Checkmate - All Our Pawns


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Scene Title Checkmate - All Our Pawns
Synopsis Sneaking in to a secure biotech facility is just the beginning for Phoenix. When a team of Phoenix operatives enters Pinehearst Company's headquarters in Fort Lee, New Jersey lives are placed on the line in a dangerous gambit to buy Helena Dean and her team time to rescue those held captive within Pinehearst, and make it out alive themselves..
Date July 23, 2009

From the first day I left my job at MIT, I knew my life would never be the same again.

The glow of an illuminated plinth stands out against the gloom of Fort Lee's nighttime landscape. An immaculately manicured parkland surrounds the Pinehearst Company headquarters, a four-story glass-faced building tinted a verdant shade of green. Past bubbling fountains and through mulched beds, dozens of feet carry silent intruders closer and closer to the biotech firm's front doors under the cover of night.

I had foreseen a future where a man who represented hope — a President who could turn around this country — was turned into a martyr on the altar of society's fears. No matter how hard I struggled, nothing I tried to change mattered in the end. I hadn't yet realized the most important truth of my ability.

One by one, the black-clad intruders pull down headsets over their eyes, glowing red-lensed goggles that pick up heat signatures outside of the visible spectrum of light. Then, just as they begin to adjust to their new ocular surroundings, they begin to fade out of existence one by one. Their bodies shimmer and ripple like the unstill surface of a pond, until their images entirely vanish from sight. Guided by their goggle within the lightless world, the members of the militant faction Phoenix approach the glass doors of Pinehearst.

I had not realized that change, true change, requires monumental effort and sacrifice. True change costs lives, it takes planning, and most importantly; true change requires faith.

Locked when the facility closed operations for the day, the doors give a silent click as untouched security card proximity readers flash green. Among their many talents, Phoenix is aided in their infiltration by an angel of the digital age, a mind that reaches out into the infinite to perform technological miracles that afford them their mobility. "I can't hold this for too much longer," a young voice whispers, she herself unseen, "hurry." Security cameras pick up no disturbance, while one security guard in a simple gray uniform patrolling a second floor balcony sees nothing either, only the soft report of feet on carpeted floor splitting up is any indication that something is amiss.

Faith that after all is said and done, I will be judged by the outcome of my actions. Faith that the means justifies the end.

One elevator door opens with a slow creak of the doors and a soft chime. The security guard pulls up his radio, walking to the edge of the balcony and peering down at the elevator, unable to hear the sounds of footsteps slipping inside, but able to see the elevator doors close and the elevator beginning to descend. He clicks on the radio, pulling it up to his mouth. "This is Parker in the Lobby, I might have something wrong with the elevator. Going to investigate, over."

Without that faith, in myself and my mission, I could not live with the things I am asked to do…

Not every member of Phoenix entered that elevator descending down to the basement level. Not every member of Phoenix has to even leave the lobby to complete their mission. No, one group of Phoenix has something far greater than stealth as the order of the day. They get to play the part of pawns on the chess board, existing in order to facilitate the movements of other pieces. «Ten-four. Sending Ramirez down from the arms locker, he's been itching to look around.» A pawn on the chess board has three vital roles: fight, block, and die.

…and the people who's lives must be sacrificed for the greater good. That is how I wish to be remembered. A man who fought for the greater good.

Though if they are fortunate enough, even a pawn can become a king.

My name is Doctor Edward Ray, and these are my last words.

As the two teams on the ground at the Pinehearst building get ready to go in, Elisabeth takes a really deep breath and glances at Gillian. The other woman is someone she doesn't know terribly well, but she offers a quick smile. She reaches out her hand to Gillian, activates the comlink to the other team so that both her own squad and Helena and Cat's can hear her. "Okay, folks, here we go….. lay low and watch out for glass!" As Gillian's hand slips into her own, a purple glow surrounds their entwined fingers. And Elisabeth Harrison takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly as she waits for the signal that the team is in the elevator. Then she says simply, "Now!"

She doesn't have to shout, she doesn't have to scream, she really doesn't even have to speak. Her ability can use even ambient sound, but she's used to focusing and projecting her own voice and in this instance does exactly that. It's such a small word. 'Now.' But the sound waves, manipulated by an audiokinetic amplified …. to what degree Liz hasn't a clue … have a power that few things withstand. Certainly not glass. The sound is not even audible to the teams who wait for the effects, but the high-frequency resonance wave created and amplified by the two women washes up, up, up the building. Liz is keeping the cone of her use at a slight angle, enough to perhaps spare the bottom 6 feet of the bottom floor of the building, but everything else starts to resonate — and maybe, hopefully, the frequency is one that will also take out the enhanced hearing of our enemy, rendering him deaf and disoriented, though she's not sure.

It takes barely seconds for every single window and piece of glass in that building to literally explode. There is an instant of silence even as it happens, and the backwash of sound is the almost-musical tinkle of billions of shards of glass.

Cook isn't used to being around so many people with powers. He pulls his hands from his ears and says, sticking his fingers in them to wiggle a little, "Orraye, then, that's damn uncomfortable." He has a huge hole cut out in his mask, so his mouth is clearly visible.

Alec is silent and stoic behind Liz, and he looks a bit like a modern day ninja. Go stereotypes! He's covered in BDU pants, boots, kevlar armor, mask, even goggles. The man leaves no skin to peak out, nothing to give him away. "You should hear her when she's pissed." his voice is distorted though there is a lurking European accent beneath the twisted tones and muffled words. Not all members of Phoenix are open, even to other members, about their affiliations.

