Light began to pour into the windows through the crisp white curtains of Lauren Danver's Chelsea apartment as her eyes squinted, adjusting to the morning. She instinctively turned to her side to avoid the light and steal a few more moments of rest when she was interrupted by a sharp pain shooting up her arm. "For fuck's sake!" Shooting up in the bed, she looked down at her arm, which was firmly wrapped and propped up on a pillow next to her. Thanks to one hell of a painkiller, she had forgotten for a second that she had been knicked by a bullet. She forgot for a moment the abject horror that was the courthouse the night before. As she slowly began to wake up, the events from the night before came shooting back to her like another bullet, only this one was right to the heart. << FLASH!>> She grabbed the bridge of her nose and began to press it, trying to gain control of herself. Lauren was experiencing a bit of post traumatic stress, but after shaking her head back and forthe and plopping back down on her white down comforter for a moment, she exhaled deeply. The station had put her on leave, and told her to rest, but she couldn't let herself. Today was election day in the city, and all eyes were on Sharon Kelly and William Stryker. After the fiasco of the trial, and Senator Kelly's HARD stance against the actions of MysTech, an organization that was rumored to be in bed with Stryker, the air in the city was thick, and Lauren, though not necessarily in the best emotional state, or physical health for that matter, was not going to miss this story, especially when she had a bigger one to tell. She was not going to let the death of her friend and other innocent people in thist city be in vain. There were people who had to answer for things, and Lauren Danvers was going to make sure that they did. Making her way down the hall and to the bathroom, Lauren carefully showered, re-wrapped her arm in a way that would allow her not to look like a bumbling idiot, slipped into a pair of tight fitting jeans, a loose black blouse and a dark black leather jacket. Returning to her bedroom, she walked over to her vanity, and opened a large ornate jewelry box that sat on the center of the powdering table, pulling out a long diamond chain cross necklace and putting it around her neck. Though the necklace looked decorative and beautiful, it had actually been given to Lauren by her mother when she first moved to the big city after high school. She was a New Yorker through and through, but she hadn't always lived on the "big island". She grew up on a beautiful property in Central New York, a place where people rode horses, tended fields, grew their own crops, and loved God. Lauren had always prided herself on finding a healthy balance between her own liberal ideals and the conservative ideals of her family and community, but by the time she graduated high school, she felt compelled to be in a more diverse place, with people more in lines with her own beliefs. Still, whenever she put this necklace around her neck, she felt a little more protected, and it reminded her to be herself, especially in a city where everybody was trying to be more important than they were. From underneath the bottom of the vanity, Lauren pulled something out that was going to offer a lot more tangible protection than a cross. She snapped open the barrel of her revolver, clicked on the safety and clipped the gun to the holster inside her leather jacket. While her mother may have been a woman of faith, her father was a man of action. She had been shooting guns since she was a little girl, and her father had forbid her from moving to a place like New York City without be locked and stocked. Giving herself another once over in the mirror, she exhaled deeply, grabbed her purse from the hall and headed out into the city to find some answers. ============================================================================== Every good journalist had connections, and sometimes those connections could be considered dubious. But in days where local law enforcement to elected officials could be bought off, or worse, were more crooked than the criminals they persecuted, sometimes the people who walked in morally grey territory had the clearest vision as to what was going on. Lauren however, was beginning to re-think her connections as she sat in a tiny Brooklyn apartment that was less than desirable and smelled like piss, peering over the shoulder of somebody typing away on the computer feverishly and with great skill. His name was Peter, known to the hacking world as Firewall. He was a mutant with the ability of technopathy. He could mentally access computers and technology and bend them to his will. He was part of a group of mutant outsiders who called themselves The Morlocks, who were mutants that didn't easily integrate into society, be through some kind of physical disfiguration their mutations caused or via other ways. Peter often operated more like a computer than a person which made it hard for him to form relationships with others, or make any real connection with something that wasn't plugged in. Lauren had met Peter doing a story for Channel Six that explored the mysterious goings on in the underground subway systems