up in one sense or another. At least Rowan isn’t getting the ‘cannot be completed as dialed’ message. Not that it would matter too much even if she had gotten through, because she’s barely wandered out of her room when she’s throwing herself back into it; a figure flying towards a window that should be ugly grey sky outside catching the corner of her eye. Glass shards fly through the spot she was just a moment before, and a pair of combat boots land crunching on them as a fully armored figure comes rappelling into the building from the ceiling and is now not even ten feet from Rowan through the wall. His muffled voice is loud in the silence of the building. “Contact; fourth floor. Engaging.”

Meanwhile, Avi--or rather Cavalier--is rewarded with his wisdom in reaching out to someone for full disclosure despite not being required to. This reaching out is exactly what created that thread of connection between those involved. Which is exactly what enables L. Friar to reach back out to the one that contacted her despite having instructions to stay out of each other’s ways. There’s an emergency in progress, and she makes a judgment call just like he did.

…Which is how Avi ends up face-to-face with the previously unmet L. Friar. She wears a very smart suit, looks to be in some sort of political office (the flag pin suggests, at least), and has a sensible shoulder-length haircut. Her resting bitch face probably seems scenario-based, but it is, in fact, permanently etched into place. Her nimbus--a wash of judgment and self-inflicted stress--also has a strangely comforting professionalism to it, and it glows brightly to his Supernal senses. “Forgive the intrusion. I’m Friar, and there’s-“ No time. No time, indeed, as they hear that crash two stories above (distantly). “There are four people left here. I’ve just gone back in time nine minutes to try and save everyone’s lives, and, forgive me, but I need your help.”

Part of Cavalier's getting dressed routine involved an ugly black Sig-Sauer pistol tucked into custom crocodile-skin gunleather and hidden beneath his suitcoat: now it comes into play, held in his right hand with his finger off the trigger and muzzle aimed squarely at the ground. Old habits die hard, and all that. "Are we going to gossip, or are we going to do something?" Cavalier asks with an insouciance he doesn't really feel. He looks around to get himself oriented to the location: he's in ... a ... kitchen. Huh. Okay. He gives a faint cock of his head towards a knifeblock. "If you're not kitted out, might want to nick one of those," he suggests. Under stress his accent becomes particularly peculiar: when he's not trying to sound like an American he sounds like he learned the language in Switzerland from a Dutchman while trying to seduce his French classmates. Lots of different places.

Right. Fan-fucking-tastic. The school is under attack. Who attacks a school? Seriously? Nobody does, which tells Rowan that this isn't about the Villa St. Rose at all, but Outreach Initiative. And given that everyone here is.. 'special,' in some way, it's not an unwise assumption to make, that the attackers might be as well. So she's not taking chances.

It's only a matter of time before the few others on this floor start wandering out of their rooms, wondering what all the noise is about. So it's fairly crucial that she try to get this asshat off of the floor, lest her charges shuffle out into his line of fire. Focusing is a bit tricky at the moment, but she manages it -- after several moments of silence from behind the door the commando motherfucker had seen her duck back into, she bolts back out again, racing down the hall and around the nearest corner, fiery ponytail flying out behind her as she clears it at a dead sprint.

'Course, in reality, Rowan's still safely tucked away behind that door. Ahem.

"One sec, Die Hard," Friar gives Avi a look that could wither a thirsty frat boy on Cialis. "There's a merc waiting to shoot someone in the elevator." She pulls her hand away from where she has it on her hip to reveal a non-fatal but mobility-reducing wound she's been keeping pressure on. The damp spot over the hip bone of her slacks spreads a little more from the reduced pressure, then she puts her hand back on it. "You know what I didn't. Rescue the redhead and the two orphans on the fourth floor and meet me in the basement. I'm going after Perkins." Friar might seem a bit bossy for a peer, but she's just not very smooth in that way. The way she is smooth in is timing, and right as she finishes speaking, the elevator dings and opens up not six steps from Avi’s flank. She nods towards it. "He'll be halfway down the hall on your left. Don't get shot." Then she--ignoring whatever pain is in her hip--heads to the stairs. "We got three minutes!" For what, she does not say, but typically even an Awakened that can travel through time does not manipulate such things lightly. It is quite possible they are three minutes from utter catastrophe.