With all of the many abilities picked up in the last few months, it's really a surprise to get back to her original ability. Gillian recognizes the nuances of it, the feeling of it, and she can feel the way the woman draws on her ability. The only ability this particular clone happens to have. The goggles block out the glowing of her eyes, but the glow at her hand contacting with Elisabeth is a reminder of the past, one she'd half forgotten in the last two months. The time before isn't nearly as clear as the current time. "Can't do too many like that," she reminds quietly, sounding strained with her usual husky voice over the radio. "But the others are on their way."

With the glass shattered, the lobby is open to the air in a way it'd not been before, allowing for two more darkly clothed figures to enter quickly. Identical shapes and sizes. Just as an identical shape and size disappeared with the group and went into the elevator. One figure is actually carrying the other. Swooping inside, one figure flies in, avoiding the glass for the most part (a few scratches from still falling glass won't hurt nothing), dropping one down on the floor, before landing herself. Both are appear to be armed, and covered, much like everyone else.

After the glass breaks, and Gillian's copies enter there is a brief moment of silence before the faint sound of heavy footsteps is audible. Then as they grow nearer they seem to increase. Marching. Rounding the corner a large group of black clad men are heading for the lobby. Each man armed to the tooth, some with more destructive, yet less practical weapons. The man at the end of the pack raises a single hand into the air.

Click And with that light catapults out of the device held in his hand and launches into the sky. Burning upwards…

Tossing the flaregun carelessly to the side, the Brian at the back of the pack rushes to take his spot at the front. He's the only one of the Brians with his face uncovered. The pack of ten Brians scramble their way into the lobby to join the rest of the team. Little waves and fist pumps are made but for the most part, they offer no audible greeting.

Except for one. Walking up to the closest Gillian, Brian places one gloved hand on her shoulder and leans in. A soft kiss is planted on her cheek, "For Alison and Jeffrey." A weak smile is offered before the 'lead' Brian takes a step back, placing two hands on his rifle.

"You guys ready to blow shit up?" A bright smile this time.

The sound of fracturing, cracking, splintering glass is an echoing cacophony that leaves only silence in its wake, at first, save for the murmurs of heroes and their cavalry standing within and entering the vast lobby. Behind the Brians that march on in, the exposed nighttime air comes flooding inside, the sounds of distance traffic, ambient murmurs of an outdoor world broken into from destroyed windows, destroyed doors.

For a short amount of time, the equilibrium remains.

Then the sound of additional footsteps echo out from the inside of the foyer, and more black clad beings seem to almost melt in from the shadows - not literally, however, solid human flesh and kevlar, and their faces unidentical. The slam of a couple of doors bouncing off the hinges sounds out from the lurking corners of the foyer as security, coordinated for the few seconds they had to react, move together to protect the building they guard.

"Freeze." This order comes from the first one to enter, and he, much like the security guards proceeding him, holds a rifle in his hands, aiming towards the center of the group. His voice echoes through the foyer, demanding and concrete, "Hands in the air, now."

"Orraye," Cook says. "Let's get this start'd, then." At the call to freeze, Cook lifts his arms up in the air real high. "PLEASE DINNAE MAKE ME EAT A BULLET, OFF'CER!"

As the glass falls, Liz nods to Gillian's warning. "Stay close," she tells the augmentor, who still has a grip on her. She, too, can feel the toll that such enhancing is taking on her ability. She grins slightly as the squad of Brians joins the rest of the team and gives the order. "Make a lotta noise, people!" They are, after all, the distraction team — the ones meant to draw most of security AWAY from what the teams inside the building are doing. "This one's for all the marbles." We hope. Lots of gunfire, explosions, etc.

The sound of the guards coming is easily caught by her ears, and Liz murmurs warning for people to get in place. So by the time they come through the doors, the people in her small group should be ready. "~Gimme a break, that's the best line you got?~" she asks, the question for Cook, but her face turned toward the phalanx of guards so that the wave of nausea-inducing infrasound carries only to them. May as well make 'em easy pickings for us. Fewer of US get shot that way.

Whunk. Another door slams open on its hinges.

Out of sight and too close for comfort, there's the military muffle of several pairs of extra boots treading heavy overhead — the elegant, hard-packed carpeting that lines the balcony on either side of the lobby entrance poorly designed for matters of stealth and private security. Hard to tell how many there are. …Just that there are more of them.

Those focused up might catch a flash of eye white or the last second rattle of a magazine being jogged nervously back up into place. Yes, there are still cartridges in there. No, the safety isn't on. Glass crunches across the line of their progression, marking the trail of whatever extra ranks can be spared into position before six more guns are poking black over the railing, muzzles drifting down and up ahead of long, slow breaths, three on the left and three on the right. Somewhere there's the scuff of a radio and a quiet, urgent whisper. "We should call for backup."

Alec remains with Gillian and Liz, knowing that they can protect themselves well enough still isn't enough motivation to convince him to leave them alone. He fidgets once, his gloved hand holding a small black boxy shape. It's the waiting that sucks the most.

Cook is here mostly for the intimidation factor. Sure, he knows how to fight. But even trained and battle-hardened soldiers tend to get shaken up when someone /eats their hand/. Cook jumps at the nearest incapacitated guard, and bites his hand off. "Mmph. Finguh lickin' goof."

He's not siphoning power from Gillian. Not much. But he puts out a hand to her, in a mute request for help, and then makes a broad, sweeping gesture with his free hand, like a conductor calling up the opening fanfare of a very bombastic orchestra.

Someone cue 'The Ride of The Valkyries.'

It's not quite visible, save in the barely perceptible ripple of dust that washes out from the epicentre where the ex-soldier stands. Leo's gesture looks like empty grandiosity….until the shockwave hits. It's like someone just opened the door to a hurricane-force wind.

The hand remains on Elisabeth, even if there's technically gloves between them. Not every inch is fully covered, but close enough for the moment. It's Alex's hand reaching toward her that gets another hand, until both of hers are occupied. There's a faint glow to him. Not a full boost, but enough to do what's necessary. This clone has a part. Just like all the others do. And she's the only one who isn't reaching for a fun.

