When Lightning Strikes, Part I

Participants:

boxer_icon.gif canfield_icon.gif cat_icon.gif diego_icon.gif django_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif helena_icon.gif hiro_icon.gif jessica_icon.gif lucrezia_icon.gif shard_icon.gif teo_icon.gif trask_icon.gif

Also Featuring

wright_icon.gif

Scene Title When Lightning Strikes, Part I
Synopsis Phoenix makes an attempt to rescue their conrades from the Moab Federal Penitentiary, but the ultimate outcome of their breakout is far from expected.
Date April 7, 2009

Since the dawn of time, mankind has wondered about the mysteries of the future.

Sparks shower from dangling electrical cabling hanging through a broken section of ceiling. Exposed wiring sputters and crackles with electricity, giving a strobing view of concrete halls littered with debris, some architectural, some human.

The desire to know what the future holds has been a constant in every culture, breathing life into legends of oracles and seers who could foretell coming events.

With his hands tucked into his pockets, a lone man with a slight build and slouching posture steps over the sprawled out bodies, still smoldering from whatever fate befell them. Far beyond these concrete halls, the staccato pop of gunfire is but one more unmistakable sign of violence. Despite this, his pace does not falter, he merely steps between piles of broken stone, crumpled steel doors, and broken human remains as if they were toys left behind by some messy child.

Does the ability to know and foresee the future preclude that future from ever coming to pass? Does it pollute our own perceptions of events so profoundly that we can never achieve what we saw?

The wall suddenly erupts just ahead of him, sending a shower of stone dust and ruined concrete across the floor. In the wake of the wall's destruction, three men in uniform collapse from the opening, their bodies battered and limbs broken like toy soldiers crushed under an angry child's heel.

Yet even considering this, the human desire to understand the unknown is so strong. We struggle in our lives to gain a foothold, to ensure that this unseen and unshaped future comes to pass in a way favorable to us…

Heavy, crunching footfalls make their way through the black opening in the wall, accompanied by the scraping sounds of steel on stone. The lone wanderer in the concrete halls pays it no heed, he only slowly approaches one of the bodies on spotting something on it reflecting light from overhead. He crouches down, plucking a pair of glasses off of the man's face, turning them around in his hands with a lopsided smile.

That the future we make for ourselves, is one where we can be at peace, where we can be successful, where we can have all of the things we have ever wanted.

Unfolding the glasses and straightening the bend frames, the man slides them on to his face, pushing the circular lenses up the bridge of his nose with one hand as he turns to watch the monstrous figure emerging through the hole in the wall. Showering sparks of electricity bounce off of the dully-reflective surface of pitted iron where there should be flesh, rattling tines of steel where there should be hair, and dark orbs of hematite where there should be eyes. A man wrought entirely of dark iron.

But perhaps this is why we yearn to know of the future. So that if our fate is a bleak one…

"You have fantastic timing, mister Rickham." His glasses reflect the stoic countenance of the man forged of iron as he stands, a razor-thin smile creeping across his lips as he does, "the others are going to be waiting for us. We probably shouldn't be late."

…we are prepared to change it.


Ten Years Earlier


The fist hits his jaw so hard that the fillings in his teeth rattle, and soon enough John McIntyre finds himself launched off of his feet and into the air, twisting at the waist before colliding with the ground several feet away, "You son of a bitch."

Flexing his fingers open and closed from the fist, Benjamin Washington — known as "Knox" behind these concrete walls — doesn't break his stride one bit as he moves. "You're a god damned rat, you know that?" Moving away from the picnic table as if it were on fire, several inmates look from the burly and dark eyed Knox and then down to the wiry schoolteacher he laid out.

"W— what are you talking about? I— " His jaw aches, and McIntyre massages a hand over his mouth as he struggles to get up to his feet, even as whistles are shrieking out from the watchtowers, "I don't— "

"Shut it!" A few hopping steps, and then a shoe meets McIntyre's jaw, sending him spinning across the gavel courtyard under the battering sun overhead. "Ain't nobody in here who knows the name of my parole officer back in LA! Ain't nobody who knows — which means you either been lookin' at my file, Micky, or you're a rat!"

Away from the chaos of Knox's growing temper, Stephen Canfield sits on the bleacher seats with his back to the women's yard of the prison, his eyes distant and unfocused as he watches the display of violence. Day after day it's been getting worse, and now paranoia has sunk in to the bones of so many people behind the cage.

But unlike the others locked away within walls of concrete and steel, Stephen Canfield honestly believes he belongs here. He truly feels himself a monster, out of control and unable to make up for the life he had taken.

So he watches Knox, even as the fellow inmate bends down and picks up McIntyre by the scruff of his collar, crushing plastic chess pieces underfoot as he does, one fist balled up before striking the much older man again.

The guards are coming, chain-link gates sliding open and taser-rifles primed with a whining intensity. It's the third time in as many weeks for Washington, and this is his third strike of violence in the practice yard, which means this trip down to the dark of Red Level will be his last.

But none of this matters to mister Canfield, his attention is entirely caught by a bird perched on the chain link fence across the yard from him. There's never birds out here, not unless you count the vultures.

…and there's never been a raven.

In ancient Rome, bloodsport was considered to be more than merely violence on display but rather the paramount of entertainment as public spectacle engineered for both the wage slaves and the aristocrats alike — so, far be it from Lucrezia Bennati to deny her heritage and refuse to watch the goings-on between two would-be gladiators on the other side of the fence. She's positioned herself at a prime vantage point near the fence that segregates the women from the men, fingers hooked into the links as if she were clinging to the chain-link in order to keep herself upright.

Look and see — carrion bird have already begun to gather but… well. Someone seems to have lost their tree. What's Poe's muse doing so far off course?

It's yet another day at Moab. Jessica is currently in her cell, which means not a lot of anything. She looks at the bare walls, but there's just not much to do in prison. Which would be why it's prison.

The light grows tiresome. Every morning, bright and early, there's the harsh, white glare of caged bulbs in each cell. The halls are filled with the buzz and flicker of fluorescent tubing, and in the cafeteria, too. Out in the yard, they have the blazing, summer sun staring down on them from over the peaks of mountains. Django finds himself growing weary of the light. When I get out of here- IF I get out of here -I'm gonna spend some nice, quality time with the dark. Just you and me, dark. Just you and me.

As he does almost every day, Django Reed, probably one of the least dangerous inmates in the facility, or at the very least, less threatening than most, sits on the ground at the edge of the yard, knees pulled up to chest-level, with his back pressed firmly to the fence that segregates the genders. Watching the tussle on the far side of the yard, the half-Russky offers silent thanks that he doesn't know anyone in here from the outside. It saves him so much potential trouble and drama, and he's got enough of both just with the handful of people he's gotten to know since he's been here. Especially Satoru. Jesus, that boy's touchy.

"Dumbass," he comments to no one in particular with a snort as the man who started the brawl is dragged away. "You'd think he'd fuckin' learn after the first two times, but no. Fucker deserves to be thrown in a damn hole. Least we won't have to see his damn face anymore." With the commotion done with already, for the most part, thanks to the intervention of the guards, Django's eyes begin to wander, looking for something else to entertain himself with. They settle on the raven for just a moment, and then notices Lucrezia's presence out of the corner of his eye. "Oi," he offers to her with a little wave of two extended fingers. "What's the haps, gorgeous?"

"He is always fighting. Maybe he hates the outdoors. Maybe…he has allergies." Relatively speaking, Boxer is peaceable in the way that drowsily retarded rhinocerouses are peaceable when they are locked into a concrete paddock to live out their days at the zoo. Only he has a big field of red sand and orange dust in the place of a stangant mud hole. Also, no visitors. Also he is in a bad orange jump suit and has a stupid hair cut and an itchy spot at the base of his bristled jaw, which he scratches with approximately the same twitch if arm muscle he used to scratch it five minutes ago. And five minutes before that.

Bad hair bristle-brushed against the wind, he sits with his back to the portion of the chain link where he used to bother Helena and Alexander regularly. But lately the crazy girl has gone missing, and here he is talking to himself just as Django is talking to himself even though the two of them can't be more than fifteen or twenty feet apart. He is not even watching the scuffle, though he does tip a look over at Lucrezia when Django addresses her specifically. "Yes. What is the haps, gorgeous?"

The shriek of a jet engine comes too loud and too low over the mountainous desert of Utah. A flash its silhouette backlit by the sun overhead and the howl of its engines is not the only thing the prisoners see when they squint up at the bright and clear skies, but also the whistling cry of twin missiles as they are disengaged from the jet's wings.