The downside of being told one’s mind is protected is even less likely to believe their eyes. The sound of suppressed automatic fire on the other side of that wall as faux-Rowan gets gunned down in the back is still shockingly loud in a place that is otherwise quiet, but as soon as that nose is made two other windows can be heard breaking on the floor. Meanwhile, one of the kids about to wander out of his room makes a sound like a scared puppy and slams his door back shut as 5.56 rounds flying out of some Eastern European M-15 clone pierce through the wall a bare foot over his head. “Secondary target down. Moving to bag kids.” He steps into the doorway Rowan hides besides, but his back is to it as he fires two rounds individually into “her” head to ensure the kill. No; these people are not fucking around.

In the elevator Cavalier begins his preparations. It all starts by pressing both buttons 3 and 4. As the doors close his hand goes to his belt, beneath his sport coat, where he withdraws a wickedly-curved kerambit knife. He transfers it to his left hand, slipping his left thumb through the ring on the pommel as he holds it in a reverse grip. A gun in his right, the Mastigos equivalent of a wand in his left, the anti-Harry Potter is ready for Hogwarts.

And then he begins to /speak/. But not in English, nor in French, not German, no human tongue at all. He begins to speak of Creation itself, in syllables so true they leave stellate fractures hanging in the air as the escape his lips. The Unknown Tongue has been revealed to the sorcerers of the world, and they use it without any hesitation. He speaks his desires into reality, the fractures hanging in the air like some strange supernatural chord that aches, demands, to be played.

Then the doors chime, and it opens to the third floor. Cavalier quickly taps each note with the tip of his kerambit, making them shatter in a beautiful cacaphony of chords too perfect to be real. Then he taps the DOORS OPEN button, which gives him another few seconds to pull off his plan, and steps out.

By law, the fire stairs must be right next to the elevators. And thus, he takes the stairs up the rest of the way... knowing that in a few seconds the elevator will hit the fourth floor, chime, and hopefully distract the shooter patrolling this area.

Faced with the concurrent realizations that firstly, this intruder isn't here to abduct or otherwise detain, but kill, and secondly, he's no longer the only one on her floor, Rowan does the only thing that has more than an icicle's chance in Satan's twat of keeping her alive: she stays down, stays hid.

Rowan can hear the crunch of boots on glass just behind her; on the other side of that doorway. She can hear another set approaching them and a different voice--also male, but older or gruffer. Maybe a smoker. “Nice! Where’s your kill?”

The first voice responds with a carefully angled then lifted muzzle point. “Right there with like six extra holes in her.” Any moment, that dissonance is going to break the illusion. However, the exact moment it should, the elevator to the fourth-floor dings.

Let’s zoom out for a moment to display this properly. So as that elevator dings, a well-armed goon outside of it hunkers down behind his corner at the hallway intersection with only one hand, his forearm, his weapon, and a single eye in view. Like a professional. Like someone ready to absolutely murder a dude in the elevator. But there’s no dude in the elevator. It is during his double-blink of disbelief that he misses the dude in question step out of his peripheral from the stairs and up against the wall. As Avi makes like wallpaper, the second intruder steps around that corner. He steps out as Rowan’s “killer” runs over and muzzle-thumps her “corpse” to ensure that she is “real”, does not see what the other man does, but recognizes a confounded pattern of behavior, and slips into central intersection of hallways, follows the path of bullets, and ducks into a door that was obviously open during their firing but is now shut.

There is a very brave nine year old Avi sees for not even a split second before a marble cracks his forehead open and sends the beginnings of what will be a lot of blood down over his face. One of the three people he is here to rescue just ambushed him. And Friar couldn’t warn him about it because her timeline deviated from her own when he took the stairs. So he avoided a shot in the hip but is now--in that instant--concussed in the doorway as the first guard in the hall is looking over, and everything is about to turn very, very bad.

Avi at least has the good sense not to swear or curse: he's still beneath notice until, unless, he's foolish enough to /make/ himself noticed. So instead, he falls back against the wall, slumping down to a low crouch as he clutches at his forehead and inhales sharply. Unnoticed by him, at the end of the hallway a version of Avi in the uniform of an IDF commando -- Sayeret Matkal -- looks on at him, clearly disapproving: how did /that/ destiny become the real one?

