With A Bit Of Luck

Starring: Ace Park, Colin Chambers, Marquis Rook Hale, Izzy Follet
Date: July 8, 2014

Summary: Rook, Colin, Izzy, and Ace go on a mission to rescue some hostages.


Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/8/2009 11:13:03 PM)

Ace paced back and forth over the top of the helipad capping the Kx Internation building. He was irritated, which was pretty normal.

Colin and the new guy were late. And there was a headwind, so they were already going to lose seven to nine minutes. And in a hostage situation like this, time was critical.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/8/2009 11:17:04 PM)

Colin burst through the roof access door. "Sorry sorry sorry…" He bent over, barely managing to get his footing before falling flat on his face. A flash grenade slipped from its strap on his vest and clattered to the ground.

He scooped it up and continued to jog toward the helicopter.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/8/2009 11:18:45 PM)

I haven't even met my teammates yet, but already I've been called out on a mission. Luckily, I drive fast. I'm thinking about moving, though. Find a nice flat closer to 'work', to make these drives a little shorter. I don't mind the travel time, but I guess being at work on time is important now.

Someone was already on the stairs ahead of me, so I followed him up and out the roof access door. I stand, staring a moment at the helicopter. I've never been in one of these before. I have images of us sliding down ropes onto the ground in some steamy jungle, AK-47s blazing…

It's probably not going to be that fun, though. I jog over, ducking down when I start feeling a little too close to the spinning blades for comfort.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/8/2009 11:25:09 PM)

Ace's eyes flicked up as he heard the rooftop door open to Colin come running out, dropping a grenade. Perfect.

"You're late." he said, as he began walking backward toward the helicopter, keeping his eyes on Colin.

"You do kno-" he stopped talking abruptly, and tripped over his own feet, falling to the ground, eyes fixated on the new arrival.

"Holy… fucking… shit… fuck. Tits. Oh my god." he spluttered in horror, frantically pushing himself onto his hands and doing an awkward and ineffective crab-walk type motion as he scrambled to get away.

"Are you fucking… Jesus!" he cursed, not even able to finish the individual thoughts.

"Who the hell are you?" he managed to finally string together, once he had more or less maximized the amount of space between them on the roof.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/8/2009 11:27:44 PM)

"I know, I know! I couldn't find my access card! Aria was over and then I slept in and I—"

He raised an eyebrow, turning to see the new guy. He waved a little, then turned to watch Ace continue to spaz out.

"Dude."

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/8/2009 11:36:11 PM)

"Hey, first day on the job," I say, like that makes it better. I know, matters of life and death and so on. I figure I'll introduce myself and we'll hop on board and go save the world.

Until our Senior Team Member starts freaking out.

"Um…I'm Izzy. Izzy Follet. I guess I'm the new guy?" I look to Colin, who seems unconcerned with me, and then back to Ace. Thoroughly confused.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/8/2009 11:39:12 PM)

"Izzy." he looked over at Colin, then back to Izzy.

"There is no way in hell I am getting on a helicopter with you. Do you have any idea what… Hell I can't even tell what that," he gestured vaguely around Izzy, "is. It's like staring at static."

Ace looked distinctly uncomfortable, and maybe even a little green.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/8/2009 11:45:06 PM)

Colin looked between Izzy and Ace.

"Um, I'm Colin. He's not normally like that," he said to Izzy. "Are you doing something? Something, you know, sigil-y?"

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/8/2009 11:51:16 PM)

I…think I'm offended. I glare at Ace, taking a step forward. "What the fuck is your problem? I was assigned to go on this mission, and…"

Turning my head, I look back at Colin. "Yes. I don't see why that matters, though. It's nothing you can feel."

Curious, though, I'll concentrate on 'shutting it off'. Just to see if it makes a difference. I've never had anyone react like that before.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/8/2009 11:56:08 PM)

As soon as Izzy's power winked off Ace started breathing easier and looking distinctly less sick.

He cautiously pulled himself to his feet, staring at Izzy warily.

"What. The. Hell." he approached Izzy curiously, and warily poked him in the arm, as if to check if he was for real, looking ready to bolt the second the effect was reactivated.

"What was that?" he said, unsettled, his normal ascerbic nature forgotten.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/8/2009 11:57:44 PM)

Colin frowned, and found himself wondering if Ace spazzed out again and threw himself off of the roof, would he be able to fix that?

Which brought up the more important question: Would he want to?

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/8/2009 11:59:25 PM)

"What the fuck is going on?" I ask as I approach, pausing to give the new guy a look for a moment, trying to process. Apparently, New Guy has done something to bother Ace. But what? I'd read the file on him and there wasn't anything in there about psionics or something that might have this kind of…impact.

And now there's poking.

"Okay. Seriously."

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 12:01:54 AM)

"That was my Sigil," I start to tug at my pant leg to show him, but it'll still be hidden under the boots I'm wearing. I seriously consider punching him in the goddamn face when he pokes me like I'm some kind of science experiment, but, I don't.

I turn when I hear a voice behind me. I did review some information, so I know this one is Rook, the team leader. I guess I could attempt some kind of respect.

"I guess my Sigil freaks him out….sir." Do we have to say sir? "I think they call it probability manipulation."

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 12:06:37 AM)

"Probability… manipulation" Ace repeated slowly.

