Through The Fire And The Flames, Part III


erin_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif megan_icon.gif modi_icon.gif tobias_icon.gif

Scene Title Through The Fire And The Flames, Part III
Synopsis Anxious teamwork sees to the safe rescue of several students trapped in their dorm rooms in a burning tower of the Meredith Gordon Memorial Academy.
Date May 31, 2021

The meter on a voltage reader is buried at 0 ohms, no power.

Tobias Pesaro looks from the meter to the power conduits running along the walls of the concrete basement, unclipping the wires and moving to the next opening in the conduits. He clips the wires in again, and the meter doesn’t so much as flutter. The noisy hum of generators rumble at his back, they’re the only reason why there’s any lights on in the basement at all. Something is dreadfully wrong with the wiring, and he’s going to figure out what it is.

Disconnecting the voltage meter again, Tobias surveys the basement with a more critical eye. There’s folding tables, a rack of kayaks, desk chairs stacked upon desk chairs like Russian nesting dolls, and crates of school supplies. As he follows the line of insulated conduits in the walls, he tries to keep an eye out for damage or disconnect, maybe something was set against the wall and broke a line. But there’s nothing, so far.

Setting down his tools, Tobias opens up one of the metal-cased, insulated electrical conduits and exposes the wiring to get a better inspection of their condition. The wiring looks fine. Everything is new, contractors didn’t use any substandard parts. He touches them with his bare fingertips: nothing.

With a click of his tongue, Tobas looks up at the ceiling in thought. The problem has to be somewhere else down the line, but none of the other buildings are experiencing power issues. He closes up the conduit, packs up his tools, and heads back to his truck.

Maybe his “partner” can help him figure it out.

Twenty Minutes Later

Meredith Gordon Memorial Academy
Phoenix Heights

May 31st
9:25 pm

The back doors of Tobias’ van have been left open, tool box set in the bed, forgotten. Building 3, a dormitory of the Meredith Gordon Memorial Academy, is engulfed in flames from the ground floor. Tobias didn’t see when the fire started, he heard the sirens start to go off from inside his van. Within seconds flames were roaring out of the ground floor windows and people were streaming out of the dorm onto the street; kids, some of their family members, others alone and terrified.

Barefoot boarding school students in their pyjamas stand on the sidewalk looking up at the flames. The academy building across the street is completely engulfed in flames. From top to bottom, a roaring tinderbox. Tobias’ stomach twists into knots, his eyes water from the smoke in the air and his breath feels stifled behind his respirator mask.

Was it an electrical fire?

A noisy whirr-click of mechanical movement signals a reminder at Tobias’ back as his “partner”, a TX Tetsujin labor drone comes walking out of the back of the van, landing on the street with a loud report of its mechanical feet. The machine stands idle beside Tobas, awaiting further commands, its electric motor whirring softly in its chest; inaudible under the sounds of roaring flames and crying children.

Up the street the presence of red and blue flashing lights signals the arrival of law enforcement to the scene. A Yamagato Lapis humms up and mounts the curb, squawking its siren as it does. On the side of the vehicle, NYPD-SCOUT is emblazoned in blue and gold. Sergeant Deeraj Modi is the first out of the vehicle onto the street, looking up at the not yet completely consumed Building 3.

“This is Sergeant Modi,” he says into the radio on his shoulder, “we’ve arrived at the academy. The school is…” he looks in the direction of the largest fire, “there is nothing we can do. It’s completely engulfed in flames. Building 3 is on fire at the ground floor, but there are still students coming out. Over.”

«Copy Sergeant Modi. Get the students clear and sweep the building. ETA on fire response is unclear.»

“Copy. Modi out.” He replies into his radio, then looks back to his vehicle with wide, weary eyes.

Unknown electrical issues are like that itch you can't scratch. Usually, however, such things don't go down in flames, especially not literally. There's no reason whatsoever to get anywhere closer to the fire than absolutely necessary, but Tobias hesitates, looking at his vehicle. Is it worth trying to get in and drive away? It might catch on fire if he leaves it there. "What to do…" he mutters through his respirator, squinting at the flames. Was it his fault? He didn't find anything, but…

"Let's back up, B-9." he tells the drone, deciding to play it safe. Surely so long as the drone is safe, all will be forgiven? A hand comes up to wipe his brow, although the respirator's faceshield is in the way.

The approach of figures of authority give him equal parts relief and nervousness, and he approaches, looking uneasily at the building on fire. "I don't know what happened, it just caught on fire." Not his fault, right? Right?

Word of mouth in places like Phoenix Heights is faster even than wildfire. As the first building is fully engulfed, a slender woman carrying a full-sized EMT bag half-jogs onto the scene. The jaunty ponytail gives an initial impression of youth, but a better look gives away that she's well over the age of majority.

Pausing at the corner to take a look-see as to who is in charge, Megan's gaze flits from the assembled to the SCOUT vehicle and falls on Modi. The gear bag she has is damn near as big as she is and clearly fully packed as she walks right up to the man. "Excuse me, Sergeant. Name's Young. I'm a nurse and medic," she tells him briskly. "I'm setting up a triage on the sidewalk across there—" she points. "Gimme three minutes and send any casualties my way."