As reality sets in for her attacker and her illusion fades, Rowan draws a breath, coming to grips with the fact that this is gonna take a direct confrontation. Her faithful companion has been patiently waiting, despite visibly yearning to lunge out of hiding and tear out some throats. Now, the redhead gives Cara the green light, as it were. Girl and wolamute enter the hallway, and together, rush the intruder who's uncomfortably near Timmy's door. The beast takes him down with a powerful leap and merciless tackle, with Rowan stepping in to deliver a blow to the man's face once he's prone. Alas, he retains consciousness.

The salt of blood in eyes is felt by Avi as his forehead goes from unblemished to split to gushing in all of a moment. The brave, terrified young man is pulling back another marble with freakishly large forearms when he senses that the man he just assaulted isn’t a threat at all, but trying to help him. Feeling guilty, scared, and excited, he ceases cocking another giant marble into his wrist rocket to point at the bullet holes in his wall. They’re almost as neat on the inside as they were on the outside, but he isn’t trying to point out that the intruders are using armor-piercing rounds. He’s pointing out the obvious! “They’re gonna kill us!” And that is when his chin begins to jump up and down, his eyes pool with water, and his Popeye arms flow back into the rest of his body to even out. Clearly, this is no normal boy.

Guard two is rushing towards the elevator as the one staring at it turns and cries out, “Hey!” It’s a call to his buddy, but it gives Rowan just the head’s up she needs to get her head down as a three-round burst comes dangerously close to where it was. The man on the ground is trying to point his gun at Cara’s chest when the dog manages to get that big maw on his throat and rip it out as viciously as a wolf with a threatened pup.

The guard turns back from the elevator. They’re about to have two men with fully automatic weapons mowing the floor down.

Avi looks up and over at the kid across the hall with a look that borders on the murderous. He lifts his left hand, the one holding the kerambit, but the knife is held perpendicular to the kid so that he can lift a single finger up as if to tell the offender they were going to have /words/ later. Then Avi kicks out with his leg to close the door -- and hopefully the kid is smart enough to think Avi's trying to save him, rather than the truth:

Avi is not Avi at all. Avi is the Cavalier, and the Cavalier is /angry/.

Cavalier turns to look down the hallway at a scene that's quickly getting out of hand. Under other, normal circumstances, Cavalier would care about things like subtlety and finesse and avoiding conflict and everything else the Guardians care about. Under these circumstances, well. These circumstances are /different/, and let the bodies hit the floor.

Cavalier lifts his kerambit, the edge glowing with Supernal force as it focuses Cavalier's knowledge, his understanding, his desire, his Will, until Cavalier's /intent/ carves its way through the Fallen World and exposes the Supernal reality beneath it. He makes a sudden vicious slash with the kerambit leaving a silver-blue streak glowing in the air, and just like /that/ one of the Lies of the Fallen World is revealed.

Namely, the lie that one of the gunmen ever had anything even vaguely resembling free will.

A puppet on Cavalier's marionette strings, the gunman who's covering the hallway for his friend who's going into the elevator suddenly has a change of heart. He will now kill for Cavalier, kill for the Silver Ladder. Kill anyone and everyone the Silver Ladder says must die.

His friend in the elevator must die.

The Silver Ladder has, through their infinite mercy and compassion, given this unworthy slug of a human being the opportunity to show he can do one thing well.

/Kill your friend. Lots./

And with the borderline-orgasmic joy that comes from fully embracing the fact his will has been enslaved by a Warlock -- an embrace which, to be honest, he had no choice in, nor any choice in how good it feels --

-- he goes about doing *just* *that*.

Well, then. The fact that Rowan's punch to the face of the poor idjit on the floor in front of her didn't actually knock him out apparently doesn't matter anymore, since.. uh. He no longer has a throat, courtesy of Cara. Doesn't get much more knocked-out than that, does it? Her fingers reach out to smooth 'round behind the animal's left ear, a somewhat inappropriate show of affection, given the overall situation. But fuck that. Her companion just killed for her.

Good girl.

Now, then. To deal with the asshole that just shot at her head. Er.. the second asshole that shot at her head. Her real head, this time. Except..

