A Pang of Livid Light


bf_april_icon.gif bf_bast_icon.gifbf_cardinal_icon.gif bf_cassandra_icon.gif bf_chess_icon.gif cyrus_icon.gif bf_felix_icon.gif vf_isa_icon2.gif bf_kaylee_icon.gif bf_magnes_icon.gif michael_icon.gif

Scene Title A Pang of Livid Light
Synopsis A fugitive who has eluded capture for more than two years is flushed out and pursued through Manhattan's streets and the largest department store in the world.
Date April 7, 2012

East 35th Street, Midtown Manhattan, NY

5:14 pm

The light across Park Avenue definitively says don't walk. April doesn't walk: she runs.

There's nothing but running. The pounding beat of cheap shoes on concrete, the steady rasp of breaths drawn between parted teeth, the pervasive underlying percussion of blood in her veins. Evening rush hour is well underway, the streets jam-packed with cars; she's not the only pedestrian who disregards instructions while the traffic on the road enacts its very best imitation of molasses. Just the only one who does so at full speed.

The sidewalks are less crowded, but still bustle with activity. April squints into the strong golden light of the westering sun, green eyes tallying each and every pedestrian ahead on the street, anticipating their movements — and navigating herself wherever they aren't. Fortunately, the vast majority of those people pay the running woman exactly no heed whatsoever; self-possessed urbanites one and all, they're too wrapped up in their own personal bubbles, their evening agendas, the virtual lives on their smartphones. If April had any mental space to spare, she might be grateful for that disregard.

The only coherent, verbalized thought in April's head right now is a countdown: 5 blocks.

Five blocks to Pennsylvania Station. Five blocks, and she can fold into the commuter rush and disappear.

She just has to make it there first.

The gray limestone face of the City University of New York looms high on her left, taking on a warmer, more attractive tone in the evening light. A poster in the Graduate Center window advertises a 'Block Party' in huge letters not even she can miss — though April forgets it the very moment after, because there's a police officer in unmistakable uniform standing next to one of the ubiquitous bike racks. She draws her left hand up, fingers loosely curled, attention fixed on him even as she swerves to give a wide berth —

— and has opportunity to see, clear as day, the man's perplexed curiosity in the moment before her feet carry her past. No reports have trickled down to this beat officer who just happened to be on this street at this time; nothing inspires him to see her as anything more than a woman in a hurry. That might make this his lucky day, even as it very much is not hers.

April may have won herself a head start, successfully spotting and then shedding the officer — or worse, agent — who had earlier been on her tail, but it's only a head start. There will be pursuit to catch up with her soon enough. Eventually, there always is.

The light across Madison Avenue is in her favor; she carries right on through, not breaking stride in the slightest as she swings wide of the congestion in the crosswalk, threading between the bumpers of cars belonging to drivers with little respect for the niceties of painted lines.

If there's one thing April Bradley has become good at in the past two and a half years, it's running.

Sebastian Autumn is riding in a local LEO vehicle, stuffed into the passenger seat in his Horizon armor. It is not comfortable. Not one little bit. But he was at a nearby police station when the call came in, and he stuffed himself into the passenger seats of one of the responding officer's cars. So he's just a hapless victim as the car slews and slings around the streets and traffic. While he's sitting in the car there's a quick radio call back to Frontline HQ for someone to patch him in with whoever is running the show so he can stay in the loop and what not. Then they hit… the dreaded rush hour traffic. The officer groans as there's no getting through it. Sebastian asks him how far they are from the foot chase. When the officer answers a couple of blocks Bast nods his head to the man, thanks him for the ride, then piles his armored self out of the car and onto the street.

A few jogging steps between cars and he's on the sidewalk. And space clears around him, more so when he takes off running. There's no speed up, he just takes off at full speed. He'll leap over and around people when he has to, but he's tearing down the street eating up ground fast, his own enhanced speed made that much more potent by the servo assisted armor. He also booms his voice out over the suit's speaker system, letting people know to clear the way on the sidewalk. Heavy feet pound pavement as he races towards where the last sighting of one April Bradley was. "This is Frontline 01-06 Sebastian Autumn. Almost to the pursuit point. Anyone have eyes on the fugitive?"

Nothing like being stuck in traffic with a bunch of yah’hoos who don’t understand the rules about pulling over for flashing lights. Detective Kaylee Thatcher sighs heavily from behind the wheel of her own unmarked vehicle with lights in the front and back windows. Even though they are flashing, she’s stuck. In traffic. Her attempt to use some back roads only worked for so long.

Seriously… is it Monday? Not quite, but damn if it don’t feel like it.

She gives the steering wheel a smack, “Come on! I’m almost there.” As if the cars in front of her can hear her. At this point it would be faster on foot. Speaking of, about this time one of FrontLine’s own goes racing past. She sits there for a moment, watching the traffic in front of her crawling forward. Kaylee’s lips press firmly together. She was gonna have to hoof it. “Dammit.” She murmurs, before sliding out of her vehicle. It’s a good thing she wore her comfortable shoes today.

Car secured, Kaylee hurries in the direction that she saw the armored person go. Much slower of course, since she didn’t have the hydraulic assists for that extra boost. Nope, she only has her two feet.

An afternoon in this ‘Bright’ new place well spent.. shopping, Isa was taking a break from her brooding. Also a break from shopping with her best friend in the form of coming outside the store to smoke a cigarette. The flask sits half empty in her back pocket, she hadn't refilled it in a few days, hadn't taken a drink yet either. Not that she was counting days, The Other Magnes. He was though. Whistling softly to herself she puts the cigarette in between her lips before lighting it with a finger engulfed in fire just as soon as it's visible it's snuffed out.

Hazel eyes behind sunglasses survey the street and passengers by as she cocks one hip out and tilts her head, momentarily taking a look up to the golden sky, the hood over her head almost falls back completely to reveal dark hair stuffed into the hood in a mess. A trail of smoke leaves Izzy’s mouth, new clothes were getting boring but they were.. necessary. Wearing the same thing for weeks in a row was frowned upon here. She was still teaching Shaw that. Today, she's chosen a dark green shirt with black open hoodie, her black jeans fit well and her shoes are comfortable.

It's strange seeing all these people, these places were in ruins where she's from. Then there’s a man leaping around in armor and that gets a raised eyebrow from the pyrokinetic. “I thought this place was gonna be boring as fuck and sunny daisies.” Isa mutters to herself taking another drag of her cigarette. Shady big corporation in power or not, this was the most out of place thing she had seen in this utopia yet.

With the sun all but blinding ahead of her and a whole great sweep of street behind, it seems like April could run forever. The appearance is a lie — although a seductive one.

She's still running for now, at least.

The first complication is a food cart, squarely parked on two-thirds of the sidewalk; the rest is loosely occupied by people waiting in line, or contemplating the menu, or just thinking about maybe getting something here. She has to slow down to pick her way through them, and then to pass the UPS truck parked in the nearest lane and the guy maneuvering a cart weighted down with packages.

It's then that the sound of an amplified voice reaches her ears over the background city clamor. April can't make out the words, but — she really doesn't need to. Context fills them in. And if her jumping to conclusions fills them in wrong? …well, she was already running anyway.

Fortunately, the sidewalk beyond the UPS guy is clear, or at least clear enough; April takes the time for just one survey of the street behind her before charging forward again.

Armor, black and all-concealing; never a good thing. The way it's bounding down the street, even less so. Not that April can't deal with armor, when it catches up… but she spares a moment to wish all this had remained uncomplicated. And then she gets back to the nothing of running — and frantic strategizing.

She needs options. The double-intersection ahead, 6th and then the slanted course of Broadway in immediate succession offers very few of those. But on the other side…

April runs flat-out into the intersection of 35th and Sixth, utterly heedless of traffic. That disregard comes at a price, but not one paid by April; brakes squeal, and a red car crashes headlong into a panel of force that wasn't there a moment later. Fortunately, in this traffic, it wasn't going fast enough for serious damage. The occupants will still likely suffer whiplash at the least.

Only three more blocks. There seems to only be one suit of armor. Surely she can make it three more blocks.

Thud. Where is the target? Sebastian's eyes sweep around, or well his helmeted head sweeps around, keeping on a swivel as he runs. Thud. He breathes steady and even, keeping a fast but not exhausting pace with the help of the Horizon armor. Thud. Normally when in pursuit of a suspect? He wouldn't be blasting his presence over the loudspeaker on his suit. But he doesn't want to run down any innocent law abiding citizens in his hurried run. So blast he does, even though it will almost definitely alert the suspect. Thud. He sees the food cart as he comes tearing around the corner of the block and actually skids across the concrete as he rather suddenly changes direction, throwing his moment forwards he races back up to speed and just clears the food cart, leaping clean up and over it, legs pulling up so as not to clip cart or people.

He hits down on the other side with significant force and keeps on running. "I love this armor." He mutters quietly into the suit's helmet. Then there's a UPS truck. Up and over. Curtis takes a running leap, foot catching on the top of the truck, and with a single stride he's on the other side and PUSHES off the top of the truck to launch himself through the air, landing with an even harder impact, one he has to take a momentary knee for. "This is Autumn. I've got eyes on the suspect. Is anyone close enough to support?" There's a hopeful note in his voice. He doesn't want to try and take April alone. He's actually pretty sure he can't. His powers are great and all. But force fields kind of trump him pretty hard.

"April Bradley!" Booms out on his suit's speakers. "Stop running and surrender yourself!" He knows she won't, but he's got to try. "No one needs to get hurt!" Then there's the car meeting a forcefield. "No one else needs to get hurt!" He corrects himself as he races after the fugitive, hoping against hope he can get to her before anyone does get seriously hurt, or worse.

