The Other Brin

February 14, 2016:

Brins gone missing but the team has tracked her … or have they?

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The first inkling that something is wrong, comes when Brin doesn't report for work … and she's not answering any form of messaging. Very unusual.

Wanda will know that Brins bed has not been slept in and a review of the X-Red security footage will show Brin and Ryan in the work out room, they seem to be practicing some form of meditation … then Ryan's tugging Brin to her feet, and tugging her from the building.

Has he abducted her? Or has she gone willingly? It's hard to tell from the footage.

There are those though, that can track the pair … it's difficult, very difficult, but with the amount surveillance that exists today … they've found them and if they're quick, they might be able to corner or approach them. In a cafe in some backwater …

It's been over 24 hours since they departed X-Red HQ…


Jesana doesn't know that Brin is missing. She just wants to check on her friend and has put together a basket of soothing herbal teas without any strong effects. Chammomile and mint with rose hips. Lemon and orange peel. Green and black teas with fruit and spice overtones. She's also got fresh honey and in case Brinley doesn't like tea Jes has prepared a few bottles of handcrafted lotion and bath soap and oils. Lavender, rose, oatmeal and milkbath. Things to help with tension headaches and such. Once she's got it all together and dressed in her usual jeans and leather jacket and boots, Jes goes to a leyline and focuses on Brin. She's not really surprised to end up outside a cafe. Brin can't be at X-Red all of the time. At least she doesn't seem to be in the middle of a fight and there will be food. Jes could eat. Of course, she can always eat. As she crosses the street Jes does look a little puzzled. Where the hell is this? It doesn't look like the city. Weird.


Agent May is privately honored that the members of X-Red trusted her enough to ask for her help in tracking down Brinley. She uses the SHIELD resources at her disposal to pinpoint the empath's location, and informs the others. They're … not just around the corner. It's going to take time to get there if they travel by conventional means.


If this Ryan guy has abducted Brinley then he is really going to have a bad day. Wanda is angry. Angry enough that she was able to fly to the tiny cafe that they tracked the pair to…so that means her power is a-buzzing. She descends to the street just in time to spot Jesana and quirk a brow at how this friend knew where Brinley was so easily.

Wanda is dressed in casual clothes - jeans, t-shirt and scarlet jacket - as she strides towards the goddess, glancing at the cafe as she does so. "Slow down, Jes" she calls out in a loud whisper. "Things might not be as normal as they look."


Brin is sitting by herself at a table. Looking around skittishly, she is sure that she isn't hid well enough. The diminutive brunette has the nagging sensation that she is being followed. By what or whom, she can't say for certain but it is a feeling that she can't shake.


Nick had come out on his own. He has a business to run but really this isn't good. He knows Brinley better than most people, having gone to school with her and having been present when… well on the night when everything went wrong. So he's here. Sonic blaster and all.


Since the X-Red people all pretty much scattered to find their own ways to Brinley, May notified SHIELD that she would be out of pocket for a little bit tracking down an asset, and then follows Jesana's unintentional example and catches up to all of them via leyline. And, upon seeing Jesana and Wanda outside of said diner, she manages to refrain from rolling her eyes as she briskly walks up, snags each of them by an arm, and walks them to a spot out of easy eyeshot of anyone inside the diner. "Okay. NOW get your argument done."


Brin might look nervous, but she's clearly alone. Where's her companion? Has he left her?

The cafe is so far from busy, it's not funny. There's only two other tables with people at that them. The waitress looks bored behind the counter, idly thumbing through some magazine or another.

Nick and Jes, as they get close, note something odd … Brins scent … is off.


Turning as she catches Wanda's voice and scent on the wind, the demigod blinks. Whoa, where did Wanda come from? Jes's nostrils flare. Wow, she's angry too. Jes turns and moves to Wanda's side without question. It figures that Jes shows up innocently intending to bring her friend a gift just when something is going wrong. "I like your jaaaah!" Jes trails off in a startled hiss as May grabs them. She goes along easily enough, it's May.. but.. "What..?" And there's Nick with a big gun. Oh what the hell is going on??

"I um. I just had a present for Brin. I swear! I don't even know where we are? Is she okay?" Jes turns and peers back at the cafe. She saw Brin inside but not much more than that but now that she's had a few moments, the demigod frowns. "You know.. something is off. Her scent was weird. Nervous. Shiftylike. Not something I've ever scented from Brin. Look, she even looks nervous." Jes starts looking around the area with a frown.


