Broken Arrow


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Scene Title Broken Arrow
Synopsis Goodman's attempt to free Amid Halebi from the captivity of the Institute meets with unexpected resistance when the Endgame and Ferrymen ambush the delivery convoy.
Date January 23, 2011

Snow falls in large, fat flakes from a cloudy sky on still winds.

Trees show the telltale signs of abuse, splintered and broken where bark has been peeled away and wood pulp pulverized by the impact of a black sedan, now upside down and halfway buried in unplowed snow. One of the upside-down car's rear tires still spins with the momentum of the crash, troughs cut through the snow behind it where it mounted the snowbank and came off road. A street sign has been sheared off, the yellow of a merge sign sticking up through freshly disturbed snow.

The distant blare of a horn comes from a New Jersey State Police cruiser, wrapped around a pine tree. The frint window is a spider web of broken glass. Lights on the roof flash silently, no siren save for the blare of the horn. The passenger side door is bent open, the man that had been riding with the state police officer driving thrown from the car, his battered body lays nearly a hundred feet away in a pinkish patch of melting snow.

Even further away, the tracks where a larger vehicle slid are evident in the furrows carved in the three foot deep snow. On its side and out where the snow is thinnest and the ground cracks like glass underfoot, the white painted chassis of a heavy, armored van precariously rests upon the scarred surface of a frozen pond. Thick, deep cracks split in the ice beneath the heavy weight of the unmarked vehicle, two of its darkly tinted windows blown open, windshield shattered but not broken entirely.

The hydraulic powered back hatch of the van lies open, one pneumatic arm bent and the door resting crooked like a warped hatchback. An enormous and heavy black container rests inside, detatched from the morass of wires and cabling that had kept it operating steadily during transit. Electricity sparks from exposed wires torn free during the crash. Blood stains the floor where a man in a white hazmat suit has been pinned beneath the ACTS-System coffin, his leg suffering from a compound fracture that compromises his suit's integrity, bone punching through nylon and plastic, drooling blood and marrow out the opening.

Face down in the snow, Elle Bishop is unmoving, her hair clumped with ice and freshly fallen snow where she had been flung. A handgun lays in the snow not far from her, and the heavy breathing of the young man trudging through the snow towards her becomes gradually louder and louder. Hisbreath is plumes of steam, blue eyes wide and shaggy blonde hair flecked with snow. The cold wind blows through the fabric of his olive-drab military jacket, pushing it out and away from himself. "Fuck," he hisses to himself, loping through the snow with long, hopping strides trying to clear the distance from the road side to where she now lays.

There's an arm in the snow, severed at the shoulder, a knot of gristle and bone where it was twisted off of the darkly dressed body not much further away. Blood darkens the snow near black beneath his twisted corpse, crumpled like a used up tissue paper. Closer to the road, another man lays face up, blood running from a gash in his cheek and one eye already swolen shut. He's trying to catch his breath, staring up at the cloudy sky with lips parted, exhaling shuddering breaths.

The lower half of him is six feet away on the icy road, where a yellow schoolbus is parked sideways across the street, tracks in the freshly fallen snow and ice from where it began its skid, all the way to where the carnage began.

Footprints track in the snow from nearby to the school bus. They go out out from the street, up over the rise of the snowbank, past the severed arm and Elle's prone form and down towards the back of the armored van, split open as it is like a sardine can. Dark clothing, a stark profile against the snow; the smell of blood on the air makes him feel alive. And when the day is done…

…he intends to be the only one left that way.

Ten Minutes Earlier

Industrial Street near Highway 440

Keasbey, New Jersey

The method of delivery for nuclear materials through the United States is a closesy guarded secret. While the conventions put in place by the Nuclear Regulatory Comission apply to materials such as enriched uranium and various levels of radioactive waste, no written law yet covers the very unpredicted nature of transporting a living radioactive subject across state lines.

The Commonwealth Institute is both ignorant of and heedless to whatever ramshackle regulations may have been put in place since early 2007 in regards to this matter.

Highway 440 is a busy throughfare for traffic leaving Jersey City's former irradiated zone to meet up with the jersey turnpike for all south-bound travel. A convoy of three vehicles takes this mostly empty stretch of highway like it owns the road. At the forefront, a New Jersey State Police cruiser drives ahead, the officer inside watching the dim headlights in his rear-view mirror through the flurries of snow blowing across the road, trying to keep an eye on the indistinct contrast between white armored van and snowy road.

The van following the cruiser is a massive thing, weigh twice what it looks like it should. A Volkswagon emblem is emblazoned on the front, though this isn't a VW bus of any kind. Armor plated, angular, boxy and stout, it's comparably defended to an armored car that delivers bank notes. The customization of a hatchback and other after-market additions made by the Commonwealth Institute aren't visible from the exterior, or through the darkly tinted windows.

Behind the van, following closer than the cruiser is leading, a black sedan trails behind. Windows tinted against inspection, the pair of suited men riding inside carry red and yellow badies displaying the seal of the Department of Evolved Affairs clipped to their front suit jacket pockets.

The convoy is light, guarding a package of one. Amid Halebi, Mazdak terrorist and now Tier-3 Registered evolved with the ability of induced radioactivity, a terrifying power only one other man in history is recorded to have possessed. Midtown burned for it, and the US Government isn't taking any chances when it comes to an encore presentation.

Further up the road, where Highway 404 breaks off onto Industrial Road cutting away from Perth-Amboy towards the Jersey Turnpike, the industrial landscape of Jersey City is gone, replaced with pine trees, snowy fields and empty parking lots, ice-covered ponds and trackless snow as far as the eye can see in this weather.

Snow collects on the tinted visor of Ygraine FitzRoy's helmet before being swept aside by the wind blowing over her. Her motorcycle is handling well on the icy roads, riding heavier than usual as well, awkwardly so. For the gravitokinetic, the additional weight of one other passenger shouldn't be as obvious as it is, but it's helping give just a little more traction to her tires as she goes.

Headlights aren't yet visible behind them, but from the relays that one of many Brian Winters' have given, she and Shannon McPhearson both know that the Institute convoy won't be that far off. They have a plan, and a good one at that, but as many of the people here today to spring Amid Halebi from captivity know:

Few plans survive contact with the enemy.

Especially when it's not the enemy they expect.

Bikes are not something that Shannon normally enjoys. In fact, they're something she avoids as a general rule. Maybe they scare her. Who knows. But she agreed to get on this one, holding on firmly so she doesn't go flying off just in case Ygraine hits a bump or something like that. And while Ygraine concentrates on the driving, she's busy concentrating on spotting the Institute convoy. And mentally picturing the scene that she's going to be presenting to the vehicles once they catch up.

There are certain advantages to being able to put all weight straight through a motorcycle's centre of gravity, making it much more stable even in slippy conditions - and that's just about enough to provide Ygraine with some reassurance at present. Having left behind her precious Alfred, rather than risking him in this kind of venture, she's on a far inferior and less familiar machine… but one that won't break the bank (or her heart) to lose. Behind her, Shannon is probably finding the experience a touch less frightening than she might have expected, her seat on the bike oddly secure… while Ygraine is finding that her weight-created traction is a little better than anticipated….

A shadow named Richard Cardinal clings to the undercarriage of the motorcycle. At the moment, he doesn't have any nerves to tingle with tension or a heart to beat like a jackhammer against his ribcage, but it feels like he does anyway. He doesn't like this situation at all, and he doesn't like the mission, but someone he owes a favor asked for his help… and the price was right.

He just hopes that this doesn't go sour on them like he's afraid it will.

He watches the road behind the bike steadily, letting moments pass as he waits for what's coming. Waiting is easy. It's the moments immediately after it that're hard.

Harmony has an up and close personal relationship with the ability they are trying to retrieve. Even though she doesn't currently have it, she has lived with it for many years now, and it is always good to have along a bit of an expert on a mission such as this. Especially one with current telepathic abilities. Maybe not so refined in them, but they have their uses. Lacking her normal offense, she is packing heat this time, a handgun and a substitute for her ability. Yep, she can act as an Elle-aimer if she needs to. A navigator and instruction manual messaged directly into her brain.

Blond hair and green eyes hang back as her arms are reached up in the vehicle, bracing herself against the wall and windows of the school bus, doing her best to choke back much of her ability right now. There aren't many people around her, but she doesn't need to hear the crap on their mind right now that won't really be useful.

Elle is seated at the front of the bus, wrapped in far too many layers to feel comfortable; however, she knows about Negation gas, has seen it in use before, and she hates it. Thus, she's quite happy to be wearing a thermal skinsuit, knee-high boots, and gloves that will more than likely be burnt off in the long run, anyhow. Her goal is to get as much protection as she can; that includes the ski mask and goggles on her face, as well.

Around her chest is a kevlar vest, and strapped to her back is an assault rifle, happily filled with rubber bullets. All courtesy of Cardinal (at her insistence). It may not be the best protection, but it's better than nothing. After being involved with missions like these in the past, Elle no longer messes around when it comes to protection.

Because seriously, getting shot sucks.

Currently, she has her gloves off and tucked into her pockets, the ski mask pulled up as she waits, watching out the front window with wide, alert blue eyes, her brow set. Here's hoping this doesn't suck.

Busses never have seatbelts.

It was always something he was concerned with as a child. If a bus ever toppled, all the kids would become splattered goo on the ceiling. It was a vision that Brian had often as a youngster. One that very seriously bothered him to the point where he refused to stop riding the bus.

Such fears are hilarious now, as he lines the rows of seats holding automatic weaponry. Walking down the center row, the young man is dressed in a sharp black suit, red tie dangling in front of his shirt. Aviators balanced perfectly on the tip of his nose. When you're next to unkillable, there are certain movie-esque factors you can affford to throw into your prisoner liberating schemes. The suited man carrying a 45 Magnum revolver, being one of them. Seven of himself sit in the schoolbus. All carrying tranquilizer guns as well as automatic rifles should things get heavy. The seven are also all covered head to toe. In gear reminiscent of SWAT, though each one of them has distinctive pieces missing. Resources are getting tight.. He has to mix and match. So some of the combat suited Brian's may be wearing different colored suits or vests.. Some of them obviously stolen with police insignias on them.

The Brian driving the bus however is suited differently. Wearing a drab olive military jacket, he glances over his shoulder to the only occupant of the schoolbus that isn't him. His lips open once again as if to speak, but yet again they close tightly. Suddenly being thrust back together with old acquaintances can be… tough. To say the least.

As well as in the bushes, several less soldier-y clothed Brians lurk. All in civvies, they are armed with tranquilizer weapons and the tire zingers. One Brian glances over at Harmony before the three pull up their balaclavas to their noses. A little nod of affirmation is given.

This assignment is a difficult one for all of them, the weather isn't helping it. The sense of right and wrong for this mission isn't as clear cut-and-dry as some others tend to be, though. Amid Halebi is a dangerous person, one that by all rights probably should spend the rest of his natural life on negation drugs or out in the middle of some irradiated Nevada nuclear test site so as to not be a risk to others. But here are members of the Ferrymen and Endgame, risking their lives to save a man who could kill them all. Might well kill them all for all anyone knows.

No one has spoken to Amid Halebi himself on this. An entire mission, based off of the intelligence gather by a psychometer. Had Richard Cardinal known that nearly all of the intelligence about this assignment had come from Sarisa Kershner, he may not even be here right now. Because if there's one thing in this world that is dangerous to trust, it's a shark. Sarisa Kershner is among the toothiest of them.

From his position in the shadows of Ygraine's motorcycle, however, more immediate concerns are apparent to Richard Cardinal. The road is icing up from the snow, with temperautres just cold enough to freeze, but warm enough to make the road hazardous. Were Ygraine not the skilled rider that she is, nether she nor Shannon would be daring to attempt what they're going to.

