When I Said 'Action'


cat_icon.gif leonard_icon.gif maxwell_icon.gif sable_icon.gif wendy_icon.gif

Various NPCs by Chinatown.

Scene Title When I Said 'Action'
Synopsis A few of Humanis First!'s gun-toting yahoos attack the set of Multiple Man once again, hoping to do a little damage. Coincidences such as weakened subterranean structural work, an unexpected Evolved manifestation, and a gas leak conspire to do more.
Date August 30, 2009


Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

In this scene, Parker Blue is supposed to come hurtling around the left corner of the derelict bank on-foot, in hot (scathing) pursuit of the man who can shapeshift into a wolf form. There is supposed to be a full-body tackle through the whistling slot where the glassed doors used to stand, into the dark. A viscerally stirring physical struggle of creature against man that then reduces both men to the struggle of creature against creature. (Multiple Man can copy others' abilities. It's in the first line of the plot summary on IMDb.)

There's a lot of CGI going to be involved from Industrial Light and Magic, as you imagine, but even for the first part, the director and agent were in agreement: Quinn would have to leave it to the stuntie. It was simply too dangerous, even after the sweepers had taken the worst of the gravel and sharded glass dust out of the way, there was considerable reason to suspect that the footing may be uncertain. Maxwell Quinn's left ankle is insured for only slightly less than his right. Shins could get involved. And some stupid janitorial serviceman had installed trash cans which, though out of sight and decently camouflaged for the sterile dirt and gritty gray of the Midtown ruins over, could very well get run into. In other words, it's dangerous, and thus: a stuntman has been left to quarrel mightily with the cantaloup-sized mop-head that suffices as his enemy combatant over the past three takes or so. He will get a break when it's time for the other mop-head to take over.

It's a little insufferable for the young star, maybe. A tiny tulip of an umbrella stands between Maxwell's head and the baleful speculation of the sun's eye over midtown. A folding chair for the star holds him in a loose embrace like commiseration. Only a few yards behind him, he can hear a duckling's scattering of feet pattering and clicking along, logical shoes interspersed with the skittering click of heels, both designer and secretarial. The vulture leads. Granted, Fanelia is a very well-groomed, well-educated, and well-dressed vulture, with white gold on her ring finger and a politically correct habit of greeting even the lowldy drudges as Mr. McAllister and Mr. Shelby by name when they happen to get underfoot, but her purpose is clear. Stock options, merchandising opportunities, fresh mea— excuse her. Investors. Carrion crawlers are merely predators with patience.

And here we have filming, the Paramount guide is saying. She explains the scene, gesturing with blue fingernails. While we've saved a good deal of capital by choosing to film exactly on-location, the elevated risks since the Humanis First! attack have brought costly security measures— and publicity, as Catherine Chesterfield knows; the broker never would have thought to come to her and the other wealthy but ultimately irrelevant private citizens that fill the rest of the duckling train, otherwise. As you can see by the guard personnel posted at intervals through the set. We've also taken great measures to make this… post-apocalyptic urban environment hospitable enough for use of our supply runners, crew and staff, and, of course, our actors and their personal aides and so on. That's Mr. Quinn right there! It's approaching lunch-time; he may have time to say hello.

Dozens of yards back from the set, yellow ribbons mark off the area where 'coincidental' passers-by ought not come further. A knot of homeless people and girls who've played hookey to be here this afternoon, cellphones ready to Tweet, eyes eager for the moment somebody— maybe one of the people who these luxury cars are waiting out here for— comes out to eat at a restaurant with gold foil in the table bouquets.

And thus: the skeletal remains of Manhattan's gutted torso is reduced to so much ambience and so many props. God bless Hollywood.

"Don't see why they couldn't have used you" Wendy is near Max, as she's want to do when she's not busy with painting/art and getting stoned on refrain and marijuana. "It's not like you don't know how to do it. You did it before, but now, suddenly, they won't let you" There's a screwing up of the black haired woman's nose. high high waisted jeans, red chunky shoes and a black shirt with more chunky red jewelry. She nurses a green starbucks caramal frappuchino between her cherry lips. She's been here all day, the pass that hangs on a lanyard around her neck. "You gonna be okay?" Goldfishy eyes look over to the 'major movie star'.

Honest to God, Sable came here for the ruined grandeur and tragic atmosphere of the city's once vital (and financially salient) heart. She expected it to be a empty, haunted place, like a bombed out Cathedral after the blitz, or the death-shadow strewn hallways of a Hiroshima Hospital. Something deadly, and something sacred. She was gonna soak it all in, and maybe try and write some lyrics for her band, because /that's/ the best way to commemorate grand tragedy.

Imagine her rage at the temerity of these Hollywood goons, swooping in and churning out the cash. What an insult to all the good men and women of means who bought and sold stock on these streets, to the thespians that put on the spectacles of Broadway, to the tourists who came to marvel at the mass media masterpiece of Times Square, to have Tinsel Town cash in without /them/ being able to get a piece! Sable channels this ghostly fury, lurking at the very edge of the taped-off section, kicking stones and muttering things she's too afraid to shout. "Mrblemumblefascists- grumblegrrblejackles…"

Honest to God, Sable came here for the ruined grandeur and tragic atmosphere of the city's once vital (and financially salient) heart. She expected it to be a empty, haunted place, like a bombed out Cathedral after the blitz, or the death-shadow strewn hallways of a Hiroshima Hospital. Something deadly, and something sacred. She was gonna soak it all in, and maybe try and write some lyrics for her band, because /that's/ the best way to commemorate grand tragedy.