Shit,” Kaylee murmurs as the guy in the suit makes his call. His voice tinny in the little mic tucked into her ear. As she makes her way through the crowd, a hand drops to the radio at her waist to key it up. “Detective Thatcher, in bound, if you care to give me your location. I’m happy to assist.” She pauses at a corner, glancing one way and then the other.

Thankfully, she doesn’t sound winded over the radio.

Her phone goes off and is fished out of her inner pocket, sliding her finger across it, “What’s up, Mack. What’cha got for me?” Whatever is said, Kaylee turns towards one direction and starts down that street. “Thanks,” she says before terminating the call, tucking the phone away, and starting to running.

Now that he is stopped, it doesn’t tale Kaylee long to see the armored man standing there, his voice clearly addressing the suspect.

“The fuck is that!” Isa sounds off loudly, smoke billowing out of her mouth as she gapes at the display of ability in the middle of the intersection. Shoving her free hand in the pocket she withdraws a very nifty cellphone and types out a message to Magnes. Thank god for working cell phone towers and high tech phones. Snapping a quick selfie with the intersection behind her, Izzy looks ridiculous.

«Mags! Some armored motherfucker is tearing shit up chasing after someone! There's an invisible wal- it's gone! Whoa!»

It is a spectacular sight and she taps her foot nervously because she hasn't gotten a good look at who exactly is doing the running but then the armored guy is up ahead and screaming someone's name.. “Mable?”

Stop running and surrender yourself.

She might have, once. When she was young and naive, before first blood was shed — most important of all, that blood which had not been shed by her hands. But any impulse at defending herself, at justifying herself, was extinguished out long ago.

The echoes of the man's amplified voice ring back from the tall buildings, themselves as devoid of meaning as the unceasing city ambiance, but hearkening to the memory of shouted words just a moment before. Where a running woman was practically beneath self-absorbed urbanite notice, where an accident only begins to draw interest, the bullhorn voice of an armored officer is decidedly not to be ignored; everyone on the street stops short, looks around wildly, stares at the officer, at the crumple-fronted car, at each other.

Except April. She glances back just once, as one stride is exchanged for another, as she continues forward past tree-framed plaza and a quaint little clock tower that marks the brief span between Sixth and Broadway. On the far side, Broadway has been permanently blocked off to all vehicles save bikes; that crossing poses no issue. And then —

Then she has an opportunity to change things up.

The placard at the other end of the block reads The World's Largest Store in giant white letters on a two-story-tall red backdrop, and perhaps it even is. The signage at this end is far more discreet, simple Macy's above a pair of revolving doors.

Revolving doors are, in their way, almost as nice as ones that open inward: push, and they yield right away. Then April is inside. Inside a building the size of a city block, packed full of after-work shoppers, with nine floors, a mezzanine, and a basement. On the one hand, any building is a potential cage. On the other hand — one suit of armor can't possibly cover all the exits, and all April needs is a little more time.

And if he can cover all the exits, well, that says something, too.

Inside, April bursts into a section of the store devoted to handbags. Far too many handbags, their quality and style — and price — nothing the fugitive would appreciate even if she weren't currently on the run. She ducks around the displays, shoves an inconveniently-placed cart aside with a glimmer of silver light, then continues past cosmetics and accessories —

— no, not entirely past accessories. A hat is scooped off the hanger board without any particular regard to its properties. Convenience is the one that matters most. Baseball-cap in style, the dome of the hat folds down against its bill easily enough; she keeps it in hand that way — and then beelines for the nearest set of stairs, by luck only a few feet away.

Felix, despite his relatively exalted status as SAC for New York, is not there in any law enforcement capacity. He’s there in the ‘what the hell do you get someone who is hard to shop for?’ capacity. To wit, he’s staring blankly into the men’s fine jewelry case and trying to remember if Lee actually owns any shirts that have French cuffs, and thus take cufflinks. Though there’s always the expedient of buying them and wearing them himself, if it turns out Lee doesn’t.

So to all appearances, he’s just a middle-aged man in a well-tailored dark suit, perusing jewelry. He’s got no earpiece in, and his cellphone hasn’t flagged him with any alerts about a fugitive heading his way. Captain Oblivious, here to help.

Until April flashes past him. There's a half a second of blank staring….and then it sinks in. He knows that face. They've been hunting her for ages. Then Felix is after her, shouting for her to stop, going for the badge at his waist as he does so. He's only using a fraction of his ability - not blurring into inhuman, untrackable motion, but still coming after her at a speed that would put Olympic sprinters to shame. She gets a chance to surrender before he pounces in earnest. As he moves, he's tossed aside his suit jacket, to keep heat from building up. Maybe he'll be able to reclaim it later. Chances are, he won't care.

In the way of first April and then Felix stands a young woman in her late teens. Her long dark hair veils most of her face — and vision — as she types out a message on a cell phone, utterly clueless that she’s blocking the way for other shoppers — and fugitives on the run.

And their would-be arresting officers.

When April moves by her, it’s only a second too late that Francesca Lang looks up, a clueless glance around herself and then over her shoulder as she sees the woman grabbing the baseball cap without investigation of style or price tag. It’s a touch suspicious. But April is heading into the store rather than for the exit, so Francesca goes back to typing into her iPhone, a small smile tipping her mouth upward as she slowly moves forward toward one of the displays — and a little into the path of Felix. But he’s quick enough and has enough time to avoid running into the college freshman, lost in her own little world.

A pair of children - probably 8 or 9, or roundabouts, in age - are circling some displays of sportswear on the third floor, playing an impromptu game of ‘hide and seek’ or ‘tag’, although the rules seem to keep changing. Giggling erupts now and then, ignored by their mother who’s browsing for a new sports bra for her morning jog.

They’re observed without knowing so, as Richard Cardinal has very little to do with his time aside from people-watching, the living shadow tagging along in one of the kids’ own real shadows as they play - both to enjoy watching kids having fun, and to provide a little more oversight than their mother is paying them in case they do something dangerous.

Above the ruckus going on downstairs, he hasn’t noticed anything unusual yet.

A chorus of shouts erupts from the cosmetics section a few moments too late to be ahead of April. Emerging from the 34th street entrance and spilling through the aisles of cosmetics like an infection through arteries, black-clad UEO officers in riot gear move in sweeping search, shields up and firearms at the ready behind them.

Parting the ranks of shield-bearing UEO is another black-armored figure is a whirring suit if hydraulic-powered armor marked with a white 01-04 on the helmet. «Please evacuate immediately! This is an active crime scene!» Michael Spalding was just a hair behind April, and as he is fed tactical assessment from Sebastian’s helmet camera he adjusts his tactics.

«Get these civilians out of here,» Michael orders to the UEO riot officers, moving to the central aisle behind cosmetics. «01-06, do you have eyes on Bradley?»

Two floors up near the third floor escalators a lone figure presses one finger into his ear, leaning against the escalator railing as he begins to ride it down to the second floor. “Reed,” he calls into a Bluetooth headset, “Reed where the fuck are you? Where's Bradley?” Cursing to himself, Cyrus Karr pulls the headset off and looks at the battery — nearly full — and then tries it again. “Reed.

Whoever he's trying to reach on the other side isn't responding. “Fuck,” Cyrus hisses to himself, pushing past shoppers not yet aware of what's happening below. “C’mon, c’mon…”

The Starbucks on the third floor of Macy’s is a hub of activity, with shoppers and salespeople congregating to get their infusion of caffeine before or after their shifts or while shopping. Cassandra, sitting at one of the tables, is sipping on a foamy, sweet coffee of some kind. Her bag is sitting by her feet and she’s doing the traditional coffee shop thing of reading and sipping at the same time, trying to catch up with what’s going on in the world while spending too much on workout wear. If she had been on the first floor a few minutes earlier, she’d be in the middle of this all, but right now, the din from downstairs is written off as a passing truck or something like that. Just background noise in New York.

Checking his phone, Magnes stares at Isabelle's selfie of everything going on. He looks from side to side, currently wearing a buttoned up white shirt and some neatly fitting dark blue jeans he's trying on, with a pair of black Converse.

He looks around, and then hears the commotion, and realizes that the woman is running by his general direction. He remembers seeing her on the news, and the cops are chasing after her…

Suddenly leaping into the air, his rattail flows dramatically behind him, and he carries a stack of clothes in one arm.

Above April's head, he drops a heap of gravity-enhanced clothes. And by enhanced, well, they're heavy, very heavy, he tries to use the stack of clothes falling around her as a net. If she uses forcefields, maybe this will give him some useful information, depending on how she responds to it.

After the clothes are dropped, and he slowly begins to fall, he texts Isabelle back. «I'm trying to catch her. Hey, is Detective Thatcher out there? I've seen her show up to crimes and stuff, she's so cute.»

"Hello Detective Thatcher. This is Frontline zero one zero six. Happy to have you on my tail." Bast will give Kaylee his location. "Moving on suspect at speed. Use caution suspect is very dangerous." Hence why he's not tried to corner her out in the middle of a crowded street yet. Too many people, and with her abilities she could hurt a lot of people before being brought down. But he's not sure how much information he's allowed to release to the LEOs so he leaves that to whoever is running the show.

“Revolving door. Oh that's cute." Sebastian simply lowers his shoulder as he charges headlong at the door. Would h fit through it normally? Probably not. Maybe if he did some awkward little duck shuffle. But he doesn't have time for that. So he charges the door and just… barrels through it. There's a crash and a screech of metal and then a Horizon armored Frontline officer comes tumbling out the other side. It takes him a few seconds to get back up to his feet again before he takes off running. His suit's loudspeaker booms again, this time hopefully echoing through the building. "Please evacuate the building. Please evacuate the building."

