Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right

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ethan_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif wu-long_icon.gif

Scene Title Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right
Synopsis Vanguard needs money for ice cream. Fifteen people die in the process.
Date December 3, 2007

The First American Awesome Bank


The sun floats by lazily, making its mark upon this afternoon. Its slightly cloudy out, though light enough to classify as what most would call: Sunny. The news is smothered with stories of death and destruction. The nation is still getting over the many attacks that have been dealt to them in the past months. Fear is making its way into Americans hearts as the United States is looking more and more like a war torn Africa country than the affluent materialistic safe haven it prides itself on. The Howell Massacre, serial killings, police murders, bombs, more serial killings, and worst of all the Washington Irving Attack. Ranking amongst the top of the country's most appalling attacks. And still no one to answer for it. Not even a broad label like Al-Quaeda, or mysterious name like 'Sylar'. No name at all. But this nameless entity of death has recently been dealt a blow. And even though its not quite an answer for all the destruction the Vanguard has dealt out, it is enough to warrant a retaliation.

Even if it's just a pebble. Throwing anything at a Wolf is not a wise thing to do. If you're going to wound a Wolf you best kill it.

Though some of his bank accounts are dead, Ethan most certainly is not. And so, to teach whoever is attacking a lesson, the man sits behind a wheel of a white van. He and his more asian compatriot sit in the front seats. Both dressed in a similar fashion. Though dressed would seem an inappropriate term, geared seems more than sufficient. The driver is dressed most closely to a SWAT Officer, one would see in the lines of combat. The man in the back of the van though has a different dress about him.

The van contains gear, a camera, sound equipment, weapons and six dufflebags. The white van squeels as it turns around the corner, coming into sight of the First American Awesome Bank.The crew is briefed and ready to complete their tasks. No sense in wasting time.. The wheels squeal again as the van takes a more surprising turn. Perhaps a turn for the worst. The vehicle now sits in the middle of the road, facing the old fashioned, but quite large and pristine bank. Positioned to drive straight up the stairs and into the bank. Unconventional, but why bother about stealth when you're going to be done before the police can get their hands from under their asses.

Pulilng up his balaclava around his face, and pulling the helmet down, the man turns for just a moment to glance at his two companions. "You get those tellers away from the table. I don't want them lockin' anything up and makin' it more difficult for us." That much is said to the man in the back, then he looks to the man riding shotgun. "You do 'crowd control' I'll set up the camera. As soon as that's done, we get into the vault and start loadin' up while 'e does 'is thing. Good men." He reaches out to pat the men on the shoulder one at a time. "Let's 'ave some fun." Looking back, the man pushes down on the accelrator pedal.

After a moment, the Asian becomes indistinguishable from the driver before him, his own face masked in cloth and shorter frame compacted into armor and cotton. Less of it than the younger man is wearing, less as a matter of masculine braggadocio than the practical fact that he works better when he travels light. It aggravates him on some level that he has to carry an Uzi.

They're big, hideous to look at, and mass enough molecules to make running in his preferred form feel like running. He isn't, however, about to complain. No, something that closely resembles good cheer shows sharp through the holes of his mask despite the black-on-black of his eyes and the rigidly professional line of his mouth. His heartbeat is steady in Sylar's ears, his answer honest to all of Ethan's recollections: "Okay." He'll have fun.

Consider it an oath. Gunmetal clunks under his gloved hand and he braces his boot against the floor, leaning into the wall of the vehicle against the internal shift against its velocity. His gaze flickers briefly over Sylar's face — which, by now, may well not be Sylar's face at all — and crows' feet creep into view at the corners of his eyelids. "Not a method actor, I see," he remarks, meaninglessly, as the seconds tick down to go-time.