Wanda is also surprised by being dragged off by May…and confused. "I wasn't going to argue with Jesana" she pleads to the SHIELD agent who once wanted to lock her away. "I was just going to warn her. There is something wrong with Brinley and there is the guy who tried to steal her and I am angry that I let it happen and…oh, hello Nick." The distraction calms her down for a moent before she looks over at the nervous Brinley. "Is it even her?" Wanda wonders aloud. "Where is the guy that took her?" Her eyes narrow. "Does this look like a trap to anyone else?" She lived in a coutry where they still haven't lifted the Iron Curtain, most things are traps.


Through the window of the diner Brin can see the congregation that has amassed outside. She wears the look of what can only be described as a thousand yard stare. As her eyes cross her friends from one end to the other she holds for a moment when she gets to Nick.

Did she just smile to herself? A nervous smile perhaps and one that lasted only a fraction of a second but the astute would see it most certainly. Brin shifts uncomfortably in her seat and is posturing as if she is ready to bolt at a moments notice.

The smell though,it's not just the nervousness. There is something decidedly off, more than just the emotions. It is funny though. In the past, when she was this wound up her projections would come and go. There is no green or gold hovering around her. Either her work with Ryan has gone better than expected or something has gone horribly wrong.


Nick hasn't seen May grab the ot her two but he can hear them hissing to one another. So her other friends came out to find her too. That's actually slightly worrying since it means they had no more idea what was going on than he. Okay. Diner. Public place. Let's try the easy approach. The brown werewolf slips past the arguing women and opens the door as he slings the sonic rifle and makes for Brin's table.


"Look," May tells the other two quietly as Nick proceeds on into the diner. "We have no idea what's going on in there, and showing up angry is probably the worst thing you can do. I think Jesana has the right idea here even if she didn't realize we seem to have all converged on what I'm guessing is a runaway in progress. Now. Can I trust you both to try and remain calm? Not just look calm, actually be calm. Yes, or no?" She looks between the two women seriously.


Jesana hugs Wanda. "It's okay, we'll figure it out. It's not your fault." She frowns. Someone abducted Brin? There's a bit of growling from Jes. Her urge to kill is rising but she gets a lid on it pretty quickly. Brin can handle herself pretty well. Even if she needs some kind of rescue Jesana is pretty sure Brin won't appreicate it if Jes kills whoever did the abducting. Slowly. Painfully. While they sc-yeahhh okay. Still has some work to do with her anger issues. May's no nonsense from you! voice seems to help and Jes nods. "Yes. Brin needs us. I'll be good." Besides, there goes Nick and they should probably follow. She can't promise she'll keep being good after this is over, but for now she's calm and will follow their lead.


Wanda almost feels like she should be kicking the dirt and staring at her shoes after that tirade from May. "Yes, Miss May" she says barely over a whisper, "I can behave myself." She looks upwards, though her head remains down, and glances over to the diner. "I'm just worried." Thankfully there is a Jesana hug to calm her down and…wait…Nick just walked in? "She was with someone, May. And if she was running away then she would tell me." The thought that Brinley would abandon her like Nighteyes did is not something Wanda wants to contemplate. "I'll be good."


The sight of Nick walking through the door would be a thing, to that anyone who knew Brin, that would be calming. There just doesn't seem to be that sense of relief about her. Brin's eyes train on Nick as he approaches the table. "Nick…I just…" she trails off into a murmur. "I didn't know what to do…" Brin speaks softly, as if the walls had ears.

The closer Nick gets the more it becomes apparent to him that things are not at all what they appear to be. If Brin is this unraveled, where are her projections? Surely one day of working with Ryan hasn't gained her that much control over her fragile state.


Nick slows. He doesn't sit down. He knows there are others here for her and he's hoping, very much, that they don't do anything to spook Brinley. "Alright…" It's a calm, soothing tone. The kind of tone one uses with someone you're think may be a bit unstable. "Alright. Tell me what's happened."


Melinda May nods to both younger women and turns to lead them into the diner. Just before she opens the door, she reminds them, "Don't crowd her." And then she's opening the door and leading the pair inside. That poor bored waitress.


Jesana keeps herself back by the door after hearing Nick's tone. If Brin is that far gone then her close presence won't help. Nick has and the others have a better chance of calming Brin. Besides, something is off. Why aren't there any projections, or sparks even. Jes looks around the cafe with a frown. What if that isn't Brin? Who is then and what have they done with her? WHy come here? Nothing makes sense to the demigod but she's sure her companions will know what to do. Jes will wait and keep an eye out for any danger. She does set her basket down on a table to have her hands free just in case and gives Wanda a reassuring smile.