She pauses. He's a member of the police and he might need to know… "Sir? If people need evac out of windows… I can help." Meg looks uncertain about making that offer, but it's a fire. She has no idea how much weight she can carry, but even if they land hard and break something because someone is too heavy, it's better than burning to death.

Sliding out of the vehicle after Modi, Kaylee’s attention is on the burning building. Lips press tight behind her respirator, as she watches the flames and smoke lift off the building.

Just great.

If Wilson hadn't called her looking for bodies to help with the emergency, Kaylee would have still been out here helping. That didn't dispel the feeling of unease about being powerless, while wrapped in a NYPD/SCOUT vest.

Hearing a familiar voice, Kaylee shifts her attention to Megan, relieved to see the Ferry’s former medic there.

Erin isn’t really listening to the conversation playing out among her colleagues. She’s a bit wrapped up in the fire. Not only was it supposed to be her day off, and not only was there a certain narrative irony in her being called to a building that bore her last name that already wasn’t terribly common in the city, and not only did it feel like a metaphor that this building with a similar name was on fire and her life is, as always, a slight wreck on size eight shoes - no, it was more in the phenomenal essence of the fire itself. She’d seen plenty of fires in her time, been on scene at a pretty big one not six weeks ago, but something about this one feels different. A telepath she is not, so there’s nothing real in her perception in the way some of her SCOUT colleagues might Feel. It was hard to shake that something about this felt like that horrible, awful car fire a few years ago, a boy who had lost control and melted his father to the steering wheel. It wasn’t in that it felt like an evo event or anything, either. Maybe, really, she was just losing her cool and needed a break.

Regardless, she fiddles with the respirator, puffing out one cheek, and then the other, and back to the first, and says nothing. There is some ambient chatter on the radio on her shoulder, but what seems most important is for her to wait for directions - from Modi, from the Powers That Be, from whomever. Fire is beautiful in its absolute will to do whatever it pleases, but this is not great news when there are children involved. How, she wonders idly, does a brick building go up in flames, anyway?

Amid the spread of new faces, Sergeant Modi offers Megan an up and down look followed by a slow raise of his brows. She knows the look, he recognizes her, and from the measure of the expression it’s from the past, not the present. Modi seems at once relieved and concerned with Megan’s presence, but pushes past that feeling with a look to the building. He doesn’t yet notice Tobias or the Tetsujin drone.

First Modi turns to address the other NYPD officers with him. “Gordon, take Thatcher and do a look around the perimeter of the building, see if you can find anyone by the windows that might need our help.”

“As for you,” he says, turning to Megan, “We’re short-handed on EMTs.” Modi surveys the fire as he talks to her, “Your medical expertise is most appreciated.” He then looks back to her, nodding in the affirmative. “But if we need to move people out of the windows…” he considers her for a moment, coming up empty-handed on any stories about the Ferrymen’s nurse having an ability, “Did you bring a ladder?” He wonders.

The crowd gathered around the building numbers close to a hundred people, most of whom are keeping a respectful distance standing in the middle of the street, watching the flames rise. Some of the bystanders look like displaced students, others locals who are trying to assess the situation. Some students stand together, arms around one-another, crying as they watch the dorm go up.

Tobias is quiet as he looks over at the burning building, still indecisive. It isn't his job to help, that's what the police and the fire department are for. And yet… if it was caused by an electrical fire, he might need to take responsibility. "Anything we can do to help? And by we, I mean mainly Rosie over here." Tobias didn't register that particular nickname, so the Tetsujin drone doesn't respond as the maintenance guy gestures towards it beyond the previous order of backing up several feet.

After a second aborted attempt to wipe off his face, he looks from the 'taking charge guy' to the other three that showed up. Oh, they're all cops, or something. "Just to add though, of course, that it isn't fireproof," he's quick to point that out in case they thought it was some sort of super robot.

Another nervous glance at the building and he catches sight of the students crying nearby. Well the fire isn't spreading beyond the building so they're all safe where they are, right? With an effort he looks away from the fire towards the cops and Megan in case they do want help with something.

Megan Young, for all that she keeps a low profile, is a known name in both the present and the past. She looks at Modi squarely and says succinctly, "No. Out of nowhere in my old age I developed the ability to fly." She's not even joking. There's a vaguely exasperated tone to the information, as if she can't quite believe she's saying it out loud. "I'll get the triage set up right there, just bellow if you need me," she tells the man before getting down to business with her giant EMT bag.

As the officers get their marching orders, the redhead notes Kaylee Thatcher's presence and acknowledges the woman's presence with a nod and a brief, if tight, smile. There's work to be done, after all — no time to dilly-dally. For Tobias, she offers, "If the sergeant can't use the help, I can certainly use you — make the rounds and let anyone who has injuries know where I'm setting up, okay?"

Kaylee gives a sharp nod of her head to Modi, before giving Erin a bit of a smile and turning to their task. Moving at a rather quick pace, there is no attempt at banter from the former telepath. In fact, she’s trying to avoid anything that might lead to a discussion about a lack of her ability.

Which would be amazingly helpful right now, but at least she has working eyes that scan the window, especially the ones with smoke billowing out of them. In fact, she gives it her full focus.

“Help!” coughs out a voice distantly, sounding slightly muffled.

With a glance to Erin, Kaylee breaks out into a run for the corner of the building. “Sounds like it’s back here!” She shouts as she takes off.

