PITTSBURGH DISTRICT 6 CITY COUNCIL DEBATE - LIVE, 5 PM
The debate between incumbent councilor Carter Wynn and challenger Henry O'Shea for the District 6 seat on the Pittsburgh City Council begins at 5 PM EDT. Current debate topics include the actions of the Committee on Public Safety, of which Wynn is the Chairperson, and recent proposed legislature to address growing concerns over "metahuman" activity in Pittsburgh; current police resource allocations for increased crime; animal control funding in fringe neighborhoods, following recent cuts to pest control services; and modifications to firearm permit application processes within Pittsburgh.
Additional questions from the audience permitted.
Phone calls had been made. Acolytes had been prepped.
The goal? Simple. Target incumbent councilman Carter Wynn, along with Henry O'Shea. Prometheus' words to his subordinates had been deathly clear: kill O'Shea, and bring Wynn to an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Pittsburgh so his execution could be televised. Do not stop until the job was done; if they had to, kill Carter Wynn to cut their losses. Pay would be half upfront, and half upon successful getaway. Armor, weapons, and a getaway vehicle were to be supplied-- as would the Flame. Four prospective recruits in total heeded the call to action, and all eyes were upon their performance this afternoon. Those who lived and escaped would find themselves in the favor of their mysterious benefactor; those who died, or were detained, would forever fall into the shackled obscurity of their own mortality.
It hadn't been nearly as eloquent in the conversation with the four ex-cons Prometheus had chosen for the job, though the point was delivered all the same. Money, fame, notoriety, and power were all within grasp-- so long as they did as Prometheus asked.
Irish-American; born to an immigrant family. Raised in Boston; family involved in numerous mob activities. Did time for racketeering and narcotics charges in the 2000s, released in the 2010s on good behavior. Moved to Pittsburgh to start over; fell back into the same routines. A creature of habit. Mid-40s, slightly-greying hair. Habitual smoker, cool under pressure. Good with a gun. Money was as good a motivator as any, for him, and he was no stranger to killing whoever needed to be killed.
Italian-American. Not quite as old as Kieran, but older than the other two gunmen; late 30s, claims to have connections to the remnants of the LaRocca crime family in Pittsburgh. Despite these claims, available information suggested it was a lie Carmine fabricated to keep himself alive in prison. Jailed for narcotics charges; could never find stable work, on account of an excitable temperament. Perhaps it was the money that motivated him to accept Prometheus' offer; perhaps it was an outlet for his anger. Whatever the case, he was a trained gunman and well-versed with working in a stick-up crew, which would hopefully transfer to matters of political assassination.
Mid-20s. Drug addict; jailed on narcotics and robbery charges. Could never get a foothold in civilized society, unfortunately, which meant the same downward spiral and the same mistakes. Easily-exploitable paranoia meant convincing him to take the plunge was negligible effort on behalf of Prometheus. Surprisingly decent with firearms, though not nearly as much as the former two.
Mid-20s. Former enlisted service member in the marines; received a BCD, or bad conduct discharge, after a court martial. William refused to elaborate upon the specifics of the departure, though he certainly seemed to display signs of mental instability during the interview with Prometheus. Nevertheless, he was perhaps the most skilled member of the crew with a gun, on account of tangible military training; is in possession of a Distinguished Marksman badge and Inter-Division Pistol Competition Badge. Eerily quiet, and strongly focused upon whatever task is presented. A true grunt, through and through.
Each of them had been given their powers the day of, at the advent of dawn; each of them only had a few hours to familiarize themselves with their temporary gifts, and had been explicitly warned not to push themselves unless they were in immediate danger of being killed or detained. Prometheus would not be present, but he would be watching, which meant they had a show to put on. With how they were dressed, it certainly seemed like they would.
The van they arrived in was a sleek black; street-side parking in an adjacent alleyway ensured their getaway vehicle would hopefully remain undisturbed while they were in the convention center proper. Each of them only knew one another through their given codenames-- an intentional factor introduced by Prometheus to limit the amount of information that could be extracted from them if they were incarcerated. Ignorance was stronger than loyalty, after all-- a suspect couldn't give up information they didn't know. A single stripe of color down the ballistic mask each gunman donned was an indicator of identity, along with a matching tie, armband, and an off-center stripe down the back of the suit-jacket to provide identification from all angles.
Kieran was the aptly-named Mr. Orange, even if the others didn't know he was a ginger; Mike was Mr. Green, which seemed to have little association with any physical traits. Carmine was Mr. Blue, and William was Mr. Pink-- a fact that Carmine seemed to poke fun at, despite the lack of engagement from William entirely. The group had reached an uneasy state of camaraderie, at this point, though the tension between them all was still an irreconcilable obstacle that could only be cleared by seeing the job through. Each of them knew that there was a good chance one of them wouldn't be walking away from this, and each of them were determined to have it not be themselves. The lack of connection helped incentivize prioritizing the job above all else.
"... calls himself Prometheus, but names us after colors. Kind of fuckin' name is 'Prometheus', anyways?" Came a small chirp from Mr. Blue as he adjusted the chest-sling for his rifle. They'd each been given consumer-grade AR-15s-- single-fire, as was the case with civilian models, and chambered in .300 AAC blackout. Serial numbers had been scratched off, and attachments had been sourced anonymously-- along with ammunition. Each rifle had been given three 30-bullet magazines, along with a sling to hang the AR-15 off the chest. As for sidearms-- subcompact Glock 26 handguns chambered in 9mm were conceal-carried on the hip, with a spare 10-round magazine. A fallback option, above all else, in addition to their powers. Prometheus had been nothing but benevolent in arming them, it seemed. Protection came in the form of lightweight ballistic vests that fit under the suits they wore, along with padding to the thighs that fulfilled a similar purpose. Small-arms fire, they'd been told. Rifle rounds would punch through, though that wouldn't mean much if they moved quick.
"Metaphor, if I had to guess." Was the inevitable reply from Mr. Orange. His thumb gently tapped upon the safety selector as he watched Mr. Pink pull into the alley proper from the passenger seat. As his gaze moved into the rear-view mirror to watch the other two associates, he sighed. "Fuckin' mustache-twirling shite, but he pays well, dun't he?" A scoff from Mr. Blue, at that. "Understatement, if you ask me. Should've gotten into political assassinations sooner. Ten fuckin' Gs for this?"
