What A Lovely Way To Burn


dina_icon.gif elias_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif ethan_icon.gif mallory_icon.gif teo_icon.gif wu-long_icon.gif

Scene Title What A Lovely Way To Burn
Synopsis The Vanguard pins a new stain to PARIAH's shirt. That is, the blood of children.
Date November 21, 2008

Washington Irving High School

To all appearances, little has changed about Washington Irving High School, although it was closed for 20 months after the bomb exploded in Midtown. The windows broken and walls graffitied by mischievous teens during that interval have been restored to their original appearance; the hardwood floors have been recently waxed, the walls are clean, and row upon row of lockers line the halls of all eleven floors. The entrance hall remains elegant in its wood paneling and fireplace, as if nothing untoward ever happened.

Even when school is in session, however, there is a quiet atmosphere unusual in most public schools. Many teachers and students alike did not return when Chelsea was reopened; what faculty there are struggle with too-large classes, at least on those occasions when most of their enrolled students attend class. Some have to teach subjects not their forte, filling in the gaps left by the departed. Before the bomb, this school offered excellent instruction in fashion design and photography, along with an International Baccalaureate degree; now, it's just another example of Manhattan's fight to make ends meet at the most basic levels.

Mid day, just after lunch. Most students are heading back their different courses, whether it be Physical Education or Chemistry. The sun is high, though it is not overly hot. Sunny, but a cool wind blows through this part of the city making it quite comfortable. Most people would describe this as a good day. The bell has just rung and class is just about to begin. Some students are already dozing off while others get ready to listen attentively and brown nose as much as they can to achieve higher marks in the teacher's books. Marks that mean so much to so many students. Marks that in part control the students lives. It seems funny how much stock can be put into such an abstract and such a finite thing.

Outside the High School, a block away a painter's van is parked against the sidewalk. A few people dressed in beige jumpsuits congregate around the outside of the open van doors. One of the painters sits in the back of the van, his elbows propped up on two different metal containers. The painters suits are complete with a hood and most of them wear a white mask over their mouths and noses.

The van is idling, and the radio is on rather loudly. Deep bass lines in a jazz like song sound out, 'Never know how much I love you, never know how much I care, when you put your arms around me, I get a fever that's so hard to bear. You give me fever..'

The cigarette is placed in Ethan Holden's mouth as he lounges inside the van. "Nice song, isn't it? Let's be back by the end of it. It really goes wild at the end." With that the man stands taking a final puff from the cig.

Mallory chews on the last of her celery sticks, having been shooed from the stairwell where she was eating lunch in favour of sitting in a disgusting cafeteria. That rogue. Hood pulled up, she chews her roughage, checks her watch, and debates just skipping out entirely. A couple of girls her age pass by her, glance her way. Mallory glares. The girls hurriedly look away and keep going.

Dina looks back at Ethan as he sits there. "So, what're we doin' dickin' around out here, rather than gettin' in there an' doin' the fockin' job?" This is entirely the sort of thing that she's all too familiar with. "Go in, shoot a few of the wee shites, plant a few bombs, and be on our way."

Not terribly unlike Ethan, Elias is also in the van, although he prefers to sit on the back bumper. Quite unlike Dina, however, he has a very different question. "Should you really be smoking that back there?" he asks, "I mean, it just seems like asking for trouble. You know how this things end in the movies."

Wu-Long's finishing up his own cigarette, though he had started his inside the van. It's gone by the time his commander is finished speaking; he taps it out, ignores the speckle of ash that blows back onto his jumpsuit. Dark eyes swivel between American and Europeans; he volunteers a small, meaningless smile. "We aren't planting anything," he recalls, a gentle contradiction before Holden goes on to elaborate. As for shooting wee shites, well. That may well be fair. He glances down at his right calf, checking that his .9 is smoothly concealed within his canvas pant leg, before reaching up to bind the ropy black of his hair back in a ponytail, an elastic band hooked back from his wrist.