"It looked to me like… chaos. It was like staring at… and hearing static." Ace couldn't remember the last time he'd been surprised by anything. He'd forgotten what the sensation felt like. It was strange, and uncomfortable. He started at Izzy suspiciously.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 12:09:55 AM)

"So… there's supposed to be this kid?" He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "That we're supposed to be saving?" He looked at Rook. "Am I the only one who remembers this?"

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 12:12:46 AM)

I shake my head a little at being called sir. It's the second time today, too. God. "Rook Hale. Choose one or the other. No sir."

When Izzy explains his ability is probability manipulation, I make a quiet sound of pleased surprise. Considering how often things fly on nothing more than luck, that'll be good to have at hand. But then, there's Ace. Shit. Now I'm starting to see what happened here.

"You discern patterns and he's constantly changing them around him. Fabulous. Ace, don't look at him. Izzy, try not to do what you do while he's working. And get on the fucking helicopter."

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 12:28:47 AM)

"Um…okay," So I can't have my Sigil on while Ace is doing anything? What use am I, then? I guess we'll see.

But, we've been ordered onto the helicopter, and I manage to awkwardly climb into it and find a seat.

It's my first time. I'll get better at this.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 12:29:38 AM)

"No," this was ridiculous. They couldn't seriously expect him to work with this?

"There's no way I'm getting on a helicopter with him. He might make it blow up. Or fall out of the sky. Or turn into … marshmallows."

Ace had always thought the essence of a good mission was planning and preparation. What could possibly have possessed them to hire this guy? Maybe put him on payroll so they could stick him in a lab and study him but…

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 12:32:01 AM)

Colin climbed in after Izzy, taking a seat next to him. He extended his hand. "I'm Colin. Again. I'm here in case you get shot. I can fix it."

He leaned in. "Ace is pretty much grumpy all the time. You get used to it. Don't take it personally."

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 12:37:27 AM)

"He's not going to fucking turn it into marshmallows, okay? It's probability manipulation for his benefit, not for his death," I snap.

If Ace refuses to go, though, I have no problem leaving him behind. I'll get into the helicopter to settle in.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 12:40:19 AM)

"Hey, nice to meet you. Izzy," I know I said that, but I'll say it again as I shake Colin's hand. "I usually don't get shot since…" Wait. If I can't use my sigil, I'm just a regular person with no abilities and nothing to keep me from getting murdered.

"You might be my new best friend, Colin."

I lean forward, looking at Ace.

"Get in fucking helicopter, you pussy. You're wasting time."

I love the English language. So many curses.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 12:43:20 AM)

"Fuck. Oh god."Ace gritted his teeth and climbed into the helicopter, sitting as far away from Izzy as possible.

"Just… don't turn that thing on in here, please?"

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 12:45:50 AM)

Colin blinked, his eyes widening at Izzy. He turned to look at Ace, then at Rook, then back to Izzy.

"Dude." He turned back to Rook, wondering if Izzy was going to get in trouble.

He leaned closer to Izzy, speaking quietly. "You're my hero."

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 12:49:54 AM)

I can't laugh at Izzy calling Ace a fucking pussy. I can't laugh at Izzy calling Ace a fucking pussy. I am the field leader and must be above these things.

When Colin looks at me, I'm coughing into my fist to try to hide the fact that I'm shaking with barely restrained laughter.

Finally, I get myself under control again and clear my throat. "He'll turn it on when he needs it. He's useless if he can't use it, Ace."

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 12:58:19 AM)

Well, that went well. I expected to get yelled at, but I didn't. Even if I did? It would have been worth it.

"Can someone review the details with me? I know there's a boy in hostage situation, yes?" There, if we keep this conversation on business, I'll stop swearing at Ace.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 1:01:23 AM)

"Hostages, including some diplomat's kid. Someone called in a favour and we get to pick up the pieces."

Concentrate on the mission and stop panicking. Concentrate on the mission and stop panicking

"Since there's lots of people around, they sent us. We're the subtler ones."

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 1:04:15 AM)

"Is, it, what's it called. Lethal? Are we using stunners and tranqs? Or bullets?" He pointed at his belt. "I have one of each."

He just hoped he didn't get them confused.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 1:07:13 AM)

"For hostage situations protocol is to go lethal," I respond to Colin's question. I'm frowning and looking at Ace, though.

"Is there any way you can operate while he's using his Sigil? Because at this point one or the other of you is going to be nothing more than a warm body."

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 1:09:33 AM)

"I will check. Once we are safely on the ground." Maybe he could filter out Izzy's noise? He hadn't really tried something like that before.

"Or you could stick me on top of a building with a sniper rifle. You know how well I can shoot." if he didn't, he should. He was team leader and that was the reason they had files after all.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 1:10:13 AM)

I nod, listening and checking my weapons. I'm no pro, but it's not like I've never fired a gun before. I've put in a lot of time at the firing range lately, too. I'm suddenly glad I did.

I don't know how much it's going to help if I actually have to shoot a person, though.

"I'm fine with being a warm body, as long as I'm a warm, alive body," I point out. Still, I think this will go a lot better if we can both work our Sigils.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 1:14:18 AM)

""I will check. Once we are safely on the ground." Maybe he could filter out Izzy's noise? He hadn't really tried something like that before.

