Disaster Within Disaster, Part I

Participants:

cat_icon.gif conrad_icon.gif edward_icon.gif elias_icon.gif ethan_icon.gif helena_icon.gif owen_icon.gif yancey_icon.gif

Scene Title Disaster Within Disaster, Part I
Synopsis An assassination attempt, wherein the odds don't work in anyone's favour.
Date December 19, 2008

Ruins of Midtown


Crossroads in history are specific points in time, dramatic and powerful moments that can sway the course of thousands of years of progress.

Snow. New York is just now beginning to be hit by it, and while the blizzard's approach seems to have been marginally delayed from original forecasts, the flurries that now sweep through the ruins of Midtown are but a precursor to the great storm that is on the horizon.

What if the Atomic Bomb was never invented? What if Rome never fell? Moments like these create a myriad of possibilities, such great and monumental epochs in history so significant they affect not just one, or one thousand, or one million people, but the entirety of the world.

Through the cracked and broken streets of New York City, the storm coming in the skies is like a mirror to the storm brewing in the streets, in the shadows and in the dark alleys. A storm that Phoenix has become aware of, a storm that could well wash the world away to start anew. Down on the streets, the approaching blizzard does its best to unwittingly provide cover for both Phoenix's operatives looking to thwart what they have intel on is the next target of the mysterious organization sowing chaos in the city streets.

If you were given the ability to see these possibilities, these events and outcomes as they were happening, and change the future based upon them, would you?

The ruins are a ghost town at this time of afternoon, when the cloudy gray skies are still somewhat lit, but the shadows between old decrepit buildings are even deeper than usual. Curled up in an alleyway, one homeless man shifts to sit down on the stoop of a tall building not far from the crater, his fur-lined hood keeping his face warm from the cold winds, knit woolen gloves keeping his hands free from the cold. In fact, his clothing seems so well-kept, it's hard to imagine why he'd be on the street at all.

Could you sacrifice one life, to save millions?

He reaches one gloved hand up into his hood, adjusting a pair of circular-lensed glasses, pushing them up the bridge of his nose as he turns and begins walking down the sidewalk, hands tucked into his pockets.

Even if it were your own?

Helena is down at street level, just a girl in the crowd, content to walk the route of the president's tour at a leisurely pace. Hair tucked up, hat jammed down on her head, familiar dark jacket keeping her warm since ambient temperature adjustment is noticable in a crowd, her eyes draw up to the skies above her. She feels the tumultuousness of the oncoming storm, its promise of shaping things to come running through her blood with a thrill that is both dreadful and exciting. With so much water available in flurry form, and the sky lending itself to overcast, it's not difficult to push a low ceiling fog along the route to increase the difficulty potential snipers may have of making their target. A discreet electronic piece is in her ear, but she does not speak, content to listen to the others and respond as necessary

Somewhere else along the route, a woman in jeans and now wintry boots walks along. She's perhaps five feet eight in stature, her torso and part of the area below her waist protected by a warm coat. The hood to it is up and drawn in, thus covering the ears and the electronic piece in her own ear. Cat's eyes are alert, scanning through people and places nearby in hope of spotting the familiar, comparing all persons she spots against her memory. Not a word is spoken by her at this point.

A man in a tattered green army surplus field jacket and a brown watchcap finds himself on the street along with others. It just doesn't do to be up high. That's comic book foolishness. Movie myth. If you get up high you're useless unless all you wanna do is watch or shoot people, and Conrad's not here to shoot anybody. Watch, on the other hand, he'll do. But that's something he's capable of just fine down here on the street. For the moment he's chosen to lean against the wall inside a bombed-out shop facing the street. Keeps him out of the wind, and out of easy view. But he listens and munches on a peanut butter granola bar. Mmm. Granola. Glancing down, Conrad hears the tiniest of heartbeats, because he's really Listening. The rat scurrying along the wall catches his eye, and he tosses a crumb of granola to the rat.

"So…"

Steam leaves his mouth as he sets the steel briefcase on the ground. Opening it with a few clicks and clacks. The thing is laid open by the sleek black gloved hands.

"You ever attempted an assassination b'fore?"

He is dressed in all black. Kevlar, combat boots, combat gloves. Combat everything and combat anything. Gear that would most regularily be found on people dabbling in the art of black ops. The sniper rifle is picked up and quickly assembled as the man looks behind him in the room he and the other man inhabit. "I'll admit, this is my first time."

The Wolf grins. The room is mostly barren, except for tools and instruments brought here by the two men. This is their headquarters for the time being. This is where they will sound off the next shot heard 'round the world. The man sets down the rifle and pulls in the curatins on his window. "Smoke?" Ethan offers to the other man, pulling out said item.