Mallory hears a step behind her, the descent of slightly uncomfortable leather shoes down the concrete staircase. A different — older — professor might have cleared their throat, or started off on an aptly-phrased reprimand with a tautly-pronounced Ms. Allistair. She is, after all, blocking the way, and he's dangerously close to late already. Teo angles one bright blue eye over her huddled shoulder, guessing at the sentiment that inspired the clock check, and inquires, "Looking forward to class, eh?"

Walking through the hallway on her way to meet Simon, Elisabeth pauses to speak to the principal, carrying on a short conversation about how Simon's doing with his first few classes. Liz is actually quite impressed with his ability. And they talk about the rest of her classes. And then she makes her way once more down the hall.

Eyes twitching in rage, the man coolly looks at Dina for a long moment. His feet clap on the ground as he tosses the cigarette on the ground stomping on it, he twists his foot on the thing as he stares very levelly at Dina. "You're acting like a rookie, Murphy. Check yourself and shut your trap before I take disciplinary action." Ethan doesn't often reprimand Dina, though she would often deserve it. Clearly this time she has tipped the scale. After a long moment looking at Dina, he places a finger over his white mask where his lips would be. "No shooting." He says softly, eyeing people walking by on the sidewalk. "Stick to the plan. E, you have North." A glance is given to Elias as he bobs his head to the building north of the highschool. "D, East."His eyes move to Dina, before he turns his back to her. "W, West." That one makes sense. "And I'll take South."

Each painter has a flesh toned earpiece, and a mic though also flesh toned would be disguised by the painters masks. "Once the packages are deliverd, E. You do pick up of W and I. We return to the van, then go to the back of D's building wherein she jumps on top of the van. If any violence is necessary, make it quick, make it quiet, and keep me informed." Though Wu-Long and Elias are trusted soldiers of Ethan's, Dina is something of a loose cannon in his eyes. Someone that can't quite be trusted. If only he could make another of himself..

Reaching into the van he pulls out one metal container, and hands it to Wu-Long, the metal case is a long grey rectangular box most likely a toolbox or an unorthodox painters kit. Or something else, certainly.

"Gosh, no," Mallory deadpans, shooting a dirty look over her shoulder at Teo. "I'm not. But once class is over, I can go to pep squad. Glee." She glances away, spying Elisabeth. She nods, then says, "I heard a rumour that she likes you. You should go be awkward at her."

Dina looks back, unimpressed. "Leave it t' you fockin' Brits to screw somethin' like this up. What in hell's the point of blowin' the fockin' thing up without a face t' pin it to? If you're tryin' to cause terror, somethin' up close an' personal's a lot more memorable than a fockin' RPG hit." She smirks back. "An' if y' try "disciplinary action" with me, y' better fockin' hope you're a quicker shot than I am, y' gobshite, an' I don't think y' are. The boss ordered me t' do the jobs y' got, and I'll do that. Respect…y' got t' earn that. An' yer already in th' fockin' doghouse, or did y' forget the other day with you and Second?" Plus, dealing with Dina, any respect points he has start at about -5000. Though even with that, she's still professional enough to not use names on an operation. "Pass me the bloody launcher an' let's get this done."

"Most important advice I ever received," Elias chimes in, standing up from his seat on the bumper, "Don't lose your cool. And that is exactly what we don't need to do here, right? So, let's just keep it cool, do the job, and when it's all over-" He holds out his hands to his sides, as if to indicate, 'obviously, this part comes next'- "I'll buy the sandwiches, or whatever. We just have to get through this."

Taking only a brief moment to jam his callused hand into a glove Wu-Long accepts his, uh. Painter's kit. Grips the handle in one hand and lets its weight drop gently against the hinges and then down to his side. He squares his shoulder under its weight and turns his head in the direction he was given. Though generally he requires a little psychological preparation to get 'into character' whenever he's undertaking to be something more or less than what he is, he's aware these circumstances differ. Idly entertains the memory of calligraphy class, once upon his youth. That's sort of like painting.

