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Scene Title OMW
Synopsis A text message prompts Nicole to make her way to the borough of Queens to retrieve the only family she has left - Colette and Tasha.
Date November 8, 2010


Queens is the largest in area and the second most populous of the five boroughs of New York City. Located on the western portion of Long Island, Queens managed to avoid much of the physical ruin attributed to the Bomb. However, Queens on whole suffered from something far more significant in the wake of the explosion that tore apart New York — Economic crisis. With much of Queens relying on industrial productivity for its commerce, it was the mass exodus of many businesses from the New York area following the bomb that crippled the borough.

With refugees pouring in from the western portions of New York following the destruction of Midtown, Queens was inundated with homeless of all walks of life. Food shortages, coupled with the collapse of Queens business centers and the strain put on local police only furthered what would become one of the most embarassing mishandling of a crisis situation the city had ever seen. Weeks after the bomb hit, riots swept through New York by the panicked populace, this was felt most hard in Queens, where food riots ravaged the businesses that dared remain open. Shea Statium was used as temporary shelter for bomb refugees, and the riots that swept through Queens enveloped the stadium as well, resulting in a remarkable loss of life in the chaos.

Ever since, Queens has settled down from the turbulent weeks following the nuclear explosion. But while its scars may not be as physical as Midtowns are, Queens suffers just as the rest of New York does, under the shadow of that broken skyline to the west and the collapse of its social and economic centers. Queens is now a ghost of its former self, slowly struggling to recover from the damage done.

It's been an hour since Tamara Brooks was taken by the Institute, and Colette Nichols hasn't spoken a single word since then.

Queens is ablaze, and with the sun fully lost behind heavy clouds in the night sky and choking black smoke, it looks like the end of the world has finally come. From inside the heart of the chaos, there does not even appear to be an avenue for escape. Ash and cinders rain from the sky like snowflakes, dusting the ground with a thick coat of sooty powder.

Abandoned cars litter the street in what were once traffic jams, now just multiple lanes of derelict vehicles with their doors thrown open, some on fire from molotov cocktails, others having careened off the road entirely to collide with now toppled lamp posts.

Queens has gone dark, or at least this block has. No electricity as far as visibility permits, and with the rolling clouds of smoke it isn't far. Despite all of the carnage, signs of violence and blood darkly stained on asphalt beneath ash, there are no bodies to speak of. Emptied shell casings, a lost sneaker left in the middle of the road, but this stretch of Queens has become like a ghost town.

The fire hasn't reached this far yet, but it looms as a bright orange glow through the smoke, wavering and flickering in its consumption of the neighborhood. Sirens are a constant wail in the distance, firefighters and police too far away to help anything now.

Out the third floor window of a brownstone apartment building, a bedsheet hangs pinned in the window frame, blowing like a flag. Maybe a warning, maybe a cry for help, possibly both.

Huddled in that abandoned apartment, beyond the kicked in front door, up two flights of stairs and seated on a bed now missing its sheet, Colette Nichols sits cross-legged with her back to the headboard, ash and blood smeared on the bedspread from her boots and hands. A crusted cell phone is cradled between her hands, waiting for response to the text message she'd sent an hour ago.

The last person she knows she could call for help.


They've only been here a half an hour, hung the sheet as a sign and hid away from the sound of growing riot outside. The noise of helicopters, automatic weapons and explosions had once punctuated the night, now it has fallen into an uneasy sense of calm. The eye of the storm has passed over Colette and Tasha, and now they wait to either be saved from it, or caught in the remainder.

Tasha is trying to hold herself together, but now and then a tear streams down her pale cheek, or a shiver runs through her body. She's texted or tried to call every single person on her cell phone list — even her father — but nothing is connecting, and finally the battery has run down. She hurls the phone against the wall when it beeps at her once and then goes black, taking with it her slimmest hope of connecting with anyone.