“Up here! Help!”

Turning towards the sound of multiple voices shouting excitedly, the words getting tripped over each other and blending in their panic. With a quick look up, Kaylee finds three heads leaning out of a smokey window. While smoke billows out around them, the trio have bandana’s held to their mouths.

Without a second thought, Erin sprints after Kaylee. (Modi’s orders, after all! No way that she’s going to get in trouble for Rushing In this time.) The Cop Brain is trying very hard to tune out the unconscious implication of the bandanas and what colors they are or are not; the Memory Brain is trying very hard not to compare this to the bomb threat not six weeks ago and a rather unfortunate building super who had tried to escape with his bedsheets.

“Group of students on the…” she looks up, counts the rows of windows before continuing the recitation into her radio, “…third floor. At least three, leaning out the window. No flames, lots of smoke.”

She turns to Kaylee. “We’re, ah, not supposed to go in and do anything, right? So we should not do anything other than walk the perimeter, right?” Looking up, there are no more visible students on this face of the building, and so she listens, and walks, and were she religious, would pray no more trapped children or other things to go wrong. A fool’s errand, to be sure.

Around the other side of the building, Modi catches the sound of shouting coming from the back. He tenses, turning to look at Megan and Tobias. “Sir, if that machine of yours is even a little fire-resistant, we could use its help to search the ground floor, make sure we aren’t missing anyone who might be suffering from smoke inhalation.”

Modi then glances back to Megan. “Looks like we have two flyers here, then.” He says with a smile, pointing his thumb at himself. “I’m going to get this situation under control here,” he explains with a look to the crowds of onlookers, “and get you set up in the back of our SUV for triage. You know Thatcher, right?” It’s rhetorical, he’s sure of it from the stories. “Can you go see if she and officer Gordon need any assistance? When you get back I should have everything set up for you, but getting the people out of this building is our first priority.”

"That, I can do." Tobias replies quickly to Megan with some relief, eyeing the burning building nervously and looking grateful he wasn't being asked to go in, respirator or no.

On that subject… Tobias looks at the robot hesitantly, then over at Modi. "All right, he's more or less smoke proof, at least. Do you have any extra respirators he can give to anyone he finds? Ah, wait, I might have a couple…" With another eyeball at the burning building, he cautiously approaches the van, opening the back and rummaging around for his backup respirators. He comes out with two more, along with a somewhat battered tablet in a protective case. Slamming the doors shut, he hurries back and holds the extra respirators out to the Tetsujin.

"All right, C3PO, take these and enter the building and search as many rooms as you can. Do not get within two feet of any fire you see. Open every door and ask if anyone needs assistance. If you see a person, give them a mask and help them get out of the building. If there are no more rooms to search, or if the fire is blocking the way in all directions, leave the building by any means necessary." Looking worried, he looks the robot up and down, anticipating it'll get damaged pretty badly. "Hands'll probably be in bad shape." he mutters to himself.

«Understood.» is the reply from the robot at the issued commands. The maintenance worker glances back over to Modi as the robot takes the respirators in one hand and turns towards the building, starting a slow walk with a whirring of servos.

"Uh, anything else?" Tobias asks quickly, belatedly realizing that the police might have better experience with dealing with emergencies like this than him. "If not, I'm gonna go do what the lady asked." He pulls the tablet out from under his arm and boots it up before he goes off.

Megan turns at the same time Modi does, at the sounds of shouting. She looks a little pale — the woman has seen combat many times over, but she's never gone into a burning building nor has she ever used her ability the way she's just about to. "Yes, sir — I'll set my gear down at the triage point and see what I can do," she tells the Sergeant. She puts her words into action as soon as they're spoken, hauling her massive trauma kit to the spot she said she'd set up and then jogging at double-time to catch up with Kaylee and Officer Gordon.

"Guys… point." The older woman has a grim cast to her features. "I hope to God I can actually carry another person. But you better get fire underneath us quick, fast, and in a hurry," she tells the other women.

There's a moment's pause and Megan looks at Kaylee, a wry grin quirking her lips. "You remember all the shit I gave you about being reckless? You have my permission to join Scott in yelling at me later while Huruma glowers, okay?"

Kaylee immediately points upward to the three students leaning out of a third story window belching an awful lot of smoke watching them intently, clearly scared. Turning, Kaylee cups hands around her mouth and shouts, “Don’t worry. We have help coming.”

She left the calling on fire to catch the one with the radio. Which allows her to tease back at Megan. “Why would I give you shit about being reckless?” Kaylee adds with a crooked grin of her own. “I’m more likely to welcome you to the club.” In other words, Kaylee is probably still reckless. “To more clubs than just one, I guess, huh?”

“Yeah, seriously,” Erin comments, “I’m basically the guru of ‘act without thinking.’ Hi, I’m Officer Gordon. Yes, I know.” She says darkly, in regards to the school’s name. “Don’t know if we’ve met, I’m not great at faces, so if I’m reintroducing myself, it’s nothing personal. I probably introduced myself to Thatcher about four times.”

She turns, surveys the scene. It seems that people are still entering and exiting the building, but the smoke is heavy and thanks the NYPD’s budget for her respirator. “What do you need from us right now? What are you about to do?”

"Something really fucking stupid," Megan mutters. Please, God, don't let any of us die. And Megan pulls in a deep breath lifting off the ground to make her way toward the window the students are waving and shouting out of.