The clone getting kissed on the cheek would be the one that got dropped off, smiling under the mask she wears, only visible cause of the way it folds. Her mouth isn't visible. With the arrival of the bad guy, she darts away rather quickly, moving almost as a black blur, zipping around the lobby into a better position, and firing a few wild shots in the direction of the main bad guys (and not their guys— even if one is eating a hand— thank god she can't see that too clearly with the goggles). The shots come from dart guns. Though she has an advantage of speed and speed-perceptions, she's not

One of her suddenly shoots up into the air, raising one gun (also a dart gun) and firing as well.

Brian's gaze flicks to the guards surrounding them. He doesn't nod, or say anything but in complete unison his 'crew' goes into motion. Four of the black clad Brian's sling shields off of their backs. The shields are held firmly in front of them, each of these copies holding a sidearm in their freehands. And each shieldBrian is accompanied by a rifle-toting Brian, stepping in right behind them the two men teams hunker into position as they take aim. Though they wait, no assault fire yet.

Glancing over at Alexander's gesture the lead Brian gives a little smirk, handing off his rifle to one of the remaining helmeted Brians. Reaching into one of the pockets on his kevlar vest a thin piece of silver wrapping is retrieved. Unfolded Brian takes the blue piece of gum and slides it into his mouth. He smiles as his sister suddenly flies off before turning to his remaining two copies. "Right. Let's make kabooms." Two duffle bags are heaved over two different shoulders, and then three grenades are produced from three different hands. In complete unison, the clips are flicked off and the three grenades are thrown powerfully in three different directions.

The leading Stillwater Security guard is hit square with Elisabeth's attack, folding over as his stomach seems to do the same and rifle aim dipping precariously. Those around him seem overcome with the same, groans and muttered, bewildered curses, and the wet spatter as at least one of them loses their lunch. Looks like corn! As Cook closes in, there's the wet crunch of flesh, muscle and bone, the suddenly ragged, guttural cry of pain from the security guard.

Almost immediately, the sound of gunfire goes off from the balcony. Bullets tear in to the expensive marble of the lobby floor just inches shy off Cook, and the next one, perhaps, could have hit— but the shockwave sends the pack of guards and anyone in their way off their feet, the soft thuds of their bodies landing heralding the sound of those on the floor scrambling their retreat. A few manage to dart behind pillars, an information desk.

"We need back up, now, do you hear me," is rattled down the radio.

On the other side, perceptible only to technopaths and perhaps Elisabeth with her superb hearing, there's a panicked response. "We— shit, holy fuck— we got a situation on-on our hands down here."

"The hell are you talking about, we got an army up here!"

"I know but— sir, you're not gonna believe— oh, Jesus, no!"

Whatever is happening, the security guard doesn't have time to respond as a grenade is thrown between the pillars he hides behind, and the suddenly explosion has that conversation cancelled quickly. At the corner of Elisabeth's hearing, she'll detect it - there's something coming from some other section of the building, headed for them, attracted perhaps by the distraction; the thud of foot steps, not at all the march of security, but wilder running.

And the screaming. Certainly, there's screaming.

Elisabeth releases Gillian's hand knowing the clone will stay nearby and raises her gun. Her mask, like the ones the others wear, covers most of her, leaving only her mouth and eyes visible. She leaves the Brians and the explosives people and the telekinetics to do their thing while she eavesdrops on what's happening, tuning out much of what's going in her immediate vicinity. Part of her job is to make sure we're a couple steps ahead in this game — and their radio frequencies are important. Sounds like our other teams have begun their big assault too. Good. Mostly right now, she's just listening to get a fix on who's coming from where so as to direct her team where they need to watch.

Alec remains with Liz, her own personal shadow. He checks with his men on the IR scopes, none report seeing outside backup coming to assist the occupants of the building, at least not yet. He hopes it stays that way for awhile.

"Oh, shaddup," Cook tells the guy who's hand he just ate. He ducks as the bullets start flying, and steps on the guy's face, starting to jump on the men's heads. He's not the most controllable of agents, is he now? He grabs a gun, and starts to shoot back at the other group of guards. He's… debatably okay at it. He's not hitting any of his own, at least?

"Holy shit, ho-ly SHIT!"

"-requesting backup in the lobby, multiple…multiple unfriendlies, I have no idea who the fuck these guys are-"


Upstairs as well as down, whispers have given way to everything in the range between screams and voices trying to be heard over screams. A dart hits home in the soft neck of a guard who probably could've stood to spend more time on the track and with a ponderous sort of slowness, he tips forward ooover the railing. Two shotgun blasts rip into the thick of the attackers; the falling guard twists slow in the air, like an overlarge cat trying to find its feet only to land with a gut-twisting crack and pop of bone. Perhaps more worrisome is the grenade rolling slowly end over end just over the opposite railing.

Before any of the guards on that side can so much as gasp a warning, limbs, plaster and carpet go flying asunder in a great bullet torn mess of red white and brown. The balcony buckles and sinks, chunks of floor tumbling like miniature boulders into the lobby below.

Not so different from before, somewhere there's the sound of a shoulder slamming through a door. Only this time there's a hissing like the sound of silk passing slick over silk — a pant and scuff and slip of one rough foot failing to find purchase across damp tile.

Al, Leo, whomever he is, in the mixture of layers of PTSD and general craziness, is continuing the psychic beatdown with the enthusiasm of a Sith apprentice on holiday. Any enemy goon foolish enough to poke his head up in the telekine's line of sight finds himself plucked up into midair, and either shaken like a rat in a terrier's grip, or summarily flung into a wall. Oddly reminiscent of whack-a-mole. His rifle bumps at his hip, forgotten for the moment. At least he's trying not to bring down the building.