Trying to get citizens clear before things get ugly. He spots a head fleeing into the crowd, and then a man chasing after her, and though he'd almost lost sign in the whole koolaid manning of the door, Felix helps him keep on track and he sprints in that direction. hen, blessedly he hears Spalding’s voice in his ear. “I have eyes on the prize oh one oh four. She is moving fast and… civilians are getting involved. Someone is throwing clothes at her.” His voice definitely sounds perplexed over the frequency. Why on earth is someone throwing clothes at a fugitive? The heavy thud of his ground eating strides announces him as he races towards April’s fleeing back.

Detective Thatcher is indeed there.

Arriving in time to watch Curtis become the proverbial bull in the china shop. Kaylee stares in disbelief at the destruction done to a city landmark, and then looks skyward. “I’m so not doing the paperwork for this, so help me.”

Stepping through the rubble, the detective calls out over the radio. “Dispatch, we need all available units at the Macy’s at 35th and Broadway.” Inside she watches Autumn’s armored back, her head shaking as she continues. “We need a perimeter set up and eyes on all exits.” Glancing, back over her shoulder. “And good luck, traffic is all snarled up.”

That done she looks over the scene and then up. “Throwing clothes?” Okay maybe she doesn’t want to know, at least in here, he’ll have to slow down. A badge is flashed at one of the UEO officers that moves to stop her. It happens, it’s not like she looks the part; looking more like one of those women who shop there. “‘Scuse me boys,” she flashes a fake smile and hurries further into the store, already she ability spreading out to look for anything that catches her attention.

«Magnes! What if she's in trouble!?» Clearly frustrated with well who knows what she's fustrated at, she looks around with eyebrows raised. “Kaylee?” Blinking as hazel eyes catch that familiar face with the blonde hair. “Goddamnit.” A spike of annoyance at seeing the telepath’s alt there. A cop? «Ya, she's here. Idk wait for me, here I come. I think her name is Mable, that's too sweet of a name to be causing all this trouble. This gotta be a mistake!»

It's only that Isa wants it to be a mistake because to be quite honest, this new world has been just a little boring for her, too use to dodging infected and Vanguard nutsos. A few month break was a nice break for her sure… Tapping furiously on the phone she shoves it in her back pocket and runs forward after Armor Boy and the detective have gone before her for a few moments.

Wind blows the hood off her head as she charges into the store while some are.. charging out. “Ah ah fuck, move!” Isa breaks through and tumbled into the store of chaos. There's Magnes up above.. throwing clothes. “How creative.” She mutters and races up to the escalator, not minding the invention’s basic function and running up the stairs manually her brown hair whips in her face and an eyebrow arches from out the pair of sunglasses she’s wearing. Panting, the pyro takes the next escalator up, almost reaching Magnes. “Clothes really?” Is shouted out to her friend, still making her way to him.

Shouts ring out again with confident, official authority, unexpected — and too close. Too, too close. April's first thought is trap as she pivots, raises a hand… sees the girl in the way, the one she'd all but forgotten for being irrelevant to her own flight. She may be a fugitive and a criminal these days, but some old habits remain difficult to break.

Instead of throwing anything at her new pursuer, she raises a plane across the narrow space between the wall that supports the stairwell and the one that bounds the store. The suited agent will have to go around — April doesn't understand yet just how little that detour might matter.

Preoccupied with the people in pursuit, she doesn't expect to be attacked from above; suddenly there's something far heavier than fabric should ever be come plummeting down beside her, sliding off her shoulder, draping over her head. April bends with the weight and lunges for where she remembers the stairs to be, even as she materializes a short blade and cuts away the cloth; some bits of her hair, too. The lower drape falls away under its own enhanced gravity, and the remainder yields to clawing hands soon after.

It all takes time she can't afford. Each and every one of those passing seconds seems almost tangible as it slips through metaphorical fingers, an opportunity lost forever, her precious lead bleeding away moment by moment.

Why can't they just leave her alone?

Slow, slow, slow beats in her skull as she forms another plane of force, horizontal, knee-height. This one, she hops up onto and uses to circumvent the stairs, moving up and over the rail — leaving a new wall on the opening to the stairwell behind her, and letting the first dissolve. Bypassing the second floor in the hopes that her pursuers will have to spend somebody to check it, April steps out on to the third and hastily takes stock of… a long near-hallway. Turning away from the sportswear section solely because more of her pursuers were on that side of the store, April walks briskly west while twisting her hair up into a ponytail, putting that cap on over it… and desperately wracking her brain for a next move. Any next move.

Unfortunately for April, the agent pursuing has been doing the equivalent of fighting with his left hand. Fel blurs into motion, and that should be enough of a tell for the other LEOs who might see him just who’s there. He’s already dialing in to dispatch, on the off chance that her presence isn’t known.

Which distraction is very nearly enough for him to paste himself like a cartoon character on the first wall she leaves. But the initial contact isn’t at his full speed, and reflexes let him turn it into a deliberate rebound, like some sort of idiot’s parkour. Gambling that she’s going to breadcrumb barriers behind her, he zips for a more distant stairwell, heads up to the second floor, in search of her.

The clueless young woman clues in when people, including armored officers, come running after the woman she saw swipe the baseball cap. Her eyes widen and she glances around, taking in the entire scene.

“Holy shit,” murmurs Francesca to no one but herself; she doesn’t heed the directions to evacuate.

Instead she swipes out of the message she was typing and selects the camera on her phone, pushing the red record button and lifts the phone to capture what’s happening. She backs up out of the way, pressing herself against the wall to keep from getting trampled on, and following at a distance. Maybe she’ll be able to sell the footage to a news station — New York City is expensive.

There’s shouting from downstairs, and the sound of the revolving doors being taken out is an echo that even reaches the third floor dimly. Something is going on, and it’s enough to pique the shadow’s interest. A subtle shifting of darkness as Cardinal separates himself from the laughing childrens’ shadows and slips beneath a rack, and then another, just in time to notice a woman briskly walking away from the stairs rather than looking towards the ruckus.


A flicker of tenebrous movement follows her out of curiosity, moving beneath the racks to see if anything interesting comes of this.

«I hear you loud and clear,» Spalding chimes over the inter-helmet comm system, moving past the swat team and scanning for the nearest stairwell. «She she heading up?» Slinging his rifle from where it was stowed on his back, Michael begins to make a hydraulic-assisted rush to the left, weaving between frightened shoppers and hauling himself down the tiled aisle toward Au Bon Pain.

«Out of the way!» Michael bellows through his loudspeakers, boots slamming into the floor and hydraulic systems whining loudly. His path straight through the aisle takes him on a precariously close path to civilians, weaving left and right and slowing his approach to ensure their safety. It’s buying April time.

By the time Michael gets to the south-side escalators, he’s reiterating his warning to the people on them and barreling up. There’s no choice left but to push people aside, shoving and fighting his way up to the second floor as delicately as he can without letting April get a further lead on him. «I’m mired in civilians, what’s your status?» He calls out to Curtis.

On the second floor escalator, Cyrus Karr watched April’s acrobatic ascent with a hiss of a curse in his throat. “Fuck!” He turns around, shoving a man behind him out of the way and begins to run against the downward flow of the escalator. “Move, move!” Scanning up to the third floor, he spots the blur of a superhumanly fast law enforcement officer arriving on the second floor. Cyrus thinks, quick, clenches his fists and closes his eyes and the lights across the second floor flicker as though there was an intermittent power outage. Then, a moment later, a hundred-foot radius around him is thrown into total darkness. Most of the second floor around him and parts of the first and third floor are thrown into complete and consuming darkness. The physical barriers between he and his photokinetic manipulation serve as no obstacle as he draws photons into his body.

Sounds that normally do not happen in a department store start to happen. Boots pounding on well-worn floors, lots of utterances of ‘well, I never!’ from stuffy old ladies as their salespeople start to urge them away from the noise, and with the announcement over the store’s loudspeakers, people start to move, glacially, in a westerly direction. Toward the elevators, escalators, and fire stairs. A few managers try to check receipts before letting people out the fire doors but that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the people trying to get out.

Cassandra finds herself caught up in the tail end of the exodus, her shopping bag slung over her shoulder. She looks back over her shoulder at the echoing sound from chest-mounted loudspeakers and evades, darting to crouch behind a display of artisanal cast iron cookware, peeking up from behind the display to see what, or who, is being chased, She scoots down a little more once a section of entire floor is plunged into inky darkness, the Starbucks she had just been sitting in half in and half out of the area of no light. “What in the world…” she whispers, staying down, looking away, just in case all of that ‘no light’ suddenly decides to become ‘blinding flash.’

It’s a world of evolved. It’s a prudent thought.

Magnes isn't in the way, in fact, he's entirely reversed his orientation, running along the ceiling and leaping to follow after her, when he realizes that the FRONTLINE people are having trouble chasing April.

He chases and chases, figuring she's not looking up in her rush, waiting for an opportune moment, and then…

Once he spots a clear position to do this, he leaps forward, in front of her, and increases his weight to an absolutely ridiculous degree, slamming both feet into the ground with enough force to create fractures in the ridiculously hard Macy's floor, causing numerous things to shake for a brief few moments.

His intent is, of course, to both startle and possibly trip her up in her running. "Wait! You should talk to them, there's no need to run!"