"... he told me five." There was a soft mutter from Mr. Green as he stood from his seat in the back of the van, exchanging a glance between Orange and Blue-- and provoking a chuckle from the latter, a playful shrug given. "Guess he pays based on experience, junior." Carmine stated, brushing past Mike and pushing open the back doors after checking that they were clear through the windows.
"Shut the fuck up." Mike growled, pushing his senior aside and stepping into the alleyway to approach the access door to the convention center. A camera blindspot was present here, apparently, which meant they'd have a bit of wiggle room to rush the stage. Mr. Blue rose both hands, scoffing. "Oh! Maybe that fuckin' lip of yours is why you're getting paid half of what I am, shitbird. Let me take point, I don't want you tripping in front of me."
Mr. Pink had joined his orange passenger in leaving the van, by now, and had grouped up behind the bickering pair-- his eyes narrowed beyond the slits of his ballistic mask. "This guy ever stop breaking balls?" He muttered, looking to Kieran.
"Doesn't seem like it." He offered flatly-- and then the four pushed inside, taking them into a service corridor. They were on the clock, now-- no wasting time. A fact that Mr. Green was fond to remind them all of.
"Security guard sees us on cameras, so that's-- what, 10, 15 seconds before he sends an alert out? You think they got locks, or-- anyone know what the response time for PBP would be for this?"
"We're whacking a fuckin' councilman, junior. I'd wager they wouldn't have their thumbs up their asses."
End of the service hall-- Mr. Pink narrowed his eyes and stood still a moment, giving a soft grunt before he shook his head and nodded. "Yeah, this is the place. Hall E-- full conference. Maybe 200 feet away, we can book it out through the concourse if shit goes south."
"Make a break for it, and don't fire any shots until we get a look at O'Shea."
"... right." A pause. "See anything clearer? Like... guards?"
Mr. Pink shook his head. "Only outlines, like I told you. Can't discern anything too detailed."
There was a snort from Mr. Blue, and he turned the handle. "We see any guards, we'll take 'em out without guns." The door was pushed open, and the four rushed out-- breaking into the open space of open corridor and rushing past confused and ignorant worker alike. Carmine shouldered past a woman and kept a keen eye out for any security guards-- and sure enough, a uniformed officer spotted them sprinting towards the wing access for Hall E, hand raising to a radio as the other moved to the gun on his hip. Mr. Green didn't need much of a reason beyond that; rather than take aim with his rifle, his hand shot out, fingers splaying--
-- and a wayward storm of electricity flooded from his fingertips, striking the woman square in the chest and slamming her back into the wall. A scorched path ran up the length of her torso; her body spasmed, smoke wafting from her body, and she instinctively curled upon herself without a sound. The four kept running, with Mr. Orange taking point as his steps seemed to take on a thundering pace; Mr. Blue kept up by his side, huffing, before placing a hand on the man's shoulder for a moment mid-sprint and lifting it to step back. Kieran kept running, shoulder dropping as his body met the twin doors to the convention hall--
-- and burst through them with an explosion of sound from his shoulder, cracking the lock and warping the impact site as the doors flew open. Kieran's arm radiated with a throbbing, persistent agony-- enough to make him grunt, audibly, as his footsteps drew to a stop-- but he was still lucid enough to draw his rifle and aim towards the stage. The three following him did the same; the raised platform sporting each candidate's podium was right in front of them, with the candidates looking over in shock to the four gunmen's arrival. O'Shea was closer; Kieran could even see the whites of his eyes.
He was shocked, but that shock was quickly fading to realization as his body turned, instinctually trying to get down--
The cacophony of rifle-fire filled the convention hall; screams instinctively drowned them out, but the staccato chorus remained audible all the same. O'Shea stumbled and fell, not unlike he'd completely evaded the hailstorm, but went deathly still after hitting the ground; as the group of four moved onto the stage, though, their second target presented himself.
Unfortunately, Carter Wynn was a staunch proponent of the second amendment.
Two bullets hit Mr. Green center-mass, leaving him to stagger onto O'Shea's podium and let out a brief "FUCK!"-- Mr. Blue, meanwhile, took aim and shot Wynn before he could wound another gunman, hitting him square in the shoulder and sending him onto his back. Mr. Orange cursed and ran over to the councilman, letting his rifle hang from his sling as he flipped Wynn over, wrestled his hands behind his back, and zip-tied his wrists and forearms together tight enough to hurt. Carter, predictably, let out a yell of pain as he was dragged to his feet; a flurry of gunfire from the rest of the crew pinned down the guards that were already streaming in from the front of the hall, having responded to the commotion.
"THE HELL IS THIS?!" Carter roared out. Mr. Blue gave a laugh, then pulled him roughly off the stage as the rest continued to fire intermittently. A shove pushed him to the wing, back where they'd launched the attack from, and the rest began to follow in a systematic retreat from the stage. By now, the convention hall was in complete chaos; guards were either fighting the wave of fleeing civilians, or shot, with attendees still cowering on the ground or simply running out the front into the concourse. Mr. Pink fired a few rounds into the air to reinforce the message, and brought up the rear of the group as they filtered out back into the wing.
"Prometheus sends his regards, you lousy prick." And with that, Carmine turned to the rest of the group as he gripped Wynn by the neck, rifle barrel pressed into his back.
"LET'S MAKE FUCKIN' TRACKS, GENTLEMEN!"
Hi, this is where I report everything like a tax return so the IRS doesn't take my house away. In layman's terms, I will be listing powersets here for posterity, so there's a clear reference for people to look back on. This will be general-- I will be introducing things into the scene as necessary, like small details of how the power works or potential uses, but it'll all be under the framework given here.
If you want the powers to be a surprise, don't read on any further! Or read it, whatever, this is all performative activism anyways
Kieran Bell, or Mr. Orange, has the ability to convert kinetic energy into sound energy, i.e. large sonic claps and whathaveyou.
Carmine Moretti, or Mr. Blue, has the ability to manipulate the gravity of objects by touching them. Effect's instantaneous. He's not gonna make a truck float, but he can make things slightly lighter or heavier for various effects. Effect lasts for a few seconds, with longer periods dependent on how long he touches things.
Mike Rober, or Mr. Green, has the ability to generate electrical discharges from his body. Pretty self-explanatory.
William LaVerne, or Mr. Pink, has the ability to use radar-esque energy wavelengths to see through walls. Can see the outline of objects, but precise details/colors are unable to be discerned.