Yancey stands across from Ethan, dressed similarly in combat gear designed for better men than he, and he rubs his hands together in both a gesture of nervousness and chilliness. It's cold in the room as it is everywhere else, but there are other reasons to tremble. He tells himself it's excitement. It's certainly is, at least a little. "No sir," he says with a quirky grin. "First time for anything, right boss?" He extends a hand to accept that cigarette, lighting up with a feverish flicker of his lighter. "Can't be all that different from shootin' any other fucker walkin' down the street." Secret Service aside.

A heavily bundled figure in a flapping, fuzzy patchwork coat thrown over paint-spattered layers appears and disappears in between flurries of snow, his passage masked by the blizzard and the crowd, unnoticed largely because inclement temperatures have everyone bundled up against the weather as much as possible and one more breeze from an odd direction is easy to overlook. The dangly puffballs on the earflaps of his hat barely have time to swing from one direction to another as he traverses from corner to corner, sidewalk to fire escape, seeing everything within the spaces between seconds and processing hours of detail in between sips of Red Bull. That would be Owen. His animated frettings are muffled the frumpy winterproofing, and hindered only fractionally by the weight of body armor that feels like just another layer of warmth. During the occasions when he deigns to let the world catch up, he relays his findings into a microphone snugged between two of the collars splayed like the petals of a rumpled flower of past-due-for-a-washing laundry around his neck, and presses mittened fingers unnecessarily to the flap over the muff over the earpiece in his ear to listen to responses.

He's looking to canvas the area and do his best to disasterproof this procession, watching for snipers, identifying sweet-spots that may yet host them seconds from now, and otherwise keeping a watch for anything that might otherwise go unanticipated or unnoticed.

This is a poignment spot in the ruins of midtown for both Helena and Cat, a place both of them had found a certain level of familiarity in. The shadow of the tallest building on the block is not a foreboding one, but one of familiarity and odd memories. Further than visibility permits, the pair ad spent numerous occasions on the roof of the Deveaux building. It's strange that is now lingers in both of their sights, a structure so central to so many people, all so coincidentially. Neither Ethan nor Helena could ever imagine the significance of the building, both to one another, and to the world itself.

People moving about on the roadside, only a handful, heading towards the direction of the brief intervening presence of the President-Elect. One couple holds hands as they walk, another young man bobs his head up and down listening to his headphones, hands jammed into the pockets of his winter coat.

Moving away from the front of the Deveaux building where he had been loitering, that homeless man in the fur-lined jacket steps out into the slowly whitening streets as the first few flakes are finally starting to collect on the cold ground. What little light is cast from the gray skies overhead reflects off of his glasses, giving the appearance of two gleaming white circles in the darkness of his hood, until his had turns enough to allow light to play across his face. Blue eyes follow the young woman with her hair tucked under her hat, feet scuffing along the ground as he makes a meandering approach, calling out to her with a timid and meek voice, "Miss Dean?" It's no voice she recognizes, and it's one tinged with palpable anxiety. "Helena Dean?" It's not loud enough to carry far over the wind, but more than enough for her to hear. How did anyone recognize her?

Helena is unable to keep from turning at the sound of her name, but when she focuses on the bespecaled man, her reaction is to do her best to sink into the crowd. She doesn't know him, but he does know her, and this may make him one of Ethan's crew. The only reason she doesn't report it is a moment's puzzling - why would one of Ethan's soldiers bother to out himself to her?

Not being spoken to by anyone, or hearing any commentary in her ear, Cat continues to keep her watch along the street where she stands. The eyes go out to look over buildings within visibility, and settle briefly on the Deveaux, a place she knows. That attention is brief, unless anything about it stands out now as a danger. Ethan and Yancey, being indoors, if indeed the building they're using is even close by, escape her notice.

At this point Conrad's thoroughly convinced nothing's going on. He can hear the rat munchmunchmunching away and even the sounds of other rats in the walls, keeping out of the cold air no doubt. He can hear people doing things on the street, but nothing specifically catches his interest. Leaning against the wall next to the window, he peers out enough to keep his profile very low, nearly impossible to see. Window's not the cleanest though, so aside from some motion he's not getting a whole lot. With a sigh he pulls the earpiece out of his pocket that is the mate of his teammates' and keys it. "Radio check." he says, not putting the thing in his ear nor putting it next to his mouth. Because with the most basic of tweaks, he doesn't have to.

