geniuswithasmartphone: (Hacking: w/Parker)
[personal profile] geniuswithasmartphone
Hardison was, not-so-coincidentally enough, parked in the same spot on the Causeway that he'd been when he opened the portal to bring Raven home. "So, I got the basic coordinates for this version of Los Angeles, but not ones that are specific to Griffith's Observatory," he said, fingers flying over the keys. "I can put you within somethin' like five square miles of the park, but that's the best I got for you. So, worse case scenario, you got five miles of zombies to fight your way through. An' then back again once you got her."

Which, if you asked him, sounded like the plot of a horror movie and he was not really thrilled about sending his partners, his TA, and a bunch of students right in the middle of it. At least Alluka was staying where he could keep an eye on her...

...Even if she was more than a little creepy right now, yeah.

"I'm just about finished here," he said, putting in the last of the calculations so that no one arrived with an arm sticking out of their head or made of green jello or something. "Y'all should probably make sure everyone is on the same page before y'all head out."

"Okay. Here's the plan." Parker looked around at everyone, concentration narrowed to a laser focus, voice coming out in a rapid rat-a-tat completely unlike her usual manner of speaking. "We go through the portal to L.A. at the Griffith Observatory. We grab Kathy from where Raven left her. We fight whatever we have to fight along the way -- hopefully nothing-- and then get back to the portal. Hardison will open the portal every fifteen minutes, and keep it open for only five. Because zombies." Yipes. "We'll make contact with the people there if we have to, but hopefully we won't be there that long."

Otherwise they might have a whole lot of people wanting to get de-zombified, and explaining Alluka and how her powers worked was a headache best avoided if they could.


"We should try to stay as quiet as possible," Raven suggested. "The exes -- zombies -- are attracted by noise. And if we do have to fight them, cutting off the head doesn't work. You'll just have a severed head still trying to bite your feet off. You really have to take out their brain to get them to stop."

"So hit 'em in the head, run until we find Kathy, run back, got it," Dante said.

Rebellion had materialized around his back roughly five hours ago, in response to how tense he was. And it wasn't going anywhere any time soon.

Eliot gave Dante a side eye. He didn't want these guys tagging along, but he'd already lost that argument. More than once.

"Avoid them first. Hit them in the head if we have to. Find Kathy, run back."

Anders didn't particularly want to tag along either, but Ringo hadn't made it sound like that was an option. (Besides, any mission into a world full of zombies needed a healer, and Dante was a tank.)

He side-eyed Eliot right back. "My powers help," he added. "It's not easy to kill them with magic, but I can slow them down a lot."

Ringo raised a diffident hand. "Um, do we have a way to stay in touch? I mean, we'll probably end up getting spread out at least a little bit, right?"

"Yo, I got that covered," Hardison said, shrugging off his bag and rooting around in it with one hand, the other still flying across his keyboard. "Earbuds. Improved on my old design. Still not useful if you end up submerged in water, so do me a favor an' no one go swimmin', aight?"

So saying, he pulled out a plastic box filled with devices small enough to be tucked into someone's ear canal.

"Careful," he added, with a wan smile at his partners. "Slight chance you may experience nausea, weakness in your right side, stroke, strokeyness..."

Raven, not being in on the joke, looked from the earbud to Hardison with a slightly horrified stare.

Anders didn't quite get the joke either, but he wasn't paying enough attention to even notice it. (Nothing against Hardison; there were just a lot of other things on his mind.)

He frowned at the device in his hand. "Can we hear each other wearing this? How does it know we're talking?"

No worries, Anders. If Hardison had been entirely with it, he wouldn't have made that joke where other people could hear it and worry.

"C'mon, TA," he chided fondly, caring not a whit that he was neither a teacher nor she his student. "You think I'mma let y'all walk outta here with anything that ain't one hundred percent?"

Never. He was sending his partners, his TA, and innocent students into danger. There was nothing he hadn't tested, double-tested, and triple-stress-tested to perfection.

To Anders, he added, "They use bone conduction," he explained. "Sits in your ear canal an' picks up the vibrations of sound through the bones of your skull. It's the same principles that hearin' aids operate under. I just refined it an' made it better."

"They work," Eliot said, nodding to Anders. "Just -- don't get 'em wet."