All of these powers will have different scalability based on how much the gunmen push themselves. Doing so will have various effects on their biology as per Prometheus' sheet.
This motion picture is protected under the copyright laws of the United States and other countries throughout the world. Country of first publication: United States of America. Any unauthorized exhibition, distribution, or copying of this film or any part thereof (including soundtrack) may result in civil liability and criminal prosecution.
The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
No person or entity associated with this film received payment or anything of value, or entered into any agreement, in connection with the depiction of tobacco products.
No animals were harmed in the making of this motion picture.
No, this is too soon. Too soon for what I had planned...
Smith zipped up his pants and charged out of his bathroom into the bedroom, phone haphazardly cast aside to his bed (he'd have to leave it here, so the government couldn't track him). He was watching the livestream intently on the toilet when everything went down. The debate would mean a lot for what he had planned for Pittsburgh, but he couldn't be spotted attending, because there'd be no alibi.
Abusing work from home policy had been a staple of Smith's job performance even before his powers made the office a step away from his bedroom. As a vice executive he needed only be present for certain meetings and to delegate tasks to others - there were periods of intense bursts of activity that were taxing, but other times when he could do whatever he wanted. He was expected to travel frequently as part of his job description, and the ability to teleport meant that he could log time for transit without actually needing to be physically en route to wherever it was he was going.
It was during these idle periods that his vigilante ideations had begun to take form. Daydreams that soon became actionable courtesy of the convenience of his power, the freedom it offered him - he was untraceable, invincible, so long as he were strategic. There'd be no popping in to a terrorist scenario guns blazing, even if that was what was warranted now.
Fortune favors the bold, he thought. Now or never.
He'd only glimpsed what was going on through the shaky feed. This was a metahuman attack. He had to make his mark, even with the network underdeveloped - if it all went wrong here, then the public would never be on The World's side.
Slapping on his gloves and clasping the mask to his head, he was practically giddy with anticipation, conducting minor breathing exercises to calm himself before plunging headlong into his future. He'd been practicing shooting, but a small-arm like his pistol wouldn't be of much use. He wasn't a gunfighter or a brawler. He would wait for opportunity, and to do that, he'd need to be closer.
Simply popping in to extract Wynn would be a heroic effort. Impossible. He'd be shot or stabbed, and he didn't know what would happen if Wynn didn't accept the rescue. He could move other people around with him - teleporting - but doing so against their will, or by surprise...could potentially screw up the landing. And there was the risk of being labelled a collaborator with this gang.
He'd need to be smart. Super smart.
Why didn't he have a champion for this yet? Or even a bulletproof vest?
Think, Randall, think.
He paced the room, and checked the feed on his phone. It was cut. He pulled on the black coat and straightened his tie, needing to look the part - he'd be judged for this, if he were seen, and had to make a good impression. Reputation was everything.
No more thinking. Act.
He vanished from his suite and reappeared atop a building near the convention center. The cool air startled him - adrenaline pumping - and he walked over to the parapet. He had no fear of heights anymore, because if he fell, he'd just reflexively land in bed - and clambered over the side, pulling out binoculars to peer at the outside of the building.
This was useless, but he could hear the sirens coming.
"OK, OK, OK."
He'd need to time his moment carefully. These people hadn't been firing indiscriminately into the crowd. This was some kind of stunt - a kidnapping, perhaps - and one way or another, they'd need to leave. Once they broke through the police siege (which they would, because they were metas - special, like The World)...maybe he'd have an opportunity then.
Assistant District Attorney Ava Hunt sat in the front row of the debate hall and watched stoically as O'Shea made a short speech comparing metahumans to firearms or...something. She'd mostly stopped listening after the first five minutes. After all, her attendance was mostly for show anyway. DA Cohen had gone on an impromptu vacation...again...and the Mayor's office was demanding representatives from every branch of the city government to attend. So here she was, stuck at a terribly boring debate, wondering why these massive decisions that should be made on state or federal levels were being allowed to be ruled upon by cheap suits with slick hair.
That was before the shouting began. Ava lazily turned her head around, expecting to see some protestors, only for her superhuman speed to instinctively kick in, slowing her perception of time for a moment. The black metal of the barrel glinting in the artificial light of the room. The flash of the rifle stinging her retinas slightly. The crack of the bullet breaking the sound barrier a couple of feet above her head. Turning to see where it went as she mentally forced herself to get down like the rest of the people in the room. O'Shea falling as though the air was molasses as he caught several rifle rounds in his chest.
Human biology caught up with Ava's rather more-than-human side as adrenaline began racing through her body. Old instincts reared their ugly head as Councilman Wynn drew his pistol, but she successfully suppressed them.
Normal untrained people freeze or flee in these situations, Ava silently raged, mostly at herself, You're not a fucking hero anymore, you fucking dinosaur. Be. Fucking. Normal.
Pushing herself from the mental tug-of-war, Ava grabbed the nice older woman from the courthouse and pushed towards one of the side walls, clearing the direct lines of fire between the guards and the criminals. It wasn't much, but it was better than seeing Marianne Godsby, court reporter for Superior Court #2, take a rifle round through the cranium because she'd decided to be in the wrong place at the worst time. Eyeing the masked assailants, Ava quickly ascertained that their goal here was to grab the Councilman and bail. Therefore, it would be better for any innocent bystanders to get the fuck out of their way.
You're a normie now, grandma. Normies don't save the day. You clean up the streets as a prosecutor. That's your job now. Focus.
Well, that may be true, but it didn't stop Ava from grabbing a few other hapless individuals and pulling them out of the line of fire.
The parking garage had definitely seen better years, it's paint peeling and roughly half of the lights blinking randomly every so often. What it lacked in aesthetics, it made up for in tactical viability and, for Matt and the rest of the SWAT officers, that was what was important. The crackle of radio traffic served to update everyone but also to interrupt the conversation between the various officers, who had all taken to bullshitting about their day and the fact that many of them had been recalled on their days off.
The officers in the parking garage were one of many SWAT teams on standby. Some of them had been assigned as part of their routine security plan for political events. It looked good, it helped everyone see the event as safe, it allowed the teams to practice, and it made sure that larger events, such as presidential visits, went smoothly. Roughly half of the teams had been activated in response to threats that the Pittsburgh PD had discovered. It was nothing concrete and a few of the initial reports had been largely ignored, though when multiple references to something big going down at the convention center were received, the PD's brass decided to take it seriously. They wanted the additional officers hidden, if only to avoid a potentially unnecessary panic, though Matt was fine with that because it kept him away from curious citizens and it kept him away from people who might annoy him.
