But Not A Word Was Spoken


abby_icon.gif adelaide_icon.gif aude_icon.gif cardinal_icon.gif cat_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif douglas_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif helena_icon.gif leland_icon.gif leonard_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Also featuring:
carolina_icon.gif hana_icon.gif harlow_icon.gif teo_icon.gif
and various NPCs by Rockefeller and Chinatown
Scene Title But Not A Word Was Spoken
Synopsis Humanis First throws the Suresh Center one bloody red herring, before following through on its threat of terrorist violence.
Date September 26, 2009

Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island, formerly known as Welfare Island and before that Blackwell's Island, is a narrow island in the East River of New York City. It lies between the island of Manhattan to its west and the borough of Queens to its east. Running from Manhattan's East 46th to East 85th streets, it is about two miles long, with a maximum width of 800 feet, and a total area of 147 acres.

The island is part of the Borough of Manhattan and New York County. Together with Mill Rock Island, Roosevelt Island once had a population of about 12,000 prior to the bomb. The land is owned by the city, but was leased to the State of New York's Urban Development Corporation for 99 years in 1969. Most of the residential buildings on Roosevelt Island are rental buildings.

Following the bomb, Roosevelt Island suffered a great deal of damage from the throw debris from the explosion of Midtown Manhattan. The tram service connecting Roosevelt Island to Midtown was destroyed on the midtown end, leaving one small bridge connecting to Long Island City in Queens as the only means out of the city. Subsequent fires, looting and food riots on the island left what was once a prosperous neighborhood in ruins in the aftermath of the bomb. Business began to close one by one, residence left for the outskirts of New York City, and now Roosevelt Island is like a shell of its former self, a proverbial ghost-town with a population of only 700 on the island. Streets are untended, cracked and dusty, weeds growing up between the broken pavement. It is not an uncommon sight to see old newspapers blowing across the street and the boarded up windows of shops and apartments.

"Here at the Chandra Suresh Memorial Center for Evolved Education, details about what may be happening are still very sketchy. As you can see behind me, the entire building has been closed off to the public as local and federal officials try to do their jobs — "

" — just one month ago. This is the most attention Center has seen since its official dedication, and most of the police effort so far is going into maintaining order — "

" — urging us to keep back. According to an officer we spoke with moments ago, they don't have access to any insider information, but it doesn't sound like the Roosevelt Island Bridge will be open to traffic again any time soon."

Blocks away, two overturned vehicles are burning themselves into cages of blackened steel and soot near the center of the Roosevelt Island Bridge, locking as much traffic in as they lock out.

But here, a few hundred feet from the elegantly landscaped courtyard and mirrored glass walls of the Suresh Center, cold washes of red and blue shutter erratic across a crowd of New Yorkers that have taken it upon themselves to show in force where their squirrelier (and/or more survivalist) brethren have opted to flee. Anxiously waved press passes and clunky cameras have allowed a few wary news correspondents in closer, all blonde hair and bright teeth straining to be heard by dustbunny microphones hefted against a cluttered backdrop of too few black and white units and the police uniforms and dusky suits filtering scraggled between them.

As for what's keeping gawkers and would-be heroes off the lawn: orange and white striped wooden barriers are arranged into a rough half-moon shape around the grassy perimeter, blockades assisted by rickety contrivances comprised of various pieces of local junk bound into makeshift 'fence' with long lengths of yellow police tape. Raggedy excess flaps lank in chilly air churned and beaten at a thrum by the pass of helicopter blades rotoring low overhead while blinding spotlights bleach over the crowd on their way to arcing unsteadily over the evacuated building beyond. Sirens blip and wail; radios hiss and crackle. Cell phones glow in sweaty palms.

The onlookers themselves are a motley bunch, some one or two hundred assorted in age, dress, accent and purpose. Faded windbreakers peppered with holes rub shoulders with sleek woolen overcoats and cool leather — glimpses of hose and high heel pass between rumpled blue jeans and pressed slacks. The only thing they have in common is that they are here and they are waiting, hemmed in at the front by the frown of the police barricade and still receiving a trickle of new additions at the scattered rear.

"This is bad." Cardinal's not pressed up to the fore of the crowd, though he's on the scene; no, he's half a block back, although he's managed to climb up a lamp post and is up there straddling the long metal neck of it facing the center, one leg wrapped about it to keep him steady so he can use the binoculars he's holding. Sure, he's an easy target, but who'd know he was anything more than someone ogling the situation?

"They gave that warning way too soon not to have something planned… gathering people here? Fuck, if they blow up the whole damn crowd," he mutters under his breath, "I don't put it past the bastards at this point."

Abigail had locked her scooter up near Hokuto's bookshop, one of the few who might be able to get off the Island. But it's the Suresh Center and Leonard works there. Leonard who she'd been bringing a hot lunch for again and to see when he was headed for home. Only, she'd be shuffled out of the center, told to evacuate along with the others, that it wasn't safe. Humanis First threat.

So she's at the base of the pole that Cardinal's up on, watching, searching, looking. She's worried and it shows with the way she tugs and twists on her cross, balanced on the back of her scooter attached to the same pole.

"You see anyone we know?" She calls up. SHe'd pay a million dollars to have Eileen's gift right about now.

Normally Detective Leland Daubrey might not be considered quite…fit to handle this potentially volatile situation. Not because of any failing as an officer, but even with his monumental control, it's clear his mental fitness has been degrading over the past several weeks. But there was no way to stop him from coming other than telling him to his face that he's mentally unfit. And there aren't many brave enough in the department to do that.

The detective is located just inside the barrier, radio up to his mouth at steady intervals to keep in contact with people controlling other sections of the barrier. He casts disgusted looks at the crowd. By now, everyone has to know what Humanis First is capable of. Yet they've still come to rubberneck. This is a Darwin Award situation waiting to happen in his estimation.

His partner somewhere nearby, Magnes is in his police uniform, hat and all, playing crowd control as he mostly stays at the blockades to keep people calm. In his head, he's probably saying something along the lines of Great, I'm the Booster Gold of police officers, but to the crowd he's saying typical things like, "Everyone stay calm, we have everything under control. There's not really anything to see here, I promise."

Crowds, people lights, Adelaide was in the thick of it. Shuffled and pressed between a rather large crowd of people. The young woman frowned. She'd been coming down here to hopefully pulled more people into E.A., but this was dangerous looking. Her fingers quietly clutch a necklace and through. Evovled-hater threats… this was the kind of crazy crap she wanted to prevent through outreach. She moved through the crowd a little, looking out for the once face she knew from E.A. that'd had lefted her a little less life-filled inside… Too many people. She fell back a bit. Maybe they'd find her and she could change their mind… she kept looking, listening, patience. Humanis First, twisted,scared people. Adelaide focused her attention on the crowd.

Helena has her wig on, and sunglasses, too. Best not to be recognized. She's not mixed in with the throng, though - no, she's opted to keep some initial distance, watching the crowd from afar. Casting an eye around, she tries to keep check on any Phoenix operatives, but she's not willing yet to reveal herself. Of course, some of them will recognize her anyway, knowing what to look for.

Loose curls of short, dark hair plastered to pale skin illuminated chalk white by the spotlights defines one of the heads in the crowd as Eileen Ruskin vies for a better position. That's the problem with being only a sliver above five feet. Abigail would give a million dollars to have her gift right now, but all the bird-whisperer wants is access to a raised curb or something else she can stand on to secure a more expansive view through her own eyes.

High overhead, well above the churning sea of people that fills the street outside the Suresh Center, a large shadow wings through an inky sky. A few moments later, the raven alights on the lamp post beside Cardinal, a metal band glinting silver around its left leg as its claws scratch against the metal and find purchase on the lip where two soldered plates meet. Speak of the Devil.

One of the few times that Delilah has come to the center with an intent to either attend something or see what there is to attend- it turns out that one) they weren't kidding about the twenty-sixth, and two) there wasn't much of anything planned because of such. The redhead was one of the many shuffled out of the building, though for lack of finding friends in the shuffle or seeing familiar faces as she is cattle-prodded away- she has hung on the edges of the crowd, looking quite angry. A denim pencil skirt, black stockings and white shoes, a tan blazer over white ruffles- she has dressed for the chill, for once.

Out of the corner of her eye, she spots some vaguely familiar shapes. The nearest is that of 'Evelyn', which she hovers towards while keeping an eye on the real mess ahead. When Lilah is close enough, she does speak up. "I thought you'd come."