The man sitting in the back is not recognisable as a Vanguard member. A severe looking young man, olive skin and brown hair that's been combed back, and some will be able to identify him as Karl, PARIAH terrorist - or at least, someone who looks an awful lot like him. He's dressed only a little similarly to the two other occupants of the van, but his face is exposed - it's a handsome face and should be shown off, perhaps - and he's not quite as armored. A black BDU shirt only might conceal a bullet proof vest, dark jeans and boots completing the ensemble. Oddly enough, he's not without weapons of the old fashioned kind, a gun resting in his hands. If only because people understand guns.

Sylar nods his comprehension of Ethan's instruction, and then his gaze switches to Wu-Long, also showing a hint of mirth on unfamiliar features, although he doesn't respond verbally, slightly too focused on what's about to happen to answer back the quip. Ready to move when signalled to do so.

The vehicle roars forward and up the stairs of the old bank. The screams are almost immediate. It is Ethan's personal theory that some women, particularly those with the highest pitched voices can sense danger coming. And they always let everyone know in the most obnoxious and annoying way possible. With one hand on the wheel, Ethan is about as calm as he would be driving to church on Sunday. Bending down somehwat, the shotgun next to his seat is picked up easily.

CRASH. The van barrels in through the glass doors of the establishment. The screams were loud a little bit ago.. But now they're almost deafening.

An irritating sound to say the least. And so, Ethan flips on the radio as he kicks open the drivers side door. Shotgun in one hand he pops off a shot at a security guard. The fatalities have already started, looking over his shoulder, Ethan arches his brows at the bodies trapped under the front of the van. The music begins to play.

'Well I don't know why I came here tonight~ I got the feelin' that somethin ain't right~'

Black boots crunch through glass and blood as the Wolf makes his way to the back of the van. Another shot popped off at a woman trying to make her escape from the carnage. Silly thing to do.

Though Wu-Long would ordinarily choose to make his dramatic entrance — exit — by easing in and out of decorporealization, and all the associated darkness imagery that comes with it for free, he's well-aware that there are other concerns to choreograph here. The star of their show, for instance, the artist formerly known as Sylar.

He hauls the van's side door open with a vicious jerk of his arm, the metal and railing sliding home with a screech and slam. The EMP generator is rolled out with a kick and he slams a fist down on the activation button, just in time to see the whites go all the way around the eyes of the woman across from him, an ignorant civilian naturally assuming a detonator. Nothing happens, of course. Nothing loud or visible, anyhow. Instead, the building's security cameras, lights, ATM machines, computers, and every piece of wireless or active technology goes out without so much as a whimper. No man is an island, but this crowd is suddenly very much alone.

Wu-Long jumps out, boots connecting solidly with the ground, both. Swings the Uzi up and, with a deafening burst of autofire, hamburgers the security guard who comes with his gun up, even as a .45 whizzes into some fern by the wall. He turns, next, toward the tellers. "GET BACK." To discourage them merely getting down, he takes a piece of counter out, and with it, the hapless employee behind it. Without looking over his shoulder, he unfurls a ragged swathe of blackness around Karl's shoulders, and light dies around those flightless pinions.

Sylar is out of the car in sync with the other two men, and it's suddenly very… very loud in here. The screams of both customers and employees alike echo off the walls, bouncing between ceiling and floor, trapped soundwaves that seem to ricochet right back towards him and making his head ring as enhanced hearing only embraces them. If it bothers the killer, he doesn't allow it to show visibly, pointing his readied gun at the ground with only a little bit of beginner's awkwardness as he moves with the others through the space of the bank.

One free hand goes out, long fingers splayed, and those employees not injured by Wu-Long's attack are suddenly flung back against the wall, hard enough to hurt, one unfortunate soul's skull connecting too hard against the wall, going limp. Sylar allows that one to fall, and there's too much noise going on for him to tell as to whether the man is still alive or not. There's enough death and injury going on for it not to matter.

After a moment, Sylar aims his gun at one of the pinned employees, and squeezes the trigger, making the woman just next to this man go pale with horror. Ethan did say to have fun and he wanted to try it, although a wide eyed look crosses his features when the bullet tears through the hapless victim's chest with hideous effectiveness. He drops this one too, and looks towards Ethan to see how he's progressed with the camera.

