Five Years Gone


corbin_icon.gif emerson2_icon.gif gavyn_icon.gif jj_icon.gif kaitlyn_icon.gif kase_icon.gif luther_icon.gif nadia_icon.gif nathan_icon.gif

With an appearance by…


Scene Title Five Years Gone
Synopsis On the fifth anniversary of the explosion that shattered New York City, what begins as a peaceful memorial ends… otherwise.
Date November 8, 2011

Midtown Memorial at Ground Zero

"My fellow Americans, my fellow New Yorkers,"
"Please let us take a moment to remember the men, women, and children"
"Who were taken from us five years ago."

"Five bells, for the five years of sorrow."

A large black dais with a podium. One solemn, somber President; dozens of officials in suits; what seems like hundreds of military in full dress and even more police in neat but ordinary uniforms. Thousands upon thousands of mourners, witnesses, survivors gathered before the dais, packed into and spilling beyond the bounds of the reclaimed Ground Zero. Above it all, a flag that tries to be just as much larger-than-life as the five-years-past tragedy that broke New York City.

Around the memorial lie stretches of Midtown that are at once both reclaimed and yet still in utter disarray. Shattered, degraded concrete walls stand silhouetted against clear sky, decaying forms interspersed with the strictly utilitarian exposed rebar of new construction that promises to someday overwrite this desolate decay with renewed vitality. Whether old or new, all are but urban skeletons placed on unkind display by the harshly brilliant afternoon sun, together comprising a cityscape ugly and unwelcoming throughout.

In the center of everything is an astonishingly, depressingly vast plaque of black marble laid flat, rimmed by a low concrete wall. A bare three inches of water shimmers over what seems an endless list of names etched into the stone, their letters painted white. It cannot truly be endless — if nothing else, the stone is finite — and yet there seem to be as many names as stars in the night sky, for those near enough to glimpse them. A steel bowl rests in the water, charcoal within waiting to be lit.

A bell tolls.

Four members of FRONTLINE stand before the dais, arranged in loose pairs near each front corner, facing outwards rather than towards the man on stage. Wearing their all but featureless, forbiddingly black Horizon armor, FRONTLINE's purpose today is evident: to stand between the President and anyone in the gathering with malicious intent, or even just possessed of a momentary lapse in sanity. Collectively, they seem to be magnets for unfriendly looks and contemptuous mutters from a substantial minority of the crowd — perhaps not surprising given the event this day commemorates, an event for which fault lies squarely with one Evolved.

A bell tolls.

Pride of place immediately before the pool and opposite the dais has been granted to those attending in official capacities, each radiating formal, somber respect and grave attention for all to see. Among them is Gregory Armond, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the stark lines of his formal suit unflattering to his heavyset frame despite every best effort of his tailor. Next to him is Nadia Ba'albaki, representing the Department of Evolved Affairs.

A bell tolls.

Off to one side in the throng of civilians is a tall blond man somewhat shy of thirty, by name of Tim; his mildly shaggy hair and the worn, faded clothes he wears attest to a man once successful, but now fallen on hard times. There is also a story to be read in his eyes, damp and reddened as they are, and in the photo partially creased by the force of his grip. Supported on his shoulders and graced with what might be the best view in the entire gathering is a boy of perhaps seven, named Sam; his light-brown hair is neatly cut, his clothes comfortably broken in but not outgrown. It's clear where Tim's priorities lie; it's also made clear in short order what Sam prioritizes. "Dad, can we go get ice cream now?" Tim reaches up to pat Sam's thigh. "Not yet, kiddo. Just be patient until we're all done here, okay?"

A bell tolls.

Just a little ways back in the crowd is a couple as ordinary as can be, by name of Dan and Mary: he of average height, shading towards heavyset in his middle age, dressed for a casual day in the office; she on the short side with long, mousey-brown hair and incipient crow's feet around her eyes, dressed in blacks more fit for a funeral than a memorial. "Should've watched on TV," Dan mutters, ostensibly to himself. "Prolly all kinds of radioactive crap here." Mary smacks his shoulder. "Don't be ridiculous," she chides, "it wasn't a real bomb. Just some guy who exploded himself. Like a human-sized block of TNT." That earns her a short, sharp snort in return. "So a guy can turn into a bunch of TNT, but not whatsitcalled, uranium? Now who's being ridiculous?"

Several people around them make shushing sounds even louder than the couple's affectionate bickering, earning them all reproachful glances from the next layer out.

A bell tolls.

If she were entirely honest with herself, standing in front of the dais that President Petrelli stands at, is not where Hannah Emerson wants to be. If she had her way, she would be helping her former CO, or otherwise be somewhere else where she is likely to be of more help than here. There should be no greater honour than being chosen to protect the President of the United States of America, but the last two months have left her weary and uncertain.

Still, she had a job to do, and she will do it with professionalism and dignity regardless of her personal feelings on the manner.

As Petrelli stands behind her delivering his solomon speech, Emerson scans the gathered crowd, seeing if she can catch sight of any potential problems before they become such - she has no doubt that there may be some of the city's notorious Evolved terrorists waiting in a wings for a day like today. And she needed to be ready for that.

A glance is given over to Gavyn, Kaitlyn, JJ, others. To make sure they are acting as she is, eyes out and scanning, assessing. Waiting. She figured it was only a matter of time before something went awry - it is New York City, after all. She was more than willing to be proven wrong.

Beside Emerson stands Jameson Jones, his green eyes behind their visor scrutinizing the crowd much like hers do. And his mind is also not one hundred percent on the task at hand — he’d been asked to go with Elisabeth, with Endgame, by his mother no less, to Alaska. Fate had other plans. So instead he stands here, watching the crowd for those telltale signs of trouble or folly among the crowd. His ability is one that lets him know the past, but he’s been trained to try to predict the very near future, as all presidents’ guards are.

He glances a few rows into the crowd when he sees someone’s hand go into her pocket — but out comes a small camera, disposable, film, in the digital age. A row behind him, someone brings a hand up to shield his face. The small reactions are watched, gauged. And at the back of his mind, the question that’s been there for months now: how far can he go in this guise? He’s done small things to try to help in this role he plays — lying about a family’s whereabouts on a relocation run, pretending not to see a registration card handed to him in the streets. At the fifth bell toll, his gaze slides sideways to the podium, to see what the president will do next, before they go back to their task. Watching. Gauging.

To her credit, Nadia Ba’albaki is looking every part the proper face of the DoEA. The terrakinetic is dressed up in her finest, a finely cut black dress adorning her frame. She watches the president speak with rapt attention, her hands folded properly in her lap, and when the bell toll begins, she dips her head down in a show of respect.

Inwardly, the woman isn’t quite as composed. These past few months have been trying — being the face of the DoEA isn’t always the most ideal of positions to be in, especially when there is so much contention between the government and its citizens. She’s had things thrown at her while out and about, and there have been no heartfelt thank yous from people for whom registration has made a difference.

She also hasn’t been the most exemplary Face of the DoEA. She’s been in more than a few commercials and has spoken in front of her own fair share of audiences on the merits of both relocation and the negation drugs that have become mandatory for all registered Evolved. But just because she has been preaching the good of such things…she hasn’t been taking her drugs herself. It’s not that she can’t function without her ability; it’s that when she is negated, she feels so out of sorts without her connection to the earth below her feet, it makes her sick.

Nobody knows that part, though. She can get by without actually using her ability, just so long as she can feel the planet beneath her feet.

She hates it here. She doesn't want to be here.

Kaitlyn Dooley still remembers what happened that day, remembers her losses, remembers the pain. It makes her thankful for the helm, as she has to blink back tears that are threatening to make her seem human.

She still misses him. Her husband, Mike, who was one of the victims of Midtown. Today was reminding her of that, something she worked so hard to squash down. That little ball of misery that yearned for a man long dead.

She really hates it here.

The attempt to get out of the duty was squashed by those that know what she can do. Kait was there to be ready to use her healing, if need be. However, being there… she could feel them all, or at least those immediately around her. It was like an itch in the middle of her back, one she could not scratch… she could feel them.. the injured, the sick, the dying.

Why did she let Broome and Harper talk her into this? Other than the head of the other FRONTLINE team was incredibly hot? She might miss her husband, but she ain’t dead either. Still she had been content in her little quarters with her dogs in the Ark.

Why did she say yes again?

“Come on. Come on. Come on.” She murmured under her breath, ready to get home and relax… away from everyone and everything.

New York hasn’t changed all that much since he’s been gone. Corbin had business to attend to in other states and but finally, after too long away, he’s made his way back to the city, just in time for the memorial. He keeps his blue eyes open, scanning the crowd as if hoping against hope that he’ll spot someone in the corner of his eyes. And not the one who hangs around at the edge of his vision. It’s been months since he’s seen her— but he’s supposed to be dead, so. He just hopes she’s somewhere better than this.

She always talked about Paris.

As the bells start tolling, he talks to himself. Or to someone only he can see. “This place didn’t clean up half as much as I expected.” A lady turns to look at him, perhaps suspecting that he spoke to her. The silvery haired woman eyes him with suspicion, until he smiles sadly back. “My mom and sister both died in the bomb.”

It’s true, too. And the ghost in his head lost people too.

The silvery haired woman nodded, looking back toward the President. “Those monsters took a lot of lives since then too. I hope they’re all locked up. Don’t know why the President has them at his side. It’s disgusting.”

A tight smile, but Corbin doesn’t bother to argue. Some people couldn’t be argued with anyway, so instead he tries to shift where he stands, “I’m going to try to get closer, have a nice day.”

Despite having arrived earlier and watched the set up of the dais, there's no dishonesty within Luther's mind or heart where he wants to be. Where he is meant to be. Standing within earshot behind the affectionately bickering if misunderstanding couple of Dan and Mary, he keeps himself quiet amidst those shushing the pair.

The man's attention is elsewhere too, performing a slow scan of those around him before returning to front and center. To the black slab, covered in shimmering water that no doubt mirrors the tearful shine in some eyes today. To the names etched in white, amongst them likely Luther's wife, brother-in-law, and two children. And with them, his own name. He takes a long breath, steadying himself as the bells toll. Five years, when it feels like it's been forever in purgatory.