It’s remarkable, watching Megan simply alight off the ground like a feather. She drifts more so than she flies, caught on ethereal winds. It’s a graceful, storybook flight, straight out of Peter Pan. Her ascent isn’t much faster than a brisk walk, but it is far less onerous than ascending inside a burning building.

As she floats up the side of the building, Megan reaches the third floor where teenage students of the boarding school are hanging out the window. “Holy shit, she can fly! Guys! C’mon!” The oldest teen says as he hangs out the window, legs dangling inside the only thing keeping him from falling out.

The teen, a round-faced blonde kid with tears in his eyes, grips on to the window sill with one hand, the other gripping the frame at the side. “The fire’s outside our door!” He says with breathless urgency. Beyond the window, Megan can see three more students, all in their mid teens, huddled together as close to the window as they can get.

Three floors down, Tobias’ tablet-guided Tetsujin drone marches through the open front doors. Onboard camera and microphone systems relay the situation inside the ground floor of the academy, which is choked with smoke, though no visible fire in the lobby. The Tetsujin’s onboard heuristic systems indicate job-related data in bounded boxes over in-world objects. Presently, power outlets, circuit breakers, light fixtures, and…

…sprinkler systems.

Checking that his volume is up on the tablet, Tobias begins to notice an absence of something in the feed. Water. The heuristic systems are tracking the presence of sprinkler systems through visual recognition, but none of them appear to be activated. At first a wave of nausea runs through Tobias as he thinks about the blackout in the building, wonders if it’s somehow connected.

When the first sprinkler head comes into view, the electrical system heuristics picks it up. The onboard computer identifies the sprinkler head as a dry pipe electronic fire suppression system. But nowhere along the ceiling does Tobias see any wet pipe backups, just the electronic suppression systems. It immediately comes to reason, then, that the blackout exacerbated the fire by preventing the electricity-dependent sprinkler systems from firing.

None of it changes what he has to do now though.

As the drone continues through the lobby, Tobias guides it from door to door, making sure the ground floor is clear. But, thankfully, it looks like everything below where the fire is burning has already been evacuated. With that, the drone continues its sweep by turning to the stairs up.

“Oh, goddamnit.” Tobias’ steps slow as he takes in the details from his tablet. No sprinklers, nothing. Well, he already knew that there wasn’t any power in the building, though he wasn’t able to figure out why. At least with no power, that means there wasn’t a chance of electrical fire from inside the building, but… “What moron designed this place, anyway? Meh, probably sold the contract to the lowest bidder and they cut corners, shoddy work.”

Still muttering angrily to himself, the rest unintelligible, he looks up as he approaches a group of scared residents staring at the building on fire. Ah, right, he did get voluntold to go do something, even as he’s busy watching the Tetsujin go through the first floor. “Anyone hurt, go over that way, there’s medical setting up, also cops. Tell them if anyone you know is still inside,” he tells the people huddled outside brusquely. “Spread the word, go on.” He gestures in the direction Megan had said she was setting up.

Then, that over and done with, he starts heading for the next group, but he’s too busy watching the tablet again as the robot approaches the stairs. “Bender, go up the stairs now, check it for integrity. Can’t have it collapsing,” he tells the robot through the tablet.

He looks at the building now, then at the external electrical supply. Well, if there’s no power being fed to the building, he can possibly do something about that. He takes a moment to look at the surrounding area to see if any nearby buildings have power. Surely, even if they wouldn’t be of much help at this point, sprinklers being on wouldn’t hurt.

Megan's voice is calm and controlled with decades of long practice. "I can only do this one at a time — do not rush at me," the strawberry-blonde orders in her best ER Head Nurse voice. "I will not leave anyone behind. Stuff wet bath towels around the door and stay low."

She reaches out both of her hands to the girl already in the window, as if to gather her close into an embrace. "Hold on, and act like we're swimming — don't choke me." Megan's not entirely sure how much additional weight she can take. But she is damn determined to get the kids out as safe as she can.

Well, this is certainly an introduction, Erin thinks, shooting a look at Kaylee as she tilts her head to the right and speaks into her radio. “Gordon here. We may need a safety net around the back of the building. Megan is flying some kids out, but who knows how long this will hold.”

If Kaylee notices Erin’s look it doesn’t show, as her attention is fully on the FLYING?!? woman above them. The surprise the former telepath feels is barely contained, having never really remembered the woman ever having an ability.

The sound of several pairs of boots, making their way towards them, finally pulls her attention from the floating woman. Kaylee offers Erin a worried look over what’s going on above before moving to wave the firemen their way, arms waving them to set up under the scene above. “Hurry!” She’ll even rush to help them set it up, as she sure as hell didn’t want to have to explain to Scott what happened if Megan is hurt.

Inside the building, the Tetsujin determines that the stairs themselves appear to be fine, but heat readings show the fire is close as it rounds the landing of the second floor. Its head begins to turn a little farther still, though, sensors reading through the side of the hall opposite the intense burn down the hall and seeing…

Another heat signature. Less bright than the flickering, expanding flame, but also more consistent. The Tetsujin then reports while still considering that second, human ball of a heatsource, «Stairway secure.»

