Warehouse 13

March 30, 2018:

The Brotherhood attacks a secure SHIELD Warehouse. SHIELD suffers an incredible loss.

Warehouse 13

A building that stores 0-8-4s.

Characters

NPCs: Seneshcal

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

An alarm.

It's not klaxon or an APB, however, there is an immediate ping to those of SHIELD with high enough clearance: a very important, very secret warehouse has been breached and needs assistance. It needs to be dealt with yesterday.

The team gathered in record time, a mix of those with high enough clearance and trusted agents nearby. A quinjet prepped and piloted to a small barn out in the middle of nowhere Upstate New York. It's far from any road and there is not even a dirt road that leads to it. The barn itself looks well maintained, if a bit out of place with no actual farmhouse nearby and no way for anyone to actually drive to it.

The quinjet lands in a field that fits it perfectly…almost like it was cleared for just that purpose. The approach to the barn reveals the doors open. The wooden outside seems entirely normal, as does the interior, except for the fact that the wooden floors are clean. There is no farm equipment, no stables, no loft. Instead, the slats are well maintained, but clean.

On the far side of the room is another, smaller door, this one opened as well. Beyond that is metal, doors to an elevator shaft. The elevator itself remains at its destination, unable to be called back. There are stairs to the side, descending downward at least four stories. From the bottom, pulsing at exact intervals is a bright red warning light. It spills upward, however everything else remains in semi-darkness.

*

The situation is sized up, the teams are gathered, and Phil Coulson isn't in the mood to waste much time.

"Beta team, I want you covering those stairs. Round up anyone who tries to escape that route. Alpha team? We don't have time for stairs. Get your rappelling equipment on. We're going to enter through the shaft. I'll get the top of the car off. Sharon, you and Rin will take point, so you'll take out the doors. Albright, you're with me. We may have one or two other Alpha team members en route, I'll worry about what to do with them when they get here, if they do in time."

His brows furrow down as he looks at every member of the small team. "Once we're down there it all depends on what we find. Stay sharp. There is not one item stored here that we can afford to see released to the world at large. We must take everyone who may be down there. Dead or alive. Understood?"

*

Alpha Team it is. Sharon came prepared, and she was bustling around the plane ensuring they had appropriate gear for everyone. It was unnecessary, but she did it anyway. She's been doing a lot of unnecessary checking and re-checking lately, as though she's worried at being unprepared for something. This is possibly the Carter method of Coping.

That, and being terse. Sharon's not the chattiest of SHIELD agents, but she's usually more communicative than this. As closed-in as the agent is, though, she replies to her CO: "Affirmative, Agent Coulson. Agent Nakano," she adds, but she has nothing to say other than that. It's a confirmation with a nod added onto the end.

*

"Yessir," says Sloane Albright, junior Agent and clearly the most trusted one here. Fiery orange eyes flit from Coulson to the elevator, nodding to the members of beta team. Getting down to one knee, she's quick to put her large, pointed ear to the door before palming the surface, hooking her fingerips into the crack and pulling the doors open, leveraging Inhuman strength.

Glancing back at Agent Carter and Rin, the dragon-fish girl gives a quick nod. "Don't worry. Won't flood the place unless ordered."

*

Rin was quiet on the ride over, and is focursed on getting all the information that she can about just what is in this barn that can't get released. "Aye Captain." Rin says in response to Coulson as she gets her items on and her repelling gear on and checks all of her weapons that she needs. Coulson is getting grim these days, not that he doesn't have a reason to, but she's doing her best to try and releive some tension. Either way she nods to Carter and makes it toward the objective.

*

Beta Team takes up their positions, ICERs and more conventional guns ready to take on anything that might come their way. A few start to spread down the stairs, making sure that anyone through has to make past a swarm of agents rather than simply breaching a doorway.

The Alpha Team descend into the elevator shaft, rappelling in perfect harmony and silence. The top of the car is easily handled, a magnetic hold is established with the top of the elevator, a superfine laser cuts through the metal. It makes short work of the metal and makes little noise. With a sufficient yank upward, the circle big enough to let the Alpha team through is easily managed.

Once inside the elevator, the doors are the next problem. However, a heavy duty door lever is inserted and prises it open in a manner that will allow others through while keeping their exit point open.

As soon as the doors are opened, it immediately seems colder. The temperature between elevator and the Warehouse itself drops a good ten degrees. The red light that spilled from the bottom floor now is much brighter now, the spinning lights they emanate from covering equidistant intervals all around the large facility. It looks like something out of Indiana Jones where they would stash the Ark of the Covenant. Large metal racks hold an indeterminate number of wooden crates, all stamped with numbers and strange codes. Some are upended, others are smashed onto the ground.

As the Agents carefully enter, they will see something strange. Suspended in the air in various parts of the room, the red lights will reflect over things that look like beads of darkness: suspended in the air and seemingly trying to coalesce with each other. Each bead is spiky, jittering in suspended space in what seems to be some strange form of kinetic energy.

*

Phil Coulson has seen a lot in the course of his career. But spiky, jittering beads of kinetic energy are new.

He moves a little closer, squinting. The cold gets more intense as he does. Finally he shakes his head, murmurs into the earbuds of the others, "Let's try to avoid the horrible spikey beads of dark and cold."

He then uses hand signals, sending the Carter-Nakano contingent right while taking him and Albright to the left to work their way around these shelves and see who might be in here to turn the very air into a sort of treacherous obstacle course. As mine fields go, it's better than some, because it's at least visible, but it's a minefield all the same.