Blasts of flame and contrails of smoke follow the missiles as they streak across the skies on a downwards trajectory towards the northwest guard tower in the blink of an eye, followed by the deafening shudder of an explosion filled with a rising ball of fire and smoke that expands high up over the prison.

In shocked reaction to the explosions, Knox falls backwards and away from Mcintyre, watching with wide eyes the pillar of twisting smoke and flame rising up from the watch tower. As he turns to scan the prison yard, the guards are ducking for cover, some peering up at the sky while those in the remaining three towers move to man their mounted assault rifles, turning them skyward instead of into the prison yard itself.

The jet soars past the prison, then sharply banks and begins making a turn for a second pass. The sputtering rattle of machine gun fire erupts from the front, peppering the helipad of the prison with high velocity ammo as screams from the guards and cheers from the prisoners barely beak over the sound of its speed.

Two more rockets unfold from the wings, blasting out through the sky as they soar into the southeast guard tower, obliterating the concrete pillar of imprisonment in a brilliant eruption of flames and showering stone debris.

The jet blasts away from the prison again, only to turn on its side and bank harder than before, a third payload of missiles launched from a greater distance, this time targeting the antenna and satellite dish array that rises up from the top of the prison's central building. Stone dust and debris once more follows flames and smoke as the missiles hit their target, sending rocky shrapnel spraying down into the practice yard.

One of the prisoners and two of the guards watching the unbelievable display find jagged pieces of the roof and the satellite dishes slicing into their bodies, spraying blood and screams in equal parts from them as they collapse to the ground together.

It's in that moment when things become even stanger, amidst the chaos of the explosions, flickering distortions of light begin to sparkle and pop around the prison yard, visual cues to teleportation behind piles of stone rubble and a portion of the collapsed fence. The raven takes flight, wings flapping as it soars through a plume of smoke rising up from the ruins of one of the watchtowers.

Jessica hears the explosions, but it's not like there's any way to tell anything from inside. She moves to the door, and presses her ear up to it. Maybe she can hear SOMETHING. It's the best hope for telling anything.

Even closer to the penitentiary, the air in Moab still smells the same: of too little. Not enough moisture, nor enough life, a void of automotive exhaust or fruity, vomit-sharpened dumpster decay. Only the eddied impression of the sun's heat and desiccated stone travel up Teo's airways. Well, that isn't strictly true: he can also smell the inside of his ski mask, the residue of his chewing gum, and gunmetal, new fire, charring chemistry.

A lot of it.

He watches the tower go down out of the corner of his eyes, doesn't bother to refocus on Hiro before the man winks out of view with a quick crease of dimensional space. His rifle clicks in his hands. Through their cut cloth windows, his eyes sharpen to the acuity of molecular knives. It's a wonder that his jaws don't shatter cryogenically frozen, his voice is so cold across the radio.

«Helena and Alexander aren't up here.»

That doesn't stop him, however. «I see Lucrezia, no sign of Knox yet. I'm going after her. Wireless will blow the walls in five.» There's a solid crunch of boots across rubble, overturning small stones and sandy gravel. The young man who comes toward the Italian beauty is not one she can recognize, covered, armored, except for his steadfast regard and the voice that leaps out of the cacophony of voices, toppling architecture, and fading noise-induced deafness: "Lucrezia!"

Her face and hair are concealed behind a ski mask, and she's clad in all black with sturdy boots and gloves. Her clothing is of a military sort with pockets for carrying things such as weaponry. Body armor is beneath the shirt. Two pistols are at either side of her waist, minus the silencers. There's no need for being quiet here and now. Grenades are carried, both of the standard variety and the flash-bang sort, along with extra ammo for pistols and M16 rifles. One M16 rifle is held in hands at the ready to fire with two magazines taped end to end so she can quickly flip them over and keep going if need be. Each shoulder carries a spare rifle intended for arming prisoners to aid in this operation, they likewise have two magazines readied for quick change.

On her arrival behind cover Cat takes just moments getting her bearings; she's a veteran of being teleported. Crystal clear memory of the interior is called upon swiftly, she lifts her head just enough to check out the environment and determine if they're under fire before she goes into motion, headed toward the nearest group of people. Helena Dean is the one she intends to find first, but there's no sign of her or Alexander. With that being verified by Teo's radio voice over communications gear, she scans the yard for Knox while shouting out a command in her best stage voice. It simply won't do to have prisoners struck by flying debris when the walls are taken out. "GET DOWN! COVER YOUR HEADS!"

Then the woman of five feet eight inches is taking cover herself while counting out under breath. "Five four three two one"

Several paces behind Teo is a diminutive silhouette shrouded in a cloud of dust, smothering smoke and millions upon millions of microscopic particles, all of it debris. Eileen Ruskin wears her hair looped back into a bun at the nape of her neck and is clad in secondhand fatigues, including a battered flak jacket and an assault rifle slung across her back by a leather strap so old and worn that the material has begun to fray at the seams from excessive use.

She hasn't unshouldered her weapon yet because she doesn't need it — the haze continues to thicken and blot out the sunlight like a gathering storm cloud, covering Moab Federal Penitentiary in a roiling layer of smog, but this isn't the only reason the sky has begun to grow dark.

What sounds like approaching thunder booms across the decimated exercise yard, followed by a roar of wingbeats that gives way ill-organized chorus of raucous screams. Where there is one raven, there are always more, and Eileen intends to show the surviving guards why their flocks are called an unkindness.

This is the sort of sequence that gets filmed in that stutter-shutter style — every tenth second clipped from the filmstrip and then pasted back together again to produce a jarring cinematic experience. When the first bomb gets dropped, it feels for one woman as if the entire world has suddenly experienced a disorienting series of temporal shifts: stop, slow, hurry up and fucking go, go, go. By the time the sound of someone screaming her name had found its way up into her ears, Lucrezia'd very nearly scaled her way to the top of the fence — she's in incredible shape for a woman her age, you know — but, perched so precariously close to the top and with freedom staring her right in the face from a few hundred yards away, she was loathe to sacrifice a look over her shoulder… in case it just so happened to be the last thing she ever did. She'd much rather die with a hopeful heart instead of admitting defeat.

It takes a second or six for recognition to click and then her insatiable ego swells in the space of time it takes to breathe in a mouthful of scorched earth and air — all of this orchestrated and engineered for the sake of my escape — before she exhales heavily, the discarded dregs of self-importance cast out of her lungs violently as she unfurls her fingers and drops back down to the ground only to engage in a brief coughing fit. Someone really ought to quit smoking.

"Well, what are you waiting for?!" she shouts over the noise before holding out her hand expectantly to the man in the ski mask. What? Maybe he has bus fare?

Boxer's rambling commentary earns the quirk of one of Django's brows and a sidelong glance, but he really doesn't have anything to add, so he turns his attention back to Lucrezia, hoping she'll at least greet him in return. Maybe he can even strike up a decent conversation. Maybe. He's not laying money on that, though.

The sudden and noisesome approach of a fighter jet is a terribly effective distraction, even in competition with a stunningly gorgeous woman, and the smaller of the two Russians at the fence is diverted from staring at Lu to cast his eyes skyward, hand raised to shield his eyes against the brazen glare of the sun. That sun is out to kill him, he just knows it. One day.

The deployment of missiles causes his jaw to drop and eyes go wide, and it takes him a few precious seconds to get his mental faculties back under reign enough to realize that he does not want to be anywhere near wherever those hit. Scrambling to his feet, tripping over himself in his frantic rush, he makes a dash towards the wall of the building, shouldering past a few other inmates and an armed guard, the latter earning him a hard shove and a stern glare, though the circumstances do not afford the guard the opportunty for any further reprimand. As the other inmates scramble as well, and guards falter and hesitate, trying to react to this bizarre and unprecedented situation, Django huddles against the far fence, arms wrapped over his head defensively, just in time for him to be peppered with small rubble and shrapnel. Cuts on his arms and neck make him grit his teeth as they begin, faintly, to seep red into his orange garments. But a much worse fate befalls the guard standing in front of Django, who is viciously cut down by flying debris, killing him on the spot.

Blood and vicera spatter the poor Russky, but he keeps his eyes closed, trying not to think about it. There are a lot of possibilites as to what exactly the intent behind this attack is; a government attempt to erradicate the evidence of their practices here, some sort of renegade genocide attempt, or a rescue mission to get them out of here. Whatever the reason for it, though, Django knows he won't find out if he doesn't stay alive. So as soon as the debris from the explosion has settled to the ground, smoke and dust filling the air, and the second explosion on the other side of the facility rocks the ground, he makes a break for it.