Not bringing down the building is good. The augmentation Gillian remains close at hand, near Elisabeth and Leo both, but keeping a line open, but only sending out energy when they make the proper signals. Best to keep most of what she has in reserve. She's got enough going on inside her head. All of them. One not even present in the lobby. One of the gunshots lands in her shoulder, making her fall back, but the augmentation continues, and she's starting to move upwards.

The speedy one nearly gets shot, but manages to avoid most of it, a couple bullet scratches grazing her arm as she can't quite outrun them, but she can reposition herself for better, if stray shots.

All the lethal actions make the one who can fly decide to discard her gun for another weapon, a grenade hanging off her belt. A brief lesson in how to use them from Brian, she's got the idea. And with flight… She flies straight up, until she spots gunmen still standing and tosses it in their direction. She does now how to throw. That's how she broke her watch. But she's not trying to hit the wall, she's trying to make it land near them, and then fly further up and out of the way of any return fire should it fail. This one needs to remain mobile. That's her job.

"I think I like those expensive looking ones better." Brian murmurs to himself, literally. It's okay to talk to yourself when you're in another body, okay. "The shiny ones with the number five on em. In that sleek black case. I don't know if they taste better but they're certainly more—" A pause as a bullet whizzes past his face. "Stylish." He ends with a frown. A shrug as he continues to depart from the main cluster of Phoenix with his two Brians in tow.

The eight man shield slash rifle Brian team ducks a bit as two shotgun blasts thud thickly into a pair of the shields. And then, the guns are going off. Four automatic rifles and four pistols in synch begin to fire off at anything guard life, making for plenty of suppressing fire. Not all of the shots are aimed carefully. It's more to make the guards feel as if they are vastly outnumbered, and the Brians, thankfully to their psychic link time their ammunition reloads perfectly to keep the onslaught up.

"Oookay." Winters declares in a delightfully cheery voice. The three go to settle their backs against a wall, hoping to find relative cover. "Let's plant bombs!"

There's a scream as an Alex-thrown security guard goes pinwheeling over head, slamming into a pillar and crashing to the floor, where he's stopped moving. Another goes tumbling as a Brian's bullets rip through his legs, a pool of crimson beneath him. Floor level, security guards have either been killed, are being killed, knocked unconscious or fled through the doors they came from with muttered hisses into their radio. As the heroes take care of the immediate threat, Elisabeth's audio feed grows more and more confusing.

"Our defenses are fucked up up here, they're gonna get in, where the hell are you people?"

The reply is largely static, panicked and breath whistling heavy down the line. "It's— *brrzzt*— got loose an— Dr. Meier's— *bbzztt*— Jesus, they got loose."

"What are you talking about? Hello? Hello?"

There's a slam of a door, much like the way the security guards had entered, and a lone figure suddenly staggers in. It doesn't take Elisabeth to hear the way the man breathes, as if more fluid than air were rattling around in his lungs. An older man, his face grizzled with half-shorn beard, a pale hospital gown draped over his frame and feet bare against the floor. Blood spatters his face, the front of his gown, and his eyes are bloodshot.

It's a horrific sight, in many respects, his breath whistling between blood-stained teeth, arms folded around his midsection, frail and trembling. He seems like, perhaps, he could collapse at any moment.

He doesn't. Instead, he quite suddenly gives an almighty screech— and a spray of thick blood accompanies it from deep within his throat— and bursts into flame with a fwoomf, searing hot and enough to take the eyebrows off anyone nearby, a radius of a few feet of flickering, yellow-hot fire. It doesn't seem to hurt him, although his gown blackens, and comes away in ash as he starts to charge directly for Elisabeth and Alec, running far faster than a man his age should, trailing smoking fire as he goes.

There's a similar kind of scream that echoes for them all to hear, from a different section of the building, and the sound of bare feet slapping the floor in a run.

The bullets whizzing around her almost don't faze the blonde cop, and Elisabeth tilts her head while she listens. Brian's comment brings a hand gesture from Liz to Alec — rock and roll. The explosives experts — all however many of them Alec can make — should go into action with Brian and the others now. It's time. It's the odd footsteps that have her attention and she turns toward the door that the strange vision of a man bursts through the door at the far end.

Oh God… What. The. Fuck?? Her instinctive response is to haul Gillian behind her and bring up the rifle in her hands to start firing it in three-round bursts at the charging man. It's not like a man on fire can necessarily be assumed to be victim in this place — though if she's wrong, well….

Alec presses the button on his little box and suddenly where once there was one mystery man, now there are nearly two dozen. They move in perfect harmony, needing no speech, no communication what so ever. They break off in seemingly random vectors, each carrying an identical satchel. In a matter of moments they vanish like shadows, nothing supernatural, merely an expert understanding of stealth and it's application. Where there was one man, there were twenty, where there were twenty, now there are none.

"Now that's just downright unnervin'. He's vomittin' fire!" Cook points at the running old guy. "I wonder if'n I could e't it." He frowns, and then shrugs, taking a few shots at the fire-breather's legs as he runs for Elisabeth. Least he can do.

Dust and debris arc away from Gillian's detonated grenade in a thick plume; an arm without a body bounces and flops fleshily across a Brian's helmeted head, smearing blood thick across an exposed shield in its desperate tumble away from the epicenter. One last brave fellow streaking for a fire exit is cut down by a last stipple of crossfire before he can get there, firearm skidding away across the tiles laid out ahead of him. He's probably not gonna make it, but he sets to crawling anyway. There's hardly any balcony left to speak of. A hunk of it juts out at a shady-looking angle from the lobby's far wall, spilling debris down onto unprotected heads every few seconds. Dust. More dust. …A body slithers down after it however many feet to the ground level to ragdoll in a heap under the next powdery shower, not far from Cook. Dessert?

