Disaster Within Disaster, Part II


abby_icon.gif alexander_icon.gif cat_icon.gif conrad_icon.gif dina_icon.gif edward_icon.gif elias_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif helena_icon.gif matt_icon.gif owen_icon.gif rickham_icon.gif sylar_icon.gif trask_icon.gif wu-long_icon.gif

Also Featuring:
NPCs by Kazimir and Ethan

Scene Title Disaster Within Disaster, Part II
Synopsis The assassination attempt on President-elect Rickham's life skews wildly off from anybody's plans. Fortunaetly, the only one left thinking this went particularly well is the one who should know. Continues from Disaster Within Disaster, Part I.
Date December 19, 2008

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

The scars of time are numerous, they leave an impact on our lives and on our memories, which influences the choices we make…

A light snow falls from the skies in New York City's Midtown region, an area devastated by a nuclear explosion two years gone. The skeletal hulks of buildings that managed to withstand, but not survive the blast serve as a jagged and broken reminder of the innocence this world lost in a flash of atomic fire. Now, a crowd of spectators in winter clothing have gathered at police barricades. The flashing blues of NYPD squad cars serve in the aiding of closing down a section of street within the normally restricted area of the Ruins of Midtown.

…the people we choose to keep by our sides…

Men in dark suits with ear-pieces walk flanking a tall and severe looking man with a receding hairline of wild brown hair. His weathered face is long with the weight of his impending station, and the bitter chill of winter has reddened his otherwise sallow cheeks. Allen Rickham's green eyes survey the gathering of NYPD, New York Citizens willing to brave the cold and the ruins, as well as his Homeland Security and Secret Service protection. Close by his side, a young woman with wide and dark sunglasses walks with a blackberry in one hand, cold, gloved fingers fumbling to work the touch screen as she adjusts the fur hood of her heavy jacket.

…and the things we keep with us, that can never go away.

Rickham brushes his hand along the side of one of the police squad cars, his bare fingertips caressing the cool metal for a moment before letting out a dry laugh. He looks over towards the television and news crews covering both the storm and this historic visit. Then to the crater beyond, where his laugh and smile drains away. This is what he is inheriting.

Time cannot heal all scars.

Parkman was against this trip from the beginning, and the brutal afternoon chill before the coming storm is all the more reason, in his mind, to pack up and go back to D.C. This is probably why Parkman isn't a politician. Practicality and politics are rare bedfellows.

Since the election, Parkman has spent his days and nights keeping a wary eye on not only New York City, but the nation's terrorist activity, doling out more assignments and orders in an effort to contain and staunch them than going into the field himself. After all, President-Elect Rickham is one of Homeland Security's top priorities at the moment, so many of the department's top agents, including Parkman himself, have been assigned as additional watchdogs and bodyguards for the newly elected official.

Even though the storm hasn't hit yet, it is clearly coming. To guard against the wind and other threats, Matt has clad himself in a Kevlar vest beneath his suit and coat. Mobility means sacrificing a thicker, warmer garment, but Parkman's a practical man. If he can't do his job well, why be there? As conscious as he is of the loudest, surface thoughts of those around him, Parkman is equally aware of the weight of the pistols in his cross-draw shoulder holster, the clips at his hips, and the plastic bud in his ear, feeding him with the occasional, professional chatter between the various Secret Service and Homeland Security people on duty for this event.

He walks by Rickham's side, gloved hands clasped behind his back. When the President-Elect pauses, Parkman glances behind his back to the woman with the Blackberry (whom he has seen much of these past months) before looking to Rickham. "Sir," he says with the firm politeness of a protective underling, gently hinting at the need to move…for more than one potential reason.

Charlotte Stephanie Caiati, known to her friends and professional peers at Steve, stays close to the man so central to her life and career. Her dark hair is drawn back into a bun, but this is mostly obscured by the hood she has up to conceal and protect herself from the bitter cold, fur framing delicate features that aren't covered by the Jackie O glasses she wears. Her focus is on her phone, which she just now slips into her pocket and casts a hidden glance towards the President-Elect, and then a wider one, looking not only to the people that surround them, but the skies that hang heavy with its impending blizzard.

Parkman steals her attention briefly, and a professional smile on painted lips is given in return. "Shall we?" she says, gently. Let's get the show on the road. Ever the organizer, she plans to see this event through, everything on time.

Secret Service, Homeland Security, NYPD, the security detail for the President is at least three levels thick, and possibly many more levels that aren't so obvious. Amongst them is the man dressed warmly in a winter coat and following Rickham around like a nervous low level functionary, he seems to be shivering some from the cold, like he isn't used to the New York Winters, his face covered by his winter gear he is very careful to stay near the boss in case he needs him, but out of the camera shots. His zone of control floating about 10 feet circle around Trask as he moves.
Oh, look, it's Travis Bickle. No, wait, it's Alex. He's in his army parka, black watch cap pulled down over his bright hair, in among the crowd of citizens come to dance attendance on the President-to-be. The pale gaze is sweeping the crowd easily, returning again and again to Rickham. He's got the prickly, nervous air of a cat about to have kittens.

Abby's standing beside Alexander, hands in her pocket, bundled up for a long night out of doors. Blonde hair spills out from under her blue touque, over scarf and jacket as she watches alongside the former soldier. Some measure of excitement in her to be here beside the other man, even if it was at the request of someone else, with the expectation of bad things to occur and her be needed.

Dressed in a heavy black jacket, the newest member of the NYPD's task force has kevlar beneath the winter-weight police uniform jacket, but in spite of the cold and the snow, Elisabeth Harrison is only wearing thin gloves that will allow her to draw her weapon on a moment's notice. Her blue eyes are more than a little wary tonight — Rickham's visit is a complete nightmare with the anti-Evolved and pro-Evolved terrorist activity on the loose in this city in the past two weeks. The weather on top of it all is just going to make it that much harder. Her gaze darts to and fro, and she listens to two different kinds of chatter tonight — the police band in one ear and … well… 'other' in the other ear. She keeps a good line of sight on President-elect Rickham and his immediate contingent, and always keeps more than ten feet between herself and Trask even with the ebb and flow of movement in the security detail.

There is a darker thing watching from the darkest part of a hollow-eyed building Rickham's entourage just walked past, a shadow in the shadow of an otherwise empty window: Wu-Long, decorporealized. His sight is sharp enough he has no eyes, his mood good-humored despite that he is currently physically incapable of a smile, and he turns a head that isn't to glance down the ruined facades of the buildings that line the street. Wu-Long looks down on the goings-on of ground-level two stories below, the tops of people's heads like schooling tadpoles, the feathered frost accumulating whiter than the dissolving stuff of human breath condensed.

