Society of Justice 3: Crisis on the Earth

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'My fault? For wha-'

The impostor Taryn unleashed a wicked bolt of lightning before Levi had a chance to reply. Caught out in the open, there was only one thing he could do. Altering the magnetism of his body, he shifted his stance to the right and threw out his left hand. The lightning bolt began to alter its course and made a beeline straight into Levi's open palm.

The leather of his gloves charred and burned as the energy traveled into his arm. He grit his teeth and started to direct the electricity into his right arm and up into the hand. Flesh and clothing was singed in its wake. Stray arcs jumped from his body and into the metal around him. Suddenly, Levi lashed out with his right hand and unleashed the full force of his foe's attack back at her. As the lightning shot outwards, he could feel the flesh of his fingertips start to burn.

'What the?' "Hey! Watch it!" Taryn's outstretched hand caught most of the returned strike. Her wrist twisted and her arm arced backwards, taking the main bolt with it. The bolt thinned, becoming a slim strand that flickered before it was reabsorbed. Taryn shook her hand briskly. Static flickered through her clothes and hair. The ends of her sleeves moved as though caught in a draft. "You could hurt someone with that, you know. Heh." Taryn grinned at her opponent.

"Ha!" A gust of ionized air blew nearby debris aside as Taryn's arms became encased in lightning. She spun, and the lighting trailed the gauntlets making two long bolts of bright light. Snapping the elemental whips into the air she laughed before shoving the energy forwards. Flying from her arms the energy streamed passed her clenched fists towards Levi. 'Redirect this, fool'. As the lightning neared her target Taryn snapped her fists open. As her fingers spread out the lightning followed the push, going from two streams to hundreds as the bolts flew apart

A large metal shelf intercepted the twin streams of lightning before they could reach their intended target. Levi's improvised shield took the brunt of "Taryn's" assault. The shelf wouldn't last forever, and his opponent knew it. The metal was rapidly shifting from black to red and it was starting to deform. A chunk of red-hot metal broke off from the shelf and connected with his left arm, searing the shirt sleeve and the flesh underneath.

Levi shouted, equal parts pain and anger. He pushed forward as hard as he could muster and the nearly molten hunk of metal propelled forward at his assailant. The streams of lightning were disrupted as the magnetic pulse that followed raced outwards. Unable to handle the stress of the pulse, the shelf broke apart mid-flight into several jagged pieces.

"Oh f-" Taryn threw herself to the side to avoid the largest piece of glowing metal. But she failed to dodge the smaller projectiles and hissed when she felt several of the pieces hit. Her sleeve redirected one piece while another narrowly missed her head. She slammed into the wall and fell to the ground. "You. Damn. Metalhead. Shit!" she exclaimed while crawling towards the nearest cover.

"Damn you! Pah!" Spitting up dirt, Taryn used the wall to raise herself to her feet. She slammed her hands together. A wave of electricity washed from her hands to her feet, bringing with it the smell of burnt flesh and cloth as the smaller wounds cauterized themselves. She yanked a large shard out of her thigh, scowling at the blood that dripped down the sparking metal. Fresh burns intersected old burns across her leg and arm. And it felt like something was melted across her back. "That's it!" With a quick gesture at the wall she pulled heavily...on nothing. 'Huh?' She pulled again. A thin phone line flew from the wall in answer to her call. "Fuck! I hate the forest." Taryn seethed. Stupid woods. Stupid trees. What nitwit built a military storage facility with no computers? Her cables were dead, cut off from their main power and utterly useless as they were now. And her stolen vehicle was parked too far away. The nearest useful structure nearby was- 'Damnit!' With an angry yell Taryn slammed her foot into the ground. A wall of white energy flew up from the ground and strained towards the ceiling. Dirt, dust, and blood flew from Taryn's body and clothing.

"Reinforcements? You're too much of a fucking pansy to fight on your own? You bastard!" Well maybe she could hijack their cars...they have nice fancy systems after all. Or she could even-

Abruptly a tremor ran through her that had nothing to do with anger. It washed away all thoughts of immediate revenge. She was going to have to postpone this battle. "You know what?" Taryn sneered. "I'm bored of this. But one last thing." Taryn twirled and high-kicked into the air. Static force rushed into the remaining metal debris sending it flying towards her failed experiment. "Enjoy the funeral!" Another static-empowered kick finished destroying a window, through which Taryn ran. "And by the way, I HATE YOU!" she yelled before leaping into the darkness.

Levi caught the small pile of debris that the impostor Taryn kicked up and hurled it after her as she fled through a hole in the wall. Unfortunately, it was too late. The projectiles whizzed through the air and sailed into the forest.

"Get back here!" he shouted in vain.

Levi clenched his fists in frustration, only to be rewarded with a sudden shot of pain. He brought up his hands and examined them. The gloves were in charred tatters, and the exposed flesh was crisscrossed with branching burns. With each heartbeat, he could feel the pain from the burns along his upper arms as well.

'Get back here so I can-'

"Don't move!"

"Put your hands up where I can see 'em!"

'Shit.'

In a matter of seconds, Levi was surrounded by a team of armed men, their rifles and mounted flashlights shining in his face. He complied and raised his hands above his head. To his slight relief, the men wore the insignia of the Resistance. They must have followed him all the way out here. The soldier that looked to be in charge moved in closer.

"Area's secured. Vasquez. Wallace. James. Go get the straggler."

"Yes, sir," was their reply before they left.

His attention returned to Levi. "I'm Sergeant Foster. We're taking you back with us. You've already caused enough trouble."

Levi nodded in Taryn's direction. "The woman strapped to the table. She's been hurt bad. needs medical attention, now!"

"We'll see to it that she gets to the infirmary," Foster replied as two other soldiers approached Levi from behind and cuffed his hands. He winced as the cold steel pressed against his burns. Foster frowned. "And you're going too."


After being questioned by Foster on the way back, Levi was escorted to the infirmary along with Taryn. The squad's medic had given him a temporary bandage for his burned hands. No replacement for proper medical treatment, but it definitely helped for now. He was brought to an empty chair, a few beds from where Taryn lay unconscious. Two guards were posted by the infirmary doors to prevent any other escape attempts.

"The doctor will be here shortly," Foster said before turning around and exiting the room.

Levi slumped back into his seat and sighed. His gaze drifted to Taryn. She was alive, but barely. She was battered and burned. And most troubling, her energy signal was gone. He couldn't feel not the slightest trace of electricity from her. What did that psychotic woman do to her?

'Taryn...you have to make it...please...'

Dawn

The early morning sun was just starting to peek over the horizon as the maintenance and flight crew finished getting their cargo plane prepped for the sudden flight that it would go on. Rarely would they need to get the plane ready to fly in such a short time; usually they would plan ahead for each flight a few weeks in advance at least.

The pilot gave one last look over all of the gauges in the cockpit, checking each one to make sure everything was good. Once he was positive that was all correct and ready, he walked down to the cargo area. The area had been fitted with a few rows of seats, allowing refugees to be transported along with important cargo. Exiting the plane, the pilot called over one of the maintenance men and told him to tell the Second Lieutenant that they were ready to go.


Garrus awoke to the sounds of movement from soldiers outside the barracks, slowly lifting himself up and looking around. There was a split second of panic at how unfamiliar this was, before he remembered the previous day. 'Hopefully everything goes smoothly and we'll be back home before the end of the week,' he told himself, silently praying that he would be right for once.

"Ms Southe?"

At the words of her clone, Catherine's eyes flew open and she sat up in her bed. "Yes, Catherine? What is it?"

"Sergeant Foster and his men found two of the Society outside the base. One of them appeared to have been tortured: both have been taken to the infirmary and treated as best we can," the clone explained.

"What on Earth... what were they doing outside the base?" They could have been captured by UA forces... again. Catherine was not too happy with whoever had left. Without armed guards, they could have been fish in a barrel.

"I don't know, Ms Southe. The one who remained conscious gave a short explanation. He spoke of an alternate form of the woman, who captured his friend and seemingly subjected her to... something. It looks a hell of a lot like torture. But he was more interested in directing medical attention to his companion. Almost as if he cared little about anything else besides her health and safety." The clone appeared to be puzzled on this subject, but Catherine knew better. The two were most likely a couple: she would do the same for Briân if he was hurt beyond his own healing abilities. And she was used to the concept of having alternate versions of people running around. The subject had been discussed with Katie.

Catherine quickly came to a decision. "Go and find Spoon. I know how he is about permissions and such, but it's necessary. We need to know what happened, and memories do not lie. And send another clone to find Brian. Not the Briân we know, the other one."

"I do not understand, Ms Southe."