of the city. Lauren had painted The Morlocks in a sympathetic light in her story and Peter would thank her by offering her what information he could find from time to time. She didn't like to employ these kinds of methods, but she was beginning to believe that her story would never be cracked by normal channels. Peter: "This is just a list of names and locations. What do you want me to do with this. I need an objective." [Lauren thought for a moment] "Well...you can access virtually any computer right? I'm hoping you can find something on SOME kind of server that ties these keywords together. A lead of a location I can go and find some answers." Peter: "I can perform that function yes. This is a list of prominent people in the city. Do you believe them to be mutants? Or working along side MysTech? These people are associates of Sharon Kelly. People like Sharon Kelly. The mutants trust her. The Morlocks trust her. If you want me to help you find information that discredits her, I cannot help you." Lauren placed her hand on Peter's shoulder, and tucked a bit of her espresso brown hair behind her ears, her bright brown eyes staring sincerely into his own dark, almost black brown. "In the past few years, I have seen these people interfere in various dealings involving Victor Klein. I saw a van with these people dissappear in some kind of "disc" of energy. I've watched Vivica Lennox address an entire room of press as Morgan Victoria...and everybody believed her, and I watched a good friend get gunned down in the tussle. I've seen District Attorney Alycia Barnett ready to pounce on one of them, only to back off. In my own research i've found several of them are blood related to people once associated with MysTech. So why is Sharon Kelly openly associating with these people? Why has Alycia Barnett backed off? I'm not going to lie to the people of New York City. I'm not going to promote a woman who might very well be running one of the biggest "coup d'etats" that politics has ever seen. I respect her work, and she is far less dubious than William Stryker, but Peter...if Sharon Kelly and her associates are responsible for all these random acts of violence throughout New York City, the public deserves to know..." [softening her voice] "Please trust me...I WANT her to come up clean, but if she's protecting these people, who seem to be just at the edge of every disaster the city has faced in the last few years, then she is just as guilty for covering it up. We need people in office who really want to help the mutant population, and that includes yourself. We need to know the truth...so can you please, help me?" Peter looked her up and down with an almost robotic glance before turning his face back to the many computer screens as a television screen in the background began to broadcast Sharon Kelly heading towards her headquarters on the night of the election. "I really hope you're telling the truth, Senator...I REALLY do." ============================================================================== NYC - Unknown Location From the slums of Brooklyn to a very dubious looking neighborhood of warehouses, Lauren was navigating her way through uncharted territories. Peter had found a server that contained the keywords she gave him. There were enough keyword hits on this server that Peter had essentially told her that everything she might want to know about the people she was investigating would be found here. So when she came to the address and found a completely empty, abandoned looking storefront that was padlocked, her heart sank in her stomach for a moment. "Just perfect..." The night had gotten incredibly cold as she crossed her arms and steadied herself against the cold. She looked both ways around her before realizing that she was completely alone. Her phone vibrated with election results, with different counties reporting at a rapid rate. She wanted more than anything to be on the press floor during this time. She loved elections. There was such a passion for investigative journalism during this time. People actually watched the news and wanted to know what was going on in the world. It was one of the best times to be a journalist. Instead, she had been placed on leave and had been barred from all sites, even after getting aclaim for her coverage of the trial, having a front row seat given to her by Alycia Barnett. All of this had been for nothing, or so she thought. Shaking her head, she steadied herself. "No Lauren. This is not for nothing. You WILL uncover the truth. You WILL figure out what's going on, and you WILL blow the lid off this whole story." Cracking her neck back and forth, she pulled the gun from her leather jacket and shot the padlock with expert aim, as it was throttled from the door, shattering in pieces. Satisfied with herself, she opened the door and headed inside to near complete darkness. The atmosphere here was strange. Random papers littered the floor and it looked like some kind of accident had happened, but just centralized to inside the location. Exposed brick and frayed pipes and wires were everywhere. She tried to navigate her way to the back of the space when she found herself tripping on the rubble, falling face first into a pile of