Of course, when he breathes, there's nothing to betray him but an eddy in the blackness of himself. Words, words, words. It takes but a thought and, slowly, the shadows of a derelict building up ahead begin to darken, so subtly that anyone would easier take it that the snow falling like static before it was thickening, whiter now.

A slow, tired sigh is drawn out of Rickham as he turns to watch Officer Trask moving in his periphery, doing a fine job of seeming to be casual when he slips out of the proximity of the man. Rickham's eyes level on Matt Parkman, squinting for a moment as he walks over to him and reaches out, fingers flicking something off of his right shoulder. "Spider." He says with wide eyes and a crooked smile, turning to look at the news crews. I hate this, but the people need it.

He nods down to Stephanie — Steve — and begins approaching the site designated for his viewing of the distant crater and the worst of the damage done to the heart of New York City. "Let's give the vultures what they want." The comment is said with a bit of a sarcastic sneer, and it's uncertain whether Rickham is referencing the press waiting at the north end of the barricaded area, or the parliament of ravens gathered on the ledge of of one of the blown out buildings nearby. Smile, wave, get in the car. A pause, I don't need you to hold my hand, Matt. But I appreciate the attentiveness.

The psycho-babble he gets from the others gathered is pretty much all the same, turning to static quickly enough - noise to be sifted through. So the mysteries Shakespearean quote, not that Parkman can identify it as such, sticks out like gold in an empty pan. Parkman tenses, but keeps the oddity to himself. It's not enough to move on, even if they could pinpoint its origin.

When his shoulder is flicked, Parkman flinches before looking from it to Rickham. He mirrors the smile, if weakly. "Thank you, sir," Parkman mutters, silenced by the man's thoughts. It's hard for Parkman to be sure just how much of the President-Elect's thoughts he was really meant to hear, but he does his best not to let many of them phase him too much. At least the fact that Rickham is open to Parkman's unique ability makes it easier for the conversation to be two-way. We'll make sure it's quick, sir. In and out. We don't want you sick for the holidays. Humor is supposed to break ice, right?

Nodding to Steve and the others in the immediate vicinity of Rickham, Parkman gives the soft and subtle word, and the entourage begins to move more deliberately.

The woman in the glamorous fur coat remains a professional distance from the President. She pushes the hood of her coat back, now, ears bear of earrings but a necklace makes up for the oversight. About as frosty as the weather, Steve remains silent, shadowing the President along with his entourage. Behind dark glasses, it's hard to tell where she's looking - she remains forward facing, at least, bundling herself up in her coat and putting on a suitable expression of professional regret for the site of devastation. But it's not the crater she watches. There are too many other things to see.

Trask looks around like a good intern ready to take the Presidents coat, or to get him a pen, or whatever he needs. He even has a thermos of Hot Tea ready in case the President gets to cold. His eyes look around under his scarf like he's worried someone might shoot him by mistake.

Al rests his hand on Abby's shoulder, ever so lightly, scanning the crowd still. Elisabeth gets a nod. It's a little bitter, being out here, missing his old job - he should be one of the boys in blue, but fate has apparently had other plans. HE slips a finger under his cap to scratch at his scalp, a nervous gesture.

Dina's out, away from the action per se. Specifically, she's on the outskirts of the gathering crowd. A bored look seems to be her expression du jour. She appears to be a woman waiting for something…which is exactly what she is. She waits, prowling like a cat that wants to get at the mouse.

Abby catches wind of Elisabeth as well, smile brightening at the sight of the law enforcement blonde. "Didn't know she'd be here." But it should make sense. Abby's hand drifts up to pat Alexanders on her shoulder then drops again. She nervous, inwardly praying that there's no need to use her gift, but prepared to if someones hurt. "I'll be fine Al," though that doesn't stop Abby from slipping loose a familiar prayer or two and keeping herself at the ready.

Walking as the entourage moves, Liz makes the attempt here and there to expand her hearing to the immediate vicinity, but it's like listening to a party where everyone's talking at once and no one's on the same topic. She's forced to give up pretty quickly, relying on her instincts and her training to scan the crowd and spot and trouble, just like all the other cops here tonight. Her eyes skim over the crater, and she mostly ignores it — like many who live in the city and travel near the devastation regularly, she's somewhat inured to its effects. Instead, she turns her attention more wide-ranging. Police and Secret Service supposedly swept all that was feasible to sweep before Rickham's arrival, and there are snipers on roofs with scopes, but the snow will make it hard for them to see anything coming at Rickham. Her briefing on who's handling the President included Matt Parkman's name — and it's not like he's not well known to the NYPD by now. She doesn't try to think things at him, though — she's quite sure he's well versed on what the threats are. She merely watches his back, and watches the crowd for any hint of trouble.

If his lips were able to twitch, they might. As it is, a simple flicker of the shadow that he is is the only reaction garnered. Hollow eyes peering from a hollow building. They happen to fall on Abby and Alexander… Interesting.

With minimal exertion of effort, the swathe of smoke and darkness plunges out of the building, bouncing off of the wall before landing in the snow below. And the smoke becomes man, Wu-Long straightens from his landed crouch, observing the proceedings from behind, for now.

"I think we might need to find someone with a power to make it a little colder, right?" Rickham's address to the press is casual and light-hearted, before the cameras officially get rolling. A few of the press core manage a laugh amidst the chill of the approaching blizzard, and Allen walks with his security detail towards the barricade where he can view the ruins. Several camera crews move into position, beginning to film as red lights flicker to life on their devices — all information for Hana to digest and interpret. Even if she isn't physically present, it's somewhat heartening to the members of Phoenix to know she's watching.

Waiting until he gets an okay from the majority of the crews, Rickham approaches the barricade and rests his hands on the iron frame, staring out at the crater. Sorry Matt. He points to one reporter and camera man in the crowd, motioning for security to allow them through the barricade, Sometimes I have to play off the cuff, don't worry.

The reporter looks to her cameraman, and then back to the President-Elect as Secret Service quickly move in to escort her crew beyond the barricade to Rickham. "You're… Cynthia Wight, you did a thirty-six hour coverage of the fires burning in midtown the day this happened, didn't you?"

Not only did the President-Elect call her in, but he'd seen her work. Oh my God, Oh my God, this is it. Finally, after all this fucking time, finally respect! Some thoughts come louder than others, and Cynthia's are crystal clear for a moment to Parkman. "Y-Yes — Yes that was, Jesus Christ Pat turn the camera on." Her eyes dart to her Cameraman, then to Allen himself.

"I just wanted to take a moment, to talk to the people of America. Unscripted, unfiltered…" He moves to motion to the ruins, "I don't want to be on a stage, or ramble on for too long, I just…" He searches for his words, "I want to make a promise, to the people. To the people who are scared, who are concerned, to the people listening to this in the homeless shelters in the city, to the people who need a little lifting up." Rickham's lips press together as he looks over to Cynthia with a meager smile. "If that's alright?" It crooks up ever so subtly.