It isn't 'til a lull and parting in the sludgy flow of morbidly curious citizens that the frenetic twitter of Abigail's cellphone manages to breach the people-packed compression of cold-crushed autumn air, choppers' subwoofer calls and mob noise. Ding-a-ling, the midi tone threads up into her hearing along with the kinetic drone of the vibration signal going off. Teo's name shows in the tiny window, three black letters sans-serif against the luminosity of the background. The moment the girl cracks the phone open against her ear, his voice scratches up, familiar in its tenor register and disgruntlement at things not going just so:

"Traffic's all fucked up. You okay, ragazza? Everyone all right so far?"

For the most part, despite whatever chaos might have accompanied the initial evacuation, the atmosphere is low key in its underlying tension. Conversation between friends and strangers alike is hushed, wavery with chilly fear or warmer adrenaline where eyes meet across unfamiliar shoulders and news updates are exchanged via iPhone and Blackberry.

Even the police presence is beginning to wind down a little from the initial rush. Older officers remain gruff in their knowledge of how quickly even a quiet crowd can spiral out of control. Younger bruisers in SWAT gear man the barriers with grips worn too tight around nightsticks and scuffed shielding. Uniforms reassure Suresh Center employees and parents seeking to reunite with younger students they dropped off earlier in the day. Blue and red lights continue to cycle through their rapid rhythm, painting anxious faces bright between sweeping lapses of shadow and the scour of a second spotlight.

The voice on the far end of Leland's radio is the first to change tone, code and professionalism dropped for the space of a few terse seconds. "Wait a second — wait. Something's going down in Greenwich. Calls are coming in, some kind of explosion — " As if to confirm, the quiet din of a distant shockwave muffles just loud enough to be audible past the churn of choppers overhead. Something has definitely exploded. Just not here.

It's as if someone's shoved a hot poker into an anthill. Every cop has a radio in hand; everyone is moving. "All units, all units. Explosions reported at Guiding Light Baptist Church."

"Fire — "

" — already burning, Jesus wept — "

Those nearest the police barrier can hear for themselves, but the news is quick to ripple back through the crowd, and sooner or later, rapid fire refreshes will start pulling the report up online as well.

It's at this moment that one of the heavy-bodied helicopters that's been circling for some ten or fifteen minutes now swings in a little too low, black blades lashing at carefully crafted hair dos and pressed lapels alike on its way to opening fire directly into the crowd.

A tilt of Cardinal's head turns his gaze downwards to the young woman below, and then he brings the binoculars up to his face once more; settling just beneath the shades that he's pushed high upon his brow, squinting through magnifying lenses as he scans the front of the crowd. "No, no, I… wait, is that…?" A moment passes when he thinks he might confirm whether or not one of the cops up there could possibly be who he thinks it is, because surely that isn't Magnes up there, and then there's a rustling of feathers beside him that brings his head up in a jerk, unbalancing himself in the process.

One hand lungees down, clasping the pole to keep from falling over, and he squints at the raven for a moment. "Oh," he murmurs, noting the band, and the corvid's strange calmness so close to a human being, he asks rhetorically, "Is that you, Eileen?" If it did answer, he probably would fall off the pole. Birds don't talk.

Then? Then everything goes to hell. His eyes widen as the helicopter swings down towards the crowd, jaw dropping open, "No. No, not even that crazy murderous sonuvabitch wouldn— ABIGAIL, TAKE COVER!"

"Abby?" Magnes quietly asks when he hears Cardinal's voice yell the name just as the gunfire starts. Alright, it wouldn't be totally hard to take the chopper out, but there's people under the chopper, so the best bet would be to somehow take the weapon out instead… "Damnit." He doesn't draw his gun, that won't do a lick of good, instead he removes his hat, which seemingly folds on its own into an extremely condensed black ball of fabric, about a thousand pounds condensed into it. "Please, please work!" Then hurl, he tosses the thousand pound fabric ball, trying to aim at the chopper's weapon. The hat won't fall down though, it'll just keep going up, because the last thing he needs is someone getting crushed under a hat.

"It's Teodoro." His 'tell me baby, what's your story' ring tone that cuts off when she thumbs open the pink phone and hits talk. "Nothings happened. Just a lot of people standing behind barricades and keeping quiet, watching. Rubbernecking. oh! THere's a raven just landed beside Richard" Bird, she's seen this bird on a few occasions. "Eileen's around, or at least watching from afar. If you need me to come get you on the scoo- Just a minut T" She cuts off though from the riple that goes through the crowd and the murmuring's of the news. Something indeed is happening just not here. Abby's hand covers the bottom fo the phone despite the fact that it won't help one bit as she cranes her neck to look and see.

"Teo.. Teo, Joseph's church. They're.. they're saying that the church is on fire. Lord on High, it's Saturday, Pastor Ashby might be there. Humanis has hit there before. I need to get to the chu-"

And then Richard is yelling at as she's cut off again by the sound of a helicopter flying too low and the rata-tat-tat of gunfire from it as she scrambles down, fumbling with her free hand for her keys so she can undo the lock from behind the safety - relative - of Lazarus with the phone pinned between her ear and shoulder. "Teo! They're shooting at the crowd!" Yelled into the phone. "They're firing into the cro.. fuck why can't I get this lock undone!"

By virtue of being one of the higher ranking officers on the scene and by his proximity to a police cruiser, Leland ends up jumping into the passenger seat the moment the call comes in about Greenwich. The car is already rolling and blaring its siren to push through the crowd when the first of the shots go out. Leland curses and talks on the radio to try and get a bead on what's happening here, even as the car is trying to get the crowd to let them pass.

Bullets?! Adelaide's heart almost stops beating, she stops breathing. Its too surreal, the helicopter was shooting at innocent people! She scrambles, trying to avoid the press of the crowd- the possible ensuing pain. She was trained in First Aid- she quietly wished she'd had her medical degree. She scrambles trying to find cover and someway to fight back, or usher others to safety. And that's exactly what she does, its not much but she tries to divery some of the flow of people, to other places that might help before moving to take cover herself… Damn them. Humanis First-lies… everyone was a pawn to them…

She isn't very far from the disguised Helena and Delilah near the back of the crowd. Cat's keeping a low profile, eyes moving around to take in what can be seen here. Reports of explosions in Greenwich are an initial concern, but it quickly becomes clear it isn't one of her properties that's been blown up. When the gunfire from the helicopter rings out, she moves quickly to duck behind whatever barricade might be handy. "Over here," she calls out to her fellow Burning Birds. She'd like to return fire, but realizes that wouldn't be a good idea, at least not yet. Too many police who might decide she's one of the attackers.

Helena first hears snatches of things from the radios of police-men walking about - Guiding Light…fire? And then makes a dive for the barricade as bullets start flying, trying to make herself as small a target as possible. "Should we try to find a building?" she yells, and takes a breath. Helicopters can't handle high winds very well…but there are too many people, too much chance for property damage…what can she do? And then it occurs to her even as she's crouched and hiding, that she doesn't need to be somewhere to be of help.

The skies above the burning church should be beginning to dark and thunder quite soon.

Whatever answer the bird might have offered Cardinal — unspoken or otherwise — is cut off by the sound of gunfire. Wings snap out, clawed feet kick off the lamppost and it launches from its perch, back into the air. Eileen, meanwhile, has disappeared on a positive note. Her body isn't amongst those perforated with bullet holes or spattered in blood. Through the raven's ears, she's heard the call and, being a member of the Ferry with loose ties to the Guiding Light's keeper, has decided to heed it.

Absorption is all that seems to come first; one minute Delilah is greeting the disguised Helena, and the next there is a ripple of confusion, followed by the ominous chopping swoop of the air above when the helicopter U-turns to aim at them. It's like throwing bread crumbs out for the pigeons- they'll flock if given something to latch onto. That is exactly what they did, isn't it? Damnation.

The redhead is reaching out for Helena even as she dives for cover- almost like she is caught in that little wave, Delilah follows right alongside the disguised blonde behind the barricade, effectively joining Cat where she's ducked out too. "This was just so we'd all show up-" Delilah says this to herself, but her voice is loud enough for the other women to hear. Some days, people can just fall into place. Next thing, the redhead is fumbling for the phone inside of her blazer, very nearly dropping it like a wet bar of soap before she is able to press in a number on speed-dial. "-we need a way out." Wait, who will she even try to find? There's so little people they know that can-

"Fffuuuu, yesss…" Bingo. "Perez- ack!" Gunfire is loud. Not louder than Delilah barking in close quarters, thankfully. "Put me through to Carolina Perez- quick Love, please."

"Lina! Shit's going down like a hooker on a trick- we need a rabbit hole at the Suresh Center yesterday."

Lucky, Adelaide found a place to hide, behind something. She didn't care what, she ached muscles and such screaming for oxygen and lactic acid fermentation took over. She leans back, her blood hurt, her body hurt, pinned trapped and disoriented… "Damn it." she snarls.