More pressingly, the man in the gown is not alone.

There's a gutteral, grinding kzzz—kkzzrrrt, a yellow-to-brown-to-pitch black muffle of all but a pair of bright read EXIT lights and two more eager bodies bump-ba-bump shoulder to shoulder through the gap of the door still trying to creak shut after the initial interruption. Bare feet hiss and scrabble rough across the shattered floor towards the sound of a Gillian's breathing, air whistling high-pitched through vocal chords tattered by screams.

And then there is light. Although probably not the kind anyone was hoping for. A skeletal strip of raw-edge bone and ginger hair snarled like steel wool strikes white-blue out of the dark, electricity whipping from his person in tesla coil snarls of lightning. To the ceiling, to the floor, through shields and vests into warm bodies. The surrounding scene is scalded black and white into eyelids at every rapid strike, buzzing and snapping ragged at Cook's heels and chaining quick quick quick through clustered Brians.

At the shattered balcony, just visible in an isolated flash of electric blue: iron grey hair and a decidedly dapper set of pinstripes.

If he's a vic, then….too bad,better luck next life. Because Al neither waits nor hesitates, but reaches for the fireball, trying to lift him so his feet don't touch the ground, and aiming him up, to deflect that internal napalm up harmlessly. Which means he is not paying attention when the electrokine appears, and he gets Elled -again-….doing a little herky-jerky dance across the polished floor. He drops the fire-spitter, of course, in the process.

The armor keeps the one shot Gillian from bleeding, for the most part, but she gets hauled behind Elisabeth and sends out a thread of energy towards Leonard for support, as well as one waiting to send toward the blonde cop should she make the signal. There's a sluggishness towards her actions, likely heavy bruising from the shot stopped by the vest, but it's not her that's going to be acting as more than support. She does finally reach for the firearm at her side, but it doesn't get pulled up just yet, leaving one hand free for reaching out should it be needed.

The one streaking fire may be moving fast, but one of the dark streaks moves faster, jetting around the room at over a hundred miles an hour, catching sight of all the people showing up and processing the information quickly enough to dart around and dodge. She brings up a gun, continuing to fire at the people showing up, the electrokinectis, and trying to stay one step ahead of their attacks.

The flying one just does her best to stay out of the way, out of sight, but above the balcony, she sees a flash of gray hair and dapper pinstripes. There's a shift in the air as she quickly flies from her position, activating her com to send a "I think we have an Arthur up on the balcony," over the com to the people in the lobby.

"Ew." Brian remarks as an arm splats on his head, it's shaken off and a finger is used as a mini-windshield wiper for the blood on his visor. Catching the crawling guard his rifle is raised quickly and a spray is let off at the poor guy. The rest of the cluster's fire has died down, nothing really to shoot at. Until of course a fire-spewing senior citizen is on the prowl. The closest armored Brian pivots and raises his rifle, "Gilli!" He calls out before there is no light. And without the light, his aim is awfully bad. The gunfire temporarily illuminates his local vicinity before dying out to complete silence for a moment.

"I should have brought another flaregun." Brian drolls through the silence, voice sounding rather whiny.

His face seizes up as the electricity flows through him and seven of his copies, shields are dropped, some guns are clung to, but all in all the group goes down in a heap.

Split-up. It's not said, but the three Brian's huddled by the wall definitely do. The bombs in their duffle bags momentarily abandoned the three make distance from each other to avoid winding up like the seven on the ground. Whether they are alive or not remains to be seen.

The lead Brian pulls out his sidearm and flicks on the mounted flashlight. Wishing twins had psychic links, Brian's flashlight zooms around quickly trying to find a target. "Gilli! Come get me!" He calls out, hoping the flying Gillian can get to his position before anyone less desirable does.

The fire-ball man is spun on his heel as Elisabeth's bullets tear into him, spinning in a tornado of fire as Cook's do the deal too. A projected mouthful of blood goes arcing out from a gaping maw just as Leo lifts the man off his feet, a howl choking from his throat. Up, and then down as Leo's control lets go, but as the old man falls, he doesn't fall as one. He comes apart, dying midair and the fire going out, and only after the fact does flesh fall from bone, that seems to crack and melt, and in short…

He rains down in splatters of melted gore. Some, amongst this group, may recognise this break down.

Where that flash of tailored suit and stoic, cold expression was seen upon the balcony, it summarily disappears. In all the jumps of lightning and the sparks of light, it's impossible to tell where the shadow has gone by the time he's shifted. But it's only a matter of time.

Where he had stood, however, something else appears - a wiry young man, as crazed, wild and hospital gown clad as the rest of them, comes to crouch upon the ledge with surprising agility. He peels back his lips, blood dribbling between his teeth, before he leaps. And, lands, on his feet. Almost cat-like. Before a bullet or a dart can be shot at him, the rage-filled manic jumper leaps again, jumping seven, eight feet into the air, aiming with his hands out stretched, headed straight for Cook to bowl him over— and do whatever these things do to people.

In all the confusion, a man materialises from shadow again, in a way familiar to Elisabeth. Arthur Petrelli stands in all the chaos, his expression deathly grim, lines of disgust, anger and danger written into his age weathered face. His polished shoes sound against the slick marble of the ground, headed for the woman. A hand goes out, and alien green light suddenly spits forth from his fingertips in razor straight lines. It turns blue, the ends searing marble, leaving it smoke, arcing around.

The lasers catch almost anyone, everyone, from the blood spattered science projects through to the heroes, leaving burn marks where they go and increasing in heat and damage as they round closer and closer to Liz, all in several seconds of a handwave.