It would seem that the weather has not served as a deterrent. Parkman's head snaps at the unspoken words, the picture of anticipation. "We've got a possible at our backdoor," he whispers toward the mic pinned to his coat's lapel, "No visual yet. Keep your eyes wide." And ears, he adds specifically for Elisabeth. Registration is a good thing. For some, it might be easy to pass off Parkman's wariness as simply being too wound up and too easily spooked, and even easier if the NYC newspapers bore different headlines these past few months. Their best eyes - those not rooted to the ground whether near Rickham or on the perimeter - are hindered by the snow, wind, and dying light as the afternoon progresses toward evening.

If it weren't for that voice, Parkman might be a little more amicable when Cynthia and her cameraman are pulled in, but he doesn't focus the majority of his attention on her for long. She passes the initial Parkman test pretty quickly. Parkman goes back to scanning, letting his eyes move from the crowd to it's horizontal fringes and beyond, slowly making a circle around them.

Trask steps a little closer, staying out of the Camera's line of sight but closer to both the President and the reporter as the warning from Parkman.

Steve's chin lifts a little when the President-Elect diverts from the script, a twitch of disapproval making her frown. "Allen," she says, gently. A very familiar way to address the President-Elect, perhaps, but she does so anyway, although follows this with a, "Sir. We have a few minutes to spare." It's both permission he didn't ask for as well as a reminder that they can't linger forever, not on her watch. Otherwise, Steve is allowing this to go ahead without anymore nagging, looking from Rickham and out towards the buildings and spectators. She moves away, now, from the President-Elect, Parkman and Trask, giving them all more than enough room.

Alexander lifts his chin, listening keenly…..hard not to be pulled in by Rickham's charisma. Still with that nervous, jumpy air to him. He looks at Abby, expectantly.

Abby looks back to Alexander. "Can't hurt to pray" murmured under her breath. "I hope i'm not needed here. Selfish, but I hope. wouldn't put it past them to try something"

Dina looks at her watch, and smiles. Perfect. Okay, showtime. She reaches into her pocket, and presses the button of the small transmitter. A moment later, on the outskirts of the crowd, there's a *BOOM* as the IED goes off. This one was designed to make a lot of sound and fury, but not a ton of damage…most of the charge goes up, rather than out.

Jesus fucking Christ on a crutch, Elisabeth has time to think when Rickham scoots forward and allows a reporter inside the barricades. SHIT! Now he's gonna go grandstanding and making a BIGGER target of himself. Wouldn't *this* be the perfect time to take his ass out with a head shot!? Furious that the President-elect has broken from the VERY well-scripted visit here, Elisabeth's head whips around at Parkman's words and she rips the police-band comm out of her ear. She turns her eyes in the general direction Matt indicates and narrows her ability's focus to that area, listening intently for sounds that shouldn't be there — the telltale clicks and slides of a weapon being readied for firing, a murmur of conversation that sounds off somehow, a comm conversation that shouldn't be there. And then the *BOOM* happens off to one side of where Liz is, and she barks at Parkman probably even as he registers the sound, "TROUBLE! Get him out!"

"This." He points to the crater, "Was not only the fault of the man who did it." The man in Matt Parkman's custody at this very moment, though not even Allen knows the full length and width of that story yet. "But the fault of the people who allowed someone with that talent to go unrecognized and uneducated." There's a meager smile that crosses Allen's lips as he eyes Steve, watching her depart quietly, but his focus is soon back on Cynthia, occasionally making 'eye contact' with the other television cameras. "I had planned to announce this at a press conference in a few weeks, but after seeing this — in person — for the first time." President Rickham shakes his head, looking at the crater, at the buildings, then back to Cynthia.

"My office is already undergoing preparations to finance an education package that is being fast-tracked through Congress, with both Democratic and Republican support for specialized colleges designed for the explicit purpose of allowing those with the gift of superhuman abilities to be able to learn and grow as people, to avoid situations like this. It is my word, my promise that these schools will serve as a bastion for hope in this country, hope that because of the way someone was born that they will not be treated differently, that they will be given opportunities." Eyes divert to the street, then out to the crater. "Non-Evolved, Registered and Un-Registered Evolved alike will be allowed to attend these specialized schools. We're working with the House and Senate to repeal the mandatory nature of the Linderman Act, to make it a voluntary service, and to allow additional education funding for these special schools for Evolved who Register. It will be shaky at first, I know… while we all struggle to — "

The explosion sends Rickham ducking as two streets down a ball of flame and smoke, soon followed by a cloud of dust and debris rips through the ruined city block. Secret Service agents scramble, moving towards Rickham while others manhandle Cynthia and Pat, struggling to get them out of the way as the others news crews turn their focus on the bombing.

"Pat! Pat don't you dare turn that camera off! Where's Rickham!? Oh my god is he alright!? Pat, Pat can you find Rickham!?" The presence of immediate movement and the chaos of the NYPD trying to control a now panicked crowd that has in some areas fled away from the barricades and in others charged the barricades to get away from the explosion. It's a circus.

"Steve!" Rickham shoulders a Secret Service agent aside carelessly, "Steve!?" He looks around through the crowd, then to Parkman and Trask, his expression apologetic.

It's not the explosion, but Parkman's insight into Elisabeth's mind that gives him that slight, milliseconds advantage. As if the same trigger that set off the explosive launched him, Parkman leaps at Rickham to help him take cover.

The only good thing about a circus is how lovely a diversion it is - but that's also a bad thing. "Keep eyes on the rear!" he shouts into his mic. "Don't let them get the advantage!"

Trask sticks to Rickham and there for Matt as close as he can, he keeps an eye out for Steve, since she's the only other "non com" in the immediate area, but the President is the prime importance, especially making sure he doesn't get teleported out.

"Matt— " Rickham is wrestled back by Parkman's considerably larger frame, shoes skidding in the snow as the Homeland Security agent moves to cover him. Rickham's car is already on the move, skidding through the accumulating snow. One of the secret service agents peers up and beyond the buildings, and with a blinding flash of speed his body shifts from one position to another in a blue of light, and when he comes skidding to a stop, the agent's chest erupts with a flash of red from a gunshot that would have clearly struck Rickham. He flies back off of his feet, spots of blood striking the president across one side of his face. The bullet lances through the agent, striking another Secret Serviceman in the thigh, dropping him to the ground.

The hyperspeed agent coughs up blood, laying on his back in an ever-growing pool. He was able to slow his perception of time down enough to see a bullet coming from blocks away, but all the speed in the world cannot make up for being a human shield or the caliber of a bullet that can punch through body armor.