*

It all goes very quickly, but after their last venture, Rin is finding it easier to work with Carter and the others. Slipping through the elevator, and getting the doors open seem like childs play to what could be on the horizion. Seeing those kentic spikes from the ceiling make her frown, and she tries to scan it to see if she can figure out what it is. "Copy that." Yeah she doesn't have any interest in finding if it's some sort of space alien here to eat all of their dangerous artifacts.

Once it goes to hand signals, Rin responds with her own signal and nods to Carter before she heads off to the right. Her gun is out and at the ready.

*

It's odd that, thus far, there have been no signs of forced entry despite the alarms that flare all around. None of the doors were forced or damaged in any way. Nothing looks different from how it might look if an agent with actual clearance had passed through, entering codes and swiping their passcard the entire way.

Yet when the team gains the warehouse, unfamiliar voices can be heard whispering among the silent — and not-so-silent — artifacts.

Well — unfamiliar to most. Phil Coulson would recognize them.

"I tire of the alarms," says a male voice, bored and impatient, syllables clipped as if the speaker barely had time to waste even on fully finishing them. "A moment." There is the slithering hiss of steel, and a high wind gusts inexplicably through the warehouse.

A few seconds later, the power flickers and dies. The alarms go silent, and the lights gutter out.

Another burst of wind precedes the return of that voice. It seems to be emanating from beyond a few racks, perhaps thirty feet distant. "Have you found anything?"

*

"So much," answers a woman's voice.

The lights go out, and all is dark.

Dark, save for one swath of moving, flickering light: a moondog of scarlet that shimmers and licks off the skin, clothes, and moving hair of a levitating woman.

The Scarlet Witch, with her illuminated face a damning likeness to her terrorist's dossier, holds silently in the air, looking every bit her infamous namesake. She is clad in red, dress and coat and heel, veiled in a headdres whose shining beads crown her long hair — its tresses swimming through the air as if underwater.

Light wreathes free from her, circuiting down in coils around her arms to coalesce between her hands in a spinning sphere, like a gestating sun cooking to life through the shaping of her fingers.

"So much calls to me. So many whispers. So many stories. But these — these sing sweetly."

Her eyes open, a glowing, vacant red, aimed sightlessly up on those dark orbs. She flattens the sphere between her palms, and red light rivers out from her hands, running serpentine through the air — through the room — to wisp towards those amorphous shapes. It drinks her power, so she must funnel more to try to bear them closer, encourage them to her.

The work takes all of the witch's attention. Normally, she would sense others here, their life, their souls — but all escapes her attention now.

*

Down, down, and down. Sloane's knees are bent and she's in a low squat, keeping her Icer raised and aiming down the sights; her gaze locking ahead and steady while the doors open, and … the doors open.

What the hell is that stuff floating in the air over there? What the hell did they even keep in this place?

"Damn," she whispers quietly.

Her gaze shifts, staying low as she moves alongside Coulson, moving in a low squat to keep him covered from the side. The shoes of her wetsuit, treaded and sturdy, keep her moving at a steady rate while her eyes tilt one way and another to keep an eye on her surroundings.

— then she stops, and the lights go out. Her pupils blow out wide; robbing what tiny shreds of light to see in the darkness as though she were deep beneath the waves. The Inhuman doesn't need to hitch or hold her breath in surprise; her lung capacity is more than adequate. She reaches out to get a hand to Phil's arm, using scaly knuckles to relate her position. A few moments later, there's light — just from something of an otherworldly source. Frowning, the dragon-fish girl gives him the 'what's the plan' look.

*

And Carter joins Rin to the right as they're ordered, pulling out her own sidearm and stepping delicately, silently, through the racks of crates. Whatever's in them is strictly need-to-know. Not only does Sharon not need to know right now, she doesn't want to know. That's the funny part about being a secret agent: it's actually never really optimal to know the sorts of things people will kill you for knowing. Talk about a drag.

When the lights go out, it's not completely. Sharon's eyes close and blink as she tries to get her eyes used to the darkness. She's all ready to put on night-vision glasses when she realizes that the light isn't entirely gone. There's red light, and it's coming from a woman, and there's absolutely nothing good about this.

Is SHIELD equipped to deal with this?

Is anyone? And has SHIELD ever waited to be prepared before diving in?

She's quietly moving to flank the levitating, crazytalking lady. Maybe they can sort this out with words. …Okay, it's not likely, but there's always a first time.

*

Late late late.

That's Danielle Moonstar, but thankfully Brightwind is a fast flyer and so here she is. Geared up and ready to go.

It's not hard to find where the other Agents went and so Moonstar follows the trail left behind.

Minutes pass until finally the Cheyenne woman arrives upon scene, her firearm drawn, with bow and arrow upon her back. Her footsteps are light as Moonstar seeks to catch up with her team, heading towards the left with Coulson and Sloane, even as her eyes stray to those little floating orbs.

Almost they remind her of mine laced water. Just waiting for the barest of brush to 'explode' and inflict damage.

Shaking her head, the woman continues on her way, hot-footing onward as the presences of others are announced.

*

Beads of energy start to move. It's slow, but somehow beautiful in the otherworldly light that the Scarlet Witch sheds. Each bead starts to coalesce. It's a slow, strangely disjointed dance. There are sparks of pink energy that reverberate about each bead as they are brought closer and closer together.