Brinley is one of Wanda's dearest friends yet she has to back-off? A nod to May before she slips inside the cafe and finds a place to stand at the counter. She watches Brinley carefully…things aren't right. Even she can tell that. With Nick taking charge, Wanda turns her back on the scene and asks for a caramel milkshake. She does return Jesana's smile before silently mouthing, 'That's not her'.


Is it really not Brin?

The waitress delivers a caramel milkshake for Wanda. Around them, the cafe is still and quiet, the couples around them speaking quietly.

For Jes and Nick, there's another scent … one they're more familiar with … coming from the bathrooms …


"Brin what's going on?" Nick's voice is still slow and careful. The scent, that odd scent, has him flicking his ears and turning half turning to see where it's… okay. Is he here as well? And if so…. well he's got no answers so far and he's starting to garner stares.


Defeat. That is the only way to describe the look in her soft brown eyes. The look of someone who has seen too many things and held emotions too long to be healthy. "Where to start…" Brin trails off once more. "It isn't safe here. Not for you me, and definitely not for any of you. They are coming, the Purifiers know where I am. I don't know how and I don't know why but I do know that I need to be as far away from here as possible." Tears start to well up in her eyes. "I am a risk…to all of you. I can't even help myself, how can I possible be of help to you? You've seen how out of control my powers have become."

She wipes away a tear resolutely. "No. Nick, this is for the best." As she says this her eyes wander towards the bathrooms.


May is a numb-nosed non-mutant. But she's got eyes, and she can pick up on cues. When she notices Nick's lupine ears flick toward the restrooms, she leaves Jesana and Wanda where they are and steps near-silently in that direction. If whomever (or whatever) is back there is coercing Brinley, they will have MAY to deal with.


Jes frowns. She's not an empath. She can read others emotions but by scent, she doesn't experience those emotions as Brind does and if she did, Jes would probably kill herself. She's thought about since meeting Brin. That or be drunk all of the time. Brin is always so strong, so courageus. Jes is aware that her friend has been struggling but she's pretty sure that this isn't the way Brin would give up if she did. Besides, the one talking isn't Brinley. May is headed for the bathrooms though so Jes waits. Brin is here, but she's also obviously seriously upset and as bad as Jes wants to help, her aura isn't plesant for an empath. "I think that the rest of you should take a walk. Come back later, you too honey." Jes smiles at the waitress and hands her a wad of bills. "This here is official business." She moves to usher the bystanders outside.

Whether the Purifiers are actually coming or they just need to deal with this imposter, it's better they handle it without witnesses or innocent people in the way. Jes can do that much at least.


Wanda watches everyone as she sucks on the straw in her caramel milkshake. She could do some magic but May has warned her off getting too involved…or too angry. Her eyes fall on what pretends to be Brinley and she frowns. Purifiers? That makes her glance out the window at least before she takes a long suck on that straw and places the drink on the counter. Then with a deep breath her scarlet energy starts to build around her hands. Her eyes turning opaque and then white and then scarlet. It seems she is about to unleash something big.


Jes and Nick know the scent is wrong. It's not Brin, not even close. Nick, may remotely recognise it… but that night, they'd been busy patching up a Were-Rat.

As May approaches the bathrooms, she's confronted with another version of Brin and then the wave of remorse and regret flows over May. Reflecting what the other 'Brin' has said.

"Ryan!!!! We need to go." The small brunette calls to 'Brin' at the table …

There's an entry behind Brin … and her glowing green and gold shield appears between 'Brin' and her teammates.


His eyes take on a determined look. The brown patches shimmer with hints of green peaking through. As Ryan ejects himself from his seat he overturns the table.

Brin is now standing in front of Brin? No Ryan, who for all physical appearance is a carbon copy of Brin is standing between her and her friends. Echoing Brin's voice he looks at Nick. "Sorry.."


Nick's eyes narrow. Shape shifter? Copying Brin? What's going on here? He had been about to give May a signal to spread out, that something was wrong. Instead as people begin to stare at them he says in a loud, clear voice. "Ladies and gentlemen, this may go poorly. Please exit the room."

One clawed hand touches the sling on that sonic rifle. "I think you both need to come back with us." It's still a reasonable, calm tone. And it sounds like a suggestion.

It's not.