Her hands rake through her hair and she stands from where she sits beside the bed, nearby Colette but giving her the space she seems to need, and she moves to the window to peer outside. "I should have let my mom take us away," she whispers, and another tear runs down her sooty, dirty face. "We're not any use to anyone here anyway — or we could have gone with Brian and the kids or something. I should have known better. I should have made you come with me," she whispers, tipping her head to peer down as a siren can be heard on a neighboring block. "I'm so sorry, Colette."

The longer the riots continued, the later into the day it got, the more jammed every phone line in the city got to be. Nicole isn't even sure her reply to her sister sent. A full keyboard on her BlackBerry, and all she sent was three letters.


She actually had the keys to her Buick in her hand. On auto-pilot, the instinct is to drive from the Upper East Side and into Queens —

Queens. Colette just had to be in fucking Queens.

— good sense and CNN tell her if she wants to get to Queens, she's going to have to do it on foot. Armed with her cell phone, her gun, and a flathead screwdriver of all things, Nicole doesn't leave the house until she's drawn enough electricity to make her hair stand on end, and make her eyes glow like headlamps. Nicole Nichols intends to be a force of nature to anyone who gets between her and her little sister.

Queens itself is an alarming sight for Nicole. This is something that should be in a movie. Or still only on her television screen. Not something witnessed first hand. Caught up in the horror of it all, she nearly misses the white sheet hanging from the window.

"Sis!" Nicole hollars up from the street. "Stay there! I'm coming for you!" Red Chuck Taylors slap the pavement as Nicole charges for the door to the building.

Nicole's voice is barely heard from the third floor, but being the only voice to call out in the night has her younger sister bolting up from the bed with a rattle of the headboard. Boots tangle in the bedspread and Colette practically falls off of the bed, bracing herself on the wall before booted feet come unwound in cloth and touch down on the hardwood floor.

She moves to the window at Tasha's side, skidding to a halt and looking out the grimy window, squinting at the moment darting just out of her field of view. Curling one hand in the fabric at Tasha's right sleeve, Colette slowly backs up and tugs her along, brows raised in imploring fashion before she turns to the doorway out to the third floor landing, coming out of the apartment and leaning over the railing.

She doesn't shout for her sister, instead Colette holds out one hand and conjures a swirling sphere of white light that resembles luminous clouds. Rays of light penetrate through the phosphorous clouds like streamers, a signal glowing bright in the stairwell of the dark apartment building.

The dim light and smoke make it hard for Tasha to see Nicole's form, but the shout has her waving, even if she likely can't be seen. When Colette tugs her, she wraps her hand around the other's, fingers intertwining and squeezing with reassurance that is part feigned, part for herself. "She's here… we'll be okay, Colette," she manages, pressing against Colette on the landing, glancing at the hallway of closed doors — what if they're not all empty? What if other people are here, and not simply to hide in the shadows? She doesn't voice the worry — there are enough shadows outside to worry about.

The light illuminating the stairwell, showing Tasha's dirty but pale face, streaks of white among the soot where her tears have cut through the grime. The cell phone is left behind where it fell against the door, battery popped out, useless as it is.

There's a wave of relief that washes over Nicole when she sees her sister and Tasha's faces. She reaches for the railing to start ascending the stairs, then suddenly thinks better of it. Not with the girls leaning against it, even though it probably isn't a continuous path of metal. She makes a gesture with one hand for the girls to come down the stairs and join her. She has the same thoughts as Tasha - there may be people in this building that they don't want to alert to their presence.

Colette offers mismatches eyes up to Tasha as the globe of light disperses. She takes one of the brunette's hands, squeezes it gently and doesn't let go, before leading her around the railing and slowly down the stairs. Their booted feet carry in thumping progress down each wooden step of the old building, creaking floorboards and wind whistling through blown out windows. It's haunting, in a way, that there is no noise, no electricity, nothing except the three frightened women.

When Colette and Tasha reach the lobby of the tenement building, a sound breaks the silence outside. A scream; terrible and in pain, a woman's voice wailing like a banshee against the night. What follows are the screams of others, as if challenging or answering her. Colette's spine goes rigid at the sound. She'd heard it mixed with the pop of gunfire through the day, but never once seen the source.