It becomes harder to hold them the more Wanda brings them together, the strange jittering of the material becoming more like a pulse.

The way forward for the SHIELD agents, however, become all the easier as the beads of super cold start pull away from the aisles. Some of the crates the material touches as they move closer to Wanda have strange effects. One bursts into flames. Another melts. One makes an intense shriek as something inside of it twists and compacts, the wood splintering.

Whatever those beads are, they do not seem to play well with anything else it touches.

*

'What's the plan.'

Coulson silently blows out his cheeks as beads of darkness burst into flame, melt, and shriek. He tilts his head to one side. For one second it looks like even this seasoned agent is hitting a point of 'I got nothin'.' It's a very small team versus two very dangerous mutants doing god-knows-what in a warehouse full of alien crap that they can't just bomb because…alien crap gets unpredictable when you try to just bomb it. This time no amount of talk-fu is going to de-escalate the situation, and they're way past stealing some standard weapons, medicine, and grain. This is the 0-8-4 warehouse, and whatever tenuous understanding might have briefly developed between himself and these two will have to evaporate right here, right now.

'What's the plan.'

Abruptly he has one, and the look on his face turns resolute. They have a couple metas of their own, don't they? It happens right around the time he realizes Dani Moonstar made it here, then joined them. Ok. They have a shot.

Silence and surprise are all they got, though, so he maintains absolute silence.

He uses hand signals instead.

He meets Dani's eye. Points to his head, points to Pietro. Pietro might be fast, but perhaps a not fast enough to outrun a psychic attack.

He looks to Sloane. He points at her, mimes pointing his own hand down at the floor like he's using her power. Wet floors might mess up a speedster too. Not to mention the weird crap in the air. It might only hamper rubber-soled normal-moving SHIELD boots a little.

Lips thinning, he gestures to Nakano and Carter and himself. And mimes firing on Wanda.

He raises his hand. Synchronized. All at once. Hard and fast. 3…2…1.

Suiting words to hand signals, he takes up the ICER rifle he's brought to this rodeo and raises it to aim and fire upon the Scarlet Witch.

*

There is a reason that Rin is a little obsessed with creating gadgets for herself. Watching the woman floating about them all in red energy gives her a moment of pause. They train for a lot in SHIELD, but there are something that even the most seasoned instructors can't plan for. She mentally curses, because she doesn't want to give away their position.

Carefully she watches Phil's hand signals, not wanting to miss a beat with what he's saying.

With her orders given, she nods, turning her ICER weapon toward Scarlet Witch. She waits for the countdown, feeling her muscles tense up while she waits. Onve it's go time, she opens fire, keeping her eyes focused on the large red beacon in the room.

*

Her, hand out and down, and out.

Slippery when wet. Sloane gives a quick nod; tucking the icer into the holster strapped to her thigh. Her weight shifts, easing from her weight being on one leg to the other, moving slowly and quietly across the space so she has a clear view of the floor between herself and the two mutants in the center.

What are those things? — not just the orbs, but the power reaching through them?

Her head lists slightly to one side, just enough to keep Phil at the edge of her vision. At his signal, three… two… one.

Swinging her arms low toward the ground, Sloane pulls water vapors from the air, creating a thin slick of hydration across the ground— more than enough to make the ground a slippery surface!

*

In Agent 13, a moment of regret. She hasn't spent the time Coulson has with this pair. She doesn't know what, if any, inroads he's made on the path to agreements. But she knows this is a powerful pair, and she knows that if they don't take the initiative, these two can eat their lunch without a second thought.

Her ICER-loaded sidearm is already up. With any luck, they'll be knocked out nicely before any real damage — scratch that, that box is melting — any MORE real damage gets done. Good soldier that she is, therefore, Sharon takes careful aim before she squeezes her trigger three times. Good night, mutant princess.

*

Like the others Dani watches Coulson and at his hand singles she nods, plan understood. Her gaze flickers over to the twins and with a modicum of movement, Dani holsters her weapon and raises empty hands.

Only they don't stay empty for long. She waits for that count down, quite aware that the psionic weaponry she's going to manifest could potentially give their group away thanks to its own light giving properties.

Even as those beads-of-whatever react to things they touch, Dani stays focused (albeit mindful) as the countdown begins -

3, 2, 1. With that one light suddenly flares within Moonstar's hands as a magenta psychic bow appears, along with that bow a similar shaded arrow manifest. Then with the swiftest of movements that arrow is silently fired at Pietro Maximoff, setting nightmare-ish stun.

*

For once, the speedster called Quicksilver seems unaware. His eyes are on the Scarlet Witch as she bends her attention on the strange beads around them, his arms folded. Yet appearances can be deceiving. Though he's still for now, he still perceives things many times faster than the average person, and he's letting his powers run uncontrolled, the young mutant on high alert.

That in mind… it's not necessarily the sound of the ICERs firing, per se, that alerts him. Sound has a travel time like anything else, and it's not always faster than bullets. Light, however — light's so fast it might as well be instantaneous. The flicker of it off the gathering water on the floor, off the bow that manifests in Danielle's hands…

Wanda! he warns his twin, swiveling on a heel so fast he blurs — and skidding slightly. The moment he spends off-balance costs him enough time that he stays on defense rather than attacking. Sliding past the psychic arrow, he goes up for his sister, instead of staying down, on the floor. He blurs up the side of one of those massive metal racks, leaping to another and snagging his sister out of the path of the ICER fire midway.

