Collab featuring @Ezekiel
With the noise suppression system active the helicopter was practically silent, floating through the sky like it was suspended on invisible strings. It flew in and out of the clouds of smoke, punching holes through them that shifted and filled in as it passed. Grace and Julie spent the time looking at the screens in the cockpit, reading through chemical analysis of the smoke and the records of energy signatures detected. They were mundane, extremely mundane, enough to rule out suspects like the Verbena and the Nephandi, the speed with which the fire had spread indicated it wasn’t natural, but there was nothing else they could discern about it. Julie had started to drum he fingers on the console to numb the boredom, until Grace started to speak
“Perhaps there is something we can do besides survey the damage.”
“I thought we weren’t supposed to get involved” Julie said
“We shouldn’t get involved just because some release of chemicals inside the brain triggers a million year old instinct for empathy. We have more sophisticated tools to guide us, including an algorithm appropriate for this situation. It’s running right now, and will tell us where our efforts have the most impact.”
“How does it do that?”
“It’s too complicated for us to understand, if it stayed within the bounds of human cognition it would never be able to perform as well as it does. What we need to know is its accuracy, which was around the four sigma mark last time it was tested.”
The algorithm told them to focus on one area near the hills, close to the edge where the slope got too steep for dense development. Grace turned on the helicopter's searchlight and swept the area, flittering rapidly from point to point.
As the light from the flare began to trail and die, Henry barely surpressed the urge to swear loudly. He had no particular feelings against such, but remaining calm would likely assist in his efforts to keep a certain Kindred from giving in to the curse of her blood. His concerns were but to rest a moment later when a spotlight blazed into life in the night sky, from a point he was very much sure a helicopter hadn't occuped a moment before, or the noise would have been rather clear. With the flare gun spent, all he could do was wave, atop the landing pad as they were all ready. For a moment he considered uncovering Nicole, but decided it probably wasn't the strangest thing anyone might do with a fire racing towards them.
With the attention of the rescue craft hopefully drawn, his focus moved back to the onrushing fire, peering into the darkness that lay between the scouring motes of light. His expression pulled into a frown, it wasn't clear, even for him, but he certinly felt like he had percieved larger shapes moving among the darkness, pressing just behind, and somehow within, the approaching wall of fire.
"Best land soon..." He muttered to himself, feeling the rush of air begin to play across his back from the closing distance of the helicopter.
Nicole had been in many life-threatening situations as a Los Angeles police officer, from being caught up in the crossfire of city block rival gang wars, to highspeed car chases on the Interstate. And while such cases could never be forgotten, it seemed as though her experiences as one being reborn into a supernatural were rought with nightmarish scenarios. This time around had been no different, and she felt as helpless as a child.
All the woman knew about the escalating emergency was that there had a been a large fire, which apparently was heading toward the Sunset. The thick comforter from the hotel room -throat over her entire body and doused with water by Henry- had cut her off from most of her surroundings, leaving only sound and scent to guide her anxious mind. The sounds of screams, the scent of burning timber, and the rising feeling of dread all seemed to hit her at once.
What was this about? If she'd had a living heart, it would most certainly be pumping at an extreme rate. But what had replaced it was a fear unknown, and flashes of memories she couldn't understand. Memories that were not her own, but perhaps...
Her thoughts were cut off by the sound of the rotary engine on what sounded like a helicopter hovering overhead. She wanted to say something. Anything. But the right words wouldn't surface. Nicole simply knelt down, keeping her body covered as instructed, and putting as much faith as could be mustered into the one known as Henry Locke.
The flare was exactly the kind of signal Grace had been looking for. It came from the roof of a building that she had visited before, but Sunset was not a place she knew well or was fond of. The searchlight panned over the roof for a quick inspection, seeing one figure standing up and another indistinct one beside him. No need to sift through a crowd to find who to evacuate. More lights on the helicopter turned on as it pivoted and began its approach to land. These were not so much for illuminating the surrounding as letting people know where not to stand.
As it descended lower the force of the rotors began to buffet the building, blowing dust and smoke particles around the rooftop. Unlike the skyscrapers downtown, landing on this narrow rooftop was a tricky matter. Thanks to computer assistance and focusing her attention to level bordering on a trance, Grace was able to guide the helicopter down to the roof. The rotors themselves never stopped moving, just in case they needed to make a hasty exit, but once the helicopter was resting solidly on its landing gear, it’s pitch black, unmarked airframe illuminated by the glow coming from the distance, the door to the passenger compartment opened. Behind the darkened windows of the cockpit, Grace spoke over the loudspeaker. “Hello. Are you in need of evacuation?”