Rowan's head tilts, as she watches the fellow's will get stripped away more surely than.. well, than her clothes did last night. Ahem. "That works." Need more be said? Apparently so. She looks to Avi and asks, "Who the fuck are you?"

Gunfire within ten yards is very loud. Even a 5.56 round, which is fairly quiet, is extremely loud to the untrained ear. The series of double taps that is sent from one guard--that was about to full-auto at Rowan and her dog Cara--towards the other coming back from the elevator is responded to with a scream of "Friendly fi-AHWA! HOLD YOUR FIRE!" and then a frantic full-auto burst that empties the man's magazine and leaves far more bullets in the dominated man that was required to end the mental effect. The guard by the elevator--the only one left on the fourth floor, now--attempts to fall back towards the elevator while trying to hit the push-to-talk on his radio. Unfortunately, his wound prevents him from lifting his hand high enough, and he's going to have to drop his weapon or switch to his off-hand to make that happen.

A boy unseen until now pokes a terrible, self-inflicted haircut into the hall and cries out towards Rowan (and presumably the rest) before sprinting his scrawny self to the other elevator--and lifting a hand to force the door open with will alone before the elevator rises into view...

...To reveal Dean Perkins in a bathrobe holding both hands over a very bloody mess of abdomen. On his right, supporting him with a tiny frame, is L. Friar. She's screaming, "I TOLD IT TO GO TO THE BASEMENT!" She looks very pale, and the left side of her pant suit is darker with blood than the right. On his left, Brendan is covered in even more blood, but none of it is his own. Most of it belongs to Perkins, and whom he was trying to heal when they had to dive into the elevator.

Ushering her young charges as swiftly as she can manage ahead of her -- well, one of them, since Haircut has already raced on to the elevator -- Rowan tries not to think about what's just transpired. Or Freddie. Or who knows who else. Hell, she tries not to think at all, favoring instinct and action, just now. Cara pads after her, muzzle soaked in blood fresh from her kill. A wary eye, both canine and human, is cast back in the other direction until the elevator is reached, and.. "Perkins? Brendan!" Rowan swoops forward to fret over the young man, not realizing just yet that the blood didn't come out of him, but from some other source.

Cavalier climbs to his feet, then opens the door he just kicked shut to reveal the kid on the other side. "Dean Perkins is at the other elevator. Go to him."

Then Cavalier walks over to the scene of the slaughter, where the mind-zorched goon is quickly bleeding out as his buddy falls back. "I didn't kill him," the zorched minion pleads, more heartbroken over that fact than he's imminently going to die.

"I did tell you to kill him /lots/," Cavalier remarks as he rips off the gunman's magazine pouch, grabs a spare, and reloads the Kalashnikov.

"I'm sorry," the minion wails.

"I don't care," Avi says as he fishes through the man's pockets for identification, wallet, papers, maps, anything, really. Once he's done that he takes a quick snapshot of the dying man with his cell phone, then stands up and backs out to the elevator, firing a few rounds in the direction of the other gunman in order to encourage him to stay down.

"I'm all right," Brendan tells Rowan. "We need to get him out of here." 'Him' being Dean Perkins, who isn't in such great shape. He helps support the bleeding Dean, though he lets L. Friar take the lead. He's just trying to heal on the go. It's not easy, because he needs to lay on hands, and this just really isn't the time or place.

"Who are you?" he asks the woman leading them. "What's going on?" To Rowan, he says, "Are you okay? Is Cara okay?" Because of course he's going to be concerned if the dog is all right.

The elevator--once again now that no psychic is interrupting it--is going down once more. This time from the fourth floor to the basement. Good thing Friar hitting all the buttons didn’t reverse the kid’s power, or those upstairs would have had to go through an injured man in an elevator, and that’s probably neither fast nor safe, and it’s definitely not both. Friar looks at her little, gold watch and sucks in a breath between her teeth. “We have about a minute to get to the mud room at the other end of the basement,” he tells everyone in a low, no-nonsense tone. “After that, they’ll have the net-“ She doesn’t mean a literal net, but she isn’t going to explain that right now, “-tight around us and there’s no escape.” She glances at Avi--eyes lifting to his split-open forehead--then looks back to the door. “You go left, I’ll go right. No time to waste.” She then turns and looks at Rowan and has a very strange reaction for two people that have never met, but even though she opens her mouth to speak and her eyes water a little, she doesn’t say anything. She just holds her pistol at the low ready--no longer bothering to try and stop her hip from bleeding--and waits for that door to open.