He leaves her there, halfway up the rack. She can fly, well enough. While he does, he's visible for a split second — and then he blurs again, dropping down to the ground at the base of the rack at speed.

Something slams into the cover they're using. It's one of the ICER rounds, snatched midair and slung back barehanded at twice the speed it was shot to begin with.

"I missed on purpose," Quicksilver says. "We don't actually want to kill anyone. You should not press the matter."

*

Those dendrotoxin rounds fire from the ICERS — immediately and blurringly, faster than even the Scarlet Witch has the time to turn her head and realize they are not alone.

If it were only her here, this would be a finished fight. For as powerful as a mutant could be, and this one able to spin the yarns of reality through her fingers, Wanda Maximoff lays vulnerable to the trappings of her average body. Weak, fallible, and without defence to the simplest of strikes catching her unawares.

But this is where the Maximoff twins are a perfect unit: in a blur of movement, one protects the weakness of the other.

Before Wanda can even turn her head, Pietro bears her up to a new position, out of the trajectory of those ICER rounds. Attention stolen, she wastes no time even to wonder what those are — she trusts her brother to handle that threat — as her red eyes take in the light shimmering off that arrow. She sees it in her double sights, psychic in nature, not made of this world —

"Claim," hisses Wanda, redirecting her power forward, a curse spoken onto that arrow to stop it in the air. It spins in a caught stasis, red light circling around it, like a point in a turning roulette wheel. It could be fired back at any time — toward any person. But not yet.

Holding out her hands, red wafting off from her fingers, she holds her own position, her eyes unable yet to take in the positions of their aggressors; she has to keep her back-and-forth attention on the orbs, careful with them — refusing to lose them yet. They are /hers/ now.

"Obey my brother," she calls. "We warn you once. We want your possessions. Not your lives. You have one chance to leave."

*

"The call of common highwaymen everywhere, spilled from uncommon lips," Phil says, a flash of a mild smile casting over his lips, his eyes soft as ever, a sigh escaping them. "But I'm afraid you stepped over our line in the sand."

To his team: "What I said outside stands. Dead or alive. Whatever it takes."

There is no more plan now. There will likely only be chaos. But they need a better way to even the odds than to let this pair tear them apart with their speed and powers. He can well imagine Pietro racing around and around, taking all their weapons and making short work of it too.

"Stay together, stay on them!" He tells his team. Then he's charging down the racks. There's an artifact in here. He saw it interred here himself. Crate 444. If he can just get to Crate 444, he might be able to even the odds a lot. Sure, he's only half sure what the thing inside does, but if there were ever a time to be audacious, it would be when virtually trapped in an underground warehouse with a perfectly matched pair of mutant terrorists.

*

Rin moves away from the shelf she's using as cover as it is hit with the rebound bullet. There are a lot of dangerous boxes that can easily fall off thes shelves and squish a hacker. That guy is too fast, way too fast for her to even track with her implants, so instead she's going to go on the defensive. She quickly pulls up a schematic of the room and locates where the security terminals are. "Sorry boss, breaking rank." Rin says as she activates her cloaking device, making her fade from view and blend in with the area around her.

It doesn't take her long to find a security terminal and once she does she gets to work. Normally she doesn't hack into SHIELD things, because she likes having her job, but this is a dead or alive situation so she figures she can ask for forgivness later. Realizing that this whole place has drones that are obviously not doing their job, she activates them and gives them a target. Hopefully that'll keep them busy enough.

*

The crunchy *pak* of the bullet into the crate nearby is enough to draw her attention, but the junior Agent doesn't falter for long— her head snaps back forward, her arm remaining extended and pushing and swirling the slick of water across the floor— a steady, consistent swirl beneath Pietro and Wanda rather than wild agitation or merely leaving a puddle on the floor.

Phil takes a sharp move toward the crates, seeking out an advantage; Merrow steps away from Coulson and extends her arms out to her sides, twisting around and making a broad, wide-sweeping maneuver to … throw water at both Pietro and Wanda. No spikes of water, no jets of water, just taking some of the standing water there and just … flinging it, in one big broad damp wave, like someone would if they were trying to splash their siblings or friends in a swimming pool.

Agent Magikarp uses Splash?

But, there seems to be something to it. "Lightsocket!" she suddenly yells, a phrase that may mean nothing to some… but it's something that Sharon Carter may recognize quite well.

*

"Gotta say, I'd rather be doing this the talky way myself! But you stuck your hands in a big huge hornet's nest, guys. Drop the stuff and get out of Dodge, because I don't want to hurt you any more than you want to hurt me." Which is to say, only as necessary. Sharon's already dodging behind a stack of crates, covering Coulson's darting away.

Yeah. She's heard of these two, a little. She's heard a little of what they can do; that is to say, he's fast and she's weird and scary. Together, they make trouble.

She's already climbing up the shelf of crates when she hears Sloane call out that codephrase: she was thinking the same thing, and it's one of the exciting things about teamwork. Kneeling atop the crates, she reaches to her belt and pulls out a series of thin metal discs. She flings these onto the floor.

The wet, shiny floor. It's now a wet, shiny, highly electrified floor, at least in their general vicinity.

*

There's almost a boggle from Dani as Wanda snatches a hold of her psionic arrow. That would-be boggle then morphs into a grim set to her mouth, a narrowing of her eyes, as the Cheyenne woman manifests a second arrow within the glowing bow.