All she knows, is that where she heard that screaming, there was nothing but death in its wake.

Every scream she can't see belongs, in Tasha's mind, to her mother, or her father, or to someone else she knows. Her eyes widen and she squeezes Colette's hand. Are they going out there? She knows they can't stay here forever, but at least here it's quiet — in comparison to the screams and sirens outside.

She swallows audibly, eyes peering through the dim light. "Nicole?" she whispers, speaking for Colette, who she is not sure will. "Are you okay? We're here!"

Her whisper sounds much too loud, braying and harsh, though it barely can be heard over the sirens and helicopters outside.

Nicole's blood runs cold, which feels sickening against the heat radiating from her skin caused by her ability. It feels too warm in her expensive suit and silk shirt, but they're all alive and she can endure the uncomfortable side effects until they can get back home.

But that scream has her wondering if it's safe to attempt to make that trek home yet. But with the fires consuming Queens, it's too dangerous to stay here. This is the definition of being caught between a rock and a hard place, Nicole is sure of it. "Stay here," she orders the girls harshly when they've joined her in the lobby.

Because Nicole is pushing the door open again to step into the street and determine if their escape route is clear, and the last thing she needs is her bullheaded sister following after.

Which she almost does, were it not for Tasha grounding her in place. Colette refuses to let the younger girl's hand go, and when Tasha has the common sense not to go out into the street, Colette stays behind as well. She steps back, booted feet sliding over the tile floor, then wraps one arm around Tasha's waist, resting her head on the younger brunette's shoulder and slouching her weight against her narrow frame.

She's exhausted, she's emotionally drained, and truth be told she's scared that none of them are going to make it out of this. Worse yet is that she can't get in touch with Judah, not that being in police custody would be any safer after what happened to the Ferrymen Council.

Outside on the street, Nicole can hear the sounds of people running, tall and lanky silhouettes made to seem bigger than they really are, backlit by headlights, running through the smoke. A moment later, there's the piercing pop of automatic gunfire and the roar of an engine. Nicole can't see who it was that was shot, only that they were. Birthed by the clouds of smoke, an NYPD riot containment vehicle rolls on heavy wheels into view, searchlight shining down on the street, black clad SWAT officers patroling along its sides, assault rifles in hand. A man with a pair of goggles in his hands sits on the top, scanning the streets.

This is suddenly a terrible situation.

When Colette wraps an arm around her waist, Tasha wraps both arms around Colette, one cradling the other's head against her shoulder. She tries not to cry, tries not to shiver; but when she hears the gunfire outside, she drops to her knees and pulls Colette down with her, her back to the door as if she would shield Colette with her body. Luckily the gunfire isn't aimed within the lobby, but she glances over her shoulder when it abates.

"Shit," she hisses, tilting her head toward the door, brows furrowing with worry as she waits for Nicole's return. "I… should we go make sure she's okay?" So much for 'stay here,' but Tasha isn't going to go alone and leave Colette, and she's not about to be left. "Invisibly," she adds.

Nicole opens the door and stands there holding it for the girls. "Riot police. We need to go. Now. If they're here, things are only about to get worse and we don't want to be sitting here to be picked up by police." If half of what Nicole suspects about Colette and Tasha's affiliations are true, her connections aren't going to be enough to avoid spending time in jail.

"Invisible," Nicole repeats, having caught the end of Tasha's suggestion. Recalling how her little sister got herself hit by a car. "We'll do this invisibly, if we can do it safely. Let's go."

Pressing a kiss to the side of Tasha's tear-stained cheek, Colette exhales a warm breath on her skin before unwinding her arm from around Tasha's waist, keeping her hand held fast.

Colette's response to Tasha and Nicole's idea is a sharp nod, dipping her head down and taking her sister by the hand while she has Tasha by the other. Unfortunately for both of them, this means slow movement and a great deal of trust on their part. It is a harrowing experience for Nicole, the first time she has ever witnessed her sister's ability to go unseen from her perspective. Her body warps and ripples, as if she were a heat mirage, as light begins to dim in a way reminiscent of dying.