Imagine her rage at the temerity of these Hollywood goons, swooping in and churning out the cash. What an insult to all the good men and women of means who bought and sold stock on these streets, to the thespians that put on the spectacles of Broadway, to the tourists who came to marvel at the mass media masterpiece of Times Square, to have Tinsel Town cash in without /them/ being able to get a piece! Sable channels this ghostly fury, lurking at the very edge of the taped-off section, kicking stones and muttering things she's too afraid to shout. "Mrblemumblefascists- grumblegrrblejackles…"

Leonard is sort of the general security goon/driver. Wearing the company uniform, watching the filming with interest….hovering protectively near Maxwell, and reading during the slow periods. A copy of 'The Jungle Book', specifically, well worn.

Maxwell Quinn is thinking more and more that he should quit acting and go back to stunts. It's a mighty blow to his ego to not be allowed to do a stunt, especially one as minor as this. He's done more dangerous work the film over. Wire-work, pyrotechnics, stunt driving. It's a point of pride that he does his own work. He's a stuntman first and an actor second - a distant second, by many peoples' estimation.

"Nngh," says Max, noncommittally in response to Wendy's words. He's usually a fairly cheerful guy, but this has him squirming in his seat. "Fucking…insurance agency. They're paranoid. That guy's out there doing my work. If the guys back in LA hear that I didn't do this scene? They're gonna piss themselves laughing." His face is mostly hidden behind a pair of stylish, oversized glasses. A faux cut slices down his cheek and his clothing has been artfully dirtied. He holds a lollipop in one hand that he occasionally sticks into his mouth. "I'll be glad when this is over." He's getting used to ignoring lookie-loos. The sunglasses help. "Hey Leo man, can you see if there's any iced tea at craft service?"

With the tour, Cat is alert and attentive. Her eyes roam around over everything and everyone she can possibly see present. It wasn't a big thing for her to have contributed, and she has so much curiosity. The script, the very premise of the film has echoings from her own life. Uncomfortable echoings. Who the hell out there knows the big story and turned it into this, sold it to Hollywood? It isn't likely she'll discover that answer in one day around the set, but she might hear something of a clue. Or make a connection that could ultimately lead there.

But she also knows this place could be a target of HF, whom she's been involved in battles with and found herself unarmed twice in the past week. The set could be struck again, thus the security. It has her dressed in such a way as not to be so easily recognizable if camera shutters are busy in her vicinity. Yankees cap pulled down low, mirrored shades, jeans, athletic shoes, non-descript blouse.

Hollywood's temerity isn't about to balk under the incinerating fervor of Sable's regard, however burninating that regard is. The guardsman posted before the parking area stares past her bristling porcupine head with the impassivity of a true professional— at least, for about two and a half, three minutes, before the niggle and pinch of Sable's artistic sensibilities gets his jaw in a twitch, the corner of his mouth threatened by amusement that he's kept ruthlessly restrained since the week he was hired.

The big man breaks eye-contact with the hollow hive of a nearby apartment complex derelict, after a moment. Offers Sable a reassuring wink. "Don't worry," he says, appropos of nothing, his voice kept low, lest superiors discover that he's communicating with the enemy. However unlikely a gossip-mongering Tweeter the young musician looks. "It'll be over soon, and then it'll be like Paramount was never here."

Three or four manneredly bright, female voices enthuse about the prospect of greeting Quinn in person, and they're met with acquiescence, but it's Catherine that Fanelia ends up clicking close to, her mahogany-colored mouth quirking around a companionable smile. "Don't tell anyone I said anything," she says, with an edge of conspiracy that doesn't quite breach the boundary truly inappropriate, "but I think you're more Quinn's type than any of the other painted birds here. He's a very humble and down-to-Earth kind of guy." It is, of course, completely irrelevant to their intents and purposes what kind of guy Maxwell Quinn is when he's being marketed to the painted birds. These social contracts tend to adhere fairly closely to the financial ones, and no one really expects anything to come of it. "This way, ladies and gentleman."

A half-scroll of glossy brochure uplifted, Fanelia herds them toward the trio rooted in around Maxwell's cluster of entourage. Behind her, there's a pop-pop-popping of someone fighting a pressurized canister for the thingy that's meant to make the gravel lurch about, and then an abrupt cymbal clash of shouting and boots scudding, as the stuntman and the terrifying mop-head come racing around the edge of the bank's snaggletoothed and cavitied maw. It isn't, honestly, like Maxwell's missing out on much. "Mr. Quinn~" Fanelia calls out, eroding into their personal bubbles wiht a scent from Gucci. "Would you care to meet our guests?"

Squinting myopically at the blur of needly silhouettes through the tent wall, the hobo to Sable's left spits.

"Uhoh, here come the hormone. Better put on your game face" Wendy whispers as the entourage approaches. Cue her to exit stage left, at least enough so that the gaggle can gaggle around their target. If that means she goes with Leonard for to fetch some ice tea, well, she goes with leonard to fetch some iced tea. "How you doing Shelby?"