The zing of electricity across the floor scares the crap out of Elisabeth — one thing she NEVER wants to be is freakin' electrocuted. She jumps to try to get back out of the way and then Gillian's words hit her ears and the black-masked blonde turns her attention toward the balcony. In the light offered by the electrokinetic's wayward powers, she sees the form that Gillian's talking about. And then he's gone. Frantically, she grabs for the Gillian behind her, seeking the augmentor's ability even as she searches for the bastard.

And then he's there. Coming right for her, and son of a bitch, he's got LASERS! The purple glow is the only warning Arthur gets, because Elisabeth in her terror reaches for both Gillian's augmented ability and the limits of her own power. "Run!" she yells to a form — maybe a Brian? or a guard? She can't see who — who scattered into the path behind where Arthur now stands. And even as she calls it, her power laces the word with an ultrasound wave that she's only just begun to learn the effects of…

And in this case, the effects are pretty damn spectacular, if you can see them. Quite literally ultrasound waves can liquify tissues and pulverize bone. And Arthur of the Laser Beams is shooting at everyone one minute — Elisabeth herself never even realizes she's been hit — and then he's…. an explosion of mist. Just…. a cloud of microscopic particles of blood and bone and whatever, blown backward very slightly because of the passing of the wave of sound.

And the woman who caused it sees nothing else. She crumples to the floor without another sound.

There is something to be said for preparation. Prior to this little… party, Alec was hired to break into Pinehearst, and while that never went through the work he did in prep for that moment is hardly wasted. It is a matter of moments for the charges to be set and placed, then for a single Alec to exit a building where moments ago there were many. Silent, a shadow in the darkness, he makes it out and behind a pillar just in time to avoid being hit in the deluge of arcing electricity or colorful lasers. His heart races and he palms the detonator, waiting, watching, and most importantly, staying hidden. And it's a good thing. The sudden sight of The Incredible Exploding Man caused by Liz's scream has Alec making a mental note to buy her a beer and ask forgiveness a couple more times. Maybe later. He keeps his finger poised, waiting. He taps the coms and sends out the prearranged tone to everyone wearing the wire. The charges are set, he's waiting for the go order that will bring the entire building crashing down on itself like a house of cards. As a safety measure he creates and then sends out two more clones quickly, each in opposite direction, in case anything 'happened' to him.

As the fire-breather explodes, or disintegrates, or whatever, Cook makes a face. He reaches out to the tip of his gun, and uses a finger to lift some of the goo up, and stick it in his mouth. Suckle suckle. "Taste's like extra spicey Doritos." He glances up, and then gets tackled by some crazy jumping lunatic, losing grip of his weapon. He struggles to grab the guy's arms, and looks him in the face. "Aw, lad, you don' made me hungreh." SNAP. Cook starts trying to take a bite out of Mr. Jumper. GONNA E'T YOUR FACE!

Ginger Electric's mouth yawns black amidst the nail-on-chalkboard buzz and grate of blue light winding and coiling and lashing out in its unpredictable dance across every surface unfortunate enough to attract its mindless aim. Gore spills slick from the slack of his gape, sliding cool and congealed in sloppy waves across the floor for Leonard and the felled Brians. He claws at his head with his own blunt nails, raggedy, dirt-packed cracks sinking deep into the jelly of his own eyes through the course of his staggering advance — even more staggered when an errant flash of laser bores a soft-ball sized hole through one thigh. A tendril of lightning touches delicate at Leonard's toe — a thicker rod scorches the air past his scalp, searing the stench of ozone deep into his sinuses. He's getting closer.

Behind Elisabeth is a glowing Gillian. Across the room, behind the unnaturally quick non-glowing Gillian stopping just long enough to pop off a few rat-tat-tat shots is…another Gillian. Black hair and brown eyes at her shoulder; the blood-curdling shriek of her own voice in her ears. Tattood arms decorated in familiar designs claw their way around her neck from behind, claggy teeth tearing wild at her shoulder in flashes of electric and laser light. Bloody vomit spills over it all, splashing with some force. It is kind of terrible.

But not as terrible as what happens next.

Arthur of the Laser Beams is not the only being that explodes into mist. The dreamy sink of a collapsing Gillian before she hits the ground; an unconscious Brian; through the meat of half of Cook's thigh and calf and across the seized up lift of Leo's left hand, baring bone white to electric light. They are all instantly, painlessly converted from solid to a fine, misting drizzle of ruby liquid, and they are probably not alone. As if to punctuate the sudden noise reduction, the elevator at the lobby's head swooshes up from the basement so quick a breeze lifts dust through the strobe-lit room, vanishes, and swooshes neatly back down again. This time there is a crash. Also, fire.

Well, perhaps it's uncivilized of him, but Leo reverts to plain old weaponry. He puts out his hands and the rifle leaps into them like a willing pet. He gets off a few rounds towards the leaping man, before the pair are too closely clinched to keep from hitting Cook. And then his hand is abruptly ruined by that piercing beam, and he snatches it in to himself, letting the rifle fall to its strap again. There's a shockwave from him at the wound, but it's diffuse, not aimed - merely striking out randomly, as he crumples around the smoking wreck.

It isn't just Elisabeth who crumpled. The Gillian who provided the augmentation goes down too, hand loosening from where she'd been holding on. And her body got caught up in the blast that vaporized the man, too. Part of her explodes into a sicky red mist, and she drops down next to the woman, hand letting go, glow dying out almost immediately. Her last sight was a Arthur liquifying, but she's out, no more supply of augmentation. This kind of thing can only be used once, and with dire consequences for anyone close to her, it would seem.

The speedy managed to avoid lasers, bullets, but there's some kind of thing that looks like her trying to bite her shoulder off. It's an extremely creepy sight, on top of the pain of one of the clones dying, which makes her shift her gun around and try to hit it at point blank range and get ot off of her. It's definitely slowed her down, though.