"Or you could stick me on top of a building with a sniper rifle. You know how well I can shoot." if he didn't, he should. He was team leader and that was the reason they had files after all.

He spoke to Izzy without really looking at him. "Maybe you could… tone it down or direct it or something?" Oh damnit they were making him be polite.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 1:20:24 AM)

Colin nodded. Lethal. Check. That was the gun on the left.

Or was it right?

No, wait. Definitely left.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 1:23:16 AM)

"See if you can screen it out. Otherwise, you're on sniper duty. Hopefully if you're not too close to him it won't fuck you over." I'm not sure how far Izzy's ability will extend, though. It'd be a bit like chaos theory, right? Every little thing he does is going to effect something else. Being within a block of him might mess with Ace.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 1:28:19 AM)

"I can try," I almost feel guilty. Almost. Obviously what I can do bothers him. Even if it's amusing as hell, I shouldn't want to torture him.

At least not during a mission. Later on, sure. I'm going to torment the fuck out of him for my own amusement. Right now, though, I'll be good.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 1:32:18 AM)

"We can try when we get out of the helicopter. I should be able to tell whether I can filter him out, or if he can direct it enough not to make me useless, and not make me sick." And not cause an earthquake. And not make a meteor squish us all.

"If not… well just put me on the far side of the building from where you want to enter."

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 1:43:43 AM)

"Fine. That's what we'll do, then," I tell Ace and Izzy, frowning just a bit.

I'm sure that Ace's ordered worldview is thrown into chaos by Izzy, but I don't think he's as dangers as Ace thinks. If he was, he wouldn't be here. He'll be useful, I'm sure. Somehow. Or maybe Croft's just lost his damn mind.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 1:47:47 AM)

"I promise I've never turned anything into marshmallows," He was worried about that, right? Marshmallows? "I always think of it as luck. Good luck for me, bad luck for people I don't like."

I'm not certain I like Ace all that much. He should still be safe, though.

I shift in my seat, feeling nerves building. Nerves are good, though. They keep you sharp.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 1:50:36 AM)

"Right. Good."

Ace jumped as he felt their altitude, start dropping, and looked out the window with a little bit more panic than he would be able to explain away as nerves. It took a moment to realize they were dropping because they were landing, not because Izzy had made the fuel line fall out or something.

"We're here" he muttered.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 1:53:16 AM)

He wiped his clammy palms on his thighs, looking at the others as he undid the safety belt across his chest.

Left gun. No, wait, right. Oh shit.

He pulled out the left pistol. It was the one with bullets.

Phew.

Head shots or chest shots. Head shots or chest shots. Shoot the bad guys before they shoot you.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 1:58:31 AM)

Once we've landed, I'll get out, sparing the other three a brief look. Every last one of them looks like he's on the verge of pissing his pants in one way or another. This isn't going to go well, is it?

"Okay, before we do anything we need to see if Ace can work around Izzy somehow. And try not to waste time dicking around."

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 2:02:18 AM)

Out of the copter, I nod to Rook and then look over to Ace. "I'm going to try and focus it away from you, alright? Just…try not to freak out."

Once again, back home, it's okay. Right now? No.

My tiny little Sigil flares to life, hidden under my sock and instantly I try to keep it away from him. It's all mental, which I'm not that good at. Visualizing something that isn't there, and nudging it away from him. Hopefully, it works.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 2:09:05 AM)

Ace stepped out of the copter, and nodded at Izzy's explanation, bracing himself.

"Ok… well… that's not as bad. If I don't look at you I can probably.. Here. Let me try something and we'll see. It's less of an assault on the sense at any rate." he picked up a small rock in his hand and focused, his sigil glowing more brightly under his clothes. Sticking his tongue between his teeth, he three the stone.

It performed a ricochet off a flagpole, a fire hydrant and the trunk of a tree before landing neatly back in his hand.

Ace looked over at Rook and shrugged "I can't look directly at him, but I can hear over the noise now, and my power still seems to work… I guess I can probably go inside if he can maintain that."

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 2:14:01 AM)

Colin shook his head. Ace was such a complicator.

"So… kid? Right?" He shifted uncomfortably. "I'm in the rear?"

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 2:15:49 AM)

I cross my arms, watching Izzy and Ace with a frown. All I can see is the effect on Ace, which is frustrating. There's no visual signal of the ability whatsoever. It's not like Ari's speed or Jax's ice. It just lurks in the background.

When Ace is able to use his ability without going into convulsions on the ground or something, I nod, satisfied. "Good."

"Ace, you're up front with me. Izzy, you stay in the rear with Colin." He'll be out of Ace's line of sight that way, but hopefully will be lending his inhuman luck to Colin as well.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 2:21:03 AM)

Well, good. I think this will work. All the same, I'm very happy to be stuck in the back with the healer. People in front of me to absorb bullets, someone next to me to help in case I get hit.

"See? Best friends," I grin at Colin, my hand resting on my gun. Rook seems competent, Colin seems…well. Nice.

I think I'd like to get to know them better if we make it out alive.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 2:26:45 AM)

"Ok." Ray studied the building.

"Intel said they were holed up on the third floor of the complex and by the arrangement of standard police, they still think they're there. It doesn't look like they've sent anyone in yet, though, not enough talking on comms. I had Mason send me the building schematics and I looked at them while I was waiting for you guys and there's three staircases" Ace pointed at each point of the triangular multilevel office complex.