Soon, all light is shut out and every sense seems more acute. The rumble of tires, squeak of shocks, scuff of footsteps and crackle-pop of radios. Colette gives a gentle squeeze and tug of both hands, and begins guiding them with creeping pace towards the front door of the apartment building.

Out onto the sidewalk, all Tasha and Nicole can hear is the slow pace of that SWAT vehicle rolling down the street, and Colette seems intent on sticking to the sidewalk, making as little noise as possible.

"Did team six report back in?" Clearly heard by the invisible women from the passing team.

"Yeah, they ran into some trouble up in Flushing but it's quieted down. I heard that they finally deployed the new FRONTLINE team down in Chinatown to end the looting and riots there. We're going to meet up with them on Roosevelt I think." Another SWAT officer replies in conversation.

"Keep it down and keep your eyes peeled," hollars an older man's voice. "Johnson, you see anything on the IR goggles?"


Just as on the street with Tamara before they had to abandon her to the Institute, Tasha finds that every other sense is more alert. Every crack of the sidewalk makes her cling a little tighter to Colette; every sound, from the crackle of fire in the distance to sirens to gunshots to those terrifying voices has her shaking as she struggles to see through the darkness, even though she knows she can't. She manages to keep quiet until that word IR.

A small gasp of air is taken and Tasha turns her face to Colette, mouthing infrared to the girl she assumes can see her, even if she can't see Colette. Her grip tightens on Colette's hand, both Tasha's hands clinging to one.

Nicole is putting off enough heat to pop like mad on an infrared scan. She turns her gaze to her sister and her friend. "You need to go. I'm going to stand out like a sore thumb. It will distract them. You need to go." And the tone of her voice, her low whisper, brooks no argument.

The way she disengages from her sister and steps blindly out into the open (and hopefully less blindly once she gets there) also leaves little room for argument. Nicole holds her hands out in front of her. She's starting to look pale. Sweat beads on her face, like she's suffering from a fever. "Don't shoot!" she calls out. "Help me, please!" A beautiful diversion. Hopefully not a stupid one.

Maybe bad decisions run in the Nichols family.

The immediate flush of a spotlight sweeping over Nicole floods the area with bright light, enough that she's forced to squint against the illumination as she peels away from invisibility at Colette's hasty decision. However, Colette doesn't move from where Nicole is distracting the guards. The man with the infra-red goggles turns them on Nicole, "She's white hot!"

Two SWAT officers sweep their guns towards Nicole, two beginning to advance on her. "You are in violation of New York City Curfew!" One of them bellows. "Under the suspension of Haebus Corpus and the Posse Comitatus Act we are hereby putting you under arrest, if you resist you will be sh— "

That's really all Colette needed to hear.

Nicole disappears back into invisibility a second later, all visible light bent around her not to hide her from the SWAT officers, but to protect her from what was about to happen next. Wrenching her eyes shut and concentrating as hard as she can, Colette concentrates the illumination of the spotlights into a staccato burst of a white-hot flash, magnitudes brighter than a flashbang grenade but perfectly silent.

She says nothing, no call to go, no call to run, just drops the invisibility on all three of them, revealing a trickling line of blood running from her blinded eye at the tear ducks down her cheek. Colette is sprinting away while the SWAT officers are screaming in agony, covering their eyes and recoiling from the brief burst of light.

Colette is headed for an adjacent parking lot with the intention of borrowing a car.

It takes a moment to figure out what is going on, from being under that blanket of darkness to sudden sightedness that makes no sense for too many long moments. She chokes back a sob at the sight of blood on Colette's face, even as the girl turns to sprint.

Finally Tasha finds her feet, reaching out to grab Nicole to jerk her along with her, if the woman hasn't begun to run already, chasing after Colette with stumbling steps, cursing her legs not for the first time for not being longer. Her heart pounds as her Doc Martens slap the pavement — she almost trips because the adrenaline pushes her to run faster than she is able, her legs shaking as she regains her balance. "Hurry hurry hurry," she whispers, tears blurring the path in front of her.