"Calvins!" Rickham shouts as he watches the agent go down and another drop with a scream of pain from the exiting bullet striking him in the thigh. The ravens perched on the nearby building all take to the air, cawing loudly as they circle high overhead, a horrible and loud cawing cry that pierces Alexander with the familiarity of the tone, making the scars over his eye sore from the thought.

With one only other Secret Serviceman on him Rickham is edged back towards the car as the sleek black and armor-plated automobile comes skidding to a stop between Rickham and the direction of the gunfire.

At the explosion, Steve gives a shrill cry and instantly moves away, sensible but feminine shoes carrying her away from the excitement - but not too far - as people focus on making sure the President is safe. Whirling around, she takes off her glasses to watch the scene with obvious horror, head snapping in the direction of the car that approaches to drive the President to safety. But everything goes as wrong as it can at the worst possible moment.

Before the President-Elect can reach his vehicle, the armored car suddenly flips with immense kinetic energy, lifted off the ground as if an invisible explosion were carrying it. It flips through the air, gaining screams of terror from those nearest, and it goes rocketing into a building in a clatter of glass and twisted metal. Exposing the President once more to gunfire and likely killing anyone inside it. Steve lowers her hand, although a moment later, it covers her mouth in horror. Oh, the humanity.

He'll never, ever be able to regard corvids with any kind of equanimity. And there's a little shove out in response, flare of power that's just a telekinetic twitch. Abby will feel it as a brief push, like someone trying to elbow their way through the crowd. And then he's doing so in earnest, sending waves towards and past Rickham, trying to slew any shot or thing trying to reach Rickham off the true. He's white faced with the effort, standing as close as the barriers will permit - the snow before him whorls and eddies in strange ways, visible against the streetlights. And then the car goes sailing, and Al is momentarily startled into stillness. Utterly so - it's like a game of Simon says for an instant, as he pauses all within that sphere of power.

His words. Inside of Abby something jumps for glee, the words spoken with Ben, with Elisabeth and a few others. The chance to go to school and not worrying about .. things. Abby jumps at the explosion from Dina's trick and the car, though her gaze doesn't go to the source, instead, it moves directly to Rickham and his entourage. Immediately once again, the prayer slips for her lips, the power thrumming inside her, ready to go if needed. Which it might. The gunshot, the downed agent all in the blink of an eye. The blonde is pushing past the others around her, trying to get past the barricade and towards the injured agents, stripping off her gloves and tossing them on the ground. "ELISABETH!" Abby yells out.

"Oh, fuck no," says Al, distracted. "Abby, suffering Christ, STOP." And he is - reaching out again to keep her from getting any closer, and bodily shoving her down with his power. Or trying to, anyhow.

Well, the first IED has gone off as a bang. And she grins as she starts through the crowd, TOWARDS the flipped presidential car. So far, so good. She's making her way through the crowd, an elbow here, a quick jab there, as needed, to clear her path. Too many people here. Dina keeps moving through, as best she can.

Elisabeth shoves the previously removed comm back in her ear and activates BOTH of her comms. "Shots fired, men down! President's exposed! Need backup NOW!" She's too squishy to be of help in the middle of the brawl, so she leaves covering the President-elect to Parkman and Trask and covers the downed Secret Service agents, weapon drawn, as best she can. The Deveaux Building is too far away for her to even attempt any kind of help, but she does murmur very softly into her commlink as she tries to cover the injured and bleeding agents, «Abby…. stay put!» Because the speedster Secret Service guy is so not gonna make it, but … until things are secure, it's not going to matter much.

A quirk of black brows. The man strangely watching, calm in the center of panic. His shoes crunch in the snow, one finger straightening each glove for just a moment. Wu-Long's eyes peer intently at Alexander, tilting his head at his different actions and his obvious ability.

The man steps forward quickly, walking towards Alexander. And then, he's not there anymore. Replaced by a wisp of smoke racing across the ground, once he reaches Alexander he corprealizes, one shoe'd foot flying firmly at the back of Alexander's spine.

When the car is lifted up and hurled like a toy away from where Rickham and his security detail are pinned down, his eyes grow wide, damnit, damnit, no, not here. Not in front of the cameras. His thoughts broadcast something strange, and his eyes scan the scene. He only has two men able to watch him, and then he sees Steve cowering nearby. "Stephanie!" Rickham shoves one of his security detail aside, bolting past Parkman towards her, and as he does, something seems to shift and change about him.

Each of Rickham's footfalls become heavier than the next, each one another loud and thumping drive of feet on concrete, until it sounds like each footfall is a hammer slamming down on stone. Allen's skin shifts, darkening and graying like the color of raw iron ore. His hair turns into thin tines of rough unrefined metal, his eyes glaze over with a brushed metal texture, and when Rickham comes skidding to a stop in the snow as it suddenly picks up to near whiteout conditions, there is a resounding pang of a ricochet as a bullet deflects clear off of his body when it strikes him in the chest with a bright spark. Rickham turns, looking down to Steve, his voice hollow and tinny, "Break for the decoy car, I'll cover you."

The cameras try to film the events, catching glimpses of the President-Elect's transformation into a man made from a single heavy block of fluidic iron in the shape of a man, watching him deflect a bullet away from his personal aid instead of running and hiding.

Somewhere in this great nation, Black Sabbath blasts from a radio. Statistically speaking, someone must be both listening to the song and watching the live news feed, even if their attention is divided. For them, at least, there is some small gem of humor in it all.
For those on the scene, there is only amazement, fear, and awe.

Parkman reaches for Rickham when he bolts, but he soon finds himself staring like many others who haven't fled or whose eyes aren't glued to a scope, aimed at potential targets who are resisting the torrent of people away from Ground Zero, but making an effort to move toward it. It's not like bullets are the only thing these people can dish out, and while the President-Elect may be safe from such, that's not to say he still can't get dented. There is also the fate of those armed and less armored individuals still standing amidst much of the chaos.

It's a sniper who gets a bead on Dina, marking her as a priority due to the man being engaged in some other sort of combat at the moment. She's an unknown and suspicious variable. The shot that is fired is silent, but it's as well-aimed as it can be given the current conditions.

Trask moves to defend Rickham himself, though the sudden change in the President makes him blink, and seeing the Presidents priority, as well as the fact the Rickham is very obviously safer outside the 10 foot radius right now he moves to try to drag the Presidents Aide "Steve" toward safety of some sort.

Twenty-six going on forty, though the campaign is over, the trail ahead is still long. Steve Caiati is done up with her dark bob-cut hair pulled back tightly and pinned at the back of her head, giving her a sleek appearance. Wide, expressive, cobalt eyes are lightly lined in a charcoal grey. Her gently arched brows are thick, a look that would have been more commonplace in an earlier time, but it's a classical look that works well for her all the same. A hint of rouge colours her prominent cheekbones and pairs well with the rich shade of red her full lips have been painted.