Though she doesn't shoot it, not yet. Instead she risks a brief glance at Coulson, before her gaze swings back to the would-be thieves. She could fire another psionic arrow at Pietro, but for now she doesn't.

"You know the saying - finders keepers and we found all this stuff first." Dani says, though that isn't necessarily the truth, but at this stage of the game it's all she got for witty comebacks. Sloane's call out of her catchphrase earns a quizzical look and as Sharon flings those shiny metal discs, Moonstar now commits to her own attack.%rTo the naked eye it looks as if Dani just crouches there, eyes turned toward Wanda, but upon the psychic plane a wave of energy stretches outward from Moonstar. It twists and turns, curls upon itself like lazy smoke, as the threads of fear stretch towards the Witch. The psionic attack might seem indifferent with the way it moves, until it's not, as the ribbons of energy suddenly sharpen and try to gouge deep into the Witch's mind. To pull her greatest fear, her greatest nightmare from within her mind.

*

"We warned you," murmurs the witch, in her final caution.

Then they are no more time for words.

Not when, first, that sheet of water careens unnaturally toward both she and Pietro; Wanda reacts decisively, pulling one arm in a twitching arc, red shimmering off her fingers. She holds out both palms, and her flickering scarlet manifests a shield to cut and diperse that water to either sides of her, sparing the Scarlet Witch from a single drop. A flicker of red similarly spheres her twin, protecting him in an identical barrier.

Sloane, with her unnatural features, her scales, her look of anything but human — and with those powers?

Wanda Maximoff fixes her eyes and finds her target. "Traitor," she hisses, her eyes glowing red. The stasis stops the spinning psychic arrow.

She fires it back with a streak of Moonstar's nascent light — straight at Sloane.

"Disperse!" is her next command, murmured to her own hexes — those not-yet-forgotten streams of red spinning through the air, woven filaments of light herding those black orbs closer. Wanda reroutes them decisively, her power flaring out in a shock of blinding light to unleash those orbs forward: one toward Rin, one toward Sharon.

Electricity coats the floor; Wanda is spared its immediate, incapaciting punch where she remains, left on a high perch among the crates — but Pietro. Pietro. Her witch's sight sees that funnel of power, and she thinks first only of him. Her mental cry comes too-late: Pietro—!

And breaks. Breaks when, in that moment of distraction, Danielle's second arrow hits true. The room fills briefly with the Scarlet Witch's scream of pain.

She folds over, barely teetering on her perch from a perilous drop, the red fading out of her eyes as the world shifts before her eyes. The darkened room twists into the macabre shape of her nightmares.

Wanda's breathing shallows and begins to pant. She lets go a low, thready whimper. "Mama?" she asks.

The room begins to light aflame. Hex fire, spreading and too-hot, it doesn't give off smoke — only heat. In those flickering flames, there are women — alive, screaming, burning — and Wanda screaming along with them.

*

Pietro stands still where he came to a halt. Contempt smokes in his eyes; with him, standing still is always meant as an insult. "'Common,' Agents?" he inquires. "We are not the ones who are 'common.' And it is all of you who have reached into the hornet's nest."

His blue eyes track Coulson as the man takes off running. The half-interested way he follows with his eyes calls to mind a greyhound deciding whether to course a hare. He turns slightly… only to pause when that wash of water comes crashing towards them.

He doesn't seem concerned, and the reason why soon spares both himself and his sister in a shimmering shield of red hex-light. More worrying are the electrified disks that follow: prompted by his sister's warning, Quicksilver spits a curse and is back up the metal rack like a cat, preternaturally balanced as he moves away from the now-dangerous floor. It restricts his movement — for now.

Traitor, Wanda identifies Sloane with a hiss. As the sister turns her stare on Albright, so too does her brother in exact, matched tandem.

But while Pietro is perfectly designed to protect his sister in so many physical ways, there is one significant blind spot that yet remains. He is unaware of that psychic attack against her until it peels her mind apart, and he instantly forgets everything in favor of arrowing towards her.

So quickly he barely disturbs the racks as he moves between them, he returns to her side, catching her before she can fall to the electrified floor. "Wanda," he soothes, folding around her. His hand tangles in her hair, pulling her head close against his chest, and he gives her his own mind for stability away from the fear. "It's not real. Listen to me. We need to get what we came for."

He soothes, but his eyes are fixed on Danielle, and the look in them is murderous.

He leaves his sister, once he's sure she won't fall, in a blur of speed. He can't travel the floors, so he runs the walls and the racks instead, circling around behind Danielle —
— and trying to end by driving into her back, to send her sprawling straight into the electrified water coating the floor.

*

A lot of things happen at once.

Sloane's concentration is on the water. However, right beside her, a crate explodes with some sort of energy that has burst outward after Wanda's screams. Sharp shards of a strange bone-like structure shoot forward toward her with pointed and deadly accuracy. While she manages to duck quite a lot of them, three embed themselves into her torso, somehow ignoring both armor and scales.

The crate nearest Sharon, set on fire by one of the strange kinetic beads, explodes. It knocks her backward against the shelving of the opposite wall with quite a bit of force. Out of the broken planks, a strange gelatinous substance sloshes forward, for all intents and purposes seeming to rush forward toward her in a menacing and eerie fashion. By sheer stroke of luck, the explosion of the crate knocks her out of the way of the bead Wanda shoots at her as well as the wave of ooze, if only barely. The bead pulses over her and for a moment it feels like her very blood is freezing.