"The other Brian can heal the injuries of others. I witnessed this firsthand. The Society members might be used to him doing so," Catherine explained.

"Ah. Very well, Ms Southe, as you order." The clone immediately turned and left at a brisk walk. Catherine, on the other hand, flopped back down in bed for a moment. She already had enough on her plate, what with the fight with Bishop, reporting it to Lt. Colonel Roberts, and the message that the flight was ready to go.

She got up a short while later, though, and dressed in her standard attire. She wanted to visit the two herself to see what Spoon would find.


Both Katie and Rowan stirred and woke almost simultaneously, soon after Garrus woke. However, the former rolled over and curled a little tighter under her bedsheets, not wanting to get up just yet. Rowan got up, stretched and wiped the sleep from his eyes. He remembered hearing that the Society was intended to get on a flight out of United America, courtesy of Catherine and her clone soldiers.

The shapeshifter paced back and forth a little ways while he waited for the others to get up. As he did so, he remembered the way back to the kitchen and lounge for breakfast... but it would be better to wait until more people were awake before doing anything of the sort.

A Catherine clone hurried into the Society's room, looked around for a few seconds and made her way to Brian's bed. Seeing the healer asleep, she began to poke his shoulder to wake him up. Gently at first, then a little rougher. Perhaps Catherine wanted Brian for something. But what?


As dawn broke, Spoon stood in the central hall of Catherine's base. Briefly he wondered what would take place today... most likely more fighting alongside the Resistance, if there were any missions to be had. The psychic enjoyed hit-and-run attacks: he could often turn the enemy's guns on themselves with a little telekinetic force, then be gone before they knew what hit them.

His musing was interrupted, however. "Mr. Spoon? Ms Southe requires you in the infirmary." A clone soldier had approached while he was lost in thought.

±For what purpose, if I may ask?± he replied.

"She wants your psychic talents to help with an investigation of hers. Two of the Society members were found outside our base, and one of them appears to have been severely injured. She wants to know what they were doing out at night."

±Very well. Lead on,± Spoon suggested, indicating that the clone should show him the way.

And so came another Thursday. A sparring day for the young Keyholders of the North Wing. A small group was led by their instructor to the athletics portion of the facility, a wide open room filled with sparring mats and training equipment of all types. The group eventually came to a stop a mat at the room's center. The instructor paced among his students as they sat along the edge of the mat. Jason and Takashi sat along with their peers, the two brothers displaying identical expressions of indifference, most likely for contrasting reasons.

"Alright group, today we'll fight using what portions of armor that've generated on your bodies. Even if your opponent has more developed than you do, you will not let it phase you. That is the goal of today's session. Elliot and Desmond, you two are the oldest of the group, you two will go first. Takashi, Jason, you two are the youngest, so the two of you will go last. The remaining four of you can pick amongst yourselves." The sensei instructed. The two oldest, tallest students of the group rose, migrated towards the center of the mat, and began to spar. With the teacher shouting instructions from the sides, and the remaining students watching the battle, none seemed to notice the tall, regal figure striding into the gym.

Only once the two 'holders completed their spar, did the group notice the man. Jason and Takashi looked on as their teacher and peers kneeled to the darkly dressed man. The man spoke in a deep, rolling voice, that feigned a commanding stern as it did a soft friendliness.

***

Jason took a stance against his elder brother. As he did so, his armor began to form along his arms, starting just above his elbows, and ending in claws at the tips of his fingers. Takashi did the same, his armor seeming to at a lower stage compared to his young brother's. His armor only formed as far as his wrists. The criticizing murmurs from their classmates did nothing to sate Takashi's anger, and his teeth clenched in answer. The eldest struck first, lunging forward with claws bare. His attacks were swift, fluid, and vicious, causing Jason to fall into defense. With some trouble, Jason weaved in and out of Takashi's attacks, his wild jabs and slashes coming within very small inches of Jason's person. Within time of the nonstop onslaught, Jason's defenses faltered.

As he staggered, Takashi swooped in low, under Jason's line of sight, and stuck with a rising strike with an open claw, the attack leaving a freshly applied series of deep gashes under Jason's left eye. With a loud pained yelp he fell to his back, clutching his face with an armored hand, blood seeping from between his fingers. Takashi shot a glare of maliciousness in the direction of his brother before stepping towards the man with the booming voice.

"Can you still call him the 'Prodigal Son'? He's just proved that he can't even hold his own against someone weaker than him!" Takashi exclaimed as he pointed in Jason's direction.

"I should be the one with that title, Dad! Not him! He's just gonna disappoint you."


Jason awoke with haste, the blood pumping organ in his chest thumping erratically as he sat up. A very livid dream that revisited an unwanted memory, it still played in his head as he stood up from the cot. He put a naked hand to the triplet of scars on his face, quietly remarking on how prominent they used to be.

"Time heals all wounds...right?" Erebus asked, looking for a sliver of optimism. Jason stretched, groans accompanying the sounds of bones popping and cracking. While appreciative of Erebus' gesture, it didn't uplift Jason's spirits.

"Not all wounds." He replied with solemn before greeting the seemingly impatient Rowan with a breathy "hey" accompanied with half a wave.

Brian was having sweet dreams of skating around the frozen ponds back home while munching on a Tim Horton's Boston Cream donut when he felt a prodding at his shoulder. He rolled over at first, but the poking failed to cease so he woke up to see one of the not-Katies standing over him. "Wha? What's going on?"

"Brian your services are needed in the infirmary. I'm not sure specifically why, but I was asked to find you and bring you there."

"Oh...all right, just, give me a sec there."

After quickly tossing his clothes back on, Brian followed the clone down to the sick bay. "So what's the big situation that..." He stopped talking as he saw his teammates lying out on the beds. Taryn and Levi had been conspicuously absent the night before, and now it looked like there was an explanation. They were beaten up bad, Taryn in much rougher shape than her lover.

"Oh jeez, OK, um, are these two like sedated?" he asked one of the doctors present.

"The woman is, but the man isn't. He was the only one of the two conscious when they were brought in."

"Crap, OK, well like I can fix the bodies up so that they'll be all right, but I can't be waking up unconscious people there. She's gonna have to do that on her own."

"Wait, how are you going to do that?"

"You just sit back and watch me there."

Brian went to Levi since he would take less time from the looks of things. It was much easier without any fear of them moving, so he was able to fully concentrate. The scrapes and scuffs started to fade off of Levi's skin as the internal organs were shored back up to peak health. It didn't take long at all, not even half a minute before Brian felt his energy back up.

As he turned around he saw exactly what he was going to have to do with Taryn to get her fixed up. "All right, you just give me a sec here," he told the doctor, who was still in a bit of disbelief over what he had seen. "Like I said, this one is going to take a little bit, and I still won't be able to get her out of the coma or nothing there, but this will help anyway."

Brian went to work on Taryn, hoping he had enough skills to get her back to full strength. As he started putting the energy into her, it was the first time in a while he worried if he could actually heal someone back to normal, especially with their partner right behind them.

As Brian moved over to begin work on healing Taryn, Catherine entered the infirmary. "I would say 'good morning', Mr... Harland, was it? Regardless, given what I have heard, it does not seem like a particularly good morning," she stated to the awake Levi, running a hand through her slightly messy hair.

"I would normally ask you for a recount of what transpired last night, but there is a chance that you may not remember it exactly. Traumatic events have a way of distorting one's perspective..." She paused there, glancing away to a blank stretch of wall, then collected herself. Now was not the time to dwell on her own past.

"And I need to know what got two guests out of my base in the middle of the night, that ended with one person seemingly tortured into unconsciousness and the other having taken a few hits himself," she explained. In a stroke of perfect timing, Spoon took that moment to enter the room, behind the clone that had been sent to fetch him.

"Which is why, with your permission for him to do so, Spoon will enter both your mind, and that of your friend, to give me a full recollection of the night's events. I am sorry that this seems that I do not trust you, but memories always tell the truth." And people often lie, was the unspoken end of that sentence. Catherine had no intention of offending her guest. However, the incident between Bishop and Briân had made her hesitant to take people's word for it.

"It's your decision on whether or not we know, Mr. Harland. But I believe it's necessary. It could pose a threat to my base and my part in the Resistance effort."


±Ah.± The lone word from Spoon echoed in Catherine's mind momentarily. Spoon was not entirely sure of this. Granted, he had done it before to take the location of UA officers, camps or prisons. In the brief exchange he had had with Levi, though, Spoon had gotten the impression that the stranger did not exactly trust him. The short explanation of what had originally happened to Taryn, presumably before the incident that had happened that night, had told the psychic that Levi did not like people in his head - or at least, he had interpreted it as such.