A face in the crowd. That is what Kase is. The young man watching the ceremony from the vantage point one gains from showing up super early to an event. Those almost unnaturally ice blue eyes taking it all in and lowering respectfully at the appropriate times. It's always good to remember those who have passed on and it is the least he can do. Every toll of the bell, sending whispers through his mind of coulda, woulda, shouldas.

He stands there, his front plastered to the back of some young brunette named ‘Fran’ who is leaning into his embrace as she listens to the words and the bells and cries. A quiet murmur in her ear to ask if she wants to go but no. She has to stand there, and cry, and lean and he can only hold her.

Every toll of the bell, reverberating loudly in his own mind. Just another face in the crowd.

To Emerson’s other side is Gavyn Mitchell, face a mask, behind her own masked helmet. How she feels being part of this mission is uncertain, probably even to herself. The last weeks and months have left more questions and offered no answers and certainly the days leading to this one have been less than stellar. She’s at least managed to hide her dissatisfaction for those who make the orders, even if it’s left her questioning herself.

However, this moment is not for philosophical journeys.

This moment is for standing guard and, like her teammates, Gavyn is watching the crowd. Specifically, she’s watching the movement and the mood of the crowd. Expressions tell a lot, whether it’s shifting eyes or staring too hard, appearing far more distant than even mourning can justify. The set of a mouth that looks too eager or sour or apathetic.


The silence is broken by a single grave word, one that resonates with the entire audience, its three syllables perfectly encapsulating loss, death, destruction. All the blood that has been shed, by terrorist and freedom fighter and national defender alike. The laws that have been passed, the executive orders that have been handed down, restrictions and requirements and confinements alike.

At the podium, President Petrelli delivers his address in measured, weighted words that reach clearly to nearly the entire crowd of listeners. With each line, he moves his attention to a different facet of the throng, giving the impression that — however fleetingly — each person is being addressed directly, their losses acknowledged, their sympathies shared. It's an illusion, of course, all part of the fine art of public speaking.

"Something that we're all too familiar with.
"We've all lost, we've all mourned.

Collectively, the official representatives stand almost as still as the surrounding military presence, their attention forward; only one smothers a cough, and a couple shuffle their feet, shift their weight. Behind them, the atmosphere of the greater crowd can be felt to shift, a ripple passing through; it carries memories, recollections, associations unique to each listener, called forth by words spoken. Sacrifice. Loss. Mourning.

The attention given to the FRONTLINE members in their armor sharpens, darkens — but it doesn't seem that anyone is prepared to interrupt the President at his speech. For now.

"And we've all had to become soldiers, heroes,"
"protecting one another from this grave danger."

From his lofty vantage point, Sam studies the President quizzically, not looking too impressed with the speech. But then, he's young. "He looks uncomfortable up there," the boy says, not as quietly as he presumes. Tim reaches up to pat Sam's leg again, but finds himself too choked up to speak, too caught up in trying not to cry. It's then that Corbin edges up near them; Tim reflexively shuffles aside to make room, casts the older man a sidelong glance before looking back to the dais. Maybe he finds the pushing forward rude; maybe it's just the small disruption of this solemn moment, his personal grief.

"This is a battle that none of us wanted,"
"One that we entered with a heavy heart, knowing that the enemy was ourselves."

Elsewhere, the shushed couple remain quiet as the President speaks, at least for a while. "Sure don't feel like a soldier," Dan mutters. "Good thing, too. Too many around as it is," he adds, casting dubious looks towards members of the military, FRONTLINE, police. "Hush," Mary chides pointedly, casting an apologetic glance towards the people around them — including Luther. "Show the President some respect."

"But we do not forget the price that we've had to pay,"
"the laws that we've had to pass to keep our citizens safe,
"to preserve our way of life."

The movements in the crowd are tracked by JJ’s green eyes, which fall on Corbin as he moves forward, but then away again when it’s clear the man was just finding another spot to stand. Elsewhere, another hand goes into another pocket, but it comes out with a pair of sunglasses, slipped over a pair of damp eyes; their owner clearly wanting to hide his emotion to the speech.

The words danger and enemy make him scowl behind the dark visor, luckily unseen. More visibly, his feet move slightly, redistributing his weight in a young man’s fidget. For once he’s thankful for the suit, because he feels he — and his FRONTLINE fellows — are as likely to be attacked in this moment, in this climate, as Petrelli.

He’s still again, eyes moving toward Emerson to see if she noticed his break of attention, but really, who can tell? The armor makes them look like stormtroopers, or worse, the robots that stalk the Evolved — emotionless, dangerous, and inhuman. A strategy that might be good on the offensive, but it certainly doesn’t make anyone relate to them any better.

The terrakinetic bows her head slightly as the president speaks, listening intently. Despite the outward appearance that the face of the DoEA puts on, that she is listening, that the President’s words are ringing deep within her soul, Nadia’s dark brown eyes are darting about, looking over the faces present, memorizing features and the emotions displayed across them.

The members of FRONTLINE are occasionally offered a thankful expression — she’s probably just as much in danger of being attacked as the President and the suited guards, and she’s aware of that much. The Moroccan woman is thankful for those people in the suits.

With a soft sigh, Nadia Ba’albaki turns her gaze back to the president, hands clutching the impeccably designed handbag that matches her dress so well.

If Emerson does catch it, she doesn't say anything. Instead, she continues to stare on ahead, a deep breath taken as she listens to the speech happening behind her, assuredly being broadcast the country over. The murmuring, the talking in the crowd isn't unexpected. This is, at all, expected to be a contentious affair worthy of FRONTLINE's presence there. Shifting her posture slightly, Emerson turns her gaze in the direction of Mary and Dan - show the president some respect, indeed.

Otherwise, she just keeps her eyes moving through the crowd while attempting to maintain as profession and statuesque a demeanor as possible. She isn't as hot or physically uncomfortable as others may be, but that doesn't she's enjoying this. If she the means, she would be asking for assessments the others. What does make her uncomfortable is the uneasy sense of waiting for something to happen that always rides an undercurrent through moments like this.

As her gaze skims the crowd, Gavyn allows it to rest briefly upon various people, still weighing moods. The couple and their argument gain a passing glance, she’s seen similar in other parts of the gathering — perhaps not so animated — and the looks from Dan are very alike the looks she and her team often get. It’s unfortunate. Sam gains a longer look, and the briefest of grins. She can relate to the kid’s boredom. Long speeches are boring.

But hopefully it’s all boredom that happens today.

Her gaze moves on. Her weight shifts slightly, hardly enough to draw her out of formation. Arms hang at her sides, fingers curled just so as she remains at attention. She lets out a slow, steadying breath as her scrutiny of the people spread out before the dais. Gavyn can’t help but wonder if something will happen. It’s a grim thought.

Uncomfortable, Kaitlyn scans the crowd trying to distract herself from the annoying flare of her ability. It’s too many people. Too many. Only those on the FRONTLINE team might notice the faint tremble in her hands. While he mind screams at her to flee, she stands there. A well-trained soldier. It doesn’t distract from her duty; yet, sweat speckles her brow under the helmet.
Her gaze moves from one person to the next, looking for threats, before letting her eyes fall on the memorial pool. It was such a lovely thing. Hopefully, one day she can look for her husband’s name on the black marble. Feel the shape of the letters. Know that he’ll never be forgotten.
Dammit… there were the tears again.

He'd have been lost to memories drudged up by the deep tolling of the bells, the moment of silence, were it not for the resumed speech. But the words, those three particular words spoken with such solemnity, brings first a chill down Luther's spine only to return as a slow burning heat of… anger. Sure as heat rises, the emotion makes its way up, manifesting in Luther's expression. This man is not buying the act. Not after all he's been through. What the country's been through.

By the time the president mentions the battle that nobody wanted, that everybody is a hero and a soldier, the man's expression is soured. Mary gets a view of that bitter downturned mouth and sharp, grey gaze. To preserve our way of life. Luther stares with laser focus at the man at the podium. This supposed servant of the People. Luther's respect is nowhere for this man, at least in this moment.

Once he’s away from the silver haired lady, who still mutters and says some pretty terrible things to the people around her all the while, Corbin stops moving and settles into a position. He wonders where on the memorial his sister and mother’s names are. Probably near the beginning, assuming they are in alphabetical order. Hokuto’s mother should also be on it, somewhere…

He’ll have to go take a look once the speeches are over, ground zero settles. But for now, he focuses his eyes on the president. He knows a few things about the man that makes the words he says rather… interesting. After all, Nathan Petrelli had been included in the Project Icarus files that he helped the Company archive. He wonders how his mother is doing, in the wake of all this— part of him knows Hokuto might be worried about her teacher, too.

Preserve our way of life, huh? he thinks, shaking his head at the speech. Sometimes preservation’s cost is too high.

Bullshit. Is the word that echoes the Presidents in Kase’s head as he squints past the surface of inspiration and thinks on the reality that they all live in. The woman in his arms is nodding in agreement, occasionally shifting her weight like she’s so overcome with the speech she might collapse.

“Hey baby, you ready go now? We don’t have to stay if its too much.” He murmurs softly, breath warm against her ear, idly moving a hand to take her own. That island lilt coloring his words.

A shake of her head leaves him resigned, focusing those ice blue eyes on the man giving the speech and listening.

"Our hope has always been that a great peace was on the horizon,"
"that one day wounds would be healed and salvation would be found."

The speech continues, leaving behind the subjects of loss and battle just as the Reclamation Zone around them attempts to make whole a wound dealt to the very city itself. Hands braced on either side of the podium, his head lifting high, President Petrelli turns the figurative corner of his message with every projection of assurance and confidence. His voice rings out over the crowd with a note of growing promise, the hint of coming hope.

The crowd is not slow to pick up on that note; its collective attention sharpens upon the dais, loss and grief and resentment provisionally set aside, waiting for the promise to be followed through upon.

"I'm here to tell you that that day is today."
"I'm proud to announce that we have developed a treatment,"
"a method to reverse the genetic code."

On those words, the crowd breaks into applause, just barely led by the officials at its front. The applause spreads buoyed on a wave of unexpected positivity, of hopeful murmurs and disbelieving whispers. FRONTLINE and everything it represents fall by the wayside, disregarded, ignored. Even those disinclined to take a politician's spoken promises on faith have redirected their attention — and their doubt — upon the man at the podium.

The President waits until the applause has died down before continuing.

"The first clinics will open next month across the world,"
"and soon we can begin lifting restrictions."
"Cities and families can be reunited,"
"and we can finally live without fear."