Where the bus is parked at the mouth of Gilber Street at the entrance to an abandoned shipping facility, the blur of a motorcycle zipping past on Industrial Road indicates that phase one of the plan is in play. Snow has settled ont he hood of the idiling bus and out the many windows, it swirls and blows with shifting but gentle breeze. The single track Ygraine's motorcycle left in the freshly fallen snow of the street is a dark outline, a path indicating follow that way.

A few moments later, a black and white police cruiser with the New Jersey State Police shield emblazoned on the side drives past at a modest speed, immediately followed by a squat and heavy-set armored van and a black sedan with tinted windows. The three vehicles breeze by the bus, before its headlights click on, cutting through the mid-day snow and the engine rumbles louder.

Back at the lead of this bottle-neck trap, Ygraine's motorcycle cuts through the snow, spotting distant headlights behind getting steadily closer and closer at the speed they're keeping. The lead police cruiser is coming into sight, and that's a good enough distance. Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes works just as well as don't start until you see their headlights in this scenario.

Past the convoy. Check one. Shannon draws in a slow, deep breath, not bothering to look behind her. She doesn't need to, not for this. Her eyes go slightly unfocused as she starts generating the illusion. Snow falling heavier, then heavier, in a gradual way that makes it look real. Realism is key in generating successful illusions, and Shannon knows how to do a successful illusion.

'Snow' begins to pile up more and more, making it hard to see quickly enough, unsafe to drive. But the more important part comes next, when the bike she's on seems to veer to the right, following what appears to be the road, but beneath the illusion is nothing more than a ditch full of snow, guaranteed to stop most any vehicle unlucky enough to drive into it. Which is exactly what she's hoping it'll do, leaving the vehicles vulnerable to the rest of her teammates.

Ah. Things have started. Doing her best to draw upon years of competition to turn fear into excitement and an adrenaline surge into controlled energy, Ygraine swings her bike carefully off the road on the other side, bringing it to a halt against a snowbank - from which it can be easily snatched for a get-away, if required, but where she can now leave Shannon as she readies herself to pitch into action against the head of the convoy after it hits the illusion.

The waiting is over. Well, not quite over. A few more moments. Cardinal's shadowy form slips down the motorcycle to the wheeeeeeeeeeel— yaiyaiyaiyai— and off the wheel onto the pavement, thanking all the gods that exist that he doesn't have an inner ear at the moment and poising to grab onto the van once it's in position. Which is to say, when it drives over him.

So.. this guy can explode with a pretty high yield I'm guessing? Normally, that wouldn't bother me too much, but since you're the one with the immunity. Do you feel kinda empowered? I mean… don't you sometimes feel a sense invulnerability, just a little? I know I did. It wasn't invulnerability per say, just.. confidence. Thought directly to Elle from Harmony as she looks like she is just a bit nervous. It is too quiet, otherwise. What with Brian not really saying anything, and Elle being tight lipped and all zen right now, for some reason. You're not really supposed to stand on a bus, but Harmony does so, getting up and sorta climbing her way towards the front a bit more.

Hey.. speaking of which, have you figured out how to explode yet? Figured out how to emit Gamma, other than just accelerating particles? Or… have you not really gotten that far yet?' In the downtime of her powers, Harmony has decided to take some online classes to fill in the time. Just to get a better grasp on the scope of her true ability, a sort of 'Welcome home, look what I learned' for when it returns. By the waaaaay… Why are you so closed off right now, hmm? You're trying hard to hold back and not think, and I don't really understand why. Her eyes look over to Brian driving the vehicle, Is it him? Do you have a thing for him or something? Trying not to think "impure thoughts?" She even does little air quotations with her fingers as she thinks that last part. Just trying to lighten the mood, strike conversation.

The little former electrokinetic turned radioactive girl has not said much more than a grumbled greeting to Brian. Now has she made eye contact. Actually, she's kind of avoided Brian since she spotted him. Cold shoulder, indeed, she's been trying not to let herself fall back into old habits. This is hardly the time or place for old almost-feelings from old almost-romances to surface.

That can wait until after they're not about to rescue a radioactive man with an ability somewhat akin to the one she has right now. The one that would probably earn her a Tier 3 status if word got out.

A brief glance is cast toward Brian from Elle; not like he won't be able to see her looking. She purses her lips briefly, before turning her gaze back to the road, frowning quietly. Then, she suddenly points a finger toward the driver Brian. "You— one of you and I are going to have to talk after this shit's all over and done with. You hear me?"

She purses her lips once more, before looking back to the scene before them while she pulls that ski mask down, the goggles over it. The gloves are pulled on last; no exposed skin here, even if it is somewhat warm (to her).

I feel like I'm going to fucking retire if I get almost-crippled again. I'm finally feeling better after November. This is the thought out response to Harmony. And no, I can't explode yet. I can only shoot beams of light out of my hands and burn my damn clothes off when I'm pissed. And I'm closed off for my own damn reasons, keep out of it.

Eyes flick into the giant rearview mirror of the bus as Elle actually speaks to him. He makes no vocal response, simply keeping his hands on the wheel. The bus has kicked into motion, his eyes tracking the convoy ahead. The soon to be wrecked convoy. The Brians in the back of the bus begin to stand, rifles head in both hands.

The black suited Brian goes to open the emergency door in the back of the yellow bus. "Get ready girls." He calls out as the sudden chill pushes into the large vehicle. Immediately his hands dive into his pockets and he steps back rapidly from the cold. Glaring at the outside, he looks over his shoulder giving the two women on the bus an affirmative nod.

In the bushes, one Brian has his balaclava down. He is dressed as any civillian in this crazy weather would be. Except for the gun inside his jacket. He is quick to sprint from his bushes towards the cruiser, when the cruiser does crash Brian will be there to 'aid' the officers.

When the cruiser does indeed crash.

From Ygraine and Shannon's perspective, the illusory blizzard does exactly what it was intended to. Following the glow of the spectral tail light of Ygraine's fabricated motorcycle, the police cruiser turns at a full forty miles an hour directly towards an ice impacted snowbank. The moment the car collides with the ramp of frozen snow, there's a grinding crunch as the bumper is torn off in the embankment and the car mounts the snow, ploughing up and off of the road before careening directly into one of the nearby pine trees growing on the roadside.

The police cruiser impacts the tree hard enough to shake the snow from its branches, splinters wood and strips away bark, wrapping the front end around the tree. The noise of the accident comes with the blaring of the horn that does not end, passenger side door flung open from the impact and the State trooper riding in the passenger seat is flung clear out of the car, bouncing and rolling across the snow before landing a good distance away from the vehicle. Steam issues out of the blown radiator, thick and billowing amidst the illusory blizzard.

Seeing the car go off of the road, the Institute van's tail light turn a bright red as the brakes are slammed on. The anti-lock brake system thrums noisily as the van's weighty frame skids and fishtails across the road before coming to a halt at an angle between two lanes. Immediate following, the Sedan tries to slam on its brakes as best as it can, skidding on the snowy road on the momentum as its brakes lock up and it crunches its front bumper into the rear end of the van in a slow-speed collision, but fast enough to deploy the driver and passenger side airbags with a shotgun-like pop of air and a puff of powder and gas.

The convoy has halted.

When the bike is stopped Shannon slips off of it, adding another layer to the illusion and making herself invisible. She knows she's not here to fight. She's the deception part of the plan. She keeps up the illusion of snow, not just to hide her comrads from the Institute agents, but to hide what they're doing from anyone who might end up in the area and looking in their direction.

Unseen, she circles around the halted convoy, looking at each vehicle, counting, searching, but not approaching. Not yet.

What kind of idiot doesn't wear his seat-belt when driving in a snow-storm? Still, he's had a comparatively soft landing thanks to all the snow, and he didn't come to an abrupt halt against an obstacle…. Still, rather than leave two armed and possibly still active men behind friendly lines, she darts across the snow, moving to check upon the guy in the car first. A simple flip of his gravity to pull him towards the roof of the vehicle should leave him even further disoriented and hopelessly confused even if he has retained consciousness (though the Briton's too soft-hearted to do that to someone with a visible serious injury, in all honesty). Should any firearms be accessible, they can be snatched out and tossed away out of sight into the snow….

As the van screeches to a halt, a shadow passes over the road like the mark of a bird passing overhead — one that isn't actually there, not even an illusory one. Richard Cardinal is moving up the wheel, over the wheel-well, and towards the door to slither through its cracks and into the cab.

All's going according to plan. So far. But thi sis the tricky part.

Whoa. Draaaaama.. Harmony looks between Elle and Brian like a person watching a tennis match as Elle snaps at Brian suddenly. She is also a little guilty of letting up on the restraint she had up with her ability. She lets the 'station' tune into the mental radio of the world. She just might be able to pick up some of their juicy surface thoughts and find out what is going on between the two. Being nosey, Harmony watches and listens with a tightness to her lips, feeling like a gossipy lady.

Actually, those aren't beams of light, sweetheart. I hadn't learned how to actually amplify light enough to create an effective enough laser. But it probably is possible. What you're doing is you are accelerating neutral particles to near the speed of light, which makes them carry massive amounts of kinetic energy. Naturally, when you fire one of those off, it has the effect of transferring the energy to the target like a cue ball, which causes it to superheat in seconds, so things either explode or melt. When I did it, it was usually ionizing radiation, usually Gamma radiation, which can make people sick, so that is probably what it is for you. This probably isn't really helping Elle feel better, but it is good to know a little about what you can do, and the girl can talk.

She is a little disappointed when Brian announces their readiness to leave the vehicle, not getting to see some conflict. Reaching to stuff her hands into her pockets, keeping her lips sealed. It is her mind that does most of the talking. Since there are so many Brian with guns, she lets them lead the way, while keeping her mind alert for anyone that could get the drop on them. She is as ready as she will ever be.

Elle sighs faintly as cold air flushes the bus, seeming to relax a bit. The cold air feels nice for the girl who runs more than a little hot, and she tucks one leg under herself, getting ready to raise to her feet. The gloves are removed once more; she'll save those for when the negation gas comes out. No use burning them with that pretty beam of light she can conjure.

As she spots the car going off the road, she tenses, raising up a bit. Her thoughts are certainly not offering anything 'juicy' to Harmony; instead, she's back to thinking about the plan. About the mission.

Whatever it is, it looks like light. I'm doing fine with it— I don't burn my clothes off any more, and I don't shoot off the light speed accelerated energy particle thingies. I'm happy with that. She turns a frown to Harmony, raising up and clasping the seat as she waits for her cue to move in, flexing her hands as she waits for the herd of Brian to lead the way.

Brian's mind is just a pain in the ass to read, or hear from. His hive collection of thoughts coupled with his Company telepath defenses have him trained to be a pain in the ass. Harmony might hear about something about when they'll be able to see the next Spongebob episode, but nothing particularly juicy about Elle. That much remains guarded.

The bus roars along the street switching gears loudly. As soon as the bus gets even with the convoy, the brakes are eased down and then thrown into reverse. Tires slipping on the slick road they eventually catch as the rear of the bus propels itself at the hood of the sedan. Crunching into the front of the vehicle powerfully. If the agents didn't have necktrauma before, they do now.

Black armored Brians are immediately pouring out of the back of the bus. Two Brian aim down at the hood of the vehicles, their rifles pelting holes into the vehicle to shoot out the engine block. Another two are jumping out onto the hood, rifles aimed at the men behind the windshield.

"Get your motherfucking hands up!"

"Hands up motherfuckers!"

It works better when multiple people are shouting the same thing.

The Brian that were shooting also aim their weapons up at the agents in the car. "Out of the car! Out of the fucking car!"