Perkins is in a state. He lost a lot of blood, yes, but the round was coated in something that’s burnt to a light-purple ash that literally boiled in his body until Brendan manages to push it towards the surface with his power and then manually extract with his hand; getting singed in the process even as his stomach rips internally. He’s not trying to talk, because he’s smarter than that. People have things in order. All he’s focused on is getting his hands back onto that wound and pushing down as hard as he can to make sure he’s not bleeding out whenever no one else is. His eyes stay uncharacteristically straight ahead; intentionally avoiding blood while trying to stay open.

The elevator dings, the door opens, and there are no waiting enemies to slay them. This floor was a good call, but Friar is going to need something special to get everyone out of here without exploding into a wrathful ball of Paradox, and time is limited. She limps forward in great pain that she forces herself to ignore as she rushes towards her ultimate destination and then--in a hurry--throws herself into and fails to budge. “Die Hard!” She says in pain. “In here!” She turns and looks at the others, “Everyone in here! We’re going on a ride!”

Brendan grimaces as his body takes on the damage. It's more damage than he was anticipating, and with his cropped tank top, one can see bruises unfurling across his abdomen as tissue tears and blood surfaces to the skin. He looks at the burning hot round in his hand and quickly drops it. "Come on," he says to the dean. "We can do this."

It hurts to move. It especially hurts to knock the door open, but he sucks it up. He knew when he started healing the dean that this was going to hurt. Just. Not this badly. He leans against the door frame after the opening the door. "You guys go. I'll follow."

As Cavalier stands there waiting for someone to open the doors, keeping his rifle aimed above people's heads but ready to lower it if he needs to, he gives an aside comment to Friar. "That remark I made earlier? _Spartan,_ by David Mamet. Not _Die Hard._ Mamet's dialogue is snappier." Apparently, even in a crisis Cavalier takes pride in enjoying a higher grade of cinema. Once the doors are open he waits for others to exit -- because although it would be nice if the armed guy exited first, it's just dangerous to barge through bodies with a loaded firearm -- before exiting himself. Upon exiting he heads left, as Friar directed.

Rowan eyes up Friar with some serious squintwork going on, but.. more important matters, at the moment. Plenty of time to investigate weird watery-eyed looks later on. Provided the woman doesn't die in the interim, if course. Provided they all don't die in the interim.

There's a door. It bars their path. Rowan disapproves of this, and rolls up her sleeves in the most purposefully figurative fashion she can muster -- which basically translates to: she pumps a little extra strength into her muscles. Then she proceeds to throw herself at the door.

Which is right about when Brendan knocks it open. With a shriek, the tiny redhead sails right through the open doorway with way too much momentum, stumbles, and falls face-first onto the floor inside the mud room. How fucking embarrassing.

Rowan's failure nearly gets her impaled on a mop (in a bad way, in case that isn't a given), but she manages to merely trip over it and go prone onto the metal, gridwork floor of the mud room. Friar follows her in with a flinch, and then quickly rushes to help her up; left hand on the wall to support her injured hip as she does. Once she gets Rowan onto her feet, however, she can't help but hug the equally short but much younger woman; failing to fully stop her lips from trembling. She looks like she's just hugged a ghost, but then she pushes Rowan back to arm's length and speaks quickly. "Everyone here on the grid. Fully on it." She starts to lower herself into a squat and releases a pained cry as she discovers that her hip is not ready to sit or squat. At least Avi knows why she was just leaning in the kitchen when she summoned him now. Flopping down sideways onto her right hip, she pulls a handful of mismatched coins out of her pocket and starts to chant in a language utterly alien to everyone's ears ('cept Avi's), but still possibly familiar in some way. This isn't like hearing Cantonese for the first time when you're from Utah. This is like hearing for the first time when you're deaf.

Meanwhile, both elevators that lead to the basement have dinged, danged, donged; the one on their left, that they came through, almost to the first floor. The one on the right is currently at the 2nd floor, but already heading down. A column of boots running through the main floor above them are hard to miss despite the famously sound construction of the place.