brick and broken cement. "UGH!" Groaning in pain, Lauren tried to prop herself up, only to fall down again, but this time she felt something interesting underneath her. Digging through the rubble and decay of the building she had soon uncovered a very large and ominous looking padlock door, in the middle of the room. There was obviously more to this place than met the eye, and though there was a large part of Lauren that wanted to flee in this moment and not look back, her drive to uncover the truth caused her to grab a large beam from the rubble, and using all her strength, PRY the padlock door open which revealed a staircase to darkness. She didn't know where she was headed, but any member of The Six would be able to tell, that Lauren Danvers was entering The Citadle. ============================================================================= Lauren was lost in wonder as she walked through the decaying remains of the expansive facility, not knowing the true terror it held. From her purse, she grabbed a device that Peter had given her to track the signal of the server. He had been unable to find any blueprints of the area for her, and it seemed that even the technopath was unaware of the large and ominous place that lay beneath the floor of the unassuming store front. The energy in this place was dark, and as the steps of her heeled boots clacked throughout the area, all of which was in various states of decay and ruin. What was this place and why was it here? And why was the tracker device she held in her hand, beeping and pulsating brightly, guiding her to the location of a server that housed information on people like Morgan Victoria and Cameron King. What information about these people was so deeply hidden in the underground ruins of the city. "Lauren, what have you gotten yourself into this time?" Walking for what felt like forever, only the light of her device guiding her way, she soon rounded the corner to find herself in an area that looked as if it used to house a number of offices encased in glass panel, crystaline walls, or at least what used to be. As she walked down the hall, she saw the remants of conference tables and almost ancient looking computers when compared to today's technology. Deeper into the area she went, noticing the crackling of energy from stray power wires as she went, meaning the place still somehow had power, or the ability to get the power back on. Maybe this terrible and haunting looking place would prove to be worth just how scared she was to be here. Soon the signal on her tracking device began to make a LOT of noise, letting her know that she was close to her desired location. She began to walk with more speed, wanting to get out of this place as soon as possible and hoping she remembered the steps she had taken to get there. Rounding the corner, she stopped just where the signal began to triangulate, which was a demolished office with a computer still intact. Looking around for signs of troubles, she made her way over to the chair and sat down on the computer, sitting down and pressing the power button. Much to her SHOCK and surprise, the computer began to power on. "Oh Peter! Thank you! You beautiful bastard, thank YOU!" She pressed a button on the device that shot out a USB chip that she promptly plugged into the side of the device, which would send a signal to Peter back in his apartment, allowing him to hack into the computer with his mind remotely, boosting the signal incredibly. She watched as the computer began to flash through a number of blue and black screens with an incredible amount of numbers and symbols as she watched in wonder. She was seconds away from blowing the lid on this whole story, so pleased with herself that at first she didn't hear the sounds of something coming her way. When it came closer, a chill went down her entire spine. Scratch Scratch Scratch It sounded like an animal, an animal that was getting closer to her. She looked at the screen of the computer, but nothing was making sense yet. She knew that if some kind of wild animal had made it's way down here, it likely was resilient and not friendly, and she would be a sitting duck in the four walls of this office. She decided to check the area as she sat up from the desk and walked out of the door frame. The shuffle of multiple feet began to get LOUDER as she could tell that WHATEVER was down here with here was now RUNNING towards something. "Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit!" She ran back to the computer, which was still filtering through a number of different screens, a message to her that whatever was on these servers was DEEPLY encrypted and not meant to ever leave this room. "Just a few more seconds...just a few more seconds..." << BARK! >> Lauren lost it. She was putting herself in too much danger. There was no cell phone service down here, nobody even knew this was where she was. If something happened to her, nobody would ever know what it was. Her story would never be told, and she would never be able to figure out what was going on in the city. It took everything in her to LEAVE the computer behind, and perhaps she hesistated for one minute too long. The second she left the frame of the door, she was only several