Slipping to the back of the van, the doors are swung open as Ethan slips in. The shotgun is holstered on his back for the moment as he grabs the tripod with the camera connected. And a stand for a voice recording device. Grabbing one firmly in his right the other equipment is tucked under his left. Then the man pulls out a glock from his sideholster. Slipping back out of the van, Ethan makes his way for Sylar. Though he does take a few shots off at the running civillians. Some have taken to hiding under the various tables and desks, some running for the doors. Most of those get mowed down, unfortunately. Sliding to one knee Ethan drops the sound equipment and undergoes the quick process of setting up the camera, and then the sound equipment. Once he's satisfied, he gives a little nod.

'Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.'

Standing at his full heighth, he raises the shotgun in the air, giving it a double tap with his other hand once Wu-Long's gunfire stops. A signal. He motions with his head to the van. Bags. Then he returns his attention to Sylar. "You're on. Karl." Another shot goes off, and then Ethan taps record.

The vacuous wings behind Karl's back flare once, stretching wide, casting their own nimbus of ordinary shadow on the carpet behind him before they shut inward, imploding into nothing. And that's how it begins, as the red dot of Recording throbs up in the corner of the viewer.

In the meantime, Wu-Long abandons the angel to his duty in order to embark on his own. One last parting shot of Uzi divides the physical person of a young husband almost evenly into two parts, killing the wife underneath, and leaving the child to bear up underneath the sticky weight of both while they go slack and begin to squeeze down on his tiny ribs, filtering out of his throat in tiny shrieks of nonsense. It doesn't take too much threatening waving of his nozzle to convey the idea that everybody else should play dead or face the obvious alternative, then.

Only half an ear is spared to Sylar's speech while he rips a canvas bag loose from around his right forearm and begins to fluff it out. Velcro peels loose with a wooly scrape, canvas filling with nothing but empty air. It's an oddly domestic motion on him, the same one he uses to smooth out blankets and flatten his laundry before folding. One might suppose that applying for one's weekly allowance is fairly domestic too.

The gun held casually, pointed towards the ground, Sylar lifts his gaze towards the camera, a lighter shade of brown in his eyes, a mix of colours speaking of a different ethnicity. There's a harshness that's not so unlike that of Karl, and he doesn't smile for the camera as the shadows extend and fold behind him with supernatural vibrancy, and the red light of the camera flickers on. Aaand action.

The screams around them don't quite interrupt what he has to say. They only add ambience and punctuation.

"Every action has a reaction," he tells the camera, almost casual despite the carnage, addressing the camera directly and making no effort to introduce himself. "You should have known this if you know so much about us already. You have three options." His head tilts a little to the side. "You show your faces and publicly declare yourselves instead of hide behind your actions like cowards. You give us back what you took from us. Or you do nothing and let people die and hope that when we come for you too, we will be merciful. For the record, if you go for option three," and he smiles, this time, "we won't be."

Back to the van, and then back to the vault. Making his way to the back, Ethan makes it quick. A shot here, a threat there, even the occasional knife and soon the vault is open for everybody! Six empty duffle bags are dropped in front of the black, combat clad, Wolf. Once Wu-long is with him, the man gives a bit of a nod. Firearms tucked away, 'Karl' is left to the lobby alone. Should someone choose to attack him.. Well. Not only would they be interrupting the videotaping, they would get a rather rude awakening from their heroic dreams.

Ethan is quick. It won't take the police too long to respond. So at this point there's no shame in not moving about casually. Money, money, money. As much as the bags will hold. Stacks, and stacks, and stacks are quickly loaded into black duffle bags.

'Slap you on the back and say pleee-eee-eease. pleee-eee-eeease.~'

Moving with characteristic efficiency, Wu-Long helps to collect their paycheck. Cash into the bags, stones and other items into the smaller bag, drawstring yanked to its full length and he pulls it over his shoulder. The Uzi returns to his hand in an eyeblink, in time to knock the last protest — something about 'asthma' — out of the gentleman who had been so kind as to assist them in opening the vault, leaving a minor concussion and bruise forming like a stain on his forehead. Swinging the weapon back over his shoulder, he then proceeds to shovel money into the larger bags, two-handed, without sparing effort toward aplomb. He reminds himself to catch up with the recording on YouTube.

