United We Stand, Part III


ash_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif gabriel_icon.gif gael2_icon.gif griffin_icon.gif knox_icon.gif ling_icon.gif melissa3_icon.gif teen-mika_icon.gif nadira_icon.gif oleander_icon.gif peter_icon.gif rickham2_icon.gif rupe2_icon.gif thalia_icon.gif

Scene Title United We Stand, Part III
Synopsis Following up on intelligence offered by Knox, Melissa leads a team into the heart of Midtown to track down and exterminate Rupert Carmichael, but her team winds up unknowingly playing into another man's design…
Date November 7, 2010

The Ruins of Midtown

The ruins of Midtown Manhattan are a somber place, a tomb for the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives in an instant of atomic fire nearly four years ago to the day.

Crumbling skyscrapers lean precariously on shattered foundations further from ground zero. Empty streets of broken pavement bristle with dead grass growing up between the fissures. Brown leaves blow through the dusty streets with the same frequency that trash does.

Burned out husks of automobiles lay warped and blackened on the roadside, tires burned off by nuclear fire long ago. Beyond Midtown, the lights of New York City shine brightly, and just a few blocks from what was once Broadway, the memorial beacon at ground zero shines up like the blade of a sword into the clear night's sky. Even if the light pollution prevents stars from being seen, it is a guiding light all its own, or perhaps a warning light like that of a lighthouse.

"Caution, dangerous rocks ahead."

The air is freezing out here, twenty-five degrees farenheit and whipping through the skeletal framework of the derelict buildings, howling between broken teeth of glass and framework of iron and concrete.

The Richard Rodgers Theater once stood as one of many performance-arts theaters on the Broadway strip. Now its dilapidated marquee is cracked and hanging at a crooked angle by splintering metal cabling. Missing a few letters, the marquee is still recognizable as having once said RING OF FIRE. The last broadway show to have been played at the theater before the bomb, unfortunately ironic.

It is at this crumbling intersection outside of the decaying exterior of the theater that three people are waiting in the shadow of a slouching skyscraper. The button-down black, denim jacket that Peter Petrelli wears matches the black of his jeans, sated in the shadow of the leaning skyscraper's stoop, the bright red of the scarf wound around his throat standing out in the dark.

Griffin Mihangle and Ashley Williams are nearby, waiting for the arrival of the others that Melissa Pierce will undoubtedly have gathered for this surgical strike against Messiah's former leadership. He's hoping — counting on — a victory here today.

He's hoping that one death tonight, a hundred deaths tonight, can spare the lives of thousands more in the days to come.

His included.

Dressed in her black 'working' clothes - cargo pants, shirt, knit cap, ankle length coat - Melissa Pierce makes her way through Midtown, along with those who have come with her. She's got pistols, loaded and ready to go, along with extra clips, but perhaps more importantly, two small darts filled with precious negation drugs. A bullet to the brain may be preferable, but negation certainly can't hurt.

She slows as she approaches the theater, eyes narrowed as she studies the building, as though just waiting for Rupert and his crew to jump out at any second and start fighting. "He in there?" she murmurs when she gets near the trio, even though her gaze remains on the building.

In Melissa's company is a small, pale woman dressed in a functional combination of wool and leather. Eileen Ruskin's petite silhouette is immediately recognizable to those who know her, and deceptive in appearance to those who do not — although the last few years have aged her face, making it difficult to assign a number to a smooth mouth that rarely smiles and dark brows shaped into a rueful expression, she is still only half an inch above the five foot mark with a fragile frame and soft hands.

If it were not for her ability, she would might not be here, not only because it's difficult for her to physically compete, but because she's blind. "Yes," she says to Melissa, her voice quiet, cautious. "Knox and Rickham are with him, and three others I don't recognize. One of them a little girl."

While it doesn't show outwardly - the expression on Gael's face is as grave as ever, especially during the past few months of personal upheaval - on the inside, he's bristling with energy. The Ferrymen are more than welcome to their defensive role; here, at least in theory, there's a ''problem'' waiting to be attacked.

He's wearing blue jeans, sneakers, and a plain dark gray T-shirt with a darker border along the neck and sleeves, the better to hide in shadows when they reach their target. The lines are broken at the hip on both sides, a handgun at one side— and a cheap MP3 player at the other, selected for volume rather than fidelity. It's harder to persuade someone with your ability when they can't hear you.

At Melissa's feet swirls with a familiar black mist, Ling Chao's smoke form spiraling out in front of Melissa and between her and Peter, slowly solidifying into normal human form, dressed in the very same catsuit she had been nights previous - the only one she owns, unfortunately, so the few bits of damage and tearing it sports will have to do. A knife if visibly latched in place to a sheath strapped her her left arm, a bit of a glower on her face as she looks back at Eileen.

Truth be told, she's a little glad she didn't end up needing to recon. Melissa's friends have their benefits.

"A little girl?" she repeats, an eyebrow raised as she looks back at Eileen. "What in the world…" She narrows her eyes, looking back at Peter. "You wouldn't happen to have any idea who that could be, would you?" She doesn't sound accusing, but certainly unhappy.

"Perhaps she is a hostage." The voice is Nadira's, arms folded calmly over her chest as she glances between the various members of the group. Griffin gets a particular smile, but she glances expectantly towards the building. "I am not sure which is worse… her being a hostage, or her being some secret weapon."

Ash has a duffle bag on his shoulder, a rather large military style duffle, and from the occasional clink of metal from within, there's weapons aplenty for when the action starts. Ash is dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, though the collar of his body suit covers his neck up to just beneath his jaw. His mask though is no where to be seen at the moment. As they wait outside Ash kneels down, setting the duffel down and begins to pull things out of it, some webbing, which is wrapped around his upper body once he pulls his t-shirt off and stuffs it into a side pocket on the duffel, the netting put on over the armored body glove. The weapons at the top of the bag are quickly tucked away into the netting, two .45 pistols, two khukri's, numbers small items. Then he looks up and around at everyone. "I've got weapons for anyone who needs or wants one." He pulls his AR-15 out, and two drum mags for it, slinging it on his shoulder and tucking the drum mags into the netting on his back and sides.

Griffin is bundled up fairly well, with a heating pad saved from Abby wrapped around his knee, beneath a pair of thick jeans and a thick wool coat. He doesn't care so much for style tonight— not with what is to come. The man stands near Peter, leaning heavily against his cane, a dangerously calm look on his face. While he does smile to Nadira, his attention is focused on the building.

Beneath the wool coat, he has the remainder of his guns, all six of them, restocked with ammo in his vest holsters. He doesn't say much, apparently in the mood to be the strong silent type this evening. He does, however, glance toward Ash. "Got an extra pair of knives, perhaps some ammo?" The man offers a small grin.

"There's no kids in Messiah," Peter comments as he pushes himself up from the stoop. When he passes by Griffin, there's a nod back to a backpack on the steps beside where he was sitting. "I packed some extra handguns and magazines, I won't be needing them now." Which is to say, everyone else brought the weaponry for him.

Walking from the shadow of the slouching skyscraper, Peter rakes a hand back through his shaggy and unkempt hair, offering a look over to Ash, then Griffin, before reaching out to lay his hand on Griffin's arm. A discharge of golden-white light pulses between Griffin's arm and Peter's hand as he augments his genetic code, switching out the ability to shift and change into smoke with that of Griffin's more destructive telekinetic appendages.

"Perry's up topside, I gave him one of Ash's scoped rifles. I dunno if he knows how to shoot it, but he said he'd be our eyes and ears. He's got some home-made explosives," Peter nods to the top of a record store just down the street, then looks back to the group. "He'll be watching for people coming out…"

One thing, one person, is still missing from this equation.

But asking where's Gabriel might be a bit tactless. For all Peter knows, he's right behind him. "Off the top of my head, we're still missing Montague, Rickham, Knox, Oleander, Thalia, and Riggs… whoever else Rupert might've hired and not told me about too." That there's a child in there worries Peter endlessly.

"We'll have t'be careful, we can't just go in there guns blazing and killing everyone. Most of them probably don't even know they're being manipulated. God knows Knox was trying to help us, maybe he'll still be on our side. How're we getting in there and handling this?"

Melissa grimaces at the mention of a kid, but she nods to Eileen. "Keep an eye on them? Let us know if they add anyone or if anyone disappears?" She looks to Griffin and Peter, considers for a moment, then digs in her pocket and comes out with one of two of the darts. "With a lack of a sharpshooter, our best bet of hitting Rupert is with a telekinetic. Unless one of you happens to have a Hiro in your back pocket. Unlikely."

But the choice of which to give it to is harder. One may be seriously mindfucked, and the other is an unknown. She sighs softly, then offers it out to Griffin. "You see Rupert — and make sure it's Rupert — then you shove this right up his ass. It's a negation dart. He can't make us attack each other if he doesn't have his ability. To quote Blade Trinity, make it count."

She looks to Peter then. "Gabriel'll be here. I gave him a call, gave him the location. I hate not going in without him, but I don't see how we can sit here and wait endlessly." She tugs out her own MP3 player, and though the headphones are put in place, it's not turned on, yet.