Having the good sense to first pick up the fallen guard's gun, in case he should need to defend himself, he dashes towards the nearest pile of rubble large enough to provide some semblance of cover, and dives behind it before he can make himself much of a target. The unfamiliar, heavily armed figures arriving in the yard escape his notice for the moment, assuming the shouting is from the guards attempting to maintain some kind of order among the inmates, but he's already following their directions before they're given out of a heightened sense of self-preservation.

Before there is opportunity for actual conversation, there is the scream of the jet, and Boxer looks up, the tilt of his brows puzzling dimly after the white missile trails slithering towards the guard tower across the yard. A muttered, "Hol-y shit," drags bluntly ahead of more elaborate excalamations in babbling Russian — a language he has, in days passed, pretended not to speak beyond stilted deliveries, 'Hello, how are you? I am fine thank you.' and 'I think the weather is nice today.'

Debris is still arcing away from the first explosion when he finds himself up on his feet, reflex and adrenaline driving him up to — nowhere, really. He ducks away from the shattering blast of the second tower going up somewhere at his back, one hand lifted in a non-sensical effort to protect his skull from the shattered concrete and black ash that belches out of the structure's severed spine. A beat later a third explosion rocks the yard, and he staggers in bewildered, unhelpful fashion away from the heat flash against his side. People are appearing, people are yelling, there are guns. His life has suddenly become very complicated, ok?

This doesn't happen…

The beats and rythyms made from the mouths of several inmates slowly dissapate as the heavy bass of the newest instrument introduces itself to the group. The impromptu rap session is temporarily abandoned as several heads drift up with confused expressions until the explosions happen and confused faces very rapidly become surprised, fearful, and perplexed features.

With his back resting against the bottom of the basketball pole, Vincent King's eyes slowly open from their resting state to view the incoming carnage. He remains neutral, however, no shock, no awe, just simple observation. This doesn't just happen

The men surrounding the rap icon are suddenly on their feet, acting as any extra should, throwing up arms, stumbling backwards, yelling out obscenities. As they do this, Shard's eyes quietly follow them, before flicking over to the edges of the yard, taking in people he has come to know in his time here. Fans, friends, brothers, brothers in this demonchild known as Moab. People are dying… Things are blowing up. Shard's eyes close.

This doesn't happen

"Into the court!" Comes the strong, raspy voice of the former rap superstar. He didn't feel himself get on his feet, he doesn't even remember opening his eyes. But he's there. Waving his arms at his other inmates, trying to get them to heed his voice. Running at first reflex will get what you deserve, a bullet through the head. If they were going to get out of this hell hole they needed to play it smart. "Come on, get with me!" Shouts the man, making his way away from the hoop, somewhat closer to the fence. His eyes catch a few key players, "Boxes! Over here!" A sharp jerk of the thumb indicates where 'here' is.

This is happening…

…in Four.

Three…

Two…

One…

Somewhere across the country, Wireless makes the same count as Cat, but at the end of Hana Gitelman's countdown, there is not a period to punctuate the sentence, but rather months of planning and temporal manipulation at the hands of Hiro Nakamura. Just as Lucrezia's feet hit the ground, she finds them pulled out from under her by a shockwave so powerful it sends a carpet of crimson dust into the air from the desert floor.

All four high walls surrounding the exterior of the prison and the two remaining guard towers rumble with that same powerful tremor, before an explosion rivaling that of the missiles in depth and resonance causes them to crumble in a controlled demolition.

The southwest tower kilters too far to one side as it begins to tumble down, and instead of collapsing down in on itself, the tower tips to one side and falls towards the women's wing of the prison yard, crushing three inmates and half of the fence as it falls. Scrambling barefoot across the red dirt before even the debris has a chance to fall, a wild-eyed blonde woman climbs over the bloodied bodies of those crushed by the tower's collapse, climbing up and over the ruined stone and out towards freedom in the middle of the Utah desert.

As billowing clouds of stone dust fill the prison yard, Knox loses sight of McIntyre as the man slips into the prison alongside guards, "That son of a— " he turns, looking through the haze towards the well-organized team that move through the prison yard. "Hey! How're we gettin' out of— "

Knox's words are cut off by the ear-splitting sound of a sonic boom, followed by his body rocketing through the air and striking one of the still standing fences dividine the men's and women's sides of the yard. Tearing through the chain link, Knox bounces across the ground, skidding to a motionless halt. Where Knox was standing, a trio of figures dressed in black fatigues stand together. One of them, a mocha-skinned woman with wild black dreadlocks, holds a balled up fist towards where Knox was standing, the outline of her body blurring and distorting as she moves.

"Recover and detain," she states into an earpiece as the dust from the collapsing walls clears. Behind her towers an enormous man, nearly eight feet tall with shoulders wide enough to make his already enormous frame even more imposing. His Samoan features give him a broad, flat face with smooth dark hair tied back into a knot at the base of his skull. It's amazing they were able to make a uniform for a man this large.

"Affirmative," the mountain of a man states, as he takes a slow and plodding step to one side, swinging an enormous fist towards a prisoner rushing past, knocking the man off of his feet to crash into the picnic table near the basketball court twenty feet away.

As the titanic guard moves, he reveals the third man who was standing behind him, hovering a few feet off of the ground, with sparks of electricity arcing over his thin and darkly clad frame. "Emergency Resaponse Team present on site. Temporal anomaly detained presently, beginning security procedures…" As he moves, his body glides over the ground, stirring up motes of red dust as lightning arcs off of his shoulders and back. "Salia, Ramon," the lithe man calls out to his partners, "let's get to work."

With a wink, the dreadlocked woman disappears in a blur of super speed, leaving a plume of red dust in her wake as the doors to the prison fly open. She's left her two squad-mates to handle the riot up above, while she deals with the situation down below.

There is no textured grip of glove to catch Lucrezia when she falls, nor a shoulder squared to take her descending weight. Teo follows the quick drop of her body in his peripheral of his vision and there's an almost imperceptible shift of his face underneath the fabric of his mask when she lands two-footed and in dust.

Cold metal weighs into her hands. A pistol, its shape black, brute-ugly, deadly relief against the still-fine lines of her hands. Her boy roughs a series of sharp, Italian syllables rapidly into her ear. After the explosives go off, go to the air strip. Cargo plane is ours. The pilot's name is Jake.

His nose and mouth are right up in the velveteen coil of her ear because she'd never be able to hear him, otherwise; he can barely hear himself.

Gabriel crackles across the radio. Pop pop pop, bzzt, wrangwheer ordinary weapons and klaxons discharging in the commands of the guardsmen issuing forth from the remaining towers and the central complex. He doesn't shoot. Not immediately. He only has a split second to

Watch. To feel that visceral squirm of embryonic pity, a moment before the explosives do go off and all that human noise is inundated under the pandemonium of demolitions, walls smashing each other into rubble, the ground greeting former windows with trainwreck force.

Mi dispiace.

A swipe of his hand relieves his ears of their plugs afterward, and he hauls his aunt bodily back, behind him, toward the gaping maw ripped into the wall without moving either of his own feet toward it. Possibly not the recommend course of action. They are diverging rather drastically from the plan. The plan was built with the expectation of divergences, certainly, but after a point. The emergency response team appears. Teo lifts his rifle—

—and sprints in the wake of red dust. He isn't altogether indiscriminate with shoving panicky prisoners out of his way, given they're probably as good cover as the next wall, but nor is he meek.

«We have half the ERT up here. Speedster coming your way. Can you cover all that?»

She hears the radio call shortly before the explosions. Helena is on red level? Crap. It would've been far, far better to have her here and get armed before she charged off to rescue a man who wants to be in prison. Cat mutters something unpleasant under her breath. Her head remains down, cover taken advantage of as the ordnance goes off and the walls become mostly dust. She makes no attempt to do anything else until the sound has subsided.

But once it has she lifts her head and scans the yard. The next in line to be found is Knox. She seeks him out and sets his location, then gets a measure of the remaining opposition after Teo calls out the destination of a speedster. There's the Mountain Man, and Mr. Electric… Mountain Man might not be that fast, which makes the other member of the ERT priority.

Cat's experience says DHS people have body armor, so she lifts her M16 and takes careful aim, using cover to shield as much of herself as possible. The sight picture is established, she draws in a breath and holds it, then her finger gently squeezes the trigger. It's held just long enough to let out a three round burst toward the electric one's head.