"Man, I got these things workin' so well they send information up on a infrared band so y'all can keep talkin' after gettin' hit with an EMP bomb, but you gotta go complain about not gettin' 'em wet," Hardison grumbled. "You know how hard it is to link up spoken data to infrared? Hard. An' yet I figured it out--"

"Geek spiral," Eliot told him. He looked around the assembled group. "We all ready to go now?"

"It's not going to get better if we wait," Anders said, squaring his chin.

Raven bounced on her toes, resisting the urge to just start grabbing people's arms and dragging them towards -- wherever the portal was going to open. She'd waited so long for this, and it was finally happening. She was finally going to save her best friend.

"Ready," she said. "Let's go let's go let's go!"

Ringo lifted one foot to examine her ATs for a second, then took a slow, deep breath and let it out.

"Let's do this," she said with a tense nod.

Parker smirked at all of them, then her face relaxed into a smile as the portal opened up. "Okay then. Let's go steal a superhero!"


Back at the Mount, things were going...less than well. Someone had seen Stealth and St. George leave and now rumors were flying fast and furious around the Mount. The most prevalent one was that an army of the thinking exes were going to come in and kill everyone, and Stealth and St. George had abandoned them to their fates. Unfortunately, that rumor was only half wrong.

Gorgon stood in between Christian Nguyen and the trucks. Christian stood between him and the crowd. Harry the driver stood near her left shoulder, a big guy named Diamint by her tight, and almost two hundred people behind her.

"You can't tell us what to do," she snapped. "No one elected you. No one voted for you. If we want to leave, you have no authority to stop us."

"I don't," Gorgon agreed, "but I've got a responsibility to keep you safe. Even when you don't want me to."

She laughed. "We've all seen your idea of safe," she sneered. "We're surrounded by monsters and someone dies every week."

Gorgon was so very tired of all of this. Already. "And you think there's somewhere better our there? You think Burbank is fine and we're just keeping it secret?"

"That's for us to find out," said Diamint. "None of us came here to die!"

"No one is going to die!" Gorgon snapped, but the crowd wasn't interested in his words.

"The Seventeens are all exes now!"

"We're supposed to be safe!" yelled a woman. "St. George said it would be safe here!"

"You are safe," Gorgon shouted. "The Mount's already surrounded!"


"You're not fooling anyone," yelled Christian. "We're just cannon fodder to you. You're going to use us to cover your own escape! You're going to leave us here to die!"

The crowd tilted and became a mob.

"We're taking the trucks. That's that." The heavyset driver stepped forward with his fists clenched.

Gorgon lifted a warning finger. "Don't try it, Harry."

Harry tried it and ended up on his back with a bleeding nose. A blond man made a run for the trucks and Gorgon backhanded him into the mob. Someone deeper in raised a pistol.

"You can't stop us all!" Christian shrieked, and her face dropped as the words left her mouth.

Too late.

His goggles irised open and he left them open. He felt dozens and dozens of eyes lock into his. The strength crashed over him like a wave, every muscle in his body spasmed, and his nerves buzzed with pins and needles like they'd been asleep for days.

Tier six, he thought. A solid tier six.

Over seventy people dropped. Their legs folded, their necks lolled, and they fell with their eyes still locked on his. He was pleased to see Christian was one of them. She was going to have a great bruise on the side of her head.

"There's too much going on to deal with this right now," he bellowed. The lenses snapped shut. "You all need to go back to your homes and make sure those buildings are secure. Those of you who can still walk need to help those who can't."

The Mount
Hardison's portal had opened into a small building...somewhere in LA. It certainly didn't appear to be anywhere near the Observatory. It also didn't seem to be infested with zombies, either, which was better news. Cautiously heading out to explore, they were attracted by the sound of voices, coming around a corner just in time to see Nikolai Bartamian drop a group of people.

This was going to be interesting, to say the least.

Shitting hell. Why had Dante agreed to be here, again?

He took a few steps forward, taking in the scene. "I see that asshole hasn't changed much."

Eliot's response was not a whole lot different than Dante's, actually. Much to his dismay.

"Bartamian!" he called.

"Call him 'Gorgon!'" Raven hissed, and shot him a glare. "Oh my god it's like you've never even heard of code names."

"Who?" Ringo asked, looking around in confusion. Did everyone know these people but her?


In fairness, the need for codenames was pretty much moot by this point. No one was going to come arrest them for vigilantism. And any family the heroes might have had...well, if they weren't already in the Mount, odds weren't good for them anyway. Gorgon went by Gorgon these days because the slick, hotshot Hollywood agent Nick Bartamian had died right around the time Kathy had.