"Eileen, can you give us the layout inside? Where people are? If the girl's restrained, being physically held by one of them? If we know where they are, maybe we can get Rupe negated and the girl out relatively quickly and with as few casualties as possible." She glances around at the others, brow furrowed a bit, and she mutters, something about Sasha. "If there are only six people inside, including the girl, we could very well just pair off. With Eileen coordinating us, and helping Perry be lookout."

"I can't coordinate at a distance without leaving my body to do it," the Englishwoman says, "but if that's what you're asking — I will." Wings are whispers in the theater's interior, and Eileen is silent for several long moments as her barn owl completes its sweep and swings up to land at the highest point available to it. "Carmichael, Knox and the girl are on the stage. Rickham and an unidentified male are in the front row. There's another woman on the balcony.

"If you go through the lobby, the stairs will take you straight up. He's left it unguarded."

Gael glances back and forth between the others as the situation is laid out, frowning at the thought of a girl being anywhere near all of this. Worse yet, what if Rupert's already brainwashed her into joining his side? Children tend not to be known for their restraint.

"About damn time we got some kind of break on this case," he mutters under his breath, looking down to double-check his sidearm. "I can lay down cover fire while the special-weapons people get into position." One of him, one of— well. Several of them. Is he the only one on this mission without an ability to throw into the pot?

A look is given back to Melissa at the mention of additional ammunition. Ling is woefully in capable of carrying a gun while in her smoke form, so it falls to someone else to carryone for her. That job is going to be Melissa's, the Chinese woman motioning over to the backpack in the hopes that Melissa catches her meaning.

Arms crossing, she looks over to Eileen once more, then to Peter. "The fact that they are already gathered up in one room worries me," she admits, scowling a bit at the empath. "There is only so much sneaking we can do, with so many of us, and the longer we stand here, the more likely they are to figure us out." Her body mecomes a bit more ethereal, silent steps forward taken. "I would offer to go in now, see if I can nutralise someone the moment everyone else arrives, but I worry they might expect such a thing."

"I am still wary of this girl. Even if she is a hostage of some sort, she very well may have an ability which Rupert plans to use as a weapon." Nadira's voicing some of what everyone's been thinking. She moves towards the duffel bag, finding herself a knife of some sort. She prefers hand-to-hand, but she's not sure what it will come down to when it does come down to it. She glances to Ling. "She's right. If they're all gathered up there… they might be waiting for something."

Ash has a grin on his lips at Peter's question of how to handle things. "See, that my friend, is something I've got somewhat covered." He moves a few weapons out of the way, and comes up with tranquilizer guns. Nothing as fancy as the company's, but still tranq guns. "They're made for putting big dogs and such down. Nicked them from an animal control place. Figured while they might not be strong enough for a human, it will definitley disorientate anyone that they hit, and it won't kill them. Not sure if two will or not, but it's a non lethal way to deal with the people who's minds Rupert has fucked." He lays out a half dozen of the tranq guns with 6 spare darts per gun. "Only person I'm really worried about is Rickham. I have no idea how we're going to stop him if we have to." He shakes his head sadly, then looks around a bit at everyone around him.

He looks over to Melissa as she comes out with negation darts, an eyebrow sliding high up his forhead, but no questions. He just grunts softly and goes back to digging around in his duffle bag, situating things. Grenades are pulled out, compact ones, not the big army style frags grenades, smaller ones, designed to be used in buildings and not do too much structural damage. He murmurs something about the sweet gear the national guard carried, which would indicate he picked it up during the raid on the hospital. Eyes pull over towards Gael as the man calls it all a case, a few blinks coming from Ash. "Case?" He tilts hsi head to the side, eyes narrowing slightly at the reference from the man. Ash straightens up, and undoes his jeans, pulling them off and tucking them into a side pocket, leaving him in only his armored body glove, now looking much like the ninja he was accused of being by Parkman, though curiously he's not yet pulled out his normal mask and goggles. They appear to be absent tonight. He lays out several handguns, and a few assault rifles for anyone that may want them, with spare ammo, and the tranq guns there for people as well. One of the tranq guns is cooped up for himself, a dart slid into it's barrel, and the spares for that gun tucked into his belt.

Ash digs around in his bag a little bit, fishing around within it until he comes out with a small bundle, which he unrolls. In it is about a dozen different knives, and a pack of throwing knives as well. he looks up to Griffin with a big grin. "I've got knives." He winks at the older man and holds the unrolled bundle up for the man, as well as the throwing knives to take his pick from.

Griffin glances down toward Peter's hand on his arm, watching thoughtfully as the man takes his ability, one brow arching. A faint grin is offered to Peter, before the man turns his focus right back toward their target, a frown on his face. There's a sort of tension in the air around him, not unlike a dog on a chain being riled up, waiting to be unleashed on its target.

Then, he turns to look at Melissa, taking the dart and examining it for a moment. This is tucked gently into the inner pocket of his coat. "Easily done, though I could just as easily rip his tongue out to prevent him from talking, if all else fails." The man offers a faint smirk toward the building, that tension still building in his frame.

He tilts his head toward Eileen as she speaks, a brow arching thoughtfully. With Peter sporting his Vectors, the pair will be frightening, in any case. Griffin glances toward Ash and his weapons collection, then offers a grin to the man. "Mmf, a man after my own heart." That stated, Griffin takes his pick, grabbing two rather large knives, a smaller pair, and a nice collection of throwing knives. Those will be useful. Guns are stocked up on, as well.

It's not long before Griffin has become a walking arsenal with a heating pad on his knee. And a pimp cane, of course.

"We can't sit around here any longer," Peter admits with a shake of his head, looking to Gael with a furrowed brow and a momentarily thoughtful expression that implies fleeting recognition, but it passes. "We're going in, Ling I want you to hit the balcony, see if you can take out the woman up there, then do what you can from that vantage point. Eileen, just— " a momentary flash of worry crosses Peter's face as he looks to the brunette. "Stay out here if you can, in Perry's sights. I— " he clears his throat and turns to Griffin. "Griffin and Ash, you're both with me. Gael and Melissa can take up just behind us. Once you have clear shots, go for Rupert. Melissa— I know your pain manipulation won't work on Rickham, so try to focus it on others who come after us."

Looking one last time for Gabriel's shadow, Peter worriedly exhales a sigh, then turns for the theater. "Once we get inside, I'll try to draw fire to me, let the rest of you pick off stragglers. Try to just incapacitate people. We don't— we can't know why they're here. If one if you can get that kid out before she gets hurt, do it."

"Nadira, I— I really don't know exactly what you can do, but I know someone said… something about mummification?" One dark brow lifts slowly. "I'm going to say just… stick with your insticts, and stick behind with Melissa and Gael, I don't need you getting hurt. But if there's anything you think you can do to take out Rupert quickly, do it. If you can incapacitate the others, more power to you."

Worriedly, Peter bites down on his bottom lip. "Nothing like a little trial by fire, right?" He admits jokingly with a huff of breath. Welcome to Messiah."

One last look to Eileen, then a thumbs up to Perry's direction on the roof, Peter turns for the doors to the theater, headed for the lobby entrance over broken glass that crunches underfoot and concrete shards that shift and click.

Melissa says, voice cool, "Just use the dart, Griffin. What if he doesn't need to speak to use his ability? Then ripping his tongue out won't do us a damn bit of good." Then she looks to Peter and sighs, shaking her head, but she turns towards the theater as well, pulling out two pistols, prepared to use them if necessary. And hidden in her pocket, is another negation dart. Just in case.

There is no lamplight in Midtown, and Eileen does not have to worry about finding a place to wait that shields her shape from any ambient glow. This said, she opts not to remain in the open and — chin tucked into a nod that conveys nothing about the misgivings she has about the man doling out instructions — turns to melt away into the black, a solitary bead of ink dropped into a pool of nighttime water.

She's most comfortable out of sight. That includes the scope of Perry's rife, regardless of the recommendation. If she has anything to say about Gabriel's presence, she chooses not to, but Peter can at least take comfort in the fact that one of them can intrinsically sense whether or not he's here.

It's been too long since Gael was involved directly in field work - other than the shuttle mission, and they needed some luck to pull that one off. He's more used to being the one working out strategy, familiar with everyone's skills… At least there's one other familiar face in the group, one he hasn't seen in years either. He'll have to look Griffin up after this is all over.

He's crouched down as far as he can get and still be able to walk. Height is no advantage when it comes to hiding. Still, if they've got multiple targets to worry about, then at least Rupert and his goons will be facing the same problem in a minute.

From the other side of the street, a kind of calvary trickles through. Eileen's birds may catch it, something that resembles a little like an inky river welling up from the gutter and slithering in the wake of the group. Too three dimensional to be liquid, with tendrils of smokey run off snagging in the air as it goes, climbing its way across the rough surface of city street. Rather than join a particular group or try to align with tactics— or even be around to listen to tactics he might well toss aside anyway, Gabriel keeps his distance.