Lighting up Yancey's and his own cancer sticks, the man takes a deep puff. He motions with his head to the directional microphone. "Let's 'ave a listen, shall we?" Ethan asks. He himself makes his way over to a pair of fancy binoculars. Sticking him to his eyes, he cracks the curtains open just enough to peer out

Yancey hesitantly follows, trailing cigarette smoke that easily makes the little room hazy with just a few sighs. "What's to hear?" he asks, but otherwise, the question is dismissed as soon as he says it, moving towards the microphone, tucking the listening device into his ear. "There's a lot of people out," he adds. No, really? Still, he attempts to find anything relevant, face the picture of concentration.

Being brushed off only urges the small man closer, not too much taller than Helena's small stature, just a few inches. He reaches up and withdraws his hood, brow furrowed as his head tilts to the side, brown hair receeding back to make his somewhat narrow features look more prominent, "Miss Dean, I apologize for the bluntness of this, but this was the most probably location to encounter you in that would not result in my immediate bodily harm." He takes a few more haggard steps forward, hands tucked into the pockets of his jacket, "In sixteen minutes, and forty-five seconds, a gunman situated in the penthouse of that building." One gloved hand moves out from his pockets, motioning up to the street. Through his binoculars, it's hard for Ethan not to notice someone pointing up towards the higher portions of the old, historic building. . "Will take a single shot at the President-Elect several blocks from here."

"The events that play out from that gunshot have a ninty-seven percept probability of igniting a political firestorm that will be detriment to both you and myself." He shivvers a bit from the cold, tucking his chin down into the collar of his turtle-neck sweater that pokes up out of his hood. " Large blue eyes stare intently at Helena, one narrowing slightly, "I — Your organization currently only has a six percent chance of intercepting the attacker in time." His eyes dart around the street, then back to Helena, "Four now that I have distracted you." He grimaces slightly, apologeticly, "If you enter the building, there's a sixty-six point six-six-seven percent chance that you will suffer fatal casualties. Just — hear me out. Please." Blue eyes dart up and down the street, "I'm not crazy. I — Y-you have to believe me. I saw the Mircales, what you did for that little girl, the food I — You're the only one I predicted might have an open mind."

Fast as lightning, Helena reaches out and grips the small man's arm, yanking him back between against the buildings, an alleyway if readily at hand. "Don't point!" she hisses, and tags her comm, speaking lowly and relaying the coordinates of a potential shooter. Once done, she glares at the little man. "Who are you?" she demands. "What is it you want me to believe?"

Hearing Helena's voice coming into her earpiece, Cat stiffens and turns toward the place she indicated, her feet starting to move. She uses the voice component to reply, asking a tense question. "Do you need backup at your location?" And she also addresses Conrad's radio check. "Coming in clear." Eyes scan into the distance as she moves, trying to make out whatever can be seen, as far as it can be seen.

"Everything cool?" Conrad asks, tweaking his voice into the earpiece in his palm without actually put it anywhere near his face. He continues to look out of the window as if he can see anything. But he might as well be looking through a frosted bathroom window. One frosted with crap.

"Fuck, back up." Ethan demands, pulling on Yancey's shoulders quickly. The Wolf goes to duck, pulling the man down with him. "Fucking 'elena Dean." He mutters. "They know we're 'ere. Either that or they are looking for a fuckin apar'ment on the wrong side o' town." The man takes a moment. How could she know. How could she possibly

A crow tapping on his window…

No time to think about that. Not now. Time to make precautions, time to set up shop. His voice comes softly now. "Now listen.. Pointing at our window.." Think, Ethan. "That means they don't know we're 'ere or, they're the biggest idiots I 'ave ever met. In exactly one minute and thirty seconds, peek up. I might 'ave to go fortify this fuckin' place. You will 'ave to take the shot."

"…alright, boss," Yancey says from where he's crouched down. The nervousness makes itself clear for a moment, flashing across the man's features for a moment before he steels himself and just nods. He'll take the shot and if all goes well, he'll make it too. He glances at his very much on time watch at his wrist, noting the minutes and seconds, and moves, unseen, towards the window, keeping out of viewing range, and keeps an eye on his watch, one minute twenty seconds…

And waits.

The bespectacled man ducks his head when Helena grabs his arm, and it actually feels like she may have some more upper-body strength than he does, despite being well over a decade her senior, maybe somewhere in his thirties. "M-My name is Edward Ray, I — I'm a phycist from MIT in Massachusettes." His voice takes on a shaky, anxious tone.