Sable feels immediate panic at being addressed by an figure of pseudo-authority. A firmer tone might have sent her scampering after the hobo, taking solace, perhaps, in whatever hobobrew he has cooking back at his hobohole. What artistic explorations this might have gained her, and thus the world, are unrealized. The mannerly method of the guard's expression give Sable just the inch she needs.

"Man, fuck you, and fuck this. Might as well put up a fucking billboard or some shit, right here. Or, like, start a studio tour. 'On your left, we shot the star of 'Assholes Do New York' jerking off, but he had to use digital imagery, cuz his prick was too small to catch on film!'." Nice. Because that was totally called for. Her legs tense, ready to run at the first sign that she's crossed the line. Fighting the power is risky business.

"Makes me glad I ain't in film," Leo observes, sagely, as the little swarm of people heads towards Max. He looks weary, a little bored, as he places an order for two iced teas at craft services. "I'm good. You?"

The general cacaphony of the set is tuned out like so much white noise. Max keeps one eye tuned on the scene, lollipop brought to his mouth with the frequency of a smoker. Wendy brings his attention to the tour group. He has time to let out a heavy sigh before they're close enough to notice. Of course he doesn't care to meet these people, but he's learned that if he wants the big money, he has to smile pretty and make nice.

"Afternoon ladies and gents. So, uh…Fionula, is it?" He knows her name. He just likes to yank the chain of the salespeople. "…who're these fine folks, then?" His stuntman ego would much rather be doing something cool when there are visitors about, rather than lounging in a chair while someone else pretends to be him.

The studio's guide gets a thin smile at her assessment of Cat's down-to-earthness, and a light chuckle. "I'll remember you said that," she replies. And as the group is neared, her hidden eyes settle on the man himself. The actor/stuntman whose life she's put a little effort into studying, details memorized by sight alone. Cat's demeanor is that of not being terribly stricken by celebrity, someone interested in how it all works but not at all star struck.

Leonard is of course recognized, but she gives him no acknowledgement and hopes he'll do the same. This is so very not the place to seem associated.

Sable makes the guard kind of sad. That's what you get for trying to be understanding! Up until noon-time today, he had fit squarely in the category of private security that didn't get off on roughing up or otherwise being assholes to squirrely little civilians who just cluttered, confused, or got underfoot in situations. A scowl threatens the young man's brow with darkness like a thundercloud; he stares at Sable for a protracted moment, annoyance threatening a steely tremor in the lines of his arms where they emerge bulky out of his tee sleeves, lips caging white against some form of retort.

He merely turns his eyes away. And that, no doubt, is disappointing too.

"Hey!" The salutation goes off at Wendy's elbow like a bubble of carbonated fizz rupturing the surface of a sugary soft drink: the director's toadie, a small, prim man with a perpetually harried look about his spectacled eyes, prone to the constant kinesis of a busy man, or else, a neurotic squirrel. "Hey. Hey, ummm" he stares at Leonard a moment, trying to… remember his na? "Have you guys seen Mr. Harbor's megaphone? The big red one? I only found the little blue one, but he's getting all pissed because…

"It isn't loud enough and he wrote some notes in a spiral-bind that seems like it's gone, too." Also, because Mitch Harbor is a notoriously Type A personality, whose creativity is engined by a propensity for all kinds of explosions, internal as well as the artificial productions of demolitions experts. The faint scent of garlicky burgers presides the tent. "Any ideas? No?" He's deflating at a visible rate, a sigh lugubrious, small shoulders collapsing inward. The sheen of sweat across his bald spot has only so much to do with the stinking humidity of the summer, this afternoon. "It's a megaphone. This big." He puts his hands apart: pretty big. "And red as fire engine. Where could it go?"

Fanelia's smile grows faintly brittle at this tease, but she recovers with a blink, slaps on a fresh encrustation of sugar. "Miz Chesterfield, lawyer in her own right and heiress," she introduces, before proceeding to list off the rest of the drove in rapid-fire succession. "Maxwell Quinn, our brightest star." Unless Kaye and Werner happen to be on-set, of course, and the guests male in majority, in which case the brightest star is— "After lunch, I believe there's a transformation sequel which will require a series of close-ups." Fanelia patently ignores the slight wheeze exiting the lungs of the middle-aged woman to her left, trained in her own way to phase out white noise. Other times, the stars do strike. "How's filming been tod—?"

It isn't so very loud, interruption when it comes, but loud enough to pry Fanelia's attention loose. A sculpted brow stoops slightly, and she lifts her head. "Did you hear?" Another jolt of quiet takes her, distraction that begins to color the hauteur of her cheekbones, the next instant. "I'm sorry," she flusters, "I could have sworn I grew up on a farm, and the pigs sounded just like…"

"Uh.. maybe it's over near…. the trailers? I thought maybe I saw someone with the thing?" In other words, no, she hasn't, but she's trying to be helpful. Wendy looks over at Leonard, a shrug of her shoulders. "It goes okay. Gonna be strange to not have filming here when its' done" The brunette tilts her head from side to side, humming a bit, keeping an eye on the gaggle around Max. "Fuck, he hates that. he's rather be alone and not have to deal with all the attention. Poor guy."

Victory! Sable flips the guard the bird once his back is safely turned to her. Take that, Capitalism! Or Consumerism. Some ism Sable is certainly an opponent of. Whatever it may be, all this revolutionary action really makes her crave a Gatorade(TM). Taking the power back depletes electrolytes. It's a fact.