Dina has a point. "Are we branding this electronically, afterward?" 'The Internet.' Even an old beast like him is aware of the thing's existence, now. Wu-Long pushes a lock of hair back from his face.

Teo, in the meantime, has lippy girls to deal with too. He's an odd sight, even for him — and Mal's seen him looking pretty odd, before. The underside of his chin is clouded with purple bruises, notched by a small scab, a faint scratch laced around his throat from where the crooked collars of buttoned shirt and hoodie end. He also looks like he's trying not to laugh. And not at Liz, though he's looking at the older woman, having followed Mallory's line of sight. "And I heard a rumor you don't give a flying monkey's about the grapevine, signorina.

"I'll leave you alone if you'll give me an inch. Promise." He bobs his head downward. Her shit is in the way, a little.

Elisabeth comes abreast of Mallory and Teo in the hall and pauses to speak to them both. "Good afternoon, Mallory," she offers mildly. After their last meeting, she has no intention of pushing the girl. "Enjoying lunch?" Yeah, right. Cuz well… it's a high school. Then she gets a look at Teo's face. What in the bloody hell? He's the THIRD person in the last two days who looks all beat to hell. "Teo…. everything okay?" she asks the young man, looking curiously at him.

"Dina, my darling. You were not hired to think, you're not good at it. Nor were you 'ired to talk. No one can understand you. So please stop both of those and do the job you were 'ired to do." Ethan says simply as he lugs out the next metal case and hands it to Elias. He then gives an incredulous look to Wu-Long. "Whot? Now you're becoming an idiot too? You think I'm new at this W?" The glare slowly relaxes as he nods to Elias. He has a plan, Ethan always has a plan.

The third metal case is pulled out and handed gently over to Dina. "You're on thin ice. Don't fuck this up." The man warns calmly but very sternly. "I wouldn't talk back this time, if I were you." He says again as the case is released. His eyes stay on her, though it isn't exactly menace in his eyes, some would say his expression looks rather.. hopeful for some reason or another.

Once that is done, Ethan goes to get his own case, though an extra duffle bag comes with him. Shuffling in the van to the front he turns off the vehicle and places the keys in his pocket. Then an.. iPod is grabbed out of the cupholder and quickly slipped into one ear and tucked away into the recesses of his jumpsuit.

Dina takes the box. "Pfft. This is like ridin' a fockin' bicycle. This ain't my first dance with these." Not talking back, per se. Just -sayin'-, and all. She checks to make sure earpiece and mic are secure, and then turns to start off towards her designated spot.

Mallory rolls her eyes, stepping to one side. "Whatever," she announces to Teo. Elisabeth's given a sort of nod of acknowledgment. "I just figured there was a brawl in the teacher's lounge to get to the last donut," she mutters, eyeing Teo's state as well.

Elias takes his own case, but he lingers for a bit until he's certain Dina is a 'safe' distance away, and then he leans his masked face close to Ethan's. "You sure this is what we ought to be doing?" he asks in a raised whisper, "I mean… kids?" Seconds thoughts? Elias having second thoughts isn't a new experience to Ethan, for certain. Granted, usually his second thoughts came from not seeing any benefit to him doing something. A little reassurance should be enough to put out this fire.

Teo is twenty fi— twenty six years old. Still young enough to be discriminately stupid, in a bruise-inducing kind of way. Having failed to remember he's still sore, the reminder isn't altogether welcome. He looks downward, surprised by it, before realizing she's referring to the parts of his face visible to everybody except himself. He makes a bit of a face, as if he were just confronted by a spoonful of Robitussin cough syrup; grows a little red around the edges when Mallory throws another peanut from the gallery. "Traffic accident," he says, a little less than automatically, embarrassment tossed in with granulated half-truths. "It wasn't really my fault, and the other guy is fine. Polizia left us without a mark. How are you?"