The woman's attire is subdued and professional, favouring high collars, low hems and shades of black. She dresses like a woman from a different era, taking a page from the Book of Jackie O. All she's missing is the pillbox hat. The only things glamorous - at least if you're not of the opinion that vintage fashion is glamorous in and of itself - about her attire are the diamond bracelet she wears around her left wrist and various styles of dangling earrings. While the latter are interchangeable, the former she is never seen without.

Steve gapes as the Tin-Man, it seems, suddenly runs towards her - but it's not a look of horror or true surprise. It's a look of awe. "Well that's new," she says, almost huskily, the blizzard whipping her hair out its immaculate bun, starting as a bullet *pings!* off the President-Elect, and she just watches him for a moment, as if caught in a spell.

There's an echoing boom of thunder and a crack of lightning from somewhere nearby. It splits the scene down the middle with its sound, Steve flinching. This is all going so wrong. She looks around to hear Trask trying to beckon her over, and she only turns back to the President-Elect, concentrating for a moment… but Trask's range, while avoiding Rickham's, covers her.

Easily solved.

With a few darting steps, she runs away from Trask, past Rickham as if heading for some other direction of safety but she only halts, turning— and a flash of blue green cuts through the blizzard, melting ice, and searing metal as needle-fine lasers lance forth from her long fingers.

Abby's not going anywhere, Al's telekinetic push sends her sprawling to the ground. Her arms put out to brace her fall even as Elisabeth's words come over the commlink. The blonde tucks into a roll, getting snow and slush all over herself as she clumsily rises again intending to follow Elisabeth's order. A momentary huff passing through her that Al did that. She's sure to not touch anyone though and look back at Al then freezes as Wu-long suddenly materializes like some nightmare. The urge to flee towards the others is stifled, Elisabeth's order so instead Abby ducks again, crouching in the sea of people and doing her best to be out of sight of Wu and of the gunmen who are sighting people in the crowd.

Dina was headed towards the chaos…and then there was a sniper. She's wearing a bulletproof vest…but she's not expecting a sniper shot, and the rounds those things fire wouldn't be stopped by a vest anyhow. She's moving, and it's chaotic. It saves her from instant death, as the bullet slams into her collarbone area at a downward angle. But she's still hurt, and quite badly. She drops to the ground as if poleaxed, bleeding profusely.

OH *FUCK*… what the HELL just happened? Elisabeth is at a complete loss until the woman formerly assumed to be the President's aide starts SHOOTING at the president-elect. At which point…. what the hell's a girl gonna do? She's gonna take the newest little trick in her arsenal and focus all her attention on "Steve" along with her 9mm — and even as she starts pulling the trigger, she uses the sound generated from the weapon, and plays the sonic puking card — or tries to — ramping the sound into the ultrasonic range and shoving it at Steve in a very specific, very focused cone of sound intended to carry only to Steve — who is a clear line of sight for her — and well…. collateral damage is anyone in the straight-line vector behind Steve too. She hopes to God that at the very least, Steve will be disoriented even if she doesn't join the puking masses behind her. But then again…. if the sound attack doesn't do it, maybe the bullets heading for the woman will distract her!

Through the crowd, a young African American man is rushing through the panic. Thin, the man's face is a mask of fear and confusion. Though it is purely a mask. The man arrives at Dina, where he quickly ducks down, grabbing the woman under the arms, tugging her away quickly. "Come with me, if you want to live." The man murmurs hurriedly as he rushes away with the woman in tow, his eyes open and alert should a Sniper be lining up another shot.

The flash of blue-green light flickers across Rickham's body, shredding his suit jacket, undershirt, and his bulletproof vest to ribbons of ineffectual materials that collapse in a heap around him, leaving his living steel form bare save for quarter-inch deep scars across his chest. It's not just metallic skin, he's solid iron through and through. Rickham's eyes narrow, then widen, the cameras are still rolling amidst the chaos as the blizzard conditions continue to worsen. Ice frosts over the President-Elect's face and shoulders, the metal cold to the touch.

There's absolute disbelief, his secretary turned on him, the laser tears through his midsection, but there's no pain, it's as if he can't feel a thing. I — I don't know how I — Why is she — // His mind is an absolute mess. Then, when the blonde woman begins opening fire on his secretary, it isn't blood that comes spraying from the gunshots, but a crackling field of telekinetic energy that deflects the bullets away. Rickham takes a step back, taking in the chaos. People are charging the NYPD barricades, one crowd has turned violent, and at //some point overturned one of the cruisers onto its side. Police are doing their best to combat the chaos, there's so much going on, there's just — his hands clench tightly into fists, I trusted her. He starts advancing, heavy footfalls thumping towards Steve as another scarring sweep of the laser leaves a shower of sparks as it scathes his iron body.

RADIO: Cat speaks into the voice part of her comm gear, the words delivered in a tone of urgency, but not shouted. "Status reports, people. Check in. Advise on condition of President-elect as well. Conrad, advise of location. We're heading for the blast site."

Three more silent shots from above are fired at the now moving target of man and woman, but other shots are being fired as well.

Parkman draws one of his pistols as soon as Steve raises her hand, and the first shot cracks through the air as soon as her fingertips begin to glow. There is only one person who could be impersonating Steve, assuming Steve herself isn't some sort of turncoat. Regardless, Parkman's path is clear. With a barbaric cry, he squeezes off round after round until his clip is empty, advancing with each step at a pace only slightly faster than Rickham's as they both near her at different angles, pausing only to drop the gun and pull the other in case the first attempts at ending Steve's life fail.

Trask watches Steve as she doesn't run toward him but the opposite way, there can only be one good reason someone does that, runs toward bullets and away from the power nullifyer? He growls low and rolls the dice, having no idea how he will effect the President He charges toward him, trying to Hip check a ton of Metal is prolly pretty useless, so he doesn't put a lot of his strngth into pushing the President out of the way of the ….LASER BEAMS?!?… but continues on, trying to get in "Steve's" Line of fire and trying to close the gap with her to shut her down.

The lasers cut out as soon as Steve's— or Sylar's attention is grabbed by Elisabeth, whirling around as the audiokinetic attack hits him, wincing— but the bullets stop in mid-air as Sylar extends a female hand to stop them. For a moment, he locks Steve's eyes with Elisabeth's, as if contemplating something, before the bullets suddenly swivel around, piercing through the air—

—towards Trask, as the negator attempts to rush him. Sylar knows well his power, knows well that threat, and attempts to take him out, even if it's not a killing blow. He whirls around to face the President-Elect again, just as Matt unloads his gun. A spatter of red falls onto snow and Sylar lets out a scream in Steve's voice, although somehow it still sounds low and guttural. It's hard to tell in his black fur coat where the bullet connected, but connect it did. A flash of telekinetic-blue-white as a shield of kinds deflects the rest, swathing Sylar in an organic, forcefield like bubble. No playing around now. It flickers out of existence only as green-blue lasers lance out again, aiming straight for Parkman.