The sound that bugged Fanelia also gets to Sable's ears, and her remaining alertness makes her jump a little. It sounds… like a megaphone? She turns, looking for the source of the sound, lifting a hand to block out the glare from above. A ways off she can see people on a rooftop. Did the sound come from there? And yes, the foremost chap seems to be handling something that could hardly be anything else like a pro. More movie people, Sable figures. A rush of bravery/adrenaline flushes her and she shakes her fist at the silhouettes. "That's right, fuckers! Let's here the latest propoganda from Big Media!" It's doubtful they can hear her, and that's probably why Sable is willing to speak to openly.

"Heh," Leonard says, as he's handed the pair of iced teas. "Cry me a river, huh?" He eyes Harbor's assistant quietly. "No, haven't seen it," he says. "I'll keep an eye out, though."

"Nice to meet you all. I believe our valiant Mr. Harbor decided to jam in just about every known Evovled ability into this movie and get me to manifest them at one point or another," says Max with a grin that's Hollywood without meaning to be. He pushes his sunglasses up onto his head. He has a black eye, though it's anyone's guess whether it's real or makeup.

When Fanelia's attention goes elsewhere, he peers to try and see where here attention has gone. "Mmm, all sorts of weird sounds on set. I just kind of tune it all out. Less it's Joe or Mitch bellowing at me to get my ass on-set."

"Doctor Chesterfield," Cat corrects with a slight grin. Yes, that's what the diploma says, complaints may be directed to the powers that be at Yale University and every other law school. "But Cat will do nicely, Mr. Quinn." Her head tilts, she pauses for a moment to frame thoughts. "The whole thing is an interesting premise. I wonder where the inspiration for the story came fr…" That squeaking noise causes her words to cut off, mirrorshaded eyes moving to settle on the distant figures who seem to have produced it. "I think that may be a megaphone up there."

"Frrw" squeak, squall, chirp. Feedback crescendoes, finally, enough to break into the hearing of the majority of the set's people citizens, distorting and reverberating through the lank moisture of the air, struggling over three hundred yards' of distance, across the parking area and into the set area. Somewhere in the back, Mr. Harbor is snapping at his personnel: the stuntman pulls himself up off the ground, dusting his clothes off, chagrined as the man handling the lights is spooked out from behind the controls, acquiesces to stick his head out and try to see what's going on. "MUTANT FREAKS ARE THE ENEMY TO EVERY FULL-BLOODED AMERICAN CITIZEN!"

This time, the words come through loud, clear, coherent. Soundwaves ricocheting off dusty and blast-scarred building facades, rebounding off the flat of the street.

"THIS FILM IS PRO-EVOLVED PROPAGANDA DESIGNED TO POISON TRUE BELIEVERS. IT HAS BEEN MARKETED AS A STORY OF HEROES AND VILLAINS, BUT THERE ARE NO HEROES IN THIS STORY. THERE ARE ONLY THE WEAK AND THE EVIL, PLAYING LIKE PERVERTS AT GROUND ZERO OF THE WORST EVOLVED SIN SINCE '06." Fanelia's head finally clicks to a stalwart angle, her attention locked on the rooftop back, out beyond the tape boundaries, behind the usual accumulation of fans, homeless persons, Sable and her own tiny mushroom of noise. Which does, indeed, escape without actually soliciting the attention of this new source of Big Man propaganda. Doubtlessly fortunate for her. To her right, a tween in a copper miniskirt finally gets her cellphone at the proper trajectory, though its round red recording icon has been bleating long since. "YOU HAD YOUR WARNING, MITCH HARBOR. JOSEPH STETZMEN! YOU HAD YOUR FUCKING WARNING.



Point four minutes earlier, the security personnel on the ground had already gotten moving: summoning the police, dragging Harbor bodily out of his 'zone' despite the claws he'd almost literally sunk into the site of the werewolf duel, instructing Fanelia, Maxwell, starting even toward the heiress and the telekinetic at the food stand. Their instruction is terse, their manner brief but pragmatic, moving everybody out, ordering bags, containers, all held objects be discarded. It's then, though, that very moment that the first trash can erupts in a starburst conflagration of ANFO, reeking burnt gasoline and sending aluminium wafers of shrapnel spinning.

Instantly, the head of security is— in half, leaving blood and viscera in chunky ketsup smear over the half dozen sound crewmen flattened out on the ground. the toadie at Wendy's side slams into her hip, with tinny shuriken jutting from the meat of leg and ribs, mid-complaint, a squeal tearing itself out of his lungs but almost drowned under the second blast: the next trash goes up in a belch of smoke and spray-metal, cracking like teeth through the construction of the tent. The asphalt groans, a noise that seems to channel itself through the entirety of the street, as if the abandoned neighborhood was its own acoustic chamber, walled off and singing. The lunch lady shrieks and hurls away the green cooler in her hands. It pinwheels like a child's toy in the air, slow-motion and muted by the deafness that prevails over everyone on-set.

Where the cooler lands, the first crack blinks out underneath the camera man named Howard, and promptly splits into eight. His eyes go huge in his head, and he looks up, stares, eyes clapping with unerring acuity on the nearest trash can over. It squats like a gargoyle in the corner of Maxwell's shelter, a Budweiser can winking merrily above its grime-smeared rim.