Perhaps a different approach was needed. It was one that Spoon had not needed to use in a long time.

"I... I will nah - " He cut himself off, abruptly shaking his head. "Not. I will not hurt you. Nor... Ta. Taryn. Promiss." Talking was difficult and inefficient when not communicated directly through thought-speech. Spoon hadn't properly spoken in years, and it showed, both in his expression of concentration and his obvious mispronunciation.

"I am... so-sorry. Speaking is not something I'm yissed... used to."


Rowan gave Jason a wave in return. "Hey. You alright there, bud? Trouble sleeping?" Jason didn't look like whatever he had been dreaming about was peaceful... granted, he himself had had some troubling nights. Especially when Cadizki had shot him. There had been weird dreams of constant shapeshifting, never settling on a single form for more than a second.

The Keyholder didn't look entirely okay. Nightmares could do that. "If you want to talk, I'm all ears," Rowan suggested with a smile.


The sounds of people stretching and talking were enough to properly wake Katie, and she poked her head out from under the covers to see who was up. Rowan and Jason appeared to be the ones doing the talking, and Garrus was awake as well. Resigning herself to the fact that she had to get up sometime, Katie halfheartedly threw back the sheets and sat up. She too began to stretch, accompanied by yawning.

Aware of the large number of males in the room, Jason among them, Katie blushed a little and tried to hide it. It wasn't often that the Society slept in one communal area, as far as she knew. Even in the alien Battle Royale, she had provided separate rooms for everyone. But there wasn't much that could be done about it now: Catherine had given the Society a single wing of her barracks.

"Thanks, Brian."

Levi wiggled his fingers around and examined them. No more pain. The burns were gone and only the faintest of marks remained. Pulling up his sleeve, he could still see the branching scars that traveled up his arm. They were the only evidence of his encounter with Taryn's mysterious doppelganger. There was much that Levi needed to ask her about, but that had to be later. He watched quietly as Brian tended to her injuries.

"I would say 'good morning', Mr... Harland, was it?"

It was Catherine. Only a matter of time before she came to talk to him personally. But what he didn't expect was for Spoon to come into the room shortly after her.

"Which is why, with your permission for him to do so, Spoon will enter both your mind, and that of your friend, to give me a full recollection of the night's events..."

"He certainly does not have permission to probe around my mind," Levi replied sternly. "And especially Taryn's. If Foster's report and my word aren't good enough for you, then that's just too bad, isn't it?" He knew this was a dangerous position to take. Defiance might cause more problems, but he would be damned if he allowed Spoon to pry at his thoughts. Catherine could "ask" all she wanted, but he would never consent to-

"I... I will nah...not. I will not hurt you. Nor... Ta. Taryn. Promiss."

'Did he just...talk?'

Spoon's voice wavered and stumbled, placing emphasis on the wrong syllables. His sentences were stilted and his expression strained, as if they very act of speaking was a chore. It was obvious that the psychic hadn't actually spoken in quite some time...if at all. This articulate man was reduced to nothing more than an awkward mumbler when he actually spoke. It was a moment of vulnerability that he was willing to show in front of a stranger. But why? And why even bother with asking for permission in the first place?

"Spoon, I'm going to tell you this. My mind is my own, and I have fought long and hard to keep it that way. I don't think you want to know what I've been through, and what's lived inside my head. What makes you think I'll allow you in? In fact, why do you bother with being polite? What keeps you from just taking what you need right now? It's not like I can stop you."

Spoon was not surprised by Levi's response. Many people would not be comfortable with a stranger getting inside their head and poking at their thoughts. That was why he had chosen to speak; to hopefully prevent or reduce the stress of the situation. He had to speak again... it wasn't going to be pretty, but gaining Levi's trust was important.

"I could have, yes. But I do not tay... take from all-la-la-la. Lie. Ally. Alliezuh," he haltingly began, using his hands now to emphasise what he was trying to say. He sharply wagged a finger when he thought he got the word right. "That may... may. Maykes me as bad as You-you-nai-tid Americah. Sorry. I do not mean to offenn. Offennd. You arre not one of them. Blech." The psychic's eyebrows were furrowed, his face occasionally twisting into some bizarre expression of concentration as he spoke. Sometimes he closed his eyes to help himself focus: it worked a little.

"Any way. I only fo, fo, fo-force, for-suh, my way into the... the minds of our en. Enen - no. Enemees. If an ally sez... ally sez no, then I doo not tutch their mind. Exx, except to speak. I resss... respeh. Resspect my alliezuh. Their right to prai... praivuh. Prai-vuh-see." It was so difficult just to eke out even the simplest of sentences. Spoon's mouth was starting to hurt from so much use when it hadn't been needed in so long.

"But if you say yes, I may be... maybe abel - abell-uh - no. Able. Maybe able to find out what... hap. Hap-pun? Yes. What happunned. To Tarin. I may be able to find out what happunned to Tarin," he repeated, trying to get his point across in the right way. "You care for her, I cah - I cahn tell that much from yur... your toh - tohne of voi-suh. I may be able to help her. Only if you say yes.

"I say again, I will not hurt you. Nor Tarin. I will only look at the meh... the meh. Mehm. Mehm-o-rees. Your more re-suhnt mehm-o-rees. I promiss you that. Lasst night is all that Ka... Ka-thur-in wants to know ab-ow-tuh. Nuth. Nuthing more."

Spoon could feel himself starting to sweat from the exertion of talking. He reached up and wiped a sleeve across his forehead.

"I am sorry for not spee-king prop-per-lee. But I cahn tell you do not li... lilili, like me spee-king directly to your mind."


Catherine turned to look at Spoon, impressed by his perseverance despite not getting the words right all the time. He had a little bit of a problem with volume - it fluctuated as he spoke - but that was to be expected, coming from a man who clearly hadn't used his vocal cords in years. She had never heard him speak before, except in her mind. The two voices were similar, though Spoon's spoken voice was a little rougher from lack of use.

All of this in the name of taking a look at a stranger's mind... Catherine had previously thought Spoon to not exactly be loyal to the Resistance effort. Perhaps her first impression, that of him being little more than a vigilante, was wrong. Spoon was willing to help with her request, even going so far as to do something he had a lot of trouble with, just to help her in her efforts to find out if her base had been compromised.

Catherine made a mental note to reward Spoon for his help. Above and beyond and all that, since Mr Harland was correct in thinking that the psychic could easily have forced his way in to get what she wanted.

Brian knew the reluctance to let anyone delve into Levi's mind was justified. The memories of the group's trials inside there battling Victor were still fresh, albeit kind of blurry. Still, they were dark times that did not need to be inflicted upon anyone else. It almost distracted him from his current job, but the energy was starting to ebb as Taryn's wounds were closed.

As he finished up, he turned back to Spoon. "If you want there you know, you can probably try Taryn. I mean, I don't know what you'll get you know, cause I can only heal bodies, not minds, but you might have more luck in there then trying to fight off whatever's in Levi's head. Just saying, you know?"

Being a young orthopedic nurse in a 'secret' base was never dull, to be certain, but over the past twenty four hours Joy had encountered quite a few unique people that put this day at the top of the 'really interesting' list. Unfortunately one of those people was a patient. She had been notified on the first incident, a broken arm and a number of minor wounds. It was the second incident that had unsettled her. Broken bones she could handle but the hideous crisscrossing of bruises, blood, and cutaneous burns suffered by a patient who had been resting peacefully not two hours before...well such things just weren't supposed to happen. Joy had to excuse herself while the patient was being stabilized. To make up for the perceived weakness she waited until the patient was released from surgery to reapply the cast. It was of no comfort when the patient didn't respond to the resetting of the bones.

Joy was surprised to find a small gathering around her patient when she entered for the morning shift. She was going to stay out of the way until one stranger began to approach her patient. She was appalled to see her boss allow such conduct without any type of explanation. So much so that she picked up the phone to call Security herself. Except that the patient immediately began to breathe better. It was hard to trust the medical monitor which malfunctioned every five minutes or so. So Joy approached the hospital bed, and the group, with caution; she was unwilling to interrupt until it was necessary. There were too many important people around who were responsible for her paycheck. Joy paused to take the patient's chart for review.

The MRI and ECG results were new. Bold letters declared an arrhythmia and micro-fractures in both shoulders and torn muscles in the lower leg. The blood panel was...missing? 'Odd' The man who liked to hover near the patient and another, somewhat familiar man were now talking. Joy continued reading the reports without eavesdropping very much. The last page indicated a second chest x-ray was on the list for today's rounds. Joy kept the heavy clipboard in from of her while sliding her gaze to the side. The patient was now visibly improved and almost healthy looking. Quietly Joy retrieved a set of sealed packages from the storage closet. Spreaders, a cast cutter, bandages and scissors. All of the items needed to remove a patient's cast. If the impossible was possible she wanted to be prepared.