The room faces the other direction the officers and EMT ran off to. Sergeant Modi, behind Tobias as he observes all this from his tablet outside, is in the process of trying to shepherd a gaggle of kids further away from the building. He turns his head slightly to pick up the crackle of his radio with a small frown, looking momentarily in the direction the other officers went.

Modi looks down at the kids, blankets from their bedrooms drawn around their shoulders.

Tobias approaches the apartment’s transformer and checks to make sure the lock was still in place, then pulls out a ring of keys. He sifts through them, then tries a couple, finding one that worked. Just as he opens the door labeled ‘HIGH VOLTAGE’, the «stairway secure» comes over the tablet, and he returns his attention to the screen. What he sees there causes him to start cursing again and he slams the door shut. Shit, there’s still a person in there! “Ah, officer, officer.” He hurries back to where Modi was, and offers him the tablet showing where the Tetsujin is reading the heat signatures. ”There’s apparently a person stuck in the building here!” he stammers out. “Should I have it break down the door?” He’s not familiar with firefighting techniques beyond using a fire extinguisher, but surely if someone’s trapped in a building, having a way out would be best, right?

“It’s on the second floor, the fire seems to be on the other side of the building.” he looks at him expectantly, waiting for someone who knows what they’re doing to give orders. As he does so, he looks back over at the transformer, itching to go investigate it. “The sprinkler system works off the power grid, which is currently off in the building. I was going to see if I could turn them on. I’m a maintenance technician.” is added after a moment, just to make sure that he’s viewed as someone who knows what he’s doing, rather than ‘some guy who wants to turn the power on’.

Modi looks back and forth between the kids and Tobias, a third glance spared for the transformer. Finally he nods. "Hey kids," he says firmly, a warmth to his voice still somehow in it. "My fellow officers could really use your blankets to help rescue others. They're off that way. Can you bring them over, deputy?"

The kids blink, it taking a moment to sink in what's being asked. Then one, enthusiastically, takes to the idea of being deputized. "This way, this way!" she shouts, pulling one of the boys by the wrist as they go off.

Modi turns back to Tobias. "Getting any kind of fire suppression going might buy just enough people more time to get out." He gestures with one hand in the direction that Tetsujin went off in, consulting the screen one last time. "That way, right?" he asks. It's rhetorical. His feet have already left the ground, arms flattening to his side as he flies off for that side of the building.

On the opposite side of the building, the girl Megan takes from the window clings to her as tightly as a scared kitten— trying not to fall, but also trying not to cause that they fall. She holds on with a frightened whimper while the boys crowd the windowsill behind, anxious for their own turn.

That's when three more kids come sprinting out of the dark, their bedclothes streamering behind them like oversized capes. "Officer Modi said you need blankets!" the girl in the lead excitedly clamors, looking between Kaylee and Erin both with wide, appreciative eyes. She swings the comforter off her back and offers it up, both hands up. The boys who came with her pull a sheet and a second comforter off their own shoulders.

Grateful the girl is listening as well as she can, Megan wraps her arms tightly around the girl and slips both legs around one of the the girl's. "Okay. Breathe for me, kiddo," she murmurs. Offering a reassuring smile to the others in the window, she promises, "I'll be right back. I promise." She can't promise the outcomes for patients but she can definitely promise that unless she's incapacitated, she will be back.

She can't see precisely where she wants to go, and she's holding about twice her usual weight in the air. She's not exactly an expert at what she can do. It shows in the way she bobbles on her slow descent. But she has a firm hold on the young woman, and she's murmuring reassuringly in the girl's ear. "I've got you. You're okay. We're okay."

Erin sees Megan and the girl struggling. She privately doesn’t feel good about this - she has never seen this happening before, and as used to the whole superpowers thing as she has become in the past decade-plus, she still gets nervous when new ones appear in such tense situations. (By “appear,” we here mean “to Erin’s eyes.” Evidently Megan has done this at least once.)

“Oi! Peter Pan! Wendy!” Erin shouts up, trying her best to sound reassuring, “We’ve got some blankets down here to catch you!” In hindsight, this probably sounds less comforting than faithless. Nevertheless, she grabs the two corners of the short side of the twin XL sheet - the other half being held by a teen boy who definitely just came from this building - and steps back, stretching it out as best she can as a makeshift safety net underneath the flying mass of human body. The conventions of physics just seem to change by the day.

Kaylee turns from the firefighters she had been waving over to see the students with blankets. There is a flicker of uncertainty, to use blankets was dangerous, but they needed something right then and there so they needed to take the risk.

So leaving the firefighters, Kaylee takes a corner and looks up with concern.

The recently-arrived firefighters retreat after Kaylee stops waving them down, but only for a moment. In the absolute chaos of the multiple-building fire, they too conscript deputies— and a staff member and an older student come to bring over a long ladder. "Officers," the woman calls ahead. "Maybe this can help, too?"

The single fire engine that's arrived from other like fires continues to silently rotate its lights, casting a red glow in all the shadows the flames don't occupy.

Around the side of the building, in front of the transformer, Tobias opens the box again to look within, and properly sees the issue. The neutral inside the unit is visibly tampered with. In laymen's: a line needed to complete the circuit between building and transformer is snapped. It's not as easy as reconnecting what's been mysteriously undone— as the neutrals have been hacked, ungracefully.