Sam applauds when the rest of the crowd does, his clapping vigorous and exuberant, although it's plain for anyone who looks at him to see that the boy is just joining in the approbation because so many others are. For his part, holding the boy securely in place on his shoulders, Tim is frowning — a dark cloud of malingering resentment and grief not lifted by mere verbal pledges. "And that's just going to make everything okay?" he says to no one around him, to the broken cityscape, to the photo clenched tightly in his hand. "Just like that?"

"We've been vigilant."
"We have been uncompromising."
"And our efforts have paid off."

Dan and Mary both applaud with the rest. "Well, that's great news!" the woman remarks between lines of the speech, leaning towards her husband but failing to actually moderate her voice all that much. "Maybe they'll get this city back together after all." Her husband looks askance, then — perhaps a little dramatically — casts a glance skyward. "Heaven help you, woman, you believe a politico's grandstanding?" He shakes his head. "Doesn't matter what they've cracked. This kind of thing doesn't just go away."

"The nightmare is over."
""The world is safe."

Unseen behind his visor, JJ’s eyes narrow at the words promising a cure — as if he and his fellow FRONTLINE squad members are diseased. As if every person carrying the SLC gene is somehow flawed and in need of saving. His helmet shifts just slightly to the left, like he might be about to shake his head, but he catches himself, stills that motion.

He doesn’t speak, but his inner monologue echoes Kase’s. Bullshit. In his lifetime — which doesn’t officially start for another four years — there was no cure. What Petrelli is promising is a lie; he knows it. His feet shuffle slightly again. His helmet moves ever so slightly back to right, to center. He heaves a sigh, which doesn’t do much more than fog up his visor momentarily.

Taking in slow, steadying breaths, Luther makes himself empty the angry thoughts that start to cloud that focus, and his control. The man forces himself to look away for a few seconds, seeking that peace on the horizon, finding none but discomfort in the sea of souls around him. A flash of worry and feeling like a sore thumb, the man reaches up to tug the beanie on his head a little further down over his ears.

Nothing hides his shock, though, when the president announces the advent of a treatment. Luther's gaze whips back up to the dais, to the podium, staring as one of those in disbelief as the crowd around him erupts in applause. "No," he utters aloud, the one syllable lost in the rush of noise. He looks around as the speech continues again. No, Mr. President. The nightmare is just beginning.

Emerson's eyes widen behind her visor, and all focus on the gathered crowd is lost. A treatment? How had none of them been briefed on this beforehand? There would be chaos over this, possibly even before the speech ends. Someone had been sloppy about this, and that meant there was someone whose ass Hannah Emerson would have a platter later, because she is pissed.

If she's honest with herself though, it's not just because of the lack of forewarning. This is a dangerous line in the sand that the President is suggesting, and how people react to it will not be pretty. Treatment implies is an assumed mercy, something to help. Not everyone will see it that way. There will be resistance. There already was, after October's series of Executive Orders. This was madness to do this now. The timing is idiotic.

And that's before she even thinks about how, some of that resistance? Some of it may just come from her. This was never something she thought would happen, something she never would've wanted to see happen. It takes all of her willpower not to let her sudden, seething anger bleed out into her posture and mannerisms. Emerson manages to keep it professional, a reassurance echoing in her head that while she's here to protect Nathan Petrelli, she doesn't have to agree with him.

And she would certainly make her thoughts known on this later, even if it cost her her job.

While the audience bursts into applause, the very visible face of the DoEA very visibly does not applaud. Her hands go together once, instinctively, and then…she simply stops, staring long and hard at the President as she processes his announcement.

A cure.

She, of course, as a public face of government-evolved relations, is probably going to be expected to undergo treatment. A success story, if you will. And it is something she most decidedly will not do. She likes being Evolved. She likes being connected to the planet beneath them. She likes using her ability to create art. Her ability is part of who she is, and has been for years.

To her credit, Nadia Ba’albaki does not allow her sudden seething anger to show in her posture. She simply becomes rigid, hands clasped together as she looks upon the president of the United States of America with a completely neutral expression as she silently resists the urge to just…open the earth beneath the man. No, this won’t do at all.

To avoid suspicious eyes, Corbin makes the motion of clapping without actually letting his hands touch. The old woman, the one he’d tried to get away from, is one of the uproarious clappers. He does not wish to stand out, but he also has no intention of adding to the sounds. All he knew is what he heard did not sound like a good sign. A cure? He didn’t need a cure, but he did not believe others did, either. It could have happened. Science was capable of so many things.

It could be a form of the virus that stripped those who had abilities of them. A permanent form of negation. But how many would submit to it. How many would line up?

And how many would try to run away. Daphne.

“I hope she’s far away from here,” he whispers, quiet. Only could be heard by the person who doesn’t need to be there to hear him. The one who’s almost always with him. When she isn’t with someone else.

A sudden shift of her weight has Gavyn nearly turning to stare at the president. Almost. Incredulity temporarily blinds her to her duty. What kind of stupid did he drink this morning, let alone these last several weeks? She catches herself, just barely and just before stepping out of rank. The motion is covered by a hitch of her shoulders and a tilt of her head toward an undefined point in the crowd. She saw something that turned out to be nothing, because it was nothing to begin with.

As she pulls herself together, outwardly, she’s inwardly reeling. What does this mean for herself, for her team? Sure, she’s formed her opinions at the way FRONTLINE has been managed in recent days, and she hasn’t been quite so silent about it. Today, however, is neither the time or the place to make a statement.

No matter how much Gavyn would like to, she refrains from turning around shaking all the crazy out of the president.

There is one person who isn't reacting negatively to the news, Kaitlyn Dooley seems to straighten a little in place. Shock winding its way through her frame, making her hyper-aware of the person behind her. Did she hear that right? It takes every ounce of her self control not to turn around or even cheer. Hallelujah! It honestly didn't seem possible that there would be a cure for this nightmare she lives every single day.

But does she dare to hope?

Taking a deep breath, Kaitlyn forces herself to relax. Don’t be thinking about it too much Kait… you might end up crying like some teeny bopper who got asked to prom by her crush. She blows out that breath steadily, only hitching a little at the end of the exhale.

There is something about those words that send a cold and twisty sensation up this spine while at the same time causing his abs to tighten as if to hold in and hold down the churning that starts in his stomach. Kase’s gaze had been going to the bared skin of his date’s neck but they snap back up to the podium.

A treatment. A way to reverse genetic code. Classifying something genetic as something akin to a illness to be cured and his jaw sets even as the woman in his arms starts applauding enthusiastically.

“You can’t cure fucking /cancer/ but you find magic cure for this? This is solution?” He can feel the blood rushing through his body,up every little highway of a vein, going to his head as his breathing hitches. “Not, don’t be a prejudicial douchebag or learn better ways of containing new threats.”

Arms unwrap from around the woman as she turns around and glares, giving him a bit of a shove and he holds his hands up. “I’m sorry baby, let's keep listening see if he say they also find a way to reverse blondeness and tiny titties by changin’ the genetic code.” His voice kept low out of respect but is he hearing things right?

That optimistic pronouncement — the world is safe — marks the end of President Petrelli's speech, and is met with another wave of approbation from the attending crowd. Many are willing to believe, to be buoyed by hope extended in words and in the reconstruction so obviously ongoing around them — the hope that things can be different, better, even just the way they used to be.

When the applause has faded, the President steps away from the podium, descends from the dais. He continues down to the pool, coming to a halt directly in front of the brazier resting in the water. As President Petrelli stands with hands loosely clasped and head respectfully bowed, others gather in closer, though not so close as to crowd either President or memorial. One pristinely-uniformed soldier steps up beside the President, extending to him a lit torch.

Touched by fire, the charcoal burns, dancing flames casting a trail of smoke heavenward as if it might loft everyone's collected prayers to divine ears.

The ensuing silence is somber, grave, profound… right up until it is broken by the ring of the cellphone in Acting Secretary Armand's pocket. The DHS representative somehow manages not to look sheepish as he pulls it out; for his part the President turns and accepts the phone without so much as a flicker to his expression or a change in bearing.

Answering the phone, the President steps slightly off to one side, but the single line that is his side of the conversation is nonetheless audible to several nearby officials and to Emerson, as his protective shadow: "What about Nakamura?"

Whatever answer is given, the President clearly finds unsatisfactory as his hand lowers, as the call is ended, as his absently downturned visage becomes thoughtful, even calculating. He glances at the crowd. He looks up towards the sky.

And then President Petrelli is gone, launching himself into the air with neither fanfare nor hesitation, utterly shattering a secret that had been scrupulously sustained for years.

People gasp, cry out, draw back and stare skyward in shock. The crowd that had been reverentially silent just a moment ago now becomes suddenly alive — alive with murmurs and exclamations, with pointing and waving and other energetic gesticulations, with a collective attitude that is nearly palpable… and rapidly shading dark. The President is Evolved.

"Daddy, did you see that man! He flew!" exclaims Sam, utterly captivated by the revelation, staring intently at the faint trail left in the departed President's wake. Tim also stares, but in appalled disbelief. "…that man," he manages after a moment, fingers closing into fists despite the photo he still holds, "is a fucking liar." And never mind watching language around the child. If there's any time to curse, it's now.

It's a sentiment the people around him pick up, echo, amplify and spread throughout the crowd: liar, fucking liar, goddamned fucking liar.

Mary is one of those who shrieks at the President's sudden takeoff, staring wide-eyed with her hand over her heart. "Well, I'll be…" is breathed reflexively, and followed with silence; it's a long moment before her thoughts kick back into gear. "What the hell?" is Dan's astonished exclamation; he wraps a protective arm around his wife and pulls her close. "What does this mean?" Mary finally asks, turning to her husband as if he might have any clue. "All those things he made, the laws? He's one of them too?"

One of them.

The undercurrent in the crowd deepens to a growl. Deprived of its actual target, the mob's collective attention turns towards the dais — towards the military and police, towards FRONTLINE, towards the gathered officials and the government they stand aggregate proxy for.

A chunk of rubble flies out over the pool, cast angrily at the knot of officials, the first stone thrown.

Emerson wishes she could be shocked. She wishes she could stand there, silent and dumbfounded as she watches a man whom she thought was staunchly non-Evolved, a man whom she has watched legislate against "her" kind, and above all, a man whom she is supposed to be giving her life to protect just… fly off.