yards ahead of a group of HORRIFYING looking DOGS (Hellhounds) running right at her in a dead heat. Lauren's pulse raised as she ran like she had never ran before, desperately hoping that she could make it up the hatch she had crawled out of before being eaten alive by a group of dogs that looked as if they were ZOMBIES. They began to bark loudly as their paws made haunting clacking sounds on the floor behind her, every step she ran it felt like they were closing the gap between her. She leaped up with ease over the tops of a few steps that she had walked down earlier. Thinking quickly, she HURLED a number of piled up tables and chairs in the stairwell down, breaking into the dogs, seeming to slow them down for a moment. From inside her jacket she grabbed her revolver. as she traveled up the stairs, so desperately close towards the ladder that would lead her back up to reality, free from the horrors of this god foresaken place. Hiking up more stairs in the winding stairwell, she quickly turned around, having lost two of the dogs in the pack. When she had a clear SECOND she took aim and shot one of the dogs in the head and watched as it fell back. These dogs were CRAZED, and they seemed to have a RAVENOUS blood lust. They were hunting her, and they look liked they hadn't eaten...let alone been ALIVE for quite some time. As she made her way into the area, a BEACON of light poured down on the ladder that led to the store front as she charged, running towards the ladder, jumping up and GRABBING the highest step of the ladder she could, using her upper arm strength to PULL herself as high as possible, out of harm's way. The dogs LEPT for her, one grabbing the bottom of her pants and pulling WILDLY. "NO! BAD DOG!" She kept one hand on the ladder as she aimed the gun again, a testament to her upper body strength and promptly shot the dog right in the face, watching it's head as explode as a whimper and a thud could be heard when it's dead body made contact with the ground. She proceeded to climb up the ladder with the speed of light, CLOSE the padlock and run out into the city, looking for any sign of human life. Her adrenaline pumping. She had seen YET ANOTHER crazy thing, and she was beginning to get pissed off. WHO were these PEOPLE and WHAT were they HIDING? If nobody wanted to give her the answers, she was going to get them DIRECTLY from the source. She was going to meet with SHARON KELLY herself. As she pulled her phone out of her purse, there was a flooding of messages announcing Sharon Kelly's win and celebratory party at The Rainbow Room. Lauren didn't care anymore. She wanted the truth and if that meant confronting the newly elected Senator in front of her constituents, then SO be it. She wasn't far from the place, and she was running on PURE adrenaline, and the idea of being out in the open space brought her an incredible amount of comfort. Lauren didn't realize that the next twenty minutes would change her life forever, and lead to more questions. ============================================================================== The streets of New York City were cold and as Lauren could see her breath in the air, she was secretly stewing, her mind in a flurry of rage and negativity at what she had just experienced. That place was haunting, and it was VERY clear that you didn't need to be a mutant or a psychic to know that very BAD things happened in that place, things that these mysterious MUTANTS were going to ANSWER for. Lauren KNEW that it had to be connected to MysTech, and she was beginning to get VERY tired not being able to pull the pieces of the puzzle together. She was SO lost in thought that initially she didn't see the stretch escalade limo zoom past her. She WAS however, JOLTED back into reality as she heard SCREECHING tires. Lauren looked into the street to see the limo halted in action as a man approached the vehichle and began to bombard the limo with cameras. Something was wrong here. Lauren hid behind a car parked on the street and watched before all of a sudden the man was SHOT through the window! "Oh My GOD!" Everything turned into total chaos RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER EYES as SPARKS began to shoot from the "man's" face and a STRONG...almost EARTHQUAKE like feeling begins to flood the area causing the streetlights to flicker on and off violently as a TERRIBLE sound begans to fill the space like BOOMING thunder and that's when she saw it. The most incredibly BIG and TALL robot looking creature she had ever seen in her life. Forget the disc of energy, forget the zombie dogs. This was the most horrifying thing she had ever encountered in her life. From her purse, she grabbed her camcorder and IMMEDIATELY began to film the event. THIS time she would get the story...if she got out of this stretch of city block alive. The sidewalks began to crack as she took reprieve in an alley, peeking around the corner. "This is Lauren Danvers...and I don't know WHAT exactly I'm looking at..this is BAD. VERY bad." She looked up in the sky, not even being able to make out the face of the giant robot that was causing absolute PANDEMONIUM in the city. That's when she noticed something. A burst of energy in the air. Using her zoom