Humanis first. Again. Oh god. The starbucks cup is squished in her hand, the plastic turning white where it's bent, and the brunette looks horrified. When garbage can's start exploding, and shrapnel is going this way, that way and she's miraculously devoid of anyt hanks to Toadie: the shield, She's immediatly going down beneath the table, dragging the toadie with her, a panicked expression on her face. "Not again, not again!"

Oh, holy /shit/. This… this is part of the movie right? It's like a Kaufmann kind of movie shooting in a movie, thing. The /real/ director is going to shout 'aaaand CUT!' any moment now. Boy, Hollywood is violent these days, and that gore looks /so/ real, but it's just corn syrup and food coloring and… "Fuck fuck FUCK!" Sable howls, and begins pelting for cover, away from the megaphone, away from the gruesome remnants of the security team. She really should have gone after that hobo.

This is like that time Thompson screwed up with that IED. Why is why Thompson came home from Fallujah in a bag. "Fucking hell," says Leo, oh so eloquently. "Fucking hell." Somehow shrapnel and explosives have missed Leo, and it's Max he heads for. What's a good bodyguard going holding drinks when there's genuine danger to be dealt with. His power's already half-unchained, and he's trailing the usual cloud of dust, debris, and shrapnel, like Pigpen in a rage. He ducks down to the slithering mess that was head of security, in hopes his -gun- might still be intact.

In the make believe world of Multiple Man, there are no bigoted terrorists. There are only the shiny, fictional freedom fighters who get branded unfairly. There are Russians with cheezy accents who are twenty years out of date as villains. There is a thug-headed guy named Rich, there is sex and violence, sanitized and rated R for adult situations. There is a hero named Parker Blue who uses his power responsibly.

This is not a movie. This is real life.

And Maxwell Quinn isn't a hero, but he is a former soldier. When things start to explode, his hands dart out to grab for Cat and for Fanelia, to pull the women down and away, out of the path of flying shrapnel. A hot bit of aluminum sings off and cuts deep in his arm. The surge of pain, the slick feeling of blood as it soaks down his arm, decorating gorily - gorier than the faux cuts he sports. "Mother…fucker." And he's normally such a polite boy, too.

He straightens, tries to get a bead on the enemy. It's like someone's hit a switch and he's in Somalia again, packing fifty pounds of kit on his back and dodging IEDs. Suddenly, there's a strange heavy feeling in his gut and the thrum of his heartbeat in his ears. All around him, little bits of shrapnel start to wriggle. The aluminum Budweiser can rattles to left and right, then starts to vibrate with violent intensity. Then it starts to slide, and as the feeling in Max's stomach grows, the can lifts off the ground and shoots with the speed of a potato canon to slam against the craft food truck and explode in a shower of fizzy alcohol and crushed aluminum. The remnants of the can stick to the truck like glue.

Metallic items all around in a perfect circle from Maxwell, in pulses like ripples folding away from the shore, start to skitter, vibrate, hum and then go flying towards other metal objects. A cone develops around him, enough to nauseate anyone within five feet. And then, with all the pleasantry of a dry heave, the air around him ripples, cascading off in all directions.

A camera sparks and groans, mobile phones go dead. Lights pop in a hail of sparks. A microchip controlled crane groans, releases a guy wire, sending a prop plummeting to the ground.

Max heaves again and another pulse ricochets out, catching a fuse box and sending an overload surge down the wires. Bit by bit every piece of electronic equipment is fizzling, popping, and going dead. Weapons, both friendly and unfriendly jam as the pulse sweeps over them. Metallic objects become charged and whiz towards each other. And Max is on his knees, face to the ground, heaving with vomit that doesn't come.

She doesn't need to be grabbed, Cat isn't the kind to freeze. Soon as the first explosion happens she lowers her body and looks for, moves toward, the nearest thing which might shelter her and others from the lethal debris it makes. It's even possible she might be helping Mr. Quinn get Fanelia down and covered. Then she's looking for a weapon while being careful not to expose her head to things that fly and cut.

She struggles with the initial effect of Maxwell's reaction, after recovering asking the man quietly "EMP?"

This is about the time that the sinkhole opens. That, mind you, is a complete accident: surprises everyone, especially the terrorists up on the rooftop, who are suddenly left blinking when their view of the running gnats and sharp-tongued flames is cut off by an abrupt bulge of dust from ground-level.

Asphalt falls inward, taking one bank wall with it, hundred yards of Midtown cross-section imploding like flesh-eating bacteria getting through a diagram of human epidermis. Concrete tumbling down piecemeal, faded traffic stripes flashing and blinking in waspish brackish and yellow, buried cables, subterranean pipes, rust-eaten rebar down, down, down, amid a hapless tumble and rubber-limbed jounce and scramble of human beings reeling down, down, d— well. Not that far, really. Fifteen feet's less than two stories, but it's a bad fall if you're older than young, and underneath the seismic rumble there is the brittle snap of leg bones giving out like celery stalks, ribs fracturing upon impact, gravity surging to meet a dozen people like trains. The ground lurches, shudders, stills. People scream: the tweeny fangirls, not least of all, despite that they're beyond the radius of the blast zone, not unlike Sable herself. Only, you know, certain differences in upbringing keep them rooted fascinated, slack-jawed and amazed on the spot, while the girl makes fast tracks away.