Sylar's having a bad month.

The snow around him suddenly picks up like a tornado, and it's not his doing - a hydrokinetic reaction of emotion. Panic. Clenching his arms around himself, he turns a look to Rickham that could almost be fearful on Steve's features. Then… he's gone. No, not quite. But his black coat, his face, his hair, it all becomes as white as the blizzard surrounding him.

Abby watches, glimpses of this all through the stampede of people. "Elisabeth…." The blonde starts to pick her way through, though not upright, instead crawling on the ground towards elisabeth, not towards the president and the others who are gathering around him.

In that split second when Steve/Sylar debates, Elisabeth can see when the decision is made. "NO!" she shrieks at Sylar — the panic that Sylar may feel is similar to what Elisabeth herself must feel at this moment. Because in the midst of all of this, the scream is enhanced with the sonic frequencies she's already using — taking it to that bust-your-eardrums-and-make-them-bleed level. Which… on the up side, again should only hit Sylar and those behind him due to the fact that she was focusing the sonic attack that tightly, but on the down side? People behind Sylar take a bit more damage than just vomiting now. And Elisabeth empties the rest of her clip at Sylar — another 5 or 6 bullets.

The young man drops to a knee, throwing his arms up over Dina. "What the fuck?! What the fuck are you shooting at?!" Comes the nasal voice of the man. Bullets slice into the snow all around the man as he drags Dina hastily towards cover of tall building. Once tucked next to a wall, pulling Dina around the corner, he pulls the gun out of his holster from his coat.

A few shots are taken off at Elisabeth, in hopes of aiding Sylar with his escape. Before he goes to run and carry Dina off as quickly as possible.

Unlike the President-Elect, Parkman's only real defense against those lasers is his vest, but it doesn't do much. Parkman gets off another two rounds before he falls back, a slice across his torso that hurts doubly from the heat of the cauterizing wound and the bitter cold it is exposed to. Shock soon sets in, and Parkman's eyes slide closed.

Bright Side : No Laser Beams! Down Side: Bullets from his girl friend's gun aren't much better. Pain blossoms in Trasks Shoulder, Arm, Hip, Thigh, Calf, Chest, and Side, as 7 redirected shards of metal line up in a spray down his left side. He is thrown back, windmilling through the snow, leaving a cloud of White and Red confetti flying from him. The Police Officer falls in front of the President hopefully buying the man enough time to get out of the line of fire.

So much is happening all at once, and Rickham watches the exchange of bullets, powers, lasers, jerkily moving as if to go from one place to another. A laser lances towards Parkman, people moving, gunshots. Rickham moves again, striding across the snow as it picks up and Steve's body camouflages into the whirling ice. The NYPD are struggling to handle the rioting civilians while the news crews struggle to both film the incident and escape the dangerous battlefield.

Parkman goes down from a flash of one of the lasers, and Rickham scans the plaza for police, for Secret Service, for anything. All he can see in every direction is snow. Then Trask is taken out by a hail of telekinetically redirected bullets, these people are dying for him. Rickham walks forward, storming across the ground until he reaches Matt, yanking him up by the arm and slings him over his shoulders in a fireman carry. Not only is he made from a solid piece of living iron, but also an enhanced strength from the transmutation of his body.

His head turns to the whirling maelstrom of snow and ice. He carries Parkman over to where Trask is, kneeling down to shield the officer's body, he freezes, all the power in the world, all of his super durable steel form… and he can't do a thing to save the people who he depends on.

By now, Rickham's body is encrusted with ice, the tattered remnants of his jacket hanging down over his form loosely, like some ice-rimmed statue of the President-Elect. But what Rickham can't see is what appears on the side of the battle, in the alley that Dina was dragged into. "What the fuck!" Elias DeLuca shields his face from the blinding snow as he looks down to Dina's prone form and the scruffy looking young man guarding her. "Goddamnit this is— " He covers his face with one hand, "I can't teleport Dina out. Kid, get her the hell out of here while they're distracted, I have to go bail Sylar out of might as fucking-well be Antarctica."

Upside for Abby, no ones paying attention to the inchworm that is the rogue healer. The spoken prayer so far back in time, still humming underneath her skin, waiting, gets to possibly be put to use as the black jacketed woman with the blue toque makes it to Calvins. Her hand clamps on top of Calvin's chest, over the bullet wound. "Not today" whispered to the man, though whether he can hear her or not is a different question. Curled beside him she pushes out the healing to try and seal the man up fast, not a care for whether there's a scar or not, already scanning to see who else will need her god given ability. Matt's down. The blonde reaches out then too, get a hand on bared flesh, but he's too far and the President Elect is picking him up. So it's to the other agent, who got the same bullet Calvins got. two for one. "God, please, let me have enough for everyone" Murmured.

Cat has arrived.
Helena has arrived.

Elizabeth's bullets shoot towards the figure of white, but there's nothing to hit, and even in this weather, one can make out that even his camouflaged outline is gone. In a moment of supernatural speed, Sylar runs, briefly appearing several feet away to look at the scene.

A mess. A disorganized mess. Ironic, considering whom he looks like.

In the chaos, he can pick up one thing — Elias's voice. Another burst of of superhuman speed and by the time he gets there, he's a pale, trembling semblance of— well, Steve. A hand comes out and grips Elias's arm in a vice like grip. "Mission aborted," is all he snarls, and there's really not much more for the two to do… but disappear.

She didn't even see the dark skinned man's attack coming. Elisabeth is still standing guard between Calvins and Steve/Sylar when the shots from the crowd ring out. Two of those shots actually hit her, one in the chest, which is absorbed by the kevlar she wears (though it knocks her off-balance and takes away her breath) and one in the upper thigh that goes the rest of the way toward taking her out of the battle. But then again, Sylar's gone. Gasping for air as she crumples to the ground, trying to rip open her jacket and the vest and failing, Elisabeth opens the radio comm to talk between painful gasps. "Perp … on the move… president-elect … still secure. Where… the fuck… is that backup? Officers down. Repeat… officers down." She looks around the stage, taking in the damage and the president protecting Matt and Trask. So totally fucked.

As Cat and Helena make their way up the street, they are forced to take a narrow alley between an old apartment complex and a parking garage — both terrible damaged by the bomb, to avoid the chaotic mess of the NYPD barricade. Blood is everywhere in the streets here at a four-way intersection where the event was taking place. Cat can immediately see a black sedan lodged in the third story of a building through the front windows. The snow whips down the street with a fearsome speed, coating everything in sight with ice and frost. Gunshots still pop and crack from different directions.