There's people running around, debris in the air, all sorts of nonsense. People are talking, screaming, voices float from a little piece of plastic stuck in Diego's ear. None of this is nearly as distracting as the explosions that come next. Despite a general lack of surprise, this rocks him just enough to ruin the bead he had drawn on a scrambling prison employee. No time to waste whining about it, though, as next thing you know- surprise! Welcome the Forces of Evil A Team. Or the Evil Power Rangers… or, well, in any case the ERT becomes the most imminent problem. Cat reacts just before Diego does, and in the interest of teamwork he drops to one knee as swings the Commando towards Mountain Man. "Bigger they are," he utters under his breath, casually flicking the selector on the side of his rifle to fully automatic. Aimed at the giant's stomach, there's nothing left to do but squeeze, bullets suddenly filling the air separating the two. Diego keeps his hand squeezed tight, allowing the weapon to walk up from its starting point with the recoil from each successive shot.

Like a conductor leading a musical ensemble, Eileen commands her flock — but rather than indicate melodic shape, she uses her hands to direct the movement of the horde, bringing every individual together into one united force that blows through the remains of the northeast tower's observation deck and sends the guards plummeting over the handrail to their deaths below.

It's their nest now.

Concentration leaves deep furrows in Eileen's brow, her face pinched into a tightly knit expression, the lines of which betray the sheer effort required to control a multitude of such mammoth size. Keeping up a feat like this for any extended period of time is neither very wise nor healthy — there is a clock, and the minutes on it are ticking away.

Although her mouth moves, no discernable sound leaves her lips over the din. Instead, Eileen's words are picked up by the communications channel, interspersed between crackling pops of ambient static: «Cat, Diego — someone cover Teo, but make up your minds now. I'll hold the doors.»

Right. Get to the airstrip. Escape. That would seem to be the logical course of action to take, especially for someone so seemingly neutered in the face of insurmountably hostile odds, and yet Lucrezia isn't so swift to beat a hasty retreat now that she has a handle in her hand; the newly gained gunmetal has made her bold. She swiftly proceeds to reenact a scene found in nearly every machismo shoot 'em up flick that might possibly feature a gunbunny with a rack full of jiggling goodies inserted to save the day with a timely ejaculation of hot projectiles in the face of the enemy — BANG! BANG!

Some poor bastard just got served a pair of well-placed moneyshots delivered direct to the chest. Did we mention that the Vanguard doesn't fuck around or discriminate when it comes to the so-called 'weaker' sex? Eileen… tell 'em how it is.

Apparently, Teo's got back-up after all… though why Lucrezia's so anxious to dive back into the bowels of Hell is anyone's guess…

Pheonix did not exactly leave the exit route uncovered, as the sound of several high powered sniper shots come from the darkness. Sergei in his winter get up even here in the desert is placed to provide covering fire for his team captain. The Soviet made Sniper rifle he uses is old, but well maintained, bought on surplus after the Wall came down. Sergei watches for targets of oppurtunity, especially those that are deemed number 1 Threats like the two evolved that seem to be giving his people trouble.

Boxes, someone is saying, over here. Okay. Okay, he's going. Over here. Over to the court area where he last heard something that sounded vaguely line his name through the shrill buzz that drills through his eardrums and into the emptiness congested into every crevace in his skull. Breath wheezing out into a harsh cough against the smog and ash clogging at already dull senses, the big Russian shoulders hard past a fellow inmate and hustles through a flow of bodies moving in approximately every direction other than the one he actually wishes to go in. One is just standing there — a grasping jerk at his collar sends him tripping out of the way.

Then there are more explosions. He is not exactly sure how many more, just that his insides seem to be vibrating with the resonate shock while he is flying through the air, which cannot be healthy. Fortunately he is Boxer, and so apparently immune to the kind of shocky pain that might keep a saner and more present person down if the landed backwards on their head and shoulders. Instead he grunts something inappropriate to himself and completes the roll, ass over head, back onto knees, and hazily up onto his feet. He is dirty. There is dirt in his ears and in his nose, and blood caking out of a scrape at his temple. The worst of it tossed off his head in a stiff shake and a sneeze, he scrubs his nose over the back of his sleeve as he fumbles the rest of the way over to where Shard is collecting minions.

"No." The words are more mouthed than said as Shard's eyes follow Knox's bumpy progress along the ground. His lips pull back into a snarl as he watches the people popping through the fence, coming to 'contain' the situation. Killers. Thugs. Those people in the fancy kevlar suits are the people who should be in this yard, in these suits, taking those pills. He doesn't have time to worry about wincing at explosions at covering his head, these people are all the family he has right now. Whether or not they deserve to be here, they're his people. And they're about to get slaughtered. "Donnie. Donnie." Shard cries out, turning quickly to the large dark skinned man at his side. "Little brothers down. You and Javon, get him on his feet man. Watch your back!" Shard yells, pointing at the men in black marking this land as their land.

Vincent King is directing people in orange jumpsuits, motions to follow, motions to duck, motions to GET THE HELL AWAY, and finally his entourage has taken off in the direction of one Knox. Shard however is on his way to the bleachers.

"Cans! Cans!" The rapper is yelling on his rapid approach at the man sitting on the bleachers, clearly shellshocked, and probably not even sure where he is. Stephen Canfield. "Cans! You need to get up, brother!" A pair of thick hands dart at the collar of Canfield. "Come on! You got to get up!" His eyes swerve over his shoulder, barely able to take in all the commotion before. His knees buckle at the force of the explosion, managing to straighten himself he sends an aggravated look up to Canfield before bringing up one hand and slapping straight across the other man's face.

"LET'S GO!"

And with that, he's bodily heaving the man to his feet, "Get yourself together, brother. We got places to be." And those places are most definitely not here. Turning as he heaves the man out from the bleachers, he looks back to where people were gathering. Where he told people to gather. "Come on!" Shard shouts in Boxer's direction as he physically steers Canfield away from the bleachers and the scary people. "Alright! We stay together until we get outside the fence! Then you run!" It's not going to work. But they might as well try. It's all they can do..His eyes move over to the two men in black. Someone is going to have to take care of them.

Canfield struggles along beside Shard, shakily being led away from the bleachers that now lie in ruins. When did the debris first hit him? When did everything turn upside down? It's hard to say, but right now he's being led to the one place he does not want to be. Free. "…wait." It's too quiet, too weak-willed, because of the one thing out there that Stephen wants more than to be kept away from hurting others, is to explain himself to his family. He has a child, he has a wife. These things, more so than anything else, drive Stephen not to pull back from Shard, and not to speak up again.

Instead, he falls in line.

Automatic gunfire finally pops in the air through the drifting clouds of dust and debris. Diego's rounds are squarely fired towards the brow of the massive man swatting prisoners aside, but when the bullets finally connect, there is a loud sound of them ricocheting off as sparks shower from his forehead. The ground cracks under his feet from the additional weight as density is drawn inwards, compounding his titanic girth even more so. Glaring, Ramon snatches a fleeing prisoner by the arm and hurls him towards Diego like an improvised frisbee, just a flailing tangle of limbs and screams hurtling through the air.

Cat's attack goes in like fashion, but it isn't nigh invulnerability that causes her rounds to go stray. The bullets move towards their target and gradually slow in the air, coming to a halt as crackling bolts of electricity surround them. Donner arches one dark brow, looking to Cat as he glides through the air, "Bullets?" They glow and spark with the electromagnetic energy crackling around his body, "please." With that verbal rebuking, they are now his projectiles, all of the rounds Catherine fired returned through the air with the velocity of a railgun, one shot punching through the body armor at Cat's shoulder, spinning her around with a sprayed trail of blood as she's knocked off of her feet and into the baked earth below.

"Salia," Donner calls out over his communication unit, "What the hell is going on down there?" A crackling mass of electromagnetic energy surges over Donner's right hand, and he waves his arm out, firing a lashing tendril of electricity towards where Teo fled into the prison, grounding out on an iron door instead of the Sicillian's flesh.

Neither of these two targets are aware of the danger presented by Norton Trask, and when the round from a sniper rifle slams Ramon in the chest, the eight foot tall behemoth of a man stumbles and staggers back, clutching his sternum as the bullet falls flattened to the ground. Judging from the look of pain on the mountainous Samoan's face, "Donner! They have a sn— "

Another sniper round strikes Ramon, this time in the temple, jerking his head to the side with the force of a baseball bat to the skull for anyone else. The round deflects away, but not without leaving a bleeding cut and cracking bone. Ramon's thundering footfalls stumble to one side as he manages to keep his balance, and Donner's focus shifts from where he had tried to electrocute Teo and Lucrezia's escaping forms, scanning the dusty horizon to no avail.