lense, she put it on the highest resolution possible, before audibly gasping at what she had discovered. "Morgan VICTORIA! FLYING!?!" Lauren watched with intrigue and horror as the giant robot SMACKED her from the sky and sent her slamming into the ground and INTO the limo, the crunch and crashing of glass and steel causing Lauren's face to repel in horror. "I believe that Morgan Victoria...rumored mutant has just been..has just been KILLED by the giant robot in the sky!" "Sharon and Alycia were in the limo?!" Immediately she wants to go to Alycia and make sure she is okay. But what can she do? She wasn't a mutant, she had no power and inserting herself in this situation could cause others, including Alycia and Sharon to be hurt even WORSE than they appeared to be. Both were bloody and near unconsciousness, but still Lauren documented. If ANY of them survived, if Sharon HAD been telling the truth about MysTech and THIS was some HORRIBLE attempt to silence her and her friends, the world would KNOW! << FLASH! >> << FLASH! >> Lauren was hyperventilating as she filmed. What she had just seen was incredibly unexplainable. Not only were these people all mutants or otherwise gifted, they seemed united in the cause to destroy the GIANT that was before them. She could hear it speak, she could hear it adjusting it's path, seeming to get smarter with every brilliant display of power it shot at them. This HAD to be from MysTech. It seemed to have been CREATED to kill mutants, adjusting to their powers and counteracting them. Though she had never been more scared in her entire life, she moved closer to the scene, her heart pounding as she hid behind a series of newspaper dispensers. And then... "This CAN'T be happening! This CAN'T be happening..This---" Lauren Danvers began to hyperventilate as tears streamed down her face wildly. Sharon Kelly. SENATOR Sharon Kelly was just KILLED in the streets of New York by the giant entity that seemed as if it were about to destroy the entire city. Each of Alycia's CRIES and SCREAMS seemed to reverberate through the area, causing goosebumps on Lauren's skin as she too wept along with the district attorney. She felt foolish for questioning them, for trying to bust a story wide open that was deeper than she might ever SURVIVE to know. She could hear the police sirens all over the city as the entire area seemed to be INCREDIBLY dark, and now, a woman who had remained a BEACON of light in the city, was GONE. Lauren's camera began to freak out and the display screen began to frizzle. Not wanting to lose this tape, she quickly STOPPED filming and popped the cassette out of the chamber. It may have been a little old school, but in the era of the CLOUD and the INTERNET, and people like Peter, she had to make sure that not everything was so readily available. She was done. She was ready to leave this place, to find safety, to call her family, to let them know she was safe. "What are you going to do...how can you get out of here without them SEEING you....?" The group of friends were lost in grief, each of them trying to convince the other that they could use their powers to bring her back. She was obviously very important to them, and none of them wanted her to die. "These people...they look like they are USED to this kind of pain...like this is a REALITY for them...maybe..MysTech IS the monster, and not them. Maybe they've been protecting this city all along..." The monstrous robot began to power on AGAIN. This wasn't over...not by a long shot. Lauren was a helpless bystander as it redirected it's attention back on to this group of friends. How much longer could they possibly hold on? And what if they failed. What was this GIANT capable of doing to the city if he could take down people like THIS? The robot began to batter them on every level, countering EACH of their moves with little effort and brutal accuracy. This thing was UNSTOPPABLE. The ground RUMBLED as a repulsor blast HURLED into the area right next to her, causing her to FLY into the air and HARD on the ground, scraping her chin, and spraining her ankle as brick came down around her. She was now a sitting duck, fighting everything in her body to get up, to find a way out. Thankfully, she was able to pry herself up from the ground the ground and into the alley as the entire AREA was encompassed by GALE FORCE WINDS. Lauren scrambled to find ANYTHING to hold onto, grabbing a fire escape ladder and holding on for DEAR life, her eyes still wet with tears. This was a truly terrifying experience that she would NEVER forget, even in the afterlife, but NONE of this seemed to work. The robot found a way to survive and to attack again! "Nothing like this should be able to exist! Nothing." Finally a ray of light. Success! The group had pulled off a brutal assault that seemed to take the robot down and SAVE themselves AND the city! She wanted to cry she was so happy. Unbeknownst to the Six, Lauren Danvers had somewhat collateral damage in this encounter. But she had inserted herself into this situation, into their business and this was the cost. Unfortunately things were not OVER. This "Master Mold" fired up and ignited one final and BRUTAL attack on the group as the group fired BACK, the flames