Wu-Long's expression goes flat, as if someone had cut the electrical current that had been artificially producing the desired effect of humor, concern, and sentiment, leaving only blank animal attention for a brief moment. "I was becoming curious," he says, succinctly. He doesn't expand on that further. The ex-soldier is perfectly aware that he wasn't hired to ask questions and he knows, and accepts the limitations of his role in this particular project. He turns away, as indifferent to the last-minute conference between Elias and Ethan as he is to the upcoming prospect. His boots scuff, ponytail zagging gently behind his shoulders.

Elisabeth winces in sympathy. "I'm fine. Sorry about the accident." She glances at the time. "I have to meet up with my TA before class starts. There's a study session for the next calculus test and I need to go over some notes. But maybe I'll catch up with you after school. Have a good day, you two." She waves to them both and moves to head down the hallway toward her classroom.

As Dina is walking away, Ethan slides out of the van with his own equipment and shuts the doors behind him. Calmly he looks to Elias and gives a sympathetic nod. "I know." He says levelly. "This.. this will get everyone fired up. The people who die today.. are the heroes." He forces himself to say, though he says it quietly. Not loudly in front of all the pedestrians on the sidewalk like Dina. An angered glance flickers to the vanishing woman then back to Elias. "Why do you think I chose what I chose?" He asks the man. "If I wanted to destroy the building. This would not be the way to do it. We're sending fear, while keeping casualties relatively low. Aim for an empty class if it makes you feel better." Ethan says to the man. No mockery, no sarcasm. The heartless killer is feeling for Elias's second thoughts. God knows, Ethan has had his. "It'll be worth it in the end. Now get to it." A nod and Ethan takes his own equipment and heads off away from the van. His iPod is clicked as he walks.

'Fever! When you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight…'

Once away from Ethan, Dina becomes all about the job. Just another workman on the street, that's all. She heads to her building, and then moves to take her position at the rooftop. It's all routine, just mechanics. When she gets there, the box is opened, and the weapon and payload checked. Always double-check. Once she's satisfied it's ready to go, she looks to the building, and says into her mic "In position."

"Tell Simon he's responsible for dinner tonight and it better not be Spaghetti-Os," Mallory tells Elisabeth, slightly indignant.

"Right," Elias says as Ethan walks away, "Empty." Sure, he'll aim for an empty classroom. But everyone else? It's certain enough on some counts; Dina will probably aim to cause the greatest number of casualties possible. Ethan and Wu-Long will just aim. Why couldn't they be planting bombs instead? At least then, he could maybe do something. With a sigh, he lifts his case and walks to the north end of the school grounds. Teleporting now would cause a lot of havoc, and there's going to be plenty of that in a couple minutes without him adding to it early.

Maybe it's one of those schools that'll pretend to stand up to an atomic bomb. That'd be better than nothing.

"Okay. Ciao," Teo says, offering the departing woman a wave. His gaze drops sidelong on the Allistair twin when she staples responsibility to her twin, and he swallows an odd pang of nostalgic. His fingers tighten on the strap of his backpack and he falls lightly onto the step below the girl. "I should get to class, too. Take care, Mallory."

Across the Vanguards' commband, Wu-Long's voice cues in, crisp despite the everpresent filter of his accent. «In position, but there's something wrong with the propulsion rocket. The motor seems to be damaged.» His mood appears to be fairly devoid of annoyance about that whole thing, though the lag between words indicates that the man is slightly distracted as he checks and rechecks the mechanics of the weapon. A quaver-beat, and he confirms simply: «The grenade is operational.»

Elisabeth chuckles at Mallory and replies, "Sure, I'll pass it on." And then she's gone, down the hall and into her classroom where her new TA is waiting so they can go over the notes for the afternoon's lecture. In truth, Liz is learning almost as much from Simon as the kids in the tutoring session are — not that she'll remember it later, cuz well… calculus not her strong suit!