"Brinley! Don't you dare. You try to run from us and there is no where you can go that I won't find you." Jes calls. Her gun is out and aimed at the imposter before anyone can even blink. She's fast. "And you, move one inch without May's permission and I'll shoot you in the head. I don't care who you are. And that's if my friends don't get you first." Jesana smiles. Wanda's power isn't easy to miss, and Nick is sitting right across from this Ryan person. "Don't do it. Don't even try." Her voice is flat. She eyes the double Brins. "You'd really just abandon them, your teammates, your family?" Jes scoffs at her. "Maybe you would, maybe you aren't who I thought. That's okay. I'm still not letting you go." She manages not to glance at Wanda while she talks but she's sending her worry over the woman and what will happen to her state of mind if Brin disappears as strongly as she can. Brin's shield won't stop Jes, not when she can just pop up on the otherside of it. Or right into wherever they go next. She hasn't shot yet either or yelled or growled or shifted. So hopefully May will be satisfied. Jes does keep one eye on the windows though. The fake brin mightve been telling the truth about the Purifiers.


Melinda May stops short when another Brin is suddenly there in front of her. And it sounds like she's going to run again. "At least tell me that this is your choice," she says quickly. And then Jesana's pulled a gun. "Jesana, stand down." She's speaking softly, but there's still steel behind her tone.


Fake Brinley's doesn't surprise Wanda. Not even the appearance of that Ryan guy who stole away with her but…it still doesn't seem right. She wonders if they're just watching echoes of what happened hours ago. Like psychic ghosts… Wanda unleashes. A sphere of scarlet expanding out from her until it consumes the whole building and around ten feet beyond. Nothing is getting in or getting out. Wanda may have even shifted the building out of reality…at least until it gets too much for her to hold.


As May confronts the brunette leaving the bathrooms, Brin shakes her head. The 'Brin' at the table may have had a tear rolling down her face, this Brin … is holding back tears. "I don't know, May" the diminutive brunette's voice breaks "I'm a danger. To everyone… "

Nicks voice across the room has her looking "Nick… I'm a danger, you know that…" Is he surprised that she'd think that?

Jesana and Wanda get a sad look from her, as she waits for …. Brin to join her. "I'm a danger. To all … doesn't matter what I stand for. They'll see me and my friends dead first." and she tries to push through Wanda's barriers.


Ryan is no fighter. Not a trained one anyways. He doesn't have to be. What he is, is a trafficker of the most noble kind. Lives, humans and mutants, he gives people the fresh start they need. He has his network to make people disappear and out run whatever it may be that is chasing them. Even if that is their friends.

A hard line has to be drawn. This has to be for some kind of greater good. He is strained though, mentally and emotionally perhaps he isn't thinking straight. He has his resources though. As Ryan pushes to move with Brin, the seemingly diminutive Brin 2.0 sends out a staggering wave of self-preservation to those who are now blocking their exit. Behind the fear is a noble thought. It is definitely not the focal point of the emotions but it is there on the back end of it. He thinks he is doing the right thing. Whether the empathetic blast is enough to disorient those who he would like to know as friends is hard for Ryan to determine. But he is giving it his damnedest.


Nick's mind is… fragile. Brinley might remember that he had to be psychically pieced together after the Paragon Incident. The sudden wave of intense emotion - self preservation to be specific - kicks his intellect out of the driver's seat and triggers fight or flight.

It's at this point that it should be remembered that Nick is, genetically and psychologically, a predator.

Whatever he was going to say to May, Wanda and Jesana dies on his lips and a feral snarl tears from his throat instead. The rifle spins into his hand and he unloads on the Brinley in front of him. The sonic weapon is designed to toss people around and knock them out. And this one is modified to take on the metahumans Rescue so often deals with it.

And he's going rock and roll (almost literally) on it.


Jes frowns but puts her gun away. Nick still has his and Wanda.. whoa. Jes nods at Wanda. Good. "You aren't the only one Brinley. You aren't the only one whose lost people either." Her family, her children, her daughter's father. All of them would live still if it weren't for the danger Jes had brought into their lives. "And there aren't any words for that kind of pain but one thing I've learned.. you don't get to decide for everyone else whether or not they are there for you. We all think you're worth the danger. We all need you. You belong with your family and your friends. With your team."