She'd thought for sure the patient would need several extensive skin grafts. The arm was already on its second cast, the first having been burned and partially melted by something. Joy hadn't realized anything could melt the fiberglass tape typically used in casting. She'd had to be so very careful during the cast removal. The spiderweb burns stopped at the cast but the skin underneath was still slightly damaged. Joy had given the patient a neon blue cast. Something to contrast the harsh dark colors of her injuries. Injuries which seemed to have completely disappeared.

The stranger finished his strange healing...ritual and spoke to another man who Joy thought she'd passed in the hall. "If you want there you know, you can probably try Taryn....". Joy looked up sharply at the name that was written on all of the reports. She spoke quietly up quietly for the first time, addressing the healer. "If you are finished, sir, I'd like to check the patient's cast and readings. Before she is put through anything else." Still not quite believing her eyes Joy took a step closer. The monitor numbers fluctuated briefly before settling on a perfectly normal heartbeat. 'That's amazing.' Partially in awe, and partially worried she'd overstepped her boundaries Joy kept her focus on the instruments as she began to prep them.

Brian was a bit surprised to see a nurse behind him, but she was obviously just as concerned about Taryn's state of being as everyone else in the room was. "Ya, totally, for sure there," he acquiesced as he backed off to let the nurse through to check on Taryn. I mean I think I got her back up and running, but probably good to get some confirmation. Who knows, maybe she is awake after all.

"I am sorry for not spee-king prop-per-lee. But I cahn tell you do not li... lilili, like me spee-king directly to your mind."

"You're right," Levi replied. "Because the last person who could speak to directly to my mind was a man of pure cruelty and evil. An abomination. Because of that man, I had to spend so much of my life learning how to seal my mind shut. Not to keep him from coming in, but to keep him from coming out. He's gone now, and I'm going to leave it at that. But I guess after all that, it's a bit hard to open up again. It just...doesn't feel right."

Levi took a deep breath and sighed. The angry haze vanished and his posture softened. "But I guess I don't have a choice, do I?" Despite his reservations, he knew that he couldn't refuse. After the incident last night, he and Taryn were already on thin ice. Causing more trouble wasn't going to help either of them, or the Society for that matter. The Resistance were the only allies they had so far in this strange universe, and he couldn't jeopardize that.

"I still don't feel good about this, but I'll let you do your thing, Spoon. But I'm not going to let you see Taryn. Not while she can't consent to anything."

Spoon breathed a sigh of relief, and stepped up to place most of the others in the room out of his line of sight. It was an entirely superficial move, of course, since he could have started without doing so. He did want to focus solely on Levi, though, so he thought it helped a little.

±Alright. Please, try to relax as best you can. Lie down, if you wish,± he suggested. ±It will take a little time to ease my way into your mind: in the process, you may feel something brushing against your face. It is a side effect of my abilities; don't worry about it. You may also remember scraps of the memories at which I am looking. That too is a result of my influence. Now...±

Each mind was unique, but they all shared similar structures to Spoon's psychic talents. The best analogy would be a filing cabinet with multiple drawers, and all of them restricted by a shared lock that kept them under tight security. Once the lock was picked, Spoon could access anything freely. But as he had said, Catherine only wanted the memories of the previous night.

The psychic closed his eyes and mentally reached out to Levi. Almost instantly he was met by an interesting result: Levi's comments on sealing his mind were accurate. Just by scratching the surface, metaphorically speaking, Spoon could see multiple layers of 'locks', each with their own different mechanism to open them.

The first one was bypassed quickly: the second, not so much. By the fourth, Spoon had concluded that Levi's defenses were stronger the deeper he got into his head... and then he had the last one open. Instantly he was swamped by a wave of memories; childhood, adolescence, something that looked a lot like an accident in a factory. Spoon shook his head, annoyed with himself. He had lost track of his intentions, and redoubled his efforts, skipping over a good portion of recollections and filtering out the unnecessary ones.

There. The last entries in one of the most recent files.

"You WEREN'T supposed to DIE OUT!" A voice, similar to one that was prominent in a good portion of the memories that Spoon had briefly touched on during his initial entrance. Similar but different.

Then he had the face to match the voice. A woman that looked the part of a mad scientist or someone escaped from an insane asylum, with extreme similarities to Taryn. Her counterpart, maybe, since the Society was from an alternate plane? Spoon continued to read the file.

Taryn was tied to a table, already as still as she was in the present. Levi and the other one soon began to fight. Metal and electricity flying everywhere. Pain. Burns. The unfamiliar Taryn shouting at Levi. It was over quickly. 'Taryn' retreated, leaving Levi to clean up... and then Sergeant Foster was on the scene. Spoon had what he came for. He withdrew from Levi's mind, having made copies of the relevant memories for himself.

±Thank you, Levi,± he 'spoke' quietly before turning to Catherine to explain. ±It seems Taryn left the base before Levi last night. From what I can tell, she went to a small building near here, in the forests. She met someone who seems to be her counterpart from our universe. Our Taryn probably overpowered her and tied her down. Why she would torture her, I don't know. Given what Levi overheard, perhaps she was meant to be an experiment of some kind. He did not get there in time for me to find out what the purpose of that meeting was.± Despite facing Catherine, Spoon was speaking to everyone in the room.

±Although... Our Taryn said something about trying to make theirs 'better'. I don't know what that means.±

Catherine took a moment to think over the results of Spoon's investigation. "I see... we should find this Taryn and either eliminate her or at the very least contain her. We cannot afford to have some lunatic running around with the potential to compromise our efforts," she stated. "When we are done here you will investigate further, Spoon. Start with the building."

±Very well, Ms Southe,± Spoon agreed.

"First, though... we need to know why the two Taryns met. Mr. Harland... Levi. Do you have any idea why Taryn would leave my base?" Catherine asked, looking past Spoon to Levi's bed.

Levi relaxed in his seat and closed his eyes.

±Sitting's fine with me. Go for it.±

True to Spoon's word, he felt a brushing sensation against his face as the psychic entered his mind. For a moment there was nothing. Then a lifetime of memories surged past him in a sudden explosion. Everything he had ever experienced zipped by him in random flashes of images.

Up past curfew in the orphanage. Reading a comic book by flashlight under the blankets.

The day of the accident. He had been so confident...

Victor stepping from the shadows in his dreams.

Thanksgiving night, two years ago. Taryn's gentle kiss.

The rapid-fire slideshow came to a halt as Spoon found the memories he was looking for. Images of Levi's encounter with the alter-Taryn played before his eyes. Her angry rant. Her bizarre display of acrobatics and her unrestrained electrical attacks. Levi's counter attacks and her escape. Just as quickly as the session started, it was over. Spoon's presence retreated from his mind and he opened his eyes.

±Thank you, Levi.±

±Of course,± he replied. It was an interesting experience...but not something he'd want to do again.

Spoon then related his findings to Catherine, who thought over the new information for a moment before addressing Levi.

"First, though... we need to know why the two Taryns met. Mr. Harland... Levi. Do you have any idea why Taryn would leave my base?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," he answered with a broad shrug. "That's what I was trying to find out."

Jason hadn't realized how bleak the expression he wore was. The attitude he displayed was that obvious? He attempted to force a smile, the result resembling a somewhat lackluster smirk.

"Yeah, nah, It was just a bit of a dream...memory...thing. Nothing to dwell on too much." He put together haphazardly. It was easy for him to admit that these last few days have been an emotional roller coaster for him, and just being in this unique equation in spacetime caused memories of varying emotional factors to manifest within the confides of his psyche. He decided to change the subject as a result.

"When do you think it'll be time for us to ship out? You'd think they have these types of things scheduled to go off around this time." He asked, his mind subconsciously beginning to wander back to the times he was forced to wake up early for a mission at the Corps. He tacked on a remark about finding some coffee, trying to move his thoughts away from that fragment. Behind him, a heavy yawn was emitted, instinctively causing him to look back towards the noise. Another one of his teammates awaking, no doubt. However, as his quick glance made him realize it was Katie who had awakened, he quickly brought his attention back to it's original position. He was still trying to clear his mind of bad memories. Looking at her wouldn't of helped.

"This is gonna be hard." He thought emptily.

"I see... in that case, we shall need to wait until Taryn is awake and able to answer questions before we can get the full picture. Thank you for your time." Catherine gave Levi a nod and turned to leave. Spoon followed her after giving a nod of thanks to the magnetic as well.