"It was worse outside Oh Four. But yeah, way too many civilians in here for my liking." Bast is having to dodge and weave around civilians himself. It's why it's taking him so long to catch up to April. Outside he was gaining fast, but in here it's a maze, and he's just trying to keep eye contact amidst all the civilians rushing about. "We need to take a shot at her before this gets really ugly." He mutters into his coms with Spalding before he swaps to loudspeaker again. «Get down and get out of the way!» His voice booms from his armor as he tries to get around and past the civilians.

Sebastian is close, but he's not close enough. And then the lights go out. This time when he speaks it's over a general frequency to any LEO's also there with them. "Either someone just cut the power or we have another evolved on the field. Either way someone is helping her. Be on the lookout for an accomplice." And now Curtis is trying to feel his way through the dark, and not crush civilians. Oh joy. That's not going to be a fast process. "I'm in the dark here. Do you have vision Mike?" There's a growl to his tone, frustration as he picks his way through civilians in the dark, trying to find his way clear of it, or of the civilians, or both.

Once he does and Bast sees Magnes come smashing down from the ceiling above there’s a call into the general coms for the LEOs. “We have a third powered person on the field. Super strength maybe. Be advised. He’s attempting to stop the target.” Sebastian’s voice when it’s next heard is over his loud speakers again. “Sir! Please stand aside. The suspect is dangerous. Let the authorities handle this.” There’s a quick swap back to local LEO frequency. “Detective Thatcher, any word on when the exits will be locked down?”

When the world goes black, it takes a moment for Kaylee’s brain to register what the heck just happened. Shoulder painfully connects with a clothing rack, bringing her to a stop. The only thing that keeps her from feeling panic is the hum of minds all around her. Many are panicking, voiced out loud. This was clearly someone…

Unseen, even when it isn’t pitch black, Kaylee’s ability flares outs, unwinding itself from its protective barriers, seeking out its prey. Much like invisible tendrils, each minds is telepathically touched, only briefly, then it is on to the next moving outward. Head turning this way and that in the darkness…. Something…

What was that?

Listening to the whispers of Cyrus’ mind, Kaylee finds him. Brows furrowing a little, she concentrates on doing what she knows best. She’s never really explained how she does what she does. People only care that she has a steller arrest record. Her lips start to move, but the words are in his head. Like Jiminy Cricket to Pinocchio… she becomes his conscience. Soft whispers of doubt in the back of his head. Winding themselves into his thoughts. Punctuations of doubt and urgings to stop what he is doing.

If they were going to have any sort of chance, Kaylee needed to get him to stop blacking out the area.

When she sees Magnes running on the ceiling and then falling to slam down in front of April then Isa swears and charges forward to the railing leaning down over to stare down at the pair. “Mags! Let her pass!” An anxious expression on her face, Izzy curls her first and flames jump to life swirling around her fingers before her hand is engulfed in fire, the orange and gold glow illuminating the immediate area around her. With a grunt she thrusts her hand forward and let's loose a jet of fire in between April and her friend. “Go!” She roars as the darkness falls around her. “What the fuck is this?”

Maybe everyone being all open about their powers sucked sometimes.

Crouching down to the ground she begins to niche forward on hands and knees trying not to bump into anything by using the railing to guide her forward. “Magnes!” Isa yells blinking her eyes to no avail. “Let her go!”

April's been on the run long enough to be practiced at situational awareness, she's already had things dropped on her once, and the stairwell she went up was not a large space; she knows full well Magnes is shadowing her overhead. She's willing to consider that a lesser concern at the moment…

…especially when an entirely new large concern presents itself upon her rounding a corner to find what might as well be a pitch-black wall ahead, consuming half a Starbucks and a hefty chunk of several other spaces. Not to mention a host of panicked people, whose darting out of the darkness makes clear it isn't actually anything like solid. However, it is definitely Evolved action, and in this situation April's first impulse is to stop short, pivot, and backtrack.

The wall she'd left behind at the first floor stairs flickers out, but only Chess might be in position to notice.

It's when April has begun to backtrack that Magnes comes crashing down in front of her, drawing a curse from the fugitive as he cuts off her escape route. That same amplified voice from before rings out from what is now behind, where another set of escalators beside the Starbucks links the department store's various floors; he elicits silence. Or perhaps that's because April is busy staring at Magnes, simply incredulous for the span of a heartbeat — no need to run, indeed!

Then a third unfamiliar face intervenes, indirectly inserting herself between gravitokinetic and wanted woman.

With armor just coming off the escalator and these two nutcases ahead of her, April is now the next best thing to cornered — but only the next best thing. Flicking both hands down, she drops to one knee and finishes what Magnes started, silver energy slicing through the weakened floor. A square of tiled-over concrete drops with April on it, another field filling the space where it had been — at least for the moment.

The second floor is blackness; April can't even see the forcefield she creates as she falls. She knows where she put it, though, and stops herself by rolling onto the plane of energy before the chunk of flooring smashes into yet more floor below. Knowing the armor is on the escalators just south and west, April hops off her safety net and starts picking her way back east, straining her ears desperately as she seeks the edge of this enveloping darkness.

Also, to get out from under the gravitokinetic who is surely now just overhead. Because that does not seem like a good place to be… even with being ready to shield herself at a moment's notice.

It’s not precisely from the frying pan into the fire. What she drops into - hopefully no civilians were underneath, but there are screams at the sound of masonry crashing down. And one FBI agent in the darkness with her.

He can’t see her. The blackness….it’s like an old-fashioned game of flashlight tag, sans the actual flashlights. But Fel’s straining his ears, trying to creep out in the same direction. No point in turning on the speed when all it’ll do is smash him full tilt into a cash register counter. Not to mention the barriers she can toss up at an instant’s notice. The pause has him daring to get on his perfectly ordinary cellphone and dial in - they can’t patch him in to the scanners or the coms channels, but they can pass on the info to those who do have radio that there’s an FBI agent in civilian garb on scene, on the second level. Ivanov’s a name that might be known those cops who’ve had to deal with the Feds in New York. Being the Chief Jerkoff In A Shiny Government Car, according to at least one annoyed detective.

One of the civilians not to heed directions, Francesca continues to point her camera upward, trying to catch the foot chase on her camera. Cyrus’ power has other things in mind, and she swears in Mandarin as she’s plunged into darkness. She narrows her eyes to try to see through that blanket of pure black, listening to the shouts and destruction.

Instead of following the voices of the officers trying to get the shoppers to safety, she backs up to where she knew a wall to be — plastering herself against it to try to stay out of the way of the stampede she can no longer see in the dark department store. She looks down at the phone — but there’s no light from it either.

“Hey Siri.” At the chirrup that comes to indicate the “AI” is listening, she says, “Call Miles.”

A few seconds later, she murmurs to the other side, “I need help. Come grab me.”

It soon becomes obvious — thanks to all the shouting, and the wall jumping and the gouts of flame — that the woman that Cardinal is trailing is, in fact, the person that’s the cause of all of this ruckus. Or its target anyway.

He really should keep out of this. He doesn’t know what’s going on, and he doesn’t know what consequences any of it may have.

He’s been emboldened by actually talking to people recently, though, so he slips into April’s shadow on a whim to see where all this is going.

And promptly they’re crashing into absolute blackness as she cuts a hole in the floor and falls with the heavy block of flooring towards the floor below.

The darkness isn’t much of a barrier to him, though, and as she blindly moves through the shadows there’s a low, sibilant whisper in her ear. “There’s a wall about ten feet forward… move to the left to get around it.” …around it

Just a ghost, offering her a bit of guidance in the dark.

On the escalator, Cyrus is flooded with a sense of uncertainty and self-doubt, and as the shadow voice guides April toward safety Cyrus relinquishes his hold on the light, and the shadows peel back and recede like a tide of ink rolling away from the edges of his ability until they collect in the palm of his hand and dissipate entirely. Somewhere in that, Michael Spalding witnessed the rolling tide of darkness receding back toward and central point and spots Cyrus on the stairs. Facial recognition software in his helmet clicks and cycles, and a Wanted icon flickers in his vision.

«Second target on the escalator!» Michael calls to Sebastian. «Cyrus Karr, terrorist wanted for the Spokane bombing!» Vaulting over the edge of the escalator, Michael continues to push past fleeing civilians. He unclips a taser from his side, aiming it up at Cyrus when he has a clear shot.

«FRONTLINE! Hands on your head!» Michael bellows with hesitation before firing. Cyrus sees the threat and takes all of the photonic energy he'd collected in his shadow manipulation and expels it in a blast of light surrounding Michael. Spalding lets out a high-pitched scream and crumples onto his knees, sensors in his helmet overloaded and vision blinded.

Meanwhile, amid the chaos, there's a rush of air and a sudden feeling of presence beside Francesca as a hand lays down on her shoulder. Lips crooked into a smile that is quick to fade when he hears the screaming and realizing that this isn't just a day at the mall, the man Francesca called for — Miles — stands at her side.

“What the hell, Chessie?” Miles asks with wide eyes, looking around with a growing concern for her (and his) well-being.

First there’s darkness, and then there’s not. When April cuts the floor out from under her, she hits one of the large integral support beams. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but thanks to Magnes’s impact on the floor, lattices of cracks start to form in the floor, a small portion of the second floor starting to sag noticeably. The loss of the beam causes those spiderwebs of cracks from the impact to widen, streaking through the linoleum, loud as gunshots. Cassandra and the display of cookware she’s hiding behind are right over one of the cracks, the whole thing toppling over in a heap, very nearly squashing her under several hundred pounds of frying pans. Thankfully, when the light burst happens, Cassandra is looking away. It’s like someone just took a thousand pictures with flashbulbs, and it’s amazing to her that her clothing doesn’t catch on fire from the brilliance of it all. She does blink, rubbing her eyes, sticking a pair of sunglasses on from her bag to protect suddenly sensitive eyes from any more flashes of light before she pushes herself to her feet and runs toward the nearest exit, parallel to the darkness or, at least, where it was, keeping low to avoid any sort of attention.