The initial part of Abby's answer brings Teo some tentative form of relief. Nothing's happening. Humanis First! would be jackasses enough to toy with public perception that way, though granted he's well aware there are hundreds of other plays that could come out of the terrorist faction's little black book. "Thank fuckin' God. I can't seem to get in touch with Leo right now, but after reading the paper it sounds like the Suresh Center proper would be the safest place to be in this situation. I—"

—am interrupted when word rips through about church, burnings. Bullets. What? Teo can hear Cardinal in the background, the scrape of his deper voice undercurrent Abigail's panic. Fuck. "Keep your head—" Down, but that would be a redundant recommendation; Abigail Beauchamp isn't the girl that she was last year and experience has served her a savory lesson in keeping down, staying safe, calculated risks, or at least not just freezing up. Teo's voice cuts short with a hiss of a curse bitten back between his molars. "Listen, you can't take the road. The bridges are choked to and from Roosevelt Island, and that's even with the Mayor's curfew bulletin. I'm still on Manhattan fucking Island— biking. This is ridiculous. Can you get another wa—?"

There is. Delilah's on it.

The text notifcation is racing through the Ferrymen network an instant later, patched through by courtesy of Wireless' vigilance and cyberpathic prowess even as a Latina teleporter somewhere out in Staten Island fights down puke and panic. In fifteen seconds, the mouth of the alleyway between the Benhardt street post office and its adjacent Chinese restaurant is privvy to a minor miracle of physics, space and time folding, imploding, holding its frame steady as a gateway opens up between Roosevelt Island's most innocuous of dumpsters and an empty lot in Greenwich Village, a few blocks from where the skyline's turning, intensifying its acid orange glow. Cattle-rustlers and burning birds alike receive the coordinates, the Guiding Light's priority, shorthand status updates, medical facilities and safehouses turning over across New York.

Wind and noise jarr the raven's perch, send reverberations through the long sweep of the creature's pinions. Through the sharp black of its eye, Eileen catches a glimpse of fragmented television feed. There's a woman— a girl, really, bucketed and buckled into a helicopter's seats, seated squarely between two masked men in tactical gear with a microphone clutched between her lacquered fingers like an ice cream cone. Her face is green with fright and there's already sick stippled down the front of her blouse. "—o one's going to broadcast this, I'm telling y—" —but the blow of one gloved hand shuts her up in a shriek. The officer monitoring the line tightens his mouth. No. This can't get out."

"All hands on crowd control. Get the civvies back— Ms. Dove says the Suresh Center says they can take care of itself. Hope they can put their money where her mouth is."

Machinegun fire tears potholes into the sidewalk and punch a neat trail of holes through two cops through a windshield then Leland's hood, leaving a ragged wreck of surprised flesh, splintered emergency-striped wood, somebody's one-note scream holding thin and high and peculiarly wineglass-shattering consistent over the discord of architectural collapse, popping return-fire, and human retreat. There's also a hat flying, inconceivable, subject to a vicious swipe of automatic rounds from its intended target— Swissing two holes neatly through the accessory's plushy dark fabric— but by blessing of a certain gravitationally-gifted cop trainee, not even that slows the unconventional projectile down. Instead, its rim slams neatly into the rungs of the chopper's landing skids, hurling it momentarily off balance. Blades slice precariously close to the nearest apartment building's windows, before the pilot hauls back, pushes upward, sending the chopper into a swoop into the night sky, scattering droves of news and police birds.

Begin mass player exeunt.

"Motherfucker…" The words vanish in the noise of the fire and the crowd, and Cardinal just drops off the pole even as the bird vanishes upwards in a fluttering rush of dark feathers. It's a three count to the street below, three seconds being just enough. Instead of striking the road, his darkening form hits it and spreads into a shadow as if he'd just dropped into an algae-draped pool and left a circle of dark water behind him. He notices the disappearance of the young woman he was with into the spatial warp, and then he's gone, naught but a shadow that slithers through the crowd. As blood stains the blacktop, the darkness mingles with it, moves over it, passing over the fallen like the shadow of the Angel of Death with no lamb's sacrifice to mark their protection. That is, until he reaches the man he was startled to see earlier, the living darkness that is Richard Cardinal spilling up onto the hood of a car beside him.

"Varlane," Cardinal barks out, the hollow rasp of voice nearly a hiss in its urgency, "Do you think you could get me up there if I wrapped myself around something?"

"I was just about to fly up to the chopper to try and get it away from the civilians. If you latch on to me and I take you up there, you could block their line of sight and I could try and lead it by the tail towards the water or something." Magnes muses, unclipping his radio as he waits for Cardinals thoughts on the plan so he can think of what exactly he's gonna tell the other officers. "I'm registered now, so it's no big deal if I fly in front of the cops." he adds, holding a hand out for the shadow.

She watches as Delilah and Helena both join her behind the barricade, her guitar case being set down but kept at the ready in case of need. The church is considered for some moments; an assessment of possibilities is made. One: Joseph, Felix, and Mona are already dead, killed days ago by HF. Two: they were kept alive by HF to be publicly executed as part of their threat. Three: If they were at the church, they already died in the explosion there. There's no one and nothing to save. That leaves the possibility HF intends to kill any other hostages they might have right here. It did say shut down or see loved ones suffer in cleansing fires.

While thinking, Cat hears Carolina being called, she sees the portal open and Dee sprinting toward it. "What're you doing?! Get back…" But it's too late. She's gone. She'll have to try calling her by iPhone to ask what's happening at the church in a minute or two. Comm gear is unfortunately not in play, she opts not to open the case and try getting it out. Wouldn't matter; the person who needs it is gone now.

Helena looks across to Cat. "Should we try to head for a building?" she asks. "It's a risk to draw attention, but maybe if we wait someone will distract them; we can take advantage of that. If I can find a safe spot, maybe I can do something to those helicopters, but I -" She frowns absently, "I'm making it rain over the church…"

The other helicopters, bearing their cameras and radios and news or law enforcement assignments, didn't have a very good view of what was going on on the ground. There are a number of helicopters in the sky tonight and it isn't in the average civilian or even the average cop to tell the difference between models and the indistinct silhouettes of extra artillery.

Their understanding comes painfully belated, and in uncomfortably severe terms, when the flying machine commanded by the Humanis First! operatives turns on them, now, lunging out of its stabilizing hover to dog the tail of an unassuming nearest Channel 6 aircraft. The media chopper's reaction is instantaneous, seesawing confusedly away from the paramilitary unit's approach in a halting jig and sidle, its pilot's personal perplexity and unease extended out into the transport he's driving. A dove would have as much luck pitted against a bearing hawk with its talons and bill out for blood, and that's even before the first round of burst fire is hailed into the sky beside it. Spotlights rake both helicopters. The civilian pilot doesn't know better, has no way of knowing better; seesaws closer and closer to the Suresh Center's blank windows.

Cat spots a wrinkle of movement on the roof some fifty yards away at the same instant that the uniformed officer across the barrier from her does. He shouts a warning, flings an arm up pointing: an RPG launcher protrudes out in capable hands, silhouetted by some miniscule difference of starlight and shadowed brick. He doesn't notice, but the lawyeress and Helena can't not when elbows collide with their ribs and shouts scissor into their hearing. There's an automobile coming up the block, a battering ram without a driver, its engine afire like the maw of a discontent dragon splitting the crowd ahead of it like the Red Sea.

When the rocket-propelled grenade takes off, it sounds like a broken party whistle. A puff of air, flat-note, sending the explosive rearing toward the Center to meet its own reflection zooming up sharp-focus on the unlit window glass.

"…Magnes, did you somehow become bulletproof since we last talked," asks the shadow of Richard Cardinal, even as he flows up and over the man's arm, twining about it and engulfing it in two-dimensional darkness as the light no longer reaches skin or clothes, "Because that helicopter is firing a fucking chain gun at the crowd. You go up there and it'll cut you the hell in half, and then Claire'll be pissed because her boyfriend's a half-mile long stain across the lawn of the Suresh Center. Just get me up there, I'll distract the gunner— "

A few words are lost in the sharp whistle of the RPG through the air, "— you can hit them from the other side once the gun's out of commission. I can fly the damn thing once we have control, I'm a certified god-damn pilot, we won't need to crash it! Move!"

"Yes sir." Magnes says in a completely professional manner. In between the academy and the Company, he does know how to respond to orders. "Get ready." He suddenly swoops into the air, trying to approach the chopper from behind the tail, holding his hand out so Cardinal can do whatever he's thinking. "Hurry up!"

One of the cops here is Aude, Officer Castalides manning the barricades with others, near Magnes and Cardinal in his shadow form. How many evo's did they hit? How many normals? Hopefully every single person hit was an evo and the odds of it being one were pretty good. Inwardly Aude trills at the helicopter and it's approach, it's releasing of the hail of death to people. These days of late, she was wishing she was up in that damned flying tin can. But she's better down here. Down here she can do things for them that others can't.