"Oh, Jesus Christ," Nicole utters under her breath when sight returns to her and she realises what's just happened. She takes off running after Colette, having reached for Tasha as the younger girl was reaching for her as well.

You should have just let them arrest me, she wants to scream. Nicole has all the connections. A curfew violation could have been fought. She's unfuckingtouchable. She thinks, at least. It's too late for any of that now. Bad decisions can be mulled over after they've reached safety.

The run down the street has the sound of shouting and gunfire at their backs, blind fire pops from automatic weapons, bullets whiz over and beyond the three women as they make their way towards the parking lot. The entire lot, fenced in by a chain-link perimeter, the four-foot high deterrent isn't much of one.

Colette is ostensibly the first over the barrier, but when there is another crack of gunfire Colette lets out a yelp of pain and is thrown over the chain link fence, crashing down on the other side and letting out a shriek of pain. From around the side of the SWAT truck that was shielded by the flash, four black-clothed men come charging towards where Nicole and the others are fleeing, rifles out and orders barked. "Down on the ground! Get down on the ground now or we will shoot!"

"Cole!" Tasha squeals when Colette is stricken, the smaller girl only halfway up on the chain-link fence, freezing as she peers through to try to see how badly Colette is hurt — which is hard to do when she's flashing like a strobe light, disappearing out of view.

The words to get on the ground is answered by a terrified sob, this fate all the worse because Colette's on the other side of the fence, and Tasha drops to the ground, one hand getting caught on the wire and wincing as the flesh of her palm tears, the open wound slapping on the pavement a moment later as she hits the ground to avoid getting shot.

Tasha has no weapons — her gun is in the bag on her mother's car, and unlike the Nichols sisters, she can't shoot lasers or electricity. "We're not breaking curfew! We've been trying to get home, but the riots — we just got stuck in the wrong place and everything's on fire!" she gasps up finally at the SWAT officers, hoping that her youth and small size might earn some compassion. "We're just trying to get somewhere safe!"

All Nicole sees is her sister shot. All she hears is her screaming in pain. "Be prepared to get over that fence, Tasha," she warns quietly. She's playing as though she's got her jacket snagged on the fence wiring. "And you take my sister, and you run to Solstice Condominiums, and you go to the door marked Caliban. You wait for me there. You do not stop and wait for me to catch up. You fucking go."

Slowly, Nicole turns around, her hands out to her sides with her fingers splayed. She steps away from the fence, as though she might put distance between it and herself to give her room to sprawl on the ground. She's trembling with barely contained rage. She will not lose another person she loves.


Nicole's hands are thrown out in front of her, arcs of lightning springing forth from her fingertips and toward the men threatening the one person she holds more dear than anyone else in the world.

Whatever compassion Tasha's words may have earned from the soldiers is lost in one single crackling zap of a moment.

Lightning crackles with the humming noise of exposed high-voltage lines. Arcing up through the air from Nicole's hands and then down towards the National Guardsmen threatening Nicole, the electricity grounds out through their bodies, blasting scraps of cloth from their clothing in the way lighthing blows the bark off a tree. Skin blisters, burns, cloth and hair ignite and the small group of guardsmen are thrown bodily away from Nicole with a buzzing-zap of electrical crackle.

When they hit the ground, their smoking guns scatter from their grip, convulsing on the ground, they look to be going nowhere. One of them, clutching at his chest, writhes for only a moment before falling limp, while another is holding his eyes, screaming. The other soldiers, blinded by the flash of Colette's photokinesis, can do nothing but blindly grope around.

Their vision — if it ever comes back — will follow the coming of dawn at the very earliest.

The crack of lightning has Tasha scrambling back to her feet, clamoring quickly over the fence and falling on the other side— luckily adrenaline means she won't feel those bruises until morning. She rolls and then crawls over to Colette, wrapping her arms around her and patting her down, looking for blood, and not finding any.

"You're okay, you're okay, come on, let's move, we gotta move," she whispers, getting to her feet and pulling Colette up with her, glancing back to see if Nicole's following or if she needs to follow her advice — grudgingly — and leave her behind.