of the vortex reflecting in Lauren's bright brown eyes as she watched once more in HORROR! It was over. It was dark and in the end the robot had claimed the lives of BOTH Sharon Kelly and Morgan Victoria. Lauren's reality had been throttled over what she had seen. The sheer POWER of this group. Their determination despite insurmountable odds. She had also seen the machinations of a global entity that sought to DESTROY the mutant population and ALL of their supporters. This is what Sharon Kelly stood for, and now her legacy was gone. Everything she was working towards seemed to vanish in thin air, leaving only a pitch black city block and the sounds of absolute PANIC throughout the city. The survivors seemed to flee the scene, leaving Alycia alone, waiting for "help" to come in some kind of beautiful irony. Who could help her after what she had just went through. How could Alycia possibly be HELPED after something like this? Lauren didn't hesitate. She emerged from the darkness, running with a limp leg right towards Alycia and the horrific scene left in the wake of such a miraculous battle. "Alycia! ALYCIA!" Alycia had been battered emotionally and physically, and in times like this, sometimes you didn't have to be a superhero to help. Alycia's eyes widened in both disbelief and horror as a physically worn looking Lauren Danvers came hobbling to her. She had just allowed herself to crumble and now she was thrown back into the role of protector, like always. She shot up like a cannon. Alycia: "Lauren!?! Lauren GET OUT OF HERE NOW! It's not SAFE!" Lauren continued to reach her, before enveloping the district attorney in her arms, tears falling from her face, holding the attorney TIGHTLY, not letting her know that this act of comfort was as much for LAUREN as it was for her. Alycia fought against her, but after everything she had been through, she was too weak to protest, and deep down, she needed somebody there with her. She was strong, but she had just lost two of her best friends within minutes of each other. There was no person alive who wouldn't be broken from that. Alycia began to weep wildly in her arms, a RARE display of emotion from the lawyer. "I'm so..Alycia..I'm so sorry. I saw everything. I saw everything. They murdered her...they murdered Sharon. Oh my god, Alycia. I'm so sorry!" Alycia didn't speak. She only wept, her tears staining Lauren's jacket as her head rested on her shoulder. The police sirens could be heard stronger now. All of these people, these people who had no idea what had just happened were about to descend on Alycia as if she were the shining star of some sideshow circus. Lauren wasn't going to let that happen. She grabbed Alycia by the shoulders, having a moment of clarity. She wiped Alycia's tears with her hands. "I know what you have to do, and...I'm going to help. But we have to pull ourselves together right now, okay. You need to rest for a bit. Let me handle things. Please. Let me handle things." The two shared a very deep and silent glance in each other's eyes. Despite Alycia knowing how sensitive this situation was, there was something in Lauren's eyes that told her, she could trust Lauren. Alycia nodded silently. Thinking for a moment, Lauren took off the cross necklace that was around her neck and placed it around Alycia's neck, as a token of trust. "You're okay now. I promise. You're okay." As the cars arrived ALL around them with flashbulbs, police lights, fire trucks, Lauren took a DEEP breath, and she sprung into action. If she didn't do SOMETHING, she was going to fall apart completely. "Time to play your part, Danvers...for Sharon." ============================================================================== Lauren had managed to keep Alycia away from the bevvy of reporters and police force that wanted to question her. She made sure that Alycia was tended to and that the crime scene was CLOSED OFF. Nobody was going to get that shot of Sharon's body. While people deserved to know the truth, there WERE some things that people DIDN'T need to know, something that Lauren was beginning to wrestle with. She managed to get Channel Six News at the forefront of the scene, allowing her to control the message and to make sure that when Alycia was able to make her statement, it would not be edited or filtered in any way. The public needed to see what MysTech was capable of. She had been through so much in a day that when she held the microphone in her hand and stared at the bright lights of the camera, a production assistant giving her the silent go ahead, Lauren finally felt a little normal. And this time she had a story to tell. "Good evening New York, this is Lauren Danvers for Channel 6 News. It has been reported and confirmed by federal, state and local officials that Senator Sharon Kelly, who had just won re election for the senate seat of New York has been assassinated. The exact identity of her assassin has not officially been confirmed....but sources as well as video footage retrieved from a security camera in the area reveal what appears to be a giant robot...known as a "sentinel" attacking the Senator. There was one survivor AND eye witness to what is being called by some, the most balatant act of domestic terrorisim. ADA