That didn't prevent him from responding to the name, however. He nearly sprained something, whirling around that fast. And even his goggles couldn't hide the utter shock on his face at seeing the small knot of not-quite-strangers standing in the middle the Mount.

"Eliot?" he asked, bounding over to them in two large leaps, body still thrumming with power from quelling the mob. "And you--kid--with the..." He didn't finish it, because saying the deep well of power that nearly ate me wasn't something he wanted to get into. "And--Mystique?! How the fuck are you here?! Smart money had you dead on the side of the road by Vegas!"

Nice, Gorgon. Real nice.

Dante might not have known Raven very well, but he'd met Gorgon - which was all he needed to snap back with a, "Your money ain't that smart, dickwad."

Sure, he'd also more or less given up on Raven back when, but that wasn't important.

Gorgon would have flipped him off for that, but his brain was still reeling with the fact that there were suddenly six people standing in the middle of the Mount who hadn't been there before. Six people he would have also put good money on never seeing again.

"What kind of Fandom crazy bullshit is this?" he asked, eyes bouncing from face to face to face behind his goggles. "Did Portalocity drop the quarantine?" Because that was some stupid shit. "Why the fuck would you all come back here?"

Like, if this were an instance of humanitarian aid, he'd appreciate it, but, seriously, it was stupid as fuck.

Raven folded her arms over her chest. "We're here for Kathy." She raised an eyebrow and looked over the cowed and somewhat unconscious crowd. "What the hell are you doing?"

"My job," Gorgon said, shifting back into his gunslinger pose. "Saving their idiot lives. They're spooked and so they're trying to run out of the one safe place in this city and into a mob of exes and Seventeens."

"Wait, you all are stuck in here?" Raven looked around, taking in the walls and giant studio buildings. It was pretty dire. "Wow, you all have really done a great job keeping everything together since I left."


Gorgon was getting a headache. "You don't have the first fucking clue what's going on here," he snapped. "Use your head, Mystique. There are maybe fifty thousand living people scattered throughout the city. That leaves like three million exes who look at each one of us as a walking buffet. Even if we were stuck here, being outnumbered sixty to one is a damn good reason for it."

Sixty to one counting each survivor, not just the hale, healthy, and able-bodied, he would like to point out.

"But, no, up until today, we weren't trapped in here. But the so-called 'King of LA' just threatened to come after all of us tonight, so yeah, we're kind of locking shit down until we take care of it. Did you have a better idea?"

Parker could do that math too. "Who is the King, and who does he have on his side?" she asked, idly spinning possibilities already. Then she blinked and re-focused. "I'd say take him out first, but. We're not here for that. We're here for what's left of Kathy." Her voice was steady as she said that, but it still sounded strained. "So we're going to try to get to the Observatory, and then we'll be out of your way."

"You really did it, then," Gorgon said to Raven, going from antagonistic to awed. "You really found a way to save her."

He coughed once, fighting to get emotions under control. "Hate to break it to you," he said to Parker once his voice was back to normal, "but she's not there anymore. She got out a couple of months ago. She's been spotted around the city by various people. Saw her myself once, but was too damn far away to get to her."

"You lost her?!" Any good feeling Raven had at that awe went right back out the window. "Oh my god, Nick!"

Look, she got that he'd had other things to deal with. She really did. But she'd just walked three thousand miles and only asked him to do one thing.

. . . Okay, she'd asked the Mighty Dragon to do the one thing. Still.

"What." Wow, she might have learned that intonation from Eliot. "How did she-- Did she still have her super-powers even though she was a zombie?" Because she could mentally see it, Kathy bouncing out of the Observatory's environs, over a fence and awaaaay! Otherwise, these guys just completely lost all points. "Crap."

"Yeah," Gorgon said, brushing his hair back away from his face. "Yeah they do. When Blockbuster turned, he walked straight through seven blocks of Beverly Hills. Leveled something like forty-three buildings before St. George could take him down. Broke his neck, only one strong enough to do it."

"Blockbuster." Raven pressed her hand to her mouth. She shouldn't be so surprised. Most of the world was dead. "Oh god."

At least the Mighty Dragon hadn't had to take him out.

St. George
About that, Raven...

St. George dropped down to the pavement. Except for a pair of shredded jeans, he was mostly naked, his exposed skin covered with bruises and welts.