Feet clapping against the road, Ethan steadily makes his way to his own building. Sliding in, a polite smile is given to the receptionist. A wave is given to the receptionist as he enters. "Good afternoon Linda." Ethan says with a smile to the woman as he makes his way to the stairwell. "Got to get back to work." Comes his feigned mildly-Russian accent.
"Good to see you again, Mister Vladimir. Have a great day." The woman says in response, without even looking up from her papers.

Ethan makes his way into the stairwell and then proceeds to quickly bounce up the stairs. His brows quiver for a moment at Wu-Long's message. Though Ethan will wait till he gets to the roof to respond. Once out in the open, Ethan sets both containers down.

The duffle bag is opened quickly, as Ethan goes to work. Though this roof is different than the others. Ethan has been up here before. He has preparations set up. And now the final touches will be made. Ethan goes to work setting up his devices for his own secret purpose. Though eventually he has to respond. «"Hold, D. E, status?"» A pause. «"W. Permission to stand down granted. If you engage with the back up weapon, it's on your own ass. You find your own way home. I don't need to remind you what happens to operatives who are caught."» The secrecy of Vanguard cannot be compromised. Not even for a friend.

The beat continues to thump in his other ear. Once his preparations are made, the case is opened as Ethan pulls out his own RPG. A deep breath is exhaled.

'I light up when you call my name and you know I'm going to treat you right..'

Dina looks annoyed under the mask. She doesn't snipe that she already gave it…while she'll smarm off, never when she's actually -working-. «In position. Ready for go.»

"Whee," announces Mallory. "You have fun. The next time there's only one donut left, use elbows. Elbows." Mallory cranks her arms up to demonstrate a few times before turning about to continue on her way. School. So BORING. Right?

No one ever pays much attention in New York; they all have their own problems. So it's not too much trouble for Elias to simply duck down an alley and make his own hop, straight to the roof; the radio briefly fills with static until he reappears, and then all is normal. «I'm in position,» he informs the others. Fortunately, he's also the only one up on this roof, of this, he is almost totally certain.

A rictus halfway between a grin and a snarl flares over Wu-Long's face, finally, empty of any single sentiment and inaudible across the wire. The next instant, his features are schooled blank. A light breeze scratches cold through his jumpsuit, quiet, in bizarre disconnect with the promise of the heat to come. He hunkers down, disassembling his weapon deftly. He may pay much homage to his home country most days, but on other ones, he belligerently dislikes this cheap made in China bullshit, and that's no discredit to his own genetic make or model. «The payload will be delivered. Have E pick up the launcher from my current location.

«I will see you three later.» He waits only long enough for confirmation before decorporealizing, in a coiling plume of sensory blackness that whispers off the edge of the building.

Teo finds himself looking at the elbow demonstration, even as he finishes the staircase in a too-leggy lope, taking the steps two by two. Mallory isn't wrong. School is really boring, and he lacks the malice in his heart to enjoy putting his students through the necessary wringer of tedium or hassling them about late homework. Andrew probably 'forgot,' again. He's dragging his feet, a little. Remembers only then to take off his hoodie, giving him a vague semblence of respectability despite the bruises. Wrestling his way out of the garment in question evokes a twinge from his scraped torso. Distractedly, he finds himself answering: "Si, they'll open up an eyebrow better than a fist."

His operations already set up, Ethan places the weapon on his shoulder as he aims. His mind is strategic. He works for a certain outcome in every situation. Aim for where the sports kids will be. The heroes of the school. Sad as it is, the most popular children will have the saddest sob stories. The stories that will ignite the American people. What, when they had so much to live for. Find where the locker room would be… Bottom floor. A deep inhale.

"«Very well W. Don't die. E, take your shot. Then pick up W's weapon, then me. D, E. Fire, fire, fire." The man says steadily. His finger grasps the trigger as he sets up his body for the kickback. Though before he can pull the trigger, images flood his head. Images of children that died long ago. "I'm sorry, Nick. I'm sorry Grace." He says oh so quietly.

The trigger is pulled.

'Everybody's got the fever, that is something you all know, fever isn't such a new thing, fever started long ago..'