"One six seven seven three, one six seven seven three, one six seven seven three." Helena chants this to herself like a mantra as she comes up the elevator, and makes sure to keep out of the direct line of the doors as they open onto Green Level. Once she thinks she's clear, she runs from point to point, trying to avoid altercations, sweeping gusts of wind knocking people out of her path - but the further she goes, she can feel it fading, and so she doesn't have much time. One six seven seven three.

Unbeknownst to her, one of the last doors she'll get to is Jessica's. She taps in the code, watches the door slide open, and only remains long enough to tell the blonde, "We're getting busted out. Come on!" before she dashes off, headed toward the commotion in the yard. Her power's almost gone, and she's not sure what else she can do, but some of the cells were empty, and so far she has a few people unaccounted for. Lucrezia, Django, even Shard and Satoru and Boxer…well, mostly Django.

Two Italians run jackrabbit into the bowels of the prison, out of the dervish of sand, ash, and feathers. «Sergei— » it's a guttering grunt in the radio, stretched over the exertion of sprinting somewhere inside the mazey warren of the prison. «Get down there. Can't kill them without your ability. Call diversion. I'm— »

Suddenly unavailable for comment, it seems. Somewhere inside the facility, a gout of gunfire sends both aunt and nephew into a crouch. The uniformed guard hiccups into view, pistol arcing toward the middle of Teo's masked face. It stops a few degrees off-course, judders, and the weapon slides out of his hand, both the motion and the rest of his life abbreviated by the bullet that skips out of Lucrezia's weapon.

Clack. She catches the extra clip tossed backward at her, and ignores the accompanying scowl. Terrorism is in the family, it seems.

A staccato breath, two sets of feet crashing into the stairwell, down, down, into coils of concrete architecture that seem to tighten with every coil, tracking the serpent's spine. Another guard catches a bullet in the jaw, falls with a gurgle, unfinished; a woman in a white coat cedes his eyeball in favor of a splintery-edged crater the color of afterbirth. «'M coming down.»

The ravens cut a wide swath across the exercise yard and move with single-minded purpose, their singular black mass spilling over fallen prisoners and guards alike. Wingtips buffet against Ramon's ears and clip the top of Donner's head as they skim past, but neither beak nor claw catch in hair, split skin or gouge at eyes — that isn't why the bird whisperer is calling them back.

Eileen's arms are held out as if imploring an embrace, palms naked and facing skyward, the very tips of her bone-white fingers curled, beckoning, Come to me.

Her breathing has grown heavy, laboured with mounting exhaustion. Summoning the flock back isn't quite the mental equivalent of pulling a one-tonne truck uphill, hand over hand, with only thick weave of rope to tow with, but it is difficult and it won't be much longer before her strength begins to fail.

The sea of iridescent feathers and pinprick eyes parts, split cleanly down the middle with a decisive flick of her wrist. One half gravitates toward Cat, the other toward Diego — not to attack, but to defend.

"Sergei" spent several years in the United States Army, followed by a decade on the New York Police Force. He has been a part time terrorist as well, and until very recently a death match enslaved cage fighter. To say he is currently in the best shape of his life would be an understatement. When the order comes in to get up close and personal the black Russian deploys from his sniper position, a quick acrobatic jump gets him to the ground and then it's a fast crouched jog from cover to cover to move in on the defending agents. He fires a few low cover fire rounds as he moves, mostly aiming for the knee joints of the behemoth, assuming they will be the most vulnerable points and could bring the mountain of a man crashing down. Over the radio the only answer is a simple, stilted "DA" but in the mind of the ex soldier is only the thought that this is going to be a very bad idea.

What the…? Suddenly her own fire is reversing course, Cat barely manages to twist her body and dive for flat ground before one of the rounds impacts her left shoulder. There is blood escaping, and a cry of pain sounds out. This hurts rather more than the round to the chest taken during the Deckard Op which was blocked by body armor. Her rifle strikes the ground and is nearly knocked out of the good right arm. Her teeth grit and it takes an effort of will to ignore the injury as she gets up as best she can to shelter behind the obstacle and get a bearing on the action. There's no attempt to fire now, she'd probably need to pull one of the pistols.

But she has another idea. A grenade is taken from a pocket and held as she looks for a target. It's Cat's goal to throw it not at the magnetic guy, but at some concrete remnant outside his field which would then, she hopes, fill him with enough fragments to do the job.

If you don't have a nonmetallic weapon, make one.

Then her voice comes over the radio. «This one's not just electric, he's got magnetic fields too!"

Taking another look then, quickly, she spots a segment of prison wall behind the man which would serve as a target. Her fingers grip the pin, ready to pull it, but she delays. Cat can't be certain enough it's outside his magnetic field. No pin is yanked, the grenade is unused as she ducks back down.

It's hard to breathe, it's hard to see, it's nearly impossible to move in a direct line with bodies and debris strewn about the ground, and stray weapons fire zipping through the air like lethal mosquitos. Ducking behind whatever cover he can find as he makes his way towards the fence, Django has a few near misses as bullets kick up dust at his feet, or skip off of the broken concrete by his ear. As he nears the bleachers, his attention is grabbed by Shard and Canfield, his eyes following them to the congregation on the basketball court. That could be an opportunity. They always say that there's safety in numbers. On the other hand, a large group of inmates like that is going to bring down the attention of the guards, and the EMT.

Sweat begins to trace little rivulets in the dirt and blood smearing Django's face, dripping into his eyes to blind him anew, and he scrubs at eyes and forehead alike with what he hopes is a relatively clean portion of his sleeve as he pauses behind the shattered remnants of the bleachers for deliberation. Should he go with the group amassing at the court, disappear into their ranks, and maybe increase his chances of survival by hiding behind other inmates from the descending wrath of the guards, or go it alone and try to disappear, avoiding the conflict entirely, but losing any chance he has to win a fight against the afforementioned?

He hesitates, biting his lip as grit-harried eyes dart nervously this way and that, then finally takes the easier of the two options. Breaking cover, he skirts around the edge of the yard, hoping to avoid the notice of the EMTm which is further aided by their rescuer's attempts to disable them, and makes for the court. But no more than midway there, one of the bullets ricocheting from Ramon's armored skin scores a graze across his shin, causing his face to be abrutly introduced to the red dirt beneath him. A momentary hitch, and then he's crawling for the nearest cover once more, before someone decides he's an easy target.

With a heavy plop, barely audible over the rest of the goings-on outside the wrecked facility, Django's back hits the rubble that Diego has only just evacuated, gun raised and at the ready. He doesn't know who these people are, or exactly what their intent here is, but they're shooting guards and not inmates, so that seems like a pretty good start, so he's going to let them do their job for now and not get in their way. Craning up over the debris, and raising his voice so as to be heard over the cries of the ravens and the weaponsfire all around, he shouts to the Shard, Boxer and company, "Is there a plan?"

The door is opened and suddenly, freedom! And she doesn't even need to kill her liberator. Jessica looks to Helena in surprise. She'd love to know how, but right now isn't the time for questions. She's quick on Helena's heels as she heads for the yard with her, keeping an eye open for a guard she can disarm.

"WHAT?" is the best Boxer can muster in response to Shard's plan. Everything is loud. He has sand in his ears. There are bullets ripping through the air. One ticks neatly through the side of his flagrant orange jumpsuit, fraying canvasy thread without grazing skin, and he fails to notice because he is too busy trying to read lips in the shit storm this has become. "I think — " he shouts after Django's question, sand still sifting earthy red from one ear, "something with running."

It is not clear whether or not he's actually heard or if it just seems like kind of a good idea. Bloody grit is pushed off his brow and he swears again, one leg swinging back to force balance that hasn't quite caught up with the rest of him otherwise. "Did you know about this?" Was this a secret and nobody told him because they think he is stupid? That would make him sad.

"Bring him, bring him!" Shard shouts over the noise towards his posse, rounding up the downed body of Knox. One hand is rested firmly on the back of Stephen Canfield's neck as he guides the man through the court. His small army of inmates slowly gathering. Those not already escaped or dead, are gathering at him. And becoming an excellent target of the Emergency Whatever Team. Though there are people with guns out in the bushes or whatever is passing for bushes. But even bullets aren't taking down these haters.