Ling looks back at Peter with a wide, almost predatory and malicious grin. On her arm, a clasp is undone and the knife that rests there drawn out. "I do not know what all I can do from such a vantage point, but I should I find a way to properly dispatch this woman, I will find some way to make due." Flexing the fingers of her free hand, that sinister grin quickly loses it's form as smoke drops down into a formless cloud and begins to trail off inside, aiming for the most out of sight path to the balcony above.

Nadira winces slightly. Yeah, mummification was one way of putting it. She rubs the back of her neck idly, but glances from Peter to the building. She'll follow up with Melissa and Gael. If there's one thing she'll be doing in this case, it's following rules. She doesn't need an injury, much less in the middle of this.

Ash flashes a grin at Griffin before he tucks a couple more knives into his gear, a walking damn arsenal himself as well. He then makes sure everyone has all the weapons they want or need before he starts packing things back up, the duffle bag only about half as full as it was now. The last thing he pulls free from it is a new length of red cloth. Unless Peter has his old one, then it burned with the Howland Hook. He wraps the cloth around his forarm where it always sits, from wrist to elbow, and ties it off before he hoists the duffle bag up and onto a shoulder to carry inside where it will be accessible during the soon to come fight.

With everything taken care of he slides his tranq gun free of the web and into his hand, then takes the spare darts fo rit and palms them so they're quick at hand. His steps are silent as he moves up behind Peter, then to Peter's side, a nod to him, then another to Griffin. "For Kris. For West. For Risa. And for everyone else that Rupert has killed. He has alot of blood to answer for." Ash then goes silent, lips closed, and stalks along, silent at Peter's side.

A small smile is offered to Melissa, and Griffin gives a salute of sorts with two fingers. "Dart it is, then." That's easy enough. He shifts to one side, leaning toward Nadira. Ever so quickly, he reaches down, wrapping an arm around her waist and planting a passionate, if not somewhat dramatic kiss on the Egyptian woman's lips. Just in case it's the last one he gets to give her. It doesn't last long enough, the man pulling away and offering a faint smile to Nadira. "Gradh leat." He offers a wink.

Then, Griffin slips away without giving her a chance to ask what that meant, his cane clicking on the ground as he hurriedly follows Peter. He doesn't particularly need the cane right now, judging by those glowing eyes of his and the swiftness to his stride that normally isn't there. But it does add a bit of an ominous air to the lanky man's stride as he stays right at Peter's heels. Plus, it will make a good weapon, if his arsenal isn't quite enough.

"And for Jesse." Griffin mutters this under his breath, barely audible to the two men he walks with, his eyes narrowed dangerously.


Inside the Richard Rodgers Theater

"Rupert," the little girl sitting on the stage suddenly asks as she looks up from her magazine. "Didn't you say that Mister Riggs was supposed to be with us tonight? I haven't seen him or his insects around in a while." The dark-haired thirteen-year-old little girl huffs a breath and blows a lock of hair out of her face, folding the magazine closed in her lap.

The question elicits a look from the gruff, darkly dressed man nearby, stripping and cleaning an AK-47 in his lap. Benjamin Washington — better known by most as Knox — looks up and over to the little asian girl, then to Rupert where he's seated in his red velvet-padded armchair, listening to the radio.

Do tell, Rupert, where is Larson Riggs?

"I… sent Riggs on his way," Rupert admits with a distracted tone of voice, lifting up a hand to his scruff-laden jaw. "Admittedly, it, ah… well, it turns out that Larson might not have had all our best interests at heart. He wasn't a team player." Both of Rupert's brows lift, and the little girl huffs again and pushes up to her feet, white flats brown from dirt scuffing over the stage, ;ayered tights keeping her legs warm beneath her loose skirt.

"Tomorrow, are we going to need all these guns?" She glances down to the stockpile of assault rifles and ammunition, then back up to Rupert with a brow quirked. Unfortunately, from the sound Rupert makes in the back of his throat, he's not terribly happy with the barrage of questions.

"Jesus— Christ, Mika, can you please be quiet? For five minutes? Act your age for— like— I'm trying to listen to NPR and we get shit reception here, okay?" One of Rupert's hands waves demonstratively to the radio.

In the front row of theater seating, Oleander Thespuda snorts awake at the raised voices, rubbing one hand over his mouth as he grumbles and tiredly slouches forward and exhales a sigh into his palm. "Oh man did I— shit. Sorry, must'a dozed off there."

Looking over to where Allen Rickham's metal-clad form sits with arms folded at the front of the stage, Oleander is taken aback by a moment to consider the living man of steel in stillness. Not breathing, not moving, he resembles a cast statue with so many cuts, scrapes and imperfections cut through it.

"Take a picture," Rickham rumbles, "it will last you longer. Also, better for your long-term health." The tinny resonance of Rickham's voice reverberates all the way up through the theater's ceiling, to the balcony where Thalia Ashford sits with feet propped up on the seat in front of her, hands folded behind her head, listening to her headphones sputter, flicker, and then die as the battery on her iPod does.


Dressed in dark clothing, a pair of dark pants, and a skin tight black long sleeved shirt with some dark body armor covering it all. Her black combat boots crunch the ground beneath her and her fingerless gloved hands grip her weapons a little tighter as she enters the scene. Holding a jagged and wickedly curved knife in one fingerless gloved hand. The other hand fingers the thigh holster holding her Sig Sauer pistol.

Light grey eyes glance down to her iPod and she glares. "You've got to be fucking kidding me. Great.". The woman's hair is pulled into a tight ponytail. The air around her stale and tense as she waits. She cracks her knuckles and rips the headphones out. Leaping from her seat she strides over to balcony railing and she growls out.

"So which one of you assholes forgot to recharge the iPod? I mean.. how can you sit around with no music?" Thalia Ashford throws her hands up and throws herself backward into a chair and she props one leg up, the other down on the floor. She should have brought her Allure magazine or Ok! SOMETHING.

Being made of dark smoke, in a building of dim lighting and unwatched staircases, serves as wonderful cover for someone like Ling. Thin tendris of smoke slip out at the floor, a noticable haze moving upwards until it reaches the door out to the balcony. Before pouring out, it coalesques down into a thin cloud that spreads it's way down the floor, jsut in time to hear Thalia flop back down into teh chair where she sits.


Ling is by no means a trained killer, regardles of how well she pretends to play the part; she knows it's in her best interest to incapacitate someone as quickly as she can, if not plant her knife straight into teh victim's back. Unfortunately, the way the woman is seated mixed with Peter's delaration taht fatalities be avaoided if possible leaves her with one other readily thought of alternative.

Smoke coalesques into a humanoid form on the floor just under Thalia's seat, Ling grinning as her body solidifies. She waits a moment, taking a deep quiet breath as her hand tightens on her knife, before slides quietly just far enough out to give her the reach she needs, and in a split second, the swings out, digging in hard as it rakes through pants and across skin. Ling has missed her target - Thalia's achillies tendon, but the deep gasha cross her leg should suffice to cripple her movements enough for the moment

While Ling is dealing with Thalia, Melissa is nodding to Gael and Nadira, then going right on into the theater, via a different door from the other group, rushing forward as much as she dares before ducking behind some seats to avoid being out in the open and inviting gunfire. Hopefully separate entrances will split the bad guys' focus, but better safe than sorry!

But the rush forward was necessary because, even though she started using her ability the moment she was through her door, she knew full well that she was out of range. Without that forward movement, she wouldn't be able to hurt everyone who happens to be in front of her. Unfortunately that includes what she thinks is an innocent girl, but pain is better than death, right? So there's no hesitation at trying to blast any of them. Especially not Rupert.

At last. A quick nod forward to Melissa, one backward to Nadira, and then Gael is darting forward as well - still crouched down, rising far enough to get a look at his would-be targets without presenting too much of one himself. Along the way, the revolver is pulled out and readied in a fluid continuous motion. Some things you never do forget.

Chhharrrge. Or that's what Gabriel gets a sense of, as the feet ahead of him break out into thunderous speak. He's flagging along with Melissa's route, this time, but not for long. Soundlessly and touchlessly, inky black agilely navigates feet and bending knees, flowing ahead of them enough that Nadia, Gael, Melissa can see that strange presence for a few seconds, thicker and more watery than Ling's smoke, but apparently no threat to them. It takes a hard turn and disappears beneath the rows of seating. Where it goes next is for Gabriel to know and others to find out. Probably abruptly.

Following the lead of Melissa and Gael, Nadira follows suit, ducking down behind theater seats the second she's able to. She makes no real move for the moment, carefully trying to peek between seats to get a good view of who is where and to assess for who (besides Rupert, of course) is the most dangerous. Observe first. Always a good move.