But they're physically only an arm's reach apart, the line needing funneled back to the grid and the place it needs connected to complete the circuit. So close, yet so far. The box practically hums with the built-up energy here not being grounded out.

"Well shit." Tobias scowls when he sees the damage done inside the transformer. Sparing a glance to his tablet, he takes a moment to issue an order. "B-9, open the door, use force if necessary." Extreme circumstances, hopefully they'll acknowledge it was an emergency. "Announce your presence and tell them to evacuate. If they need a respirator give it to them. Assist if needed, there may be a…" He pauses a moment, because it was definitely a wtf moment when people started randomly flying off. "…A flying man at the window. Open it if needed, as well." The Tetsujin's AI should be able to handle unlocking it as well.

Setting the tablet on the ground where he can keep an eye on it, but not where he's immediately touching it, he returns his attention back to the sabotaged wires. "Hmmph." Before he touches anything, he pulls out his phone and snaps a few pictures, getting good shots of the damage done to show to interested parties.

Once that's taken care of, he sets his phone on the ground next to the tablet, along with his toolbelt and keys. Thus divested of all electronics and metal items, he reaches over and grabs first the disconnected wiring, then braces himself and grabs the live one. Rather than grounding it, he redirects it from one hand to the other. As he does so, he checks the Tetsujin's cameras on the tablet to see if that fixed the power issue to the sprinkler system.

In point of fact, Megan is completely winging it. Her descent is ungainly with the extra body — she can't see where she's going and she's entirely focused on simply keeping herself and her passenger stable. She's physically strong enough to hold the girl, after years of managing patients in hospital beds, but she still isn't entirely clear on the mechanics of how she flies. She has only gotten passable on how to maneuver, and in this case it's rather like going from driving a compact car to a school bus.

Slow and steady, however, wins the race, right? So that is what the redhead does — she keeps her descent as steady as she can. If she looks somewhat like a drunken bumblebee, well … people will be alive, right??

It seems to take forever before they get low enough that Meg is confident a fall won't kill them, and the more comfortable she is, the more their path steadies. "Look out below!" she warns as they make their way to the ground.

Leaving the ladder for the firefighters, Erin looks up and watches, attempting to hide her apprehension, as Meg and her passenger (they ride and they ride) seem to be heading, on invisible theater wires, to the ground. She and the teen do a sort of constant two-step to keep underneath the trajectory until the two get close enough to land, or fall, safely.

“Sarge, the eagle has landed. I do not know if she’ll have the strength to go back up again. Direction, please?”

Watching Megan has Kaylee’s heart in her throat with anxiety and her fingers tightening around the sheet she’s helping hold onto. It was clear just how new those powers were to her fellow former Ferry. When Erin calls for guidance, Kaylee only affords her a side-eyed glance before going back to her scrutiny of the savior of the day.

“How’re you feeling, Megan?” Kaylee asks once the woman has landed, “Got anymore in you or should we look at a plan B?”

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," the girl who had been clinging to Megan whispers as they make it to the ground, stepping away on unsteady fawnlegs and looking with wide eyes back up to the window where the others wait. She's still in too much of a state to do anything else, but looks from the window back to her saviors in the form of the flying medic and the police officers ready to catch them if they fell.

One of the girl's friends runs up to her side, murmuring in a hush, "You see them? They're Slice!"

She just nods. "Yeah. Yeah, and they're gonna get the guys out, too." The girl suddenly looks back up anxiously to the open window, where the boys have started shouting updates about the warmth of the door. It's hot.

One of the school's live-in administrators approaches the officers with the ladder the firemen handed off, looking between them. "Think this could help split the difference?" He seems eager to jump in wherever or however directed.

Megan releases the girl as soon as they hit the ground, stumbling just a little herself. She can't tell if it's a weight limitation or something else, but it took a hell of a lot of focus to keep their descent speed under control. Usually she flies at what she'd equate to a fast-walk speed. Coming down felt like the equivalent of standing on the brakes of a sled on a downhill slide. Blue eyes shift to the admin as they offer a ladder and she looks relieved. "That will definitely help." If she can cut the distance, she can go back up more often.

Looking at Kaylee and Erin, the former nurse has a subtly grim expression. "I'm going back up." She promised those kids. Erin can wait for instructions all she wants — Meg isn't bound by whatever orders are given. Meeting Kaylee's gaze, the former telepath doesn't need to hear the redhead's mind; it's perfectly evident that it's a struggle, that the power is really damn new, and that there will be a cost of some kind. It doesn't matter. Megan will pay it. "Get the ladder up as high as you can."

Her face turns back to the window and she lifts off the ground again. She can't make herself go any faster than she is — she's not a speedy flier. But she looks a lot steadier than she did coming down. The long seconds it takes to get up there should hopefully give the ladder time to get in position. To the boys in the window, she raps out instructions.

"One at a time — I know you're scared, but I can't handle more. I'm going to bring the rest of you down to a ladder they're setting up so I can get back faster. Okay?" Stern blue eyes on college boys. Follow orders, you'll be fine. The tone of calm, cool, in-control generally works wonders. "Next person, come out and let me hold you from behind — it'll make getting on the ladder easier." She holds position at the window as the next one climbs out, reaching to wrap her arms around his chest under his arms and both of her legs around one of his.