"Gorgon, why is there a crowd of--Mystique?!" His questions about the remains of the mob were forgotten as he stared at the blue girl he'd thought he'd seen fly off to her death. "How did you--who are these--Just when I thought today couldn't get any more surreal."

"I did say I was coming back," Raven pointed out. "I just heard you lost Kathy."

Stealth stepped out of the shadows from behind the group. "Yes," she said simply. "In all likelihood, when LA's powergrid failed, the entertainment St. George rigged for her failed as well. No longer distracted, her primary instincts to hunt and feed came to the fore and she escaped her confinement. I assume this was the help you intended to find when you set off on your cross-country journey?" Stealth tilted her head at Raven, her mask fluttering slightly with her breath. "I had put your chances of survival in the very low teens."

That was kind of like a compliment? If you squinted? And spoke fluent Stealth?

"Raven's lucky that way," Anders said, fingers fidgeting nervously at the hem of his shirt. He cleared his throat. "All right, you lost her for now. But is there a way to attract her here, or do we just need to start searching?"

Which sounded even more futile than the mission already was, but it seemed a bit early to give up. (And never mind the question of subduing a super-fast gymnast zombie. He'd leave that to the fighters.)

"Wasn't luck," Raven grumbled. "Looks like you don't know everything after all," she said to Stealth, folding her arms over her chest. "Point us in the direction of the last place you saw her."

"It's not going to be that easy, kid," Eliot said. Of the group that had come, he was putting odds on Raven being the one to end up flying off the handle.

Huh. This must've been what Nate felt like when he complained about Leverage members being too emotionally involved in the cons.

"We're going to need more intel." He looked over the still dispersing former mob. "About everything."

"Yeah, like who the hell this Peasy guy is already," Gorgon said. "Tell me you guys found something useful out. Your little field trip is what sparked this panic in the first place."

St. George
"I'd like to know how these folks got here," St. George protested. "They didn't just cross the country and waltz in through the Melrose gate."

"I vouch for--" Gorgon began, but was interrupted what Stealth shoved a camera into his hands.

"Irrelevant," she declared. "Banzai had a means of traveling from her school to LA and back without being traced. Believe me, I tried. I assume they utilized the same method of transportation. And while that may come in very handy soon, our second priority for the day is identifying"

She leaned over and flipped through several photos before finding the one she wanted; a tight shot of a monstrous ex, detailed enough to make out the cross tattoo on its misshapen forehead. "This being seems to know you," she told Gorgon. "He mentioned you by name several times."

Gorgon pondered the distorted face for a moment before a grim smile formed under his goggles. "Well, fuck me," he said. "I guess he found his gamma rays after all."

"You know him?"

"Yeah." He handed the camera back. "That, my friends, is Rodney Cesares, top enforcer for the SS. We've got grudges that go way back." He glanced at Eliot. "That's who shot me the night in the hotel room with Kathy."

Ringo still didn't know who all these people were, but she was definitely giving Nick a quiet little glare. She didn't like his tone, and she wasn't really letting herself dwell on exactly what was implied in what he'd said.

She looked to Parker and Eliot, willing to follow their lead on next steps because, well, this was well beyond her experience.

Eliot raised an eyebrow, but otherwise chose not to respond to the implied leer in Nick's tone. If he thought too hard about Kathy and Nick's relationship before she died, he was going to have to punch Nick in the head. And that would be counter-productive right now.

"Your entire world has gone to shit, but it's still comin' down to a gang war." Kathy had told him plenty about the Seventeens during their training sessions. "Figures."

St. George
St. George glanced at the picture again before the camera went dark. "That's what you wanted to get back here for?"

"No," replied Stealth. "That was simply confirmation. Gorgon, summon every guard, scavenger, and volunteer you can. Issue extra ammunition and prepare the walls for a full assault. Then meet us in the Roddenberry in fifteen minutes. We need to deal with our first priority."

[NFI and everything in the second table is NFB as well. OOC is love, though! Preplayed with [ profile] whoisalicewhite, [ profile] tigerundercover/[ profile] vdistinctive, [ profile] rebelseekspizza, [ profile] not_every_mage, and [ profile] soniaroadsqueen, all of whom are rockstars. Bits of text adapted from Chapter Twenty-Two of Ex-Heroes, by Peter Clines. Buckle up, kids, it's gonna be a long ride. Apologies to your f-lists in advance.]


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August 2017


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