Dina takes aim. And unlike some of her comrades, who might be aiming for empty classrooms…she's much like Ethan. She'll go for the greatest impact. She aims for the most populous classroom, and presses the trigger, as the missile rips from the launcher towards the school.

"…Are you sure you're not a gym te——" Mallory is asking Teo when the first missile hits. She goes staggering against the wall as the school trembles to the foundations. "What was that?" And then a window explodes from the impact and she goes dropping down onto the floor with a shriek, flinging her hands over her head.

Here goes. Elias aims and looses his own rocket towards a classroom that looks empty, only for it to go careening into a heavily populated bicycle rack; no one ever said these things were dead on accurate. And why didn't he think of aiming for the bicycle rack in the first place? Sorry, kids.

Breaking down and re-boxing his own launcher, Elias squeezes his eyes shut and focuses, and in an instant, he's on another rooftop with Wu-Long, or at least with Wu-Long's launcher. Mail call!

A moment too late, Teo realizes what he'd just said. Something he wasn't supposed to. He was about to feel self-conscious about it, but he feels a grenade ripping a nearby classroom out of the building instead, with a belching crack of plaster and brick and concussive impact that would have put him on his ass if a bit of wall hadn't done it instead, a fractional instant ago. He's deaf in one ear now. Eeee keens staticky, one-note in the side of his skull. He doesn't know why just the one: that doesn't make bunches of sense to him, until he feels liquid heat trail down his corresponding cheek, from his ear. As if he needs more brain damage.

"Mallory," he says, experimentally. His right ear picks it up. He tries to pick himself up, and it feels like trying to bend a pretzel into a straight line, but he gets into a crouch and scrabbles over to her quaking shape. There's a blood-rimmed shoe, smoke, and a lot of dismembered wall in the way; the ceiling drops a light on the spot where he'd been an instant ago, vomitting up sizzling sparks. Somewhere, there's an alarm going.

The rockets rip through the windows and explode upon impact after they smash through the glass barriers. The school definitely does tremble as several explosions hit it at once. Doors blow off their hinges. Classroom walls are blown out, and the people in those rooms suffer greatly. Screaming resounds through the entire building as the rush begins. Before you know it.. The school is in chaos.

The weapon is quickly unshouldered and placed into the metal case. Grasping the lid, the man quickly closes it. His hand is trembling. Locking it up the man stands, if a little shakily as he goes to compose himself. If others were present, he would never allow himself to display such weakness. Control is key. Elias will arrive soon. Pulling the duffle bag back onto his shoulder, the man pulls out one last device. A sleek black detonator. Press the red button.

With that, from the roof of the southern building a very large poster unravels along the side of the building. 'Fortis Et Libre' -PARIAH' In large red letters. Clearly visible from the high school. Not the best diversion in the world, but it doesn't matter. America will want to blame someone. Pariah will be a ripe target, and maybe Evolved as a whole. Arrests will be made soon, on either real Evolved criminals or innocents used to keep America's morale at bay. A light sigh is given. He simply waits for Elias now..

'Fever! I'm a fire! Fever, I burn for you!'

Dina, too, puts the weapon back in the case quickly, and moves more centrally towards the center of the roof, so it's harder to spot her from the ground. «Ready for pickup.»

Mallory coughs, dragging herself up onto her hands and knees, backpack sliding off one shoulder and thumping the wall. She struggles out of the straps and raises her head. "Mister Laudani? Mister Laudani?" she calls out over the ringing in her ears, breaking into another series of coughs and reaching for Teo. "What's — oh my god — oh my god, is that —?" No wit now; just fragments of sentences, incomplete thoughts that can't quite form in all the noise and chaos.

With the lightest wind, Elias appears on the rooftop next to Ethan, both his hands full with managing the two cases he now carries. "Time to get the hell out of Dodge," he says. And he means it; explosions means the Emergency Services Unit will be on their way, and with them, come helicopters. Being spotted is the last thing they need, right now.