"Fuck!" the flying one yells, managing to stay out of the way for the most part as she zips down, fires off another couple of rounds, before getting closer to Brian, since he called out to her. "I need to evacuate some people. We're getting really fucked up here." She moves away from him, despite him having called her. Unfortunately she already knows he's one of the people she can't evacuate… She'll just hope he left a clone outside. She flies down to Elisabeth and reaches to pick her up, so she can fly her through the windows she shattered and her her away fast. Flight is good for quick evacts. Maybe she should have made more clones for that.

Throwing off his helmet one of the three Brian's throws himself at the wall to avoid a stream of electricity. A wave of disgust creaps over him as people start exploding and melting, but he doesn't let it affect him outwardly. Clambering to his knees, Brian takes careful aim at the electric slinger and then.

Click. Click.

Growling the gun is examined quickly, then a hand is thrust against it. Jammed. May be blood or ooze, or whatever goo is flying around here, but the rifle won't work. It is tossed to the side. Going to one knee, his knife slides out from his boot quietly.

The third Brian was never armed with a rifle, but does have a sidearm. The pistol flies out and three shots are let out at electric ginger, the Brian recoiling into the wall to avoid being hit by overhead debris slash lightning.

Legs propelling him forward, Brian leaps out of the shadows, one hand going to seize tightly around the man's elbow, his hand bringing the knife down quickly. A quick splat sound is made before Brian's boots hit the ground again, taking him in a jog away from the body. Leaving the thing to melt with a knife protruding from the side of it's head.

Arching his back as a laser slides through his flesh a harsh call is let out as he almost loses control of his gun. But he doesn't. His eyes swivle around for people left behind. And then he's making a beeline for Cook and Leonard.

All that's left of Arthur is a slick patch of fine liquid biology on the ground - no time even to scream. Although the lunatics are doing enough of that for everyone. The leaper grips onto Cook as readily as he's held, and he shakes his head like a dog, bloodied spittle flying before Cook's teeth find purchase in too-soft skin. That continual growl from his captive lunatic heightens into a pitchy scream, though it's closed off with a choking sound, and bile and blood quite abruptly spatters over the man's face, throat, torso.

But his fighting, if it can be called that, is a wild and desperate scrabble, using his fingernails and kicking, squirming wildly like a wild animal might. There's no rhyme, no reason, outmatched and disoriented from the way Cook's bite tore into his face. Though he does give a shot at returning the favour right back, teeth clicking and snapping together, wild eyed. But not before long, enough bites are taken, enough blows land, that the leaper quite abruptly deteriorates beneath Cook, turning into a sludgy puddle of melted human.

But Cook has other problems to deal with, anyway. Like a vaporised thigh. 8(

Around them, things seem to be breaking down. In all the diminishing chaos, there's an electrical spitting sound as a security camera towards the corner flares and dies. The monitors upon the information desk flicker to life, and flare a brilliant red, and then turn blue as if an injection of ink was shot through the pixels, before they, too, spit and die, fading to black. The security system seems to go wild in an arcing trajectory, until all the cameras are blind, and the screens are blank.

On the plus side, sounds of running, whether from security or the manic patients, are ceased entirely.

Alec hits the coms button again, signalling he's waiting for the order. Now that the charges are placed it's not the sort of thing to just let laying around. THe longer they're there the more likely they'll be discovered, even hidden as most of them are. He remains hidden, fidgeting, waiting for the go command to end it.

"AURRRRRGH! I GOT NO LEG AN' A FULL STOMACH." Cook. His priorities are a bit crooked, yes, but he gets the job done. He starts to crawl towards the shattered window, trying to ignore the pain in his leg from suddenly not having much of one.

A gunpowder dusted arc of spatter swings away from doppelganger Gillian's bare shoulder, ripping still another gurgling scream from her throat. Her facial features wind and crawl like melting rubber across the softening cage of her skull, and back she stumbles, voice falling octave after octave as she/it/he goes huffing and scrabbling away into the dark.

Short-lived dark, actually. Like a jellyfish dragged out onto the sand, tentacles dwindled to nothing, electric ginger sinks in on himself, skin and muscle trailing tacky after Brian's stabby exuent. Goo falls away from bone in clompy masses before it further dissolves into more familiar cobbler consistency. Slow and unsure, flourecent lights flicker and buzz gradually to life overhead. One, then three, five — all of them. The lobby it exposes bears little resemblance to the one Phoenix was caught up in when everything went black. Bits of bone white litter gloppy puddles of fleshier stuff. Streaks and smears in grades from black to red make the few tiles that haven't been burnt or broken slippery. The walls aren't much better off. And slooowly but surely, a muscled, drooping figure is gathering itself for a feral pounce at com button Alec's back, wearing a faltering, melted mockery of the same man's face, lips drooling slack away from sharkish teeth and white-rimmed eyes.

Leo is….well, the pain is taking him in waves, and it's making his power spasm and ebb, uncontrollably. Which means he's surrounded by a little storm of debris, rising, falling, and darting off in bizarre patterns, as he hisses and swears - still trying to focus on those foes remaining. It's wild and aimless, as he tries to focus on the situation at hand.

The flying clone moves quickly through the window, accelerating to as fast as she can safely carry, and getting Elisabeth to a planned drop point a good distance away. The trip back will be faster. Her body can handle up Mach One, even if it might leave the clone tired. Like the others, though, she's expendable. But not entirely. There's still people who might need evacuation. And she's completely ignoring the blood dripping down her leg from a wound in her hip and thigh. The pain of having just lost a clone could actually be worse. Not to say she's not gritting her teeth and feeling it in more ways that one…

It's going to take a while for her to make both trips, though. Hopefully it's not her signal that Alec is waiting for. But as she gets close enough to radio, she does say through it, "Liz is safely away." Could be that's enough of a signal. Maybe not.