She eyes Ryan as the wave of emotion comes from him and shakes her head. She opens her mouth to say 'Yeah sorry man. I'm not that kind of noble. I'm not any kind. The only reason I put my gun away instead of shooting you is that I don't want to piss off Agent May if I can help it and I don't know for sure if it would hurt Brinley. I'm still not letting you take her, I don't care what you're motives are or what you think is right. It doesn't matter. She does.' But Nick is going and his feral snarl pretty much covers it she figures. Jes tucks and rolls and comes up in front of Wanda just in case any of the shots go wide or Nick loses control. She blinks a little as she realizes that on the control front, she's actually doing pretty well for once. How about that?


Melinda May actually flinches at the emotional barrage, but years of self-control and the recent Psyborg attacks have taught her how to work around and past any sort of external influences. Of course, Nick is clearly not so lucky, and when he opens fire she moves immediately, ducking around him and trying to get behind him to take that sonic weapon away before someone gets hurt.


Self-control? Wanda isn't so good on that. When that emotion hits it hits hard. So many things race through her mind. So many memories and fears. If only she had trained better… The witch's legs wobble and then collapse beneath her as she crumples to the ground. The barrier stays there for a second but then it dissipates and the world is back to normal. If Nick is shooting at her, Wanda has no idea. Her mind is a mess of conflicting and accusing voices that have shut her down…at least until she has to silence them.


"Nick! No!" Brins devestated … that shield, growing stronger, deflecting Nicks bullets or energy blasts. Darting forward, grabbing Ryan by shoulder "Out.of.here.now. Bad Plan" what on earth had she'd been thinking?

Uh… nothing?

As she drags Ryan out the side door, the shield - that glowing green and gold construct hides the pair from escape.

On the table… a napkin with a number is left. A clue? perhaps.


Jesana kinda boggles at May attempting to take the weapon from Nick. That's a bad idea even by Jes's standards. Besides, Nick isn't the bad guy. The imposter is. Jes snags an empty glass and a napkin holder from the counter behind her and Wanda. She chucks them right at Ryan's head. Maybe May won't see or she can blame it on.. not Wanda but.. yeah May isn't likely to buy poltergeist. She's gotta stop watching that damned show at the bar. The one with the hot guys. She turns to help steady Wanda. "It's okay. It's okay." Jes glowers in Ryan's direction and snarls when she sees Brin grab him and try to escape behind her shield. "No!" Jes steps forward intending to pop up outside right in front of Brin and.. maybe just knock her unconcious and pick her up and take her home. Except.. Wanda. Jes can't leave the woman, not when she's like this and thinks Brinley is abandoning her. Jes sends that wave of thought straight at Brin. "I'll come for you. It doesn't matter where you go. I'll come. You can't hide."


Nick might have chased Brin and Ryan. Unfortunately May has distracted him. And by the time she has actually wrestled the weapon away from him, calmed him down and avoided getting disembowled while doing so by a werewolf who might be able to suplex her in half if he really, really tried, they're long gone.

After which there will probably be words. If he can remember how to say any of them.


Melinda May does indeed take all the time that's needed to get Nick to at least somewhat calm down. Up to and including asking Jesana to pull steaks out of the diner's kitchen for him. She knows they'll have lost their lead in Brinley, but she's going to take a chance and hope that the empath knows what she's doing.


Inside Wanda's head is an empty blackness filled with voices. Voices that laugh at her. Mock her. Tell her how she was a fool to think anything was different. Look how everyone leaves her. Her family. Her lover (singular). Her friends. She's a twisted mockery of a woman and this is all that she will ever know.

Tears run down Wanda's cheeks as she kneels beside the counter, gasping for breath, barely even aware there is a world around her. "Brinley! Don't leave me!" she screams out with a voice that has seen the torments of Hell but it's too late. Her friend has gone…like they always do…and Wanda curls up into a little ball on the cafe floor as she finds a world in her chaotic mind where it is safe.


Jesana glances around the cafe. Why couldn't have been a bar. She needs some alcohol right now. Like, all of the alcohol dammit. She's also looking t May with a new kind of awe. She'd been rather terrified for a moment that Nick might accidently.. but not only did May get the gun, she's got him sitting down.

Jes is actually a little cowed by this but trying not to show it. She hugs Wanda and then tugs the woman over to sit next to Nick and carefully avoiding voicing any of her currently mostly murderous thoughts and intentions aloud. Jes gets the steaks and sighs at the kitchen. "What the hell kind of cook has no booze?!" There's nothing. When she comes back, Jes deposits the steaks in front of Nick, kisses the top of his head and then goes to pull Wanda into her lap and stroke her hair. She's going to kill that guy. She's going to kill him so good. But right now these friends need her and Jes isn't going anywhere.

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