Wendy's table tilts. The ground, the toadie, and the young heiress tilt with it, his small hand closed slimily on her fingers, eyes huge with shock. "Oh my God," he says. He doesn't have to look down to see the seam opening below their ludicrously flimsy shelter, but he does so anyway, before his own eyes proceed to goldfish to nearly the geometric proportions of Wendy's bulging out of the pits of her skull. "Oh my God," he says, the former chipmunk cadence of his voice reduced to a broken rasp of terror. Wendy can smell something, thickening the dust and terror sweat in the air. "W-Wendy— run."

Humanis First! operatives go silent. Glance at each other for a long moment, quizzically, waiting for the third detonation that never comes, before they summarily scatter like termites back into the scarred gray of woodwork. Whoa. What.

Nnnnnever mind.

Cold composite meets Leonard's callused fingers, the holstered firearm pushing black against the red smear of his searching palm.

Sable's sneakers ring-clink-clangor against a grille. Subway or sewer, it's hard to tell, but it's then— even as some unidentifiable stranger crashes his longer stride past her small frame, elbowing brusquely past her ribs, that she smells it too, the unwelcome chemistry funnelled through underground cavities by the force of explosions.

That sickening smell, that fake scent added to Gas through pipes so that when it leaks, those around can smell it. Saves many a person from death from inhaling it and no oxygen. Her mental focus is on the guy - who's evolved, she knows this but never really had the chance to ask him what it was that he did. Same as she never really asked Max why he went around saying non evo when in fact he was and was an electrokinetic - she's grabbing onto under the table, but as the ground tilts, jolting her and him from their hidy hole and that smell starts to curl around them, Wendy stares at him.

"GAS LEAK!" The brunette suddenly starts screaming at the top of her lungs, both hands now used to pull at the toadie, try and pull him up, feet scrabbling at the tilted ground and pulling with all her might and trying to ignore the weird sensation she gets off of him. Just try and back away from the burgeoning chasm and the broken gas main in there. "GAS LEAK!" in other words. Don't fire the gun.

Even if Wendy hadn't pointed out this nasty little detail, that distinct, good/awful/braincellkilling smell that rises from her feet is one Sable recognizes: she's worked at any number of Shell stations during her winding way from Atlanta, so she recognizes the stench of gas readily. This is just getting worse and worse. She needs to get off this grate like, fast. She's no stuntman, and she's got no asbestos suit.

She turns sharply, plunging through the flimsy barrier meant to kept undesirables at bay. Security has bigger fish to fry, and those trailers look, if not bulletproof, than more resistant to damage than her tank top. The yellow tape catches on her, snapping free of its fastening points and fluttering around behind Sable like the finishing line of a race. If only it was so easy to be home free.

Good. Power aside, high calibres are always helpful. Leo tucks it into the waist of his pants, drapes his shirt over it. And then he's grabbing Max by the upper arm, and levering up, as if the other mutant were a recalcitrant toddler. He's sweeping the area with his eyes, looking for any sign of hostile activity. "EVERYBODY OUT!" he bellows at the top of his lungs, already dragging Max towards the nearest way out.

Maxwell can't control the heaves that constrict his gut and close up his throat, can't answer Cat's question. The heaves come in pulses, scattering out wave after wave of EM energy. Metallic objects that get caught in their path suddenly find themselves charged and attracted, sending deadly projectiles through the air, some at great speeds. He grunts out sounds of pain, eyes watering, sliding streams of dirt - some of it makeup, some of it real - off his cheeks.

Anyone within five feet of the moment of a heave is hit with a wave of nausea and a sense that up is no longer up. Closer to him and extremeties start to tingle and prickle - at first with the harmless sensation of pins and needles, but quickly sharpening with longer exposure.

He remains peripherally aware of the deepening chaos around him, but for the moment, any logical thought is derailed by the spasms as his body generates electromagnetic pulses and expels them, like some highly destructive form of the hiccups.

Hiccups that have a tendency to spark electronic equipment as the pulse hits them.

The pulses don't stop when Leo gets to him. All that it manages to do is change the radius of the pulses, catching pieces of electronic equipment that were, moments before, out of its reach. A heave hits him just as Leo grabs him. The weapon in his waistband becomes charged and starts to slip upwards, attracted to a piece of steel rebar jutting out of the earth.

She fights against the effects that hit her again and again, dovetailing with Cat's memories of Jersey City in late January, when Agent Carmichael's psychic blast forced her to struggle in reaching the objective and using her thermite grenade to destroy the virus, and then made it necessary to bail out. Leaving Brian and Al, now known as Leonard, behind to be captured. It isn't easy now. It hurts, and she feels like giving in, but the force of will remains.

The same force of will that let her hold firm when Ethan Holden made his threats, demanding information, even at the threat of amputating her lover's thumb. And which let her hold it in, not give Ethan the satisfaction of seeing her react. "Quinn!" she growls while staggering to move after him when Leonard makes his extraction move, "get a fucking grip on yourself and stop this! Focus on me and what I tell you!"

A ridiculous mirror clatters and cracks against Sable's shoulder, affixed all over with photographs of nightclubs that it would probably cost her a kidney to get into. There's a beautiful redhead smiling out from most of them, and the furnishings within, the perfume bottles that tip and tumble over, pool the stinking luxury of their liquid contents against the fabric of her pants imply that the temporary home she just stumbled into belongs to a starlet who did her best to make it into a temporary mansion. The carpet comes up, practically, to her knees and feels like a season's worth of dead baby harper seals.