The gun makes gentle clicks in his hand as Sylar makes a show of checking what rounds he has left. He knows exactly what he has left, but that's not the point. "We don't know if you wanted to be a heroes," he continues. "And we don't really care because today you won't be. There will be no witnesses. There will be no survivors. This is the only story there is and we hope you're listening."

A scuff of feet against smooth floor reaches his ears easily even as the echoes of gunshots still carry weight through bank. Someone trying to be a hero, using the element of surprise. It takes two bullets. Silence rings louder than the twin gunshots, and Sylar moves towards the camera, crouching just a little so that the face of Karl fills the frame.

"Your names, our money, or another message just like this one. Fortis et libre," 'Karl' sneers, irony there if you know to listen to it, before the recording is switched off.

Two bags full, three bags full. Ethan isn't trying to make this look good just as fast as he can move without tearing the green paper to shreds. Looking over his shoulder to Sylar, Ethan nods once the camera is switched off. He motions with one hand. "Bring it back here." He says, disguising his voice, just in case a survivor has a recorder or something.. You can never be too careful. "Put the camera in vault. Get the rest of the money in the bags and then. You." A look back to Sylar. "Blow the van up." With that he continues on his merry way filling up bags of money.

Four bags full. Five bags full. Wu-Long doesn't relish the strain of carrying this and both other men with him to the other van parked two blocks over, but if he's quick, it'll be fine, and if he's slow they're all dead anyway. He's fortunate in the simplicity of his life most of time: the lack of alternatives and shortage of options leaves a path bulldozed through the trees amid the wreckage of upturned roots and evicted woodland animals. Complicated and choices come later. He doesn't think about that now, falling easily into the rhythm of physical action and well-timed sitrep-checks.

The camera is taken off the tripod, Sylar moving swiftly to deposit it (geddit, deposit) into the vault before helping with the money, lighter brown hair now plastered to his forehead. Karl isn't so different to him in terms of body type, nothing like transforming into Helena Dean, for example, but it still makes him just a little bit slower than usual, physical strain a background ache, but it doesn't stop him too much. The task completing itself quickly, as there's only so much available and only so much they can physically take, Sylar turns towards the van, reholstering his gun before his hands start to glow. "Be ready," he tells the others, a warning. Out of all his abilities… this one is the most wild. A projection of heat, light and intangible poison will billow forth from his hands moments later, cutting through the air towards the van with a sharp cry of some wild mix of excitement, fear and a little pain from the killer barely heard through the sudden fwoomf.

The radioactive blast elicits a blink from Wu-Long, a twinge of the shoulder still healing underneath his armor and neither remark nor gesture. Without comment he closes his hands on the other men's arms, his gloved grip firm though not uncomfortable. And then it begins. Ethan has felt it before; Sylar, arguably, less fortunate. The molecules of skin, muscle layer, bone are pried apart, electrical signals of brain and the chemistry of action-potentials rewritten on a wavelength higher than anything a human being has the right to exist at. Weightless and faceless, suddenly, proprioception is all that anchors their forms to the tangible world.

Wu-Long leaps.

All three vanish into the air vent, its two-foot breadth of steel tunnel somehow enough for three mean to run abreast, slingshooting around sharp corners and swift down the long stretch until they rip out between the blades of a stalled exhaust fan like the dying gasp of the building's slaughtered electrics, black and oily gas. He hits the ground sprinting, ignoring the twinge of exhaustion setting in. Leaps onto a shop, vaults over the concrete ribbon of a staircase, and then into the second floor of the parking garage where the other van awaits.

The transition back to flesh is quick with haste. Wu-Long doesn't stumble, but his shoulders bow under the weight of the stolen money, briefly, before he steels himself. He's gone pale underneath the tan, his breathing plumbing deep to the bottom of his lungs, pulse erratic to the one who can hear it.