The SWAT officers were all fairly equally equipped and Matt was no exception. In addition to his normal load of his 9mm duty pistol with 4 spare mags, pepper spray, an IFAK, and enough flex cuffs to take down a short bus, Matt's department issued AR-15 was slung around his plate carrier. It had a red dot and a magnifier on it, partially because that was his preference and partially because that's one of four or five choices the department had given them for optics. It had a strobe-capable flashlight, a suppressor, a small grip to help him get a C-clamp, and a few other nifty improvements that the SWAT leadership had sprung for. His plate carrier held 7 spare mags for his rifle in addition to two tear gas grenades and two flashbangs while his duty belt kept a dump pouch. His helmet was snug against his head and, while he'd have loved to unstrap it, the entire SWAT division had been told to stay professional throughout the event and that specifically included keeping their helmets strapped.
All of a sudden, a flurry of radio traffic came across the tac channels. The individual words were drowned out but the message was clear: there was an active shooter in Conference Hall E, where today's debate had been scheduled. Multiple people were down, at least one hostage taken, and people were panicking.
At once, the officers snapped into business mode and began following their pre-briefed plan and Matt's team made their way up the stairs that would take them near the northern entrance of Conference Hall E. They didn't sprint but they were definitely running as fast as possible, making their way past the citizens as fast as they could. None of them matched the brief description the officers had received anyway.
As Matt excited the stairs, he saw the crowd of people but, more importantly, he saw a man firing rounds into the air and holding rear security. Bringing his rifle from low ready and into his shoulder, he scanned the scene before him as his team shouted down the crowd and also brought their guns to bear. There were at least three of them, possibly four, and one of them was holding a man at gunpoint and heading away from the officers. That was likely the hostage and, positioning himself in such a way that a miss wouldn't hit the hostage, Matt lined up his target in his optic's reticle and fired four rounds at the man holding rear security, the recoil between each shot negligible and only moving the reticle a fraction of a degree. The first three shots were aimed center mass, though the last was aimed at his head in case the man was wearing body armor. Though they were only fifty feet apart, the small details mattered to Matt less than getting accurate rounds on target.
She hadn't expected much to happen. Had even considered the Pittsburgh PD's request she be present for the event a waste of her time, time she could be spending tracking down the leads they weren't fully equipped to handle. She'd made her post outside, settled on rooftops, watching and listening to the surroundings of the convention center for anything suspicious - but nothing had stood out so far.
It was a surprise, then, when the loud rapports of gunfire ran out from inside, followed by a burst of police chatter. She touched her earpiece, focused.
People injured. A hostage, maybe more. Three men? Four? Brief bursts of descriptions. By the time a picture had been painted, she was already in motion - though she wasn't watching the building. Something else had caught her eye. Someone else was here. She hadn't noticed them before, but that didn't mean they weren't waiting. Normal people didn't watch convention centers from rooftops moments before - or even after - a shooting. Normal people especially didn't do that in a hooded mask.
"Possible fifth suspect on east rooftops. Engaging."
Wings unfolding with a CLACK of metal and a hum from her throat, she took to the sky, barreling towards the unidentified man with as much speed as she could muster. Bits of glass and sand spiraled in her wake, a shimmering blender trailing seconds behind her approach.
But for the law enforcement officer's shouted command, the World would have still been rapt with the scene below. Instead, he spun with the binoculars centered on Basilica as she closed rapidly in on him with significant speed, outpacing the vaporous cloud of glass and sand which trailed in her wake. With an involuntary gasp of surprise, he flinched -
- and vanished.
Air rushed in to fill the void where he'd been standing, and in an instant, he'd transmitted his form fifteen feet to his left on the same rooftop.
"No," he said lamely, mind racing to fill in the gap - he was sure to holster his weapon - he was still slightly hunched over from the near-impact, so he straightened his back as he spoke, one palm defensively turned up towards the hovering hero.
"I'm one of the good guys. If I wanted to kidnap Wynn, I could do it like that," he said, punctuating the final word with a snap of his fingers.
"My name is The World. I - aherm - I'm here to help."
The convention hall was surprisingly crowded, bodies milling about at every turn as the final preparations were made before the debate officially began. Nat and his class had managed to squeeze in closer to the stage than he had expected; the threat of twenty-five hormonal teenagers barely wrangled by a pair of prematurely exhausted chaperones was apparently great enough that few would stand their ground against the mass of their approach. It could have been a debate over the city’s asphalt budget and the class of high schoolers would have charged the air around them with the same excited energy as they did now. For them the important part was not being stuck in class.
Nat had been much the same before the accident when metahuman had simply been a term for a handful of silly urban legends. He hadn’t signed up for the trip simply to get out of classwork like his peers; what happened here would set the tone for all superhuman activity in the near future. The debate was also number twenty-one on the ever expanding list of potential targets for serious crime. Passions ran hot when it came to politics, more true when the politics involved a minority, and while metahumans were certainly powerful and dangerous they were also most certainly fewer than those without powers.
A fist slammed into Nat’s shoulder and a familiar voice drew him from his own thoughts. ”Earth to Nat! Were you listening?” It was as if the room had become marginally louder with removal of his distraction. ”I think Becky might be crushing on you bro. You should try to get her number today.” Steven Shelley, Nat’s best friend and the one who had torn him from his own head, was not a particularly tall fellow, nor was he particularly short. In many ways he was about as average looking as one could be, but he was the epitome of never judging a book by it’s cover.
”All of that brain and all you ever think about is girls, Steve. We are about to witness history in the making here and you’re trying to get me to ask out Becky Mallory.” Nat shook his head slowly in mock disappointment before grinning and clapping a hand on Steve’s shoulder. The chaos around them began to settle into a buzz, a calm and quiet as the challenger stepped up to offer his opening remarks. Steven was clearly uninterested.
”Seriously, man. I have heard a lot of girls talking about you. People would have to be blind not to notice you after coming back from a coma or whatever. You could use this to your advantage!” It was the same speech he gave practically once a week since Nat had returned to his classes. As usual Nat simply shook his head with a small and patient smile. It was good that Steve was distracting him; the probability that the debate would be attacked was significantly lowered with debates of such magnitude with increased police presence and stringent security protocols.