Through the walls, dulled, the spectrum of human screeches and deconstructing masonry is compressed to an audible band. It sounds like Hell's finally come through the gate.

Too many people are screaming for help, and just as many fighting merely to get away. The hapless toadie can barely walk at Wendy's side, but the certain desperate need to live shores up broken anatomy with surfeit adrenaline. There's all this blood on him, on the wrong side of his skin; he can barely believe Wendy's still here, trying to help, but the angle of the ground is getting stranger by the second and his center of balance is thwarted further still by the pernicious weakness spreading out of the man they're trying to follow to safety. Weakness that's stacked on the tingle of asphyxiation that's already masticating on the edges of Wendy's senses.

Suddenly, the injured man she's struggling with is shoving her to turn, turn right, run, pick a course perpendicular to the imminent tilt and slide of broken asphalt instead of moving against it. He swears— through the dust, he think she can see— there's a trailer a few hundred yards beyond, over into the mouth of the next intersection, its door already ajar.

The gun is a drag against Leonard's hip that elaborates on that whole 'gate of Hell' metaphor in a way that might remind oneself of drowning, the pull of remorseless and unrelenting talons. It jerks a stumble into his step before, finally, frees itself with a faint rip of fabric, cartwheeling end-over-end back, back, toward the sinkhole toward an exposed shard of metal where a hydrant used to squat.

Protection, haven, something. Maybe nothing. If stuff explodes, well, at least they'll be buried in some place to give them some protection. Wendy can take the hint, even as oxygen is become more an issue to her than to others and with a firm grip on toadie's arm, a cessation in her screaming gas leak - since doing so wastes precious oxygen - She barrels on her chunk heels and ever wobbling, weakening knees with toadie towards said trailer and it's open door. weebles wobble but this one isn't ready quite yet to fall down.

Sable coughs, suffering her own, somewhat less pressingly awful version of asphyxia as the fragrances assault her. Her eyes water as the alcohol vapors sting, and she pokes her head out of the trailer in an attempt to escape this small-scale chemical attack. This momentary emergence is just enough to allow her to spot Wendy and the badly wounded toadie, and just enough to make Sable's stomach lurch. Does she /have/ to be brave or some shit? She spends a precious second sizing up Wendy. It's the heels that make up her mind: first, they make it clear that the pair could use a hand, and second… well… Wendy looks extra cute in them and heroics are /so/ much easier when you get to impress someone. Cursing herself even as she pops out of the trailer and pelts over to the teetering pair, she stoops at the other side of the bleeding man, gripping and lifting, "There!" she shouts, and points to the place from whence she came, "Comon'!"

Oh, no you don't. The gun stops in midflight, held by Leo's power, even as he strikes Max firmly on the ear, like a recalcitrant dog. "Max. Stop it!" he insists, even as the resulting nausea makes him stumble like a punchdrunk boxer, leaving him crouched on knees and one fist. He turns at the rumble of collapsing asphalt, as if to make sure no humans fall into that pit. Gotta be good for something.

Max fights to lock eyes with Cat under the spasmodic pulses of built-up and released EM energy. His eyes are glassy and rivulets of tears slide down his face, cutting paths through makeup and soot. Stopping this is like trying to stop hiccups. No matter how strong the willpower, it just doesn't seem possible.

Thankfully, the pulses seem to abate on their own after the initial release of energy. The effects of his pulses can still be felt. Electronic equipment may still spark. Everything within a hundred foot radius of Max that's electronic is totally dead. Cell phones, cameras, lights, LCD and tube monitors are unresponsive and dead, their blinking lights blinking no longer. But now that his pulses have subsided, some of the heavier items that were charged start to lose their magnetism.

Max is left with little energy, his tall frame relying almost entirely on Leo to keep him upright. His forehead is dappled with sweat and his body still hums - perhaps a sign that his pulses are not done yet.

"That's it, Quinn," Cat replies raspily, struggling to keep her feet and not spit out on the man's shoes. "Ease off, relax." She's still staggering somewhat. Leonard is looked at, her expression grim. Angry. "It's too warm to be January 28th again," the woman mutters for only him to hear. Then she's moving, working to go with Leonard and the actor away from the carnage.

There's a brutally simple physically scientific equation trying to solve itself in the scenario, now. Metal flying at metal, scratch, twang, snap, a spark threatening here where alloy meets alloy at velocity or trajectory, or the residual effects of Maxwell's ability pops heat in the air, gas permeating. However, by their abilities— preternatural and otherwise— combined, the frictive pops and sizzles wane before combustion manages to cinch enough molecules to reach critical mass. Beaten and broken and struggling to breathe, but no one's on fire yet. If the telekinetic were closer, he probably could have done something for them.

As it is, freedom awaits him, Catherine and their hapless protectee out in the parking area, though the tape that demarcated its limits and beginnings has long since been run down by the stampede of evacuating personnel or, you know, errant musicians who were coincidentally heading in the opposite direction. Fhe fans and spectator miscellany have finally been driven back, showing in a vague smudge of silhouettes at the other elbow of the street. Behind them, there's a flash and whoop of sirens approaching. Red, white and blue strobes, glittering pale off dusty cling of glass in hollow windowframes, the charred facades of an old theater. There are no speed limits here, but they're slowing already, in deference to the painfully obvious instability of the ground.