Alycia Barnett, who was traveling with the Senator to what would have been the victory celebration at the Rainbow Room, survived the attack and while badly shaken, managed to avoid major injuries. She has been retrieved by rescue workers and is now under protection, her where abouts remaining undiscolsed at this time. We will keep you posted as this matter unfolds, but this reporter would like to remind the media to respect the privacy of Barnett as well as the surviving family of Sharon Kelly at this time. Once again, this is Channel Six News, back to you Janet." Alycia was almost ready to give her statement, in an undisclosed location secured by Lauren herself, protected by Law Enforcement hand selected by her friend and sometimes lover, Danny Rivera. Lauren would be there to tie up any loose ends and ensure that the media goons didn't overwhelm her with questions or question the DA's integrity in the process. A cross time zoom found her BEHIND the camera this time as Alycia stood there, looking at the camera, with an intensity in her eye that was so strong, it seemed impossible that she had just endured what she had. THAT was Alycia Barnett. Lauren nodded as Alycia spoke. There was a reason she was as successful as she was, and it was in these moments of adversity that made her really shine. Lauren was in awe of her as one of the few successful public servants in this town with actual integrity and principles. She was a force of nature, but one that was slowly breaking. Lauren called for the room to be cleared as the two of them were left alone. "I called a car service that can take you home. Do you want company. Do you have somebody that you want to meet you at home, Alycia?" Alycia shook her head. Alycia: "Lauren please, stop coddling me. I'm fine. I just want to get home and grieve in peace and quiet. I don't plan on sleeping for quite some time, if ever again. Alycia began to make her way through the now cleared room, only a lighting fixture shining in the right hand corner of the room. Just before Alycia was about to exit, she turned towards Lauren, curious. Alycia: "You said back...at the...[looking away] accident, that you..had seen everything." [Lauren interjected] "I saw enough to know that ANYTHING I saw tonight won't bring Sharon back and might hurt the ones that tried to save her. I saw enough to know that you aren't the only one grieving her tonight. They deserve to do that privately. And I saw enough to know, that there's a LOT I don't know." Alycia: "Well then you also saw enough to know, that the people I'm protecting cannot afford being exposed, and despite the help you've given me tonight, help I'm incredibly grateful for, if you get in the way of that...I will have to take you down. This isn't a game." "I never said it was a game, Alycia. Rest assured, after everything that's happened tonight...we are on the same side. Anything I can do to expose the threat of MysTech, I'm going to do it. I am going to make sure that the public is aware of their crimes, and I am going to make sure that they NEVER have the opportunity to do what they just did again." Alycia: "You, Lauren Danvers, while often in my cross hairs, and a pain in my ass with your "investigative reporting", are one of the good ones. Tonight, you've proved to me, restored a little bit of my faith, that there are other people out there like me. People who want to hold those in power accountable. You give me hope for the next generation of HUMANS acting in concert with mutants. If you ever need a favor, professionally anyway.." Walking back over towards Lauren, Alycia removed the cross necklace Lauren had given her at the scene of the accident and placed it back around her neck, before embracing her in a warm hug. Alycia: "Please, don't hesitate to ask. We need more people like you on the battlefield." Lauren hugged Alycia back warmly as the two said their goodbyes. "It's been an honor, Barnett. Please, stay safe and keep in contact." Alycia: "Likewise..." And just like that Alycia was gone, and Lauren was left alone. For the first time all night she was encased in silence that wasn't the result of trauma or some horrible thing that required silence. The city was getting back to normal. Cars were rushing down the streets, people were laughing, yelling at each other. Taxi horns could be heard loudly. Life was continuing. Life was continuing because it HADN'T seen what Lauren had just seen. Her entire world and life had been changed tonight, and where that would lead her, she wasn't sure, but she was sure of one thing. There was a war brewing, and Lauren Danvers had chosen a side. It was the side of the people of New York. It was the side of people like Alycia and Sharon and Morgan Victoria. Lauren was a whitehat, and that she would remain, only now, she felt compelled to do to the work, to find the truth, to help people put the pieces together on the things that threatened to destroy the city...the WORLD. But for now, she just wanted to be Lauren Danvers, not special, not in danger, sitting in her sweatpants at home, drinking the contents of her entire wine fridge, and detaching herself from the world for a few days. Tonight, Lauren wanted more than anything...to just feel HUMAN.