As O’Shea wrapped up his frankly inflammatory speech Nat had started to relax. He was being paranoid, of course, just as he had been paranoid when he had packed the mask and his armor into his backpack that morning. He had barely managed to get past security himself with that much steel, there was no way-
He was moving as soon as the first shot rang out, the panic and chaos that suddenly erupted around him somehow slowed, time creeping along by inches as he saw the men rush out from the stage’s right. Their weapons might have been muted for all of the sound he heard, the screams of those around him drowned out by the thudding of his heart in his ears. He had pushed Steven to the ground, shouting something to him about the exit over the people who instinctively followed the instructions he could barely remember giving.
It was nothing but adrenaline and luck that brought him to the corner of the stage against the mass of bodies pushing in the opposite direction. The mask had found its way into Nat’s hand, and time seemed to regain its normal function as he placed it on his face. The straps tied themselves in an instant, securing the mask as Nat counted the guns and the suits that carried them. O’Shea was down, and Nat was in a vulnerable position as the crowd had mostly escaped the area immediately surrounding where the gunmen had entered.
Crouched against the stage, with his head down and shoulder against the wooden facing, he might have looked as though he were cowering, another frightened civilian too terrified to move to a safer location. Whatever the reason a rush of motion and gunfire passed over and by him without taking notice of his presence. His heart threatened to drum out of his chest, his breathing came in short and sharp bursts. If they had seen him, in that position with nothing but the metal mask for protection, it would have been all over.
When Nat raised his head it was clear he was the only person remaining so close to the gunmen’s retreat. Despite the ferocity of the attack the number of fallen seemed surprisingly low, their true intention made clear as he realized they were dragging Councilman Wynn away.
He let the fear fall away as he held out what almost passed as a book but for the sheen of its cover, the density of its appearance and its weight evident in the strain of Nat’s arm as the soft chink of metal against metal announced the book’s unfolding. It had taken him nearly an hour to fold his armor into that shape, but he didn’t have that kind of time. Pages of black and silver spread out from the book toward Nat, covering first his hand and wrist where he held the compressed armor and wrapping itself around his arm and shoulder as it stretched to cover his entire body. Thicker plates formed over vital areas as pages began to layer themselves. What had taken so long to do was undone in minutes, by force of will if not by necessity.
Armored and masked, the Wolf ran after the men in suits and their captive with a muffled clang of metal announcing each step.
There was a moment's hesitation - and Basilica sighed, lowering her hand, glass settling into a slow mobile around her wrist. In any other place, in any other situation, in any other context, she wouldn't have believed the man. She would've arrested him on the spot. But - he made a good point. Teleporter. Would've been easy to grab hostages and get out without the fuss of guns... unless he could only teleport himself.
But that also meant he could have shown up here in an instant the moment he caught wind of trouble, which meant her grounds for suspicion in the first place were moot.
"Of course you're here to help," she muttered. "I'm going to want your alias and contact information, after this. Costumes - don't make this any easier."
Her hand touched her headpiece, talking over the police band.
"False alarm. Vigilante."
"So they were here for Wynn? They got him?" She lifted into the air again, glancing at the center. "They're making a break for it now. We cut them off, I distract them, and you grab Wynn. That work?"
Initial resistance had been heavier than expected.
Having been the secondmost forward member of the group, Kieran kept an eye on Mr. Blue as they sprinted to the end of the hallway to make sure that Wynn didn't try any hero antics. Once they turned the corner, he gave a look back to Mr. Green-- and watched Mr. Pink take multiple shots to the chest as retaliatory gunfire rang out from the chamber down into the access hall.
"Fucking-- support him, Green, we'll keep pushing the VIP. Why the FUCK is there fucken' SWAT on-scene already?!"
"MR. BLUE"/CARMINE MORETTI
Councilman Wynn was certainly taking his sweet fuckin' time.
"Drag your feet again and I'm taking an ear off, ya fuck." Carmine growled into the hostage's ear, shoving him forward with relative ease. Taking a bit of weight off of Wynn to manhandle him easier was the right play; he continued to push the man down the hall as they turned the corner, making his way to the T-junction and turning to head out to the side alley exit. Fuck the others-- he'd wait, sure, but if it was down to saving one of them or losing the fuckin' councilman... he knew his God-damn choice.
"Hey, Orange FUCKIN' Julius, get your ass down here and cover me while I get this prick to the van." Carmine shouted out towards Mr. Orange-- causing the gunman to fall in line a bit behind him as the others took their sweet fuckin' time. No use waiting; with a kick to the push-bar, the door flew open, and the pair stepped out into the alleyway. Van was only a hundred feet away, now. Sooner they cleared this shitshow, the sooner they got paid.
"Watch for cops. Fuckin' jumped on us the moment we got out of there."
"Let the other rainbow pricks deal with it." Carmine muttered, shoving Wynn forward. "I got mine. I'm waiting 30 seconds for 'em once this van's started-- and then I'm booking it."
"MR. GREEN"/MIKE ROBER
Had to be a fucking set-up. Had to be.
No response time was that quick. They were barely out the God-damned hall before they were pounced upon-- were they on-site? Were they waiting for him? Was this a fucking set-up? Mike booked it down the end of the hall the moment lead struck the wall beside him, and shook his head as he looked over to Mr. Orange.
"I don't fuckin' like this." He muttered out, peeking around the corner. "HURRY THE FUCK UP!"
"MR. PINK"/WILLIAM LAVERNE
Getting Wynn to move seemed to be the least of their worries, at the moment.
As Will brought up the rear-- keeping his sights trained on the convention hall proper in the event of any guns trained their way-- he was greeted with the sight of multiple armed figures streaming in from the opposite side-entrance. He spotted them at about the same moment they spotted him; his rifle was trained on the group as gunshots rang out.
They weren't his.
He felt two hit; the third went wide as he stumbled back into the wall, and the fourth struck the wall near Mr. Green, scaring the shit out of the guy and making him duck down to press his back against the wall. Operating on full adrenaline, Will crawled back on his ass and fired indiscriminately through the door, breath catching in his throat as he worked through the trauma of being struck with a fuckin' rifle round on a lightweight ballistic vest. It felt like somebody just took a lead pipe to his ribs, twice-- which meant the vest had stopped two rounds, for the most part, and wasn't about to stop a third. Not on his chestplate, anyways.