"Jesus fucking Christ." Barely audible over the din of feet and metal parts, Harbor's voice is gravelly from coughing. He's struggling along between two burly personal guards whose assistance he had refused to accept; his use of them is some sort of ironic inverse of Leonard with the same job, status symbols versus real implementation. "When I said 'action' I don't mean bigots blow up my fucking set. Look at my fucking movie! Look at this, what is— Quinn?" His attention razors in through the intervening veil of dust and shadow, picking Maxwell's ashen face out between his helpers' buckled heads. "Quinn? Are you three okay? Shit."

A small man's shoe trample in through the treshold of Jasika Kaye's trailer, its rhythm skew-whiff, absent of the other half of his gait. Wendy's become his crutch; she's wearing read all down the one side she has against him. "Thank you," he whispers, dazedly, circling his gaze back around to Sable's face. "Oh, God. How bad is it? How bad is it? What happened to your hair?"

Sable manages, despite the pressing urgency of what is going on, to glower at the wounded man. It's only his blood loss that excuses his insult. Her hair is /rock and roll/, dammit. And it just… does that, okay? Sheesh… The four-legged race of Wendy, toadie and Sable, makes their awkward but somewhat more effective way to the entrance of the trailer, and Sable ducks around, trying to catch Wendy's eyes, "Arright, um… I'll take his legs… er… leg…" she's hesitant about handling the wounded limb, "Grab under his shoulders, we'll pull 'im in and lay him down." The heel of one sneaker is already lifted onto the bottom step of the trailer's entrance.

"You're going to be fine" Wheezes Wendy, sucking in as much air as she can and choking inwardly on that smell. A glance to Sable as she spits forth direction and the blunt banged woman just nods and a lunge for the trailer and helping her to drag the large man up and in by his shoulders. Out of the open, out of the fumes directly, into a source of oxygen for however long it'll be like that and the protection from possible implosion.

Leo's heaved himself up again, still supporting Max with hand and power. He gives Cat a mute, unreadable look at her comment, even as he impatiently dashes sweat from his brows with a flick of his hand. He's pale and gray. To Harbor's comment, he says, voice made hoarse by dust and unease, "He's sick. Get him a doctah." Tired enough that dialect reveals itself again. ""And get us the fuck away from here. Bigots might still be around. I don't fancy a sniper for dessert."

The dull vibration of Maxwell's body starts to ramp in intensity once faced with whirling police lights and the barking voice of Mitch the director. Even under the best circumstances, the man sets of a stress reaction in the actor. "M'allright," he lies. "Just…what the fuck is happening to me?"

This time, he can feel another hiccup surge starting deep in his stomach. He only heaves a little, but that's enough to send a pulse through the iPhone in Mitch's pocket and turning it into a shiny, Mac-branded brick.

"I think he'll be okay soon, he just needs to rest," Cat states quietly as she recovers her bearings further. If he needs a doctor, there'll be time for that later." She glances at the director, telling him "He'll call you soon, we're going to help him find a place to rest and relax." There's no waiting for the man to say it's okay or not they're doing this, and she certainly hopes Leonard understands why no doctors, as Cat seeks to move toward a place where in song people can check out anytime they like, but can't never leave.

Fffortunately or otherwise, Mitch doesn't notice that his iPhone just broke; the twitter and fold of its delicate internal workings is lost underneath the rising cacophony of the rescue team arriving. There's already a stretcher stampeding to Maxwell's assistance, technicians in uniform filing in with the swift-footed athleticism and tidily clad uniformity of soldiers, or something like enough in discipline. Gently, he's hustled onto the pallet despite the insistence of the stranger and his driver.

That being said, Catherine's departure is cut off by another paramedic with a slightly different look about her. "Appreciate it if you'd come to St. Luke's with us," she says, a severe-looking woman with her hair drawn back so tightly and bound that it makes her look nearly like an elf, ears a fractioned inch inclined, features pale and pointed. She searches Cat's features, briefly, and there is the barest wil o' wisp flare of recognition there, a glance shaded back toward Maxwell, considering, before she offers also, a little lower, "our girl Matheson can get you your private physician if you'd prefer." It isn't quite code, but it gets the meaning across as subtly as she can. St. Luke's is known to be frequented by the Ferrymen, after all.

"Come on." The woman's eye turns meaningfully at Leonard, as well. She cants her head back at the ambulance, invitingly. "I think I can dose him up with a few mills of something that can help, and we can contact the necessary persons to discuss bloodwork and so on. Is his manager around here?" He is. Mr. Fado is coming through like a small blond train, one hand uplifted to catch their attention.

It's only going to help so much, though. That much is obvious. Already, a good portion of the dispersing crowd is scattering glances toward the fallen actor, dubious, suspicious, even if Mitch Harbor is busy haranguing his security personnel for this oversight. Are they fucking serious? Garbage cans? This insults the ~munitions maestro~ on multiple levels. It couldn't have been a flaming truck, a crashing airplane, an exploding man. No: the nuked some fucking trash cans and stole his megaphone, how could anyone have missed that?

The toadie lays on his back, bloody leg propped up, eyes blank against the sky. He can hear the sirens, the scuff of approaching feet. Between them, the beautiful young women looking after him now, and the sucking numbness of shock, he's — not in a bad place, right now. His eyes fall shut. "Retirement," he says. "J'ss dunno which island."

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