A frown is jerked over at Boxer's overly loud response, he can hear just fine and is getting a little stressed out with all the pressure and LOUD NOISES. Then his head jerks over to some punk kid demanding a plan. Shard had gotten about as far as getting everybody together and now they want a plan. "I didn't know about it." He reassures as he goes into a crouch, jerking a hand to Django signifying he should join the rest. "Boxes." He says loudly. "Go for the fence, make sure Cans and Knox and my boys get there." His hand brings up one finger, pointing at Django. "You." His aging features crease, "Watch his back. There's going to be more, so get the hell out quick. I'll distract them."

And how the hell is he supposed to do that?

There's a sharp cry of pain as gunfire strikes Ramon in the knees, sending his towering form crumpling down to the ground on one hand. There's a scream, loud and frustrated as he pushes himself back up to his feet and begins barreling towards Diego's unconcentrated gunfire. Each thundering footsteps puts more strain and pressure on his already beleagured knees, and the closer he gets to Diego's distactionary tactics the more force those bullets have in them, and the more welts and bruises they leave beneath his body armor on his super-dense skin.

With the momentum of a runaway truck, Ramon swings his fist towards Diego, but the hyper-agile man is able to bend and duck away from the meaty fist as it strikes the bleachers, sending flinders of wood and twisted metal flying from the impact. Another huge fist swings out, and Diego sidesteps and opens fire again with a controlled burst at his midsection. Once more the bullets do nothing but pupper him like tiny bee stings, and by now the hulking form of Ramon has closed the distance entirely. Another fist dodges, and then a gasping hand, wrenching the assault rifle away from Diego, thrown to the side to bounce, skitter and cartwheel end over end before landing — unexpectedly — at Boxer's feet. Finally, the last swing threatens to cave in Diego's skull—

— until several rounds from Sergei's rifle strikes Ramon square in the side of the face. Each hit batters the super-dense man's jaw with the force of a lead pipe. Teeth shatter under the impact and skin splits, and like a boxer taking a haymaker to the jaw, Ramon stumbles backwards, arms flailing from the force of the hits, jaw shattered by the impact where any other man would be missing most of his head.

"Salia! Salia! What's going on down there, where's the security team, we need backup out here!" Donner turns, missing Cat's motions as she slinks around to a position of cover, and begins to levitate out towards the middle of the field. With a motion of one hand, pieces of rebar and support infrastructure used in the collapsed towers begin to wrench free from their positions, lifting up into the air and whirling around Donner's hovering form, bolts of electricity arcing from his body to each piece of metal with crackling, sparking flickers of blue.

Inside of the prison, Helena and Jessica notice that the chaos outside they can hear has spilled over to the interior of the penitentiary. Gunfire sounds off in all of the halls, the inmates have the keys, the guns, and they're letting each other out of their cells on Green Level. It's hard to tell exactly when the chaos escalated so much inside, but a group of rifle-toting female prisoners up on the mezzanine overlooking the ground floor are picking off guards emerging from the elevators from Orange and Yellow level. It's only then when Jessica and Helena catch sight of a familiar face, a balding man with glasses cowering in a corner with his hands raised, "Stop! I— I was just following orders! Stop!" Doctor Wright, the prison physician, surrounded by three angry inmates wielding broken pieces of glass and one with a pistol. "Jesus Christ I can't give you your powers back!"

Helena pauses as she sees the 'good' doctor, hesitates for a moment, and then moves up to the inmates. "We were given daily doses." she says. "Our abilities will come back in due course." Even if hers are fading away. She looks to the others. "There are people who can help us, but we've got to get outside. If he goes in front, we might get some of them to hold fire. Buy us some time." Clearly she doesn't intend to stop the others from shanking him if they don't see it her way, so the doctor might want to invest in her idea.

Most people would be intimidated by a man who is surrounded by a turbine toranado of electricity and metal debrie. A man inside a shield like that might think he is safe, that no one would be stupid enough to try to attack him close up. Well surprise surprise Trask is EXACTLY that stupid! He makes his way through the chaos to come charging toward the man yelling out a kamikaze scream as he turns his rifle butt into a club. The agent inside likely expects his shield to protect him, so about the tim Trask is 3 yards out he gets a very nasty surprise. Just when its too late to react to the already in motion figure in black.

She can hear Trask's voice as he runs at the electromagnetic one and screams. Cat grimaces with the pain of being shot in her left shoulder as she lifts up enough to see what's going on. A thin smile forms, and one hand draws a pistol out. This weapon can be used with one hand more easily than the rifle. Now, she just needs to tell the negator to hit the ground without the target knowing what's about to happen.

«"Sergei! Hit the deck, stay close to him!"»

She closes one eye and sights in on the center of her target's forehead. As before, she won't risk him having body armor. A moment's concentration. Assuming the negator does what she asked, the trigger is squeezed and a round fired at the man's head meant to give him a third eye.

It's somewhat disconcerting to be treated like a bad baby when you're a grown ass man. Unfortunately, Diego doesn't have time to dwell on this epiphany. There's a giant trying to crush him like bug. Having survived a brief melee encounter sans his beloved assault rifle, Diego does the only sensible thing. A .9mm Berettta 92FS is pulled from the holster wrapped around his leg, a long combat knife pulled from his left boot. This is dumb. "Where ya goin' ya ugly fuckin' giant?" As if he needed to bait Mountain Man anymore… Raise pistol, shoot shoot, run at big man and try to shove knife in belly then get behind the larger man. Or, like, die.

Crackling arcs of electricity lance through the air, filling it with the smells of burnt feathers and seared flesh — the two halves of Eileen's whole have split off from their charges and converged on Donner, but rather than descend upon him in a maelstrom of slashing claws and tearing beaks, the flock forms a whorling perimeter around the electrokinetic, Trask and Cat to prevent Ramon from coming to his partner's aid. While the behemoth might not present an immediate threat to her allies, "better safe than sorry" isn't the worst adage Eileen could be ascribing to.

She gave Teo her word when she told him she'd provide his people with support, and it's with every intention of fulfilling this promise that she siphons all her remaining energy into the vortex, isolating the confrontation from any outside interference.

Run? That's it? That's all they've got? Django had really been hoping maybe someone else had a better grasp on the situation and had some kind of plan for them to possibly survive this, but his hopes have been dashed. Isn't there supposed to be some kind of coordinated effort for this kind of thing? Aren't they supposed to have people on the inside to help make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible? Someone to wrangle the confused and terrified inmates and escort them to safety. That would be real nice about now. He takes a moment to swear behind the cover of rubble before peeking over the top again.

"Not a fucking clue, Box!" he responds to the other Russian. Helena had told him that something was going to happen at some point, and he'd heard brief mention a little over a week ago that someone on the outside was gathering information, but that was about as 'in on it' as he got. This whole thing was a total surprise to him, and apparently everyone else, and for the worse, it seems. Another hesitation, after Shard's directions to him, but he honestly hasn't got anything resembling a better idea, so he rises and starts to fall in with the group.

Until Ramon goes storming right past his position, screaming bloody murder and swinging ham-sized fists of doom. The blood-soaked Russky screams like a little girl and dives head-first to the opposite side of his now-obsolete cover, manages a shoulder roll and almost looks like he meant to do that, and goes scurrying over to Boxer's side howling "Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!" the whole way. Reenacting the duel between a cockroach and a brick outhouse is not in his plans for the evening, thank you very much. Staggering behind the larger man, he slumps, breath coming in short gasps, and scrubs at his besmirched face again. If bullets and super powers don't kill him, the stress will give him a heart attack for sure.

"Holy fuckin' mother of christ," he spits, straightening up again. "Let's GO before any more of us end up birdfood!" Grasping his pistol in both hands, he falls to the back of the group, eyes much more sharp and alert than before, now that he actually has a purpose in all this to focus on. And that he was almost smeared under that jerk's shoe. Let's not have that happen again, please. Rearguard. He can handle that. Maybe. Hopefully.

Jessica is still with Helena. Oh, look. It's Dr. McPills. And even better, it's a weapon. Some people don't need powers to be scary. Jessica steps up on the pistol-wielder.One hand grabs her wrist fast, holding it rigid…so she can use the palm of the other hand to smash it into the woman's arm and bend her elbow backwards. Even without the superstrength, it'll break her arm nicely.

The screaming starts, and by that time, Jessica's followed through with the open palm, brought it up and grabbed the gun. Four shots. One on each of the glass-wielders, and one for the good doctor. Head shots, since they need to count.