Screaming finally parses through Teo's shock-addled senses the instant before the rumble of the adjacent Northern building knocks him off his crouch and over to kneel on legs that had only ever conceded to do so for prayer, and he's totally forgotten to do any of that. It doesn't seem prudent. The floor isn't flat anymore, not because there is shit all over it but because it's split and shifted and seized up in fragments, rucked like linens under a girl. Despite being more than familiar with operating under sub-optimal conditions of violence, like very drunk, this is quite awry. Even back when PARIAH was PARIAH, they didn't… this wasn't—

He crashes into the wall next to Mallory with the elegance of a dead person, and sees the flaming rubble of the Northern through the window, newly emptied of pane. Holy shit. Holy shit. His hands pat clumsily down on Mal's shoulder, an arm crooked over her neck. Mr. Laudani's his father. "Count to seven," he says. The number is a guess. He's been in demolitions and terrorism for awhile, so it's an educated guess, but it's still a guess. If it's a bad guess, well, the caving second floor will hurt as much as another bomb, so. "If there's nothing else, then you run outside." He coughs up plaster and notices one distant scream trickle, gutter into nothing.

Stepping forward, the man slips his detonator into his duffle bag as he grabs Elias's shoulder. Not the first time he has travelled by way of the Elias express. "To the van." Unfortunately, Dina is not teleportable. So they have to pick her up, the old fashioned way. Once in the van, the materials are splayed out and the van kicks into action as the vehicle drives for the back of the northern building to pick up Dina.

'Now, you've listened to my story. Here's the point that I have made. Chicks are born to give you fever..'

Seeing the vehicle down below, Dina heads down to make her way into the van. She opens the back door, tossing in the metal case, then pulling herself in. It's not till the doors are shut that she pulls off the mask. "Go."

'What a lovely way to burn…'

As soon as Dina is in the van, the back doors are closed quickly. Moving to the front, Ethan maneuvers the vehicle out of the alleyway and onto the main streets. The sirens have started already.. The van simply hums away as Emergency Services arrive, practically zooming by the van the vehicle goes innocently along its way. Ethan says nothing, his face a blank slate.

The banner on the building sways lightly in the wind. On top of the building, a few things have been left. When the police arrive hours later, they will find that they had done so without taking the proper precautions. Because, Ethan has left them a present. The last explosion on this fateful day will not be at the school. Not only did Pariah kill children, they would kill some of the police sent to investigate… 'What a lovely way to burn..'

Turning the wheel, Ethan starts to take off his jumpsuit, and wear his clothing underneath. The van will be destroyed along with all the equipment involved in this attack. And soon the angry public will be demanding an answer. But for now, the grey painters van saunters off deeper into New york City.

'What a lovely way to burn..'

"Three," Teo says. Helping out. He keeps turning his head to and fro, a motion that feels like breaking his neck because the muscles there really don't want to: all he would really like to do is curl up and hide. Still, he keeps looking; tries to understand, to figure out where to go once Mallory is out; where he'd do the least harm, if not the most good. One blast found its epicenter over there, and the load-bearing walls will be gone through to there, and— "Four." Though everyone's probably just dead in there, really, and he's as likely to join them. Further out, there are a few more academic delinquents who'd dawdled on their way to class. They might be hurt.

Maybe— "Five." His fingers tighten on Mallory's sweater and his cheek smudges pale dust on her hair. It's terrifying, how quickly some anonymous face at work can become a real person to you. The only thing worse is to think of why the others aren't. He doesn't think about that, right now. "Six."

Mallory trembles in Teo's grasp, eyes wide yet seeing nothing. Electricity gives short, buzzing bursts of noise to punctuate the popping and creaking of the structure. "…Seven," she whispers, hands balled up in his shirt. Tilting her head up, she fixes him with a frightened stare. "Is it… is it safe?"

November 21st: Hunches and Speculations

Previously in this storyline…
The Sword of Rebellion

Next in this storyline…
Still Burning

November 21st: Still Burning
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