"But she's running from FRONTLINE, Michael Spalding is like Superman!" Magnes retorts to Isabelle, suddenly shielding his eyes when there's an explosion of light. "Shit!" he shouts, feeling out for Isabelle's arms to grab one. "We can't just let her go, we don't know what she did, she might hurt someone else!" He's certainly not quite as open minded as the Magnes that she's used to dealing with, and he's a few maturity levels lower.

"Roger on second targ-HUH?!." He cuts off as… well… Bast was not expecting a sudden hole in the floor. He is racing forwards when April drops through the floor to crash down to the 2nd. Bast turns his forward momentum into a slide only to… sit on a forcefield. There’s only a moment of hesitating surprise before he’s up and on his feet, helmeted head turning to regard Magnes and Isa. “Civilians proceed to the exits immediately. If you interfere in operations you will be placed under arrest.”

With the warning given through the booming loudspeakers on his suit he turns and sprints, hard. And when Sebastian wants to he can really haul ass. He sprints for everything that he and his suit are worth, directly for the edge of the floor and over it. He jumps and spins, hands grabbing onto the railing at the edge of the floor above the escelator and uses his momentum to swing down and onto the second floor, dropping to a knee and scanning his surroundings, trying to discern anything through the blackness. "On the second floor now. She cut a hole through the floor. Have lost immediate sight of the target." There’s a blinding flash that overrides his helmet’s systems for a moment, but he wasn’t looking directly at the blast of light so it saves him the worst of it.

Then Sebastian hears Michael scream and he's up and moving, heading towards the fallen Frontline officer while also radioing. "Frontline officer down! Switching to lethal force!" This is spoken into both the radio and through the loud speakers of his suit, giving LEOs and civilians alike the warning that things are about to get ugly. If he's not immediately ordered down from using lethal force he will reach behind him and slide free his SCAR H from it's holster on his back. It's custom modded for accuracy and power rather than rate of fire, set up like a DMR and sets off after the terrorists with rifle in hand. "Mike talk to me. Let me know you're alive." Sebastian's voice is worried as he resumes the chase for the terrorists, not an easy thing to leave your friend on the ground.

Kaylee is barely done blinking from the sudden return of light, when FRONTLINE starts bellowing nearby. Then there is a flash, leaving spots behind. //Son of a—. //

A quick turn and glance finds the downed officer. There. She hurries past fleeing customers, reaching into her jacket to find her service weapon. Kaylee knows exactly where Cyrus is when she comes to the sliding stop near the armored officer, the barrel of her Sig pointed right at him.

NYPD! «Stop! On the ground! Hands on top of your head.»” There is power behind those words, her ability still whispering in the back of his head, weaving that very thing into his mind. He needs to listen his conscious tells him. He had planned to get on the ground, really he did.

As she waits for compliance, her mic is key’d up. “The officer is blinded, but alive. Repeat. The office is alive.” It isn’t her place to tell FRONTLINE to stand down, she could only hope that they listen to what she is saying. “Spaulding…Status?” She queries from where she is next to him, her eyes not off the suspect. It wasn’t the first time she’s dealt with FRONTLINE in the field. They definitely made life… interesting.

Well fuck.

That lady is good. Maybe she didn't need any help?

That flash of light deeper in the store causes Izzy to blink furiously as she hears Magnes’ satisfactions, “You've never heard of the mass media lying?? And fuck Superman! I like Wonder Woman.” Not even a question. Hands down. Bye.

Turning her head to regard Curtis with a raised eyebrow, her fingers clapped together to mimic someone speaking. “Yeah, yeah. Seem to be a little preoccupied!” It's true.. Izzy dashes back the way she came to descend the escalator taking two steps at a time. She has.. two options. Get outta there (smart), help the woman running (possibly the right thing to do).

“Oh fuck you Bren, you'd wanna chase.” With a growl Isabelle looks up towards the ceiling before running in the direction that April has gone. She's not really sure what's going on up there with Kaylee and the armored boy but ladies gotta stick together is her ultimate reasoning. There's a roar of flame and the air around Izzy grows a bit warmer as she runs forward, fire spiraling around her fingertips and then up her arm, the sleeve of her jacket beginning to burn away, ash and smoke trailing up in the air in her wake. “Mags!” Brow furrowed as she screams out, “Just trust me.. please! Come here!”

"They said stand down, Isabelle! We have to listen, these guys are like the Avengers, they know what they're doing!" Magnes shouts, before he suddenly flips the switch on his gravity, and he just sort of falls upward, landing on the ceiling and standing there. He doesn't immediately evacuate because Isabelle is still here, but he's also gotten out of the way. "Isabelle, don't get in the way!"

There is a whisper in April's ear. Her first impulse is to lash out in that direction, and she does, the unseen edge of a forcefield blade slicing through nothing more menacing than a display of shoes, sending much of it clattering to the ground. Nobody there — and she doesn't have the luxury of trying to figure out where the voice is really coming from. Only to make a split-second decision: listen, or ignore.

"Who the hell are you?" is hissed to the presence-less voice even as April listens, feeling her way around the wall in question. Just after she's slipped past that corner, everything goes instantly bright, lightning without any accompanying thunder. Fortunately, she's facing away; unfortunately, even the indirect and reflected glare is… something worse than high noon imported indoors.

There's a scream somewhere behind her; another voice, the same one as before, calls officer down over its own loudspeakers. A third announces representation of the NYPD — and the whole lot of them seem to be preoccupied with someone else, somewhere on the other side of a couple internal walls.

April moves as quickly as she can while her eyes struggle to readjust, passing between two banks of abandoned registers. She sees a centrally-located escalator bracketed by customer service on this side and some kind of food court on the other. These seem to bypass by the mezzanine level and end back at the first floor — her first impulse is to bolt for those stairs, run down and out while the officers have other problems.

But that's thinking too much inside the box. It's letting panic have its head and go charging down the first available recourse, the obvious one.

Instead, April skips the escalator and makes for the service door behind the register on the south side of the building. She doesn't spend the time to check if it's locked, but cuts the latch and then slips inside. From here, she can access exterior walls — and exterior windows, boarded-up though they are. An exit just waiting to be made.

But that presupposes no one saw her slip through the door.

That, alas, would be presupposing wrong. She’s got one pursuer on her tail, and that one, when he sees her slip through the door, barrels at it. Not through, but trying to pop it back open on her, full force. Let the door take the brunt of her inevitable counter-attack - see if he can bounce her off the wall with it, stun her. For despite the cries of “Officer down!” Fel hasn’t resorted to lethal force. Not yet. He’s got his own Sig in hand, but it’s safed, and his grip on it is reversed. Without any other non-lethal weaponry on him, the apparent plan is a high-speed pistol-whipping.

For he’s operating at the height of his power, the world a weird, slowed-down fever dream of a place, while that variant adrenaline courses through his veins. No announcement of his presence, no orders for her to stand down before it - surprise is the essence of this attack. Here’s hoping a guy in a suit busting through the door after her like the Kool Aid Man on speed will be enough to delay her own reflexes.

Francesca is already turning at the feeling of displaced air and, when Miles appears out of nowhere beside her, throws her arms around the sandy-haired teleporter.

“Jesus, I’m glad to see you,” she breathes out. “And people ask me why I don’t like to shop,” the tomboy says.

To answer his question more seriously, she shakes her head. “Some woman came through and cops and FRONTLINE and everyone and their brother’s coming through after her. Someone with a power made it dark in here and…”

She makes a face, because it’s not something she likes to admit, “I got scared.” She takes a moment to toss a shirt she’d been holding this entire time onto a display table. “And you’re quicker than an Uber. Let’s go to Lombardi’s.” The teleporter is one way to cut the traffic to the Nolita neighborhood.

“Nobody,” Richard Cardinal replies for April’s ears only, “Just a ghost. Just— “

Then there’s that flash from behind, and there’s a whispered shriek that carries several yards as it briefly sweeps across the shadow’s form, causing it to recoil to the nearest place to hide. Which happens to be under the hat that April’d plucked off the wall to serve as a brief disguise, falling silent as he recovers from that agonizing spike.

«I can’t see a goddamn thing!» Is Michael’s response to both Kaylee and Sebastian, speaking through his helmet’s external and internal comm. «I've got nothing! Didn't get a look at the light source either. Fuck! I'm out of this chase.» Spaulding wouldn't be able to be blinded a second time, but by the time his vision returns it will be too late.

Elsewhere, apart from the word of the carnage, Miles rests a steady hand on Francesca’s shoulder and steps around to face her, looking at the gaps of fleeing shoppers. “Sure, sure,” he says in a nervous hush of breath, “but how about we take a five-minute detour, yeah?” The pair disappear, swallowed up in an undulating wave of distorted light and twisted space that snaps itself back on their absence.

The white sand beach in Fiji that they arrive on is a good palette cleanse.

But there's no Fiji beach for Cyrus Karr. Having lost sight of April and with police closing in all around, and the powerful telepathic urge of Officer Thatcher in his ears, Cyrus is forced to buckle and drop to one knee and then the other, fingers lacing behind his head as he does. He exhales a steady breath, cursing under it, and remains the telepathic officer’s prisoner.