The gunshots follow the black suited Brian as he walks out the front of the bus, stepping down the stairs delicately. Walking out onto the pavement, Brian pulls out his revolver, walking towards the van. The two remaining Brian in the bus also follow, rifles trained on the van. The one in the military coat hangs back some, weapon trained on the van.

By the cruiser, a Brian in the bush is rushing over to the cop on the snow. "That's why you wear your seatbelt, officer." Brian says kindly as he drops to his knees. His fingers go for the pulse of the man. It's there. Smiling lightly, a few movements are made and kshk a tranquilizer dart embeds itself into the cops neck. Winters glances down at the cop on his way to unconciousness. "I'm going to need your clothes sir."

The other civvie wearing Brians emerge from the foliage, rushing past the cruiser towards the van, tranq weapons up and out.

The sound of crunching metal and shouts fills the air, broken glass tinkles from blownout passenger side windows, tiny pieces of safety glass lining both front seats of the DoEA agents' car. Both of the agents are dazed from the successive impacts. The explosion of automatic weapons fire echoes far and wide across the empty stretch of highway. Steel jacketed rounds perforate the hood fo the sedan, punch into the engine and scramble the vehicle's ability to move.

The dazed agents inside are frantically raising their hands in reaction to the emergence of armed and organized militants, immediately looking for the tell-tale sign of red scarves which likely would mean the abrupt termination of their lives. Instead, all they find are matte black suits of ballistic armor layered over winter clothing and cargo pants, balaclava masks and the matte finish of assault rifles trained thorugh the blown out windows.

Terrified and compliant, the pair of agents are drawn out of the vehicles slowly, their hands out the windows first, opening the doors from the outside which is a practiced level of awkwardness that allows their hands to be seen at all times. One agent out the driver's side, probably in his mid 40s with thinning hair, broken glasses and a cut on his forehead from hitting the steering wheel after the bus impacted the sedan.

The other agent is younger, in his early thirties with short cropped blonde hair, blood running out of both nostrils from the punch impact of the air bag. Black eyes are already darkening from the blow he'd taken, stumbling out of the vehicle with his shoes slipping on the slushy ground underfoot. The illusory snow makes the air thick, uts down visibility, and makes seeing anything beyond fifty feet a pipe dream.

Over by the police car, another Brian is rifling through a disabled police officer's clothing. Splayed out on the snow as he is, it's clear that he's dislocated his arm at the shoulder from being thrown out of the vehicle. Pained cries cut through the air as the noise of the horn finally stops. Inside the cruiser, Ygraine's gravity reversal has moved the unconscious State trooper's head up from the deflated airbag and the horn on the steering wheel. He hangs limply in his seat, unaware of what is transpiring around him.

Getting out of the school bus that has rammed itself into the sedan, Harmony and Elle can see the plan working with mercurial fluidity, though thatt here hasn't been a sign of movement from the Institute vehicle yet is troublesome. Beyond where the two young women are, Harmony can hear panicked thoughts resonating inside of the van. A lone awake mind inside of the rear; Safety off, squeeze the trigger, don't pull. Drop gas at my feet. Shoot for the center mass. The mental voice sounds young, inexperienced. Did the Institute really send someone this inexperienced to handle the delivery of Amid Halebi to the Department of Homeland Security?

As Richard Cardinal slithers his shadowy form in to the front cab of the van, he finds the driver loading a clip into an MP5 machine pistol, donning a black gas mask afterward, trying to get the seal right. At his waist a canister of negation gas hangs on a pin. From the steering column is the key ring, one of the keys bring circular — kind of like the type that opens vending machines. On the center console, there's a circular keyhole to match, and a toggle switch that reads rear door and open <> closed as the two options for the toggle.

«I don't wanna' die, oh god I don't wanna' die.» Clicks out of the Retriever's vopice synthesizer in his respirator. «Oh God please don't be Messiah, please don't be Messiah. Fuck— why did I sign up for this? Oh God.» He can't be much older than his mid twenties, if that.

Automatic weapons. Yep, that's a good reason for Shannon to remain invisible and out of the line of fire, for now. Once the truck holding Amid opens up, that's when she'll move in. But despite signing up to help with this, she's going to look out for number one, first. And number one sure as hell isn't getting her ass shot or negated today.

Hmmmm. Break window with elbow protected by impact armour and covered in kevlar-reinforced leathers. Open door. Disarm cop. Retrieve shotgun…. All of this is quite easy for Ygraine, but she has to fight to concentrate on the tasks in hand rather than letting herself turn her attention to the big, silent bulk of the armoured vehicle. As it is, she triggers the lever for the cop's seat, tilting him back a little to give him an easier time of it, before stepping back and finally turning her gaze to the focus of their operation. Things seem to be going unsettlingly well. Normally, by this point in a Ferry operation, she's come face to barrel with a tank.

"It's not Messiah… Messiah…"

An ominous whisper through the cab of the van at the same moment Cardinal's hand emerges from the shadows that've spread up behind the man — an arm and hand with a weighted, hydraulic-driven gauntlet covering it — and grabs the back of the man's masked head.

"Now open the rear door of the van, if you please. Then leave your weapons in the van, get out, and run. You'll know when you can stop running… running."

"Gas!" Harmony cries out in warning, picking up the thoughts of the guy in the back of the van, as her weapon is pulled, held at the ready. "The guy in the van has gas!" Beat, "Negation, not the stinky kind…" she adds, just in case she receives some funny looks or comments for her warning. She actually wants to elaborate on that more, as it came out rather wrong, but decides against it, raising a hand to wave back and forth. "Nevermind.. He plans to use it."

It looks like The Brian have most of the agents and officers under control. Harmony works on the nervous guy in the back, her eyes narrowing as she focuses her ability to speak directly into his head, Hi. Yeah.. I would put the negation gas down if I were you. You see, I'm in your head. Like literally, in your head. I have this pretty nifty ability to where I can shrink down to almost microscopic size, and enter through someone's ear, all the way to their brain. Ever hear of boar worms? Or some kind of puppet master creatures? Where the alien gets in your head, eats your gray matter and takes control of your body? I'm like that. Your brains are looking pretty tasty right now, and it hurts pretty bad once I start eating. Soooo.. if you don't put the gas down. I'm gonna start nomming. Kapiche? Okay, it is a lie, but how believable is it? This shit is totally made up on the fly, straight out of a sci-fi horror movie that she is known to enjoy.

While she is at it, she scans the rest of the van with her telepathy, just to ensure there aren't anymore surprises.

The radioactive girl clings tight to the seat as the bus crashes into the sadan, bracing herself against impact. Then, she's up, right behind the Herd of Brian with her hands raised and ready to unleash some of that pretty light that comes from her hands and burns things. It's going well. Too well.

So, Elle remains tense, slipping out of the bus and into the cold, her goggles in place over the balaclava mask she wears. She looks like something out of a movie. She also looks like she should be cold. She's not, one of the benefits of producing heat energy. Keeps the cold out pretty damn good. She could deal with this part easily enough.

Her hands begin glowing as she hangs back behind The Brian, ready to unleash their destructive might on whoever might be asking for some destruction. She's definitely going to aim for legs, since they said not to kill anyone. They might be crippled, but she won't kill them. The frown on her face hidden by the mask, she holds back…waiting to see what will happen next.

The Brian have overtaken the agents. Stripping them of any weapons or ID or badges they may have and adding them to his collection. One black clad militant Brian has a rifle to the elder of the agents heads. The other, younger agent is being asked the questions rather aggressively.

"When do you check in?! Tell me when the fuck you check in or his head is gone." The rifle barrel is pressed harshly into the younger agents skull. "You better hurry up, this isn't your fight. Remember that. No one needs to die over something you don't care about."

Brian is now dressed as a police offficer, emerging from the bushes to join the rest of The Brian. The real cop out in the snow was silenced. And he might wake up with a nasty case of shrinkage. All The Brian surround the van now, weapons up and trained on the vehicle. Only four guard the downed agents. Leaving six to patiently wait for that back to open up. Negation gas isn't particularly scary. He's been negated. The network gets shut down, but it doesn't last. And he doesn't need to communicate to his copies to kick the shit out of the Institute.

The black suited Brian takes a few steps back, standing beside Elle. The revolver held at his side. "I'm engaged." He lets out quietly, eyes trained on the VW.

Like all good things, it starts with a bang.

Thunder contained in a single punch of sound, an invisible force of kinds that ripples through the air and only expands as it beats through the illusionary snow in a direct path for the middle of the convoy. It catches Harmony in its collateral reach, sending her tumbling to the ground and beating the breath from her lungs. But the full of the attack hits the sedan and Institute van both with a thunderous impact of concussive energy and metal, the black body of the smaller of the two tipping over in a silent arc only to land, ploughing itself in soft snow after tracking teen feet worth of trench in its wake. A thump and then a smaller thump, when a Brian hits the ground. And his arm hits the ground a second afterwards, several feet away.

There's a groan as the van is wrenched off the road under impact, teetering on its wheels as it skids straight towards the pond, winging around and coming to a slow halt of creaking ice. Glass glitters broken in its windows.

A sound, again, stranger than before, a disturbance in the air of something cutting invisibly through it at a literal speed of sound. A metallic sounding whine that passes by Ygraine, shattering through the windows of the police car and suddenly spattering her with glittering shards, with the demon-made-sound slicing his way through the convoy, and the scrape of feet as sheer sound is converted into flesh, Gabriel "Sylar" Gray staggering but not halting. He moves with savage intent, an arm going in a wide arc with something strangely off-shirt protruding along the line of his forearm and beyond his knuckles, razor sharp and backed up with supernatural strength.

It slices clean through Brian, the force of the blow tossing one half aside with a wet thump of ruined flesh.

Dark eyes find Elle's features easily, wide eyed in recognition, and a sneer cutting across his face that means nothing good as he raises a hand with the intent to respond before she can. Soundlessly, invisibly, something hits her like a metal bat high across her chest, dangerously close to her throat, the blonde radiation inducer sent flung back by several feet, bouncing off the bus and then hard upon the road.

Sylar lowers that hand, the other arm already loose and scraping the sharp tip of bone protruding past his wrist upon the asphalt. It begins to retract with a slick sound of dripping blood pattering upon the ground, before he turns towards the van on the pond. And starts to meander in that direction, with all the blithe purpose of a wolf scouting out something freshly dead.

There's a slow, hissing sound that comes from the back of the battered Institute van as the rear hydraulic door begins to lever itself open while the van rests on its side on the ice. Inside the abruptly tumbled van, the driver lays unconscious with his face pressed up against the side window, now filled with snow and ice and seeping with water coming up through the cracks. His right wrist is twisted and broken where it was hooked in the steering wheel. The key from his keyring still stuck in the center console.

He'd done exactly as Cardinal had asked.

Laid out on the road, one of the DoEA agents is bleeding from the head, clipped by the flying sedan dring the concussive barrage. The other is just gone, quite possibly buried beneath the car that was tossed as though it were made of so much balsa wood and tinfoil.

Coming crashing out of the treeline past where one of the Brian and Ygraine were watching the police, a young blonde man in an olive-drab Army jacket looks frantic and out of breath. With little more than a Kinks Tshirt worn beneath his coat, he should be freezing to death in the cold. Instead, the lanky youth is barreling down the embankment out of the treeline. "Fuck, fuck fuck how did I forget today was Saturday!" He curses to himself with feverish breaths. He had come out of nowhere, and his intention seems to be a beeline towards the injured past the police car. The Ferrymen from Pollepel Island know him well — Howard Phillips — the electrokinetic who departed the island just over a week ago. One of the many rescued in Red Hook that fateful day of the riots.