"Without more information, I can't tell you how likely it is that all of the stairways are covered. Any thoughts boss?"

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 2:27:57 AM)

He offered a tight smile to Izzy, but stayed silent.

Colin turned from Ace to look at Rook, awaiting his verdict.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 2:39:40 AM)

Hostage situations really aren't anything I have much experience with. Collateral damage was an unfortunate, but common, occurance in the military, after all. I listen closely to Ace, looking at the building as he points, brow knotted in thought.

"Too bad we don't have a teleporter or something," I comment as I frown, thinking.

"I hate going in blind, but without more intelligence we're going to have to." I glance towards the building again, thinking. "Any of those staircases feeling particularly lucky to anybody?"

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 2:47:02 AM)

"It's a good thing I'm here," I mutter in Euskara. I doubt any of my teammates even know what language it is, much less how to speak it.

He's asking for luck, though, and that's what I'm here for. I consider our possible routes, my eyes closing while I think them over.

"That one." I point to the furthest corner, confidence in my voice. "I think that's our staircase."

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 2:51:00 AM)

Ace sighed uneasily. He didn't do luck.

"If that's the case then they'll be guarding this side, which means watching the main entrance. We would either have to go in through the roof, the sewer or break through the far wall if we want to maintain the element of surprise."

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 2:52:27 AM)

He turned to Izzy. "Anything he picks must be pretty lucky, right?" He looked at Rook, pretty confident in Izzy's choice, turning to the building as Ace spoke.

"Kid's on the third floor? Then… maybe the roof?" It seemed to make the most sense.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 2:53:34 AM)

I look at Izzy, then shrug a bit. He's our lucky man, so I'll trust him on this. Hopefully he's right.

Ace is still clearly uncomfortable with this, but he isn't twitching on the ground, so we're still good. "Yeah, the roof should be our best bet, then."

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 2:55:35 AM)

"Yeah, I'd say go with the roof." Makes sense to me. It feels right. And they're willing to go with it…

…I suddenly realize this mission hangs on what amounts to my gut feeling about the whole thing. Oh, God, I hope I'm right about this.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 2:56:12 AM)

"Does that mean.. back into the helicopter" he winced. Damn, his nerves were on edge. He was going to need a week of vacation after this.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 3:00:18 AM)

He looked at Ace, a slight grin growing on his face as he replayed Izzy calling him a pussy again.

He rolled his eyes as he jumped back into the cabin of the helicopter. But not in a way that Ace would see. "Come on, guys."

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 3:01:31 AM)

"Unless we've all spontaneously gained the ability to fly, yes."

I'm fully confident that Izzy isn't going to cause the copter to drop out of the sky, so have no qualms in heading back to it to do a drop on the roof. Maybe if we can get through this without any serious problems Ace will start to relax a bit around the new guy. I can hope, at least.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/9/2009 3:09:07 AM)

The helicopter does not, in fact, fall out of the sky or fall apart or turn into damn marshmallows. We're fine.

And I'm fine until the 'jumping out of the helicopter' part of my vision becomes a reality. We're not too far up. If I fell, I probably wouldn't die. And we have a healer. I'm fine, it's fine, it's fine…

I won't admit to closing my eyes as I slide down the rope, my feet landing on the roof after a few tense seconds. See? Just fine.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/9/2009 3:18:09 AM)

Ace and the rest of the team arrived, miraculously, on the roof without dying. It was unguarded, and nobody had been up there in … at least two months. Ace quickly looked around the service door to the inside of the building. There was an alarm at the top, and he slipped a magnetic strip under it, keeping it from sounding. He quickly removed a roll of picks from his gear… and shot a look at Izzy.

Ah, what the hell

he tried the handle. It was unlocked. He slipped the picks back into their pouch and silently signalled Rook that the door was disarmed and unlocked.

Lucky or not, he was letting the invincible guy take the lead.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/9/2009 3:19:23 AM)

Colin shimmied down the rope quickly, if not gracefully, moving to stand next to Izzy as he pulled his pistol from its holster again. The right one, too.

He stayed back, his gun low. He flicked the safety off.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/9/2009 3:22:19 AM)

Once I slide down the rope, I follow Ace over towards the service door and…

…well. That was better than picking it or breaking it down, wasn't it? I shoot Izzy a look, hoping we don't start to get lazy with that kind of luck on our side, before I move in front to start down the stairs, my pistol in my hands. While I don't have to worry too much about being shot, I can't say the same for the people behind me, so I move quietly and cautiously.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 12:33:17 AM)

((||"If he was in there, he'd be lucky enough to not be a hostage, dude."||))

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 12:43:50 AM)

See? So far so good. I feel useful, suddenly. No one's killed us yet, the door is unlocked…

I can't quite push aside the anxiety over the stairs, though. I could be wrong. What if I'm wrong? I'm usually not. I have no reason to doubt myself…but I realize how important this is compared to all the other chances and risks I take.

I draw my gun, careful about where I'm pointing it. Shooting a teammate in the foot wouldn't be so great.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 12:54:05 AM)

Ace followed Rook down the stairs. What they were doing was insane, picking a stairway off a gut feeling. They didn't even have any idea how powerful Izzy was or.. No, there was no point in thinking about that. He stretched out his power, looking for tiny patterns of sound or light on the stairs that might indicated hostile bodies.