Ash moves along through the theater, hearing the activity from Melissa's group as he moves. He stops at the entrance to the main theater room, his eyes rapidly assessing the situation at hand. There's no hesitation in him as he takes aim with his tranq gun and sends a dart flying for Rupert first. His hands fly in a blur as he reloads the dart gun and fires again, this time his dart spears for the unknown quantity, the little girl, both shots aimed for the mid section to have the highest chances of landing their targets. He sprints forwards in a burst of motion, hands reloading the dart gun as he moves again. He looks for some cover, and dives down behind a set of chairs, popping up to launch another dart towards Oleander before he ducks back down to pop his last dart in, then hops up to reassess the situation, see who's down, who's still up, and who's fighting who, where he'd be most useful.

As they near the theater, Griffin's feet suddenly lift off of the ground, the man gliding toward the theaters without a single sound. The reason for this becomes quickly apparent, as the door in front of him suddenly explodes, sending shards of wood flying into the theater as the door is smashed open by several telekinetic fists striking all at once.

Two of he invisible appendages fly into the theater, reaching up to grab hold of the railing of the balcony above; his hands pull out a pair of tranq guns, while another pair of guns come to float up over his head; one of the hideously large knives begins to float in the air near him, and the final vector slips the dart out of the man's pocket.

Then, Griffin slingshots into the theater, ending up hovering in the midst of the theatre. While the whole 'Surprise, Motherfuckers!' effect is still on his side, the negation dart propels itself through the air, ducking around any obstacles in its quest for Rupert's flesh. In the meanwhile, his normal hands are sending tranquilizer darts flying toward those not on his 'side'. Rickham is left alone; he'll just have to stay away from that frightening-looking statue mofo.

Chaos floods the theater the moment that Melissa's wave of agonizing pain floods the floor. Doing her best to judge friend and foe alike, tingling wave of anguish ripple out from her body, deep, throbbing bone pain that shocks the system. The closest are affected first, a throbbing and wild pain stabbing into Thalia Ashford's body in the same moment Ling's knife cuts into the back of her leg.

Wind immediately begins to swirl around Thalia as pain hits her, a cyclonic collection of air currents running wildly out of control as blinding pain hammers the young brunette and blood seeps from the knife wound at her leg.

In that same moment, Gael sweeps out into the theater, counting and spotting his targets — Allen Rickham comes as a sudden shock, the unmasked man, the man who should have been President sitting on the floor as a living statue of iron. Gael is familiar with Metal Mimics, knows just how hard they are to take down. Took Meredith Gordon on the last one, and Danny Pine could only transmute an arm into metal. This— that can be for someone else.

Up on the stage, Gael recognizes Washington. Super strength accrued through fear, judging from Melissa's initial assault, Knox is going to be pumped up on another psychosis-driven strength to lift a bus like a baseball bat. Unfortunately for Knox, he's still as soft and mortal as Gael is.

Rupert's a persuader, Gael knew Eden McCain, knew the kinds of terrible things she could make a man do. Not hearing the voice is probably important, even if it deals in subsonics, there should be enough room with his headphones to cut out power to the ability on his end.

The little girl is a total unknown, but soon enough she won't matter.

When Melissa's wave of pain cascades onto the stage, Knox lets out a howl and drops to his knees, clutching his head and clenching his jaws shut. Mika too doubles over in agony, the first dart whipping past her head and striking Rupert in the chair, sending him back into his seat and then down onto the floor. Then a tranquilizer dart strikes the doubled-over Mika in the back, causing her to drop to her knees.

Rupert writhes around on the floor when the wave of pain hits him, falling to his side and clutching his head, screaming. "Stop! Stop! Fucking stop!"

That's all it takes for Allen Rickham to begin to push himself up to his feet, metal grinding on metal as his long coat parts, then is shrugged off from his broad shoulders. Clothing is in tatters on his body, pockmarked by bullet holes, his attire wholly vestigial things now, modesty for a horribly scarred man of living iron is a human trait. In Allen Rickham's mind, he is no longer human.

When Griffin's vectors begin bringing him like some sort of telekinetic spider towards the stage, his negation dart whips through the air like a speeding bullet. But then— in that same moment — something is wrong— something hurts.

A dart lodges itself in the back of the chair in front of where Oleander Thespuda was sitting when he falls down to the ground in agony from Melissa's onslaught as she storms into the room. Clutching his head and screaming for the pain to stop, his ability fluctuates wildly, a strange sensation of pin prickling tingling in Knox, Rupert, Mika and Griff's limbs, they who are closest to him.

When a stone pigeon falls from the rafters and shatters on the floor in front of Griffin, he realizes what the tingling is. His right arm and right leg are beginning to lock up, become stiff.

He is turning to stone.

The next moment, Griffin's flung dart aimed for Rupert hits the wrong target as the cyclonic winds building up in the theater drive it off course and into Mika's chest with a solid thunk. She gasps, sucks in a sharp breath, then begins to tremble.

What happens next is one of the most horrifying sights to behold.

Mika screams, and screams with a sandpapery voice as she reaches up to grab her face as the quick-acting negation drugs begin to take effect. Her face sags, sloughs and then begins to wrinkle and crack. Her bones make popping noises as she begins to grow in size, hair turns from black to white like snow dusting pavement, and her fingers curl into her hair as eyes go white with cataracts.

Soon the young, peppy teenage girl is transforming into a hideous, bony old crone dressed in ill-fitting little girl's clothes. She collapses to the floor from Melissa's sustained pain, her wailing banshee cry piercing the theater floor.

Age shifter, Gael clicks in his head, huh.

"Oh god," Peter hisses from the doorway, watching this carnage unfold, watching Mika's horrible transformation. He advances, but only a few paces, looks down to where Ash has dived for cover, then follows to crouch beside him, watching Rickham begin to stand. "What's your idea?" Peter asks the soldier at his side, nodding to Rickham. "If we have to fight him? Did— you bring uh, Thermite or anything?"

That's a little optimistic, Pete.

Well holy hell! The mechanic lets out a loud yell and she hisses as she draws her leg up and hops out of the chair, wincing in pain as she hits her bad leg at the same time, Melissa's ability hits her and she snarls in pain, ouchies. Light grey eyes shift to a blazing hot silver as the wind in the theater kicks.. um a lot of notches. Clothes flapping at the wind and loose objects begin to go flying as Thalia aims a booted kick to Ling's face one her good leg before she climbs over the chair to the balcony.

"They've found us!" She yells over the wind she's manipulating and then she's turning to Ling again, head cocked to the side. Her jagged knife is pulled and she grins. The wind in the whole theater becomes rather dangerous, some heavier objects beginning to jerk around.

"Ah, Ling. That really hurt." Maneuvering so her back isn't to the railing but instead to the wall, she beckons the other woman. She barely hears the arrival of others over the roaring of the wind. The curtains on the stage flap wildly as if they have a mind of their own. This isn't good.. an angry and hurt aerokinetic is never good.

An aerokinetic. The suddenly blustery winds mixed with the kick to the face she's just received have Ling recoiling back in pain, smoke scattinering about as it drifts off her body, almost forming a sort of trail behind her. Nose feeling bent and dripping a little blood already from teh boot-to-face impact, the Chinese woman scrambles up to her feet. Ling had never been on a mission with Thalia - in truth, little connection to the woman was what made the idea of harming her possibly with in an inch of her life so easy.

Now, it was going to bite her in the ass like she couldn't believe.

The knife is held in front of her, grip tight as she can manage as she grits her teeth, using a chair to brace herself. The wind puts her at a severe disadvantage and she knows it. Still, the knife is pointed at Thalia, and Ling does the only thing she can doa t the moment that isn't turn and run - she strikes.

With wind blowing around, and darts flying through the air, and trying to keep up the my god it hurts pain, it's hard for Melissa to tell which dart is which. One gun is dropped in a pocket, and her MP3 player is turned on and up full blast, before she starts to move up the aisle, keeping her body low to the floor, and close to the rows of seats. But it's progress towards the stage, and towards Rupert.

Do they have anyone who can take Rickham down? A handful of ludicrously unlikely ideas flit through Gael's mind, before he shoves them into a back corner for now. First deal with the ones they can— and with Rupert and Thalia down for the moment, and Mika teetering on the edge of death by 'natural' causes, that puts Knox squarely at the top of the threatdown. Strongman, meet equalizer, and he fires off two rounds in quick succession.

By the time Gabriel is remotely visible to anyone else in the confusion—

Black tendrils rope around The President's A Metal Man's ankles, and he undergoes a new transformation. Jet black runs over his body, shimmering like oil from feet to the crown of his head as Gabriel maps his own matrix into that of Rickham's. It's the best kind of hi he can give a man whom he so despises — even if the incarnation of Rickham is not the same one that had wrapped fingers of iron around Gabriel's throat like he was breaking the neck of a chicken.

Either way. He's still a dick.

Rickham's shape dissolves in another second, before, quick as a whip, that much larger mass of shadow suddenly scurries away, gaining momentum as it flies across the seats of the theatre — Gabriel, dragging Rickham with him, spinning like a dirvish before the inevitable release. Rickham goes flying from that swatch of blackness, chair crumpling as if made of matchsticks under his weight and momentum as he goes careening.