She looks to Helena and the now-mound of corpses. "Grab some of the glass. Get armed." She has what's left in this magazine and she's going to make it count.

Shard is giving instructions. They seem like good instructions! Boxer is very seriously considering following them — it is easy to see how serious he is in the studious level of his brow, only.

Clackity clack, skitter, clack. A fine spray of sand dusts over Boxer's prison issue shoes ahead of the assault rifle. It is odd that in the scheme of things, something so insubstantial as a feather brush of the same dirt he is already coated in should be enough to get him to look down, but it is well established that his attention span does not typically follow the street of rationality.

There are birds and there is smoke and people are dying and there is dirt flinging and blood spatter. Boxer squints at the rifle and stoops slowly over to pick it up, rough callouses light against black metal and composite as he draws it up against his shoulder. Cloying sand skates down the sides in delicate streams while he ejects the magazine, glances to the remaining ammunition, and bumps it back up into place. Half full. Okay. Closer investigation turns up the selector, which is fumbled with. Three round bursts. Okay! A guard is running their way, taking aim, finger on the trigger. That is okay too. Without bothering with the extra accuracy a brace of his left hand might afford him, Boxer fires twice. Ratatatat.

"Okhay," as ever, his accent slogs thick over the stupid k, "come on black people!" TO THE OPEN FENCE. And freedom. In the form of a great empty span of desert, if no one thinks to provide him with more specific directions after that. He takes off at a jog.

Shard watches the events unfold rather coldly. That's a lot of birds. A plethora, even. And then there's a guy running and stumbling and yelling and.. Hm. The rapper slowly looks around. The big guy is playing with one of these ninjas, and.. A slow shrug is given. Not much to distract, really. Bending Shard picks up a piece of concrete, hefting it up as a weapon he tests the weight in his hand before-

His head jerks up sharply at the loud sound of ratatatat. "Where did you get that?" Vincent asks with a frown as if he was jealous, he didn't get one. :(. Shard doesn't really blink at the rally. "Let's go black people." He echoes, giving Django a firm yet friendly? shove on the shoulder to follow the rest of the group. "You're black today. Let's go." He grunts, falling in line with the rest of his orange suited comrades. A quick look is given to two of the other black people, Knox and Canfield. They're in tow, one way or another. Time to get out of here~

Shard and his brick of concrete takes off at a brisk jog at the rear of the group.

When the gunfire deflects off of Ramon's's body like rounds from a pellet gun to any normal man. Lumbering to the side, Ramon moves straight at Diego as the man whips out his knife and thrusts it up to Ramon's stomach, where the only purchase he feels is like trying to plant the knife into a concrete sidewalk. The blade slashes through clothing but scrapes harmlessly over Ramon's skin, and Diego quickly finds a huge hand grasping at his throat, lifting him up off of the ground and squeezing. "Donner I— "

The shrieking caw of birds and a gunshot interrupts Ramon's words, and he watches as Trask plows thorugh a swirling field of ravens and tackles Donner to the ground, causing his magnetic control of the metal to falter, sending shrapnel falling to the ground. All of this happens at the exact same moment — the birds swirling around Donner as electricity leaps off of them, the confusion of Trask's presence in the mix causing the birds to lose telepathic cohesion and fly into the electrical arcs, killing them quickly but painfully. The tackle comes with brutal force, knocking Donner down with Trask, causing Cat's shot fired at the same moment to miss its intended target. A primal scream escapes Ramon, and still gripped by his neck, the gigantic Samoan hurls Diego like a ragdoll towards Cat with all of his strength.

Over the sounds of screaming, gunfire and burning birds, the whirling blades of a helicopter are lost to the madness. With the jet that had aided in the raid long since chased off, it cleared the airspace for this black helicopter to sweep in from over a ridge. The helicopter's side door swings open, followed by three rifle wielding men taking up positions and opening fire into the crowd of escaping prisoners.

Bullets one by one begin taking down fleeing men, as one of Shard's posse is struck in the back by a round, causing him to crumple to the ground in one folding motion. Three rifle shots fire through the haze of birds, two punching Eileen in the chest with the impact of a speeding car, sending her off of her feet and on to her back, then bouncing down a steep embankment as she rolls over one shoulder, ragdolls and begins tumbling the fifteen feet to the bottom of the steep hill and out of sight.

Her disappearance goes mostly unseen as bullets whiz by Cat and Boxer, one clipping Canfield in the leg as he runs, causing him to begin to limp and hobble away awkwardly. More gunfire opens up from the other side of the helicopter, followed by shots coming from a different direction, the roof of the prison, where a cadre of armed security staff have retreated from the prison riot. These men, however, aren't firing bullets, they have every intention of dragging in the Evolved present, and their ammunition is far more dangerous to some.

The piercing pain in Norton Trask's shoulder is sign of one strike hitting him, and he rolls off of Donner to find a tufted dart driven into his bicep. Breathing comes shallow as Trask looks up and around, a haze of delerium hitting him in what feels like some form of sedative at first, but in the end is far more costly.

It begins as a mild headache, then slowly starts building up into a throbbing at the base of his neck, and as the headache gets worse for Trask, the electricity around Donner begins to build up again. Donner holds up one hand, smiling as he unleashes a wave of crackling electricity into Trask's chest, knocking the officer off of him as the suppression agent takes full effect.

The helicopter circles around the prison yard, continuing to fire on prisoners that escape the boundaries of the facility, while the men on the roof work with what weapons they have. A dart from one of the suppressant guns strikes Cat square in the chest, but without enough force to penetrate the plating of her vest, just enough to jostle her back and get her attention. Another dart is fired down from the roof towards Diego, missing him to drive into the dirt. Even prisoners who are still suppressed are finding the darts launched at them.

Everything is turning sideways, fast and the longer Phoenix lingers at the prison, the worse this situation is going to come. With Teo gone below, it leaves Cat as the Lieutenant in charge on the field, the only one who can communicate to the rest of Phoenix exactly what is happening, and that the need to withdraw is growing.

Too much longer, and they'll have bitten off far more than they can chew.

Helena can't help but gape as Jessica kills the prisoners and the doctor. For a moment she's just shocked, but she snaps out of it. She does not, however, pick up one of the glass shards. It might be in Helena to beat the living shit out of someone, and it might even be in her to kill someone through adjacent use of her gift, but something about actually shivving someone seems to be a line she's incapable of crossing. She skitters as best she can to the door, hesitating once she gets there to look out at the state of the yard. Running out there willy nilly would get her shot, but it does put her briefly in the visual sight of those in the yard.

Taking a breath, she lets out a yell, pitched in youthful voice, hopefully to somehow carry over all the din.

"CAT!"

Trask pulls a small vial from a pocket in his jacket sleeve, stripping the tip off he sticks the needle in his arm, a mild stimulant to counteract the tranquilizers he has been his with, though nothing is going to counter act the other half of the cocktail. He speaks into his radio, "We got problems, Snipers with Power Tranqs airborne, We need to pull out NOW!" He Fires his rifle at the Magnetic Man in front of him at point blank, and then dives for cover.

It's a mess beyond messy out here now. Trask on the ground, making her shot miss and the darts that go flying. They have to be suppressant, she judges, given that the electromagnetic guy just got his juice back. A glance toward the Mountain Man shows her a flying Diego. Too bad for him, right now, she's not going to stand still and get struck. Two steps are taken, just enough to evade that outcome, and get struck in the kevlar by suppressant dart. Her right arm starts to raise with the pistol, but she thinks better of this action. Too little. And there are bullets from the helicopter… Now Helena's call draws her attention.

The radio voice is sharp and precise.

«"Withdraw, withdraw, withdraw!"»

One hand plucks the dart from her body armor and flings it at Helena. She has to hope she'll get the point of that move, even as she points at the man struggling with Trask, then gestures for Helena to come her way just before she ducks back under cover. Only enough of her head needed to track where the leader is remains above protection.

"Everybody out! To the airstrip!"

Diego doesn't end up getting to say hello to Cat, after all. Sad face. And then it gets even worse, as the old rule still applies to D. What goes up, must come down. And when he does it, its into a pile of rubble consisting of chunks of conrete and pokey rebar. By sheer luck he isn't impaled, but there are loud crunchy noises that are inevitably lost amidst the gunfire and explosions and whatnot. It takes him several moments to force himself to his knee's, especially since neither his left elbow or wrist want to bend or move in typical hingey joint fashion. It doesn't take long to figure out that there isn't much more he can contribute to this FUBAR'd raid. Well, and there's the whole being ordered to retreat thing. He makes one last stab at distracting Mountain Man- that bastard -via throwing a throwable sized chunk of concrete in his direction. Then its time to try and limp back to the airstrip and get the hell out of Dodge.