"What I want you to believe, is that I know what need to be done to increse the odds of success for your endeavor, but I cannot do it on my own. I need you to believe that I know numbers, that my numbers are accurate. Someone has to trust me, or we're all as good as dead." The words are strained through his teeth and spat back with a modicum of emotion. Everything he says comes out hasty and rushed. "I need you to understand that if the string of events that are currently in motion here are allowed to continue as they are, that it will end poorly, for many people." He looks down the street again, towards the crowds a few blocks away.

"I know you're incredulous, I know you think I'm something I'm not. I'm just a physicist… But I am a very gifted one." There's a hesitant smile, nervous and humble as he looks to the much younger woman. "I can help you, advise how to handle this, but you have to trust me, and trust me quickly."

He's dithering and it's pissing Helena off, "Get to the point!" she hisses, at least willing to hear him out, but she keeps darting her eyes toward that window - and with effort, increases the fogbank, pushing it toward the location to create an even further obscured view. "Talk fast."

Damn. She's on the move, having heard Stormy give a location for a shooter, her feet keeping a calm pace, but Cat is also mindful that running in this environment will probably draw the attention of Federal agents assigned to the area. She can, thus, only walk. And her call asking if backup is needed went unanswered. Damndamn. Damn. She has to wonder if Stormy is injured. There wasn't a shot heard, but then again silencers do exist. So… "I repeat. Do you need backup at your location? Please advise."

Okay, given some kind of location, Conrad shoulders the broken front door of the messed up shop he's been hiding in and steps out onto the street. Hands thrust in pockets, he goes for a walk down the sidewalk, earpiece in his pocket where he can key it with a thumb. He keeps his face angled down toward the sidewalk but his eyes are cutting up and around. "Which building was it?" he asks the radio.

Once Yancey checks the window, and finds no subjects, Ethan frowns. "They know we're 'ere." The Wolf says simply, tilting his head. He places his hand on Yancey's shoulder. "Line up the shot. Take your time, breathe. You can do this. You're the motherfucking best." The man explains, giving a soothing rub on the man's shoulder. "There's no way in 'ell you can miss. That's 'ow good you are. Take your time, and take the shot." The man creeps away from the window, going about the room gathering up different supplies. "I'll go slow them down." The man says coldly. With that…

"Sir," Yancey says, simply, no longer watching Ethan leave. He's more or less focused on the most important move he may make in his Vanguard career. His crushes his cigarette out, rubs his face once, and moves up to the rifle, feeling it first in his hands as he looks down the telescope— and then hell breaks loose. "Holy moly," Yancey says, head jerking up as an explosion cuts through the scene, shaking foundations both tangible and not. "Shit fuck damn motherhell." His swearing is a little jumbled. "That weren't us! THAT WEREN'T US!" he cries, excitedly? Fearfully? A wide grin alights on his features, so maybe the former. It's hard to tell. "YAHOO motherfuckers!" Okay, breathe. It's fine, right? He lines up the shot once more, takes a deep breath… and pulls the trigger.

Edward's blue eyes grow wide behind his glasses, and he lets out a rough, haggard gasp as he shakes his head. "Contact whoever made it rain here for the mircales, have him increase the snowfall. Prevent them from taking the shot, a whiteout if you have to! That's a start!" He looks around, scanning the street, but to Edward Ray there is something more, something else going on. Behind his eyes, he doesn't see people and cars and hollowed out buildings, he sees a formulaic path of probability overlaid upon the world, a series of equations conjured up in his own mind that piece together as he seemingly observes angles and situations from many perspectives at once based on what he can touch, hear and see.

"Send people up to the roof, time it, use a cell phone — I don't know — But right before they get to the top, have that — that weatherman strike the metal framework of the greenhouse with lightning. It will work like a flashbang grenade." His eyes track back to Helena, then around, "Who else do you have in the immediate vicinity; numbers, abilities, weap— " Edward's words are cut off by a flash of light not more than a street down as a sudden explosion rocks the ruins, sending a plume of dust and debris rising high into the air. Bricks rain down from above, crashing to the pavement, one smashing the window of an abandoned car a block away. "— Oh god, what did I — " He looks around, perceptions changing as he takes in the calculations, things moving so fast. Had he made things worse, accelerated something? It clicks, numbers, variables, a high enough chance of probability. "I — They spotted me point. Helena, you have to work fast, contact your weatherman. You can do this, I — I believe in the miracles."

The explosion in the distance is heard, and Cat keeps moving along toward the spot where it occurred, knowing her path to get there is probably going to be much more difficult now. There will probably be Federal agents working to seal off the scene and and get control. But if need be she can maybe try to bluff her way through. "I hear," Cat replies into the radio. The muzzle flash following the explosion, however, she doesn't see given the distance, Helena's fog, and the snow in the area. Nor does she hear the shot coming from a silenced rifle. "Who is with you, Leader? She asks. "Who are you telling you're the weathermaker?"