Nothing. Signalling this to Rook, he continued following him, acutely aware of how the slight nervous tremor in his hands would throw off his aim.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 12:58:25 AM)

Colin watched his footing very carefully. The last thing he wanted to do was slip on the stairs like a chump, end up shooting himself in the foot. Or worse.

He trailed behind, keeping his eyes up. "So, when you joined up we were in Argentina," he said to Izzy, but it was less to actually share information, and more just to burn off some of the nerves building up. "Did you read about that? The werewolf things? We fought fricken' werewolves. This is gonna be easy, don't worry. Well, the werewolves didn't have guns, but they had big fricken' claws, and teeth, and…"

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 1:01:51 AM)

Everything's clear so far, which is a relief. I hate going in blind like this, though. The more intelligence I can get, the better. Having a newbie on the team and Ace not being at the top of his game is only making me all the more cautious.

"Colin," I say softly.

Yeah, let's not traumatize the new guy right off the bat.

When we get to the bottom of the stairs, I pause, glancing back at both Ace and Izzy, seeing if either of them have insight for me.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 1:07:33 AM)

"…um, no." No one told me about werewolves. I didn't think those existed. I know the rules of the world changed recently, but werewolves?

I eye Colin for a minute, questioning his sanity.

When we hit the bottom of the stairs, I look around again. I'm not feeling a strong pull either way. I could be out of luck. Or maybe the outcome will be the same no matter what we do. I hope it's a good outcome.

"What do you think, Ace?"

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 1:14:43 AM)

Ace stepped forward and pressed his ear against the metal door separating the stairwell from the third floor. He simultaneously pulled out his phone and brought up the building schematics, staring at them intently.

"At least two, pacing, here and here. Using the phone he pointed to the far end of the hallway they were about to enter.

"There may be more, but I can't hear well enough to know where or if they are if they're standing still. Other logical points to defend would be here, here, here, and here, pointing to the far staircase, the two rooms around where middle room and a third room opposite it. Which leads me to guess the hostages are here, right in the middle of the guarded areas. Without more information, that's only oh… 58% likely to be how they're actually laid out."

"No one directly on the other side of the door, at least he finished lamely. Can't we have Mason tap some security feeds or something? I'd do much better if I could see things"

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 1:17:23 AM)

"Sorry." Colin turned his lips inward, pinching them between his teeth.

Easiest way to keep himself from continuing to chatter and either get themselves shot, or just embarrass himself.

He raised an eyebrow as he looked at Rook. "If Mason could, wouldn't he have? He's usually on top of things like that."

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 1:24:41 AM)

"Cameras were taken out," I explain softly, shaking my head a little. We're on our own here.

From Ace's description, it doesn't sound like this is going to be particularly easy any way we slice it. I sigh, closing my eyes for a moment as I try to think, visualizing the space. We're outnumbered and they've got themselves most likely set up in a strong defensive formation.

"Okay, if this door is clear…" And I trust Ace when he says it is, "we go through here to start. We try to work forward to the hostages without alerting the other guards." I really dislike this plan.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 1:30:29 AM)

Boy. This sounds fun.

I nod, though, and try to focus. I don't know if I can make the Sigil any stronger than it already is. Especially if I'm trying to keep it from driving Ace crazy.

I'm going to try, though. I really didn't plan on dying so soon into my Good Guy career.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 1:39:43 AM)

"I'll say something if I notice anything." Ace said quietly

"If they've got guards in pairs of twos in the halls, I'm certain we can bring them down before they can alert others, as long as they don't fall into the lines of sight of the other guards." he would have been sure of that if Izzy wasn't here, but there was no point dwelling on that now. He'd just take the best shots that he could.

"I'm ready when you are."

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 1:40:55 AM)

"Ready," he said quietly, slouching a little to keep his head (hopefully) out of any lines of fire.

He really had to talk to Croft about a helmet.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 1:45:19 AM)

Everyone's ready, then. I nod to them, before I take a deep breath and start easing the door open quietly.

Ace had said there was no one directly in front of this door, and he was right about that, so we're good so far. Assuming they only have two guards in each hall, things might go okay.

I'll move out in front of the others then, my gun ready in my hand.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 1:49:57 AM)

I can't help but hold my breath as the door gets pushed open and we start into the hallway. Shit shit shit mierda merde merde mierda shit.

Forcing the air out of my lungs, I try to keep myself steady. My hands steady. My Sigil steady. I can feel the adrenaline flowing already and I remind myself it's okay. Not like I've never worked with adrenaline before.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 2:06:38 AM)

The hallway was thankfully clear. He trained his eyes on the hallway ahead and watched the corner, watching as they moved forward slowly. Then, the hint of a shadow. A moment later, angles had been calculated based off the light placement in the current hallway, extrapolating to the far one, and then velocities.

Ace motioned at Rook. Coming around the corner in 5… 4… 3… he signed

You get the first, I'll get the second? Rook was good shot, for sure, but Ace could compensate for surprise direction changes like nobody's business. Mainly because they didn't surprise him. At least, not when Izzy wasn't standing there, looking green as Colin had a few missions ago.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 2:08:51 AM)

Colin watched the flurry of handsigns.