Like it's nothing.

Like literally everything didn't change in that instant.

Like a fuse hadn't just been lit, with moments until it reaches termination.

There's no time for shock.

Comms go hot with chatter just as quickly as the crowd does, that first stone hurtling past Emerson near where the President had been standing moments before. There are maybe precious moments before this powder keg explodes - exactly what she had feared happening, only now for reasons she couldn't have possibly imagined just moments before. Everyone was going to turn on each other. Evolved who were upset that one of their own had done this, who were already primed. Non-Evolved who are mad that their President was, in fact, that which they feared.

There would be no right, winning side in the fight that was about to ensue.

"«Mitchell,»" she starts, turning to look in the direction that Petrelli has flown off in. "«I need you to take charge! Try to contain this, make sure it doesn't spread! Remember, minimise damage and injuries, refrain from any lethal solutions unless absolutely necessary. Deescalate. If anyone gets too dangerous, employ gas. //Do what you need to do to make sure this doesn't get worse!»"

She makes sure those words are broadcast to all available comms in the area. "«Dooley, JJ, same goes for you! You're under Mitchell's order for the moment.»" A pause, and she turns, and suddenly makes off in a sprint, determined to follow in the President's wake.

"«Make us proud, team. I'll be on comms.»" Emerson, and their erstwhile leader whom Emerson is always so keen to make sure she is acting in the footsteps of.

Closing his eyes, Luther stands motionlessly and waits for the unease and a physical wave of sickness to recede with the tide of applause. He can feel the energy in the air and in the crowd, and works separately to block both from absorbing into him. He shakes his head slowly, pushing down the worry simmering in the cauldron that is his gut.

When he opens his eyes again, watching the president light the memorial, it is with resolve breaking through his expression, climbing back up to his gaze. He makes some inward decisions, some determinations, and bows his head in respect for the fallen a second time. The act of remembrance interrupted by the ring of a cellphone draws Luther's brow into a deep furrow. He's too far away to hear what's being said, but the mere act of the president taking the call arrests his attention.

What happens next? Well. It's an entirely unexpected end to a phone call. Luther, like many around him, startles and reflexively ducks his head as the President of the United States launches into the air. He's one of the ones quick to recover from the jolt of surprise, even though his expression is anything but. Indeed, Dan's exclamation echoes Luther's inner sentiment. What. The. Hell?

The President is Evolved. And, amongst the least of the immediate thoughts that pop up, a liar. But right now, the anger that spreads into the crowd turns very real for the man who has stuck himself in the middle of the mob. Luther leans toward the couple, Dan and Mary, and his next words are spoken more like a heavy, weighted suggestion than a command, but nevertheless forced. "You two better go, now." Whether or not he's about to take his own advice remains yet to be seen as he tracks the chunk of rubble thrown by someone in the crowd.

H7It takes a second for JJ to see the President has taken off like Superman or something, as he’s scanning the crowd when it happens. It’s the shift in the crowd that alerts him — mouths dropping into gaping, incredulous expressions, fingers pointing upward. He turns his visored face upward to see what’s happened. Well. damn. That was not what he expected. Air strike maybe? A caped villain coming to assassinate the president? Maybe. Not this.

When everything turns to chaos, he nods once to Emerson’s commands. He catches sight of the thrown rock, and while he isn’t fast enough to keep that one from hitting anyone, he moves to the front of the throng of officials so that he — in his armor — will take the hits rather than them. He puts up his hands in a pacifying sort of gesture, a tacit message to the crowd to calm down, before glancing at Gavyn for her orders.

A break in decorum comes with a glance over the shoulder. Just the barest turn of Gavyn’s head toward the sound of the phone ringing behind her. If she hadn’t turned just then, even in the slightest, the following gasping of the crowd would have left her wondering for enough seconds that Emerson’s orders would have been missed.

Her gaze travels from the president to the director as soon as her voice comes over the comms. Gav nods her head once in understanding. Attention is turned to the crowd, people their people, those they’re supposed to be protecting from harassment, now harassed by ridiculous proclamations; now turned into second class citizens, sub-humans. She takes quick assessment of the gathering, the mood not unlike a wasps’ nest that’s been kicked, and begins formulating a plan of action.

«Copy.» Gavyn’s response to Emerson is clipped. Confusion and anger take a back seat to business. «Dooley, start herding Petrelli’s entourage off the stage. Get the military to help cover. Jones, you’re with me. We’re going to hold the line here to give Dooley time to get everyone out.» She looks between her two teammates for just a moment, though she can’t read facial expressions beneath the visors. Her own registers determination, do the job and sort the rest out after.

Turning, she steps up to the edge of the dais and sets herself about an arm’s length from center. A tip of her head motions for JJ to do the same, mirroring her position. «We just need to give them time to get out. Engage only if they move first.» Gavyn angles a look toward JJ. «We need to remain non-lethal for as long as possible, but I don’t expect you to not defend yourself.» It’s a grim thought, given they’re just as much victims of the secrets on top of secrets and unjust mandates as the crowd.

The hell just happened?

Kaitlyn didn’t see it happen, she was too busy thinking how she was going to convince Broome and them to let her take that cure. Unfortunately, healers are such a rarity, that important people are reluctant to give them up. So when the collective reaction happens, the healer is confused, breaking protocol to turn around. She manages to catch a look at the retreating figure of their President.

“The hell?!?!” Kaitlyn exclaims in complete shock.

She glances at the rest of the team, to see if they saw it too… but then the orders are being barked out. Guess they did still have a job to do. As the stone goes flying past, Kaitlyn, feels the first pang of worry. “Maybe we should call in some back-up. Ya know… jus’ in case?” She can only offer the suggestion, so she doesn’t wait for an answer, instead moving to do as ordered.

“A’right… you heard the lady.” Kaitlyn’s mild southern drawl comes out over the speakers of her helmet. With a flick of her wrist, the woman motions the brass to move in a direction away from the crowd and towards relative safety. “I’d like to not ta have to heal your…” she should probably censor herself here, “…backsides. So how’s about y’all move in an orderly fashion…. That way.”

Still reeling from the announcement of a cure for being an Evolved Human, Nadia watches the fanfare of lighting the torch with a flat, expressionless face. There are so many levels of messed up about this — and all that this cure will do to her situation as a face for Evolved affairs. She did commercials encouraging registration, now they’re going to expect this of her.

It is with a dull awareness that Nadia watches the President of the United States of America accept a phone call in the middle of what should be a respectful ceremony. It is with a bit more awareness that Nadia overhears President Petrelli’s incredulous question to whomever it is on the other line. And then, it is with an expression of shock as Nadia feels the backdraft from the leader of the free world as he launches into the sky.

She can only stare in shock for a long moment, as the crowd suddenly bursts into activity in reaction to the president. Slowly, her rich brown eyes turn toward the crowd, and then a hint of fear creeps into her expression. This could very well not go too well for anyone involved. And then, she feels that chunk of concrete as it sails through the air, long before she actually sees it. One hand raises up defensively, and the concrete stops in mid-air as if hitting a wall; it hovers for a brief second, before lowering gently to the ground, stopped before it can harm anyone.

With no small amount of trepidation, Nadia turns her eyes toward the podium where the President once stood, then back toward the crowd. Then, her feet carry her toward it. Maybe she can keep them calm. Maybe she can do something. Taking a shuddering breath, she grips both sides of it, terror shining in her eyes as she regards the crowd. “L-Ladies and Gentlemen…I-I’m just as surprised as you all are about this!” She swallows heavily. What is she doing up here? “P-p-please, keep calm. We’re all v-very shocked about this, perhaps we sh-should all go our separate ways to p-process this?” She swallows again, terrified as she scans the crowd.

Stupid, Nadia. Stupid, Nadia.

The temporary tiff between this week’s lover and Kase comes to an abrupt halt as the young woman turns around to gasp in both horror and surprise. The President just blasted off at the speed of light. Kase’s hands lower slowly as he too watches, lips pressing together and eyebrows raising as he lets out a soft huff of amusement. “Well. Ain’t that a bitch and a half.”

His date is not amused.

But from experience, Kase can fill the roll of emotion off the agitated audience. Betrayal, Hatred, Disappointment…all mixed together create a potion for civil unrest, riots, mobs and other horrible group activities. No fancy powers, no fancy armor and no real dog in this fight, but for the blue eyed heartbreaker it is the morality of it all. The desire for peace and love is the only thing that combats his anger issues and violent tendencies.

Something. That desire to do what’s right. A glance to a person near him getting riled up and reaching for a chunk of debris and he’s moving behind them quickly to twist an arm back behind their back leaning in close. “You heard the pretty lady, you keep calm brah and you walk. You trip, I break your arm and make it look like an accident.” It's ingrained training from a profession long abandoned and a recent job that involved far more drunk people.

The somber silence is broken— rather violently. All around him Corbin hears curses, words of lies, people angry for good reason. Now, he was not surprised by the man’s show of ability, so much as the timing. That. That surprised him. The ripples of growing anger through the crowd can almost be felt, especially from the one woman he tried to get away from as she starts screaming about fraud and betrayal. One person actually says, “Someone just ripped the president into the sky! It wasn’t him! It couldn’t be!”

How could their President be one of them?

The woman, however, aims her screams at those who stood behind the president, pointing at them. “They knew! They had to know! They’re one too!”

“We’re going to need to find a way out of here before this crowd turns into a stampede,” Corbin mutters under his breath to someone only he can see in the corner of his eyes. Cause he can just see this turning into a bigger mess than it already is.

Many of those who showed up probably lost someone. Many of them hated the Evolved. And they all happen to be in the middle of possibly one of the biggest messes ever to come after a speech.

The stone stops short, halted in midair by what can only be Evolved action. An action quickly associated with an all-too-familiar face as Nadia separates herself from the knot of officials and steps up to the podium in the President's place. Go our separate ways, she says. Keep calm. Process this.

One member of FRONTLINE runs away, chasing after the departed President. The crowd yields to her armor, parting before her determined momentum, but only because the other option is to be run over. That doesn't save her from jeers and curses, from more ersatz missiles that either miss or bounce futilely off her armor, ricocheting into the surrounding crowd with rather more effect.