Helena can spot Abby crawling across the street, trying to make her way towards a downed Secret Service agent with blood covering the front of his suit, pooling out and freezing in the snow beneath him. Not far away, though, is what is the most strange. Kneeling down next to Officer Trask's bloodied and bullet-riddled body is a living steel statue of a man, and slung over his shoulder in a fireman's carry is another man, also bleeding, rivulets of blood running down his living steel form. A shredded black jacket and white undershirt barely conceal the chiseled raw iron of his body, but the face of the ice-crusted iron figure is none other than President-Elect Allen Rickham. A few deep slices through his metal form have split open his chest, revealing that he is a solid piece of iron through and through.

But in that crouched position, he is a bastion of silence. No one is moving, except for Elisabeth, calling for backup, calling for anything.

Following behind the pair, a meek looking man with round glasses pauses upon seeing the carnage. His reddened face from the blustery cold turns left and right, taking in the surroundings. But when he sees the iron colossus of Rickham crouching over a prone man's form, his mouth hangs open slightly. Television crews barely visible through the blinding snow are still trying to film, but the weather is making getting anything clear difficult. Doctor Edward Ray closes his hand into a fist, murmuring to himself as he lowers his head and closes hie eyes, "I… this is…"

A few seconds more, the agent who saved the president from the first bullet might have died, exsanguination from the bullet wound. But Abby's quick, lips move, forming vowels and words unheard by anyone except the man near her face even as the other hand closes around the second downed agent and the healing splits flows. Out the left and right hand. Calvins will live, no more blood will flow out of this man. So she lets go of him, crawling to the other one she's latched onto. Determined to heal everything that's down as long as she can. As long as they let her.

The arrival of Helena, Edward, and Cat is prefaced by the arrival of Owen with Conrad's broken but still breathing body. He makes a judgment call, and that is - to go away, elsewhere with Conrad until they can be seen to. Helena herself stares at all of this in horror. And then something clicks, her expression becoming one of stained control - but control, nonetheless. "Cat, stay with him. " Curving the collar of Peter's jacket upward, Helena takes off her hat, shakes her hair out, and jams the hat back on top again, letting her hair obscure her face. And then she makes a beeline for Trask, gusts of wind clearing away the debris with gestures that prompt gusts of wind. Skidding to a stop, she slides to her knees in the snow, closes her eyes, and then says softly, "You're still alive." It's suddenly cold, and that's a good thing. It brings her unwittingly under Rickham's gaze.

Arriving in the area along with Helena and Doctor Ray, the woman of five feet eight inches in the winter coat with her hood up and drawn tight, partly obscuring her features slowly takes in the scene ahead of her. Cat nods once toward Helena when she takes off and complies with the instruction she gives. Faces are looked at, both of people down with injuries and those still standing. They settle on the kneeling form of Helena next, then move upward to take in the sight of this iron Colossus above her. Her head tilts to one side, she studies this for some moments longer as if to satisfy herself this isn't some illusion. "I knew I voted for the right guy," Cat remarks under her breath.

"Who are you?" Rickham's voice sounds like someone speaking into a tin-can, hollow and reverberating. He watches as Helena crouches down next to Trask, then looks to the man he's carrying over one shoulder. "You know Norton?" He's trying to process so much death, carnage and destruction, it's left him sounding a bit shell shocked. He should in all rights be fleeing to safety, but instead he's crouching here next to an agent who fought to save his life, and another who may well be dead in his arms. "I… These men need medical attention." Rickham looks to Helena with eyes that look like solid pieces of hematite, pupils and irises seemingly etched into them like elaborate detailing.

Creeping up on the scene, Doctor Ray shakily approaches the President, stuttering slightly as he offers his words, "Homela— Homeland Security, they'll be here soon." Rickham closes his eyes with the grinding sound of metal, nodding once, solemnly. He follows no further than where Cat goes, and her sentiment elicits something of a rueful smile from the mathematician. "Statistically speaking, we would have been in better hands with Senator Petrelli, in the long run." That ears a shift of Rickham's focus to Edward, only briefly so. He's still shell-shocked from what happened.

"Mister President, m-my…" He starts to approach, then stops, backing up as he looks to the sound of nearby gunfire from the police. "Introduction later. Miss Dean," Edward shifts his focus to her, "I — It's dangerous to be here. We should go." Up close, Helena can see the face of the man slung over Rickham's shoulder.

Right. EMT's won't get her faster than she can work. Gun shots, neat little holes, not so neat. Abby works on the second agent before calling out to the president Elect. "Bring him here" She yells. "I can fix him" Her free hand outstretched towards the iron giant and his cargo. "Bring anyone who's hurt here"

Helena looks up into the eyes of the President Elect, momentarily losing her words, but then, "That girl - she's a healer. Get Parkman over to her." She looks down at Norton. "She can't help him, he's - " she cuts off. "She can't help him." She doesn't want to just leave Trask here, but as she rises from her knees she speaks quickly and frantically. "Sir, please listen to me. There is a terrorist cell headed by a man named Kazimir Volken who we think are responsible for the attack on you. They've got some kind of apocalyptic scenario planned - and that's just the beginning of what you'll have to deal with, like the camps - I'm sorry, I have to go…" She starts to step away, intent on taking off before the authorities get there.

Trask is attempting to push himself up, his blood leaking out into the snow around him, "Mr President, get Parkman over to her, she" He coughs clearing his throat "She can help…"

She moves forward with Doctor Ray when he approaches, staying near him as she was asked to do. The man lying on the ground by Helena is looked at again, the face is studied. She knows Sergei was supposed to be somewhere around here. The image of Sergei is called up and compared against the downed one. Could be. Maybe. She'll hate it, she really will, but there's only one way to make certain of what she suspects. Cat moves to just inside the ten foot range and immediately feels the confusion. The swiss cheesing, the fog. One hand rubs at her temple a bit, and she steps back to outside the range. Things return to normal. Silence is maintained, she simply observes and waits for Helena to be on the move, also ready to give assistance if asked.

Rickham turns his focus to the young blonde, then his head cranes to regard Parkman. Rickham rises to stand, watching the police in the distance preparing to move into the area, the chaos on the far side of the scene beginning to fade. His head turns with a grinding sound of steel, his eyes track to Elisabeth, watching as she moves to intercept the police, and how she isn't questioning the people who came over here.

"Where will you go?" His hematite eyes settle on Helena as he shifts Parkman across his shoulder, "//I— //" Rickham looks looks to Parkman again, then to Abigail. His dark eyes settle on Parkman again, and he turns to move along behind Helena as she starts to depart, heavy footfalls clunking with his considerable weight.