Gabriel reconfigures himself into solidity again, a man with skin and bone and all limbs and vulnerability, an artless stagger following as fatigue takes some grace out of his movement, but he remains upright as he regards the line of carnage and property destruction carved through the velvet rows.

Nadira's not entirely sure of the best target at the moment. However, what she does know is she wants the upper hand. She stays low behind the theater seats, recalling that the bathroom was right behind those doors. Silently, she pulls water from the bathrooms, letting it run along the floor under the door, through the lobby, and over towards her. Having a good source of water was a lot easier than trying to pull from the air. She peers between theater seats, looking for a good opportunity and the perfect victim of opportunity's knock.

Ash rises to his feet and fires his last dart at Oleander again once the man pokes his head back up. Then the tranq gun is tossed to the side, and Ash brings up his assault rifle. Knees it is. He fires towards Oleander, stitching a line of fire through the chairs where the man's knees should be, his AR-15 tapping against his shoulder, recoil really nothing, especially for Ash. He switches his aim, and just lights up the general direction in which Rupert should be. "Fight RIckham? Run like fuck. That's my plan for him. Short of melting him or carving through him with a lazer we can't kill or beat him. So, we take down Rupert and hope that breaks his hold over him, or that it makes him realize they've lost." He looks to Peter and flashes the man a grin. "Fucked up world isn't it?" He winks at him, then rises from behind the seats again.

A burst of shots lances through the air up towards Thalia's position, towards her legs though, not going for killing shots. These people are their friends, or were, maybe still are, either way they need to find out one way or the other. "Sorry Knox." She shouts out before he lets off a burst of rounds towards his friend's legs, then, again, sprays a full burst towards Rupert's location, hoping to wing the little pecker head. He drops back down behind the seats, ejecting the magazine and swinging the rifle around on his back. The duffle bag is then also set down as Ash pulls his khukri's from his back, and flashes a bit of a psychotic grin at Peter. "Race you to Rupe." He tosses to him before he turns and begins to sprint up the aisles in the direction that he last saw Rupert.

The tranquilizer gun in his right hand is dropped quickly to the ground as Griffin feels his arms and legs turning into stone. Thankfully, he doesn't need his hands to shoot, or even hurt. The telekinetic man does the only thing he knows to do, and lashes out. One, two of the darts float from his remaining tranq gun, clasped between the 'fingers' of his telekinetic fist. All three fly directly toward Oleander, while another telekinetic fist takes hold of three throwing knives in a similar way; these are aimed at the Medusa-man's leg.

The wind buffets against Griffin, the man drawing back from the stage and lifting his not so stony arm to block his face, brightly glowing eyes squinting through the winds. He turns his gaze up toward the balcony, and the aerokinetic up there, and another two tranq darts drift out of his gun. These are aimed for Thalia's leg, an attempt to stop the gusting winds in the theater.

Then, Griffin is doing his best to give Oleander a wide berth, slingshotting over the man's head toward the stage with narrowed eyes.

The pop-pop-pop of gunfire strike Knox in the chest, sending him backwards from Gael's cleanly chosen and carefully timed shots. He was an ace agent with the Company for a reason, and the shoulder to shoulder selection sends the fear-swallowing man backwards and out of the line of a burst of automatic gunfire shot up towards the stage by Ash.

On his back, Knox writhes in pain both from Melissa's attack and the keen-eyed marksmanship of Gael Cruz.

The darts thrown to Thalia veers off course thanks to the cyclonic wind spiraling through the theater, now picking up loose debris of boards bristling with nails, shattered glass, pieces of chipped plaster and stage decorations. Barely audible over the wind, Thalia watches as those darts thrown by Griffin hit the floor at her feet with a thunk, then angles her attention back to Ling.

Trying to be strong, trying to be tough, Thalia hunches forward and grips her stomach before vomiting on the floor from the pain she's been forced to endure. Throwing the kick sent a jolt of agony up through her leg, and she seethes from the pain, hunching forward as the wind continues to pick up.

But the sister of Isabella Ashford does not need her body to hurt Ling Chao. No, a glare suffices. As Ling closes in for that thrust, Thalia tenses her brows and redirects the wind, carrying the sharp debris up and over the balcony's lip, parting around Thalia like a wave breaks over a rock, sending shards of broken glass, nails, loose wood and all manner of cutting and battering debris pummeling towards the dark-haired woman.

Down below, a scream rings out as Oleander Thespuda clutches his leg, one of the darts thrown at him hitting home, the others blown off-course because of the wind, A big man of Oleander's heavy size will take more than one to drop, but— he looks to be running rather than fighting. Or, trying to anyway.

Climbing up, Oleander's leg is struck from behind by a knife driving into the back of his calm. He screams, his footing slips, and he falls forward, catching himself on the seats. Oleander is struggling to get footing and head towards the exit of the theater, putting him in the direct line of path with Ash incoming down the aisle. But between Melissa's ability and Griffin's knives, hobbles, groans and falls onto his hip and lays there, panting breathlessly and overcome with pain.

As Ash draws close, however, he can feel something stiffening his joints, a tightness in his knees and elbows. It starts like an arthritic ache, then begins to change as his hands start taking on a flaky, stony appearance. "No," Oleander murmurs, lifting up a hand towards Ash, "g— get back— " his expression is pleading, in this much pain he can't control it.

Gunfire pops out from Ash's assault rifle again as he fires towards Rupert, though without shooting through Melissa, his line of fire is compromised, and his gunshots tear up the chair Rupert had previously been sitting in instead, sending wood pulp, torn fabric and stuffing into the air.

Another volley comes and peppers the railing and floor nearby to where Thalia and Ling are fighting, but the swirl of debris and dirt kicked up by the wind obscures Ash from having a clear line of shot. He can't even tell if he hit her until the wind dies down.

"Ash!" Peter shouts as he follows behind the soldier, battering away a wooden plank with an unseen hand from Ash's imcoming path. "Ash look at your arm!" Peter shouts over the roar of the wind, his hair whipping around as he crouches beside the soldier. "Wait!//" Peter bellows, "Cover me! I know how his power works!"

Unfortunately for Griffin, as he is flying through the air, thrown by his vectors he has no chance to stop in mid-air when the wizened old woman suddenly launches herself up into a seated position with an expression of rage painted across her withered, ancient countenance. Having been laying prone for the duration of Ash's gunfire that was aimed at Rupert, Mika pops back up with one of the AK-47 assault rifles in her bony hands.

The rattle of the weapon and explosion of gunfire blasts towards Griffin, one round mushrooms against his stone leg, another takes a chip off of his rocky shoulder, but then a third round hits Griffin in calf and tumbles out the other side of his bad leg, spraying blood down into the theater and when Griffin lands on the stage, it is a collision with the red curtain hanging threadbare at the back, his vectors grasping intangibly at the cloth, tearing it from its rings as he collides with the stage with the heavy thump of one stone leg hitting first — but thankfully not breaking.

Rupert struggles to get up, pushing himself on one hand as he shakes off grogginess. As Melissa is advancing up the steps towards where he is laying on the stage, he whips out something from his jacket, a—

—voice recorder?

Clicking play, a voice murmurs over the speaker, "Nasaru"

But with the howling winds, only Melissa hears it. To Rupert's horror, it also has no effect.

"Wait!" He screams at the top of his lungs. "Wait! We can make a deal!"

Having unloaded her magazine as much as she can, Mika collapses back onto the stage, wheezing and choking, breathless as her AK-47 falls from shaking hands, pawing— grasping for the weapon with the blind hope of having the strength to do it again. What did they do to me? races through her mind alongside Melissa's agonizing ability.

But outside of the theater, on the street, a storm of another kind is brewing. Not far down from where Eileen Ruskin waits patiently while the sounds of battle play out inside, her birds offering insight into the conflict, there is the sudden explosion of glass, stone and wood as the front doors blow off of their hinges, and a dark figure comes crashing down onto the asphalt, showering sparks as he bounces, skids, twists and then rolls to a stop against a burned out shell of a car with a noisy clunk.

Scraping himself to his feet, Allen Rickham cranes his head from side to side, curls his metal fingertips against the ground and breathes in a deep breath, exhaling a hollow, metallic roar. Suddenly, Eileen recalls the last time this happened.

It ended in her dying.

Thrusting forward against the force of the winds is challenging enough as it is, but with that glare and the added gust it brings her arm meets enough resistance that the knife flies back and out of her hand, her grip not quite good enough to keep it within her grasp.

And then the rain of glass comes baring down on her, and Ling sees two options. What ends up happening is somewhere in the middle, unable to prevent the first few shards of glass and debris from piercing and slashig her skin. What follows is a sudden transformation into smoke, combined with the wind almost creating a FOOM sound as the black smoke is blown back on the wind, just beginning to spread to thin before it draws back together into the familiarly solif form of Ling - just in time for her to hit the wall behind her with teh same force that the smoke had been moving on the end. Cursing in mandarin, she slides back down to the gorund, feeling exhauted from pulling her self back together from such a thin strain.

Still, it's better than becoming a pin cushion.