Her old partner, Mr. wet behind the ears is spotted and she scowls. God dammit, that kid alone could fuck up so much stuff. For them, not for the public.

Aude's hand cycles through the radio at her waist, searching for the channel, getting off the police one and settles onto the one that she knows HF monitors. She'll take the chance and hopes that someone's listening. Her face tilted down and to the side into the hand held on her shoulder and she depresses the button, covering her mouth to muffle the sound heard beyond her from being heard.

Only to frown as she see's shadow sink in around magnes's arm in an unnatural way. "This is Tink. Gravokinetic, looks like he might have someone who can turn into.. smoke? on him. Flying up to the chopper, coming at your rear. He can do bad damage, take him out. I'll keep an eye out down here"

Pop Crackle Pop

Not too distinguishable from the gunfire is the sound of… fireworks? Bright purples and blues mushroom and explode into little starry fragments in the sky. Right in front of one of our friendly helicopters. Three more explosions of brightness and color launch themselves into the sky, blanketing over one of the choppers. Little embers of blue purple and red float down towards the ground before dissipating into nothing.

Once the fire show in the air is completed, the fire show on the ground begins. But this fire show is a tad more ominous than the cheery display of a few moments ago. Fire springs up from the ground as if summoned from hell itself, spreading quickly in a line which encompasses itself around the bloodied and screaming crowd. A wall of fire prevents those who would escape from doing just that. But don't worry citizens! Another cop is on the scene!

The policeman walks towards the crowd from the flame burning out on the massive amounts of flammable chemicals that were spread. His peer out from under his brow, jaw set. This cop for some reason, also has an axe. A line of flame burning behind him, Douglas watches the crowd carefully for any 'familiar' faces. The object held in his other hand is brought up one last time. His shoulder dips slightly to adjust with the weight of the sniper rifle positioned there.

His left hand holds a book. Twilight. And apparently he is on the last page. Turning the page with one finger, a little growl emits from Douglas throat before he half turns and casts the book into the fire. His eyes then set for the crowd.

The idea of trying to call Delilah and find out what's happening at the church is abandoned when Cat spots first an RPG aimed at the center, then the runaway car also headed for it. Then there are people jostling them in their panicky escapes. She grabs the guitar case with one hand, barely missing having knuckles stomped on and starts moving to be out of the car's path while at the same time answering Helena. "Building? Maybe. I still think they might try to set captives on fire out here. Got any wind to deflect the car and rocket with?"

Maybe, maybe not. But she can at least suggest.

"Cat…Cat…CAT!" Helena's banged and bruised a bit by treading feet, when suddenly if Cat doesn't prevent her or move out of her way, she's grabbing the brunette and fighting the crowd to get out of the way of that thing. "I don't see how, not without hurting a lot of people!" But if there's a reasonable clearance of space, maybe she can set the car into a tailspin in another direction. She's hesitant to try any of her usual tricks with so many people. A sudden idea occurs, but as she sees a figure head up to the chopper, she devotes her efforts to trying to find a building for cover, instead.

Twenty feet from the Suresh Center's primped facade, the rocket vanishes. Just like that.

Two seconds later, it explodes orange amid the patriotic colors that had sparkled so blithely up into the sky, an ugly blotch on the face of the aesthetically choreographed sky show. An instant's recall from Cat's ability feeds her mind's eye a single frame of a running silhouette, instants before that same lanky, uniformed silhouette reforms on the lip of the building's rooftop, shoulders heaving in a visible peak and fall of sharp-cornered geometry. A figure joins the first, clad in like colors and cut— the sameness that comes of deliberate design, unified intent— before both fade into a blur and reappear on the ground level, in time to see the burning car crush, ravening, over a man with a sprain, two shopping bags, the cheery green carapace of a scooter, and then one hapless, hollering cop.

The churn of wheels pass so close to Helena that she can feel the heat kiss her cheek, seconds before she jams her slight frame into a gap in the crowd. She falls hard into someone who falls hard into fire, bounces off their shoulders and a brief snip of halitosis-fragranced scream catches her by the nose before she's tumbling past, out of Douglas' circle of flame instants before it closes again, breaking for the line of buildings. Cat's guitar case weighs heavy in her hand, and the wild seizure and retreat of the crowd, cleared by the car, leaves her with a moment's view of the 'policeman' with the fucking axe.

No one has a fucking extinguisher. Someone's bringing a fucking extinguisher. Cops herd civilians and a hand drags at Aude's elbow, her idiot PD partner shouting that We have to fall back! Clear room for the ambulances! The choppers are gonna come—! before the pyrotechnic soloist standing on the edge of the courtyard catches his attention. There's a sidewinder scrape and catch of fingernails on canvas as he gets his Glock out, sights down his arm; pulls his trigger seconds after the Captain takes the first shot, ricocheting a bullet neatly off the blade of Douglas' axe. The Humanis First! hound isn't too far away, nor making much out of evasive maneuvers, but the Captain's aim is off. So is Aude's partner's. They're distracted, which would have been unforgivable under all circumstances up until this point:

Harlow's chopper shoots the news bird down, tailspinning, flashing an epileptic electronica hit in emergency lights and warning signs, into the top floor of the Chandra Suresh Memorial Center. Compared to that, the cacophony of the burning car flipping on a tug of magnetokinesis is a faded whisper.

A policeman's club cuts through the air like a thrown missile, in ways that likely it shouldn't, arrowing in the direction of the helicopter. It hits the side of Harlow's chopper, and bounces off, tumbling towards the ground far below in apparent uselessness.

Hurled by the gravitokinetic, however, Richard Cardinal is a living payload of darkness that was carried on that club. At the moment of impact, shadow washes from stick to hull, spilling over the side like a river of faded ink and slipping in the gunner's door.

Magnes falls back once he's thrown Cardinal, trying to steer clear of the gun as he waits for any sign that Cardinal's, well, make the chopper safe for ramming. He doesn't make a sound, though he is trying to stay alert, lest he get sniped.

Heat from the fire is fairly strong. The petite officer is half tempted to do her job, start pulling people back, finding someway to bat down the flames in one section and herd people through. Maybe even weed out those who seem like evo's and those who aren't… and let the evo's accidentally trip in the fire. Yesss, that'd be ideal. But nothing is Ideal and Douglas seems to be gaining a bit of attention with his actions.

So Aude slips a hand down to her ankle, to the gun there. The non service weapon. The safety off, and gun cocked, the woman sights up, up up, and pulls the trigger.

"Goodbye Magnes" The back alley special fires off, a bullet with Magnes name on it and a prayer that maybe the world will be less one Evo and the blame shifted to Douglas or the myriad of other HF'ers. Also the hopes that it'll buy the people in the chopper time.

His head slowly dips down as the axe reverberates through his hand. His eyes slowly examine the axe, eyes landing on the spot where a bullet made an indentation. His lips pull back in a disappointed scowl as if the axe had failed him in some way. Looking terribly upset, the man slowly bares his teeth. "You're on time out."

With the axe being sequestered into the proverbial corner, Douglas draws his sidearm. Glancing over at the Captain and Aude's partner, Douglas brings up one hand. His face remains completely emotionless as holes are placed two to three times on each man's chest. The glock is pointed around at any other prospective shooters, and then he's on his approach again towards the crowd and the rest of the action.

Helena skitters away on her hands and feet, crab-like when the wash of heat from the flames knock her backward. She can't see anything through it. "Cat!" she yells out, pushing herself up to her feet. "Cat!" Her eyes dart around quickly, yeah, Aude's pretty obvious, but she's also in with a bunch of other folks in blue. It would be a bad idea to hurt her…but as Helena calls out "Cat!" again, she's getting ideas…and preparing to dive for cover.

Moving at a quick clip, narrowly avoiding the car even with it being neutralized by a magnetic manipulator, Cat's eyes land on Douglas. Cop with an axe, being shot at by other cops. He's one she'd remember even if not panmnesiac. She sees Helena make it through, and the fire resume again before she can follow, finding herself cut off from the leader. This takes her attention away from the rpg and news helicopter impact, spares Aude from being noticed as she fires at Magnes too.

Douglas is in Cat's vicinity, however, as he draws out a weapon and fires at the police captain. She ducks behind a mailbox and opens that guitar case just enough for access. Out comes a silenced pistol. Just enough of her leans out around the mailbox to spot Douglas again and fire off two shots at his center of mass; then she's on the move again with the case, headed for the fire hydrant and moving behind people.