"Ticket for one please, conductor." Henry spoke with more humour than he felt, guiding Nicole over to the vehicle, which couldn't be any more 'Men-In-Black' if it tried. He made sure to keep her turned away from the fire as best he could, but it likely wouldn't be long before it would become impossible to do so. "Most of everyone else has got out of here, but I'll attend to that, if you can get her safe, then call, or have her call, this number." Henry waggled a simplistic business card, before slotting it, somewhat condescendingly, into one of the prominent folds of the blanket held over Nicole, assisting her up as best she could, when it became evident these new arrivals weren't about to just lure them in to blast them away. "If there's a matter of payment, the lady on the other end will square that away." He spoke hurridly, less careful than he would like to be with someone who he'd promised to keep safe, but he could feel the tension building. Something beyond the fire was rushing towards them, and he wanted them all gone before it struck.
Henry Locke took a few steps back from the craft, giving it room to lift away without fear of blasting him back, before the roof itself seemed to shudder. It wasn't the fire, that was still a fair few minutes from reaching the structure. Something had bounded out of the darkness, leaping over the flames to land atop the roof on the otherside of the rooftop lounge. It's form was huge, still obscured by darkness, but the growl building in its throat gave it away to those who had experienced one before.
"Ah...fuck my life." He spoke with a resigned sigh, swinging his long bag to the ground, pulling the rifle within as his spatial awareness caught sight of other such shapes prowling closer in the darkness below. "Get in the air!" He called back to the darkened vehicle behind him, before aiming the sights of his weapon across to the Garou as it prepared to lunge.
"Chew on this, you jumped up poodle."
The scent and sound of everything around her swirled into a cacophony of elements she couldn't decipher in her mind, as the literal shroud of darkness kept her safe -allegedly- from the external terrors. Shit that could bring a fledgling vampire to the bring of destroying oneself...or others. She had heard enough about it from Eva during their time together. It was the Frenzy
, that wild and untamed creature luring just under the skin, ready to strike at a moments notice if it wasn't for the immense willpower Kindred had to grasp in order to maintain their cover.
Nicole did what she had to do in order to keep the beast at bay, and lucky for her, anxiety of the unknown seemed to be the only real issue at the moment. Not seeing the doom-to-come helped to an extent, but as Henry continued ushering her toward the helicopter entry, she knew there was precious little time before the ugly would emerge.
The door shut automatically as Nicole got on board, leaving the passenger compartment dark inside. Grace waited until the helicopter was off the ground and several hundred feet clear of the building before she left pilot seat. From what she could see was happening on the rooftop, it looked like they had left just in time. The helicopter continued on its path, autopilot did a decent job of taking them towards an uncrowded part of the airspace and maintaining a holding pattern. If anything more difficult came up, Grace was still plugged in to take care of it.
Grace sat still in a seat facing whoever was underneath that hotel comforter. She said nothing, just watching and waiting for her passenger to reveal herself. As far as she knew there was nothing imminently dangerous aboard, yet there were few other details she could tell. A business card that had fallen to the floor when boarding provided a hint, and Grace studied the details, trying to cross-reference and see if it was a familiar design. Behind her ever-present sunglasses, Grace was staring so intently one wondered if she was trying to burn a hole through the floor with vision alone.
Into the heart of chopper, a new scent was revealed. Her surroundings seemed newer, sterile even, as though walking into a big-box electronics store and being assaulted by the smell of technology. Nicole sighed, and slid the comforter off enough to peek her head out, before sliding the rest off as it fell in the seat next to her. She said nothing for a few moments, rubbing the dark stubble on the top of her shaven head, and allowing her eyes to dart around the small space until they fell onto the mysterious woman with the dark shades. The Gangrel was no empath, at least not from any supernatural standpoint, but she didn't get as uneasy a feeling from the woman across from her as one would think.
"So..." She bit lightly on the side of her lip. "Who're you?"
Sure, it was a direct question and part of her felt the slight sense of guilt for not even thanking her "savior" for the quick escape, but her mind continued to race enough that perhaps gratitude would need to wait. She needed answers. It sucked being in the dark.
After seeing Nicole, Grace searched her memories. She had seen her, but they hadn't interacted. The readings of the vital signs showed that Nicole had undergone some profound changes. While looking to see if there was more, Grace said
"Someone you've met before, back when you still had a normal heartbeat. I gave counterterrorism briefing at your precinct. I believe you were in the back, seldom looking at the presentation. You may not remember me, I have a way of making myself particularly unmemorable."
The Gangrel arched an inquisitive eyebrow, silent for a moment while pondering the other's words. "Ah, unfortunately I don't remember you, but there have also been countless meetings and presentations." She allowed a slight snicker, as though that were about the only humorous moment that evening.
"Anyway." Nicole sighed. "I-uh, probably should thank you for the pick up." She leaned her head against the leather seat. "So yeah. Thanks." The woman smiled only slightly, closing her eyes if only for a brief moment. "Although I wish I knew just what the fuck was going on in this city."
Grace looked down and reach for the floor, picking up the plain looking piece of cardstock by Nicole. With an even tone in her voice, she said
"Don't we all. That is a large question, I would like to focus on something smaller in scope"
She held the card up with her outstretched hand and said
"Who this business card belongs to..."