"I am the weatherma - " and then the explosion, with Helena instinctively tugging on the scientist down to duck with her. She automatically lets her anger fuel the snowfall but shouts, "I can move the clouds to make lightning, but I can't control it in specific strikes!" She shouts into her radio, assuring she's fine, giving the building location where the shot is fired.

The explosion in the distance is heard, and Cat keeps moving along toward the spot where it occurred, knowing her path to get there is probably going to be much more difficult now. There will probably be Federal agents working to seal off the scene and and get control. But if need be she can maybe try to bluff her way through. "I hear," Cat replies into the radio. The muzzle flash following the explosion, however, she doesn't see given the distance, Helena's fog, and the snow in the area. Nor does she hear the shot coming from a silenced rifle. "Who is with you, Leader? She asks. "Who are you telling you're the weathermaker?"

Okay. This is all going south in a hurry. Con can tell something's going on and he's not getting enough to work with here. And then a boom. Oh he's good with booms! Conrad flinches when it occurs but quickly homes in on the sound itself and flattens himself against a wall while brick and debris rain down. Good thing is there's plenty of dust and mess in the air with all that to add to his concealment. "I'm near that explosion. Wasn't me." he says on the radio.

Pausing for just a moment, Ethan goes to look over his shoulder. Dina. A subsequent grin is given at Yancey's reaction of 'that weren't us'. He'll have to teach the man english if they get out of this. But now it's time to assure that Helena or her people do not get to Ethan or Yancey.

Hallways. Walking to the stairwell, the man goes to make his first trap, an explosive covered up by an old, raggity rug. Then he makes his way to the other stairwell on the floor. The shotgun is pulled from his back smoothly. Got to hold them long enough until Elias comes for a pick up…

"Aw hell, shot the wrong guy," Yancey says out loud, slapping a hand against his thigh. He glances over his shoulder, as if waiting for Ethan there to yell at him. He's not, so, the cowboy shrugs and lines up another shot. Ethan never has to know that he missed the first time! No longer nervous, adrenaline pumping through him like a drug, he lines up another shot. A flash goes, but it's another miss, the chaos too thick to make this easy. He'll try again, though. It's important. He focuses on doing just that.

"Yes you can!" Edward is emphatic about this point, even as another gunshot is fired. He's already changed things. "The probability says you can." Even as Cat approaches, he doesn't stray from his words, perhaps because he can foresee her reaction, perhaps because he's too shaken up to think perfectly straight.

"I told you to trust me, and that means trusting in my probabilities. That man is going to keep firing, even through the snow, unless you do something. You can do it." His large blue eyes shoot to Cat, and somewhere in the back of her mind she recognizes the man, a professer of particle physics at MIT who made guest appearances at her own college. Edward Ray, famous for his advances in string theory and superstring theory. "We need to move, the — the gunshot was early it…" He squints, looking at the blinding flurries of snow that came just after the short was taken. "It missed, I'm certain, but — "

He turns back, "You've bought us all time by intensifying the storm, but haste — We need action and quick. Do you have anyone who — " He glances up at the building, "They're armed, likely heavily. Probability of four individsuals is high. Helena, we have to stop them from doing any more. I can follow you up, show you which ways to go, but — " He looks down, then to the side at Cat, then to the Deveaux building. "I need information. The more you can give me the better, let me help." It is the voice of a man pleading to be able to make a difference. An ordinary man, wanting to do something other than an ordinary life.

"Who's there?" Helena demands into her radio, because Alex had a case of the non-specifics. "Do what you can, protect the president, I have to…" she trails off, furrows her brow. Electrical storms are difficult, but not impossible. Forcing the clouds to charge up their positive and negative ions, and Helena furrows her brow in concentration. Why does she even believe this man? Some of the clouds begin to backlight up above as crackles of energy arc through them. It's harder to think down, down, down. "Protect Rickham as best you can!" A hand raises up to her forehead. It hurts a little to try and force the buildup downward, with no real garuntee. "What do you need to know?"

On the move, listening to the radio, Cat draws close to the location of Helena and the scientist. Close enough to see the man. Neurons fire, the face compared to her memory. Match! She speaks shortly after Helena's transmission. "That's Edward Ray. He's from MIT. I'm about to join you." She'll be with them in a matter of seconds now.