Flaming car, semi-automatic or even fully-automatic guns, rocket-propelled grenades, cruel epithets and scathing criticism, the Suresh Center's personnel equipped to handle. Falling choppers— now, that was a nasty surprise, and marks the first real hit that Humanis First! has landed on the building. The full row of windows ruptures, spills inward in accordance with the safety priorities of the best engineering, scorching carpets with friction, ripping light panel from their cabled guts, tearing ceiling with jammed blades and overturning furniture within. The magnetokinetic turns his head up just in time to glimpse the first burp of fire, illuminating the scowl on the man's face.

Even before he turns his attention downward, again, his companion's moving. That is to say: his companion's gone, racing up the mirror glass and chiseled stone, and vanishing in through the gaping entry wound where the helicopter had sawed in. Instead, the magnetokinetic begins to advance on the crowd— or, perhaps more importantly, the Humanis First! operatives between him and the horrified civilians.

Most of whom have pulled back, by now, but there's a ragged residue mixed of the haplessly confused and injured, as well as a multiplying plague of ugly locals of some embarrassingly homogeneous financial demographic, armed with shotguns, glass bottles, and riotous intent, their lumberjack leaders smelling faintly of gasoline though their last gift was unduly halted in mid-delivery on the courtyard. They stay back from Douglas' fire circle, squeezing around its perimeter and bottlenecking down the street, filtering through to beleaguer his attackers with fists and makeshift melee weapons. The collision of groups is swift, and the scale of balance doesn't seesaw long; billy clubs, special issue stun weapons, the sudden spume of a teargas grenade.

Around Cardinal, the military-grade chopper is fast-moving and sinuous, rumbling invisible friction against the air, throws him around inside its body as if he'd been swallowed whole by a serpent. He sees people, easily despite the dark. A newscaster with her face purple down one side and sickly green all the rest, a camera man with his face pinched with pain, hands tight on the recording machine, and viscous red staining his clothes. There's a man, armored, sitting beside the female newscaster with the small, patient smile of monitor duty presiding his face; the one on her other side mans the machine gun, a hulking, hideous affair of unvarnished metal and rotating nozzles, answering agilely to the maneuvering of its operator. They all have headsets. Makes sense. It's loud and blurry up here.

An advantage that's cut in half by Aude's forewarning. When Cardinal resnares his flesh and pulls trigger, there's a gloved hand gripping his wrist with titanic strength, rending the weapon just out of trajectory enough— that the first shot tears a hole through the man's arm instead of lodging itself in his armor. The second punctures window glass, sets the media personnel screaming, thin and reedy over the buffeting drone of wind.

The chopper veers, abruptly, its pilot shouting into the microphone hooked around his mouth. It's as much of a signal as Magnes Varlane can expect, comes unfortunately timed to the sudden lance of agony as a bullet from below punctures his thigh, an inch from the artery, lodging its heat precariously between severed strands of muscle. His flight holds— barely steadier than the chopper ahead.

Men fall dead, Captain and colleague slain in butter-slick succession from Douglas' weapon. Two shots bury themselves in his vest, then, sparing his flesh but wracking his ribs with hairline cracks, a palette of bruises, momentarily dropping the air out of his lungs. A third squares into his chest plate, comes from Aude's partner, crouched low over the hood of their squadcar. Aude, he's shouting. What the fuck are you doing? That's a fucking officer, stop. Another round — suddenly two — kisses the ground around his feet, long misses, haphazard suppression fire from a young officer crouching low over her Captain's body, now, fingers testing his pulse.

The advantage of surprise was what Cardinal was counting on, but unfortunately he only received half of it; the warning called from the ground ensuring that the scant handful of moments required to transition from shadow to flesh let the gunner react. The first shot was purposeful, the second an instinctive spasm of trigger-finger as his arm was wrenched out of its proper aim.

"…" An angry shout from the shadowmorph is swept away by the roar of the rotors, his hair fluttering in the breeze swept into the vehicle by its movement. His other hand lashes out, grabbing hold of the armored man's own wrist to seal their bondage, and as the chopper veers, he twists to try and pull the man between himself and whatever wall of the helicopter that he's likely to hit. Because he isn't, after all, strapped in!

"Damnit!" Magnes shouts as the bullet impacts with his thigh, grabbing it as his flight becomes unstable, flying in loops and circles as he tries to get himself straight again. Getting shot is one thing, but a burning bullet lodged inside of him, that's new. "Again, again, can't believe this. Damn, the chopper!" He tries his best to ignore the pain, knowing he's in for a hell of a lot of pain later, and that this could be the difference between him sulking in pain and a dozen more people dying. "Damn, I'm coming!" He starts flying toward the chopper as quickly as possible, increasing the gravity of his entire body. Then suddenly there's a loud bang as he slams his shoulder into the side of the chopper like a one ton football player.

"That's a cop?!" Aude verbally fires back at her partner. Fake shock crossing her face. He's been hit, and while it doesn't look fatal from here, it'll have to do. Behind the vehicle Aude scrambles, taking the few moments to put her not so legal weapon back where it came from while her partner is distracted and get out her service weapon. She squeezes off a few shots at Douglas, aiming for dead center chest where he's apt to have a vest on before she looks over to her partner and the captain. "Fucking hell, can't tell the friendlies from the fucking hostiles!"

Ignore that, you know, Magnes had been in the air and floating and that Humanis first tends to not hire Evo's on principle. She'll run interference now though, crouched behind the hood and poking her head up. A deliberate direction of her eyes on douglas and then up Up towards the Evo in the air assaulting the chopper. Go get him, not my partner!.

Douglas slowly distances himself from the police, coupling himself with the crowd. Though much of the crowd makes sure they have a wide berth from the axe wielding officer, some only see a uniform and assume it means safety. But they are wrong. A man is cut down at the ankles by a wide swing from the axe as Douglas suddenly decides that the axe is no longer on timeout. He starts to let the laughter ring out of his lips. But his laughter is cut awfully short.

Confusion sets on Douglas' features as he swings his gaze down on the bullet holes that have glazed through the police uniform. Looking confused even indignant that someone had the audacity to shoot and not miss it's nigh unbelievable. His eyes follow the trajectory from which he was hit, steps slowly taking him forward after the woman fleeing behind a… fire hydrant.

"Mmm.." Licking his lips slowly, the man makes his calm steady path after Cat, axe held at one side, gun at the other.

This is when Helena makes a mad dash for the nearest building, skirting in through a doorway and using it to partially lean out from cover. Can't do anything about the helicopter. Can't do anything about the rogue cop (who do you think you're fooling, lady?). Can't see what's going on with Cat. Think Helena, think - what can you do something about?

The firewall.

It might be a bit like juggling (seeing as she's maintaining the rainfall over the church as well), but it doesn't take long for her to gather the cloudstuff that she needs, increase its humidity, and squeeze. Rain falls, thick and hard in a very limited area of space just over the flamewall itself, hissing as it comes into contact with the fire and slowly forcing it down to nothing more than angry steam.

He's still coming, Cat can see from glancing briefly around the shelter she's taken. Soon she'll need to move again, and even then she might be exposed to his weaponry. If she stays put, he'll be where she is soon enough. And he's got body armor, not surprising. Unfortunate her shots didn't at least knock the man down and make him need to catch breath before coming her way.

But the legs, Cat realizes, don't traditionally have such protection. She lets him get a bit closer before acting to increase her chances, then fires off a succession of silenced shots. Two are aimed at his crotch, and two at one of the man's knees.

A one-ton flying policeman is on Humanis First!'s list of unexpected assaults, much as falling choppers was the Suresh Center's. The helicopter unit is momentarily thrown for the loop; Cardinal's target, half out of his harness, slams hard into the wall, cushioning the thief who lands knee-first into his stomach. The gunner yells, hauls his machine gun around a precarious swing, stops before doing something completely idiotic like shooting the corner of the chopper off in an effort to get at Magnes. He finally releases the machine gun, yank a ridiculously-proportioned Desert Eagle out of his shoulder holster. He turns— only to find himself having to shove aside a thrown camera and then a flaying hurricane of manicured finger nails. Ramming his elbow into the newscaster's face, he points the weapon dead center square into Cardinal's back.

A shout across all comms: "Fucking mutants! Fly us out of here!"

Magnes sees the pilot's brow cinch down into a glare, harmless despite its vehemence, at him through the dull glass of the windshield, before the chopper brusquely shoves against him, rotor turning, to glide them out the skies over the Suresh Center. Shrieks from below: cops holding their fire lest they hit Magnes, their attention divided between the aborting embryo of the riot, what few Humanis First! operatives seem to be ghosting around on the ground, concealed within the crowd, and the innocents. Rain is unexpected, welcome; begins to slake the scorching flames that keep too many of the bystanders penned up inside the circle of Douglas' incendiary.