Rin hacks into her own system. It's a bit easier for her to do as she has been involved in SHIELD's systems for quite awhile. There's a quick whir of technology and a dozen drones float up into the air, honing in on the Maximoff twins, ready for more direct instructions from Rin. However, she was not expecting the second attack from Wanda. The bead of energy smashes its way toward the computer and the hacker. While Rin manages to turn almost in time, a piece of energy rips through her. There's a flash of dark purple light and then a gasp, an extreme cold seeping into her very bones.

Behind the Twins, something explodes. A white hot ray of blue energy blasts across the Warehouse. It hits against crates, then metal and while there is a pause, then quickly eats through it. The glow is hard to behold.

Phil Coulson manages to make it to the crate he fears: 444. It is intact, even as everything else around him seems to fall to fire and explosion. However, there is the distinct click of a gun safety and then someone steps forward. "Ah, Agent Coulson. I had rather hoped to never see you again." The voice has a British accent, hard to place. His suit is a dark red, the shirt underneath black… impeccably dressed. "Drop your weapon and step away from the crates, if you'd please and I will restrain myself from murdering you and your teammates in cold blood."

*

Coulson skids to a stop when he hears the click of a safety, can position that gun and that voice as placing a dead man with a gun pointed in a direct line to the back of his head.

He quickly runs over what that voice triggers in his memory: Agent Palmer, presumed dead, low ranking, always rather narcissistic.

Which is why his Cheshire Cat smile flickers over his face. His tone is cool, and even as he raises his hands a little. One of his greatest strengths has always been using his words. Not just for diplomacy, but for getting into the other guy's head. Throwing them off balance. Which is why he allows even the slightest hint of mild confusion to enter his tone, as if he truly doesn't remember, with just a pinch of pissy saltiness to leave it in doubt. "I'm sorry, who are you again?"

Then he spins around, and with a surprising amount of nimbleness for his age and boxy frame, attempts a wheel kick in the hopes of knocking his assailant's gun right out of his hands and changing the flow of the battle once more. He's really got nothing to lose by trying it, and everything to gain.

As he does: "People keep saying that today. Let me do whatever or I won't kill you, blah blah blah…I keep feeling unimpressed by it."

*

Everything is going to hell in a handbasket. Rin tries to keep an eye on her team, while she hacks in to the system, and once the drones come to life a wicked smile crosses her lips. All she needs to do is hit the button. Granted, she wasn't pay attention to the Twins. She should have been, but she was invisible and had hoped that would keep her form being a target. However it's hard to miss that light coming toward her, and while she dodges the best that she can, she's still hit in the arm with that ball of energy.

The biting cold rips through her body and she has to kneel, and try to fight it off. The purple light blinds her for a moment, but once she gets her barings back she reaches up to the keyboard. All she has to do is hit enter and the drones will do her bidding.

Her hand moves over the enter key… and passes through it. She frowns and tries again, only this time it goes through the keyboard, and the desk. In a frenzy, she reaches for her gun, for the chair, anything near by. Nothing. She slaps at her cloaking device, only to see that it was what caught the blow from Wanda, and it's burned and broken.

Looking out at the team, she freezes, realizing that there is absolutely nothing she can do to help, and a panic rises in her chest.

*

"Me? You're the—"

A woosh of air, a flicker of a thought redirected by another thought. Dani's psionic bolt hits Sloane with as much force as a weaponzied thought can muster. Muscles tighten, her body lists hard to one side, and she catches herself for support on a rack.

Nightmare-stuns in the mind of Sloane are … unique, to say the least; whatever the vision she is imparted with is enough to actually catch that hitch of air in her lungs while she tries to sort what's real and what's fake, and—

— being next to an explosion really helps with that.

Sloane's scales are something of a point of pride for her: She's taken a few glancing hits from bullets at range, left safe and sound thanks to her scales. She's been able to deflect edged weapons with nothing more than the back of her forearm, thanks to her scales. It's rare for her to encounter something that can punch through that protection, but it's something of a one… well, more like a two-three, by this point.

Pain brings the whole world back into sharp focus after she's fallen to the floor, sitting upright with shards sticking out of her, punching into her abdomen, her side, and into her chest— closer to the side than center entry.

One arm pulled tight to her side, the Inhuman's pupils are little more than slits, sizeable fang-like incisors bared as she shifts to her side, to supporting herself with one arm. There isn't so much in terms of control there— the water on the ground starts to agitate wildly, shaking and rippling as she tries to get a grip on herself, and her power. Maybe she should flood the room? No, jet— or pillar? But … she can't, this THING in her god there's THREE it burns so bad—

*

It's absurd luck that she's still in one piece right now. Sharon rolls hard to one side, though her breath's been knocked out of her hard by hitting the wall. She gasps, trying to get a little air back in her lungs as she drags herself up the nearest bunch of shelves. Damned nightmare, tonight.

"Don't pretend you have control of this situation! You don't know half of what's in these crates. If you didn't want a fight, you never should have come here. All you had to do was keep your hands to yourselves!"

This is when the hideous cold really makes its way into her bones. Sharon gasps and staggers away, trying to get out of the way of the cold-radiating orb. She may not know where Pietro is, but she does know the best way to distract him is to go after the red-glowing woman. Not her preferred move, but any port in a storm. Sharon's not remotely as fast as the mutant witch's twin, but can he really be in two places at once?