Nicole is left standing, shoulders rising and falling from heavy intakes of breath. Her eyes no longer glow. She isn't positively crackling like a livewire anymore. She wasn't quite sure what would happen when she went to do that. She wasn't sure she would do more than just… stun the men. This was…

Well, it did the trick.

Reclaiming her wits, Nicole turns back around. "Fucking go!" Nicole shouts, even as she starts pulling herself up and over the fence. "Just fucking run and don't look back! I'm right behind you!" Adrenaline fuels her now, rather than a day's worth of wattage hours of electricity. It doesn't compare.

It takes a minute for Colette to find her legs, hobbling up onto one foot, then the other, whining all the while a keening sound like a wounded animal. Clutching the arm she landed on tightly, Colette starts to hobble away from the fence, turning back to look at Nicole behind her, then starts veering away from where the view of the Queensboro bridge lies on the horizon. Walking all the way back to Manhattan will be suicide in these conditions, leaving them only one real option.

Colette stops beside a parked Buick Century covered with ash and blackened cinders. She brushes clean the driver's side window, leans in and checks something, then winds up and smashes the window out with a collision of her elbow and a pop of shattering safety glass. A car alarm begins to blare in the night, howling warning of her larceny for everyone in a mile to hear.

Reaching in and jimmying the door open, Colette drops down into the driver's seat and hits the unlock button for the other doors. She pops open the center console, fishes through receipts and packs of cigarettes, a flashlight, a tire pressure gauge, until finally pulling out a multi-head screwdriver set.

Not paying it any more heed than pointy and metal she drives it forward into the steering column with a growl and a snort, wedging it back and forth until the pops the plastic casing off and onto the floor, beginning to hunch forward and yank out a cluster of wires, pulling two out, stripping off the plastic covering with her teeth, and begins striking them together.


Engine choking noises.



Willing accomplice, Tasha just hops from foot to foot as she waits for the window to get broken, then hurries around to the other side to climb in, thinking to at least grab the flashlight. She doesn't really need one — she has, after all, Colette — but the Maglight might serve as a weapon. Not quite as good as a pistol for knocking someone unconscious, her gun is still on her mother's floorboards of the car she vacated to chase Tamara.

The relief of the car starting gets a "Thank God," and then she turns to peer back, to see where Nicole is. "She said to go — she said to go to Solstice, but I don't … I don't know," she stammers, and tears begin to slide down her cheeks again.

Colette would pick a car the same make as her big sister's, wouldn't she? Nicole might appreciate this better once she isn't terrified that she's about to get shot with live rounds. She vaults over the top of the fence, landing easier than the younger girls before her. She's several precious seconds behind them now, her pace slower than it was when they first exited the building. Her energy is waning quickly, and she's grateful she isn't going to have to run for a while after she clamours into the back seat of the car.

"Where the fuck did you learn to hotwire a car?!" Nicole shouts as she slams the door behind her. "Who taught you to drive a car?!" It sure wasn't her.

Guilty eyes look up at Nicole with a worried expression, then over to Tasha with dark brows raised.

Knowing how to do one out of two isn't bad, right?

Swinging the driver's side door shut, Colette looks around with a moment of frantic panic because she has no idea what she's doing. Her hand goes down to the automatic shifter, seeing the car's in park. Then her hand just jerks away from the shifter and she looks up to Tasha, pops one booted foot up on the center console and waves one hand behind herself.

Change places, as the Mad Hatter would say.

There is a soft huff of a laugh as Tasha realizes Colette's plight, and she swallows. "I'm always the get away driver," she mutters, clambering over Colette quickly rather than play Chinese fire drill and risk getting shot or something. Once in place, she actually takes a second to buckle her seat belt (she knows how well — or not — she drives), and throws the car into drive, squealing away from the curb.

Only after driving for a block does she think to ask, "Where?"