Snow continues to fall in large, fat flakes from a cloudy sky on still winds.

Trees show the telltale signs of abuse, splintered and broken where bark has been peeled away and wood pulp pulverized by the impact of a black sedan, now upside down and halfway buried in unplowed snow. One of the upside-down car's rear tires still spins with the momentum of the crash, troughs cut through the snow behind it where it mounted the snowbank and came off road. A street sign has been sheared off, the yellow of a merge sign sticking up through freshly disturbed snow.

The distant blare of a horn comes from a New Jersey State Police cruiser, wrapped around a pine tree. The front window is a spider web of broken glass. Lights on the roof flash silently, no siren save for the blare of the horn. The passenger side door is bent open, the man that had been riding with the state police officer driving thrown from the car, his battered body lays nearly a hundred feet away in a pinkish patch of melting snow.

Even further away, the tracks where a larger vehicle slid are evident in the furrows carved in the three foot deep snow. On its side and out where the snow is thinnest and the ground cracks like glass underfoot, the white painted chassis of a heavy, armored van precariously rests upon the scarred surface of a frozen pond. Thick, deep cracks split in the ice beneath the heavy weight of the unmarked vehicle, two of its darkly tinted windows blown open, windshield shattered but not broken entirely.

The hydraulic powered back hatch of the van lies open, one pneumatic arm bent and the door resting crooked like a warped hatchback. An enormous and heavy black container rests inside, detatched from the morass of wires and cabling that had kept it operating steadily during transit. Electricity sparks from exposed wires torn free during the crash. Blood stains the floor where a man in a white hazmat suit has been pinned beneath the ACTS-System coffin, his leg suffering from a compound fracture that compromises his suit's integrity, bone punching through nylon and plastic, drooling blood and marrow out the opening.

Face down in the snow, Elle Bishop is unmoving, her hair clumped with ice and freshly fallen snow where she had been flung. A handgun lays in the snow not far from her, and the heavy breathing of the young man trudging through the snow towards her becomes gradually louder and louder. His breath is plumes of steam, blue eyes wide and shaggy blonde hair flecked with snow. The cold wind blows through the fabric of his olive-drab military jacket, pushing it out and away from himself. "Fuck," he hisses to himself, loping through the snow with long, hopping strides trying to clear the distance from the road side to where she now lays in the street.

There's an arm in the snow, severed at the shoulder, a knot of gristle and bone where it was twisted off of the darkly dressed body not much further away. Blood darkens the snow near black beneath his twisted corpse, crumpled like a used up tissue paper. Closer to the road, another man lays face up, blood running from a gash in his cheek and one eye already swolen shut. He's trying to catch his breath, staring up at the cloudy sky with lips parted, exhaling shuddering breaths.

The lower half of him is six feet away on the icy road, where a yellow schoolbus is parked sideways across the street, tracks in the freshly fallen snow and ice from where it began its skid, all the way to where the carnage began.

Footprints track in the snow from nearby to the school bus. They go out out from the street, up over the rise of the snowbank, past the severed arm and Elle's prone form and down towards the back of the armored van, split open as it is like a sardine can. Dark clothing, a stark profile against the snow; the smell of blood on the air makes him feel alive. And when the day is done…

…he intends to be the only one left that way.

Sylar was promised a meal, he got a buffet.

It's a good thing that no one can see Shannon when Sylar starts doing his blasting routine, since she not only jumps, she squeaks like a girl before ducking down and covering her head. Then she looks left, looks right, sheepishly, as though for a moment she forgot that she couldn't be seen.

There's a quick glance, identifying the source of the disturbance, checking over those who arrived with her, looking at the van. Open? Well, well. She's straightening, moving quickly, assured of her ability to remain unseen as she moves around, trying to get to where she can see inside the van, to get a glimpse of Amid. To make sure that he's alive. Or at least, that's the intention…Unfortunately, other than keeping up the snow globe effect, she doesn't think to make any of her partners-in-crime invisible as well.


There are times when being covered from head to toe in armour has its advantages. This would indeed seem to be one of them, as the glittering shards spattering across her reinforced leathers pose Ygraine no more than momentary concern. Unfortunately, that does mean that she has her full attention all too available to focus in horror upon the dark figure barely visible amidst the real and illusory snow. This guy's even worse than a fricking tank.

Somehow, running into melee or opening up with a shotgun don't seem overly appealing options right now - and so far as she's aware, Cardinal's still off comms, so she takes it on herself to hiss instructions into the group's private radio frequency, delivering her words as she reaches in to set about rescuing the unconscious police officer… and in the process drop out of easy view of the new arrival. "Get everyone still alive out of here now. Whatever the fuck's hitting us is ripping people apart."

What the fuck?

That's the sole thought that passes though Cardinal's head as the entire world turns ninety degrees and skids several feet.

There's stillness from the van's cab for a few moments, and then the shadows and their arm moves, fingers coiling around a canister and dragging it into darkness before the slithering form of the shadowmorph emerges from inside the van's cab and onto its door.

And sees death on two legs approaching.

That isn't the relatively friendly Gabriel approaching — or if it is, he's had another psychotic break. That's Sylar.

Mother of god — HARMONY! GET EVERYONE OUT OF HERE — FULL WITHDRAWAL, RETREAT, GET EVERYONE AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! Fuck it's fucking Sylar fuck fuck fuck it'll be Sprague all over again.

Darkness streaks across the van, heading for the back doors in what's suddenly become a race. Oddly, this feels familiar. Only this time he doubts that the man in question is going to be helpful.

Not again…

This is just like before, when she had her ability switched. Things happened so fast, and she was rendered helpless before she could do anything. How do these things keep happening? All she knows is, something hit her, and with enough force to take her off of her feet, sliding within the snow until she is left to recover from the blow. Her stunned state doesn't quite keep her from thinking even if speaking would be difficult. Her right hand splayed in the snow, her fingers digging into the snow and the ground moments later until a solid and shaking fist is formed, as rage starts to filter into her heart. It is like someone just punched her in the nose.

Her teeth clench together and grind firmly. Green eyes wince closed, shoulders tremble, body curls in upon itself.

Harmony is frustrated.. pissed.. And she doesn't hold back.


Sometimes, you just have to vent it out.

It only takes her a moment, that moment to let it out before she gathers herself, recovering and slamming her fist into the ground angrily, pushing up with her arms to get to her feet. Richard says retreat! Everyone go! Go go go!' she broadcasts as she is quickly on her way out as told, collecting herself and starting to make a run.

Elle blinks a few times as the black suited Brian mumbles that out, her brows raising. She turns, peering up at Brian through those goggles of hers. "I'm seeing a guy. And I'm radioactive. You're still a hottie, though, and your fiancee is a really lucky girl." She smiles under the mask, not that he can see it. "I'm glad you're doing well." Then, she turns her eyes back to the scene, smiling faintly. That went better than she thought it would.

That is, until everything else goes to shit.

Elle turns, her hands raised as things begin flying around. Things like cars are flying. For a moment, all she can do is stand there, staring slack-jawed at the chaos. Then…it's Gabriel! Or…Sylar. Oh. Well, shit. He doesn't look too thrilled to see her right now. So much for that nice little conversation she just had with Brian.

The invisible force catches her by the chest, knocking her back agianst the bus. Her head bangs against the ground as she lands on the pavement, creating a small cut on her forehead. Sadly, head wounds bleed a lot more than they probably should. For a moment, she can only lay there on the ground, dazed and confused, with her blood staining the snow beneath her red.

"Someone…get the license plate for that bus that jus' hit me…" this is weakly muttered into the snow, the radioactive woman's head spinning. She doesn't really even catch Ygrain's command, her ears ringing from the impact that Sylar just subjected her to. Add to that the screaming in her head from Harmony, and Elle is— incapacitated, at best.

Searing pain.

His arm floats up, a whole foot above his gaze as if it was painted there and frozen in time.

A light smile climbs up Brian's lips as his hand engulfs Lily's much smaller one, guiding the pencil on the paper.

If he had an arm it would be attempting to move in a circular motion, drawing the head of the dragon they planned to draw. Meanwhile on Pollepel, Brian is doubling over and clutching at his shoulder.

When things happen so suddenly. It's hard to keep track, of who is where. Of what body is doing which. It's the worst kind of shock when you're trying to sort through over ten different pairs of eyes.

Pushing himself up next to the down agents, his jaw aches in pain. "Sam, something is happening in the ci—" And then Harmony screams. A collective deep breath is taken.

Perspectives are sorted, and it's as if The Brian simultaneously come back to life. Gabriel.. Gabriel's gone crazy. And guns aren't going to stop Gabriel. But they have a chance of slowing him down. And in complete unison seven different weapons are trained on Sylar. And seven different triggers are pulled. Four automatic rifles sing out, joined by the steady rhythym of a 44 magnum, as well as two tranquilizer darts.

Officer Brian however is looking over to the downed Elle. "Fuck." He spits as he sprints his way towards the downed body, only in his peripheral vision does he take in Howard but has yet to register the young man.

The black combat suit Brians are busy yelling at the Agents. "Is there gas in the car?! Do you have negation gas in the car?!"

Even crazy people don't walk at a stroll unless they are quite sure that they won't die doing it. Automatic fire blazes bullets through his body, a thing he does not feel and only sees when they ratatat against the side of the van he's approaching, or occasionally blur his vision in an attempt to blow his brain out. But Brian himself has seen it, the capability of phasing, when Gabriel had one day helped his wife to be. The man he'd stolen it from had been killed in cold blood.

Which is why Sylar has it now. He stops his trek and turns towards the gunfire with a squint at the replicants, lifting a hand now and seizing control of one of the rifle-holding Brian's. He twists his hand, and the clone suddenly pivots on a heel, mowing down anything moving with a compulsive firing of bullets in the direction of his own clones as well as the shapes of those fleeing with a hail of bullets.

Then, Sylar suddenly isn't there, in the same moment puppetry control relents off the clone. A skree of sound as he disappears and invisibly soars through the air in concussive ripples of sound, disappearing unseen.

But probably not gone.

Automatic gunfire from Brian's puppeteered body rips across the street, pockmarking rhe road, popping up plumes of snow and sending rounds whizzing past Howard's head as he finally makes it out of the deep snow and onto the street. Laid out there, bullets whizzing past, the DoEA agent that isn't crushed in the snow under a car is holding his head, blood drooling out between his fingers from the gash in his scalp. Staring up at the frigid skies, he sucks in a sharp breath and then exhales another. "No— " he shakily breathes out, "n— no gas. No— no gas. Institute's got— they've— they have gas." One shaky hand lifts up, pointing in no helpful direction. Disoriented by his headwound, the agent can't tell which direction the van is in anymore.

Rushing right past the fallen agent, Converse sneakers scrape on the snowy and ice covered street as Howard goes running towards the danger. Soles of his shoes scuffing tracks as tired legs refused to pick up as high as they were a few moments ago. That the snow slowed him down spared him the psychic banshee wail that Harmony had unleashed, he probably wouldn't have handled that well.

Howard has been running for too long to even get this far. Steam vents up off of his back, out of the collar of his jacket and from his mouth in large, billowing clouds. His blue eyes seem just a little bluer, maybe because of the lighting, maybe because of the exertion.

Crouching down by Elle'e side with wide-eyed confusion aimed towards where Sylar was, there's a look of horror and confusion on the young man's face, before he heedlessly strips off his olive-drab jacket and throws it down over her shoulders, sweeping an arm around her midsection and one arm over the back of his neck as he hoists her up off of the ground and onto her wobbly legs. "Up— up, c'mon you gotta get up, I ain't stickin' round fer' that fuckin' thing t'finish us off."

