Although escorted out of the building (politely) by Laurie Hwang, our team realizes they must reacquire Jay Taglieri and / or Kira Hong if they want to have any credible source for what just happened, or any clear trail to follow to prosecute the creator of Victorious. Although Eli Anders is confident he can make a case with the machinery, he admits that witnesses would strengthen the argument further.
Special Agent Kitari Tama decides this is her moment to use her unique abilities to walk through almost any level of security. Mara accompanies her invisibly, while Chanofsky watches, ready to extract them. Blair Astor prepares to crash their systems, and Anders protects Mara from casual magical detection (Agent Tama already being protected), steals a van, and makes functioning communicators for the team.
Inside the Allen Institute, Chanofsky has loosely identified Taglieri’s location, and confirmed that he is about to be “Re-Educated.” Agent Tama and Mara follow Chanofsky’s whispered directions, passing through two security checkpoints and narrowly avoiding Laurie Hwang, only to reach a simple metal door with an analog / manual lock, guarded (?) by a grey-faced zombie-like man. Tama confirms that beyond the door is another Strike Team (later identified as “Gamma”), including a gigantic (Greek? Turkish?) woman dubbed Helga (although her nametag said Anneke). Mara acquires an extremely nice Cisco 1911 custom pistol from the zombie guy, but then they notice he is some kind of cyborg laced with recording devices, and have to short him out. He collapses.
Mara then asks the door to unlock, and it does. Huh.
Beyond the door are four bullet-proof stations in front of a number of desks and some movable lab equipment, with a few personal touches. A working space for someone. Tama’s false credentials bring her through again (once the door unlocked, they also assumed she has the right to be there), and beyond another room in which a pimple-faced older man and an albino women operate a bank of machinery attached to a room full of naked humans, greased in some clear liquid, strapped to 16 metal tables. Two of them are Taglieri and Hong.
Using her Gifts, Tama is able to convince the Re-Educators to free the suspects, and removes them with the help of “Helga” and a metal gurney. With some very tense moments, all are able to reach the main floor. At this point, Mara and Blair crash the security system and Tama pushes the nude bodies of Taglieri and Hong out the side door. (note a brief conversation with the cranky black security guard about his crossword puzzle box).
Anders pulls up immediately with the van and loads everything in. Within a minute he has pulled off the road and completely changed the van’s appearance. Blair and Chanofsky speed off in her vehicle and meet Anders at his home space, where he erases the van and gurney from existence. Chanofsky places Taglieri and Hong in a supposedly inescapable Spatial Bubble while Anders keeps them unconscious.
Upon awakening, Taglieri seems unconcerned and smug, while Hong seems abjectly terrified – at which points the team realizes there is a steadily growing magical power and the sound of eerie scratching through the walls of reality. Mara’s Ancestor Spirit speaks to her through the fine webwork of stars in the antlers of a great elk lumbering through the primordial spruces that surround her in her spirit vision, and names the things that are coming: the Nulamal.
The Spirit also says that Hong can (temporarily) throw off pursuit by changing herself. She does. It works. Taglieri, on the other hand, takes this distraction as an opportunity, and tears his way out of the Spatial Bubble, and into an unknown place beyond, somewhere in the Umbra. The scratching sound and rising magic both diminish. Taglieri has escaped, but Kira Hong remains for questioning.