Jogging through the raining debris now that the worst of it's had a chance to hit the ground, Conrad huffs across a street and to another building that seems unoccupied. He looks both ways just to see if anybody's watching, and doesn't see anybody with an eye on him here. So he takes a moment checking for doors and windows to the building just to peek inside. "Great." he mutters to himself. No real luck. It's too much light outside and too dark inside, so anyone outside can see him but he can't see in. So he just takes a moment (perhaps foolishly) in view of those windows extending his hearing Out in ways that usually cause a lot of problems because they pick up insane amounts of extraneous noise. See if he can pick out any clues that'll direct him to…anything. As an afterthought he reaches in his pocket and puts his hand over the radio earpiece to muffle it. If it goes off it's gonna be WAY too loud for him to hear over just now.

Another explosive is laid down in the other stair well. Give them one way up. One way out. Ethan walks hastily down the hall away from the stairway, sliding a detonator out into his hand. He begins to scan the rooms, most people are in a frantic sprint outside. So those who aren't, stick out.

Conrad will be able to hear one thing quite clearly. BOOM. Another explosion from inside the Devaux building. Crippling the second stairwell making it impassable.

Ethan drops the duffle bag off his shoulder, holding the shotgun in one hand. //Make it seem like there's a fucking army in here. So the UMP is taken out of the bag, and slid into one room, the window that looks out to Conrad. The shotgun slides into a room across the hall. Facing outwards, towards Cat arriving. And then Ethan, sprints to one window, starting his army of one facade. Conrad will most certainly hear the bullets right before they pierce the glass flying out at him, a spray of automatic bullets. The gun is quickly dropped as Ethan sprints across the hal

"…" For once? Yancey is silent. A stupid look of surprise crosses his face as he peers through the telescope. "I made that fuckin' shot," he murmurs. Three. Two. One. "ETHAN! THE PRESIDENT'S A METAL MAN!" Yancey yells, seeing as they don't have comm technology, moving away from the window to poke his head out into the hallway. "How do you kill a metal man? Fuckin' filthy Evolved lying fucker."

"Your radio." He motions to the earpiece, "If I can hear what's going on across the town, I can try to plan around it." Edward looks up at the building again, "Since the shots didn't connect with the President yet — " Edward narrows his eyes to try and see through the haze of snow, "They're likely going to try and hold down the position until they can either make the shot, or find a clear route of Escape. If you can feed me information, I can give guidance and advice." He cracks a smile, "Think of me as a very portable tactical supercomputer."

"Right now we need…" He can see Helena focusing, and his eyes widen as hands promptly go over his ears as the skies light up with a sudden glow and a flash as a bolt of jagged lightning flashes down from the heavens, guided towards the metal framework of the greenhouse on the top floor fo the Deveaux building. The explosion of electricity causes a massive and blinding display of light across much of the top floor, along with a sonorous blast that shakes the walls and knocks over what little furniture was left in the penthouse.

In that moment, Ethan's cunning ploy and Yancey's blubbering are interrupted by the flash and the shuddering explosion of thunder through the rooftop. Exactly as Edward had predicted, like an incredibly powerful flashbang grenade.

Helena stares at the Deveaux building in shock, not noticing the faint seeping of red that drips from one of her nostrils. "I did that?" she asks in wonderment, tugging her earpiece out and holding it out to Edward in befuddlement. "The president's made of metal." she tells Edward, still blinking up at the Deveaux building.

Reaching Helena and the scientist just in time to see her concentrate and the man covering his ears, ahead of the flash of lightning and the loud noise which follows it, Cat ducks. Hands raise to cover the area where her ears are under the hood of her coat. It takes her a moment to get her bearings and look between the two of them. When she does, she speaks quickly. "Helena. Tilt your head back. You've got a nosebleed. Dr. Ray… what's your take on this?"

OH MY GOD! Conrad hears all kinds of insane crazy bullshit noise going on inside this building, and none of it sounds like good news. All of it's very loud and unstealthy, and it has the sound of several people moving about. The racking of the initial round is pretty much all the warning he has to drop to the pavement mere instants before Ethan's bullets come ripping out of the window at him. Bits of glass sting as their tiny splinters tattoo stinging holes all over Con's back where he covers his head, not to mention the divots and brassy streaks each bullet leaves in the cold pavement where it strikes. Totally forgetting the radio, he basically cuddles up against the wall of the building and dares to peek up. No idea Cat's anywhere nearby.

Then Conrad puts a hand on the building and starts feeling it out. The resonance of the structure is tricky since it's full of rebar, plumbing, and empty hollow spaces, but the foundation has a mostly solid feel to it and as the audiokinetic begins pumping low-frequency sonic waves into it he basically tries his best to shake the entire thing apart. That'll teach their freakin army to try to kill him! Pretty soon the building (and even parts of the city block) are going to be shaking in tremors.