A recorder? A recorder? Nope, something isn't kosher here, and Melissa has lost all of her patience with this whole situation. His screaming has her arching a brow, though the pain she's radiating hasn't lessened one bit. Too much longer and she'll probably give herself a migraine, but then, it might just be worth it. We can make a deal? Mel shakes her head. "I don't make deals with scum like you."

Previously she may have been one of the few wanting him alive, for information. Now though, it seems like she just wants it to be over. The last few steps she's taken, her right hand lifts until her pistol is pointed at the man and the look on her face is cold. So much pain, so much suffering, all because of one man. There's no remorse showing when the trigger is pulled, sending metal flying towards Rupert. So long, Rupe. We won't miss you.

To be fair, Eileen had no ability to speak of the last time this happened. Unfortunately, claws and beaks are the bane of soft flesh and bones not yet ready to be scraped clean rather than the dense hulk of dented metal that is the former president elect, and if she's to do anything it will be providing a diversion to buy the others some additional time.

A flock of sleek, silver-feathered pigeons scatters past the car, filling the air directly in front of Rickham with crackling vibrations — the result is like dropping a curtain, obscuring what passes for his view of the theater he was just hurled from. At his back, the snarling grip of a heavy wolf's head cane bangs one— two— three times against the side of a fire hydrant with enough space measured between each blow that it can only be intentional on the wielder's part.

Hey, over here, it says. This way.

Well Gabriel knows where he is going. It's a path cut with broken wooden and twisted metal, and he's following it at a run. He doesn't tell the rest, I'll keep him distracted! That would be telling. And probably require coherent thought. Simply bolts through the theatre, headed for the door made from Rickham's flying body.

Out into the open air, Gabriel flies down the steps onto the sidewalk three at a time, landing at an almost ankle popping speed if it weren't for the fact that his bones can handle that kind of shock. The curtain of birds takes him aback, until he can sense the order that drives them to fly the way they are, and he splays a hand as he— well. Charges his laser, in a sense. The air goes ozone in scent around him, all metal and storm-like energy before he extends a hand, each fingertip glowing bright white.

Go is his own avian telepathic order, and all at once, the birds break from their flock and disperse just in time for—

Five points of lightning spring from each fingertip, unite in a high powered lightning bolt that he directs to leap towards the man of metal, bright light searing through the air in a wild zigzag of raw electricity.

Nadira's been waiting, but it's too hard to sit still when all of this is going on. Instincts, right? Well, considering that Griffin's down and the old crone-child is going to try and shoot again if she can get to it, the Egyptian woman moves. She darts into an aisle, moving forward some rows to duck down into a row that's a bit closer to give her more range. The water moves with her until she sends it flying towards Mika. A smaller stream of pressurized water diverts, moving to push the gun with force away from Mika, while the larger stream is mostly there to overwhelm/delay/annoy the old woman.

Ash glances to Oleander as his skin starts to go flaky, Ash's eyes narrowing and his teeth gritting tight. He lifts a spare tranq dart, and tosses it into Oleander's chest before he reels backwards away from the man, a growl emerging from his throat. There's an apologetic look from him tossed towards the black man before his eyes find Peter at the man's shouting. "Who's power? Rupert's?" He pops his head up, seeing Rupert holding up that tape recorder, and it brings a grim smile to Ash's lips. He lifts his gun, and sights down it before loosing a single, well aimed shot at the voice recorder, though after that he ducks down and starts to move away a bit from Oleander, trying to avoid being turned into a statue. His eyes go to Peter. "This fucking sucks by the way." He shouts to him, only to look around then. "Where the fuck did Rickham go?" He shouts to be heard above the wind. "Ling, shut her up!" Yeah, there was no point in shouting that, but he does it anyway.

He glances up towards the smoke woman, just in time to see her flung against the wall. Ash grunts, and lifts his rifle up, aiming towards Thalia again and lighting off several rounds at her legs. Enough pain and the woman won't be able to think to use her ability. Ash has seen the limits of her power after all. With that done he turns his gun towards well… nothing really. Rupert is facing a pistol as Mel walks up to him, Oleander is not a combatant, Rickham gone, the old woman…. Ash hops forwards a bit and goes to kick the Ak-47 out of the way, only to jump back, arms pinwheeling for a moment before he gets his balance as water cascades past him, his eyes blinking for a few moments. He looks around, spots Nadira and chuckles a bit. In the midst of the battle he can find the time to chuckle. He lifts his rifle and pans around, looking for potential targets, swinging back up to Thalia if she's still up there causing trouble.

Motherfuck. Griffin lands with a howl of pain as his bad knee is lanced with a bullet and he comes to a crash landing. Thank god he didn't…break. A panicked glance is cast toward his appendages. Pain lances through his body, the man struggling to get up. However, the pain simply adds to his rage as the man shoves the curtains off of himself with a pair of vectors.

The old woman is first pushed away from the pile of guns, and rather gently, as well. He doesn't want to hurt her. She may very well just be another pawn.

Then, his piercing eyes focus on Rupert's form, his lip curling into an expression of pained hatred. Four vectors lash out, aiming at Rupert's back. His aim: to break the man's spine (and probably his ribs as well) in horrible ways. This happens right around the same time as Melissa is firing off the shot toward the supposed persuader.

His teeth grit as he applies pressure to his knee with the final pair of vectors, to stem the bloodflow from his fresh bullet wound. At least it was in the knee that was already bad. On the downside, he currently can't walk.

The gun in Gael's hand is a lot less flashy than the grab bag of abilities being thrown around by both sides, but it does have its advantages. For one thing, it doesn't feel any pain or fatigue of its own; as long as he can still aim and squeeze the trigger, and it hasn't actually been damaged or run out of ammo… And the bullets are so small and move so fast that the wind can only do so much to them.

Knox down, Rupert down and evidently about to be shot point-blank— he swings toward Mika next, visibly angry. Whether her own gunfire is driven by Rupert's brainwashing or simple survival instinct doesn't really matter, it still means they've got incoming fire to deal with. At the last second, he sees Nadira flooding the vicinity, and attempts to switch targets again, this time focusing in on Thalia. Damnable bad timing, the first round's liable to go wide at this rate.

As the chaos of the battle continues, Rupert stares up at the barrel of Melissa's handgun, jaw slack as Melissa's brows furrow and her finger squeezes the trigger. It's the gunshot heard round the theater, one that sparks the beginning of the end of the conflict. "Stop! I'm not— " Melissa doesn't care what he is and isn't, and when the back of Rupert's head explodes in a blast of gray matter that sprays across Griffin's invisible vectors, painting them crimson and revealing the ghostly, disembodied tendrils of arms, Rupert jerks back and away, his recorder exploding in his hand from Ash's quickly popped round, cleanly destroying both Rupert's hand and the digital recorder.

As the body moves to fall, a blast of pressurized water whips up onto the stage, striking Mika square in the face, sending her frail and light body bouncing across the wood, scuffing and skidding until she's pressed up against a faded stage background, one arm hanging broken at her side from the impact of brittle bones, a bloody compound fracture lancing through her skin.

"Oleander's" is Peter's belated response when he boosts up from behind Ash, dashing over to the bloodied and battered man, skidding to a stop at his side as he notices his own appendages beginning to solidify. "Oleander, I'm— really sorry," Peter murmurs before one of his vectors winds up and clocks the petrification inducing man in the head, sending him jerking to the side and down to the floor, unconscious.

Laying a hand on Oleander's shoulder, a flash of white-gold transfers from Peter's hand to Oleander's body and back again like a xerox machine. Closing his eyes and concentrating, Peter extends the calfication aura, but this time begins breaking it down, the inverse.

Ash's body begins to soften, his stiff joints and petrifying limps smoothing out. Griffin, too, feels his stone limbs beginning to soften and return to life, bloodflow regulating again. Exhaling an exasperated breath of pain that comes as a blip on Melissa's senses, Peter realizes soon how overwhelming Oleander's ability can be.

Hiccuping out a gasp of pained breath, Peter slouches forward against the chairs right as Ash is firing off a round of automatic weapons fire towards Thalia. The machine gun rounds pepper the ceiling, a pop-pop-crack-pop of wild spread that has her deviating from her path and moving out of the way, trying to duck Ash's gunfire.

Gael's gun goes off, shots fired up towards Thalia as well, and the aerokinetic is clipped by a round gone too wide, spun around by the time Ash's second burst hits her in the spin and with a flash of red and a shriek sends her collapsing down to the ground, and in that immediate moment, the wind stops and all of the debris begins raining down through the theater.

Outside of the theater, engaged in their own game, Eileen and Gabriel have danced this dance before. Once in the bowels of Midtown, once in the depths of Pinehearst, and one in a future that no longer exists at the behest of the government. No matter where they go, when they go, Allen Rickham is turned against them as a monster. First Arthur, then Edward, now Rupert.

Some people have an inescapable destiny.

The low, bellowing metallic roar comes as Rickham's blinded senses pick up only Eileen's clanging hammering of the fire hydrant. His heavy footfalls thunder across the pavement, right up until a blast of electricity seems to part a wall of swirling pigeon wings like Moses unto the Red Sea.