Not only does Kaylee know that look, she’d be the same way in Megan’s situation. It’s part of the reason they had been Ferry, at least on her part. A desire and willingness to do what was needed to help.

That ladder is a welcome addition. Taken at Megan’s direction with a nod and a thank you. “Keep the blankets out and tight, just in case,” she tells those manning it. Kaylee doesn’t say why, but instinct tells her if the fire gets too much, some of those kids might get desperate.

“Gordon? Help me keep this steady?” her head tipping towards the latter. “I’ll go up enough to help guide feet to ladder rungs.”

Erin watches this, these unspoken interactions, and suspects she is missing something other than the obvious telepathy powers that float around in the world of the evolved, but dismisses it. People have histories, and it is neither her job, nor the time or place, to ask or figure out what the subtext is. She is simply glad to have someone here who can help the students in a more practical way than her own; running through walls is dead useful, but not if there might be a raging fire on the other side that could dead consume-a-person-instantly. This fire seems different from some others she’s seen recently.

“10-4,” she affirms, steadying the ladder. She is no longer waiting for Sergeant Modi’s instructions. Kaylee and Megan have clearly been in this rodeo before.

The answer from Modi isn't forthcoming because he's a little busy. On the opposite side of the building he's engaged in a flying rescue attempt of his own, trying to open a second-story window from the outside to get to the figure curled up in a ball on the ground by the bed. He's banged on the glass and didn't get an answer.

"Hey! I'm out here to help!" He worries the person inside has fallen unconscious, and worries doubly about his ability to slip through the window and drag them out without injuring them, if it came down to it. Still, Modi reluctantly reaches for his firearm.

At the same time, the Tetsujin Tobias ordered to help has squared up with the door that won't open easily. With a bang, the door lock is mechanically kicked and rendered useless. The lights in the hall flicker eerily behind it as the teen in the room slumps to one side in its direction.

And the building sprinklers up and down the hall ignite, so to speak, dousing the halls in a sudden downpour of water.

The robot makes its way to the window to open it without needing to break the glass, allowing Modi to squeeze in and retrieve the smoke-dazed teen. All of this Tobias can more or less see through the screen as he channels the electricity directly through his body, a burning tang building from the sheer energy running through him.

But it's working. The fire alarms are screaming inside the building now, sprinklers are active, and some floors light up again, providing sight for anyone else still trying to escape.

It's a simple matter to keep the electricity flowing where he wants it, and so Tobias focuses most of his attention on what the Tetsujin is doing. It's with relief that he sees the sprinklers coming on and hears the alarms, which means this was indeed the source of the power outage. He'll have to bring up the apparent sabotage once the crisis is over.

When the Tetsujin opens the window for Modi, Tobias nods. "All right, C3PO, back out into the hallway, let's keep looking. Remember to check the stairs for integrity." He's not sure how high up the Tetsujin will be able to go, but that was already one person they assisted with. Per a previous command, the Tetsujin hands over the spare respirator to Modi due to the possible unconscious state of the victim, then backs out of the room.

The daisychain of rescuers outside the building, retrieving students from the fourth floor continues apace. A second student is hovered low enough to make his way to the ladder, and the third comes down.

"Thanks— thanks," he stammers out to Megan as he takes hold of the ladder to make it down to Kaylee and Erin, one careful step at a time as gravity resumes its course for him. She places a hand on the top rung, centering herself, then begins the last ascent.

When Megan resumes her rise again, careful against a building breeze, she lifts her eyes up to the last student. She notes only absently that the lights have turned on when she comes eye-level with the third floor window again. There's a desk by the window, some kind of heavier electronic on it. She catches sight of the first spark, hears the pop of something dangerous, but isn't moving fast enough when she sees the signs of something dangerous building up. To use the window to propel herself would require drifting closer to it and danger, and she has only a moment.

Her gut sinks. The spewing battery sparks grow and start spraying out the window in a spume headed for her midsection. Megan wills herself to move, though, and she feels the world blur around her.

To anyone looking up, Megan has blinked over ten feet away from where she was in the space of a moment. Once more, her hand touches the top of the ladder, and she looks up to see the sparks she's no longer about to be burned by. A self-conscious pat to her shirt swipes away where a single bit of singe is smothered out before it can spread.

That's new. That's definitely new.

Disoriented by the sudden shift in perspective, Megan stares at the building from ten feet away in shock, one hand cradling her midsection where she will, luckily, just have a little burn like bacon spatter instead of being dead.

Holy SHIT.

Wide blue eyes jump from her hand on the ladder to the window where the sparks are — where the kid was — and the woman launches herself off that ladder toward the building again trying to find the last teen. "Hey!" she shouts toward the window. She has no idea how she did what she did and she doesn't have time to ponder it, worried that the pop and subsequent explosion may have killed her last evacuee. "Kid, you there?? Get to the other window! Hey, you okay?!"

Waiting for the student to step off the ladder so she can scramble back up, Kaylee’s been keeping an eye on Megan. Worried about her pushing herself too much, but also the shock of the older woman’s new found ability was still bouncing around her in head.

Back in place midway up the ladder, Kaylee turns to the other former Ferry just in time to see Megan, suddenly, displaced from one point to the other. Rendered speechless, her jaw simply drops at the sight of it. “Shit. Are you okay?” Kaylee asks Megan when the woman’s patting at embers pulls her focus back to the crisis at hand.