The shotgun is picked up, and a shot is popped off out the window. Towards where Cat was running. Then the Wolf drops his shotgun, going to run back to the other room to continue his one man army show.

The shaking of the building causes him a problem though. Footing is lost and the man lands on his back in the hallway, his arms immediately shielding his head. A grunt, more irritated than pained emits from his lips. What the fuck

The man lies there for a total of three seconds. His legs then come up, his knees coming near his chest before shooting back. The act taking Ethan from his back to his feet. "Forget the president." Ethan snarls out loudly. "We defend this fucking building until we 'ave pickup from Elias." The Brit calls out, making his way (much more slowly) to the UMP room.

His vision is still adjusting, his head hurts like shit, his bearings aren't straight. But that won't stop him from shooting. "Yancey! Ear plugs!" He calls out, overly loud. If only he would have been wearing them before. Two ear buds are quickly produced and slid into his ears.

Then the building is shaking. Fucking Evolved. Ethan is taken to his knees again. His gloved hand goes to his belt. A frag grenade is drawn, triggered and thrown out the window in Conrad's general direction. The grenade is followed by a nearly blind spray of gunfire.

Yancey does as told, wincing as yet another mode of communication is denied them. He braces himself as the building shakes, as if expecting it to get worse and worse. He takes out a gun, and he leans himself against the doorframe, looking down the hallway as he clicks off the safety. Guard the building. New mission. He can dig it.

There's a rush of air inside of the building in the room with Yancey, "So, I stop to get a mai-thai after the old man — " Elias staggers the moment his feet settle on the ground from his teleportation, the shaking building and the sounds of gunfire garnering a colorful response of, "What the fuck is going on!?" He stumbles back, bracing himself against the door-frame as he eyes Yancey, then hears the sound of gunfire from the other room, "Jesus christ what the hell are you two doing!?" Elias pushes off from the doorm stumbling with each swaying shake of the building to shoulder up against the wall near Yancey, "What the fuck is Ethan doing?" Clearly he's nonplussed about his welcomd.

Outside, the gunfire from multiple windows causes Edward to reflexively duck with each shot, his eyes forcing closed as he looks to Helena. He counts each shot, the moments between them as Cat asks her question, "I — I think — There might not be as many gunmen. The pattern of shots, it's — without knowing the layout I can't be certain, but the odds are good. With — with whatever is causing the tremors," Edward scrunches his nose, sounding shaky, "I — They may cease. What's going on with the President? D-Do you know?" His eyes shift to Cat, and she can see he's visible shaking and not just from the tremors.

Alright, enough dithering, and Edward just isn't fast enough. "Cat, get status reports on everyone, I'm fine, don't fuss." She wipes away at the blood on her upper lip, and then uses the same hand to curl around Edward's wrist. Tiny little thing, grip like iron. "We need to get across town. Where's Conrad? I know he's not far away…Jesus. We're heading to the blast site. Let him know, Cat." Because Edward has her earpiece. As for the building, her eyes narrow. Something isn't right about that, and the another moment of concerted effort thickens the fog, particularly around the building where the shot came from, thick like pea soup, thick like the fog trapped in London Below. And if it seeps into the openings of the now roughly damaged building, so much the better if any of Kazimir's people are still in there. Hel starts moving.

She's starting to move herself, having ducked down to avoid the shots and stayed that way for a time. Her features are focused, there's a grim determination to her. Cat speaks into the voice part of her comm gear, the words delivered in a tone of urgency, but not shouted. "Status reports, people. Check in. Advise on condition of President-elect as well. Conrad, advise of location. We're heading for the blast site." While she speaks and moves, her eyes study the scientist for signs of injury. As she speaks and moves, a quick scan of the man is undertaken, to determine if he's been injured.

For Con, things suddenly go in slow motion. One moment he's pouring his concentration into the building next to him. Almost all of that is timing, paying attention to the rhythm of the resonance needed and sending waves into the foundation just so. The next ne notices a grenade bouncing next to him on the sidewalk. It's funny how adrenaline focuses you. How it seems like he has all day to think: Wow. There's no pin in that. Grenades have a kill radius of five meters, a wound radius of up to fifteen. I think it's like twelve feet away. How many meters is that? Fucking NATO doing everything in Metric. It's the French. They did that. I'm about to die and it's because of the French. Holy shit.

He stops pouring his energy into the building, so much noise going on that he has no idea what Cat just said. His ears don't technically work. He doesn't hear like normal people do, but he does have to process it mentally and there's just too much going on. So the only thing he can think to do to the grenade to get it out of his face is to clap his hands.