The axeman himself comes closer, and Cat can see: there's something wrong with him. No, really. Not even in the puncture of his vest— or the entry wounds she knocks into his legs, cracking bone and roostertailing blood, but something else missing there like it was amputated, broken like genetics and even the trauma of grief have never left her or her friends, despite that he bleeds like any of them. Red.

At Aude's side, her partner's trigger-finger has gone slack, his noisily excitable chastisements muted by astonishment that the man's still walking. Toward that civilian woman, despite that the flames are going out, the chopper's whinging into retreat, word on the radio that men shedding tactical gear were spotted hitting street level, despite that the battle's over if not quite lost. "Jesus fu—" he cuts the woman a glance, before reaching into the driver's seat to snag the megaphone off the dash, forcing himself not to allow the sight of Captain Newbury crumpled and abandoned post-pulse-check twenty yards over distract him. "Humanis First! operative! You are surrounded— and injured. Lay down your weapons and stop immediately. You will be taken into custody and given medical care if you comply with these orders."

He might even mean it.

Alone in the courtyard, beside the smoking remains of the flipped car, the Center's lone remaining guardsman has his head craned back, dark eyes following Humanis First!'s chopper through the night sky. Whatever experiences qualified him for his job give him the knowledge and acuity to tell the difference between the terrorist's transport and the search and news choppers that are hauling away, retracting their presence except for the long ashy lines of spotlights, unmuzzled cameras rolling, shouts into headsets.

Coming at you live on Fox! news, the terrorist threat at Humanis First! has come to fruition. We can see a commandeered military helicopter moving to retreat, with what appear to be hostages and allegedly Evolved individuals attacking those on-board. We do not know if these are SCOUT officers, or—

Pinching his earpiece, the magnetokinetic says: «Between you and me, Shelby, I think we can halt that chopper. What do you think?»

Hey, fashionably late is better than never, right? And he was inside, trying to defend the Center's employees, and play medic to those injured by the helicopter crashing into the roof of the building. Leo has the wide-eyed, white-rimmed look of a startled prairie dog, as he peers around the edge of the door to take a look at the mess out front. He's murmuring something to himself, a litany, a mantra, who knows, save that it's not in English.

"Yeah, I read you," Leo affirms. His tone is weirdly matter of fact, and his face is affectless, as he steps out, looks up. And reaches. He can't bodily haul the whole thing down. Far from it. But….it's not hard at all to snap a few of the rotorblades. The HF! chopper begins to falter, stumbling through the air like a bumblebee with just a hair too much pollen stuck to it. The engine's whine scales up to a scream.

A nearly feral grin curves itself across Cardinal's lips as he recovers from that crash, knee buried in the man's stomach and driving a kevlar plate's edge uncomfortably into the racist's groin, dark eyes flashing as he spits something out in unpleasant tones that's unheard on the wind. "…" Then there's movement behind him, his head turns slightly—

—and he melts away into shadow, twisting into incorporeal blackness before the gunner's eyes. The hammer of the Desert Eagle slams down, and a .50 round explodes through the air, slamming through the dissipating Evolved before there's even time to stop what he was doing. A cop-killer round isn't stopped very well by kevlar, the bullet punching straight through the vest as he kills his own comrade.

Why is the chopper falling?! Is generally the first thought that goes through Magnes' head. But, alright, he can deal with this, he can work, as long as no one shoots him again, God please no one shoot him again! "Cardinal, the chopper is sinking, I'm gonna help it land so no one gets hurt!" he exclaims before flying directly under it, still trying to push the pain of his thigh back so he can concentrate on placing his palms flat on the bottom of the machine. He can't move an entire chopper, but he can safely lower and reverse the gravity of roughly half of it, the bottom half, which should be enough to safely ease the thing down… hopefully. "Everyone get out of the way, clear a path or something!" he tries to yell at everyone below.

Jesus christ, where the hell did Danko find this guy? Aude doesn't keep firing at him, instead looking over to her partner, sizing him up and then to the people around. "Holy fuck" Is he hit? Yes, and the captain is… dead. God dammit. She hunkers in the rain, cursing the day and wishing they had warned her earlier they were doing this. She could have… run better interference instead of staring at her partner and the dead captain. "Clusterfuck"

Stopping, Douglas slowly stoops to poke one finger into the hole that has planted itself in his leg. Prodding the fresh bullet wound, one would expect howling, roars of pain, thrashing, or at least a grimace. The fake cop just looks curious. Bringing up the bloodied finger, the man for just an instant looks fascinated. The blood is flicked out at the ground as Douglas' eyes raise to fix on Cat.

The glock is pointed forward, warnings not heeded, even ignored, if he heard them in the first place. And in an instant, the littlest Humanis marine is making a insanely fast charge at the Newspaper Rack Cat takes shelter behind. Unloading his entire clip on the rack in suppressing fire, the man seems to not be hindered at all by the two bullet wounds that have put themselves in his right thigh. At the last second the now empty glock is tossed to the side, before Douglas dips one shoulder. Slapping his hand against the concrete as he turns his body vertical the man springs himself up and over Cat's cover.

Landing with a heavy thud on the other side with Cat a maniacal grin is cast over the woman, axe held firmly in hand.

Helicopter? Check. Firewall? Gone. The lady cop with the seemingly friendly fire? For the moment, out of the way. Her breath catches as she sees Douglas vaulting over Cat's cover; now she has no way to assault him without possibly targeting Cat as well, and making a run to Cat's cover will expose herself to a hail of bullets. So for the moment, Helena waits and watches…and lets a slow building fog begin to seep across the ground, in case she needs the cover in order to make it to Cat.

There's a scream from behind that rack as the rounds pass through it. Most have no effect, but one makes a stinging burial into the meat of her lower leg. Blood leaks out from it, and it hurts. But Cat will seek to deal with that a bit later along with the scratches and such from debris off the newspaper machine. Right now there's a more pressing issue. The still moving man is vaulting over the rack to land on the other side of her.

Fortunately for Cat she isn't out of bullets, and now he's at far closer range. She'd avoided doing so before, literature says to aim at the center of mass for a reason: broader target, easier to hit. But at this closeness, and given his Terminator-like persistence, she raises the pistol and aims three shots at the center of his forehead.

The chopper sags dangerously from the sky, but Magnes' shoulder braces underneath it and the added thrust of the magnetokinetic on the ground steadies its troubled drift and descent. And, abruptly, the has little but directional control over the aircraft— and he's down one comrade, the man now perforated by a round from his comrade's hollowpoint. Bending his face around a snarl of chagrin, he unclips himself from his seat in a series of quick jerks, hauls himself around to snare the back of the camera man's head by his hair, yanks it back until his throat shows fishbelly white. Gun shoved up against it.

"You get them to put us down—" he shouts into the chopper's dark, blustering recesses, "—slow, easy, or the boy dies. Do you fucking understand me, mutant cunt? Or your little bitch sympathizer dies."

The Desert Eagle's hammer knocks metal on metal and levels on the camera man's chest, seconding this opinion. The other operative's shin is planted flat across the young newscaster's gut, shoved down so that she's wheezing half-strangled by the tautened lattice of her seatbelt harness. Her fingers scrabble on the thigh of her captor's trousers, helpless despite the bellicose intent popping her knuckles out against the soft skin of her hands, eyes glazed over underneath the sheen of tears but stubbornness setting her jaw. Her lips move, two monosyllables. No one in the world can hear her, but in the dark, Cardinal can tell exactly what she means to say. The wind blows the stink of spent pyrotechnic smoke through.

Sirens now. Ambulances massing in the further streets, even as rioters crack their knees on the concrete forced down by handcuffs and police thicken in swarm, backup arriving, radios in chatter. A street light shorts out, smashed by an errant Molotov; paint dries on the wall, a hate message interrupted mid-sentence by fight or flight, it's impossible to tell which.

Nice and easy, nice and easy. He had to do this once, worse, help bring down a battered Blackhawk in the middle of a sandstorm. Though it'd be simpler to smash it down in a twist of metal, burning wreckage. Leo's hands are raised, as if in supplication, in salute, like the chopper will come to rest on his upstretched palms like the dove descending with the olive branch. It apparently hasn't occurred to him that someone else might be taking aim at him, all standing out there exposed.

It's a bad situation, up there in the chopper. One might even call it desperate. The hostages have guns to themselves, secured by feet, legs, and… they're strapped in.

The shadow that is Richard Cardinal spills over beneath the newscaster's head, tendrils of darkness whispering into her ear. "In a few seconds, this heli's going to tip. Punch him, trip him, something when it does— just make sure he falls!"

Out the door, down over the hull to where Magnes is supporting the vehicle, a shadow pooling over his hands, down one arm, up to wash over his ear where the roar of wind can't block him out. "Tip the chopper to the left!"