Noticing the deep cut across Elle's forced from impact with the bus, Howard grimaces and stares wide-eyed at the blood. Throat working up and down, blue eyes quickly flick back towards where the Institute van sits on the creaking ice. "Hey— hey c'mon— c'mon. Stay with me— focus. You gotta— fuckin' do something okay?"

Howard's blue eyes angle back towards the back of the open van. "C'mon," he thumps his forehead against the side of Elle's head gently. "C'mon clear your head, I can't fuckin' drag you outta' here faster'n he can kill us."

Inside of the van, the battered ACTS case has split open on its main seam. A haze of clear gas spills out like the fog from a meat cooler, followed by condensation-slicked fingers curling around the edge of the lid like some sort of Mummy ready to crawl out of his sarcophagus. Not yet awake enough, or strong enough, to lift the lid open, Amid Halebi's shaky hand snakes back inside of the resin-frames coffin, his heavy breathing as loud as the gunfire to him, inside of his claustrophobic and cramped prison.

The scream has Shannon's hands going to her head as she winces and shakes her head, silently muttering, "Shut the hell up." She glances over when someone new arrives on scene, looks around for Sylar, then curses under her breath. She moves closer to the van, just barely enough to see inside. One more look around, while she thinks madly.

She's already doing a lot of illusion at once. The snow, her invisibility, it's big stuff. But maybe just a little more. Elle's injured, Howard's helping her, and suddenly, the two of them are hidden from sight, in case Sylar reappears. It's not much, but it's something. And she can't risk going into that van and getting gassed. That is the last place she wants to go. So instead, she shouts at Cardinal, the words coming from thin air. "Hurry."

After that, she's smart enough to move, making sure that she can't be tracked by that sound.

A fireman's hoist is made a great deal easier to arrange when you can have the person you're trying to help fall smoothly up into your arms. Unfortunately, Ygraine's ability does nothing whatsoever to reduce the weight of anything she affects, and she's able to manage only a short distance of staggering before she has to set the cop down on the marginally less snowy side of a tree, out of sight of the unfolding bloodbath. It might not be much, but passing unseen should at least boost his chances of not being slaughtered. After that? Time to head for the bike and hope that Shannon meets up with her there.

There're only so many ways to deal with Sylar that Cardinal's aware of. And all of them either involve someone who isn't here or taking the man completely by surprise. He's like a natural disaster, in that sense - you can only prepare in advance. Once he's there, you either try and weather it until it's gone or you get the hell out of the way.

Or, if you're desperate, you try and do damage control while it's right on top of you. A lot of those people get washed away, and nobody remembers what they tried to do.

The shadow twists between the doors and into the van's back, spreading over the wall and then the side of the ACTS coffin. And it vanishes into the depths where that hand is weakly groping.

"For what it's worth, Amid," hisses a hollow voice, "We'll try our damndest to save your daughter… your daughter…"

Harmony would apologize for the scream if she could. It was but a response to being blind-sided. She had a moment, but it has past now, and now there is something pretty dangerous in the area that joined their operation. She hasn't encountered Sylar before, all she knows is that Cardinal started calling for a full retreat. Which means beat it, as best you can. She is worried about her own skin, but she does catch someone approaching Elle, who is laying upon the ground and not moving much. Great.. She can't rightly just up and go and leave her in the hands of some stranger, even if he seems to be trying to get her on her feet.

Harmony changes her direction towards Elle, her hand coming to point at Howard and shake, "Hey! Heyhey.. what are you doing there?" 'Mr. Daterape.' And then she joins in in trying to get Elle up. The blonde actually reaching to pull at her shoulders, hoping to jar or shake some sense of consciousness into her. "Elle, we've gotta go." Oh my god! Wake up! We have to go! It isn't an angry scream from her mind, more urgent than anything else.

As she's hoisted up by Howard, Elle leans heavily against him— still incredibally dazed, and a bit on the dizzy side. One arm unconciously finds it's way around the stranger's waist, the girl struggling for a moment to focus up at him. Half of her face is getting pretty bloody, and her head hurts right now. Her eyes flutter for a moment, her gaze turning to sweep over the chaos of the scene.

Still disoriented, she does her best to hoist her weight onto her own feet, rather than onto Howard. "Who are you?" Her voice is airy, the girl still having a bit of trouble breathing from that blow. She turns, peering into Howard's blue eyes as she regains her equilibrium and her breath. "Wha— what do I have to do? My head hurts…"

As Harmony jostles her, Elle lets out an agitated sound, aiming a slap at the blonde telepath, moving a little closer to Howard. He's nice, he doesn't jostle her. "Gerroff. Shut up. Stop talking. Stop thinking." She's still fuzzy, but Harmony does the trick, getting her a bit more alert. Fuckin' confused and my head hurts and you make my head hurt worse.

He's phasing.


And then his own gun is turned on the rest of them. One of the body armored Brian throws himself in front of his own rifle. Body convulsing and shaking at the sheer amount of rounds pouring through him. Behind the puppeted Brian, another copy throws his hand up pulling and tugging at clothing to find skin. Any amount of skin once he ffinally does, the body disappears gun and equipment dropping to the ground. Sylar disappears. Everyone's getting away. He's got to do the clean up work. Sylar may come back at any moment.

It's a little funny. Not too long ago, Winters was dealing with a similar situation. Waiting for Gabriel to reappear…

The uniformed Brian is joining Harmony, Elle and Howard. A slightly wide eyed look delivered to the last. Knowing his name but only seeing him in passing, Brian's features screw up considerably. "What ar—" He shakes his head looking to Harmony. "He's fine Harmony. Run." Going to Elle's other side, Winters does his best to help Howard support her weight making eye contact with the other man only for a brief second.

The Brian in the suit is scrambling and sprinting for the van. Crawling in rapidly, Winters eyes the metal coffin and the shadows forming there in front of it. Hearing only the tail end of the shadows whispering, Brian's revolver comes out, pointing in vain towards the shadow. Blood seeping over his eyes. "Dickie, get the fuck out of here." His eyes flick to the little poor hand snaking in between the metal case. Then back towards the shadow. "Dickie, don't do what you're thinking."

"Amid, can you hear me?"

Something white, vaguely yellow in tinge, cleanly punctures through Brian's chest from behind in the same moment Sylar materiealises behind him. It shines red by now, naturally, protruding in a wicked curve upwards and glinting in low, hazy afternoon light before, rather than retracting it, Sylar drags it up and leftwards. It slices cleanly through muscle and bone, nearly separating shoulder from torso, Brian's head left to dangle before, with a jerk of his arm, the clone is discarded.

There's a lot of Brian abuse going on.

Having failed to pick out illusion, Sylar steps over the body to step into the back of the van, his coldly focused on the shape of the coffin before he moves to wrench the lid off and away. With preternatural strength, it goes flying out the back of the van. If there's one weakness that Sylar has, it's a certain amount of tunnel vision. The protrusion of bone reshapes itself just minutely, boot coming to rest on the edge of the coffin.

Inside of the ACTS container, dressed in the dingy jeans and tattered flannel shirt he was arrested in, Amid Halebi looks like someone who fell asleep in a sauna. His dark hair is slicked with the condensation that built up inside of his container during transit, skin clammy to the touch and eyes unfocused. A haze of yellowish gas slips out from the interior of the coffin, twisting in snaky tendrils from the respirator mask he wears.

The shadow inside looks like a blanket, curling up to wra around Amid's body, save that this shadowy blanket happens to have one nominally solid arm from the elbow down, covered with hydraulics and kevlar weave over MR fluid padding, clutching an antique Stechkin-APS automatic pistol in his armor-plated grip.

Amid is only partly aware of his surroundings, blearily making out Sylar's shape looming over him and unaware of what the shadow draped over his body is intending to do.

So many different lives hang in the balance here, and no one solution can save them all. There is no right answer.

"Rrr— " Is Howard's abortive first answer to Harmony. Let's try that again. "Howard. My name's Howard." The name comes bitterly off of the tip of the young man's tongue. Blue eyes flick up to Harmony, and the young, blonde man lifts his free hand to point two fingers threatening at her. "You touch her and I'll flash fry your bowels," is emphasized by a crackle-snap of electricity arcing between the two fingers and snapping off of the tips of his fingers. He winces when the electrical charge runs down his hand, but only just.

Seeing Sylar split another Brian in half is enough to distract Howard from the immediate problem of Brian being around. Instead, he squeezes a hand at Elle's waist and curls fingers into her shirt. "Hey— " is probably the softest he's ever said anything as he clings to Elle. "Hey, I— I need you t'give him a full fucking wallop of whatever it is you got, okay? If he tries that bullshit phasing trick again, I've got his number." Electricity crackle snaps between Howard's fingers, and his blue eyes flick from side to side.

"He ain't fuckin' invulnerable, he ain't some fuckin' God! He's just a man, like the rest'f us, an' men can fuckin' get killed. You just gotta not be afraid of him. I ain't scared'a shit, let alone that dusty old fuckin' corpse!" Gruffly grunting that invective out, Howard protectively tugs the jacket around Elle tighter.

"Get that fuckin' bus moving, I dunno how the fuck t'drive that shit." Howard jerks his head back towards the bus, then flicks his attention towards the whining roar of a motorcycle engine starting up. People are splitting up, getting away, but whatever it is that Sylar has focused on leaves him vulnerable.

Every storybook monster has a weakness.

Sylar is no exception.

When Sylar goes into the van, Shannon's scrambling. Mentally, anyway. She doesn't move, but she's fighting to throw up illusion quicker than he can get that coffin opened. Knowing what it is he does, and how, the best way, to her, to make his presence here unnecessary is to take away his reason for being here. She just seriously hopes that she can make it look like Amid died before Sylar opened him up. Glass breaking due to a bullet wound is a very good way of making that happen, right? Bullet bounces around the skull, ruins the brain, no Sylar snack…Right?

But that's if her ability is quicker than him.

When she was told to get everyone out of there, and she found Elle faced down with a stranger, her first instinct was to get her to safety, and find out what was going on. Not only does she get scolded and pushed away by Elle, but she is threatened by the stranger, named Howard. So she won't touch her, fine. Her hands raise up defensively at the shower of sparks pointed at her, and she backs away, looking to Brian for a second as he assures her everything is okay with this person. She still has her reservations, but she retreats. Fine. Fucking die. That's what I get for caring. Can't WAIT to get my ability back. And Harmony is up and heading back to the bus as per suggestion, stuffing her hands into her pockets and beating a hasty retreat.

The blonde-turned redhead watches the exchange between Howard and Harmony, still leaning against the stranger. He's helping me…if he wanted to hurt me, he would have done it while I was still stunned. This is— important, Harmony. This is fucking Sylar. If I can…I could do it. She frowns after the blonde, leaning a bit heavier against Howard and Brian.

Blue eyes turn up toward Howard as he explains what needs to be done. Elle raises her hand, wiping blood away from her brow with the back of it; consequently, she's getting blood on that nice jacket Howard put around her shoulders. "My head fuckin' hurts— but I'll do it. You…owe me a really good explanation once we're on the bus, Rrrr-Howard."

Then, she raises her hands, blue eyes turning toward the van that Sylar is in. She shakes her head a few times, before she begins to 'charge up' that particle beam of hers, hands pointed toward the van. She lets the boys take the brunt of her rather miniscule weight, while she pours everything she has into what's brewing in between her hands.

A scowl is let out. It's the type of scowl someone lets out when they've gotten all the way past the level to the boss but forgot to save.