The rest of FRONTLINE move in around the officials like sheepdogs to their flock, two standing watch and one playing usher. Uniformed military file in to fill the spaces around them, leaving FRONTLINE room to act but forming a distinct barrier between the officials and the mob — all of them save the one who's made herself a target, isolated upon the stage. Gripped by a healthy sense of self-preservation, Acting Secretary Armond is quick to retreat in the direction suggested, adding his voice to the attempt to retain order. "You heard the soldier. Let's all move out quickly and quietly before this gets worse."

Collectively, the mob appreciates exactly none of these actions.

Individual shouts are quickly lost beneath the growing verbal roar, an atavistic growl born from betrayal and growing into abhorrence. Suddenly, those at the front are on the move; like a flock of birds swirling through the air, there is no clear leader, no instigator, only the cohesive action of a swarm. Feet splash uncaringly through the pool, stomping over the names of the dead with no thought to the disrespect thus given. There is no goal, no objective, not even true malice in the forward charge of dozens of people… only the unthinking release of anger as bodies slam into the defensive military line. Still others scoop up more chunks of concrete wherever they can be found, missiles thrown at servicemen, officials, and everything they represent.

More than her fair share are aimed at Nadia, standing out as she does.

Another current within the mob forms an eddy as some people recoil from the abrupt escalation into physicality. Dan and Mary are part of this hesitance, this withdrawal, huddling closer together for mutual support. Dan exchanges a look with Luther as the stranger speaks, then casts a glance at the throng packed in around them. They're not at the very forefront, but the crowd behind them remains thousands strong, wedged all but shoulder to shoulder throughout the memorial plaza. "No easy way outta here," he tells Luther, "not unless you can fly or somethin' too." Leaning against him, Mary raises her voice, her suggestion not only for the three of them but also their immediate neighbors, "Maybe if we all just walk out together? Safety in numbers, and all that?"

Beside Corbin, Tim sees the stone fly, then abruptly stop short and plummet to the ground. He wastes no time in plucking Sam down from his shoulders. The boy himself has only just started to absorb the change in atmosphere, realizing that his surprise and awe are not quite shared by the rest of the audience. "Daddy, what's going on?" he asks, clinging to his father's hand and huddling close against his legs. Tim just squeezes his hand reassuringly, looking over at Corbin — being near enough to overhear those muttered words even with through surrounding cacophony. "You got a plan for that?" he asks — hoping for yes, expecting no.

"Hey!" a woman shouts in response to Kase's actions; she had been beside the man he apprehended, and a similarity of coloring and feature suggests close relation. "You let him go!" she declares, swinging her purse at him like the bludgeon it isn't; there's hardly anything in the accessory at all, never mind weight or edge. "Fucking Evo piece of shit!" The purse swings again. "Let my brother go!" Again.

The altercation draws immediate notice from those around them, frustrated outrage fixating on an immediately accessible target.

“Copy that,” JJ says in his quiet murmur to Gavyn’s orders, and moves to do as she says, putting himself at the front of the stage to shield those behind him. Nadia taking to the podium makes him turn her way, and he jerks his helmeted head in the direction of the other officials being vacated by Kaitlyn.

“You too, cover girl, unless you want to find out what a concussion feels like,” he says wryly, his voice distorted by the speaker on the helmet. A concussion would be mild compared to what’s about to happen to her if she doesn’t get moving.

As things begin to go from bad to worse, JJ does his best to take up space, protecting those behind him without his armor, but he shakes his head. “«Military’s going to use deadly force even if we don’t»” he says into the comm, turning his head to the skies to see where it is the President has flown off to. “«Em’s got the right idea.»” Running. Not necessarily after the President, though. JJ certainly didn’t vote for him.

"No there isn't," Luther confirms of Dan's observation, "and I don't fly. Not what I do." Neither does he put on display what he can do. Not yet. In their little island of non-hostiles bobbing within the growing tide of outrage, he's definitely keen to get away before the storm lands. "But yeah, let's do that," responds the man to Mary's suggestion. Straightening to use his height to his advantage, Luther looks for the easiest path away from the stage and the forward pressing waves of the mob. And once he's picked the direction, he waves Dan, Mary, and whoever else is coming along to follow. "'Scuse us," says the man as he banks on the general populace's tendency to ignore or yield to low energy intrusions into their personal space.

«Hold off on deadly force for as long as possible.» Gavyn’s reply to JJ comes with a glance in Nadia’s direction. Of all the… Shaking her head with a touch of frustration, she steps forward and at an angle, to give herself the option of shielding the woman from the oncoming horde, should it come to that. “At least they’re not zombies this time,” she muses quietly. All the same, she checks her firearm, securing it in hand but keeping it in a restive, not-threatening position.

«Let’s get SWAT mobilized,» she calls again over the comms. She casts a look over her shoulder to the military personnel herding the suits from the dais and to safety. «We need to disperse this crowd quickly. I want tear gas used along the perimeter to channel these people back, and flash-bags to give them a reason to move. No one is to engage with deadly force until I say so.»

And if she doesn’t say so, there’d better be a damn good reason for why it was used.

“We will get you answers,” Gavyn calls out to the crowd. It’ll probably be futile, but she needs to try something to turn this tide. “My partner here, and I, are just as angry about these new laws as you are. Especially with President Petrelli just flying off like that. But turning on us isn’t going to solve anything. You need to clear out so we can work with you.”

“Why thank you, sir,” Kaitlyn offers rather cordially, even down right pleasant like, to the secretary. “That is rather smart of you, if I might say so.” The sound of someone at the podium pulls her attention, even as she makes shooing motions at the others, bring up the rear.

Oops! Missed one. Like a herding dog, Kaitlyn, leaves the officials to continue away, while she swings around to pick up the straggler. “Come ‘on, sweet cheeks,” the medic says gruffly, reaching to snag Nadia’s elbow and try to direct her after the others. “I ain’t in no mood to heal your backside…. So, I suggest you get movin’ like the rest of them.” Her head jerks in the direction the other officials are going.

If Nadia thinks she might stay, Kaitlyn might be forced to compel… or more like propel the woman after the others. It’s the FRONTLINE soldier’s hide if the officials are injured. Though she is momentarily distracted by Gavyn. What did she say? Behind her black visor, brows lower slowly. Maybe she had been wrong… maybe… she better alert her contacts. However, maybe she heard wrong…

It is a very good thing that the face of Registration, the woman who has encouraged Evolved cooperation with the government since day one — the woman who is supposed to be a shining example of Evolved behavior, no less — decided to forego her negation drugs today. As the concrete rubble begins to sail through the air, the terrakinetic lets out a surprised yelp, scrabbling backwards and throwing one hand up.

The rubble, in turn, halts in the air once more, each chunk of concrete clacking against each other as they come to a stop against some invisible barrier of sorts. A few plastic bottles and bits of trash make it past the ‘barrier’, but the rubble seems mostly contained, drifting gently down to the ground where it can’t harm anyone.

And then, Kaitlyn is there next to her, snagging her arm. Nadia is more than okay with the woman taking her arm and guiding her toward the direction of safety. Dark brown eyes watch the angry crowd fearfully as she moves along.

Somewhere in the back of Kase’s mind he recalls the boring as all get out de-escalation courses in the academy. The sound of rifling through textbook pages echoing in the back of his mind as his icy gaze falls on the woman who is hitting him with her purse.

A foot quickly placed behind his other in a smooth pivot to push the man in the direction of his sister, releasing him and holding his hands up. “Not lookin’ for beef. No need get all in your feelings.” There’s a turn of his head towards the peripheral, where he sees people’s attention being drawn his way and his jaw sets.

A deep breath taken as the blood is rushing to his head, churning and crashing like waves against his self-control and restraint. Fists clenching and unclenching at his sides as he eyes flick from one angry face to another and he takes a slow step backwards.

Now he’s starting to wish he hadn’t tried to get closer. That old lady is part of the throngs of people now forcing their way forward. And Corbin has no interest in going that direction if he can avoid getting swept up in it. When a man carrying a kid seems to ask for assistance, he looks at something to his left for a moment, and then nods. “Come on, this way.” Moving against the flow won’t be easy, but he puts his elbow into it as needed. If they can make it to the edge, they might be able to get out.

Or at least allow them to go past.

He can hear little pieces of the crowd filtering through, the anger rising, the frustration, the rage. No, this is not where anyone wants to be anymore.

Except those caught up in it, like the old woman who threw one of those stones. Who looks very intent on blaming those who would keep the peace.

The uniformed line holds, an all too serious game of Red Rover played by the dozen instead of singly; the mob's charge is stymied, yells and shoves and punches targeted on the servicemen in front of them instead of the representatives beating a hurried retreat.

The line holds — until it breaks. Between one moment and the next, a hole appears where there had been none before, first one uniform and then another falling to the ground. Feet surge over them, through the gap created by their collapse; first a handful and then a dozen rioters push their way into the space before the stage — and up onto the stage. FRONTLINE is faceless, featureless, dangerous; the woman who's just been pulled away from the podium is familiar, too familiar, a known mouthpiece for the government they now feel has betrayed them all. On unspoken, subliminal consensus, the dozen swarm for Nadia and Kaitlyn, shouting insults and imprecations that figuratively trip over one another in a way the rioters manage not to do.

That hole is only the first. The line buckles again on the other side of center. The first two rioters through this breach hit the edge of the dais and smash at it in blind rage, ripping the covering cloth to reveal aluminum struts underneath. Not meant to withstand deliberate sabotage, the bars at the corner deform and joints snap under a few kicks, leaving the pair holding two-foot makeshift batons. Caught up in the energy of the moment, they seem to think that's edge enough against armor — or just don't think at all — and charge for JJ with 'weapons' upraised.

Behind them, still others turn back upon the defensive cordon, now barraging it from both sides. More uniforms move in from the edges to try and close the breaches, but just that action sets off more of the crowd, and the attacking force grows.

Meanwhile, more police come trotting from all directions outside the plaza, where they had been held in wait for just such a disruption. Outfitted in armor, carrying shields nearly as large as themselves, they move in as a wall, batons held ready. Their presence, too, seems to rile rather than intimidate the crowd, and those confronted by the encroaching shield wall shout angrily and throw whatever comes to hand. There is no second eruption, not yet, but it's clear tensions are approaching that boiling point yet again.