"Oh Jesus." Nicole was about half a second from get the fuck out and let me drive, but she instead occupies herself with turning around in the seat to watch out the back window for pursuers. "Solstice," she insists when the question of where comes up. "No way we can make it to the Financial District in all this." Of course she would think to hole up at the Linderman Building at a time like this.

The sudden noise of jet engines sneaks up like a peal of thunder, two roaring engines streak overhead as fighter jets zip past at low altitude, coming from out east and roaring over the parking lot on their way towards Staten Island. Colette's eyes grow wide before hunching down in her seat, following the motion of the jets as best as she can until they disappear out of sight entirely. Looking over her shoulder to Nicole, Colette shakes her head rapidly, then turns to look at Tasha.

She swallows, dryly, bites down on her bottom lip, then furrows her brows. "Flushing," comes out hoarse and tight, as if she hadn't spoken in months rather than just the few short hours it's been instead. "Th— there's going to be— ch-checkpoints on the Queensboro," mismatched eyes flick to Tasha, her jaw trembles.

She wants them to drive deeper into Queens.

"W-We can hit t-the Flushing subway station, w-walk the tracks— we— we can go to Grand Central. It— it's a long walk it just— it— we— " Colette lifts up a hand to cover her mouth, her jaw trembling and hand shaking as tears well up in her eyes and roll down her cheeks, followed by a what winds up being a bout of sobbing that has no end.

That she lasted this long without breaking down was admirable.

Now there's a choice on where to go.

One hand on the steering wheel, the other goes to Colette's, curling around it and squeezing. She just nods, driving in the direction Colette says to go. She trusts Colette — even now, even with her breaking down, even knowing that it was Colette who stabbed Tamara — she will go the way that Colette points her in. It's either commendable or foolish or maybe a little of both.

She swallows, blinking away the tears, and she glances at Colette with worry, then Nicole in the backseat. "Do you guys have your cell phones? Can you … is there a signal? I want to check on them…" Them means her parents.

"Are you crazy?! The whole fucking borough's on fire!" Nicole's head swivels so she can look at Colette over her shoulder incredulously. "Why the hell would we go to Grand Central? No one's used Grand fucking Central in year—"


Nicole doesn't know a lot about the operations her sister and her friends are involved with, but it stands to follow that there's bases of operation. Safe havens. She rights herself in her seat again and leans forward to wrap an arm around the passenger seat and Colette's shoulders. "It's going to be fine. We're going to be fine. We're together." Which counts for something at least. Her dark blue eyes shift to Tasha and she nods. "Yeah, I have my phone." She drags the BlackBerry out of her pocket with her free hand, bringing the display out of sleep to check the signal. "Just a sec."

Plenty of signal on the phone, but the number of bars likely is not the same as the amount of network traffic that the city can handle. During 9/11 in 2001, cell phone networks were inundated with calls that congested networks and prevented all but emergency services from getting through to anyone else. It may yet be hours before Tasha can get in touch with her family.

By then it might even be too late.

Despite Tasha's hand reaching for her, Colette just slouches down towards the driver's side window, her head resting against the glass, eyes shut and one hand covering her mouth to muffle the humiliating sounds of choking sobs slipping out from her. Eyeliner runs in further dark smudges down her cheeks, tangled black hair hides her face beneath the dark hood shrouding her head, and as Colette begins to curl herself up into a tiny ball in her seat, the young woman's shoulders shake and tremble, teeth pressed into her lower lip and brows furrowed.

It will be another hour before they can safely get from Hunter's Point to Flushing, driving in an arc around the worst of the fire, then another hour of walking underground, though thankfully with the most reliable flashlight in the world at their side. Dank tunnels, electrified third rails for Nicole to recharge herself in the active portions of the subway, then eventually escape into one of the last bastions of the Ferrymen on the island of Manhattan.

Cell phone communication is unreliable, networks tied up for hours. By the time they might be getting a signal, they're too far underground to make any use of it. It will be hours before the ash settles, before the sun rises on New York City again, and many more lives will be lost between then and dawn.

But in the days to come the survivors will be thankful for what little they have, while they pick up the pieces from what they once did.

When morning comes, it will be a whole new world.

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