With the rage of that akin to an avid video game player at another one of his lives being smashed out by a giant purple dragon, Brian marches towards the debris and violence of the van. Towards another one of his own corpses. That was a nice suit. The last remaining black armored Brian trudges with an automatic rifle in each hand. Joined by the other two remaing Brian, one rifle is handed up. The third pulls up his tranquilizer gun. The three in unison aim at Sylar who is busy eyeing his prey like a sophisticated fat kid eyeing a rare and exotic cake. Guns raised up, the three step back to allow Elle's deathray blast towards Sylar.

The Brian with the tranq gun pulls the trigger before dancing back and sprinting towards the bus. Going to start the vehicle back up and pull it away ffrom the wreckage of the sedan. Once the vehicle is humming, Officer Brian gives a light nod while holding Elle. "We're good to go."

The other two Brian with the rifles wait a moment, allowing Elle to shine her beam. Going to duck on either side of the van, their rifles are held to their chests, waiting to see if Elle and Howard's strategy will get rid of the metaphorically fat kid.

Staring down into the coffin, Sylar's pause seems to stretch for eternity (unfortunately, only for him) as he looks down at what he perceives to be a ruined mess of brain matter, bone and blood. Or thinks he perceives. Every part of him is certainly and thoroughly convinced by the illusion that lies in front of him — there's even the smell of death coming off out of the gore — but one broken fraction of him that seems to whisper: this isn't right. The same voice that becomes a roar when he's in the presence of power he could obtain.

Maybe it's denial, or something that sees through the trick, but he doesn't give himself the chance before he bares his teeth, lifts the arm with its sharp bone spine extending as long as a sword in preparation to stab.

And then fire. And pain.

Bullets connect with metal and flesh both, spraying sparks and blood alike, and as Sylar near collapses into the coffin, a lick of fire that dances along the fabric of his coat, catches in ink black hair, can be seen briefly illuminating the interior of the vehicle as particle beam reaches and hits. There's a howl of pain that can be heard across the pond, even more so when it suddenly amplifies at the same time Sylar vanishes, becoming a mere wobble of sound bouncing around the metal walls of the van, before it judders out into the open.

Vengeful, it sails to fast to be seen directly for Brian and then Elle, both getting an earful of harsh whine and a dull ache throbbing through their skulls. Tinnitus whines deafening in their ears, muffling out any other sound the world has to offer.

But the bad guy is gone.

The particle beam is a sight to behold, and at Elle's distance a near seventy foot long spiral of blueish-white energy surging with particulate lights like neon fireflies. It emits only a low, throbbing huim during its brief existance and melts a trench in the snow beneath its path towards the van. The impact was so bright that it flooded the interior of the van with painful — to Richard Cardinal — illumination, but not enough to cause lasting harm.

"Fuckin' Primal!" Is the victory cry of Howard Phillips, throwing a fist into the air as the roaring sound-mimicry form of Sylar rips away into the falling snow, swirling it around in cyclonic fashion in his wake. The blonde steps aside from Elle just a little, watchinv the wave of distorted air and heat shimmering off from her arms, sending steam rising up from his palms and that borrowed, green coat along with thiny wisps of smoke. "I fuckin' knew you could do it, show that thing what fuckin' for!" There's a cocksure smile on Howard's lips as he squints in the direction of the van's open hatch "I told you he ain't a— "


The sound is immediate, terrible and loud. Heat from the particle beam and Sylar's actions in the van have disrupted the already cracked ice of the frozen pond. Finally, the hefty weight of the Institute van has created too much stress, and as fissures in the ice begin to form outward in a spider web pattern, there's a series of sharp snaps, before the ice gives way entirely and the entire vehicle plunges into the frozen water off of the road.

"Oh— oh shit— Fuck!" Howard's cheers turn into a cry of shock as he watches the van containing Cardinal's shadowy form and Amid Halebi plunge into icy water. Within the van, there is a sudden rush of freezing cold as the water below the thick ice surges into the open back of the van, flooding Amid's open ACTS case. The Engineer is awake in a flash from the cold water, eyes wide and bubbles of oxygen flooding out of his open mouth. Clothing becomes soaked through and through, weighs him down. A scream bubbles up from the water, his legs tangle in the hoses and cabling inside of his containment unit.

Out of line of sight and with this much disruption, Shannon's illusion no longer holds up; not that it needs to any more. Amid quickly bends forward, reaching for the plastic hoses and tubing, struggling to free himself. But the water is so cold.

And he is so tired.

The noise is annoying, very much so, but at least Sylar is going. That's what Shannon wanted, even if her illusion didn't quite work as it should have. The ice cracking, however, is a totally different story. Her invisibility shimmers then fades, as she turns and starts to run, slipping on the ice, but determined to get off of it before she ends up getting a very cold bath. And while she's not the fastest runner out there, she has lots of motivation.

The blaze of strobing, flaring lights and the barrage of sound behind her confirm rather clearly that a general and immediate evacuation has not been undertaken. As a result, and even against what is arguably the very best part of her judgement, Ygraine paused on her bike, keeping the engine running as she peered back into the real and faked part-whiteout. "Do you need extraction?", she hisses into the group's radio channel. "Sound off if you - oh, Christ."

When the van starts to go through the ice, the biker slews her mount around and guns it back up towards the main centre of the carnage, before springing off and moving to the edge of the solid ground. "Awww, fuckit. Guys! Haul out and cut free as much seat belt as you can - unless anyone has rope around, it's the best we've got. If I can reach the van, I can move around on it - even underwater. But I'd like a way to get back!"

All of a sudden, a series of creative power-uses mean that Richard Cardinal doesn't need to murder the man that they were coming here to save.

If he had a moment to feel proud for the team that came in on this job, he does. As it happens, he doesn't have that moment, because the van (non-periwinkle variety, but clearly just as sinister) is suddenly sinking into a lake of water. What the fuck.

The shadow washes out of the coffin even as Amid begins to thrash and struggle, ripping out of the darkness and into three dimensions—stumbling back once he's corporeal and slamming into the back wall of the van as the weight and angle pull him downwards. A grunt against the inside of the helmet, and then he's reaching over to grab hold of the edge of the coffin, reaching in with a whispered whine of hydraulics to grab hold of the tubes and hoses that've tangled up around the man's legs, just ripping at them to tear them free of their moorings and get the man free. His other hand reaches up to grab for Halebi's shoulder, hauling to pull him out of the suspended animation unit that threatens to become a real coffin to shove him up towards the back of the van and the surface.

Suddenly back on the radio, "I'm trying to get Amid free— someone needs to get him once I get him up to the top, though, I weigh a fuckin' ton in this getup— "

It is strange to look at Brian after seeing him go through a couple of brutal deaths. He's like Super Mario with extra lives that were slowly being decimated, or those pesky Happy Tree Friends that somehow come back after being killed harshly. Still, Harmony joins the running one on the bus, pulling herself up into the vehicle where she can calm herself and clear her mind a little bit. "Who was that?" she bends a little peeking out of the bus window ahead at the wreckage and carnage that she just came from. "And where the heck did he come from? Furthermore, where did he go?"

Cardinal's voice coming over the comm, Harmony's eyes going wide. Whoa, shit just got real. If there were ever a moment I was unsure of getting out of this alive…

Surprisingly, Elle doesn't feel too shabby after that blast. She expected to feel a little more tired. Aside the fact that her arms are steaming in the cold, she feels pretty okay. At least, on that side of the fence, she does. On the other side, she is still bleeding from her head wound, with blood streaming down the side of her face. Head wounds bleed a lot. Also, there might be a concussion involved from being flung against a bus and then falling and hitting your head on the ground.

Then, there's also that really loud howling she hears, so loud that it leaves her ears ringing and sounds muted by such ringing. Low bass tones— she can hear those, but everything else is unintelligible. So she doesn't quite hear Howard praising her. She doesn't hear the crack of the ice, prompted to crack by the heat generated by her ability.

But she notices the ice truck that's suddenly not there any more. Her eyes widen slightly, and she moves to put all of her weight back on her feet— only to get dizzy from the effort. It's all a bit too much for her to handle right now, and so, Elle Bishop promptly collapses against Howard, burying her face against his chest and closing her eyes. Her head hurts, she's dizzy, and she's tired.

And now, she's getting her blood all over Howard's Kinks t-shirt.


Flashing on the inside of Cardinal's visor, he can hear an alert beeping noisily. While the suit of Horizon armor is sealed against fluids, the freezing cold water of the pond is lowering the temperature of the suit, which could mean potential freezing of the MR Fluids inside. What Cardinal recalls of the last time his suit locked up it would be an unfortunate fate to be sealed in a matte black coffin of his own down here.

Amid Halebi is finding his fate just as terrifying, as his ACTS container refuses to let him go. Thankfully for Amid, his near-assassin come guardian-angel happens to have a multi-million dollar piece of military hardwear that he is currently using for what it was designed to do: destroy things.

The hydraulics whine noisily as the suit of Horizon armor rips the plastic hoses and tubing straight out of the machine with the same ease someone might pull apart wet spagheti. Bubbles of negation gas spew up in yellowish spheres through the dark water, where long shadows from the shifting ice floating on the water's surface above fall.

Once he's free, Amid twists in the water, struggling and kicking his legs, arms flapping at his side as he swiftly swims upwards towards the surface of the water with the skill of someone who is a practiced swimmer. He explodes out onto the surface, trembling and gasping for air, spitting up water, his hair dark and slicked back from his pale face.

"Komak! Komak!!" Amid splutters in Farsi, struggling to call for help before his mind connects with the rest of what's going on. "Help!" He screams in English this time, struggling to stay above the water even as hypothermia begins to set in. "Please, help!"

On the surface of the water, dismembered body parts from Brian's most recently slaughtered clone float in the murky water, blood darkening the surface.

Across the divide between the cracked ice, Howard watches as Shannon outraces the splitting ice, heaving heavy and tired breaths. She isn't a very frequent runner either, despite her smooth physique. Short of breath and gasping for air, her legs give out on the edge of the road away from the ice, lungs burning from the cold and hands trembling from the exertion of the springing.

"Sh— shit. Shit— I— " Howard can't help, staring out at the water as if it were a wall of fire and smoke. He turns to Elle, resting a hand on her shoulder, then turns to see Ygraine. "Christ, walk out on the water and go get them!" Howard calls to the gravitokinetic, waving one hand frantically out towards where Amid is splashing around, screaming for help.

He expects a bit much of her.

Hauling himself onto the stolen schoolbus, Brian is going to restart the vehicle. "We need fucking blankets." Winters eyes flick to the windshield with Ygraine out of it and her bike. "Ygraine. I can get them. I'll get Dickie and Amid. We're going to need medical supplies quickly. Can you take your bike and we'll meet you with the bus?"

A glance is sent over his shoulder at Harmony joining him on the bus. "That was Gabriel Gray. Also known as Sylar. He came from under your bed and he's probably going to sleep in your closet. Take a seat, we got to get out of here before he changes his mind on being hurt."

Officer Brian with Howard and Elle, is jerking his chin towards the bus. "Get her in the bus! Go!" The baton is pulled from his belt, as Officer Winters nears the edge of the pond.

The other two Brian have been left stunned by Sylar's angry departure, both lying on the outskirts of the pond, hands slapped to their ears. That right ear on the left body is probably gone permanently. But it's not so bad, he's probably going to die in a minute anyways. The two push on the snow weakly, reeling from the blast. Trying to strip helmets and matte black off. The two are quickly stripping to the bare minimum of clothing. Just the black suits under all the armor. Boots go as well. Hypothermia is going to happen fast. But they only need to be in there long enough to make a difference.

"«I'm coming, Dickie!»"

Two bodies launch themselves into the icy waters, their brains shutting down to the cold, ignoring the pools of their own blood that they swim through. Driving themselves powerfully towards the van. The shock of the watter is almost enough to have them stopped instantly altogether. But there is drive. All they need to do is last, just long enough.