Erin throws up her hands as the inferno bursts, and feels herself readying a phase just in case, even though, realistically, she’s not sure she could phase the fire into something less dense, less hot, less dangerous enough to pass safely through. I guess it’s been long enough that this is an instinct now, she notes dully, in the background, as she puts one hand back on the ladder and uses the other to guide the student down.

Unaware that this blipping, this phasing through space, is new, Erin looks up at Kaylee, uncertain of what to do. It seems a bit as though there’s too many cooks in this particular kitchen, but she can’t leave the ladder, either, on such precarious and moist grass. (Had it rained recently?) She wonders if she shouldn’t phase through the building to guide out anyone who might be finding their way down the stairs, but knows Modi wouldn’t approve of it: her post is here, and her life is valuable. FDNY is on the scene, and she is not that, much to her chagrin.

It's hard to tell what's right sometimes. What's enough in chaotic situations like these.

"I'm okay!" a shaky voice calls from above. "I'm still here!" The boy above comes back to the window again after the flash of sparks from below.

But sometimes you get that validation. Turning back, Erin can see a younger man shepherding two more students out of one of the building's fire exits. He gasps to another of the RAs on making it out into the open air, "I didn't see or hear anyone else. I was up on the fifth floor, shouted and didn't get a reply. I— think that's everyone? These were the last two missing for me."

The clusters of gathered students are numerous out here. The stragglers are few, and being rescued as they speak. Modi's shape flies overhead, a student held in his arms as he heads for the fire truck that's pulled up. Once he has that direction and sets the teen down, finally he can reach for his radio.

«I saw she's heading back up. If she needs support, I can be there soon. As for the rest, there's a Yamagato robot scouting inside for others,» his voice crackles. «We might be good, depending on what it finds.»

They've done everything they can here— now it was a matter of keeping those they've rescued safe after the fact, working with the school to arrange a place for them to sleep and recover after this night. That could prove to be the more arduous battle for them yet.

Tobias, around the other side of the building, the power of the city grid coursing through him and back to the burning building to grant the fire suppression full energy, has eyes still on the situation inside. His many-named Tetsujin is working on weaving its way around and up the stairwell, sensors active and ready. There aren't any signatures like the human-shaped one found before, but as it rounds the top floor, the heat of the flames in the halls are plenty present in view.

Still keeping his dangerous grip on the cables, Tobias scans the readouts, narrowing his eyes. As the robot approaches the third floor and the sensors read fire, fire, and nothing but fire, Tobias shakes his head. "B-9, that's all we can do now. Return to the van, and avoid damage wherever possible." There's always the risk of damage to the unit, and Tobias isn't sure Yamagato would be willing to replace it if it got destroyed. Plus, he likes this one.

"No further signs of life, but the top floor is on fire." Hopefully there's no signs of life within those flames, though if there were, there shortly won't be. That over and done with now, Tobias keeps one eye on the robot, and the other eye on inspecting the transformer, narrowing his eyes. Once the police aren't as busy, he'll try and report the signs of tampering. But first, the robot needs to be safely out of the building, and Tobias isn't sure how long he needs to hold the cables.

Megan makes a soft sound of relief as the last boy calls out and she moves to grab him the same way she did the other large teen. But Erin and Kaylee can see that this is taking a major toll on her — they're coming down too quickly and they're going to hit pretty hard. Not deadly hard, but it's likely someone's going to break something without an assist.

Watching from her place on the ladder, Kaylee can see Megan’s flagging strength before she even reaches the last kid. With a lurch of fear in her stomach, she knows that it would be too precarious for the ladder. So she grabs the sides of it and slides the short distance to the ground, while shouting, “Blanket! Stretch it out!”

Hopping off the ladder Kaylee grabs at the tail of one of the blankets, looking up at Megan with worry.

Erin sees it too, cop senses kicking in, seeing one move before it happens, moving in tandem with Kaylee to stretch out the blanket for their falling comrade heading at nowhere-near-terminal-but-still-high-velocity for the ground which, while soft with mud, is not soft for crashing into. “We’ve got you!”

The broken descent stops the near-freefall of persons down from above, a tangle of limbs and blanket happening as they hit ground level. Without Kaylee and Erin's support, the kids alone wouldn't have been able to be effective in breaking the fall. The teenage boy who Megan had retrieved stares up at the sky for a moment, bewildered, and lets out an incredulous laugh as soon as he gets his wind back. He looks between the cops responsible for guiding his friends to safety, and the samaritan who got them out the window in the first place.

"Primal," he laughs breathlessly and starts to come to his feet.

Wordlessly, Modi lands on his feet at a jog back where he started after having flown back around the side of the building, his head turning to see where it is Tobias has gone. His brows arc up toward his turban when he sees the electrician elbow-deep in the transformer, and he turns back to the building. A moment is taken to confer with him before he hikes his radio up from his shoulder again.

«Team, robot's reporting the building is clear. We need to widen the perimeter, make sure we keep everyone a safe distance back. We've got an ETA on more engines headed this way, but… there's nearly a dozen other places going up right now, according to the firefighters I talked to.»

It speaks to what Tobias suspected in his investigation.

«This isn't sparks catching, spreading from those wildfires…»

«Somebody did this. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for clues as to who.»

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