"Ignore them!" Friar screams as her cool is breaking under pressure. She's had twice the bad day anyone else here has. "Come to me. Grab the grid. Quick!" She lifts her hands and releases the coins.

They do not drop, but spin, glowing, in place.

Cavalier looks over at the glowing coins but not in a "what the hell are those?" way: more of a, "oh, those" ways. It's clearly not the weirdest thing he's done today. He moves into position as Friar suggests, his left hand taking hold of the grid as his right keeps the Kalashnikov shouldered. As the first elevator dings its arrival, he discharges a brief burst of fire through the still-closed doors as a way of encouraging the people within into delaying looking out for a second or two. They might /need/ those seconds.

Okay, well, Rowan had already been somewhat flushed, having belly-flopped absolutely derptastically in front of everyone, but as Friar goes all lip-wobbly and snatches her into a hug, that blush deepens. Strange lady practically crying and embracing her. That's not weird at all. Nope. Which is probably why, while the blonde touchy-feeler is putting herself through a whole lot of discomfort trying to save all their asses, Rowan is... staring at her. Yep, simple and straightforward stare. Nothing hinky going on under the surface, nope.

Brendan pushes off the door frame and even though he stumbles when he moves to the grid, he catches himself with practiced grace. When he reaches the grid, he goes down on one knee and grips it. The floating coins get a look, but right now, he's not sure how to process them, so he just doesn't. Nope. Going to do what he's told and hope it all works out. He does have enough presence of mind to make sure the dean is all right, and right there with them.

There’s a building energy in the mudroom. There is an exit right next to them they could rush out of, as is the case with most mudrooms (how else would someone come in that way and get the mud off their shoes and gear otherwise?), but Friar continues to act as if it doesn’t exist. Probably because running outside right now is almost as dangerous as waiting for those elevators to come down to the basement. The coins spin faster, and faster, and then one of them shoots down into the grid and can be heard skittering through that drain to another location. Perkins--right from Brendan’s grip--vanishes with that coin. A blink later, Tommy is gone and his wrist-rocket is falling to the ground where he was standing. Before the mind can really process it, bad haircut kid is gone, too. Brendan and Rowan disappear together.

Then there is a pause. It’s brief, but given the haste of the last couple minutes, it feels longer. A teary-eyed Lisa Friar looks up at Avi’s bloody face and tells him, “This went way better with you here.” Tears spill from her eyes, but then he, like everyone before him, experiences the rush of zooming through pipes, wires, and other objects to reach various destinations. In his case, it is the very place she pulled him from. His apartment.

Rowan and Brendan will find themselves next to a pit in the ground. Or--actually--some very convincing street art. They were sent to somewhere safe in her mind; a big, square warehouse down by the river.

The children and Perkins? Hopefully somewhere safe.

Rowan immediately recognizes their location, though that doesn't prevent her from swaying on her feet and groaning in the aftermath of the trip here. Seriously, what the french, toast? Reflexively, she reaches out to try to grab hold of Brendan as though to lean on him for support, realizing almost too late that he's.. uh. Kinda the one needing support, right about now. "Oh fuck," she utters quietly, shaking off what remained of her dazed state and moving swiftly to prop her friend up. "Okay. Fuck. Let's get you inside, there's someone here who can help. Trust me."

Brendan sits up with some effort. "Yeah, he was more hurt than I thought he was," he says. The pain is wrought on his face, and there are nasty bruises across his midriff. He gets to his feet shakily. "I want to call Garrett. I want to make sure he's okay." He winces, then says, "Maybe we'll see your guy first."

In his bedroom, Cavalier sits down the edge of his bed and stares for a long few seconds at the only part of the rifle he was able to keep hold of: the three-point sling. For a moment it seems as if he's going to handle this just fine, up until it's clear he's going to handle it very far from fine. The adrenaline crash feels almost exactly like an anxiety attack, just as unpleasant, as horrifying, until Cavalier is hunched over his toilet depositing last night's dinner -- what little is left of it -- into the plumbing. And yet, it's strange: vomiting is like Nature's reset switch. It's horrific, it's awful, but then it's done and the nausea ebbs. Cavalier straightens up, flushes, and moves over to his sink to brush his teeth.

You know. Just as he normally does at six in the morning on other, more normal days.