Doctor Ray arches a brow, watching as Rickham moves to follow Helena, and backpedals some, "Miss." He turns to address Cat, "According to my calculations, the President stands a high chance of being impeached from office due to this potential scandal of his Evolved capability. This is what I was trying to avoid. If he stays here…" His eyes track over to Elisabeth, unable to see her through the driving snow now, which means this group can't be seen by them. "…without formulating a cover story." His eyes dart to peer at Helena. "Think of the opportunity, Miss Dean. An audience with the President-Elect. It would seem, and I am not proud to admit my correctness, that you and he are much in the same boat. If he is impeached, all of the work he's done will be for naught.//"

Rickham turns to look at Parkman, then Abigail again, then to Helena. "I can't stay here, and I'll need Parkman's help to convince my people about a cover story." His gaze lowers to Trask, "You can leave, I will not detain you. But…" His metallic eyes lid partway with a scraping sound, "If you have somewhere to hide out… I could use somewhere to consider my options."

Edward turns to look at Helena, one brow raised slightly, "For what it's worth, Miss Dean, we can use the storm as cover. The news media… I'm not sure what can be done about that." Odds are, Hana already has done something. "I came here to help as well. Not…" He peers at Rickham, "Quite what I imagined."

Agents done. One will need blood, the other, just a wash down and new clothes. Abby waits for people to be brought to her instead of going to them. Less energy expended. She'd kill for a red bull right about now. Which are in her backpack… across the street. That's not gonna happen. But she watches as Rickham keeps walking with Parkman, waiting for him to be brought over, for others to be brought over. She glances over to Elisabeth before the healer starts to make her way to Rickham and Parkman et al. Attempting to put one hand on iron flesh and on the downed homesec person provided she not within Trask's bubble range.

Helena pauses, but only for a second to frame her thoughts. (Why is she trusting Edward so much? She just is.) "Alright. I can thicken the fog, make it easier to get us out of here. We can take you to a safe house." Which may end up being the Library or another close by safe house, but then hey, they could have the president over for tea. Show him the data they've collected on HomeSec and Kazimir…"Parkman's dangerous, he's a telepath." She leaves it at that but beckons for the would-be President to follow. Cat is also, having spoken her legal opinion, following Helena.

"Doctor Ray," Cat begins, as she calls the Constitution up into her memory and goes right to the section on impeachment, "it's a minefield without precedent. Impeachment needs a majority in the House, and two thirds in the Senate to remove him, and this crime was committed before he even took office. Technically, they couldn't impeach him, it doesn't pertain to his time in office. But, of course, that doesn't mean they wouldn't have a trial and maybe convict him anyway. Then it becomes a Supreme Court decision on the legality of the impeachment. Even if he survives the affair and stays in office, he's undone. History will record him as only the third to face trial, and he becomes a lame duck from the beginning. So… let's not find out if he can be impeached or not."

"Matt Parkman is a good man." Rickham says in his hollow voice as fog builds up around the area. The storm, crippling as it is, keeps vehicles from entering the area, keeps every single armed force in the country from bearing down on this spot to extract the President-Elect. Will anyone know what happened tomorrow, will anyone be aware of the truth? "We are all equally dangerous."

Rickham turns to look at Cat, her cold and analytical demeanor catching his attention briefly. But it's Abigail's footsteps approaching that halt the iron-bodied President. He watches her, hearing of what she can do, of who these people may be.

"Astute observations, Miss." Edward keeps his voice down as he steps into the fog, peering at Helena's back with a calculating stare for a moment, then down to the agent laying on the ground nearby.

Rickham simply kneels down, "You'll be in safe hands soon, Norton. Hang in there… please." Rickham looks up to Cat and nods slowly, breathing out a hollow, vestigial sigh as he straightens. "You can tell me about your problems once we are safe, I'm very willing to listen, for what you're willing to risk to help me… conceal this." It leaves a bitter taste in Rickham's mouth, "But…" Edward pauses in the snow, arms wrapped around himself as he examines Rickham's iron form intently. "Who are you people?" Edward's lips crook into a subtle, pleased smile at the question, and he leaves it for Helena to answer, turning around to continue on through the thick fog and whipping snow.

Trask coughs, "Go…We'll be Good" He drops back into the Snow, his good hand moving to try to stop the bleeding.

'They're Phoenix" Abby answers, even as her hand slides home on Matt's skin, work enough to keep him from bleeding out. "And they're doing what they can to make the world a better place for everyone" Abby looks up at Rickham. "To rise up. Hel, I'll need help, I didn't have coffee before" Abby's looking tired, this all taking a toll on the southern woman.

"Matt Parkman is a danger to his own kind." Helena replies over her shoulder. "And our problems are your problems too. Believe me." There's a pause when he asks who they are. And then Abby names them. Striding over to Abby, the petite young woman loops the others arm over her shoulders, and begins to lead the way to one of the nearest safe houses.

As she walks along with the scientist, Cat's demeanor alters. Her face changes, an expression of amazement and partial disbelief coming to the partially hidden features. Her voice is hushed, the words less cold than they'd been previously. The danger seems past, the mission is accomplished. Kazimir Volken's group failed in their objective. It gives her a slight edge of euphoria, muted by the carnage and injuries seen around her. And the memory of persons departed returns. "Doctor Ray," she begins, "I'm not so cold as I may seem. Nor are any of the others. We simply are what the world makes us be. These people who attacked tonight… are for discussing another time." She trudges onward from there, in grim silence, remembering the loss but feeling not so much of the guilt as she had.

The decisions we make, when at the crossroads of history affect us all; both great and small. All these things contribute to the healing of time's scars.

Rickham follows Helena through the snow and fog, and her comment about Matt roll off of him as easily as bullets and ice has this day. He follows her down a road he cannot see the end of, down a road that leads not only to an uncertain destination for himself, but for the nation at large.

It is the decisions we make, that shape these crossroads in history, and ensure whether we will walk down a road that will have us arrive at a shining future we can all share…

Edward turns to regard Cat with an uncertain expression at first, one dark brow raised over the top of his glasses. There's just an appreciative smile that creeps up next, something going unsaid, words that are swallowed by a smile that does not quite reach Edward's eyes as he turns to look ahead down that same hazy road Rickham sees.

…or whether we will be led astray…

Tucking his gloved hands into the pockets of his jacket, Edward nods to himself. Because he does not see an indistinct road, or blurred paths. He sees formulas, numbers and patterns. He sees predictions of events based on his understanding of them. Edward smiles, listening to the rhythmic thump of Rickham's footfalls in line with Helena's. No, this didn't turn out how he predicted at all. It turned out far better.

…to walk down down a road to ruin.


December 19th: Disaster Within Disaster, Part I

Previously in this storyline…
Disaster Within Disaster, Part II

This concludes the 'In Twilight Gleaming' storyline.

December 19th: Sometimes the Dragon Wins
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