Darting through the darkened second floor, avoiding the cracks from Magnes’ impact, Cassandra power-walks to the nearest working exit, slamming into the crash bar with her hip and holding the door open, urging anyone who might still be up there to head out. The little flashlight in her purse is pulled out, winking, giving anyone who might be lost a beacon towards an exit.

Sebastian is racing forwards deeper into the 2nd floor, but his concern is behind him with Michael. Cyrus is down via Kaylee's power and Bast comms to her. "Thank you Officer Thatcher." A pair of heavily reinforced handcuffs are taken from his equipment and tossed in Kaylee's direction before he turns away and he's racing on. Relief floods him when he at least hear’s Spalding’s voice. “Good to know you’re alive Oh Four. There’s a detective right near you and she has the light manipulator on the ground.” He did lose sight of April in all the chaos though. The bright flash, Michael going down, Cyrus and Kaylee. It caused him to take his eye off the prize. But what he doesn't miss, is Felix zipping along the floor and smashing into the door.

Bast can barely follow the speed at which the special agent is moving, but it tells him where to go. He's seen Felix on her tail all through the department store, so that's where he goes, barreling across the floor at high speed. He doesn't dodge around things anymore, he goes through them or over them, not slowing his momentum for anything. His rifle is out, but the safety is on, he's too disciplined to just start firing off random shots and hope to catch the target. The rifle is held in close as he hurtles across the floor. He pulls his own koolaid man impression and smashes into that door with a full bodied kick, intending to tear it clean off it's hinges and launch it clear of the doorway, hopefully giving him either a clear line of fire, or at least a clear view of what's happening now that mister speedster is up close and personal.

Just managing to catch the handcuffs, Kaylee looks at the retreating Frontline agent and then down at the cuffs again. Brows furrow a bit — // she thinks not… it’s her capture.// — and she leans down and drops them next to Spaulding. There will always be interagency rivalry and she’s still pissed about the paperwork they were creating for her. However, the action of bending down has her head protesting such abuse. The wonderful side effect of her ability use. “Just hold tight, medics are inbound,” or at least she hopes.

That done, she approaches her captive, carefully. Once she’s behind him, she reaches out and grabs his laced finger, squeezing them tight, so that he can pull them apart very easily. His knuckles would catch on his others if he tried. Tucking her gun away, it’s replaced with her own handcuffs. “Cyrus Karr, you are under arrest…” she is so use to saying those words, she doesn’t have to really think about it as she spills out his Miranda right. One bracelet goes on and after twisting his arms down, the other is captured.

Once he’s cuffed, her ability lets go, slowly unwinding from around his mind. “Let’s go.”

“I’m hungry-” Francesca begins to protest in a playful whine, before she suddenly finds herself far from the panic of the department store, far from armored and armed officers and forcefields. Her brows lift and she exhales, a long shivery sigh that releases the pent-up fear and helplessness from the chaos of Macy’s.

“Only you would think a tropical island is a five-minute detour,” she says, standing on tiptoes to kiss the teleporter, laughing lightly. She glances down at her shoes in the sand, fingers curling around the sleeves of his shirt. “I think we’re overdressed…”

“Damnit!” Fires snuffing out she stands there with a hand on her hip. Sucking her teeth and shaking her head the pryokinetic continues moving forward but she can't spot April anywhere but she does spot the man in power armor charging through the wall. Isa’s grin is replaced on her face and she begins to charge forward before the words of Tamara and Colette echo through her mind. There's a visible grimace on the woman’s face.

The pyro’s hazel eyes squint as she slows down. “God damn it. Fuck.”

Magnes suddenly drops down from the ceiling, rushes up behind Isabelle, and says, "We're leaving!" and wraps his arm around her waist, before he swoops up her legs over his other arm, and runs right through the new hole in the wall.

He leaps into the air, literally leaping a tall building in a single bound, to get them both the fuck out of the way of all this crap. "All we're going to do is get hurt, or get other people hurt. We need to stay out of the way, I should have remembered that lesson before. Let's let the Avengers do their job."

Casting her attention forward, fixating however momentarily on the prospect of out, proves to be a mistake. The edge of the door crashes into April's spine before she can quite process the sound of racing footsteps, a sound that only just barely precedes collision. She stumbles forward with wordless grunt, then whirls to face her attacker, a flick of her hand drawing near-invisible line through the door at shoulder height — and not quite reaching the agent behind it.

A klaxon starts up as Cassandra departs by way of an emergency exit, strobing alarm and strobing light providing belated but all too appropriate ambiance for the chaos within the store.

Tension already wound to high pitch, April flinches from the sudden noise, an instant's distraction that lets Felix land a crack across her jaw and send her reeling back with a cry. But then it's the agent's turn for complications as Bast crashes the door in on him, the collision of federal employees buying April the breath she needs to figuratively get her head back on straight.

One flick of her hand sends a dozen gleaming needles flying forward in scattershot pattern, more or less aimed for center of mass. As the fugitive stumbles backward, her other hand raises a protective barrier across the corridor, smaller than the hall but not by so much as to allow easy passage. It'll take breaking a wall to bypass, while it's up.

Meanwhile, breaking a wall is exactly what April does next — or rather, a window, its boarded-over and painted-shut state posing only minor obstacle. Clambering out puts her on 34th Street, albeit at the level of the second floor; she descends by platforms that ape on-demand stairs, and it's a measure of her fatigue and strain she nearly catastrophically overshoots that descent not once but twice. Another that she stumbles upon reaching solid ground.

Going to that ground might have been a mistake: there's a lot of people out here. All the mob displaced from the store, augmented by onlookers drawn by the commotion from surrounding streets — and from the nearby station. But air-walking the remaining block is no viable alternative; as it is, the barrier left behind flickers and fails all too soon.

Still cradling her aching jaw, April bulls her way forward, the mob parting before her in alarm and astonishment and confusion.

It’s a damned good thing, that distraction of Cassandra’s, and likely the main reason that Fel doesn’t end up spattering arterial spray all over the back hallways of a department store. Talk about an ignominious death. Then Bast’s coming in on him like a ton of bricks, and he ends up bounced off the wall just as he was trying to do to April herself. The door and Bast’s mass are enough to keep him from being shredded by those needles. A few do strike home, and scarlet spots begin to bloom on the blue cotton of the dress shirt. No armor for him.

It doesn’t stop him racing forward, only to encounter that barrier. Thrown off the trail for a moment - he doesn’t have the strength to break a wall. It has him turning to Bast and flashing his own badge. He’s not seriously trying to claim jurisdiction on this one, is he? No. There’s a terse explanation of who he is and what he can do, and that he intends to keep after her.

Once the barrier drops, he’s off after her again, only to be stymied by that exit. Speed won’t let him hurl himself from an upper story and land without injury. So it’s back and down to find a legit way out, and even at that absurd speed, she’s got a lead on him….and can likely disappear into the crowd.

Not if he has anything to say about it.

Ow ow ow ow motherfucking bright that burned like a motherfucker goddamned photokinetics are the thoughts that streak through Richard Cardinal’s thoughts - were there anyone to hear them - as he clings beneath that hat as best he can, the edge of it askew but the pony tail sticking out the back keeping it on April’s head.

If anyone were close enough, they might notice that writhing shadows are half-curled around that ponytail as he tries to cram as much of himself as he can between the hat and her head. He does have limits as to how small he can get, which is why he isn’t completely hidden.

Sebastien goes crashing through the door and… oh. The speedster agent guy is still on the other side. Well that's unfortunate. The door and Felix go crashing into the wall, leaving Bast with the room to… shoot one of April's barriers. And also catch some darts made out of… power barrier? His weapon snaps up, safety off and he pops off three shots, all aimed at the legs, attempting to disable April first. But the bullets crumple against April's barrier. There's a slew of rapid fire curse words from the Frontline officer, who looks down and finds his armor a little perforated, a few spots leaking blood where those darts hit more vulnerable spots, joints in the armor and what not. He rushes up to that barrier and THROWS his shoulder into it, grunting hard when he just ricochets off of it.

Then Felix is flashing his badge and introducing himself. "Figured. That you were you when I saw you zip after her. Not many speedsters, less so that scream fred." Curtis is pressing a hand against that barrier, waiting for the moment it goes down. "Sorry for kicking a door onto you." Bast offers with a chuckle as he waits for the barrier to go down. "As soon as this goes down I'm going to jump out of the window right to the second floor. If she's an open target I'll try to leg shot her. If not then I trust you can keep her busy while I catch up?"

The barrier goes down and Sebastian does exactly what he said he was going to do. He runs through that window and hurls himself from the second story. He drops down and turns his impact into a roll, coming up running after a scrape of armor on the concrete, and taking a second to orient himself and spot April. Too many people. He stows the rifle against his back as he takes off running, the whine of servos and the pound of his feet announcing his pursuit to April. Instead of the rifle his hand reaches for the tazer, trying to get close enough to use it.

“This is Frontline 01-04. Am still in pursuit of fugitive, now outside of the Macy’s on 34th street.” Updating everyone on the current progress of the chase, both LEO’s and Frontline alike. Next his voice booms over his loudspeakers as he races after April. “Everyone please get clear! The fugitive is dangerous. Please clear her path!”

The chase has eluded Michael Spaulding, who sits hunched in the middle of an aisle surrounded by a handful of uniformed police officers making sure he's ok. Helmet off and eyes blearily blinking open and closed, he's unable to effectively target anything, let alone proceed with an entanglement with civilians in the crossfire. Benched, he's forced to trust in Sebastian’s training to go the extra mile, and hope that his friend can bring this fugitive to justice.