The speedster one doesn't keep running around like she might want to, but she moves closer to Leo, arm hanging ripped apart at her side. She's breathing unsteadily, gasping for air, as she keeps firing off at the scrabbling things. Her shots are even more wild than they'd been before, but she's at least able to see now that she's definitely shooting at the Not Phoenixes. But that thing that kinda looks like her needs to die. Now. It's disgusting. If her mouth wasn't covered, she'd probably be throwing up too. The blood coming down from her arm is a little much, though, and there's signs of moisture at the mask around her mouth. It's very possible she's already bleeding to death. There are arteries in that arm, after all.

As the fire blazes on around, two Brian's march out of the fire. A set of hands colse in around Cook's shoulders as the younger man tries to clamber to safety. Heaving him up, he glances down at the.. missing hip. "Hurt?" Brian asks gruffly as he practically drags Cook away from the building.

The second Brian marches towards the cluster of fallen Brian. A few of them are still alive and those few get touched and reabsorbed. Leaving only a pile of clothes in their wake. Then he's off to running out.

The third and 'lead' Brian trains his gun on Gillian's.. thing, however. "Gilli." He says loudly, yet calmly. "Get the fuck out." He doesn't take a shot though. Looks too much like her. "Now, Gillian. I can get him." He might not be able to, but as long as she is out, it's fine.

Whatever back up there is, it's not coming from within the building, not anymore, a distraction turned quickly into a warzone. Dark vans printed with the security crest of the guard they had done battle with are driving their way to Pinehearst, promising more men and women in black kevlar and bearing automatic rifles. By Alec's look out clones' judgment, they have a few more minutes to get the hell out of dodge and get their injured to safety.

Alec picks up the news on the neural net and shares it via com, "Company inbound. ETA four minutes and counting. Still waiting on go order." the voice is still disguised, a touch of eastern European accent lingering on the altered tones. Someone takes their anonymity seriously. While Com Button Alec shares his news, his two previously made clones circle the dripping pouncer, the toothy mawed psycho that stares at Alec like a meal. But then, that was his purpose. Bait. Both carry fireman's axes, the sort you find in big buildings. Even as the leaper gathers itself to pounce, the trap swings shut and both stealthy clones swing in perfect unison, bringing the blades of the axes to bare on a single spine. SQUELCH. Seriously, teamwork for the win.

"Ya t'ink?" Cook asks the Brian clone helping him up. "After this, ah'm so demandin' KFC for dinnah. Oo's wid' me?"

The Thing that looks like Gillian is quick on her feet. She skirts away from shots fired like an emaciated rabbit, viscous red bubbling past parted lips and teeth, eyes black in a parting glance after Brian's hesitation in the last breath she's visible. Then she's out of sight behind a pillar, bare feet scuffling awkwardly over shattered concrete and a security guard's still body. There's a glimpse of her in the passage from one pillar to the next, hustling and gasping then nothing.

When Alec falls upon her from behind, she's a he. Or, more literally, he's him. The twin Alecs lop axes into a sloped replication of their own spine, and with blood already belching black past his teeth, the creature screams shrill and doubles itself over, weight swinging stuck on one of the ax blades until it plops and blops off into a muddy pile of cherry pie filling.

Fire licks orange in isolated patches around the demolished lobby. Blades of broken glass litter the floor. A laggard chunk of the remnant balcony drops heavily away from twist of rebar and plunges through black smoke to blot clumsily at the fire building below. Somewhere on high, a security camera blossoms into sparks that scatter light over Phoenix's limping retreat, followed up closely by the drizzle and spray of a sprinkler system that would make the local fire marshall very sad.

The only occupants of the upper levels that aren't distracted are dead. …The ones that aren't dead are pretty distracted.

Leo's lighter than he should be, somehow. As if he were using his power to assist. And he's scrambling for the door, bleeding, ungraceful, but on his feet mostly due to sheer adrenaline. God only knows where he's going to end up.

The flying Gillian returns to land next to Brian and Leo, as much as she can land. She grabs on to assist in the retreat, though she doesn't look very well either. That wound on her leg is draining quite a lot of blood. "I'm fine. I'm still downstairs," she insists, not worrying about herself so much since she knows the her with all the abilities is fine, and that's what matters. With Leo helping make himself lighter, she might even be able to carry him. The other one continues firing while she moves toward Cook, to assist Brian in a speedy get away.

"Everyone else takes priority over us," she adds, raspy, pained, barely able to speak through a liquidy slush that blocks her mask. Either it's vomit, or blood. Difficult to tell. The mask is black.

The clones have a chance at still being alive. The people who just lost limbs don't get that luxury. "You might want to blow that fucking soon," she adds over the com to Alec. "However soon you can once we're out." Must go faster. Go go go.

Glancing down at Cook, Brian frowns a bit at his KFC statement. "I think I hate you." Winters murmurs softly as he carries the other man off into the night. Gillian is given a nod as she joins them.

Over at Leonard, Brian moves slightly to support Gillian more fully. "Come on, Gilli. We're getting out of here." Winters states firmly as the three Brian's help the stragglers out.

With reinforcements arriving, the Phoenix ensemble limps its way out the back dragging their wounded precariously past trees and through the grass. The guards exit their vehicles, landing on Pinehearst like an assault team weapons out and prepared to debilitate any hostiles. But the guards are met only with an extremely large explosion, flames engulfing many of the newl arrived guards, vans flying like toy cars away from the blast of Alec's explosives.

Phoenix's survivors collaborate a way off from the flaming building of Pinehearst, most of them collapsing or trying to aid each other such as stop bleeding while getting transportation ready to shift them off to some place more.. Safe.

Brian collapses next to a tree, his eyes taking in the rest of his crew dully. Most of them got out alive. A little hum is let out before the young man reaches into his pocket. A small cell phone is taken out. Flipped open…

"Baby. It's me. I'm okay."

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