The bolts of electrokinetic energy slam into Rickham, arc wildly through his metal body. It is a weakness Gabriel discovered under Pinehearst, a weakness they has much the same effect here, with much less cost to Eileen Ruskin's life.

Allen lets out a wild howl, a pained scream first metallic, then fleshy as Gabriel's electrokinesis reverts Allen back to his mortal form, fading iron to flesh. Unfortunately, all of the damage Allen's heavily scarred body had accrued since the winter — laser-fine cuts lacerating his face and midsection, bullet divets, dents, cuts and notches — they all translate to flesh and bone.

Blood pulses out of Rickham's wounds, he exhales a heavy breath and drops to his knees, one arm wrapped around his midsection that threatens to tear open with the weight of his internal organs. Blood runs like water out of his mouth and nose where his jaw is split open, lips torn away and one eye sliced through as if by fine wire.

He murmurs something, a wet, choking breath.

It sounds like Stephanie.

Then he makes no sounds, collapsing onto his stomach, unmoving.

The ceasing of the wind has smoke swirling back out from Ling's form, the smoke woman, falling forward, hands on broken glass as she coughs up a little blood, likely a result of the impact against the wall behind her. Her sides ache, coupled with her own physical exhaustion. She looks up to Thalia, seeing her collapsed to the ground in front of her. Perhaps a bit bitterly, she gathers up glass in her had - painfully - and throws it in Thalia's direction. How's that feel, anyway? Answer: Ow.

"I suppose we are both lucky," she admits, taking a deep breath, "that this didn't turn out worse for us." Fumbling forward a bit, she reaches for her knife and takes it in hand - just in case.

With no light to illuminate Eileen's cane, it's not the flash of metal that Gabriel sees first, but her outline moving through the darkness with the same swiftness and precision of her barn owl. She keeps her distance from Rickham even after his body has gone still, unwilling to venture any closer than a few meters in case things aren't as they appear. Tricked once by Kazimir squeezed into Gabriel's skin and twice by Gabriel's clone pretending to be Agent Avi Epstein, she has learned not to always trust her eyes.

Especially when she can't see through them.

She understands the importance of silence, too, and does not attempt to communicate with Gabriel using words or any other method that might draw attention to them on the street. Instead, she reaches out and brushes her consciousness against his, making him aware of her exact location as if to say: I'm all right. Are you?

Never better.

Or the empathic equivalent.

Gabriel touches the corner of his mouth with his tongue in thinking fidget as he eyes the collapsed and mutilated corpse of the once President elect, silvery light of excess electricity snagging up and down his arm from that burst of energy. The battle continuing inside sounds like so much white noise to him as blown pupils fix a decidedly black stare on Rickham. A hand dips into a pocket, closes around something. Produces the pocket knife, which he opens with prying fingertips.

He darts a glance towards Eileen, before he's taking steps towards Rickham, to come to crouch over like an eagle standing possessive over its kill. To be invincible would be a grand adventure. Well. Relatively.

Okay, there's a gross mess of Rupert on the stage. Nadira chooses not to look at that. Instead, she cautiously makes her way up to the stage now to check on Griffin. Considering how bad that looked right at the end, she's just wanting to make sure he's not going to get hit with something unexpectedly. The water flows across the floor and over towards Nadira as she approaches Griffin, ready in case, for some reason, she needs to use it again.

Ash turns and growls at Melissa as she pulls the trigger, his eyes wide. "You fucking twit! That wasn't Rupert. For god's sakes woman are you that fucking dense? If he was Rupert would he have used a fucking recorder? You probably just killed an innocent man who was just a pawn like you were before you got yourself fixed."

His gun barrel even hovers in Melissa's direction before it drags away. He stands to his feet, and spits in her direction before he turns and moves up the aisle towards the back, stopping there to scoop up his duffle bag. He doesn't stop to speak to anyone, just trudges on out of the theater, pissed off as all hell, and out into the night and onto the street, only to stop at the sight out on the street, his eyes narrowing, then flying wide open. He swings his AR-15 around and shoulders it, a distinct cocking sound as he settles the rifle in place.

"Step away from the President Gabriel." He calls out into the night, advancing a few paces in that direction, his jaw set hard, his finger hovering over the trigger if the man doesn't stop where he's at. "And you know damn well I won't hesitate to pull this trigger." His voice cold, and hard as he speaks.

Griffin groans as everything seems to calm, leaning back and flexing his once stony limbs with a mumble. The pair of vectors remain clenched around his knee, and up to his shoulder, blood flowing where Mika's bullets chipped his stone shoulder.

He grunts, however, using his vectors to 'stand', if you could call it that; those four vectors are visible with Rupert's blood, eerie as they are, complete with hands sporting opposable thumbs. He's using all four of them to stand, his feet not exactly touching the ground. A glance is cast down toward his bloody leg, the man frowning. He may need his vectors to even walk on this leg for the rest of his life, unless a miracle happens.

Wincing, Griffin floats down from the stage, looking like he's exhausted and in a fair deal of pain. Even so, he drifts directly to Nadira, wrapping his arms around her and squeezing her to him. Even while he does this, glowing white eyes scan to ensure that they are, indeed, safe.

As the heat of battle begins to subside - and Ash comes and goes, laying down his accusation - Gael leans against a high railing, considering. Is the man right? Well, it doesn't matter for whoever's dead body is sprawled out on the stage - and it doesn't even matter for Melissa's peace of mind, the way he sees it. Morally gray all over again, weighing the risk that it was Rupert against the risk that it wasn't.

Where it does matter? Is that, if the real Rupert is still running around somewhere else… then they may well have only one day left to finish the job.

Watching Ash leave and too far away to hear the beginning of commotion outside, Peter turns his focus over to where Nadira and Griffin are on the stage. "Nadira, take— " only to find himself cut off by Melissa as she tuck shis gun into the back of her pants.

"Nadira, take care of Griffin and help get him up and out. Ling, if you can move, get up there and see if Thalia's still breathing. If she is," Melissa unchains a pair of handcuffs from her belt, ones she had planned on using on Rupert, then tosses them towards the smoke mimic in an underhanded catch. "Take her with us."

"Peter," Melissa sharply calls for his attention, "check on Knox and see if he's okay. I can't feel anything from the old witch," she clips with a look to Mika, "I can still feel the big guy though, I think he's just unconscious. C'mon," Melissa practically barks, before marching up the aisle and looking to Gael. "Can you help me carry the big guy out?" Her eyes angle down towards Oleander's prone form an aisle over.

Watching Melissa with wide-eyed surprise, Peter's brows furrow and then lift as he turns to do— well— just what she asked. Heading towards the stage, Peter hustles up the steps and pauses to offer a look to Griffin, then one to Nadira, before dropping into a crouch by Knox's side. Blood is everywhere, and Peter worriedly lifts a hand to rest at the side of his neck, lips downturning into a frown.

"Jesus, Knox…" Settling a hand down on his shoulder, Peter looks at the precice gunshot wounds leveled by Gael, then turns to look back over his shoulder at the grizzled old former agent. There's surgical canniness to the shots, well chosen to disable but not kill.

"Alright," Peter huffs, breathily, "Melissa, can you dampen Knox and Griffin's pain for me? I know you're already run a bit ragged, but— " Melissa isn't in much of a good mood either.

"Doing it," she snaps, offering Peter a sharp look before angling her attention back over to Oleander's sizable girth.

Grimacing, Peter exhales a sigh and reaches down to move Knox, trying to lift an arm around him and help him up to his feet. Without Griffin's telekinesis, it's a slower prospect. Thankfully, for all his strength, Knox is actually a rather small and wiry man.

Oblivious to the tension outside, the battle inside looks to have ended.

"I cannot carry her," Ling responds and she rises up on wobbly legs. "But Thalia is breathing." She thinks. She assumes. She doesn't really care, at the moment. Pulling a still lodge piece of glass out of her shoulder, she can't keep down the little cry of pain, which assuredly dings for Melissa. A hand latched on to what reminds of a chair, aiding in keeping Ling upright.

With a bit of a limp - she must have hit her ankle wrong when she came down from hitting the wall - she walks over to where Thalia lays, wrinkling her nose. It takes a minute, but a hand is at least offered down and and the other woman hefted up into a seat, something which for all intents and purposes saps the last of Ling's strength, resulting in her plopping back down on teh ground beside here. "I will need some time."

Ash probably understands what Eileen is feeling. He does, after all, have a protective instinct — it's what motivates him to demand that Gabriel step away from Rickham's remains unless he wants to be shot. Whether or not he's capable of sympathizing with her when she pulls her pistol from its holster is debatable, but not something she's going to argue with him as long as he's pointing a gun at the man she loves.

She's a little less forgiving than he is, too. Her finger locks around the trigger, and the only thing that stops her from contracting it is the fact that Ash is giving Gabriel the option to retreat. It would be very un-English not to offer him the same courtesy.