Once out of the infirmary, Catherine turned back to the psychic. "I trust you know the basics of this new threat?"

±Yes, Lieutenant Southe. We have someone who may or may not be actively seeking to harm others in the vicinity of your base. I shall attempt to capture this individual,± Spoon answered. ±If she does not come quietly, I won't give her a choice in the matter. Once I find her she won't escape.±

"Good, good. You know what she looks like, at least, and where she was last seen. Will that be enough for you to work with?"

±I believe so.±

"I hope you're right... I can't treat any threat as minor. Get to tracking 'our' Taryn down," Catherine ordered, turning to one of her clones who had found her during the conversation. "Yes, Catherine?"

"Lieutenant Colonel Roberts is on the line for you, Second Lieutenant Bishop and Briân, Ms Southe. I patched him through to the conference room," the clone promptly reported.

It was time to face the music. "Alright. Send two clones to pick up Bishop and escort him to the conference room - alone - then go and get Briân." As the clone hurried away, Catherine took a deep breath to calm herself and made her way to the conference room. With luck, there would not be another scrap between those two.


"Second Lieutenant Bishop. Your presence is needed in the conference room," one of the two clones stated upon entering the quarters given over to Bishop and his men. "We were sent to escort you."

Thankfully, Bishop appeared to be compliant for once, at least in the eyes of the clones.

Sleepless sleep that switched between the memories of the woman he loved and the creature in his head destroyed Tyson's hope for some actual rest. At the time everyone else in the room had been seemingly asleep, so he gave up on the lost cause and put on pants and a shirt, before slinging his rifle across his back and exiting the room.

A few minutes later after a wrong turn, Tyson found himself at the barracks that housed Bishop and the rest of his men. Simply asking one of Bishop's awake men, had him pointed to Bishop's barracks. As he walked into the sleeping quarters, Tyson found none of the bunks occupied except for the one Bishop was lying in.

"From the looks of it you couldn't sleep worth shit either," Bishop said to Tyson when he approached his bed. A small cough followed from Bishop as Tyson silently wondered if he truly looked that bad or if it was because Bishop was him and just knew; it was the former.

"Seems like my reason isn't as bad as yours."

"Bullshit."

"Fine, mine can be slightly worse." Tyson had hoped the lie would seem true, but it might have been no use in trying to bullshit yourself.

"Slightly. Now can you help me sit up? That lizard lipped asshole gave me the displeasure of some internal bleeding with some broken ribs. I can't get up myself with ripping them open," another cough followed this exchange of words, before Bishop tapped the folded up wheel chair beside his bunk.

"I do still have a few for now or later questions." Tyson said as he slowly lifted Bishop up so that he was sitting with his legs were off the edge of the bed. Quickly he took a seat on the adjacent bunk and continued, "so how bad are you doing? I've seen enough civil wars to know that they fail a lot more than they succeed."

"Far from victory. Would have been a bit closer if you had actually killed Lector, but wishes are useless to actually winning. Ultimately we are able to hold whatever we have, but it's not like we're gaining extra ground. Hell I'm rank right now for being able to make ranking officers look very foolish, ill prepared, and convincing members of the public that we aren't through my various actions. So beyond this shit storm that you dropped into, what's keeping you awake?" Bishop answered and asked will little taste for both subjects.

There was more of a look of disappointment on Tyson's face when he heard Lector was still alive. Shit! I missed from that close and I even told Levi that he was dead. Fuck I'm probably going to have to tell him as well. Things keep getting worse and worse. Putting aside the future problem, Tyson jested to continue their back and forth. "The Ghost of Winter's Past." There was a brief pause before he continued. "More specifically memories of Eva and me mixed in with a side effect of the experiment that I underwent. Makes for a more unpleasant night than I would like. I'd also like to know if there are any warnings for oversea travel?" Tyson asked since he overheard Bishop withhold who they would be meeting on the other side of the Atlantic.

Bishop didn't know what the side effect was, and a large enough part of him didn't want to completely know, in case he needed to claim ignorance. "Noise canceling headphones and not being able to read lips. I'm still not going to tell you who you're meeting, but I'll tell you that being blind and deaf may make you the safest person on the planet from her. Now this isn't a question as much as it is a request. Sometime after you go the EU, if you are telling the truth about everything, I'll need your help back here for a few very dangerous things. Would you be able to help me when I ask?" Bishop's mouth dried a little after he asked Tyson this quest.

"That's a big request. I do have to ask something before I can honestly answer. You said basically said before that we'd have to do some work in order to meet a certain insane scientist. I also know that having us here is a risk, and whoever takes us is just inheriting that risk. It's also fairly obvious that people aren't much for trust, other than a fair few of those fools that I work with. I would I be wrong in thinking that these dangerous things might be related to someone inheriting a risk that they might be rather skeptical of in the first place?" Tyson asked, hoping that he didn't stretch anything too far thin.

"Pretty much. I figure that I'd likely be asked to do these things for any number of other reasons, but today you guys are the shafting sticks."

"Then I'll help if I'm not too far gone from my own mind when the time comes." Tyson said hoping that it would play off as an inferred joke rather than his uncertainty of his own sanity.

Before Bishop could thank Tyson the Barracks door opened and two Catherine clones entered the sleeping quarters.

"Second Lieutenant Bishop. Your presence is needed in the conference room. We were sent to escort you."

"Which one?" Tyson asked rhetorically as he walked over and pulled Bishop's wheelchair out from behind the door. "Should probably have mentioned my prior rank for that to have worked." Tyson said to Bishop after look that requested a confirmation of the implication. After helping Bishop into the wheelchair the clones gave Tyson an uninvited look like they wanted to take Bishop alone. "I'll be escorting Bishop to the conference room," Tyson told the clones in a voice that warranted a death instead of an argument if they disagreed with his statement.

Tommy had spent the night sleeping as soundly as the dead, his dreams where the sort that loosely cobbled together half-thoughts and mis-conceptions into a brain-scratching milieu that is better left forgotten then pondered upon. When he opened his eyes and saw the bunk right above him, his still groggy mind wondered if he was back at Crystal Acres summer camp, where he had spent so many of his summers, and that the events of the last five years had been a dream themselves. That notion didn't last long, and Tommy as soon on his feet.

Tommy was acutely aware that he had just slept in the only pair of clothes he had, hadn't bathed, hadn't brushed his teeth, and didn't have any sort of deodorant. He felt, for lack of a better word, icky. " I'm going to see if these guys have any spare clothes, memento of home or not, I don't want to wear my only suit ragged." He mentioned before leaving the wing the Society were staying in. It didn't take too long, after asking around a slightly paunchy soldier pointed him to the quartermaster. It turned out he was in luck, as there weren't many men with Tommy's measurements, meaning the quartermaster had a set of itchy poly-blend clothes to spare, in exchange Tommy offered to help him move some boxes.

It was while moving around a palette of freeze-dried rations Tommy noticed something, he felt weak. Not truly enervated, or even close to the level of most normal humans, but moving the palettes took more effort than he would normally need. He thought back to the last time he felt this way, it was when the Society had been transported to an Alien world. He hadn't thought much of it then, due to the out of body experience that had lead up to it, but now he realized this Earth was different his in a way he was only just noticing. As if the ambient magic energies were just ever so slightly off, not in a way that seemed to change the way magic functioned but enough to have an effect on how his body was absorbing it. First my gloves malfunction in the alley, starting to see glowing shapes out of my bad eye, and now this. Let's pray things don't get any worse. Once he was done moving boxes he did just that, he found a quiet corner and whisper a quick prayer. Not a structured message to a specific god, but rather a missive to whatever being/beings may or may not be watching over.

Lieutenant Colonel Dylan Roberts waited patiently as the connection was set up between Second Lieutenant Catherine's base and his own. If setting up the connection took longer to make sure it was completely safe, than he was more than willing to wait. Communications within the Resistance was gradually becoming harder as United America's technology was catching up bit by bit.

Finally connection was made, and the screen flicked on in front of him to show the three soldiers he needed to talk to. Roberts made note that both MacKenzie and Bishop were both placed on opposite sides of the table, and that neither of the two even seemed to acknowledge the other. 'At least neither of them seem like they'd be up to getting into another fight with each other soon,' Roberts mused, waiting until the pleasantries were given before speaking up.

"I've reviewed the footage that Second Lieutenant Southe gave me of the scuffle between you two," Roberts said, looking at both MacKenzie and Bishop sharply, "After much thought, I have decided the punishment for all three of you. Yes, all three of you."