When Shannon collapses, it's to all fours, her breath steaming in the chilled air. She doesn't respond to Amid's cries, or Howard's, or anything for a minute, just trying to catch her breath. She's a eater, not a runner. She does one terrific, and the other…well, she flat out sucks at it. After a minute she starts to get to her feet, but she remains visible. But then, Sylar's gone, so there's no need to remain invisible, right?

As she talks, she darts back to the bike, hastily hoiking the green-boxed first aid kit out of its little pannier.

"I don't need you, but he does," Cardinal hisses into the radio, ignoring the red warning flash that's blinking in the corner of his vision until Amid is heading for the surface with a firm push to set him on his way. The armoured form blurs in the water's icy spill, bleeding away to darkness in the shadows of the sinking van.

Elle…is not doing so well. The attack of dizziness when she tried to stand, the loud ringing in her ears, the blood that's now soaking into Howard's shirt, the splitting headache that pounds in her head coupled with the throbbing pain and the sheer ouch factor of having a split forehead…it's giving her a pretty hard time of things. She does notice Howard's hollering, but she's a bit preoccupied.

Her hands go over her ears, as if that will somehow magically fix her hearing. When it doesn't, she slumps against Howard, just a little more. "Can't hear…head hurts. Tired…" Simple remarks are all she can manage right now. Really, if she weren't all concussed, she'd be trying to get into that water with them.

Then, a brief moment of clarity. "Get— get him out of th'water and I'll keep him warm." She can at least do that. Gotta stay awake, Elle, you just hit your head pretty hard.

Thrashing on the surface of the water, Amid struggles to keep afloat with legs and arms going numb from the cold. His chest tightens, breathing shortens and despite ot being dragged down by the tubing, it's clear by the way his head dips down below the water a couple of times, he's losing the strength to fight the effects of the water's pull on him down into its frigid depths.

Just when it seems like all hope is lost, Amid finds strong arms wrapping around him and pulling him back to the surface from behind. The pull of one pair of Brian Winters' arms around Amid's waist hoists him backwards, keeping his head out of the water and allowing Brian to start swimming to shore with one free arm and scissoring legs. The water is unbelievably cold, and Amid is trembling violently from the shock. The hypothermia could kill him.

Dragged out of the water by Brian and up into the soft snow and crumbling ice, Amid is shaking by the time he's brought to shore, lips blue and skin an ashen color. His breath is barely visible, whereas Brian's is still a thick cloud of hot steam, even if his exposed, wet clothing and skin is already prickling numb from the cold temperatures.

Seeing Amid up and out of the water, Howard loops an arm around Elle's shoulder, using his bare hand to wipe some of the blood away from her brow and eyelid. Concern is evident in his face, caution in the way he touches her, as if afraid she'll break apart like a porcelain doll if he touches too roughly.

"C'mon, let's get you inside…" Blue eyes flick towards Ygraine's visored countenance and leather-clad form, but humility is all Howard has in his expression now. He guides Elle towards the entrance of the bus, helping her through the door and up the steps inside, past the Brian in the driver seat, not even affording the replicator a dirty look on going by. Brian may have earned a slightly different reputation with Howard today, after what he's seen.

"Easy," Howard murmurs, one hand on Elle's arm as he helps her down onto one of the bus bench seats, opposite of where Harmony is sitting. Howard turns then, from the redhead to the blonde. "Who the fuck're you?" Doesn't sound nearly as harsh as the words themselves are. He just has a pottymouth.

For someone as young as he is, Howard hasn't batted an eyelash about dismembered people, a Sylar attack, or even the grisly fate of the injured agents and police officers. To be acclimitized to violence at this young of an age is an unfortunate thing.

"«Dickie. Stop pushing me away. It's okay to admit you need your friends.»" Leaning back in his seat in the bus, once Howard and Elle moves by he starts the vehicle to move slowly. "«It's okay. Dickie. It's okay to say it. I love you too.»" The voice is soft before his eyes swing over to Howard. "Out for a walk?" He asks, a light smile hanging on his lips. Motioning for him to set Elle down. Winters glances at Ygraine outside of the bus. "«Unfortunately this bus doesn't stop at any hospitals.»" And that's all there will be on that.

The drenching wet Brian helps Officer Brian pull Amid out of the pond. The man dressed as a policemen sliding his arms under Amid's legs and back before straightening. "Asaalam walaikum, Amid. You're going to live inshallah." A light smile as if a joke was said is cast down to the man freezing to death. Making for the bus, he's carefully carrying the man in. "Elle, Elle can you heat him up? Slowly and gradually. But he needs heat, we don't have any blankets. If you can't I'm going to have to get naked…" Again. Amid is shuffled down the center aisle before laid down gently in one of the seats.

Meanwhile the Brian still in the pond is giving an exasparated sigh as he grabs the side of the van and climbs down deeper into the pond. An attempt to rescue the men in the cab of the truck. They're having the worst day of their life, the least he can do is die once for them.

Back in the bus, Brian is glancing over to Howard. "You see how high my arm flew?" A little laugh is let out. "Jesus."

With the job no longer requiring Shannon to be on the back of a motorcycle, she heads for the bus. Slowly, but she's moving, and that's what counts. After all, there's every chance that the heat is blasting on the bus, and quite frankly, she wants the heat! No one else is spoken to, and no illusion remains, just one goal on her mind. And once on the bus, she doesn't change her lack of verbal communication.

Sighing, Ygraine runs with the first aid kit towards the bus, shoving it in through the door - before adding atop it the chemical heat-pads she had been intending to use for her own benefit. "Anyone got any ideas for where I find heated blankets?", she asks, as she dashes over to check on the nearest agent. "And do we have an ETA on the authorities?"

"Is everyone accounted for…? …Accounted for…? The whispering of Cardinal's shadowform means that he missed Brian's homoerotic nattering over the radio. Thank goodness. He won't have to kill a few more out of irritation. The darkness has flowed up the side of the bus and into it, settling onto a seat's back over Amid, "If so, let's make fucking tracks… tracks…"

She almost takes it the wrong way, feeling like a kid that is about to be asked to give up their seat in school. They are on a bus after all. Harmony's blond brows form a 'v' in the center of her forehead, and she opens her mouth to respond to Howard, in harsh tones. She even pulls a breath into her lungs in preparation. But there is a thought somewhere in her head that makes her consider, and she shuts her mouth, pushing her index and middle fingers together and rubbing the tips of them into the center of her forehead, closing her eyes. ~Stop calling, stop phoning, I don't wanna think anymore, I left my head and my heart on the dancefloor~ Because let's face it, Gaga is good for calming the soul. Harmony just needs a moment to reach that point of easy going that she is prone to having.

A second later, a forced smile stretches across her lips, green eyes opening to look at the pottymouth. "Temporary telepath, and the actual owner of the ability she now has." a finger lifts to tap a poke in Elle's direction. Yet again, Elle isn't looking too good. This is starting to be a normal state for the former electrokinetic. You look like a domestic abuse victim. You should probably stay awake. Sleeping on a concussion would be a bad idea. If you have one that is. A small converse with Elle.

"I'm also the girl that people are afraid to being home to mother." she smirks, "But you can call me Harmony. Where.. did you come from, anyway? It's kinda funny that all these people sorta just came out of the woodworks. I mean, your arrival in the middle of the highway? That is a little to coincidental.." And those green eyes narrow while she watches him. That's right, Harmony tunes in to the Howard channel, focusing her ability to catch his thoughts after asking him a question. What? She has a right to be suspicious and nosey.

"Hm." she remarks as Cardinal arrives next, "Mission successful? Baring a few kinks that is.."

The redhead clings rather tightly to Howard as he helps her up onto the bus, leaning heavily against him as they walk. She's still dizzy, her head still hurts like a bitch, but she's doing her best to keep herself conscious right now. I like him. He's nice…really sweet. As he eases her into the seat, she leans back, wiping at the blood that's coating the side of her face.

As Howard turns to Harmony, Elle isn't letting go of contact with him, her hand remaining on his side, holding loosely to his shirt. He's a rock in a storm right now, and it's good to hold on to someone else when her head is spinning the way it is. Don't leave me. She turns blue eyes up to him, before turning her gaze back to the front of the bus.

She can't hear Brian's request, but she knows what the poor guy needs. She's warmer than anyone else here. She scoots off of her seat, and using Howard as a balancing bar of sorts, she moves over to Amid. The (somewhat bloody) jacket is removed, offered back to its owner; she really doesn't even need it. Then, the bullet proof vest is pulled off, leaving her only in the thermal wetsuit. Then, she's wrapping her arms around Amid, turning that little field of heat she produces up just a little, just enough to slowly but surely warm the poor fellow up.

God, stop fucking singing in my head. And shut up, also. You're not the one who just blew fucking Sylar away. Kind of poetic, really. She is quite literally snuggling up to poor Amid. What's the deal on this Howard fellow? I'm curious, and like it or not, you're the go-to girl when it comes to curiousity. Why's he so soft on me?

Outside of the bus, Amid finds some semblance of delirious comfort in Brian's familiar language, carried into the bus, leaving a dripping trail of ice cold water in his wake, his clothing soaked through with the frigid water. Amid has lost his words, mumbling incoherently now, teeth chattering together and complexion resembling that of a corpse now.

"Fuckin' A— " Howard mutters, watching Amid be brought by and laid out on one of the bus seats. Howard watches as Shannon ambles up inside, one raised brow greeting her quietly, he remembers her from the kitchen at Bannerman Castle. "Unless them cops decided to radio for help before this place turned into a meat processing factory, I think you're good. We're pretty far out from the city as far as noise goes. We'll be long gone before anybody from like— whoever the fuck would show up shows up." Howard affords a glance over to the Arab laid out on the seat, watching the runoff pooling beneath him.

Turning his attention up to Brian, then Harmony, Howard looks like he doesn't really want to address the latter question.

"Coincidence?" Howard asks with one brow raised, looking a bit lost for an explanation as he clears his throat. "Ah, well, I'm— "

"He has a friend that's a precog." Brian jumps in, in answer to Harmony. "She probably just found out and told him to get on over to help us out." Winters lets out, glancing over to Howard. He gives a light nod before looking back to Harmony. "I vouch for him. Don't worry." Brian waves a dismissive hand to Harmony. And before Cardinal gets a woody about a precog, the other Brian behind Howard is glancing to Cardinal giving a look that says 'we'll talk later'.

Watching over Amid, he frowns lightly. Folding his arms, his lips slowly climb into a smile. Before he looks up to share that genuine smile with Cardinal. They did it. Amid survived. They all survived, mostly. He lets out a quiet laugh as the bus rocks into motion pulling away from the scene.

In the mess that they have left, a freezing and sopping wet Winters slops his way out of the pond. The driver of the van in his arms. Plopped on the snowy bank, the man struggles to push himself to his feet. The Brians he has left behind are absorbed before he is slowly walking with a distinct limp, his arms hugging himself as he shivers uncontrollably.

While others get on the bus or get settled, Shannon's busy sitting down, nice and still, and watching. She's a watcher, this one. Always watching someone or something. In this case it's Amid, which really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone considering he's their target for the day. And though she has to be freezing, she doesn't pull her coat in closer or look cold.

While Brian heads for the distant police cruiser, Ygraine continues her efforts to check for possible survivors - something likely to leave her with some fresh and thoroughly unwanted images seared into her memory. The police radio had been going to be her own next port of call, and - once she's recovered from choking back vomit after discoverign what heppened to the agent hit by his car - she eyes the figure limping away through the bloodstained, churned snow, and sends a message meant very much for his own ears. "Last call for a lift out of here, if you don't have a way out of your own", she croaks.