So, naturally-- and with a grunt of agony, the pain biting through the heat of a shootout and the rush of endorphins from his gift-- Will turned his back to the door and booked it in a crouch while Mr. Green offered the rest of his magazine down the hallway above his head. He didn't quite trust the fucker not to have his grip slip and a bullet accidentally open his head up, so the sooner he was around the corner, the better.
A hand went to his ribs as Mr. Green ejected a mag and reached into his jacket to pull another from his belt. Pain. The hand then ripped open his suit jacket, exposing the vest; two hits visible. More pain. The outer casing of the plate was shredded, leaving a circle of white pulverized material where the bullet struck; the second went deeper, and he could feel the protrusion on the other side of the vest when he touched a finger to it. Fuck. Ribs bruised? Definitely. Broken? Probably. Running felt like a chore, now, and even breathing was painful. Never got fucking easier, he guessed.
"Vest's fucked." Will breathed, blind-firing the rest of his own magazine back down the hallway to keep their pursuers back-- or at least make them reconsider the option of going down a fatal funnel. "... let's go."
And so the pair sprinted, with Will looking over his shoulder-- and flashing his power a moment to see how closely they were being tailed. Sure enough, they had a fucking body set to come around the corner any second. Heavy, too-- something metal. Footsteps.
"Fuckin' vig coming. Kill 'em if they show--" He breathed while running alongside Mr. Green, eyes blurring in the aftermath of using his power. "-- I'll cover too."
Watching the pink-striped terrorist take a couple rounds to the chest had been somewhat cathartic for Ms. Hunt in a strange way. Her damned empowered senses ruined it, of course. There was the barest hint of dust that burst out from the criminal's torso as well as a vague sound of metal hitting something solid. Much more solid than a human torso should be. Armored vests. Probably expensive ones too since it wasn't noticeable as he moved but stopped even one rifle round, let alone two.
The screaming in the room began to die down as more of the fleeing civilians managed to escape the conference room. Turning to Mrs. Godsby and a couple of others she'd pushed against the wall, Ava motioned with big waving gestures for them to get the hell out of the room whilst shouting a great deal of profanities. Hopefully old Marianne wouldn't remember that next Tuesday in court. Never upsetting the court reporter was one of those unspoken rules of the courts.
Ava looked up and saw a familiar face as he and some of his heavily armed coworkers pushed through the conference room to the adjoining hallway. She also thought that his hands must be in better shape to be using that assault rifle in his hands.
"JONESY! FOUR E.I.!" the prosecutor shouted over the din whilst holding up four fingers then pointing at the hall doorway, "THEY'VE GOT THE COUNCILMAN!"
Sure, he might have seen them. Ava didn't know, but relaying operational information was standard operating procedure in this sort of situation. Of course, now the rest of that SOP was for the noncombatants to evacuate the area. These days, Ava Hunt was considered to be one of those noncombatants.
Let the professionals handle it. You're useless now, remember?
The acting classes came back as she forced herself to stumble a little in her "haste" to run away. At least she could still be professional in this regard, right?
Oh. Oh shit.
Despite her own doubts and limitations these days, Ava Hunt's body was still rather heavy for her generally lithe form. Before and immediately after she'd been "powered down" as she called it, Ava had only worn specially reinforced shoes to specially mitigate this slight anomaly when she was trying to blend in. Not tennis shoes, of course. The weight difference wasn't that extreme. Heels though? Heels needed a bit of extra support. Mom had always said it wasn't because of her weight but rather her general lack of feminine grace, but Ava had her own view of things.
These shoes though? These shoes weren't those. These shoes were $1,300 Versace high-heeled open toed sandals she'd splurged on last Christmas. These shoes were special to her and thus were only brought out two or three times a year.
And these shoes weren't reinforced in any way against the literally empowered woman they held aloft. First the right one failed. Then the left. Both heels blew out like a pair of tires on a spike strip. Her "act" became very real. Ava Hunt, Assistant District Attorney and former superhero, only mostly wished the fall would kill her as her face skidded along the glossy floor. Rage and embarrassment coursing through her, even one as controlled as Ava could not resist ripping the destroyed shoes off of her feet with superhuman strength.
Of course, no one would be able to tell that. It was akin to ripping a piece of paper with 20 pounds of force versus 80 pounds of force. The paper ripped entirely apart. Sure, her hand might have been a bit too fast, but that could be blamed on the adrenaline, right?
Yeah, the defeated woman thought as she now walked solemnly away with her destroyed sandals in hand. If only that fall had just killed her.
Shots rang through the conference hall like a war zone, echoing off of each other and their ricochets and inundating the hall with rattling cacophony. It was especially true for Nat as he ran toward the dominant source of the fire. The criminals were apparently well armed as well as efficient. Adrenaline added the thudding of his heartbeat to the near constant sound of shots, further drowning out the receding screams of the the civilians with more sense than the boy in the mask.
He rounded the corner with his arms in front of him, armored in plating that he thickened as the hollow and sharp thuds of several bullets pinged off of his form. He shifted the armor, thinning out the plates on his back to further protect his front as he took step after step toward the two attackers. Pink and Green, and one had opened his jacket to reveal a lightweight vest. Already Nat could feel bruises forming along his arms and over his stomach, head lowered to prevent a stray shot from catching him in the eye.
”Stop! STOP NOW!” He didn’t have anything heroic to say, and could barely scream the words over the sound of the bullets pelting him and the rushing in his ears. They were nearer now, in his line of sight though two of them were getting away with the Councilman. There was no time to think, time to breathe, and certainly no time to talk. His next step brought his knee up high, further shielding himself from the shots as he compromised his unspoken vow to avoid deadly force.
The kick he launched was far from in range of the armed kidnappers, but a disk of razor sharp metal separated itself from his armor. Driven by the force of his kick the disk spun through the air at the armed men’s legs. Roughly the diameter of an average man’s arm, Nat was hoping to incapacitate one of the men even if it meant he was forced to maim him. Even a brief break in the rain of bullets would be enough for him to reach his darts, and once he did he could sedate them and continue after their partners.
They have to be wearing armor, thought the officer as he pushed forward, crossing the stage and heartlessly stepping past the unmoving corpse of would-be candidate O'Shea. This was an active shooter and hostage situation, the body count would only keep rising if they didn't neutralize the threat and it was up to the medics to save who they could, though they couldn't do that until everything was secured. Normal procedures went out the window and everyone on the SWAT team understood that. They moved as one, guns trained on the door that the suspects had fled through. The screams and din of gunshots would be enough to overwhelm citizens and those untrained or unprepared to deal with the situation at hand, though Matt heard a familiar voice and, careful to keep his reticle in his peripheral vision for quick target acquisition, turned his head slightly to look at the source.