A meter away, she is out of his immediate reach but close enough that she isn't likely to miss if she decides to squeeze. "If you value a corpse more than you do your own life, then by all means. Please shoot."

Gabriel's head tips up at the sound of the man's voice, brown eyes rolling in their sockets, but he's not— digging knives into Rickham's skull or anything. And though he also isn't closing his knife, he does rise out of his crouch. Tension winds up his spine when he hears Eileen, and he sneaks a stare towards them both out the corner of his eye, as if waiting for Ash to do something irrational. What happens when the pitbull is let off his leash is the evidence at his feet. What happens when it's barely on its leash is this.

"He's dead," he confirms. Just in case that was a factor or anything, one heavy eyebrow raising. His hair sheens grey, the colour of wisdom, but the wisdom of anything that happened tonight is questionable, not the least of which this stand off on anyone's part.

Ash lets a little smirk crawl across his lips as Eileen maker her stand with her gun. "You shoot me, and he dies as well as you. I garuntee you I'm faster on the trigger than you are. And if you shoot me there's a wonderful little surprise in one of my belt pouches hooked up to a heart beat monitor. You'll have about three to four seconds to get clear before a full pound of C-4 explodes taking you with me. And Gabriel will already be dead at that point." His voice is cold and level. There's no warble in it, and there's no ticks on his face or body to reveal whether he is lying or telling the truth. "So, unless you want that to happen then I suggest Gabriel step away from Allan and leave him be."

A slight nod is given to Gabriel's statement in regards to the fact that Rickham is dead. "I would assume so since he's back to normal. He was far too damaged to survive for more than a minute max. I've been trying to find a way to fix him before that happened. But, simple fact is, that is a good man, and he deseves a heroe's burial. His family deserves to see him buried, and that doesn't include what you were about to do to him with your knife. I really don't want any more senseless and pointless death tonight. Mine, yours, hers, or anyone else's. THis whole night has already been for nothing."

"Got it," Nadira replies to Melissa. Not that she needed to be asked to do that anyways. She hugs Griffin for a moment before she glances around the room. "Seems like things are good. Lets go get you taken care of." She peers at him. "I can support your weight if you need to rest your ability." Either way, she begins guiding Griffin out.

Pistol holstered once again - and a good thing too, he would have needed to reload if things had lasted much longer - Gael walks up and nods, surveying the damage himself and shaking his head. What might have all these people have done if they hadn't wound up on the wrong side of Rupert's plans? Kneeling down, he reaches out to assist with the hauling of battered bodies as requested.

"Rest," Griffin weakly states, dark circles around his eyes and blood tinging his nostrils and the corners of his eyes red, "rest would… really be great," his attention focuses on Nadira, the pain of his greivous leg wound ignored by Melissa's morphine-like presence. Swallowing dryly, he offers a hand up to Nadira, the light flickering from his eyes and fading finally, revealing how bloodshot they are, how many capalaries have ruptured from cerebral strain.

"Did… did we win?" Griffin's wearily asked question doesn't really have a good answer. Whatever was going to happen here, whatever was being planned, the secret of it died with Rupert himself. If that really was him or not.

Blood seeps into the wood beneath his body, a corpse that will go unidentified, picked clean by the feral dogs of Midtown, James Martin an agent lost to the Department of Homeland Security in the chaos of the riots, or simply to the whimisical nature of his ever-shifting appearance. A bullet to the head, though, that's a change he may not have anticipated.

Carrying Knox with an arm over his shoulder, Peter limps slowly down off of the stage. "Ling, go on ahead. I'll stick around and make sure Thalia get someplace. There's an old skyscraper across Midtown, Ferry used to use it as a safehouse, don't think they do anymore. I'm going to take the wounded there, try to figure out what to do from there."

Melissa and Gael go about the hard task of lifting up Oleander's unconscious body, realizing too well that the manipulated ex-security guard probably has more problems than anyone realizes. Being here, being dragged the way they are out of the theater will only mean they're survivors to face the 8th head on.

Watching Melissa and Gael heft Oleander up, Peter contemplates that very fate, worrying how best to resolve it.

"You rigged yourself to explode in the event of your death, knowing that you were going into an incredibly dangerous combat situation in close quarters with both your allies and your enemies." Ash's voice is level. So is Eileen's, for the most part — she's unable to keep some of her incredulity from bleeding through, her tone made slightly sharper by an underlying sentiment of Nobody Is That Stupid.

But in case they are, and she will put nothing past Ash for the same reasons she no longer trusts her eyes, she stops short of calling his bluff. In the end, whether or not Gabriel does as Ash asks is his decision to make. Hers is to keep her pistol trained on the back of Ash's head in a show of support until he does.

"Well gosh, Ash. All you had to do was ask."

Walking away from Rickham's messy corpse, Gabriel sweeps a stare up and down Ash, as if searching for the truth or the lie in his body language, the arrangements of his clothing, the likelihood of such a set up, his mouth pulling cynically as Eileen delivers her narrative on the matter. He closes the knife— showily, look, see— and puts it into a pocket, moving up close enough that if Ash did pull the trigger, it would render him as damaged as the ex-President-elect. Maybe more so. Gabriel doesn't come close enough to invite it, just—

Seems fearless. "Three, four seconds, huh? Oh, that would be way too much time."

He blinks out time and space, and Eileen vanishes with him after a momentary flash has Gabriel's reappearance laying his hand on her elbow in a split second. But he leaves behind the body of Allan, rather than taking it with.

Ash chuckles very softly at Eileen's statement. "I was mind fucked by Rupert. I intended, and stayed, well away from anyone but Peter once we went into combat. Peter would heal from the explosion. It wasn't stupidity, it was a safety measure. I've never expected to come out of any of this alive. So yes, I value a corpse more than I do my own life. That man is a hero. I'm a simple monster." He glances to Gabriel though as the man makes his comment, and snorts. "You were about to cut the man's head open Sylar. And you wouldn't have stopped without a threat to the life of someone you care about, which was rather easy to deduce from the lady's reaction."

He pauses then as the man simply … dissapears, a slight chuckle leaving him as he waits for the bullet to hit. "Make it clean would yah?" he comments back to Eileen, only to turn after a stretch of seconds and no bullet. His head turns, eyes scanning the darkness around him. "Yeah, I guess that was pretty stupid." He shrugs his shoulders, and reaches down to a belt pouch, pulling out what is indeed a pound of C-4 with some blinking lights attached to it. He pops the device out of the C-4 and tucks it into a different pocket before he walks over to the body of Allan Rickham and kneels down next to it, his duffel bag unshouldered as he looks at the iron man who's not so iron anymore. "Thank you Gabriel." he whispers, just in case the man is listening.

Even as Ash's voice echoes off of empty buildings and down desolate streets that whip with refuse and garbage, debris from the end of the world and back again, there are too many more things left undone. It's a hollow victory, here, one left even more absent in sense of triumph by the severe loss of life and the pain accompanying it. Whoever, whatever was at the source of all of this may still remain, and the answers they could have found were swallowed by the bullet that blew those secrets in Rupert's body double's mind across a stage.

A fitting end, truly, for one more pawn of the master manipulator. Even in the end, down to the very wire, he manages to serve up a destraction; leading with one hand while the other withdraws a knife from behind his back.

Messiah's survivors, some of them anyway, will find shelter in a safehouse once dubbed Hotel California, a crumbling skyscraper leaning over midtown like a tired old man ready to topple down. But their rest will be short lived, and the bitter taste of their victory today still will sting their mouths when the sun rises on a new day.

The day.

Maybe after, if there is an after to the 8th of November, there will be time to mend wounds and bury the dead.

Or perhaps there will simply be no more room to bury them.

Two Hours Later

Washington D.C.

A matte white wall ripples like the surface of water, expelling a darkly dressed figure into an office space that is little more than a folding table, wooden chair and a phone plugged into a wall outlet. Gasping for breath, D.L. Hawkins drops to his knees on the floor, hands resting on his thighs as he sucks in a sharp breath, then exhales a more exasperated one.

Standing in the renovated office space, silhouette by the city lights spilling in through the floor to ceiling windows, the figure who has been waiting for him turns a profile to consider the man kneeling on the floor.


It sounds so simple to ask, as if chores were done or laundry taken out.

"Car— " D.L. sucks in a deep breath, trying to forget how much his muscles ache from the near constant running. "Carmichael's dead. Agent Martin's dead too. We're— the whole damn mess is cleaned up. Agent Martin got the recording off before they got to him, we're smooth sailing into tomorrow, ma'am."

He spits, the taste of bile in his mouth. Turning slowly, the man silhouette by the light of the windows furrows his brows, lips downturned into a frown. "Good, then we're right on schedule." Her slender frame moves away from the window, shoes softly clicking on the tile floor, blue eyes narrow as she considers D.L. and tilts her chin up imperiously to observe him, blonde hair falling to frame her face.

"Tell the rest of the team that we're ready," is the smooth response of Sarisa Kershner, "and to move on to the next step of the plan."

A cunning look crosses the former CIA operative's face.

"We have a Presidency to take."

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