"Second Lieutenant Southe, you are being given a warning for bringing in Corporal MacKenzie all the way down from our northern base just to partake in a rescue mission. If assistance was needed, than there were more than enough other bases close by that could have provided support rather than calling for just one person for personal reasons," Roberts explained calmly.

"Second Lieutenant Bishop, you are being demoted from your officer rank and losing command. The fight should not have happened at all, no matter what. It was completely unacceptable for someone of your previous rank to do."

"As for you Corporal MacKenzie, you are hereby generally discharged from the Resistance. Normally this would be under a dishonorable discharge of the military, but since this is not an official military it has been decided that those are kept only for the absolute worse cases. Still, this discharge means that you will be stripped of your rank completely. Where you go from here will be up to you, but it is a final decision just like everyone's punishment today," Roberts concluded.

Bishop would have launched out of the wheelchair if it wouldn't have ripped his stitches out. "Sir, permission to speak freely?" Bishop asked Lieutenant Colonel Roberts with a tone that hinted at absurdity.

"Permission granted."

"Sir, I have to disagree with your ruling. Mr. MacKenzie clearly initiated the fight and you can hardly expect someone, even an officer, who just had their dead family rapidly insulted to not retaliate when assaulted by that individual. Additionally, removing one of your most successful officers from his command will only hinder any forward movement that the resistance makes. At the very least, if you maintain your decision, may I retain my command of my soldiers until a suitable replacement officer is found and arrives at one of the bases previously under my command?" Bishop spewed half in awe of the bullshit he was currently facing. He knew he didn't have much hope for the change around; so he added in the last request in hopes getting someone higher up to reverse his decision, while not having someone fuck up his position in the meantime.

"Shut your lie-spewing mouth Bee-shop!" Briân shouted across at his primary antagonist, before turning to his new one. "Zis is an outrage. Because Bee-shop is unable to control 'imself or 'is men, I am ze one with ze stiffest punishment? Bee-shop is ze one who started zat fight. Bee-shop is ze one who escalated it further wen I tried to leave, and after all I gave for zis cause, for zis resistance, you toss me witout a thought?"

"Settle down MacKenzie, or I'll have security brought in to escort you out," Roberts warned.

"I will not 'settle down', Dylan, you self-important worm. 'Ow dare you treat me like zis? I 'ave given everyting to fighting zose UA bastard! We fought togeter on ze field! 'As your position gone to your 'ead? 'Ave you been turned by zose bastards? Explain yourself!"

Catherine stood up, intending to stop the fighting before it could properly start. "Stow it, the pair of you! It's clear that neither of you like the decision that the Lieutenant Colonel has made, but the consequences of actions cannot be ignored. It does not matter who started the fight, only that it happened. There is a name for protesting the decisions of our superiors: insubordination. So we will all just have to live with the judgement of Lieutenant Colonel Roberts, unless you want him to punish us further." She gave the face on the screen a respectful nod; she acknowledged his decision and understood the reasoning behind it.

"And besides, I imagine he has better things to do than deal with something as petty as this. We should move on from here, plain and simple. Life isn't a basket of roses, especially in times like these," she concluded. Hopefully she had gotten the message across to Bishop and Briân.

Her piece spoken, she resumed her seat next to Briân. She placed a hand on his arm under the table, out of sight of the others. It was a simple gesture, one which she used to try to say that she wouldn't let him go. He could stay with her as an adviser; that would be the official reasoning for it.

Catherine's arm, though not touching him directly, brought the steadying influence that Briân needed at this time. He ceased trying to stare down a head on a screen and instead stared down his nemesis from across the table. But even Catherine couldn't stop him from muttering under his breath at Bishop. "Putain BeeShop. Il veut faire semblant d'être un infirme à recueillir la sympathie, je vais lui donner quelque chose à être paralysé au cours. Je vais l'attacher dans un noeud et de le laisser sur le seuil de UA. C'est là que l'écume de merde manger appartient. S'il revient, je vais le tuer. Il peut rejoindre sa famille, puis, et voir ce qu'ils pensent de ce qu'il est devenu, le monstre." Still, he remained seated and wasn't going to throw anything anymore.

The Lieutenant Colonel listened to the two parties arguing about the decision, staying quiet until Catherine managed to get the other two to quiet down. "Second Lieutenant Southe is correct. These decisions are final. I will hear no more arguing about it. Sergeant Major Bishop, you will be allowed to retain command until we find a suitable replacement. Do not expect to be in that position long; I already have a list of candidates that your replacement will be chosen from," Roberts stated calmly. He paused to make sure that there would be no further outbursts before bidding everyone good day before shutting off the feed.

Tyson had taken a position beside to door so that he could hear most of the conversation going on behind it. Ultimately he wouldn't exactly need to be that close to hear all of it, but he wouldn't have been able to know when the Lieutenant Colonel ended the call and he could enter. Without an invitation, Tyson opened the doors and walked over to Bishop in order to wheel him out of the room. He specifically avoided eye contact with Briân and Catherine while Bishop still had hot blood in him.

Lifting up his shirt to reveal his wrapped ribs and a tapped on dressing, which was partially red due to the blood from where he was cut open to stitch up his internal bleeding. "You'll get yours Briân. I'll boil you like a frog and you won't have this new Brian to heal you." Bishop said with death glare before coughing.

Tyson finished exiting the room before Briân could get a chance to respond to Bishop and kept going back towards Bishop's barracks. "Melodramatic enough?" Tyson asked with much more than a hint of sarcasm. "Doesn't seem like you'll get back your rank with words like that."

"Doesn't matter. He got to walk away with just being kicked out. Like hell I'm not going to give him a permanent reminder that he got his ass kicked by me." Bishop replied before taking a long breath. "Plus I now have to make a hell of a stretch to get my rank back before Roberts chooses some halfwit who's on better terms with him to take over my position."

"Yet considering what you've shown yourself to be so far, why do I have a feeling that you've planned for such a thing?" Tyson asked full well knowing that if he was in Bishop's position, he'd make damn sure that he'd have a way to regain what could be lost fast.

"I do have a few favours collected, but the biggest guarantee is that I have is that my success has turned me into a she-wolf's favour chew toy. It isn't something to be proud about, and really it's more scary, but like most animals she-wolfs don't like their toys taken from them." Bishop said in a lower colder tone of voice, before giving a slow half laugh, half chuckle. "Now tell me something important in case things don't go according to plan. What's been making you act so odd? I don't even know you and it might as well be bright as day."

"You know how some people have a monster inside of them? Well mine just happens to be able to take over my body and powers. Before it used to do that when I went over my volume limit, but now it's acting like an animal trapped in a pit of fire. No clue as to what's going to happen, and I have no idea how to fix it. I'm just hoping that that fire goes out, and the monster goes back to guarding my powers." Tyson replied to his double, in a slow, strung-out, nervous tone. "I just wish I knew what it's trying to do."

Bishop sighed. He might not be getting the help later on that was promised by the sounds of it, but his own iron was still hot and he need to reforge his rank fast. "Just don't lose it like you think you will until after you finish helping me." Bishop said as he bit his lip and took out his cellphone and dialed a number.

The silver cell phone vibrated on the wood and glass coffee table in front of Serdar Koryo; bumping into the black cell phone that had been placed next to it. The large man sat forward from the couch to grab ahold of it, wondering why there would be two Resistance-related phone calls in just a day. 'Perhaps it has something to do with the cargo we shall be getting,' Serdar wondered, flipping the phone open after he turned down the volume on the television in front of him.

"F-P. Cherbourg. Azul," he said into the phone, waiting to see who it was on the phone.

"Six-W. Cambridge. Prototype," Bishop replied to the presented challenge. "I might as well forewarn you, that there's a good chance that she won't like my news." I really hope that this isn't going to be a fucking disaster and another warzone opens.

"More than likely not," Serdar admitted to the officer, looking outside on the large patio where Renee was sitting, "Though I'm sure it can only help that it is from you at the least," he added, putting on his jacket and opening the door outside. The brisk wind hit his face as soon as the door was opened, the sharp chill taking a moment to get accustomed to. The damn snow will be here if this keeps up,' he thought to himself, walking over to his boss who was currently typing away at a computer.

"I don't want to talk right now. I need to finish these rewrites by the end of the week," Renee told Serdar with an annoyed voice, not even looking up from the screen.

"I'll be sure to tell your favorite rebel that," Serdar started, letting Renee snatch the phone right out of his hand before standing over to the side.

"Why good afternoon Tyson. Odd to get two calls from you so close together, is something the matter?" she asked cheerfully after putting the silver phone to her ear.