Handsigns? He didn't know the handsigns!

He brought his gun up toward the door at the end of the hallway, making sure the safety was still off. It was.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 2:13:22 AM)

I watch Ace, nodding slightly to let him know I understood and agree with the plan. Since we needed to worry about getting in quietly, I already outfitted my pistol with a silencer. It makes aiming a bit more touchy, but it's really necessary in close quarters like this.

Inching closer, I prepare myself. Waiting. The second stretch out and it feels like everything has slowed down.

As the guard finally comes into view, I fire directly into his face. Since the other one will have seen it, it's a good thing Ace is taking the second one. He's faster.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 2:19:51 AM)

I paid a bit of attention to some of the training. The hand signals are very new to me, but between what I've read and all the movies I've watched, I get the basics.

I hold my hand up for Colin, because he looks a little more lost than I feel. Hopefully he understands that means 'hold your fire'.

I have my gun raised, ready….and then Rook shoots some guy in the face.

"Jesus Christ," I whisper.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 2:27:37 AM)

The first guard went down and the second guard was about eighty milliseconds into his reaction when Ray fired, also dropping him with a shot to the face. Running crouched silently forward, he grabbed the feet of the closest guard, and pulled his body around the corner to hide it from unfriendly eyes. Trusting Rook to secure the second body out of sight of the other guards, he gingerly unclipped a headset from his guard, placing it in lightly in one ear.

The guard didn't look military. Despite what was some half-decent gear, he didn't look like a pro at all. So why hadn't the police or the SWAT team already done this? Why would they call them in? He frowned.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 2:30:49 AM)

Oh, ew. Bullets to the face. At least it was quick.

He stayed well back, lowering his gun again and taking a few deep breaths.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 2:35:59 AM)

I'll grab the second guard, dragging him back out of sight. So far, so good.

No, the guards don't look military. I notice that, too, which makes me frown. If they're not professionals of some type, what's keeping the SWAT team out still?

I'll glance at Izzy, then to Ace, wanting to see if either has something to say before we move on.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 2:40:24 AM)

"You shot that guy in the face. Both of you." I whisper. I knew we weren't coming in with free hugs or anything, but goddamn.

I try to shake it off and look around, but…I feel disoriented, now. I've never seen someone die like that.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 2:47:04 AM)

Izzy seemed shaken by the violence, Ace noted by the way the tenor of his voice changed. He was sure someone would explain later when they were and weren't using lethal force.

Joining Rook near the corner, Ace tapped the comm unit and shrugged. There was no chatter, absolutely nothing at all. Checking to make sure he wasn't about to start transmitting on their frequency, Ace whispered to Rook

"Don't see or hear any up ahead. Might mean they're at the side hallway now or they didn't use the strongest positions."

Ace considered the dead body. "I think it's number two. This might not be that bad." He reached out again, checking the next hallway. Empty, as far as he could tell. He wouldn't have enough information to know about the rooms lining the hallway though.

"Try and clear up to the likely hostage room anyway?" he suggested.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 2:50:39 AM)

I shoot Izzy a glance. "I'd said we use lethal force in hostage situations," I remind him softly, before turning my attention back to Ace. I don't relish killing people in cold blood, but it's far safer that way.

"Looks like that's our best bet. Everybody stay alert."

We'll move forward, then. Hoping that Ace is right and Izzy will bring us some luck.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 2:52:13 AM)

"They're the bad guys," Colin said, frowning. It wasn't as if the killing didn't bother him, it did, but when it came down to it, these guys weren't going to pull their punches. They were going to shoot to kill. Doing anything less than in return was just asking for trouble. There wasn't time to debate more rightitudes when there was a bullet heading towards your brain case.

"Think about it after. Focus on the now, now. There's a kid in danger." This was when you clapped the guy on the back, right? He reached out and awkwardly squeezed Izzy's shoulder. Didn't have quite the same hoo-ah.

"Just focus." He put his back flat against the wall as he waited for Rook's order.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 2:53:48 AM)

I shoot Izzy a glance. "I'd said we use lethal force in hostage situations," I remind him softly, before turning my attention back to Ace. I don't relish killing people in cold blood, but it's far safer that way.

"Looks like that's our best bet. Everybody stay alert."

We'll move forward, then. Hoping that Ace is right and Izzy will bring us some luck.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 2:55:45 AM)

"…yeah." They're right. I know they're right. I understand why we're here shooting people in the face but we just shot people in the face.

I shake my head again. Focus, Izz. I try drawing on my sigil again. If I think about that, about keeping it going, this will be much smoother, right? Of course.

"We're good," I whisper. I think we're good.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 3:03:18 AM)

Ace followed Rook's lead, systematically clearing rooms as they progressed down the hallway until they reached the one in the centre, the most defensible one, where they would keep the hostages.

The one which was empty.

"Shit" Ace whispered. What the hell were these guys doing? Where were the hostages? He looked over at Rook.

"I've got nothing. What do we do?" he guessed that Rook's actual official military training would be the best thing to fall back on at this point.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 3:07:28 AM)

Colin frowned. No kid? That wasn't good.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 3:11:57 AM)

"What the fuck?" I breathe.

That's why this has been so easy, then. These guys were decoys, basically. There's nothing up here. But why hasn't SWAT come in? Where are the hostages?