Magnes mentally questions the order for a split second, but then, just, fuck it, gravity shifts, and suddenly the chopper tips as his fingers start to dig into the metal, trying to keep his grip. He doesn't tip it back, he'll wait for another order from Cardinal before he does that, but he's still aiding in the chopper's descent, even while it's tipped. "Come on, land, I'm not ready to get my head blown off by a sniper. I've only gotten to… damn I don't even know what that base is called!" Yeah, he's at the stage where he's talking to himself to ignore the chopper in his hands and the bullet in his thigh.

No time to pluck off evo's try and kill her old partner or even help to bring down Douglas - sorry, look/ like she's bringing down Douglas. Nope. "Get folks to safety, pick a building and start moving them Fredricks!" Aude orders her partner, injured or not. If he can still yell at her and check on the captain, he can start helping to herd people.

And she's doing the same, moving into the crowd of people, yelling for them to start moving, go this way, one arm milling and directing them. But at one point in the group, she leans down, the hem of her shirt brought out and the illegal firearm is whipped out, carefully rubbed down to remove fingerprints and some lucky corpse suddenly has become the new owner. That done, she's back to directing, keeping attention away from what she just did. Which frankly, is pretty easy what with helicopter in imminent danger of crashing.

Douglas moves quickly as his feet connect with solid ground again, his free hand flying up immediately. As Cat's wrist moves up to train on Douglas' head her skin meets skin. Not in the pleasant kind of way either. Her wrist's path collides with a firm hand. Tightening his new grip around her wrist he lets out a large grin, a grin which becomes larger and larger as time progresses. Not solely because Douglas' lips can spread extremely wide, but also because his head is moving rapidly at Cat's.

In the same movement, Douglas' hand brings Cat's arm down powerfully at a raised knee, aiming to slap the gun out of her hand.

He's got a decent grip and the gun is moved off its aim, but she's no weakling. Nor does she intend to stand still while he uses a head butt. Cat's head moves to one side to avoid that blow, and she makes a swift judgment as to what else she can try. There's a bullet wound to one leg and standing might not work so well for her, but she saw him also be struck by two of her shots. That being the case, it's probable the injured leg has the knee he's raising.

Moves taught to her initially by Hana Gitelman and later by a professional male instructor are brought to bear. She seeks to change the angle of her hand being brought down so it will impact where he's wounded and use one leg to attempt kicking it out from under him.

A hundred feet in the rain-needled air, it's too loud to distinguish one noise from the other. Cardinal's world, plastered against the fabric of Magnes' shoulder and highlit by nightvision, abruptly tilts on its axis. Gravitokinesis and magnetokinesis conspire against steel engineering and inertia, forcing wracking groans out of metal rivets. Men swing their weapons up, reaching to grab onto something— anything to keep their balance, but the young woman in her tear-sodden suit lunges up, then, hurling her thin frame against the superior mass and martial prowess of the terrorist.

The Desert Eagle doesn't do jack shit against falling. Abruptly, the chopper's gun side spits him out into open air, his limbs rotating wildly for purchase on the whistling autumnal nothing as he careens earthward, helpless as a turtle on its back. Down, down, down—

"Shelby!" the magnetokinetic shouts, throwing an arm up. "Heads up!"

Thin fingers lock themselves around Aude's arm, seconds before her partner collides with her, shoulder-first, his megaphone still flapping uselessly from his hand. He wades into the midst of her work, blocking the flow of pedestrian traffic and tumbling briefly over a spent teargas canister. Visibility is diminished by rainfall and straggling smoke, but at the very least, the worst of the PD's chemical counter-attack has dissipated with the weather— along with the need for it. "Hey! I lost track of that Humanis First! goon," he hollers, his face screwed up around a squint and the onslaught of meteorology. "Can you see him? Do you think we should tell somebody?"

The bulk of Douglas' head hammers into Cat's shoulder, missing her own head but throwing the trajectory of her knife-hand for a slight loop. Despite that, her aim is true and there's surprising power coiled up in the musculature of the lawyeress' arm. In the hazed periphery of her vision, she can see the muddled figures of strangers— civilian strangers backing from the crippled news stand's shadow, pushing each other and turning eyes from her quick with guilt, their cowardice pled like ignorance. It could be harder to blame them: Douglas is maniacal in his obsessive indifference to the physical injury wrought on him, glittering scaly under blood and water.

Caught. The flailing human body is abruptly wafting downward like an autumn leaf, since it seems like Magneto and Magnes together have the wounded bird well in hand. Friend or foe, Leo's not sure, so the man's held immobile as Leo swoops him in towards him. Like this is a completely anarchic production of Peter Pan.

As one form tumbles free of the helicopter, another begins to— but catches on something within, a pair of legs frantically kicking off the edge of the helicopter's doors as the other soldier of Humanis First desperately attempts to maintain his grip. The shadow upon Magnes's arm and shoulder hisses a dark sort of satisfaction as the gunner falls towards the ground below, demanding after a moment, "Okay— put it back, level it out to land!"

Up, again, up the young man's arm and twisting over the surface of the chopper in defiance of physics to return within. Cardinal erupts out of the darkness, lunging in mid-resurgence to grab hold of one of the internal straps meant to hold people into the helicopter. The other hand, still holding a gun, sweeps towards the racist still holding on, the movements of the helicopter making the barrel waver more than a bit as he tries to aim, tries to aim—


"What the hell?" Magnes asks when he hears a bang, but he wasn't hit, and he imagines with Abby having at least five white knights per square foot of her at any given moment in these situations, she's probably alright. So, back to the chopper! Gravity begins to balance out again. He makes the bottom half of the chopper heavy, but gravity is reversed so the bottom half is pushing up, this way the chopper lands far slower and he can focus on steadily bringing it to the ground. "I'm gonna repeat again, make sure no one is under the chopper!" is exclaimed to anyone who may be below him.

"Get the people out, and to safety. Fuck the asshole who's running around, someone else seems to be trying to make swiss cheese of him. Get the fucking survivors out" Aude hisses to her new partner, taking the megaphone from him forcibly. She flicks the trigger, holding it up to her mouth. "Keep moving, Move towards the…" What stores were there. Most were abandoned. The megaphone is clicked off and she looks to her partner. "Start kicking in store doors, herd people in there. Get them out of the open and into the stores, protect them from anyone else out here. "Please move to the nearest open storefront and take shelter" She repeats this, over and over, moving to kick open empty storefront doors, breaking glass if she has to, and herding the people to safety.

The strike does indeed go to his injury, but being as the man himself was just prodding his own finger into his own wound it is a wonder without wonder at his reaction. He giggles. A soft bubbly laughter that pours out of his lips at the attack, though despite his laughter and oddly seeming delighted expression crossing his face there is moisture around his red rimmed eyes. What seems like may be tears crossing over his cheeks, the ex-marine continues in his attack. When Cat's leg sweeps out to take out his supporting, leg he uses his momentum and grip on Cat's wrist to throw her to the ground first before going to fall on after her. His fist swinging powerfully at the base of her nose as they topple downwards.

This whole thing has really pissed Helena off.

When Helena gets pissed off, the weather gets bad. At least, when she gets pissed off and isn't in control of herself. Fortunately, she is. Right now she's really wishing she had the means to aim a lightning bolt at small targets (and that wish has been happening more often lately). She runs through her mental Rolodex of tricks as she watches Cat fight with Douglas, trying to think of she can possibly do that wouldn't involve also hurting Cat. And then she has it. Well, sort of. Hopefully Cat has been around her long enough to sense what's coming.

As Cat and Douglas fight, the air begins to feel…charged. Thick. Pressured. Cat may notice, but then again, she might not. The only warning she truly has is the last second where Helena steps out of the doorway, takes a chance. "CAT!" she hollers, "EARS!" 3…2…1…


This would probably seem less of a thing, if Hel hadn't placed the center-point of the thunderclap right at the back of Douglas' head.

Car and building windows rattle - some may even break. Alarms go off. Cat's ears are going to ring, and she might be deaf for a while (possibly along with others), but for Douglas, it's a bit like someone shoved a flash bang grenade up against his ears - albeit less flash, more bang.

His wrestling her to the ground is helped by the pressure she senses building up in the air, and the voice of Helena calling to her. Cat grimaces at his resistance to whatever injury she can deliver, the way it seems to only amuse him. And the rage builds inside her, a controlled fury she uses to fuel her body. Adrenaline. Her back meets concrete, there's a fist coming at her nose, and she needs to cover her ears quickly. Only one hand is free, though, so she uses it to cover the ear on that side and seeks to roll away from the fist's trajectory. At the same time her goal is to use his falling to advantage and cover the other ear with Douglas.