Curiously, the area around Dan, Mary, and Luther remains an island of calm in the increasingly agitated crowd, albeit one that seems to grow smaller by the second. An unspoken consensus passes among a couple dozen people at the island's center; collectively, they fall in with Luther's example and begin to ease their way out. Quiet. Calm. A sense of composure hangs around them like a veil, anger and fear muted, set aside. The disgruntled people the group moves among seem only mildly put-out by their passage, writing them off as unimportant background, irrelevant to the bigger picture. Dan and Mary figuratively stick to Luther's heels, still holding one another close, with each step more hopeful that they'll work their way out.

The first canisters of tear gas are thrown into the crowd, aimed at the struggle up front — though no aerosol can be applied in a truly specific manner. The aggravating haze billows out over the military line, the rioters it struggles with, and the yet-peaceful innocents still holding back behind the pool. Tim flinches back from the hissing sound and chivvies Sam forward, trying simultaneously to push their way through and to put himself between the gas and his son. The surrounding crowd crumples back on the same reflex, giving them and Corbin a distinct opportunity to make headway — though there are still rows and rows packed in ahead. As the white gas pricks at his lungs, Tim ducks his head and begins to cough; Sam scrubs at watering eyes, sniffles, and whines plaintively. "Daaad, make it stop!"

Farther back, the woman who had been assailing Kase suddenly finds her arms full as her brother stumbles into her. He straightens himself up, distractedly brushing off her worried queries, and turns back to fix Kase with an angry glower. "The hell you think you are?" he challenges, taking a half-step forward with chin up and shoulders square. "Think you can just grab a man like that, make threats?" Murmurs wind through the surrounding onlookers, a growling susurrus of discontent fanned by his words. "That's lookin' for 'beef' to me!" the man yells, taking a full stride forward and throwing a punch with rather more enthusiasm than skill.

One step at a time. That's the ticket. The little floating island of people tugged along with Luther at the helm continues to move in sidesteps toward the edge of the crowd. Every few steps he glances back at Dan and Mary, at their small train of people. In time to see the cans of tear gas launched into the crowd, distressingly escalating the already irritated situation. "Alright you two, take point," he says to the clinging couple in a tone that brooks no argument, a hand motioning to the intended path to more pacified waters away from the encroaching clouds of opaque gas. "Keep working your way through Koreatown til you get to 9th, and don't go anywhere else til you're on Hudson."

Without further ado, Luther turns back and ushers the rest of the people along like some kind of plain clothes security guard-slash-tour guide as he works his way back toward the caboose end. He scans back through the crowd like he's tuning for a frequency of calm in the roiling mass. The whining pitch from young Sam is what cuts through the noise, and from his position Luther lifts his arms with a motion to catch Corbin and Tim's attention and draw them to the rest of those evacuating.

«I’m not using lethal force at //all/. This is bullshit,/» is JJ’s response, though he does do his part to try to shield the unarmored officials and spokeswoman. Unfortunately, the crowd is surging forward and he has two assailants to deal with.

He lifts his hands as if in surrender, rather than going to a firearm, tear gas, or any of the other weapons in his arsenal. But he’s been trained, and trained well, in hand-to-hand combat, long before he was FRONTLINE, by Saint Joan. His mother. Monica Dawson.

Each of JJ’s gloved hands snaps out, in an attempt to grab the metal bars and turn them in a way that uses his opponents’ momentum to his own advantage, spinning them away from him — they’ll probably come rushing back. Turning his mic on, he speaks to them. “You wanna be heroes, get these people out of here safely. I’m not here to fight anyone.”

With that, JJ takes off his helmet, taking away that anonymity, and tosses it carefully into the crowd for someone to catch — someone else can use it to filter the tear gas and breathe more easily. It may be stupid, but it’s symbolic. He moves to the end of the stage to get down, leaving the stage to help shuttle people away from the worst of the danger.

To say that things are going from bad to worse would be an understatement. Gavyn watches the crowd seethe, a sense of hopeless helplessness sinking into her gut. Negotiations are not her strong suit, and her ability might have been better served for interrogations. She can’t see any good way to control the crowd, not without resorting to extreme force. Which would only be throwing fuel onto the fire.

Zombies may have been easier than a crowd of thousands pushed to a breaking point.

JJ’s act catches her attention and, by all accounts, discrediting the anonymity and retreating seems the best course of action. As she frees her head from her own helmet, her feet move. She strides at an angle to the bore tide of people to divert their attention from swarming the stage. Give them a moving target. As she crosses, wading toward the angry masses, she thrusts the helmet out to a face in the crowd, someone just looking for a way out of the press of bodies and back to safety.

As the crowd surges the stage, Kaitlyn’s stomach starts to turn. So many people… so many people coming at her and her charge suddenly. Unlike the others, Kaitlyn is not so crazy to take her own helmet off. “No nonono… Stay back, god dammit. I ain’t here to hurt y’all…” she steps back as the advance. She can feel the bruises being created by the jostling, “Get back!” Her hand goes out in a motion for people to stay back.
She glances back at Nadia. “RUN! NOW!” She gives the other woman a shove and turns to stand her ground. “And don’t stop!” Kaitlyn, had a job to do. Keying up the radio, which the others won’t hear with their helmets off, the medic tries to get help where others are not.

«Could use some help here fellas!» Fingers seek out a canister of tear gas and pull the pin, tossing it in front of her; spewing white smoke in front of her. Even as she does, she is backing up. «We need back-up for extractin’ the officials… Gettin’ over run. They are fallin’ back to the extraction point.» She can’t seem to get herself to use her gun, it would make her ability go haywire and she needed her wits. «So.. Ya know… Hurry!»

She looks around as she, continues to try and retreat looking for everyone…. Only to see her teammates… without their helmets… surrendering? “Son of a bitch!”

Kaitlyn suddenly feels alone again the tidal wave of humanity’s rage.

Not even agent training prepares one for tear gas. Corbin brings his scarf up, but has no water to filter out the gas, so it doesn’t do much more than offer a limp fabric of a shield— and he looks down at the kid near him, up toward the father and even while blinking back moisture that forms in his eyes, he pulls the scarf off entirely, pushing it at the father. “Put this around you and your kid.”

He’d do it himself, if they don’t comply quickly enough, as he moves behind them and begins just herding them on. The sooner they get out of this cloud, the better. It will put them on their knees soon enough, but it should also distract those around them enough to help them make headway.

“We need to get out of the gas,” he mutters hoarsely. He really wishes he’d been more prepared for a riot, but he hadn’t expected this, of all things. But then no one expects Nathan Petrelli to literally fly off in the middle of a memorial dedication.

Adrenaline levels begin to rise as the crowd swells and seethes with anger; then, they’re breaking past the barriers and flowing into what was once a little pocket of protection from the angry masses. Nadia’s dark brown eyes widen, and she actually screams as they break through, the mic nearby sending the terrified sound echoing over the crowds.

Her absolute terror at these people coming to get her, combined with Kaitlyn’s shove and an improperly placed hem on the long dress she wears, and Nadia is sent sprawling to the ground. One hand shoots out to catch her fall, and her wrist is probably fractured in the process.

And the pain is what sends everything spiraling from bad to worse.

As she watches the crowds swell, clutching her hand to her chest and crying, the Earth responds to the fears of its Mother. It starts off almost unnoticed as the crowds begin to riot, a light buzz in the ground. But this doesn’t last for long. As Nadia’s panicked mind notices what she’s doing, the panic only rises — she hasn’t practiced this part of her ability much, and she doesn’t really know how to turn it off as a result.

The Earth responds to its Mother’s fears, and the light buzz raises into a noticeable shaking, and the stage setup begins to break apart — with Nadia and Kaitlyn and all of the people still on it. Stress cracks begin to form in the concrete below as the Earth rumbles its anger at the crowd that stands upon it.

And all the terrakinetic can do is hold her injured arm to her chest and cry, frozen in fear by everything.

Its an unfair advantage, and part of Kase’s nature celebrates as being given the reason and just cause to bring his arm up reflexively to block, body stepping to the side as his arm sweeps down to deflect the punch and his other fist raising to deliver a right cross that never connects because he stops in mid swing.

Kase takes a few steps backwards, ducking his head and raising his arm to cover his nose and his mouth as he blinks against the familiar presence of tear gas, coughing softly. Those husky blue eyes just narrowing at Brother Protestor and his Sister. “I kept you from doing something stupid bruh, get your sister and take a hike or we all gonna be cryin’.”

Stupidity, rampant and blind stupidity, panic and hatred. His own emotions a swirl of disbelief and sympathy, with a sprinkling of mild irritation. Eyes darting from one angry face to another.

Then he hears that rumble, head jerking in the direction it is coming from and he exhales softly. Another soft cough and he calls out the name of the woman he arrived with. It's time to try to go.

Helmetless, JJ and Gavyn earn grumbles from the crowd they have joined, but their unexpected actions forestall — at least temporarily — any overt displays of animosity.

Kaitlyn's application of tear gas causes seven of the charging rioters to recoil, falling back with eyes watering, hands covering their mouths, choking and coughing and gasping for want of clean air. Five stumble through, two of them setting eyes on the FRONTLINE soldier and bulling straight for her, heads lowered, apparently intending nothing more complex than a tackle. Two stumble aside much as their compatriots behind did. The last sees Nadia, crumpled on the ground and crying, and brandishes a book over his head as he strides towards the seemingly easier target.

Creeping slowly away from the dais, Mary hesitates, looks back as Luther ceases to keep pace with them; Dan murmurs to her and chivvies her on.

Between them and the dais, Tim gives Corbin a grateful look, accepting the scarf and draping one end to cover his son's face.

Meanwhile, Kase's opponent flinches from the creeping drift of tear gas. More importantly, his sister does, whining at the mist that stings eyes and nose and lungs alike. That splits his attention.

Around them all, beneath them all, the earth stretches. Stomachs sink, heads whirl, the peculiar sensation of motion where none should be occurring.

Then it bucks, juddering sine waves rippling out in all directions from the dais. What should be solid, stable, and utterly dependable becomes anything but, and throughout the entire crowd people shriek, clutch frantically at one another, stumble haphazardly and crumple to the ground; nobody keeps their balance through the violent motion. Pavement cracks, lifts; the pool fractures, water spilling out in sudden — albeit short-lived — flood over those nearest the dais, only to drain away through new-made gaps into the soil beneath.