The other fugitive in the picture, Cyrus Karr, is dejectedly slouched forward with cuffs around his wrists. He offers a sidelong look to Officer Thatcher, shaking his head. “You're on the wrong side, love. That brain of yours could be making the world safe for people, not enforcing the boot on their necks.” Every time he wants to run, Cyrus feels the psychic pang of Kaylee’s telepathic leash choking him back. “You think your badge is helping people. It ain't. That woman they're chasing is innocent. She's a victim.”

Under arrest as he is, Cyrus is decidedly not utilizing his right to remain silent. “She was a victim of the Company, victim of Pinehearst, and now a victim of the system. You're in the dark, love, and it ain't the kind I make.”

Far, far from the chase, on a white sand beach in Fiji, Miles turns to Francesca with a lopsided smile. He reaches up and threads a lock of hair behind one of her ears, then brushes the knuckles of one hand against her cheek. “While we’re here, can I uh, ask you what actually happened while you were shopping?” A seagull crows nearby, shrill and exciting a riot of other sea birds. Their concerns are real, tangible things. But so is the breeze, and neither matters in the grand scheme of April Silver’s life anymore.

“A victim?” Kaylee doesn’t sound convinced, as she directs him down towards the entrance of the store. “That’s rich. If she’s so innocent, why doesn’t she just turn herself in and sort it all out through judicial channels.” A hand waves off others when they come to try to take him. This was her’s after all, plus he’s piqued her curiosity. “Plenty of lawyers that would love nothing more then to represent a ‘victim’ as you say.”

Away from some of the ears, Kaylee glances aside at the chaos. “If you had kept your head down, I wouldn’t have had to arrest you. As it is your are going in for obstructing a police officer.” Her head tilts a bit, thoughtful. “I wonder what else I am going to to pull up. Law is the law and if you break it, that isn’t innocent. That’s just being a criminal…. Or is it terrorist in your case? Pinehearst has nothing to do with it and I don’t work for them.”

Miles’ question makes Francesca’s head tilt. “I don’t know. I was just shopping and suddenly there was a high speed chase going on in there.” She frowns, reaching on top of her head to find a pair of sunglasses she’d pushed up there at some point. “And I’m now a shoplifter,” she adds, taking off the shades to peer at the price tag, and making a face.

She places these on his face and grins, before leaning her forehead against his. “At the moment, I don’t care what’s happening in Macy’s. We can check on the news later.” She reaches down while one foot comes up, as she begins to make her way out of her shoes. “Swim, then pizza,” she decides. Luckily he seems to have chosen a private beach.

There's chaos and armored figures, flashes of light and walls being bulldozed down by people. It's wild and just the kind of thing that Izzy likes to get up too. But she has a responsible friend. Who might have usually been roped into the madness with her. Magnes grabs her as she protests and leaps into the air once they get outside through the hall on the wall. “Fucking don't I- damnit!!

Her scream of frustration manifests in a jet of fire shooting out from her hand. Harmlessly it follows them before she ceases fire literally. “Well!”

She doesn't have a good counter argument so a frustrated sigh and the pyro throws her hands up. “Fucking fine.” And they're off. But she thinks about that woman Mable and how she would have liked to help her, even if it was for the thrill of it.

The sound of that voice again, amplified, echoing, sends a fresh jolt of adrenaline through April's blood. She casts a glance back over her shoulder, sees that black armor come barrelling down the gap in the crowd that her own progress has made. With how the armor assists his motions, he will catch up in a ground pursuit — there is no question of that, not even with his announcement incentivizing the mob to clear out ahead of her.

It doesn't help that in April's moment of inattention, her own course drifts too far to one side; her shoulder clips the dull-brown bulk of a newsstand at the corner of 34th and 7th, and she reflexively staggers away from it, moving as much sideways as forward.

The sun has descended far enough to pass behind a building corner, no longer directly blinding though its reflection still glares from windows along the length of the street; April hardly notices. She can't think past the urgency pounding inside her head, the sense of desperation evoked by her persistent pursuer. By the awareness of being out of time.

Fine, then.

April pivots to face the man chasing her. One hand brings up two planes of force that shield her torso front and back, denying him any easy center-of-mass shots; an upward flick of her fingers forms a blade high in the air, one that slices through a streetlamp and sends its dual-globed upper portion crashing down as the FRONTLINE soldier passes beneath. "Just stop!" A third gesture uses a cube as lever, ceramic scraping a horrendous protest against concrete as a heavy landscaping planter is shoved forward as the bluntest of ad-hoc weapons, an attempt to take advantage of his distraction.

Then she turns again, and bolts for 7th Street.

Not the only one chasing her. But the one distracting her, thankfully. Let April focus on Sebastien, try to slow or stop him. For all of the FRONTLINE officer’s orders, the street remains crowded, people frantically trying to get out of the way. No one with a brain in their head wants to be caught in the line of fire when that armored figure opens up, even if he’s sticking to non-lethal. Fel isn’t following in Bast’s wake, not directly.

No, he’s running flat out, adrenaline buzzing in his blood like a drug. Fast enough that the fleeing civilians are all but statues he dodges among, like a kid playing some insane game of tag. Arcing around to the side, the better to try and flank her, come up on her from a blind side. He’s already landed one solid hit on her. If he can trip her or get up close enough…..well, knowing him, what he’ll get is shredded. But it’s almost more instinct driving than conscious thought. April’s apparently this evening’s plastic rabbit.

Just why he’s doing this has occured to Cardinal as an excellent question, and he’s blaming Tamara and Colette right now for socializing him out of hiding in the shadows and never communicating with anyone. Well, them and certain old tendencies rising from his past.

When you’re a career criminal and you’ve done a stint in jail, ‘fuck the cops’ becomes something of an instinctive reaction.

April doesn’t seem to be striking to kill either, which is a point in her favor as ‘innocent’ since her power certainly seems very capable of it.

As the woman that’s wearing his current shelter spins to cast her power in the FRONTLINE officer’s direction, the shadowmorph notices the speedster sweeping up along to one side — and he reacts at the speed of dark, one tenebrous tendril lashing out from April’s pony-tail in a straight line through the crowd as if he was trying to clothesline the blur of motion with it.

It’s completely incorporeal, but hopefully Felix will react before he realizes it.

Sebastian is gaining. He can run down just about anyone that isn't a speedster or can't fly. If they run on foot he can run them down. And with the armor assisting him he can go that much faster, can go for that much longer. He's put his gun away given the crowd and has his tazer out. "Turn yourself in April! This doesn't need to get any uglier!" His suit bellows over it's loud speakers as he chases after her.

He's not taking aim at her center of mass, her leg will do quite nicely. He lines the tazer up as he chases, only to have to duck under the falling light post. The landscape planter is vaulted, one hand slamming on to the edge of it and levering the weight of his Horizon suited body around the planter rather than try to go through it or spend the time to dart fully around it. That would lose him momentum, this will only gain him some.

His feet slam into the ground and he resumes the chase, leaning forwards into the run this time, sprinting to catch up, the tazer held at the ready waiting for that perfect opportunity to strike. He doesn't notice Felix, his attention is too focused on April, plus Fel is moving really fast. Nor has he noticed the weirdness going on beneath April's hat either. There's no more warnings from Sebastien, no more orders for April to stop. If she hasn't already she won't. His last one was just that, one last try.

Back with Officer Thacher, Cyrus offers a frustrated look over his shoulder. “Everyone works for Pinehearst, Officer. Whether they want to or not. You put me in prison, and I'm going to disappear.” There's a desperation in Cyrus’ tone, a venom and vitriol. “I've seen too much, just like her. Do you think there's justice possible for someone who's seen the corruption inherent in the system?”

Cyrus briefly struggles against his restraints, until Kaylee telepathically puts him in line again. “We’re all under the Petrelli heel, some of us just looked to see whose boot is on our necks.

As they get closer to the busted and broken door to the outside, a glance goes to the scattered brickwork. “I swear, these Frontline guys just get crazier. A freakin’ landmark.” Kaylee is not a fan, even if she’s worked with them before.

Kaylee looks curiously outside at the sound of chaos, slowing Cyrus a little. The bleating in her earpiece says they still hadn’t gotten the original target. This guy was just a bonus. Pulling her captive away from the group, she says softly, “You are crazy to not exercise your rights. I suggest you do it. Stop digging your hole deeper. I am not working for them and I haven’t had anyone disappear under my watch.” After they are moved to another location… well that she can’t guarantee.

Something in what she hear buzzing in his skull… in the tone of his words. It had her curious. A dangerous thing to be sometimes. Her head shakes a little a touch of a amusement on her lips. “Okay… Show me some proof of all this corruption and I might give it some consideration; but, I’m tellin’ you now, I can’t let you go.” It’s her job after all.

Bursting out of the fire escape on street level near a newstand on 7th street, Cassandra, for the moment, seems to be okay. Yes, the crowd is busy moving /away/ from the store while first responders are quickly moving towards it to set up a cordon, help the injured, and prevent panic to as great a degree as they can. She takes a moment to make sure all her things are in order, leaning against the wall of the newstand, oblivious to what might be running her way.

April's plan, such as it is, is immediately complicated by the recklessly inattentive girl who darts out of the crowd and across her path. The resulting hitch in her stride reads as an opening, loud and clear, to the speedster who is simply moving too quickly to react to the shadowmorph's bluff. He hits her from the side, edge-on to the forcefield plates shielding April's torso — or would be, if Felix hadn't had the wit to go for the trip instead of the tackle.