The rather ominous form of an armoured figure in Horizon armour materializes in the midst of the bus, the conversationally chatty shadow surging into three dimensions once they're en route out of the icy, snowy hell of the operation and the shattered remnants of the vehicles left behind. Gauntleted hands lift, twisting the helmet and pulling it off, and Cardinal gives his head a shake as he adjusts to the light of the world once again. It's a process that involves a lot of squinting.

"You all did a fucking phenomenal job," he says, words carrying over the radio as he looks over the group, "All've you. And you— I don't know who the fuck you are, but if Brian's vouching for you, thanks for the help." The last to Howard, chin jerking up in a nod. He catches Brian's look, nodding slightly in return.

I'm kinda on it. See, I've learned so far that if I ask people questions and peek into their brain, that they generally think of what NOT to say first, and consider how to say something to smooth it over. Which, I tend to pick up. Ahhah! Harmony's brows raises with the discovery of Howard's fidgetiness over being asked the question. Elle, you can help with this, actually. Grill him with questions. Hit him from two sides and keep him mentally off his feet. He's bound to let something slip.

"You're what?" Harmony asks, "Trying to think of a lie? Come on, tell the truth." Is Howard your real name? "How did you know this was going to go down like it did in order to be here?" How old are you? "What is your favorite color?" How do you know that Sylar guy? "How do you know Elle?"

Despite Brian's vouching for Howard, casting the multiple man a glance for a second, Harmony still alternates her questions between vocal and mental. She is hoping that she can catch something from Howard that will at least quench the curiosity that Elle is inquiring with. Her last question is in unison of being mental and vocal.

"Who are you really?" Who are you really?

If she has learned of any uses for this ability at all, it is that it tends to be good for plucking dirty secrets from people's brains. People can probably tell that girl is trying to open Howard's head like a goodie bag by the way she is peering at him.

The blood is starting to clot, and its flowing out of Elle's forehead much more slowly. Shouldn't be too long until it stops on it's own. It doesn't stop Elle from looking a little pale, however, a combination of everything that's happened today showing itself on her bloody face. She quietly rubs her hands over Amid's arms, while holding him close to her, almost like a mother would hold a child. Albeit a child who is nine inches taller than her. She even rests her chin atop his head, to give his head a bit of warmth. Because it's important to keep your head warm, right?

Blue eyes turn toward Howard once more, watching his lips move. She doesn't really hear Brian's interruption, so she just keeps watching him, a thoughtful look on her face. Who is this guy? And how did he know…he said my name, I think. She can read that much on his lips. I didn't tell him my name, did I? If she did, she doesn't recall it right now.

Then, as Harmony offers directions, Elle turns, blinking up at Howard a few times. She— doesn't take part in the questioning. Nor does she hear Cardinal's praise. Still deaf right now. She just peers up at the blonde fellow. "…When I can hear again, I want to have a talk with you. Please don't go anywhere." She says this in a voice that's a little too loud, like she can't hear herself speak, either. No, when I have a talk with him, you listen in.

She goes back to warming Amid up, still watching Howard.

Cardinal earns Howard's immediate — and wary — attention. The Horizon armor is a stark and defining piece of equipment, un-numbered, un-labeled, it screams black ops. "'Sup," Howard greets with a furrow of his brows, lips downturned into a frown as if Cardinal had said something distasteful earlier. There's tension in Howard's manner around him, and when he turns away, it's to move closer to where Elle is now, taking care of Amid.

Yer mom, is Howard's super mature answer to Harmony as the bus is pulling away from the scene of the attack. Sticking close to Elle, Howard shakes his head and narrows his eyes to her, his thoughts a constantly humming din of background noise and odd static mixed with the hollow echo of repressed thoughts sounding like whispers too quiet to hear. Stay outta' my head or I'll get into yours the electrokinetic notes with a raise of his brows, looking up to Harmony at the comment. My way's a bit more invasive.

Standing not far away from Elle and Amid in the aisle, Howard watches the radioactive man warily. Amid is making little progress in warming up, little more than a slight touch of color to his cheeks. It will help, though, but it will be some time before he's fully recovered from this. Likely, once the negation drugs wear off, he'll be able to raise his own core temperature — while— also giving everyone else cancer. Hopefully he's somewhere else by then.

"Hey, B," Howard looks over his shoulder to Brian. "Drop me off somewhere 'fore you take this bus to wherever you're bringin' this guy to, a'ight?" One of Howard's brows lift slowly. "I gotta' get back 'fore my roomies wonder the fuck I was doing." A smile spreads across his lips, though there's something more subtle hidden behind his calm expression, something fretful.

How much does Winters know? Harmony manages to pick up in his errant thoughts. I really don't wanna have to kill him. Repeatedly.

Brian doesn't really hear Ygraine. But he does see her, when he looks over his shoulder. A dismissive wave is given as he goes to sit next to the downed agent. "Go ahead!" He says a little too loudly, convulsing next to the other fallen man. Placing his hands on his knees. "I'll do a little clean up back here!"

Back on the bus, Winters is smiling back at Cardinal in his Halo suit. "I've got a place to take him. Until I can hear from the network where to take him. I have a few doses of adynomine." Brian lets the whole bus know just for their sanity's sake. Winters glances with a little irritation to Harmony. "Harmony. Please. We just.. Come on, my arm was flying. There's dead people. We have hypothermia victims. I vouch for him. Can the interrogation wait?"

When Cardinal speaks Shannon glances over to him, her gaze steady for several seconds before her attention shifts out the window. Someone's not a very social girl, at least not today. "I know Howard too. He's fine." Okay, so she piped up once. That counts as contributing to the conversation, right?

It's probably a good thing that Ygraine's not on the bus. She's more than a little curious about the stranger, too - someone who shows up out of the blue to assist, and who appears to have a detailed but only partly accurate briefing on who to find there and what powers they might have at their disposal. Howard having identified a figure clad head-to-toe in black as someone who could walk places physics should preclude - that was unsettling, even amidst all the bloodshed.

As it is, the biker nods in the direction of the freezing clone, then adds a quiet and somewhat hoarse comment over the radio. "If you're sure, Brian. Call if you need help, and I'll double back", she instructs him, heading for the bike to gun it into life, twitch her centripetal force to focus upon its centre of gravity rather than the ground, then set off after the bus… doing her best to focus on the snowy road, and to hold off the flashbacks until some future point when it's safe to curl up and fall apart for a while.

"Easy," Cardinal says in quiet tones, holding a hand out towards Harmony as she continues to interrogate Howard, "Easy."

We'll figure this out later, alright? Brian says he's got this… he's got this. He leans back in the seat, his head falling back and eyes closed. They got Amid, they minimized casualties… there was a few little problems that cropped up, but they handled it surprisingly well.

For once? It looks like the good guys won.

"Ugh.." Harmony rolls her eyes as she doesn't get much of anything, but that last comment Howard makes mentally. She cuts her gaze away from him, and settles back into her seat on the bus. I'm about done and over with people threatening me over the past few months. Maybe after a few cases of radioactive induced cancer, a few melted faces, some singed testicles and crispified ovaries, people miiight start thinking twice before letting those comments fly. A reckoning.. It's coming. Ohhhh is it coming. It's gonna be 'fuck yo couch, son' The thought is pretty general. She pissy now, and pouting a little bit, but she doesn't fold her arms.

The blond girl tossing her hands up into the air at Brian's request, "I'm done. Done.." she announces to him. "No more interrogation, he can keep his little secrets. I don't care anymore. Done." *pout*pout* And then she looks at Howard and Brian, and her eyes widen with her finality as she really sells the word, "DoNNNE." And.. she's done.

Sorry, Elle. Didn't get much. He's a bit of a dollar store douche. You know, the kind that you have to buy in duplicate, because one just is NOT going to be enough? He probably has a thing for you. I'd be careful. Just thing 'rape' if he tries anything..

Elle seems to appreciate Howard's presence right next to her; in fact, she reaches her free hand out, gently touching his arm and peering up at him in silent thanks— thanks that she will give later when she has the ability to hear what he's saying back to her. She doesn't know that he just said he wants to get off; but then, she won't let him leave.

Hell no, you don't get to swoop in from nowhere and save Elle's life (and everyone else's) and then just leave like it's nothing. It doesn't work that way. And Elle will be quite willing to make a scene over that if it comes down to it.

Just keep an eye on his thoughts, okay? For now, blissfully unaware, she stays close to Amid, slightly raising her temperature as she notices pink forming on Amid's face, with one hand on Howard's arm, a silent indication that she'd really rather he not leave her side. Especially while she's holding a man who could easily become another Midtown Bomb like a baby.

At least she can't get cancer from him.

"And people call me crazy, I guess I'm relieved I don't know who you are," Howard admits in a mutter with an askance look to Harmony. Whatever he means by that, it's kept close to the vest — and deep in the subconscious. Were Harmony a more learned telepath, she'd realize that this isn't just a normal quiet mind. Someone trained him to resist telepathic intrusion, and that isn't a training you can just get at any old corner store. Company, Institute, there's no good connection to that sort of special training.

Watching Elle and Amid, Howard rests his hand down on hers at his arm, then looks away and lifts his hand from hers and eases away. There's a tightness in Howard's throat, and as he watches Elle, there's a certain comfort he finds in seeing her looking exhausted from the expenditure of her particle beam. Only now with the adrenaline rush fading and her bodsy at rest does Elle feel exhausted from what happened.

Howard slips away, walking up to the front of the bus, past Shannon and— stopping and doing a double take. He looks back at her, one brow raised and remmbering the other time he saw her on the docks. Electricity snaps down his fingers as a dirty look is shot the illusionist's way, followed by a scowl before he turns to Brian in the driver's seat. Howard doesn't have anything to say, not to Shannon, not to Harmony, and especially not to Cardinal. But to Brian and Elle, the least he can do is just afford them the comfort of silence.

When he has something important to say, and he will, he'll talk.

Against impossible odds, Amid Halebi was rescued from the hands of the Institute. What is to happen to him from here is unknown, save that he is now in the Ferrymen's custody, against the recommendations of one of its members, Eric Doyle. There is undoubtedly much disagreement to be bound in Amid's wake, and still there is the matter of his daughter to be handled by the Institute's team bound to head overseas.

Right now, none of that concern is on Howard's mind. He has other things to worry about, as he watches the snow hitting the windshield of the bus, and the long, winding road ahead of them all. The electrokinetic's eyes shut, and soon Elle's do too. She won't remember when she fell asleep, but she will recall finding Howard gone when wakes up at the end of the bus' journey. Whoever he was, whatever he was there to do, he didn't intend on sticking around to discuss it. There's more road ahead though, equally windy, equally dangerous.

But together, they've proven they can stand against anything and anyone.

In the mess that they have left, a freezing and sopping wet Winters slouches by the police cruiser. The driver of the van laying in the snow by his side in his white Retriever suit. Leaning in to the police cruiser, Brian snags the radio in one hand, depressing the button and calling out over the airwaves.

"«Hello? Well.. If you talk I can't hear you. Listen. This is Brian Winters. I'm a fugitive, yadda yadda. Listen your little convoy here was attacked by the Midtown Man. There are survivors. They're pretty banged up. So you might want to get down here real quick. We tried to save them but… Sylar is an asshole sometimes. You know what I mean? No, probably not. Well anyways." His voice is overly loud, the kind of loud you speak when you can't hear yourself, "We're over here on.. fuck. Where are we again? Off the 404 I think. Industrial Avenue. There's a big mess, I have bodies everywhere. But don't worry! I'm okay!"

Winters drops the radio before taking a few steps away from the cruiser. Bending to pick up an abandoned pistol, his eyes raise to the bus disappearing in the snow.

Smiling lightly, the gun is raised to his chin. "We did it."


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