Of course it's Ava, thought Matt with a mental groan. She always found a way to be in the middle of the shit, though that shit used to be court cases that made headlines or various detailed investigations. Nowadays, gunfire and bullets seemed to be her new home. She needs to find a new hobby, joked Jones as he quickly nodded his thanks to her. It confirmed what he had heard over his radio and what he had seen with his own eyes. Before he could reach his hand to his headset's Push-To-Talk, he heard the confirmation going out and heard one of his fellow SWAT members beside him calling it out. They each knew what they were going to do or, at least, it seemed that way. They had been training together for years now, aside from John Brett, the team's newest member. He had only been in the team for a few months, though had done well during their training and during the few callouts they'd been on together.
As one, they pushed up to the door and stacked up to either side in time for bullets to begin pouring through it. The third man in the stack prepped a flashbang, though he couldn't even pull the pin before someone ran in front of them and through the door. He was wearing a weird mask, though the smaller stature of the man made Matt think he couldn't be older than 18. "Is that a fucking kid?!" yelled Matt before yelling a stream of commands for the boy to get down. These commands were mixed with an inappropriate amount of swears, though Matt knew from experience that the swears came just as naturally to him as the commands and the physical skills. Everyone thinks they're a fucking hero, swore Matt. "AVA! DON'T LET ANYONE ELSE FOLLOW US!" commanded the detective as he felt the tap on his shoulder. They had to go get the kid and they had to get him now. That much was obvious.
The team breached the door just as it was swinging closed behind the kid and Matt, being first in the stack, was close enough to watch as the kid took multiple hits to the chest. He couldn't hear them ricochet as he wasn't superhuman but the fact that the kid seemed to take them without so much as a grunt of pain told Matt that he was okay. Even if he wasn't, nobody told him to go running headlong into gunfire. If he was honest with himself, even Matt didn't enjoy the idea of running towards the gunfire, though that was what he was trained to do and that's what he had to do to keep the city safe from people who might try to harm Cecilia. The kid was fast and, even at a fast-paced tactical run, Matt was unable to keep up with him running at full tilt. It was a disadvantage from all the gear and the need to stay ready to engage any threats that might emerge, though Matt made a promise every day to go home for his daughter and he was going to follow that promise even if this kid got himself killed.
"Flash up!" yelled Matt, his rifle still covering the hallway as they followed the kid, bullets impacting the wall behind the young man. When they reached the corner, Matt reached his hand out in an attempt to grab the kid, though his hand grabbed only air as he was a fraction of a second too late. The second man in the stack, Brett, pulled him back just in time for Matt to watch the flashbang round the corner. The flashbang skidded to a stop just in front of the kid before going off with a deafening thud and a spray of bright sparks.
As soon as the disorienting grenade went off, the SWAT team moved around the corner, Matt hugging the wall to his left and keeping his gun trained on the hallway in front of him. "PITTSBURGH PD, DROP YOUR WEAPONS AND PUT YOUR HANDS UP," yelled Brett at men that Matt couldn't see. If the desired effect, immediate and complete compliance, wasn't immediately recognized, Brett would begin firing at the man closest to him, the man with the Pink mask that Jonesey had already shot. As they quickly but carefully made their way down the hall towards the boy, Matt found two men holding the corner and, pausing only to ensure that he wouldn't hit the boy, Matt placed his reticle on the man's right hip, aiming for pelvic girdle of the man in the Green mask, and would begin firing if the man didn't immediately surrender.
Each trigger pull was a careful, measured motion that moved the trigger only the distance needed for it to break and release the hammer. Each reset was quick, Matt's finger twitching just slightly in order to keep the trigger on the cusp of breaking while allowing it to reset. With each shot, Matt continued to pull the trigger, allowing the rifle's recoil to push it up and towards Matt's right. Two at the man's pelvis followed by one at the man's abdomen, three into the man's center chest, and finally one into the man's left shoulder. If the initial rounds failed to do their job, Matt would continue to engage until his magazine was empty. Similarly, if the man in the Pink mask failed to go down and Green was subdued, Matt would switch targets and begin to engage him as accurately as possible.
Meanwhile, the third and fourth men in the team would try to grab the kid and, assuming they got a good enough hold, would pull him back in a hip throw. While the fourth man kept his rifle pointed at the kid's mask, the third would pull out flex cuffs to attempt to take the kid into custody. At the same time, the fourth man was yelling commands at the kid, namely to stay down and to put his hands behind his back.
The second that, at the very least, both the men in Green and Pink were subdued, Matt would begin making his way down the hallway towards the fleeing suspects. The trailing members could square away flex-cuffing the downed or surrendered suspects, Matt needed to keep up the momentum to hopefully recover Councilman Wynn.
Ah - well, that certainly complicated things. It made sense why he didn't just jump in and save the hostage.
"If we have to knock him unconscious - if it comes to that - it's better than risking him being killed by his captors," she muttered. More gunshots went off in the distance, and she glanced over her shoulder, then sighed. "Alright."
She held out her hand.
If he struggles, it messes up my navigation. Her body tensed, hyper-aware of every movement. She didn't want to end up halfway inside a wall.
"In you go. Move it. Move it, you-- fuckin' prick--"
A buffer tube to the back of the head made Wynn move, eventually, climbing into the passenger seat as Carmine shoved him ruthlessly into the van cabin. Blonde hair fell in front of the councilman's face, obscuring a hateful glare as his captor moved around the front hood of the vehicle-- and kept his rifle pistol trained on the man, one hand pulling out the burner phone Prometheus had provided for them once the package was secured.
VIP IN VAN, MOVING NOW
Slipping the phone into his jacket pocket, Carmine threw the door open and got inside, looking the councilman up and down. Sweat tainted Wynn's brow; blood leaked from a split lip from where he'd been hit earlier. His white undershirt was stained a deep crimson below the tie; every few moments, the councilman let out a groan, eyes clamped shut as he writhed upon the seat like a suffocating fish. Truthfully, the entire thing looked fuckin' pathetic to Carmine.
"Yeah, yeah. Keep fuckin' moaning like that, see where it gets you." He muttered, twisting the keys in the ignition to turn the van on with a roar of the engine. Carmine's tone had a rushed edge to it as he shifted into drive, foot on the brake as he rolled the window down and looked outside to Mr. Orange.