Only after the crackaboom! effect will she seek to draw her good leg up and slam the knee into his crotch.

The pilot is dead before he hits Leonard's telekinetic grasp. Hangs their ragdolled, a chunky-rimmed hole taking up one open eye socket, the other staring blank into the starry sky. The columned fluorescence of a spotlight sweeps over the corpse, momentarily blanking its forehead and nose into alabaster, seconds before the telekinetic snags that, too, toward him. Both bodies float easily toward him, buoyed aloft by his will, seamless movement that takes them following his psychic commands to the letter— until the living operative abruptly electrifies into action, yanking a smaller semi-auto out of his boot and squaring the nozzle at Leonard's approaching figure, his face twisted by an unwholesome rictus of raw resentment. He hauls the trigger.

Benignly, the weapon chooses not to fire. Instead, it jerks out of his grasp like a recalcitrant fish— and the Kevlar plates huddling his body begins to creak, shred their way out of the weave of the vest that contains them. The rivets of his boots give— and his eyes roll back in his head, jaws splaying around a gurgling scream of pain as even his fillings test their roots. The magnetokinetic's features are quiescent as he walks toward his co-worker, frisking the terrorist the easiest and most thorough way he knows how. It takes him but a moment.

The next, he raises an arm at Magnes at the belly of the helicopter, motioning the expanse of stone left open between the police barricade, Center employees, captives, and the inert car. PD officers begin to thread their way around the allotted landing pad. Someone's brought flares: they glow fierce red and sulfuric yellow, swung back and forth to signal Magnes his trajectory. They don't know it, of course— no one knows it, but an ache's started up in Officer Varlane's thigh, channeled down to a buzz in his knee that can be termed neither pain nor numbness, pressure compounded against arteries or nerves or some death trap of compromised anatomy making his toes grow cold inside his boot.

Without guns or electronics blocking his face, the camera man looks no older than twenty. His eyes don't focus properly when he looks at Cardinal in the dark; his mouth moves around an inaudible thank you.

The helicopter crew are, arguably, the only ones who can't hear it when Helena splits the air through its seams. Thunderclap sound waves knock people onto their faces, hiding under their own arms or behind unholstered weapons, crack windows in their frames. Aude can barely hear her partner over its wake, dissolving in the lock of her skull. "I didn't see lightning!"

A thin thread of smoke dissipates from the barrel of Cardinal's gun, and then he holsters it; shifting a bit as the helicopter does under the controls of more than one Evolved who've been guiding it down, no need to pilot it now, he regains his balance and leans over to where the cameraman's strapped in with an intent look on his face, what can be seen of it in the chopper's confines. One hand taps the camera and recording equipment urgently, and he mouths his message carefully. The tapes. They must have been rolling this whole time, and evidently the shadowmorph wants his hands on that.

And there it is. Your kindness taken advantage of, your death staring you in the face. Leo's frozen….and even as the magnetokinetic deals with the gun, Leo's whipping his foe around like a rag doll; something (happily not vital) pops, before Leo summarily drops him on the pavement. The other body lands more gently, and Leo nods his thanks to his co-worker.

Magnes groans lightly, trying to move his toes, he feels them going numb. He's yet to get his first two wounds healed, and now he has another one, and might lose his leg! But he can't worry about that now, finally getting the chopper on to the ground, his good leg bends to carefully let the machine rest on its landing slides, before promptly falling to the ground under the chopper yelling his brains out and holding his leg. Yeah, the pain finally hit him full force, even with the numbness trying to set in.

"What?" Aude bellows at her partner, down on her knees, hands clapped over her ears far too late to save her hearing for the next few minutes. The megaphone clasped the side as she stares at her partner. "Keep Herding!" She yells at him, unable to modulate her hearing. "Get people to safety!" Ignore Douglas, ignore the helicopter, focus on the people. Not her other colleagues.

Where did that lightening come from? her partners words bounce about the back of Aude's skull though.

Smirking, Douglas continues to be remarkably resilient to the pain caused by his bullet wounds and Cat's smacking around. But as he practically leaps on top of her, dragging the back of his hand across her cheek, he doesn't pay much heed to the blonde girl yelling about ears. But then, the whole world explodes and goes quiet.

Were he of a saner mind, he would reach up and clasp at his ears, yell and writhe in pain, and maybe a little less sane he would beat at her in rage. But Douglas falls under neither category. Before Cat can lunge at his goods again, he has already dismounted and plops on the ground. Looking rather confused and… emotionally hurt his hands come up to cup at his ears. His eyes dart this way then that as if looking for someone to explain to him what's going on. But no one will. His legs come up and knees press to his chest.

Eerie. There was no lightning…only thunder. Helena takes the chance of running out toward Cat, moving to bend and help her up. "We've got to go!" she yells loudly, accompanied by gestures. "We could make for the Center, or try to get off the island, but we need to get away from this animal!" It's all she can do not to kick Douglas in the face; she hand gestures in case Cat can't hear her. But 'GO' is a pretty easy word to lipread if necessary.

He's off of her, and lying there in a fetal position. Cat gets to her feet. Maybe she heard Helena, maybe she didn't. There's some ringing in her ears, one worse than the other. Her pistol is retrieved and aimed at the man's forehead for a long moment as she looks around to see what eyes might be on her. Her expression is positively murderous, and Helena might well get the impression she's picturing him as Ethan Holden or a suitable substitute for him. "Can the cops be trusted to take him in? Did you see other fake cops here?"

She seems to think for some moments, then states "We should call Carolina and haul him away, long enough to make sure we have real cops to hand him to at least." Then she steps up and clubs the man twice across the temple with the pistol to make sure he's unconscious.

Her leg wound can be dealt with after they're away from the area with Douglas.

The newscaster was right, when she was screaming at the Humanis pilot at the beginning of this whole debacle— there isn't a station in the world that would air that sort of footage. There's ways to get it out, though, and it may be to the benefit Richard Cardinal's plans that it does. A quick smile's flashed to the news crew as he takes possession of the tapes, nodding once, tightly, and bringing up a hand in a vague wave. Be seeing you.

Then he becomes darkness as he turns, and the instant the helicopter alights upon the ground he slides smoothly to the earth, vanishing once more into the milling confusion. And once he's out of sight, well, it's always been hard to pinpoint where the sneaky bastard's at.

There's some morbid irony, that this discussion and the storm on the Suresh Center happens in the shadow of a beleaguered newsstand. Certainly, its owner isn't going to be open or able to sell his wares come daylight. Darkness parts, and cedes Cardinal to the rain-sludged pavement where the Phoenix operatives are standing conference over the strange spectacle Douglas' infantile curl provides. He's bleeding out even as they speak, red guttering on the folds of his boots and leaking dense into the sidewalk, his axe tumbled down in the bullet-snapped balsawood and colorful paper wreckage.

The transition was so sudden, between the monster's insensate bloodlust and its shriveled, whimpering terror, now. It's impossible to tell how quick the switch would flip to reversion. It's impossible to tell whether anyone saw Cat's face, or would remember to match her to the guitar case and a corpse on the ground. It's impossible to tell how much any of that ought to matter in the bleak face of justice. The absence of clarity here can not be attributed entirely to the dreary screen of drizzling rainwater, or strobe and spark of the three street lamps nearest, unable to make up their respective minds about how to go about the dithering brink of electrical failure.

Down the street— well out of pointing range, the lamp over Aude's head is blacked out, crushed, oil and alcohol leaking sluggishly down its stem, as quiet and inert as the crowd around her has become. It isn't long before the clear signal comes her way, and she hefts the megaphone back to her mouth. "Please remain calm. We are no longer under fire. Will the civilians on the street please move to the right, and clear the road for ambulance movement. Thank you. Unless you are incapacitated, the injured should move toward the Suresh Memorial Center. Toward the Suresh Memorial Center. Please remain calm."

Aude's partner finds an axe, but nothing else. He sounds like an idiot on the radio.

Dizzy to the point of black-out is kind of like calm. There's an oxygen mask clapping over Magnes' face before his arms have even fallen out of their crucifixion configuration on the helicopter. Relax, an EMT tells him. She is blonde. A tourniquet cinches his leg in somebody else's hands. You did great, and you're going to be just fine. You have identification? Identification? Difficult to say whether someone just dug it out of his pants in some bald trespass on personal space or if his fingers zombied to the task, but his badge is abruptly lifted under the smarting wet glare of torchlight. Choppers are coming back in above, vultures circling the gaping wound left in the Center's facade and the hobbled carcasses of transports on the lawn. They are loud in Magnes' ears for another minute, maybe two, before it is very quiet.

Someone is asking the Suresh employees if they or the chopper victims sustained injury, any deaths. Another stretcher to his right, a rubber body bag to his left. White and black. Black and white.

And black.

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