With both Russians armed, Django is feeling marginally more comfortable with their circumstances, but that's not really saying a whole lot at the moment. At least they might have a chance against any guards that get in their way. The push from Shard gets the half-Russky moving, jogging along behind the group of inmates with his pistol in a white-knuckle grip in front of him, paying little heed to the rapper's words.

With his attention mainly focused on the ground, watching for foot-borne guards in all directions, the incoming helicopter is one more surprise that he did not need, and he swears again, loudly, as one of their number goes down hard. With riflemen in the air, and the guards on the roof with their tranq guns, it seems that their little posse is in dire straits. They have little chance of actually making it out of here.

Reacting quickly, he raises his own weapon and takes a couple of potshots at the gunners in the chopper, providing a little cover for his fellow escapees. He's no marksman like Trask, but he certainly knows his way around a firearm without a map. Two shots ping harmlessly off of the open doorway, no more than a distraction, while a third grazes one of the riflemen across the shoulder. The unfortunate part is that, in order to make any of his shots count, he has to stop moving, and the return fire from those gunners forces him to stray from the group in search of cover.

"I'll catch up!" he shouts to Shard from the ruined shell of a doorway that leads to the prison interior. "Go on!" His words are punctuated with a couple more pops of gunfire, this time more carefully aimed to try and disable those jerks in the air. Even better, now he's pinned until he can get their attention off of him, with his only route of escape being into the building. Which, from the sounds of gunfire and brawling echoing out of the corridors, is probably not the best idea. He'll take his chances if he has to, though.

Occupied as he is with the firefight he's engaged himself in, he can't spare enough of his attention to notice Helena's presence, just a few paces behind him.

Right now, any direction other than "here" is a good one. It's time to go. And Helena calling attention to herself is a good way to get -shot-. She looks to the shorter blonde. "And YOU'RE a terrorist leader? Jesus Christ. Keep your head down and your mouth closed, before the guards decide you're a good prize to get killed while resisting arrest." She moves to grab at Helena's arm with her free hand. But get it or no, she's starting through the yard towards the exit, gun ready to clear the path where it needs to.

"Nnnooo hey come onstupid — " Boxer half turns back after Django's split from the Red/Black Army, assault rifle swinging around with him so that his nearest peeps backstep hastily out of the way. There is still more cursing in his native tongue, followed by a passably apologetic, "Sorry," for those he might have shot on accident if he'd squeezed a little too hard.

Meanwhile there are bullets tearing at the ground all around, and not all of Shard's friends are as interested in team unity. A pair of hands shoves him onward, and so he goes, firing off bursts at the threat of the chopper all the way until a bullet from the mean people he is shooting at goes where no one else in Moab was brave enough to go and penetrates his butt.

His buttock, to be more precise — the right one, with a follow through ripped through the hamstring beyond that. "AHHH FFFHUCKing — NO — OW —" his jog buckles to a dragging stumble, rifle nose tipped down. Target forgotten. HIS BUTT. NOOO.

Trask rises from his covered position and throws something high and over hand at Donner, he screams at the top of his lungs, "WILLIE-PETE" Like he is calling out to a friend, The grenade hurls end over end at the agent, and anyone with federal training knows exactly what the nickname for White-Phospherus is, and just how dangerous it can be.

Like any good magician the Russian Terrorist guides his victims eyes and draws them away from his true hand. As the grenade goes flying through the air from his left hand, his right holds the dart he took in her arm, he flings it at Donner, attempting to stick him with it, and hoping there is enough poison still in it to buy his friends time to escape and to short circuit Mr Electro-Magnetism. The grenade in the air a complete bluff, a simple smoke screen grenade.

A glare is sent up to the helicopter, his arm tensing as if he were going to throw that piece of concrete up at the chopper. But they're shooting, shooting real bullets. And one of his fold goes down. A sharp, "No!" is let out and then Canfield goes down, just a little though. Vincent's free hand seizes the man under the arm, yanking him to his feet powerfully and dragging the other man along as they make for the opening in the fence. "Keep going!" It's all they have now. They're either going to make it or die.

Probably the second one.

His eyes sweep around the carnage, a helicopter, snipers. Ninjas going crazy. A russian using a potion. Shard has been through some crazy shit in his life, but this tops it.

Pausing, Shard swings a look over his shoulder at the littlest Russian who is deciding he wants to play sniper with a handgun. GOOD IDEA. Well that guy is officially not black anymore. As he is quickly in the tracks of the dust of the herd making their way out, Shard has little choice but to forget about him. He has his mostly black flock to worry about. And a non-black Russian screaming about his butt.

The piece of concrete is thrown at the ground, before his hand seizes the back of Boxer's collar. Yanking the man up, forcing him to keep running, or dragging him along if he has to. The man lets out an angry cry, as his arms strain to pull two of the wounded men along. Distance becomes relative as he focuses on pulling and dragging, he doesn't know how far the fence is, will he ever get there? All he can hear is screams about butts.

Gunfire, whirling helicopter blades, bullets flying and perforating the escaping inmates. Knox slowly begins to come back to concsiousness as he is hefted away from the prison, blearily looking back towards the prison, "No shit I— made it out?" Members of Phoenix flee away from the chaos of the prison. Amidst the screaming and gunfire, a familiar form dressed in black flickers on to the field of battle, disappearing and reappearing as he moves from point of cover to point of cover, eventually catching up to Helena where she stands by the prison entrance. Hiro rests a hand on her shoulder, squeezing firmly, "Come on, we're getting out of here."

A rush of air and a sudden sensation of falling accompanies Helena being drawn towards Cat with Hiro, and the dark-haired swordsman looks up to the helicopter, then back to Cat. "Peter is downstairs, things— did not go as planned. He wants me to get everyone together and— " Something catches Hiro's attention as he hesitates in mid speech, first it's Knox being dragged away with Shard's crew under fire from the helicopter, then it's a tingle in the back of his mind as he looks up to the security camera wobbily hanging from the wall of the prison. "What's— "

Hiro felt it before everyone else saw it, a rippling distortion around the Moab Federal Penitentiary, a haze of temporal distortion so profound that it mis-shapes the air like a heat-mirage. Hiro's eyes widen ans his mouth hangs open, hands raising as he waves both arms out to the side, "No!" He begins to move to reach and take hold of Helena's shoulder, but the rippling wall of distortion radiating outwards from Moab hits him like a tidal wave, a cascading eruption of space and time that he cannot begin to understand the origin of. "St— "

Time stops.

Bullets are frozen in mid-air, a helicopter hangs in mid-flight, Ramon is frozen reaching out for Trask, while Donner clutches at his midsection, laying back on the ground bleeding out. No one notices just how long time is frozen around Moab for, but when the bubble bursts, when time snaps back like a rubber-band made too taut, everything changes.

Where once was the desert of Utah, everything changes. Some were caught in the tidal wave of folded time and space and launched across the globe like stones fired from a slingshot. Others were sent skittering across the desert hours into the future, it was like a bomb, scattering debris in every direction at once from the force of whatever monumental release of energy was undone in that facility.


Moab, Utah


Dirt is the first thing that greets her. Dirt in her mouth, dirt in her eyes, the same grit that is stuck in her hair, caking her body a clay-red brown color. Her stomach upturns and folds inside out — or at least that's how it feels. Struggling up on to one hand, Helena looks around, she doesn't remember landing on her stomach. She doesn't remember getting outside of the prison walls, or— why the walls of Moab are intact. Swallowing dryly, Helena pries herself up from the dirt near the airstrip, looking to a small private jet taxied on the landing stip, then across the rocky desert waste to other confused people staggering up from the ground. She makes out Alexander, lying prone in the dirt not far away, further beyond she can see the former PARIAH operative Isabelle — naked — curled up on her side on the landing strip, wisps of smoke and flame issuing off of her body.

Helena beathes in one slow, tired breath, and turns her eyes up to the skies above her, dappled with orange and red clouds from the warm sunset.

Where is everyone else? And more importantly, where is she?


l-arrow.png
<date>: previous log
Previously in this storyline…
What Time They Had

This scene runs concurrently with…
When Lightning Strikes, Part II
and
When Lightning Strikes, Part III

r-arrow.png
<date>: next log
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License