By the time April registers his presence, she's already going down, forcefields dissolving. Another forms above her in reflex, preventing a pile-on; she rolls away, the bulk of the newsstand now between her and Bast… and a girl practically right beside her in its shadow, as April scrambles back onto her feet both physically and mentally. The fugitive lunges forward, grabbing hold of Cass and dragging her close, interposing the girl between herself and the speedster. Her other hand claps to the girl's collarbones, the fingers that frame her throat sheathed in silver; the energy field is warm to the touch and makes Cass' skin prickle alarmingly. Or maybe that's just the fact of being held hostage.

"Back off!" April demands loud and clear of the feds — the one who's hit her twice now, and the one she knows is not far out of sight around the newsstand. "This will take your head off," she tells the girl, less loudly, but not actually quietly; she wants others to hear. "Don't fight."

It's only half a bluff: she could decapitate her hostage… if she changed the field's shape, first.

That’s enough to bring Fel down out of that blurring speed, at least in terms of overt motion. Now she’s just got a guy in a dress shirt and pants with a pistol levelled at them. Nearly point blank range - he’s as close as he dares get. Starting to circle, trying to keep April’s attention on him to let Bast come up. “April,” he says, and his voice is rough. “Don’t do this. Let her go. Don’t bring civilians into this. You haven’t been striking to kill, I know you can do worse than you have been doing. C’mon, surrender peacefully. You don’t have to keep running.”

Firing that pistol - if April’s fast enough to block a bullet, god only knows where it could end up. Maybe he can hold her at bay long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Nevermind the spreading stains on his shirt. That’s the catch-22 for his ability: what it does to blood flow and blood pressure.

“Shit.” …shit

A whisper from the shadowy thing that’s been lingering about April trying to help her escape, although at the moment that help seems to have failed. As everyone’s attention is on her, Richard Cardinal slips down her back in a ripple of darkness that vanishes into her actual shadow, hiding there for the moment near-indistinguishable from the real thing.

Hopefully the photokinetic’s gone, he thinks.

Bast is not far behind at all. He's racing along, catching up, and is just about within firing distance with the tazer when Cassandra comes stepping out of the news stand and right into the path of April. He aims but doesn't have a shot so he doesn't fire. He comes skidding to a stop at very short range, the tazer held, aimed at the upper body. He circles slowly, counter to where Felix circles, trying to find an easy opening. "This doesn't end with you getting away April. We don't negotiate with terrorists. You can let the girl go and be taken in, or you can have more innocent blood on your hands, and still get taken in. This only ends with you coming in."

Sebastien is circling though, looking for that opening, but he's watching her legs, looking for an opening down there, and when or if he spots it? He'll pull the trigger on that tazer without hesitation. "You're surrounded. More law enforcement is on the way. Surrender and let the girl go." His speakers have been turned down, but it's still that mechanical tinny sound from his suit and not him talking.

Where one battle is being waged for April Silver’s future, there is a more subtle battle being waged inside the mall. Handcuffed and compliant with police orders, Cyrus Karr offers a look up to Officer Thatcher, brows furrowed and gaze steely.

If you want to know the truth, she can hear his voice echoing inside of his mind, when you're alone, pick up your phone and ask for Robin Hood. Clearly, Cyrus Karr is out of his mind. But he has nothing more to offer on the subject, nothing more to say as other officers are swarming in. He leaves Officer Thatcher with that single piece of information. A box to open, should she wish.

As Cyrus is being led away for transport, the detective watches after him with open curiosity. Did she want to open up that Pandora’s Box? Kaylee wasn’t sure, but he left her with something to think about and it would roll around in the back of her mind. Like a cat bats around a ball of string.

The chaos outside pulls Kaylee’s attention away from her captive again. When she starts that way, a voice calls to her “Detective…” Looks like this last one would be left up to Frontline, as she is pulled into helping coordinate witnesses and collect statements.

Having a hand around her throat is a decidedly uncomfortable thing to have happen, but the electric sizzle going along with it makes Cassandra swallow, her hands to her sides. No, she’s not making a move just yet…she’s the perfect little hostage right about now. Having an extremity removed is something she really, really doesn’t want to have happen, and combine that with her head being one of her most precious commodities? CAssandra’s going to be very careful to not tick off the lady that’s currently holding her life in her hands. She lifts her hands in the ‘I surrender’ pose, keeping them away from the hand around her neck, nervously looking over her shoulder at the woman. “Come on, just let me go….” she says lamely. It’s what hostages are supposed to say, according to television.

April watches the two by not watching them — letting her focus track them without fixating on either. "I know what happens if I do," she says quietly, a distinct bleakness to the words. A breath of tense stillness follows, two; a moment that wobbles on the cusp of decision and seems like it could go either way.

In that moment, Bast takes his shot.

The taser's prongs strike separate but adjacent targets, one sinking its barbs into April's calf, the other into Cassandra's. The sharp clicking sound of the weapon cycling goes unrecognized by its victims as electrical pulses flood their musculature; they crumple in an intermingled heap, April falling back, the girl drawn down more or less atop her.

There is no unnatural light now in evidence as April convulses, the forcefield she had held her hostage with disrupted — just a little too late, in one respect. Red blooms across the front of Cassandra's shirt beneath her collarbones, framing a four-inch-long cut that has been etched in both cloth and flesh.

Five seconds before the electricity ceases pulsing — less, if Bast lets up on the trigger.

Five seconds is a stretched out eternity when he has that adrenaline buzzing in his blood. So Fel can take a moment to reverse his grip again… and when he pounces on April, it’s to use the butt of the Sig on her temple. A pair of blows calculated to knock her out without killing her, or doing any permanent cognitive damage, ideally. The last thing any of the officers present need is footage of a suspect being inadvertently beaten to death by an agent.

Only then does he snag Cassandra, picking a point not between the probe on her and the ground, and try to drag her free. Get her out of any possible line of fire.

Bast doesn't let up on the trigger until he hears the smack of Felix's gun against April's head, only then does he let up on the tazer. "That's going on the news. Frontline officer and suited federal agent taze and beat woman in the streat." This is muttered, but loud enough that Felix can hear. Curtis drops down to a knee with a scrape of armored plate on concrete and grabs hold of Cassandra's shirt, pulling it up and pressing it firmly against her chest to staunch the bleeding. "This is Frontline 01-06. Fugitive is down and unconscious. A bystander was injured by the fugitive. Need immediate medical to uhhh." He turns his head, looking around to see what street he's on before telling them where he's at. "Bystander is bleeding from a slash across her chest, does not appear to be life threatening."

With the call in for medical help put in he lifts his head to look out at the crowd, and next his speech booms over the suit's loudspeakers. "Please, back up and give us some space. Medical personel will be coming through momentarily, please do not be in their way when they do." With that done he cuts the loud speaker and turns his head to look over at Felix. "Make sure she's blindfolded somehow, and bind her hands if you can. Not one hundred percent how her power works but I imagine she can't do it with bound hands and no eye sight. Or at least can't do it accurately. Here.” He takes one hand off the pressure on Cassandra’s chest and grabs his hand cuffs that Kaylee refused and tosses them to Felix.

Conspicuously quiet is April’s shadow, which continues to imitate her shadow; silently beside her, clearly nothing more than the usual artifact of the light. Honest. Richard Cardinal would be holding his breath, if he even still breathed.

All sorts of heroic things start going through Cassie’s head. A judo throw - she doesn’t take judo - to take her captor off her feet, or a quick twist and a headbutt that keeps her head attached, followed by a witty quip that makes all the papers. A calm discussion about giving up and letting her go, convincing the hostage taker to change her ways - a diplomatic feat that makes all the papers.

And then there’s a sharp pain in her left calf, through her pants. Fire ants, here? That just adds to the indignity of the situation. Then, without warning, Cassie’s muscles seize and she’s falling over, bright blood blooming across her chest thanks to a superficial cut that cuts through cloth and skin as if nothing were there. It’s not life threatening, but is certainly messy. Probably something that’ll leave a scar, but hey - a story comes with it. Did I ever tell you the time I was held hostage in new york? She’ll get /so/ many drinks out of that one.

That’s Cassie - always look on the bright side, even as your muscles are cramping to the point of immobility and you’re bleeding through your blouse. At least up until Felix pulls it off and compresses the wound. At least she wore her cute bra today.

This isn't how April expected to go down, dazed and battered into a deficit of resistance — but it's almost never the expected that gets one, in the end. It will only be a matter of minutes before she stirs again, but each of those minutes brings her closer to the neurotoxin injection that is the only thing truly capable of confining her. In this minute, unaware of the coarse concrete she's sprawled upon, the incipient headaches gathering on both sides of her skull, and even the fact that her long flight has at last been grounded, the fugitive lies quiescent, still. It seems almost a moment of peace, however unsolicited, between adrenaline-fueled urgency and the corralled despondency yet to follow.

The surrounding street is not so peaceful, thronged with displaced customers and curious rubberneckers caught between the necessity of giving the armored officer the distance he's requested but metaphorically dying to know what's going on — and in some cases, the envious wish to have themselves been involved. Chatter fills the air, stories already being embellished to suit the teller's whims and deep-seated needs, along with the usual city road noise and a less-usual density of horn blares sparked by the milling crowd. The fire alarm continues to ring out from the Macy's building in a constant repetition that becomes surprisingly easy for its audience to disregard. It is soon joined by the gradually increasing volume of sirens that herald the belated approach of backup, law enforcement and medical support vehicles still working their way through Manhattan's rush-hour gridlock.

Beyond the auditory horizon of this commotion, the greater part of the city continues to go about its evening, all oblivious to the figurative strike of lightning that has come and gone, its spark subsumed by the implacable constancy of surrounding night.

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