*

Things dissolve into chaos in record time. Everything seems to explode at once, with fantastical and bizarre effects. Even Pietro recoils after his strike against Moonstar, retreating from ground zero and the volatile things happening all around.

His head turns abruptly to that piercing white-hot energy blast. The searing blue light reflects in his eyes as he stares. Hey, Wanda… he prompts his sister. I think I see something I like.

He turns back towards her, still avoiding the floor warily, crossing racks and walls until he's back by his sister's side. His head turns to Sharon's shouting as she homes in on Wanda as well. What she has to say draws a thin smile out across his features. "Looks like SHIELD doesn't know half of what's in these crates, either," he observes.

He pauses. "I'm sorry," he asks, feigning confusion. "Was this even much of a 'fight'?"

He picks his sister up, and tries to make for the crate which spewed that ray of searing light.

*

The room bathes, briefly, in a hell of hex fire —

Until Pietro draws Wanda close, and brother soothes sister from her nightmares. For an instant, she struggles, crazed and insensate, her eyes reflecing only a broken memory: forced to relive it, over and over again, being pulled away by a child and watching her own mother die to a fire of her own making. She couldn't stop it. Couldn't control it. She didn't mean to. She didn't mean to —

But there is a reprieve to the psychic assault, and it is in the Maximoffs' minds, long-linked by one of Wanda's strongest and most formative hexes. She finds a mental footing in Pietro's mind, and reaches in, pulling herself to psychic safety — able to think again, able to see past the nightmare — able to realize what has been done.

Tears stream down her cheeks as the witch trembles, and from inside Pietro's mind, rewrites the probability of the psychic arrow burning through her body. No more, she commands the world, and rerolls its die. The arrow disappears from her body.

She sags for a moment, pulled away from a fall, and replaced to safety by her brother. Back to cognizance, she collects herself, and her mind finally returned — Pietro leaves to take care of the bow-woman, Moonstar.

Wanda takes those same moments to regroup. She casts one hand and turns her hexfire, moving its sweeping barrier to crawl along the watery floor — both to dry that water and to paint a burning barrier across the room, better to try to cut off both she and her brother from the remaining agents. It burns perilously close to where Moonstar has been dispatched — not an immediate attack, but a threat. Her comrades will have to save her.

Without meaning to, as well, fire shoots up at Phil's back — trapping him with his newest dance partner. Blocking them both in together.

Within moments, Pietro blurs back to Wanda's side, and pulls her into his arms. Her tears have dried, and though still pale, her expression sharpens back into resolve. Then it's yours, she answers in his mind.

"Tunnel," she whispers, bringing the red back to her eyes, to her hands, and flicking free from a curling beckon of her fingers.

Her power crackles, distorts, and opens the very seams of reality — the witch is opening a portal, suspended high up at the tops of the stands, next to that coveted crate in question. Big enough to see both Maximoffs and parcel through.

*

Pietro’s attack against Moonstar careens her backward into the electrified water. For a moment, she attempts to pull out of it, but she falls unconscious from the attack. The fire curls up and threatens to burn her.

Rin’s fingers pass through the console. It actually seems like everything she attempts to touch is intangible to her. The drones still swirl around the room and continue their last command, to harry Pietro and Wanda. The hacker, however, doesn’t seem to be able to interact with the material world at the moment.

The spines embedded into Sloane remain, pulsing with pain - as if made to combat her physiology exactly. Once placed, they do not attempt to burrow. Instead, it seems their main strength is the ability to withstand Inhuman physiology to harm them.

A flash of unbridled anger crosses the man’s face when Coulson asks who he is. Coulson knows who he is. He knows. “I guess I will have to impress you.”

The spin kick catches him surprised. The gun in his hand goes skittering to the ground. However, the moment lasts only that long. As the kick knocks out the gun, he’s redirecting, grabbing the leg and then shoving him forward. In most gun fights, the exact thing you want is distance. Shooting someone squirming in close combat is a bit harder to get a clean shot.

However, a knife? A knife is a different story. The fire from the Scarlet Witch - a newfound ally - comes at the most opportune moment. From his belt a sharp blade is drawn and Palmer shoves it quickly and thoroughly up between Phil Coulson’s ribs. It’s a practiced cut. He knows what he is doing. He draws back and shoves it again into his belly.

There’s something of a smirk before he leans forward to briefly press a kiss against his forehead. “Sorry Phil. I win.”

*

Phil Coulson is a little older, a little slower, than when they'd last met. Than when he'd last trusted this man, despite his flaws. He'd suspected when he first saw the assassin's back in the footage at the nursing home, but he hadn't been sure. He'd mourned this man's death, even in spite of all the friction that had arisen between them, there at the end.

The leg is grabbed, shoved forward, and Phil is off balance. There's suddenly roaring flame in the direction he might have stumbled in to save himself. He's forced to twist painfully and shove himself in a different direction, one that pins him down rather than frees him up for some different action.

He hits the shelf with a grunt, and before he can recover there's his assailant, pressed against him so that the ICER rifle Phil would have gone for in the next second is shoved between them, caught and pinned at an odd, useless angle.

The killer is fast. Fast as a viper. He always had been. Phil feels the bite of the blade, feels it tear through his heart. Coughs as blood bubbles up through his lips, staining them red. Staining his teeth red, too. As scarlet as Wanda's witchery, even as flames paint odd lines across his face, casting half in a golden glow, half in utter, writhing darkness.