Bishop felt a cold breeze pass by him despite being in an underground air controlled base. He kept silent for a few seconds watching a couple lights ahead of him flicker and dim before deciding to speak. "Yes. Something's the matter. A roadblock just appeared between me and those deals that we made yesterday. How should I best put this? It will be much harder to steal that mech while being a Master Sergeant and not being able to command a squad." Bishop's voice was steeled despite a screaming pain in his side from his broken ribs. Pain was clear across his face, but Renee couldn't see him so it didn't matter.

Renee listened to the now Master Sergeant's problem, tapping the side of her laptop until he was done. "Two things, why did this 'appen and who gave the demotion?" she asked, hiding the annoyance that was in her voice as well as Bishop was hiding his pain. This was certainly a roadblock, but one that she could easily remedy with a few choice words.

"Lieutenant Colonel Dylan Roberts issued the demotion. What happened is a slightly longer story. Before I launched the last prison break, I needed to ask Catherine for help since it became time sensitive and fast. Well the little princess who wants to play who's bigger with the boys, decided to use it as an excuse to call her boy toy down from one of our northern bases. So Corporal Briân MacKenzie flies down south and arrives after all the heavily lifting is done and we're heading back to base.

Skip forward, the heat's gone, and we're back at Catherine's base. An altercation between one of our guests and one of Catherine's soldiers happens. No big deal because it was broken up by another one of our guests. The boy toy then goes and uses his power to start pulling the life out of the soldier for no real reason. I don't stand for that shit so I informed him to never do it again. Then he goes on to claim he was protecting Catherine, questions my abilities as a commanding officer, and to top it all off he insults my deceased family members.

Still I kept enough of my cool and then he hits me with a suck punch. Well a man can only go so far and I decided to let him have it. A few minutes of fighting later and I won. From what I can tell Catherine sent a recording of the altercation to Roberts. Now I'm stuck here while still in command of my soldiers till Robert assigns a potential lack wit to take over my command. So what do I do now?" Bishop answered Renee as best as he could from his memory. It may have gone a little longer in detail than needed, but he felt a bigger backstory might be wanted.

"Sounds like you 'ad an exciting day yesterday," Renee replied with amusement. The story Bishop had given her was a lot more in detail than she needed, but more details couldn't hurt. Fixing this would be an easy enough matter for her, especially since she knew how to get in touch with Lieutenant Colonel Roberts easy enough. 'But where is the fun in that?'

"For now you don't do anything. Just continue with what you are supposed to do, and I shall 'ave this sorted out by tomorrow. Once the people you're sending are 'ere safely, I'll get in touch with Dylan and see to it that your rank and command are reinstated. Perhaps I'll even convince 'im of more," she told Bishop, waiting for that last part to sink in before adding, "Of course, I'll want something in return for all of this 'assle that I must deal with because of you."

"So I sit here and grow more debt in order to pay off my old ones. It's not like I really have any other choice right now. So with me being the puppet of success and you being the puppeteer; what twisted, insane, and beyond dangerous task will be required to pay off this debt?" Bishop answered back having noted the added intention in her worlds, but not giving her the satisfaction of addressing them for the time being.

Renee couldn't help but smile at Bishop's response, wondering if cackling malevolently right now would be a bad thing. "Oh, believe me Tyson, what I'm going to want isn't going to be any of the things you listed...for the most part. No, you see our last call 'ad a lot to do with the business aspect of our relationship...but this time I think we'll move along straight to the personal," she told him coolly, the wicked smile never leaving her face.

Bishop froze. Cold sweat formed on the back of his neck and shiver passed through his body. A light over his head stopped flickering and shined brighter than any of the other light bulbs. "Our personal aspect is our business aspect. Make sure your request isn't considered lightly before you make it. Our relationship balances on mutual benefit and my ability to keep my track record intact. I can assure you that I'll regain my rank in time; now are you going to let a little greed now ruin your spoils later?" Bishop let the steel melt as he add fresh fire to his voice. Even if only implied, there were lines that you should cross.

"Yes. Yes I will. Because I can get both. Sometimes I really wonder if you truly know what you are dealing with 'ere. If you regret everything between us so far perhaps you should 'ave thought a bit more before you agreed to these things," Renee replied with all hint of cheerfulness gone, replaced instead with the manner of a boss chastising their underling.

"Now see 'ere, I will get your rank back from Roberts with a bonus. And you are going to accept that bonus with a smile on your face. If you do not, then I will make sure you regret it. This doesn't have to be a 'ard thing Tyson. In fact I'm quite positive we'll both enjoy it if you'd just open your mind to it," she said, the latter sentence getting a bit more of her usual calm persuasiveness to it.

The ongoing conversation was easy to overhear from Tyson's position. You may hate me for this, but I'm damn sure that I got added to this balance gaming sometime after I landed in this universe. Tyson reached down and pulled the cellphone out of Bishop's hand. "What do you want?" Tyson asked with a voice so full of death, it sounded like Bishop's corpse was now on the other end.

The initial confusion from the new voice gave Renee a chance to calm down. 'One...two...just like the therapist said,' she thought, taking a few deep breaths as she settled down. It took her another second to put the few pieces together before replying, "I 'ave a feeling I know who you are. And, truthfully, it isn't exactly any of your business. Even though I know both you and the Sergeant Major are a lot alike in more ways than one. This proceeding is between myself and 'im, so please give the phone back to him."

Tyson's eyes instantly became pitch black as Vesper moved to take over Tyson. The creature didn't like someone fucking with Tyson's head and its home, but Tyson knew the threat wasn't within reach and Vesper backed down. In that time Bishop looked up with a blank stare, the change in Tyson's eyes wasn't cause by Renee and more amazingly he didn't follow the order immediately. There was a good five second pause before the phone was handed back to him. "Just tell me what you want." Bishop's voice was dumbfounded as he continued to stare at Tyson. I know you told me you had a monster in you, but Cerberus would back down against her. That thing is more dangerous than I could possibly know.

Renee waited for the phone to go back to the Tyson she wanted to talk to, going back to tapping her laptop until she heard him again. "You know what I want Tyson. And I'm sure you'll want it too. You can take my word on that. And you know that that is worth quite a bit. Now Dylan is going to give you a certain bonus once I'm done talking to 'im, and you are going to accept it. From there you should be able to figure it all out. Any questions?" Renee asked.

"Just one Rent. Have you heard the tale of Icarus?" There was a crack as Bishop snapped the phone in half. There was a minute of silence between the two men as they continued down the hall towards the barracks. Before they entered Bishop finally spoke up. "You just made yourself a target." "And she did the exact same thing. I'm going to walk you inside and I'm going to collect my things for the upcoming flight. Remember that we are very much the same, belittling your pride hurts my own." Tyson spoke in his normal voice matching Bishop's perfectly.

Tyson wheeled the wheelchair inside and exited the room. Behind him he could here Bishop order his men to gather around, he had to update them on the changes involving them.

Renee was about to reply to both Bishop's question and his use of her nickname before the call went dead. She stared at the phone for a second in complete disbelief before standing up and throwing it angrily over the edge of the patio and watching it fall down the long way to the street below.

"Are you-" Serdar started after Renee's sudden display of anger, carefully approaching her. Renee's temper was well known amongst practically everyone who had ever heard of her, and Serdar was in no mood to be yelled at for something that he didn't. Thankfully Renee just took a seat back down and buried her head in her hands, telling him to have one of his men pick up what was left of the phone on the street.

"And get the back up phone for the Resistance. I 'ave to make a few phone calls tomorrow," she added wearily, staring at the floor as Serdar placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Right. Um...do you want me to cancel your dinner with your brother tonight?" he asked, watching as his friend shook his hand off and reached into her jacket for her cigarettes.

"No. I know 'e's been looking forward to it since 'e came back from the trip. And I won't 'ave time with all the things I need to do tomorrow. Just...I want to be left alone for a while," Renee told Serdar as she lit the cigarette and handed him the red phone that was next to her laptop. She turned away from him after that, and Serdar went back inside to go do as he was told.

Once Roberts hung up and Bishop was wheeled out of the room, Catherine breathed the sigh of relief that she had been holding in. "Dear God, that was a mess..." she murmured to Briân. "Don't worry about Roberts' decision. You can stay with me as an adviser. In official capacity, at least," she suggested to the French Canadian.

One of the members of the base's maintenance staff entered the room with a slightly timid knock. "Second Lieutenant Southe? The plane is ready to go. We had to work on it triple time to get it ready overnight, but it's done."

Catherine looked up at the maintenance worker. "Excellent. Go take a break; you've earned it." As the worker hurried away she turned back to Briân. "I will leave a clone in charge to watch over the base in my absence: I'm going with the Society to keep an eye on them. There are enough soldiers and clones present to continue day-to-day operations without me."