At the edge of the plaza, half-constructed buildings wobble, then break, forces they were not yet prepared to endure snapping bolts, cracking concrete, and rattling girders loose. The whole corner of one comes sliding down accompanied by squealing shriek of metal stressed beyond its ability to bear, blocking half the street on the east side of the plaza — and burying a number of people with it. Others shed smaller pieces, raining I-beams down on those unlucky enough to be nearly out of the square. Farther out, the corpses of older buildings collapse in upon themselves, unable to bear the added stress after the insult they suffered five years ago.

The police, arrayed around the outside of the crowd, are decimated by the tumult of falling debris. So too is the column of officials so very near to having escaped the plaza; after, Acting Secretary Armond struggles to regain his feet, a hand clapped to his head and wide eyes staring at the woman who had been three feet away from him and far less fortunate. He pats his pockets, pulls out his phone. Holds the number 2 until it dials.

There's no way any police reinforcements will be able to handle this situation now.

Already, scientists elsewhere are puzzling over the strange seismic waves in a completely unexpected location, their bizarrely localized nature. Hypothesizing, in the absence of firsthand evidence, just what situation — and not a natural situation, that idea is immediately pitched out — sparked it. They'll give it a provisional rating of 6.0, and later downgrade it to a 5.8.

None of that matters to the people in the plaza.

In the here and now, as the short-ranged but intense shock fades away, the collected people slowly clamber back to their feet, reach out for one another, take stock of the well-being of friends and family and sometimes even total strangers who are automatically now less strange for having shared this wrenching moment. One would expect such an interruption to disrupt the negative energy of the crowd, to redirect it, channeling towards self-concern and survival. That's not a wrong expectation — but it is incomplete.

This earthquake was not an act of God, nor of nature — it was an act entirely unnatural in origin… and certainly everyone at the front of the audience can put two and two together. For some, it only stokes their anger higher.

With the line around the dais having completely fallen — military defenders and antagonistic rioters alike — some of those who are first to their feet vault over their more dazed counterparts. A handful, nine, a dozen — enraged beyond any capacity for rational thought, they stomp their way onto the dais and towards the two women still on it, coughing their way through the lingering cloud of tear gas. Those on the dais, more severely hit by the gas, are slower to recollect themselves, but they won't be far behind. Kaitlyn might shoot the first few, but it's clear no mere delaying action can hold them all off — much less save the fear-struck Nadia from kicking feet and bludgeoning hands.

Still near the middle of the plaza as they are, JJ and Gavyn are fortunate in that nothing's come crashing down on their unprotected heads. They are also fortunate in the greater part of the crowd still being dazed, and given the advantages of their armor and training, might just be able to remove themselves from the plaza before anything else happens — if they act quickly, and are willing to forgo assisting others.

Chunks of concrete rained down in the vicinity of Dan, Mary, and Luther; as the couple take stock of their situation, it quickly becomes evident that Dan's ankle is badly wrenched, and he won't be walking out of anywhere anytime soon. "Hey!" Mary calls across to Luther. "Hey, mister! You've got to help us!" The sense of calm that had been draped over the area is gone now, vanished like a popped bubble.

At some point in the chaos, Sam apparently got his people mixed up; he's clutching onto Corbin now rather than his father. The boy wails, crying up a storm that gives no indication of resolving on its own; nearby, Tim is sprawled out haphazardly on the pavement, a groan and a defensive curling-in of his shoulders suggesting some degree of awareness remains to him still.

As Kase collects himself, he finds the end of an I-beam fallen frighteningly close to his face. It did not come down alone, an array of smaller debris having pelted the vicinity around them. On the bright side, both his former opponent and the man's sister now have much more pressing concerns to occupy themselves with, the sister having devolved into a shrieking rant at the world in general and Evolved in specific. She also apparently throws things as well as fits, picking up anything that comes to hand and lobbing it in an apparently random direction — towards whoever happened to be in field of view at the moment.

It is so very past time to abandon this metaphorical ship.

The rolling beneath his feet causes the usually agile JJ to fall — armor keeps him from being too trampled, unlike others who are less fortunate. It also makes it a little harder to get up but he manages to, helping a couple of others nearby him up as well, pushing them lightly in the direction they should travel to get away from the chaos — of course, they’ll need to go quite a bit before they get that far.

«So consider this my notice,» he says wryly into his com as he begins his own grand exit in the direction of the path of the least resistance — foregoing others isn’t quite in his DNA, unfortunately, so he stops every few feet to help some fallen stranger to theirs.

«I’ll return the super suit after I get it dry cleaned.»

He glances up now and then to see if he can get a glimpse of their fearless leader, but otherwise, his focus is forward.

One minute she is on her feet and the nexts Kaitlyn finds herself on her back, the surreal reality of buildings moving and swaying unfolding above her. Discomfort becomes a sort of pain as the healer’s ability tries to flair up in response to the injuries around her. A sharp ache that just gets brighter, reddending the corners of her vision. No… not now. Teeth clenched and hand trembling. It was the same feelings she had in Midtown all those year ago.

Using her suit as an assist, Kaitlyn pushes bodies living and dead away, so that she can get to her feet. She was damn determined to get that damn fool woman to safety.

Her voice feels strained and in pain as she addresses the woman on the ground. “This is gonna hurt, I ain’t gonna lie.” Using her armor clad body as a shield against the oncoming hoard; Kaitlyn uses her suits capabilities to physically haul Nadia to her feet. This close, Kaitlyn is feeling every injury Nadia has endured, even down to the smallest bruise. Still, Kaitlyn doesn’t allow her ability to heal the woman… it hurts so much not, too. Teeth gritted against the swelling pressure of her inaction, the healer assisted by her suit, works to get Nadia to safety. Half dragging and even carrying the woman if need be. All the while, trying to hail help somehow.

JJ’s voice over her com, gets a reaction, she stumbles a bit. His betrayal left a bitter taste in her mouth. See what happens when you allow yourself to get close to someone… to help? In that moment, she felt an intense sensation of homesickness and her dogs. Dogs didn’t turn their back on you.

Only the woman she was helping, kept Kaitlyn from going over and punching that young — handsome — face.
It is with horror that the terrakinetic watches as the people come at her, eyes widening as she scoots back, wrist still held tightly to her chest. She never wanted this — she was just a good, law-abiding citizen, and she couldn’t see why cooperating would cause so much trouble. You only have to worry about the law if you’re breaking it, right?

She tried to help people, too, starting a charity to help rebuild this city. She loves this city, and all of the people in it — even if they don’t like people who were born like her. So why has it come to this?

It’s always interesting how one reverts to their native tongue when in distress. It is in her native Berber that Nadia screams out, for help, for anything as the mob swarms over her. She begs for her life in between screams of pain at each blow.

The words stop after the first blow to her head, and simply turn into terrified screams, the woman curling in on herself as if that will protect her from the multiple fists and feet and objects flying at her.

The screams stop after the second blow to her head, and the public face of Evolved Registration and the DoEA goes silent, accepting her punishment.

The woman that Kaitlyn hauls up is battered and bloody, and certainly unable to stand on her own, let alone walk — she’ll have to be carried to get out of this mess.

Kaitlyn is probably wasting her time.

The rocking and rolling of the ground beneath her feet is ridden out until it can no longer be. Earthquakes aren’t a common occurrence here, and she doesn’t exactly have sea legs. When the earth pitches its strongest tremor, Gavyn stumbles and finds herself on hands and knees. It could be worse, she knows, and will become worse if she stays on the ground too long.

As the heaving slows and begins to settle, Gav picks herself up. She sways, assuring her feet will remain under her even if the ground isn’t particularly stable, then starts back into the crowd. There are still those who need help, who need to be pointed the way out to avoid the rioting that’s coming. She’ll have to move quickly to help as many as she can.

Not running, not even exactly jogging, she strides further into the crowd with a single purpose. Those seeking violence are ignored. At least, she tries her best to avoid them, taking sharp turns or backtracking to find a better path. The ones she seeks out are those still tumbled by the earthquake, those struggling against the angry press of people and trying to find a way out. Those are the ones she, without explaining and without stopping for more than a second, gives a hand up or a gentle shove toward safety.

The sudden quaking of the ground is an unexpected shake up of events. Luther hits the ground on a knee with the first hard buck and grimaces with the jolt that goes up his leg, and stays there holding on for the duration of most of the shaking. The man looks up at the rumbling from nearby structures, pushing back to his feet even before the shaking has truly stopped and scooting out of the way as concrete starts coming down around. The sounds of collapsing buildings and protesting metal along with the roiling crowd stall him with a feeling of dread too familiar and too present to ignore.

It's the nearby call from Mary that hooks Luther back into the moment. He first stares at her and Dan and an expression of indecision pinches his brows together. A push from an anonymous someone jostles him forward towards the couple, and action kicks back in. "Alright," he says with a reach for Dan's arm and a pointed glance to Mary. "Need you to help me help you. Grab his other arm and we'll lift on three." He makes sure his grip is secure and Dan's also prepped for the movement. "One. Two." And on three, he heaves himself up for a supportive shoulder on Dan's wounded side.

Who made the ground shake? Corbin’s ears are ringing. And not just from the kid crying and clinging to him. It gives him something to hold onto, the young boy against his side as he pushes himself back up and looks around, blinking through the chaos and painful tears. He spots the boy’s father and steps back, to bend down, trying to get him back on his feet. “I got you,” he assures, though he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll be able to say anything like that.

While he might wish he could help more people, he’ll stick with helping this child and his father. That will be enough. “Can you move? Cause we need to get out of here.” Even as he says it, he pulls on the man to help him to his feet, and begins dragging them away if he has to. While holding a wailing kid against his other side. He’ll ache tomorrow from all this, but it’s worth trying.

He’s just glad that Daphne hadn’t been anywhere near this mess.

Its nothing short of a quick duck of his shoulder and a twist of his body into a backflip swan dive that keeps that I-Beam from smashing into his face, or body and his breathing stops for a moment as he stares at the beam, inches away from his face. In his head, Kase can hear his own breath ricocheting off whatever structural material was used to build the beam in the first place.

He takes a deep breath, scrambling back and tripping as everything is unsteady, the world is breaking and ending above, below and all around him and all he can think of is the sibling couple in his direct line of sight, and the fact that his date for the day is currently sprawled out with debris pinning her leg and a dazed expression on her face.

Another deep breath and he’s sprinting forward, moving with the fleet footed nimble nature that his extracurricular activities afford him to keep his footing and to crouch down beside his date, ‘Fran’. A shoulder and an arm, then a simple slip to a bridal style carry. He’s gritting his teeth and whistling sharply towards the sibling couple. “Eh! You follow me, we get outta here.”