"Downstairs, now." This whole situation is wrong. They wanted our focus up here on the third floor. I'll start hurrying back the way we'd come to get to the rear set of stairs. I'm not too worried about being shot, so it's best if I'm in front anyway.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 3:14:19 AM)

No hostages? I feel my gut sink. This…this isn't good, is it? Who were those guys we shot, then?

"Shit," I whisper, following along, gun still drawn. I'm trying to will my Sigil to work a little harder. If anyone ever needed good luck, we do right now.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 3:26:42 AM)

Ace couldn't have agreed more. This was wrong. He followed Rook back to the stairway, and watched as Rook opened the door to a faceful of gun barrels. At the same time, four more assailants popped out of doors they had not checked along the hallway that had opted not to take, like psychopathic jack-in-the-boxes.

Ace's stomach dropped as he saw and felt the trajectories of the bullets they were about to fire. Rook might survive, but he, and Izzy and Colin were all going to be caught in the crossfire. from the other four gunmen.

He knew he wouldn't have enough time, but he acted on instinct anyway, trying to get Izzy and Colin to the ground.

Not nearly enough time.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 3:29:42 AM)

"I don't understand. Where is he?" He looked between Rook and Ace, his heart thrumming in his ears. This was usually the point in the movie when the victims realize they've been set up and see the bomb just as the timer counted down to zero and kaboom.

He looked around the room quickly, checking all of the corners. No bomb. Okay. Then what the hell was going on? "This usually doesn't happen," he pointed out helpfully, for Izzy.

And the next thing he knew there were guns and Ace was throwing him to the ground, and click-click-click. As opposed to boom-boom-die.

The guns were… jammed? "Man, it sucks to be you guys."

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 3:35:46 AM)

This makes more sense. It's not nice, but it makes sense. My stomach sinks as I realize that I'm going to be responsible for all of their deaths. I can probably survive this, but they won't be able to.

Still, if they're going to die, at least I can take a few of these bastards out with me. I raise my gun, ready to fire and…all of those guns are jammed.

I blink, surprised, then grin. A second gunthe first of my two backupsappears in my other hand. This one doesn't have the silencer, so it's a bit more effective. I don't know how long Izzy's luck will hold out, so I have to take the opportunity while I can and fire into the men on the other side of the doorway.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 3:38:05 AM)

Oh God oh fuck. I hit the ground when Ace pulls me down and my body suddenly aches all over in a way I've never felt before. At the same time, a series of impotent clicks echo around us.

I look up, trying to focus through my fear and panicked breathing. High holy hell.

But Rook starts firing and that's it. We got lucky and it might not hold out. If I want to go home tonight, I have to do this.

I'm a slower shot for sure, but I try and take careful aim, and not think about what I'm doing as I pull the trigger.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 3:44:50 AM)

Ace stood there for a long few seconds, his face slack with surprise. Why wasn't he dead? The guns had jammed?

The guns had jammed. Seven well maintained, well engineered guns had jammed at exactly the same time. The odds of that happening were… well, he would have been less surprised if the gunmen had sprouted tentacles and taken them all away to the mothership just before the earth was destroyed. It almost literally had a higher chance of happening.

It felt like he was underwater, in slow motion. His eyes flicked over toward Izzy, something approaching awe on his face.

This didn't just change everything. This changed EVERYTHING.

shoot them you idiot!

Everything snapped back into place. He had no idea how much of that had been in his head and how much had been his own power reacting to Izzy's. He fired eight rapid fire rounds, a set of four double taps, one for each of the four gunmen that had appeared at the doorways, trusting Rook to deal with the ones on the stairwell. His final two bullets weren't even necessary, Izzy had already taken the man down. While lying on the floor.

He was literally speechless.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 3:46:21 AM)

Colin grabbed for the gun he'd dropped when he hit the ground before turning and following Rook's lead, aiming carefully at the chests and heads of their would-be assailants. He even hit a few of them, which was no small feat considering the way his hands were shaking.

He lowered his gun, panting as he turned to look at Izzy. "That was… wow."

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 3:50:37 AM)

When our assailants are all down, I turn back to look at the others. They all appear to be fine. I think we're all a bit shocked, but fine.

"You," I start out as I take the silencer off my primary weapon, then point at Izzy with the silencer. "Are…I don't even know what the hell to say right now. Jesus. Fuck."

I shake my head a little, then gesture for them to get up. "There are still hostages to find." I have to climb over the fallen gunmen to get down the stairs, which I dislike since it leaves me a bit unbalanced, but I don't want to waste any more time now that we know our presence is known.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 3:54:27 AM)

"I didn't…" …I didn't even plan that. I didn't try or force it, it just happened. Apparently my sigil has a sense of self-preservation I didn't know about.

When I stand up I'm shaking more than a nerd on prom night, but I manage to make my way over the bodies-dead guys, guys we killed-and follow Rook up the stairs.

I start murmuring something in Euskara before I even realize it. Am I praying? Oh God I'm praying. The world must be coming to an end.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 4:03:00 AM)

Ace followed Rook, his eyes flicking back toward Izzy periodically as if to check that he was still there and he wasn't imagining this.

This… this freed him. He had so many theories and ideas. He wanted to grab Izzy and run off to a lab and try about fifteen billion different things. This… was free will. Freedom from the tyranny of statistics and probabilities.