"Okay," he admits, hoarsely. "I'm a little impressed."

He goes limp, staring into the smirking man's eyes as he plants his Judas' kiss upon Phil's brow.

Blackness may be creeping in around the edges of his vision, but he's still got a duty to do. One last duty.

"But Benjamin. You shouldn't say you've won until you're really…really sure…"

Many of these crates have certain protocols. For example, if the keypad on the electronic ones— like crate 444 —gets the wrong code too many times, or is outright destroyed? The inside of the box is showered with a powerful acid that renders whatever is inside useless. The acids are matched to the technology and the structure by the likes of Agent Fitz, and they rarely fail. Summoning one last Herculean burst of strength, Coulson rears up as if he's about to do something to Palmer

Only to slam his elbow backwards into the crate's keypad hard enough to send the keys snapping and popping with energy. It flares red, it beeps, there's a hiss and it starts steaming.

And then he smiles that serene Cheshire Cat smile as the blackness closes in, and his heart stops.

*

The smile effects Palmer. As soon as he knows Phil is no longer a threat, he grabs at the crate. However, there is an immediate knowledge that it is burned. Phil has bested him in this. There is a snarl and pushes himself up. Shoving the body of Phil petulantly, he stands straighter. Then, he steps backward and steps into the shadows and leaves as the waves of his team grieving starts.

*

The water continues to thrash and bubble and jump around as Sloane tries to grab at it; the effect to her is like trying to pick up a puddle that's being stomped in repeatedly— the water won't lift. The shards sticking out of her just … burn, and dig, while adrenaline and fury push her toward trying to move on ahead.

Her weight shifts, lurching forward. Her gaze lifts to see it — the knife, the fall. "C-Coulson—"

The elbow going into the keypad, while her mouth opens wider and her face gets hot, trying to drag herself across the ground while her body protests, while pain is getting the worst of her. "COULSON!"

Merrow's arm slips— on her own water, left behind in all the chaos, as she hits the floor and gasps.

*

Rin's panic grows as things continue to get worse, but something in the back of her head just snaps. "I'm not real." Is she dead? Is she a ghost? She isn't sure, and logic is failing her as well. She repeats that phrase over and over, even if she doesn't want to, to where it almost becomes a mantra. She spent years seperating herself from her past, letting who she really is die away and wrap herself in a fake persona. She should be able to handle this, it's not a big deal, just a small hurtle. She tries to sooth herself, to push away the panic and anxiety when something catches her attention.

She hadn't noticed Phil's combantant, and when she notices their struggle she starts to snap out of it. She has to help, some how, even if it's a distraction. Though her thoughts are too slow, and her movements even slower. She winces with each stab, and once she see's Phil fall, all of her control is gone. Rin is normally very controlled, showing annoynce, frustration, anger and smugness as her range of emotions. She screams, when she watches Phil slump over. Running to his side, for a second she is glad that nothing stands in her way, that she can phase through everything on her way there. Her frist instinct is to try and stop the blood, but her hands phase right through Phil's body. She tries again, hoping that maybe her stubborness will fix it, but nothing, she keeps going right through. Finally she screams through the sobbing.

"Carter! Albright! Someone! Anyone! Phil is down! Help him! I can't… He's.." That's all she gets out as she continues to scream in frustration, and fail at stopping the blood from leaving his body.

*

That's the last time she's going to be stupid enough to go easy on the Maximoffs. Sharon fires a few parting shots at the twins as they depart. There's fire on one side but there's Sloane bleeding on the other, and she sprints toward her to try and get those spikes out of her. Skidding to Sloane's side, she starts scooping her up just as she hits the ground, but that's when her words and Rin's words hit her consciousness.

This place is chaos. Crates are exploding, burning, melting. Their quarry is gone. Got right past her. So did someone else. Someone else, because Coulson, Phil Coulson, is lying so still.

Adrenaline takes over. She hauls Sloane up, whether she needs to get her comrade in a fireman carry or just needs to give her a hand with whatever's impaled her, but they don't have time to bleed. And Sharon's fine. Just fine. Got the wind knocked out of her, but she's not even bleeding, and guilt and horror rack her gut as she half-carries, half-drags Sloane to where Phil is…

He's so still. He's so still. His eyes are glazed and he's staring at the ceiling and his chest isn't moving, not at all, except for the blood that his heart pumped out while it still had the strength to do so.

Agent 13 is known to crack the odd joke. She's calm and cheerful and keeps her cool at all times, even when she's faced with an enormous green rage monster. Since her aunt's murder, she's been… subdued, but she's been putting all that pain into working harder, but seeing Phil Coulson like this…

She starts speaking into her comm: "Agent down! Repeat, agent down!"

But there's no orders that she can get from the guy who always knows what they should do next. He doesn't tell her what her next step should be.

"Beta Team." Her voice is cracking. "Beta team, we need extraction! Now! Get the bus running and — and — "

She's on her knees, setting Sloane down as gently as she can (and where's Rin? She can hear her, she swears, but) and reaching out. Her hands aren't even at Coulson's chest before she knows that there's nothing she can do. CPR won't start a slashed heart. Over and over she tells herself: it can't be real. This can't be real. This didn't happen.

But nothing's certain anymore, and she just stares. Impulsively, ridiculously, she reaches down and swipes the blood and hair away from his face. He looks undignified. He wouldn't want to look undignified. She can't do anything else.

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