Then his freerunning trained gaze is flicking from one potential route to another as he calculates the best way to make his way out of area and to safety.

The crowd, at this point, is anything but a cohesive entity. Some cluster around fallen rubble, drawn to try and help the injured and buried. Others are wailing, crying, raging — at one extreme dissolved into hysteric tears, at the other railing and storming about with irate energy that's quickly proving just as infectious as it was before the quake. Still others are taking advantage of the chaos to quietly filter out, seeking places safer than this.

As Kaitlyn shoves her way through to Nadia, the rioters she displaces beat fists against her armor, try to snag a limb and drag the FRONTLINE medic down. Fortunately, someone else notices — not one of her teammates, but one of the riot-geared police, who lobs another canister of tear gas onto the platform. The fresh burst of caustic mist sends the rioters recoiling back, many of them crumpling to hands and knees and trying to crawl out from under the cloud even as they cough fit to expel lungs. This intervention gives Kaitlyn the space she needs to pull Nadia out. Slowed as she is by the burden of the other woman's weight, the medic remains an opportune target, and several people take the opportunity to throw stones as Kaitlyn retreats in the direction through which the officials have filed out.

The actions of JJ and Gavyn seem to stymie the people around them, for the most part — FRONTLINE, symbols of the deceitful government, Evolved, and yet also helpful faces providing assistance to the downfallen as one expects servicemen to do. They get shouted at, once even spat upon — but the very people they help also move to their defense.

Mary nods gratefully to Luther's instructions, and together they get Dan upright, albeit leaning heavily against Luther for support. Mary hovers concernedly, fretting about what she should do, how she can help — she really can't, though, except to get out of the way as the two men try to work their way through the crowd. The going is much slower now, as they need twice as much space to move into, and much of the crowd is too preoccupied with their own concerns to want to part. One elderly lady in particular seems bound and determined to be an obstacle, standing with her feet rooted to the concrete and her hands braced on a cane, vociferously expounding on the theme of in my day… to no one in particular — or to anyone at all.

Tim doesn't respond to Corbin's query, but he does seem to recognize when he's being helped up, getting himself together enough to go along with the motion. Standing, it's clear there's blood matted in the hair on the far side of his skull, but his eyes are open and seem to focus well enough on Corbin. He gives Corbin a groggy nod, while Sam hiccups and continues to cling to Corbin's leg, clearly still too out of it to process what's going on — except that Corbin and Dad represent safety.

Meanwhile, the sister finds her tirade interrupted by a whistle, one that cuts through the hubbub and draws the attention of most of the crowd — even those halfway across the plaza, who can't actually see a thing of Kase. She squints narrow-eyed at him, clearly still too in a mood to actually think about what he says; however, her brother pokes her in the shoulder, recognizing the suggestion for the good sense it is.

No sooner do they start moving, however, than a resounding boom echoes off the buildings, along with a flash of orange-red light. Collectively, the entire populace of the plaza turns to face southwest, where a vast cloud of dust and smoke is rising from a distant government building that has very obviously lost its entire roof. In the space above, lightning crackles and snaps, bolts lashing out to dance across surrounding structures. The electricity seems to originate with two floating figures who disappear almost as soon as they're glimpsed, streaking out of sight into another building.

On this day, in this place, it takes no time at all for the mob to collectively reach the obvious conclusion: it's another Bomb!

…and to collectively fall into screaming, frantic panic that turns the plaza into an arena of trampling feet as altogether too many people try to get themselves into something resembling the nearest shelter all at the same time.

«Help who you can but don’t risk your lives for anyone but the innocent, Dooley.» JJ says into his com, not sure where Kaitlyn is now that there are teeming masses between himself and the stage. He doesn’t fight back, letting those who will beat against his armor, putting a hand up to protect his face when the blows — or spit — get too close, but following a path of civil disobedience.

When the boom resounds all around them, he looks to the sky, alarm in his gray-green eyes, but there’s no time to watch the devastation above when the crowd is pushing and stampeding, hundreds of terrified people trying to find safety. He moves with them, but more mindfully, bending to scoop up those who fall and get them to their feet when he can.

His expression is grim, his brow furrowed; the only thought in his mind is that he and his fellow time travelers have failed completely.

It takes a lot of willpower for Kaitlyn to not roll her eyes when JJ finally says something at her. What the hell he think she’s been doin’? She doesn’t say any of what she is thinking, but neither does she acknowledge that he spoke. She might have almost said something snarky, but a rock bouncing off the side of her helm, knocks some sense into her.

Any attempt at snark is dashed away when the explosion startles her and has Kaitlyn ducking down, Nadia held close to protect her; until she sees where it is coming from. “What in holy hell…”

The weight in her arms is getting heavier and reminds her of what she was doing… so Kaitlyn gets moving again, letting the tide of people carry them. All she can think about is how her ability was howling at her to heal this injured soul. “Lady… you need to lose a few pounds,” she grouses knowing full well she can’t be heard over it all.

Even though she’ll bitch and moan. After they are safe, Kaitlyn will make sure the woman wakes up whole and healthy, probably even a little healthier then she was. Then Kaitlyn was gonna go home and take a long freakin’ bath. She deserved it.

One might hope Dan doesn't mind that Luther's got one arm around his midsection and grasping onto his waistband, the other arm tucked and supporting from closer in. With their progress slowed by an uncontrolled crowd and the other man's injury, Luther does his level best to keep his head and not getting anxious when people are uncooperative, the elderly included.

"Stay in front," he calls over to Mary, his voice rough and gravelly with the disuse of authoritative, instructive tone, "Find us a way through. You got this." And so they go, step by painful, slow step, until the boom stops them. Luther stares with the rest of the crowd, feels his heart sink and veins run cold both in fear and amazement at the sight.

The lightning crackling through the sky breaks him of the awe, and churns his mind and body back into action around the same time as the rest of the collective mob. He whips a stare back at Mary and shouts at her now, urgency turning his volume up and his tone clear, "Hey! Let's GO." Without further delay he moves first, dragging Dan if he has to, pointing them in the most able path to get them the heck out of there and elbowing anybody who's jostling him. Luther doesn't stop now, not even for the old lady with the cane.

Because if it really is another Bomb, he knows what it's about to do to him, his ability, and the surrounding environs. And he's not going to stay to find out.

A glance over her shoulder is given, only the briefest of acknowledgements for her teammates, when their voices come over the coms. There’s not much else she can say to them, that hasn’t already been said or that they don’t already know, so Gavyn doesn’t add to JJ’s admonishment or Kaitlyn’s snarking response. She looks back at those around her, those both fighting for and against her efforts to clear the plaza.

Those efforts are derailed when the explosion happens. She, like those around her, like everyone who’d come to witness the memorial, is captivated by the sight. Gavyn is caught staring as panic begins to percolate around her.

«It’s been a privilege to serve with you,» she murmurs to her team over the com. Things are going south. The jostling and rising panic pulls her back to the immediate needs. The people and their lives. «Stay safe.» She begins pushing people into a parallel line from the explosion. They can still get out without heading toward it. The only pausing comes to help those up who’ve fallen. She doesn’t linger to fight or argue and those who continue to act with derision toward herself are directed toward safety but otherwise ignored.

“It’s going to be okay, kid,” Corbin tries to assure the child clinging to his leg, just before something explodes in the sky above them. For a brief second, he almost looks at it, before his training kicks in and he looks down. At the kid attached to his leg, that he’d just tried to reassure. So much for everything being okay.

Before the mob mentality can calculate what’s happening, he bends down to pick up the kid against his chest and pushes the father along even faster, trying to keep up with the crowd so that they don’t get trampled underfoot. “Move, move, move.” It’s spoken quickly, quietly, forcefully, but he doesn’t expect it to be heard over what follows. He’s mostly saying it for himself. He just hopes they can move with the stampede until they find somewhere solid to put between them and it.

And then find some way out of this place all together. Hokuto was right. He never should have come back to Manhattan.

She never should have accepted that position as the face of the DoEA. She had horrible feelings about it when she signed on, but she did it anyhow, telling herself that the benefits outweighed the potential complications, and she would be just fine no matter what. He parents were proud of her. They told her often how good she was doing. She started up a charity to rebuild New York, even.

Kaitlyn might not get the chance to make sure Nadia remains healthy. The Moroccan woman is slipping, and fast. The blood is flowing a little too fast from a little too many places, and those awful blunt force trauma wounds, especially the ones to her head and neck, are just a little too severe.

It soon becomes clear that the woman that Kaitlyn is struggling so desperately to rescue isn’t going to make it — the wounds are too great, and moving about is only making them worse, and she can feel her life slipping away.

People slip away from the plaza in ones and twos, in handfuls and clusters, filtering out around fallen rubble, around upheaved slabs of pavement, around the bodies of the dead and wounded and merely dazed. Others barge into half-finished buildings, instinctively believing the shelter of a roof overhead — even one not completely constructed — will provide safety from the crackle of unnatural thunder accompanying a conflict far more foreboding than any involving mundane bombs. Still others find themselves gridlocked out in the open, bogged down in a press of bodies, slowed even more by the tendency of people to push and shove and yell.

Anger, panic, and desperation feed off one another, multiply, amplify. Fistfights begin to break out among those deadlocked in the throng as shoving escalates, as insults turn into threats, as the frantic and forceful try to simply push their way through. In the distant sky, another confrontation rages, a ticking clock whose countdown no one in the plaza can actually read.

Luther, Dan, and Mary eke their way out in one direction; Kase and the siblings in another; Corbin, Tim, and Sam by a third. By the time they reach the plaza's edge, the freedom of the streets beyond, the crowd they leave behind will have descended into madness, irrational mob mentality short-circuiting the individual drive for survival. At that point, JJ and Gavyn have little left to do but retreat themselves, as very few of those who remain have willingness or capacity to go along with their directives — and those few are widely scattered, adrift in a raging sea. Kaitlyn carries her pitiful burden out by way of some of the last standing military officers, men who willingly step forward to assist her and close ranks in her wake.

Last those officers may be, but also first; other ranks come marching in, disgorged from vehicles summoned by an earlier call: the National Guard has arrived.

It will be quite a long time before they manage to restore Ground Zero to its prior graveyard peace.

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