Sonic Boom.

The grenade rockets across the street like a bullet, going somewhere entirely other than where Conrad is. Meanwhile Con is not immune to his own power. He is slammed like a ragdoll against the building and it breaks multiple bones. Still having that little adrenaline rush he notices the building's still kind of shaking residually and thinks: Oh that feels good. Back massage…

And then he drifts into unconciousness.

Anger. Fucking fog. Fucking Evolved. Fucking Evolved with their fucking abilities. Fuckity fuck fuck. Ethan storms down the hallway towards Elias, pumping the shotgun, an empty casing flicking through the hall. One gloved hand flies out to grab Elias by the shoulder. And then all the glass in the world implodes.

Ethan immediately goes to one knee, pulling the teleporter down with him, an arm flying up to shield them from the spray of glass. Once the effects of sonic boom are over, the man stands back up, calmly pulling a piece of glass out of his arm. It is dropped as he looks over to Yancey. "Get us out of 'ere, then go get Sylar." The Wolf commands, holding the shotgun firmly. A few parting shots are pumped nigh blindly out the foggy window.

"Why do we always gotta got git Sylar," Yancey sighs, but it's no real protest. It never is. Especially seeing as he's homed and hosed now. "Fuckin' hell, man." Mission failed. He only extends his arm and waits to be taken somewhere else.

"Ethan." Elias closes his eyes from where he sits on the floor, surrounded by broken glass, some in his hair, most on Ethan's clothing. "You're holding me." The words come thorugh ihs teeth as he pushes the Brit off of him slowly, standing up to dust himself off, "What the fuck happened?" He grumbles again, reaching out to grab Ethan's shoulder, and then Yancy when he gets near.

"If he's in Antarctica again." Elias mutters, closing his eyes, "He can go fucking save himself." There's asudden rush of air as Elias vanishes from the apartment building, from the absolute chaos going on. Mission failed indeed.

Looking down into his hand, Edward shakingly peers at the earbud, gripping it all this time he hadn't even thought of what to do with it. Clearly, this entire fiasco was more intense, more chaotic than he could have prepared for. All he wants was to be a hero, to make a difference with a gift, but this is a warzone, this isn't what he saw in his figures and numbers. Had his very presence escalated things so much? As Cat begins speaking, Edward lifts the earpiece up, holding it in place uncertainly with gloved hands. He just listens, then after amoment speaks up, "T-the… structural integrity of the building will hold." He has to cling to something, some figure. "I — " Edward swallows anxiously, "Alright we — I — " He hangs his head for a moment, squinting to see thorugh the fog and snow as Helena leads him. "This isn't how it was supposed to happen…"

Helena snags her comm from Edward. "Things are supposed to go smooth," she grits, "And they can never go smooth." She puts it to her mouth. "Owen! Find Conrad and get him to the blastsite. Hurry!" With that, the speedster will find the unconscious man and zip him away. Being careful about avoiding the shots, she'll lead the other two to the blast site. "We're on our way to you guys."

Moving along with Helena and the scientist she's leading, Cat states "No reply on the call for check ins, Helena." Her feet are moving at a steady pace, the features partly obscured by her hood rigid. Her jaw is set. She seems about to say something more, toward the scientist, but holds it back. A few moments later she does speak. "Pull it together, Doctor Ray. This is your baptism by fire."

The men that were firing from the building have grown silent, perhaps because of the fog, perhaps because they're on the move. This is what lingers in Doctor Ray's mind as he stumbles and staggers behind Helena and Cat, looking down at one gloved hand as the sound of gunshots and a sonic boom cause his ears to ring. Helena, Cat, they hardly seemed to so much as flinch when gunfire was filling the streets, when the windows on one side of the Deveaux building blew out from a sonic explosion, and the brief bit of what he could hear on the other end of that earpiece sounded like equal parts gunfire and screaming. The same sounds they're going towards not away from.

Have they truly become that desensitized to the violence in their lives?

The mathematician looks towards an overturned squad car and fleeing people that were at the scene, some who had arrived simply to cause chaos amidst the President's trip. But this isn't what Edward had predicted, he predicted a public outing of the president from a single gunshot, not widespread chaos and explosions.

Had his investment into this scenario changed things so much from one probably course of action to another? It's something he would be thinking over.

Just what did he change?


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December 19th: Prelude to Disaster
Previously in this storyline…
To Save Rickham, Part Two

Next in this storyline…
Disaster Within Disaster, Part II

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December 19th: Disaster Within Disaster, Part II
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