Of course, they still had to get the hostages and get out of here. He continued following Rook mutely, not trusting himself to speak without having some kind of emotional outburst.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 4:07:28 AM)

Colin was just happy he hadn't yet been shot, stabbed, bitten or clawed on this mission. That meant it was going pretty well so far.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 4:07:45 AM)

When I get to the door leading out of the stairwell and into the second floor, I pause, glancing back at Izzy and Ace. We're all still alive, so things are going well, but I'm not about to get cocky.

"Here?"

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 4:12:22 AM)

I eye the door once we arrive. I still feel that ache flowing through me. Either I'm coming down with the flu, or this is what really good luck feels like.

I give Rook a nod. I feel better about this. Even if it isn't right, I think it'll work out for us. My gun is still drawn, though. I don't know what's on the other side of that door, only that I think this is where we're meant to be.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 4:15:30 AM)

"Uhm." Ace intoned. "B-Based on my predictions, there should only be one. One or two left. Maybe three. Guarding the hostages"

He had the numbers for the predictions, but they didn't matter, they so didn't matter anymore. They were only chances, not absolutes.

Colin Chambers (Drew) (7/10/2009 4:16:39 AM)

Colin drew his gun again, staying low and back.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 4:19:26 AM)

That doesn't sound quite as sure as Ace usually sounds. I glance back at him, raising an eyebrow, before my eyes flick to Izzy again. He's nodding. If both of them are getting a good feeling on this, then I think that's the best I can hope for.

Since there's no sneaking now, I don't bother with trying to slide the door open quietly. I turn the knob and kick it wide to save time, my gun drawn.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 4:27:25 AM)

The door flies open, and reveals exactly what we've been after. There are the hostages. Six of them, the kid included. They're off to the side, kneeling on the floor.

There are two men guarding them. One has his back turned to the door as it flies open, lighting a cigarette. The other was paying more attention, watching the entrance with his gun drawn.

As soon as the door is open, he lets off an unaimed burst from his semi-automatic, mostly hitting the doorframe. A few bullets miss the wall, though.

With Rook in the doorway, I'm too far back to do anything. I'm also too far back to get shot.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 4:35:33 AM)

There were two men visible one the door opened, but Ace had learned to keep behind the invincible Rook. Not that the three bullets that actually made it toward them would have hit him anyway, he noticed. It also helped that he didn't need to see the shooter to hit him. Ace calmly took his pistol and fired at a door frame on the far wall, seeing the ricochet, knowing where it would hit as it sped toward the shooter's forehead.

It was still all like a dream, the world turned from solid to liquid. He could still make calculations like that without it meaning that the world was fixed.

He hoped Rook was ok, though. Bullets would still hurt he imagined.

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 4:41:29 AM)

I fire twice at the man with his back turned to us. Not very sporting of me, but I'm not going to bother with negotiations at this point. Besides, taking three machine gun rounds to the chest makes me just a bit crabby. Both of them drop dead in short order.

"Check the hostages over," I tell Colin a little breathlessly as I lean against the frame of the doorway, waiting a moment for the ache to ease up a bit.

"Tell the police we've secured the hostages," I add, to Ace.

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 4:45:32 AM)

Did Rook just get shot? And not die? Of course he did. That's why he's in front. This hero thing is fucking with my head.

I'll move past him to join Colin, checking over the hostages. Beyond being scared shitless-hey, join the club-they seem okay.

"No injuries," I call over my shoulder, helping one to her feet.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 4:47:35 AM)

And just like that it was done. The day saved, the hostages rescued.

Ace let his eyes drift curiously back over to Izzy as he had Mason patch him through to the police outside. He owed Izzy an apology, at least, when they got outside. Back to business for the moment though, he finished with the call and announced quietly "They're sending a unit up now. We can slip back away from the roof."

Approaching the door frame he asked Rook "You ok?" and then quieter "This was a set up. What the hell."

Marquis Rook Hale (Caerie) (7/10/2009 4:51:21 AM)

Back to the roof, then. I start to straighten up when Ace comes over to me and asks if I'm okay. I raise a brow at him, honestly surprised by the question before nodding slightly. Most people assume that if I'm not bleeding, I must be fine. My nerve endings still work, though, and I'm not entirely invincible. Just enough to withstand my own enhanced strength.

"A little sore. I'll live."

The quiet comment about it being a set up is met with a grim nod before I turn to start back to the roof. "I know."

Izzy Follet (RabbitMage) (7/10/2009 4:54:17 AM)

I'm still stunned by all of this. Even more stunned when the woman I helped up clings to me, in a seriously dramatic 'my hero!' sort of way. "Thank God for you, for all of you."

I try and pry myself free without being an asshole about it. Is there a standard response to this? Do we have a catchphrase?

"It's..um…we…leaving." I manage to get away from her and move past Ace and Rook. I'd like to leave now.

Jason Kwan-Zhou "Ace" Park (Zxaos) (7/10/2009 4:59:22 AM)

Ace made sure that Colin and Izzy were both finished being… hugged and then motioned them into the stairwell.

"Don't worry folks, the police are on their way up right now. Sit tight and they'll be here any minute." Not the most graceful line, but it would do. He stepped back through the door to the stairs and began following everyone back to the roof.