"I am coming with you," Briân stated. "If I am not part of ze Resistance anymore, zen I damn well am staying by your side. Roberts and zat incorrigible monster Bee-shop can suck on zat."


A while later, Catherine called the Society together and informed them that the flight was ready to take them across the Atlantic. Everyone boarded without a hitch save for the still unconscious Taryn, who was carried onto the plane on a stretcher by Levi and her nurse, Joy. The latter was accompanying her patient, regardless of the healing Brian had performed.

Rowan was a little disappointed that Spoon wasn't coming with them, but he figured the psychic had other priorities. The threat was here in United America, of course, so it stood to reason that Spoon would stay behind.

Katie, on the other hand, noted the presence of Catherine and Briân. "Um, Catherine, if I may? You're leaving your base behind? Isn't that dangerous?" she queried of the 2nd Lt while waiting for the pilot to take off.

"My clones share my knowledge and experience. They are capable of running the base in my absence," Catherine answered. "It could be considered dangerous, since they cannot clone themselves, but it is about as secure as any other Resistance base."

Once everyone was safely on board, the pilot proceeded to raise up the cargo ramp and signaled to have the doorway open up ahead. He waited until the plane crew safely left the area and the door opened before setting the plane in motion.

"This won't be the most pleasant trip any of you have had, but it is also one of the only ways to get out of this horrible place," the pilot told his passengers as the plane picked up speed, the light coming from the opened doorway pouring into the silo.

As they neared the exit, the pilot slowly started to lift the plane so as they wouldn't do a straight dive into the rocky ocean down below. It was a dangerous path to be sure, but one that allowed discreet arrival and exit.

"We are now in the air towards our destination. Winds seem to be in our favor right now, but we'll see if that changes once we get higher. Starting up all our necessary security measures now," the pilot continued, flipping a few switches and turning a dial as they ascended. "Flight should only be seven hours or so if we don't run into trouble."

The pilot gave a hearty laugh at the idea of running into trouble, but just the idea made Garrus sick. 'Could we even survive if they tried to shoot us down? I'm not sure all of us could...or worse, what if they re-catch us?' he thought to himself, making sure his face didn't show everyone else his worry, 'Let's just get this done so we can go home.'


Seven hours and six minutes later...

The plane ride had been a bumpy one as they hit turbulence high over the Atlantic. It was necessary for them to endure such heights, due to the fact that the U.A. had a better chance of finding them if they went below a certain altitude. The pilot had reassured them that this was a common thing, but it was a welcomed announcement when he stated that they had crossed the ocean border and could descend below the turbulence.

"Up ahead is our destination. Descent shouldn't be too rough. I hear it is pretty nippy down there so everyone might want to put on their warmest clothes. Supposedly there is a virus going on at the base too, so stay away from coughing people," their pilot explained as they started the descent down to the refugee base below.

"I hate landing," Garrus groaned, getting a reassuring beep from his brother as they hit the runway. The landing was bumpy at first, but it was a smooth slow down afterwards. The plane came to a stop inside of a hangar, keeping them protected from the cold winds outside as the cargo ramp was let down. "I miss the Merriweather," Garrus muttered, standing up from his uncomfortable seat as soon as they were allowed to leave the plane.

Tommy stretched out his legs and felt his knee's pop as he straightened them out for the first time in seven hours. " Ya that's one thing the Merriweather has, leg-room. Jesus my knees." Tommy walked out, exaggerating his strides just enough to get some blood flowing back into his legs. Outside he joined the rest of the refuge's exiting the plane. There he noticed a rather paunchy, dour faced man dressed in a black suit with a matching bowler's hat walking against the flow of people. The black suited man pushed through the eager refugee's towards the cargo ramp. As he passed Tommy he looked into Tommy's bad eye, his expression didn't change except for a slight raise of the eyebrow. Then he looked at Tommy's good eye, then stopped for a moment to notice how tall Tommy was, the corner of his mouth twitched into a smirk, but he said nothing and continued into the plane.

Inside the plane he walked through the aisle, he briefly stopped by Katie, but after a quick look he moved on, until he found Catherine.

"Good afternoon, second lieutenant Southe, I trust you're flight went well. I was told you had somethings for me, and if you don't mind I'd like to be on my way and out of your hair quickly." said The Black hatted man with a small bow. Despite the noise caused by the bustling refugee's he did not raise his voice to ensure he was heard. The words were a formality, and Catherine should have already known exactly why he was here.

"We wouldn't be late if you had just told him no," Serdar told Renee as they drove down the highway, the bright moon overhead illuminating everything with a bright blue.

"I know I should 'ave, but I just can't when it comes to Hugo. It was just a short game anyways. We aren't that late," Renee replied, staring out of the passenger's side window at the shrubbery and trees they were passing.

"Just give him a rain check or whatever it is called. He understands that you are busy with important things."

"Like checking up on people supposedly from another universe?" Renee asked, laughing when Serdar stayed silent. "'ard to answer that; I understand. We'll see soon enough just 'ow true that story is."

The last few minutes of the ride was silent between the two until they reached the Cherbourg base. The two got outside, the cold night wind hitting them hard. "Let's hurry on inside," Serdar said after tightening up his jacket, approaching the door before realizing Renee wasn't following him.

"I 'ave a call I need to make. Go inside and let whoever is in charge right now that I'm 'ere. I think it is Austin at this 'our," Renee said, getting a nod from Serdar as he headed on in. She took out the replacement Resistance phone that they had to use for now and went through the numerous contacts list before finding the person she wanted to talk to.

There was silence on the line for a few minutes before a hurried voice answered with a 'hello?'. "Dylan, nice to finally get to chat with you again. I'll give you a moment to finish whatever you are eating," Renee told the Lieutenant Colonel, leaning against the car that she had ridden in.

"Miss Claidt. I...uh, wasn't expecting a call from you," Roberts responded, the sounds of him moving plates around being heard in the background.

"No one ever does. I'm going to cut straight to it Dylan; you recently demoted someone I know and I want you to revert that decision."
"I...the Sergeant Major? Miss Claidt, I can't do that. It was his punishment for getting into a fi-" Roberts started with confusion, his voice becoming shaky as the conversation continued.
"Yes I 'eard what 'appened. You know, I think we can even skip going back to Second Lieutenant and go straight to a First. If you can do that of course; though I think it is within your power."

There was silence from the other side as Roberts considered what could be done. He could hang up the phone really fast and try to evade any of the trouble he was surely going to find himself in; though before that plan could even start Renee had quickly ordered him to stay on call.

"I don't...really have a choice do I?" Roberts asked defeated, knowing there was no way out of it now.
"Not really. I might be able to find some ways to 'elp out the Resistance if you do it though, since you guys are my favorite rebel group fighting against the terrible tyranny of United America. There is also another thing I want to ask of you though," Renee continued, detailing the last 'favor'.

"Just an offer?"
"Just an offer. Well Dylan, I think this concludes our conversation. It was nice to chat with you again, and I 'ope you get right onto these things I've asked of you," she finished with a simple goodbye, hanging up the phone and going inside the base.

"Of course, Mr. Baudin," Catherine answered, inclining her head in respect to the buyer. "I shall turn the bodies over to your care right away." She promptly made her way around to the back of the plane, where the cargo doors were already open. After a short pause, during which Catherine created a new clone to assist her, the two bodies - thankfully bagged - were brought out on gurneys and wheeled over to where Baudin waited.

Katie shot a glance at the two body bags, spotting them while she was in mid-stretch after getting off the plane. "What's with the bodies?" she mused quietly. Nonetheless, the Catherine clone heard her and explained. "Mr. Baudin and his employers are... clients, I suppose you could say, of ours. They pay us good amounts of cash for delivering the bodies of UA officers as we kill them. In essence, from our perspective, it is similar to his employers putting bounties on the officers."

"Uh... huh. So what do they do with the bodies you give them?" Katie did not intend to question the Resistance's practices. They had to fund their efforts somehow; why not make money and fight at the same time?

"We don't know, and we don't ask. All that matters is that Mr. Baudin and his employers are on our side, and they pay well," the clone answered. That sounded okay to Katie. Not fantastic, but okay. The more allies the Resistance had, the better.

While she waited with the rest of the group, she began to weave a new set of plant armour for herself. Before the flight, she had taken the armour that she had originally worn and reversed the plants' growth to shrink it down into a pair of bracelets and a pair of anklets. Wearing the plants while sitting in the confined plane for over seven hours would have been more uncomfortable than the standard flight.


Rowan was using the time the Society had spare to walk around a little bit, giving smiles and small waves to the few people who glanced at him as they went about their business. He did not stray from the plane, though, instead keeping with the group.

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