There's a clang as Sylar does stumble and his shoulder meets the side of their van, having never experience anything quite like that. Gasping in a breath in shock, he looks towards the paler Wu-Long, eyes flashing in something like awe. "That was incredible," he breathes, but their mission snaps his attention back to the bags of money weighing his shoulders down. A hand reaches out, and the doors of the van bang and slide open without neading anyone to touch them.

Though he won't tell Wu-Long, he prefers Elias' form of transportation. Wu's has an ability to make him feel if not queasy, just a little out of sorts once he comes back into his solid form. His feet move quickly so he can maintain balance, and as soon as he can he turns and his hands fly under his Chinese compatriots arms to bring him back up to his feet. He rips the bags off of his shoulders, so it is less of a strain. He will hold Wu-Long up in his own arms if he has to.

"Bags in the van please." Ethan murmurs to Sylar as he shrugs his own off to the ground. Then he takes the task of carrying/helping his comrade into the back of the van. "Then, get changed. Quickly." There are bags of clothes in the back of the van. Not that Sylar needs them, but Ethan does. Wu-Long can just be covered with a blanket. "Come on then, my son. Let's get you in for a good nap."

Out of breath and disoriented, Wu-Long isn't about to waste his blood pressure on blushing at help when it's insisted all over him. He loads the bags, sparing Sylar only a twitch of his cheek — which passes easily for a smile, if you're at all acquainted with sociopaths. He steps up and into the van after them, his boots falling heavier than they had before. Doesn't strip off his mask until he's seated himself on the floor, and runs his gloved fingertips over the lines of his face as if reminding himself they're there. His eyelids move haphazard and he falls, slowly, sideways, carefully pillowing himself in the bags that hold their precious cargo. The smaller satchel of stones and collectibles rolls off his shoulder.

Quickly, efficiently, Sylar loads their luggage of stolen money into the van - and not with his arms. His hand remains out, almost making beckoning, inviting gestures and two by two, the six loads are placed within. He's quick to follow, shedding his black BDU shirt to reveal a slightly too big wifebeater underneath. No bullet proof vest after all. On olive skin, a black tattoo that does not belong to Karl stands out on his forearm, a circular tribal type deal, and the skin around it changes into the paler tone of Sylar's flesh. Mid-transformation, he grabs the bag of clothing and throws it to Ethan once his arms are free of disoriented Chinaman.

losing the van doors behind him, Ethan himself quickly strips. The mask and helmet first, and then the vest and the armguards. The black shir is taken off and replaced with a sweater. A pair of aviators and a baseball cap complete the ensemble. The man gives a little pat to Wu-Long's shoulder as he navigates his way to the front seat. Putting on his seatbelt, the ignition is turned on and the vehicle soon roars to life. The radio is flicked on as Ethan turns the wheel and navigates the van out of the parking garage. "Good work boys. Now, 'oo wants ice cream?"

'Stuck in the middle with you..'

"Taro root flavor," Wu-Long requests. His answer is below Ethan's hearing, more of an intimation of lips on air than a voice. His eyes are closed, eyelids splayed loose on off-bronze cheekbones, and his hair strewn loose around his face despite the rubber band that binds it, a tousled mess to match the slow grin that creeps over his face, pleased. Thirst quenched, he wouldn't mind dessert, no. For when he wakes up. "It's purple."

Sylar moves to claim his seat in the front as the van pulls out, leaning right back. He shuts his eyes, as if as tired as Wu-Long, but on the contrary - he's rather wired. One eye opens when he hears Wu-Long's barely audible request. "He said, 'strawberry'," he says, before that eye shuts again, and lets the rest of the drive wash over him.


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December 3rd: Six Degrees of Separation... Not!
Previously in this storyline…
Lesson to Vanguard

Next in this storyline…
There Was No Meeting

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December 3rd: Mistaken Insanity - The Escape
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