"Last fuckin' call!"
"MR. ORANGE"/KIERAN BELL
No resistance in the alleyway; perhaps their luck had turned for the better. Kieran debated turning around and heading back in to support the other two, but he trusted Mr. Blue about as far as he could fuckin' throw him. There was nothing stopping the guy from running off with the hostage, so he opened the back doors of the van and waited-- ready to jump in the back at a moment's notice in case he heard the screech of tires and an engine straining to get out of 1st. The more they waited, though, the less viable escape became.
Mr. Blue seemed itching to leave the rest of the crew, but the shitshow that was unfolding in the hallway-- from what he could see, at least-- seemed to suggest that at least one of them was still alive.
So-- perhaps against his better judgement-- he waited, taking cover behind the open rear door of the van and keeping the sights of his rifle posted on the double-doors out into the alleyway.
"Give 'em thirty! Just--" Kieran yelled, shaking his head a moment to try and focus. Calm. Keep a firm grip. His right hand started to show the tremor it always used to get; he let go of the rifle a moment, letting it rest against the door, and shook his arm twice before returning his finger to the trigger guard. "-- fucken' wait. I'll give you the signal to floor it."
"MR. GREEN"/MIKE ROBER
Fuck. Should-- should he have even helped save this asshole, with the heat it'd gotten him into? Adrenaline running too high-- couldn't wipe the sweat off his fucking brow, with how tight the mask was against his face. Mike sucked on the soaked fabric against his lips instinctually, trying to draw a deep breath as a fucking vigilante covered in metal plating turned the corner and dropped into a dead sprint to catch up to them. With widened eyes, he raised his rifle-- feathering the trigger with less than favorable control over the kick-- and backpedaled towards the corner.
"WE GOT FUCKING--"
-- a kick, a sawblade-- too quick to react to--
Something stuck itself in his leg-- the padding there enough to stop it from cutting clean through along the outside edge of the muscle, but still embedding itself a good few inches into meat. Predictably, Mike stumbled and fell, rifle knocked from his grasp as his shoulder slammed into the hard flooring of the service hallway; he had barely enough time to register the pain and SWAT approaching from down the hall, trying to edge his way around the corner. "My FUCKING LEG! YOU FF--"
Couldn't see-- couldn't hear-- couldn't think. If he screamed, he didn't hear it. Instead, with his heartbeat hammering in his chest and his defenses stripped, Mike fell upon his only option. The last resort, Prometheus had told them.
Laying upon the ground-- a metal disc in his leg, thoroughly blinded and deafened, and imminently shot-- Michael extended out his hands and focused, trying to call upon that energy Prometheus had imparted into him the night prior. Like flexing a muscle, he'd said. The lights flickered; hairs stood on end.
He might've shouted FUCK YOU, FUCKING PIGS, but he wasn't even sure he'd said that. It might've come out in a bloodcurdling scream as he felt his flesh sear as electricity surged out from his palms, undulating up and down his arms as he unleashed a lightning storm in the confines of the small corridor. Smoke rose from his body; arcs of plasma shot out and struck nearby metal implements, lights-- hell, even his rifle upon the floor-- but most importantly, towards the metal fuck that'd nearly killed him, and the SWAT that were undoubtedly turning the corner and firing upon them. Bullets struck his chest-- his legs, his pelvis, his face-- and he could feel the gentle stabs of pain, but it paled in comparison to the agony of being electrocuted. Still, somehow, he persisted-- kept alive for those precious few moments to unleash the torrent of lightning that would arc from person to person, lights blowing out with sparks that rained down from on high.
Prometheus was right, he supposed. It really did hurt like a fucking bitch.
But the high, though... fuck, the high was indescribable.
In his final moments, he might've even laughed if his vocal cords hadn't been burnt to a smolder.
"MR. PINK"/WILLIAM LAVERNE
If nothing else, William knew when to cut his losses.
The military. Family. Friends. If something weighed you down, you dropped it; doubly so if it was in a situation like this. He and Mr. Green fired off a torrent of bullets towards the vigilante that was sprinting towards them, but it was ultimately in vain; whatever metal he had could stop their rifles, which meant they were better off running than staying to fight, especially with police tailing them with moments to spare. If anything, Mr. Green could use whatever electrokinetic powers he had to try and buy them some time--
-- until he took a blade to the leg and went down, leaving William to make a choice. Either try and get him back up-- and almost certainly take a flashbang to the face, which clattered off the wall and landed neatly in front of the approaching vigilante, along with whatever gunfire was bound to follow-- or get behind the corner and keep himself alive.
The choice was simple. Unfortunate, but simple.
William dove for the corner, sliding along the floor a moment and covering his ears as best he could; it didn't quite matter, unfortunately, because the blast still left a hiss in his ears that deafened him for a good few moments. Hearing would be fucked up for a bit, now, but he wasn't blinded-- and had avoided the worst of its effects. Moving to his feet with a small slip of his shoes on the floor-- unstable footing, and a pain in his chest that wouldn't be going away-- William pushed himself against the strongwall to the corner and readied his rifle as Mr. Green raised his hands, shouted something inaudible above the whine in his ears, and unleashed a torrent of lightning from his body.
It lasted maybe a few seconds-- maybe more, maybe less-- but the effects were instantaneous. William dropped his rifle instinctually as a jolt forced it from his hands; a stray arc that nearly hit him and scorched the wall a few inches from his face was more than enough of a wake-up call to retreat, his body already pushing itself towards the alleyway as the lightning storm erupted from his body. A look over the shoulder confirmed the worst; when it ended, Mr. Green was smoldering upon the ground, smoke wafting from his body. Burnt flesh. Cloth fused with his skin where it hadn't been burned away entirely. Was he dead? Probably.
LaVerne wasn't keen on joining him.
He'd already pushed into the alley doors and dove to the side, rolling and returning to his feet as he stumbled to the van. It'd been less than a minute-- maybe a bit more-- since they'd taken the councilman, but it'd already felt like years had gone by in that hallway. Mr. Orange was guarding the van, head tilted as he saw the streaks of burns along the back of LaVerne's suit.
"Green's dead." He rasped out. Was he even speaking? The next word, though, he could hear above the deafening clamor. "GO!"
The sound of gunfire in a nearby alley drew Smith's attention as he put his palm over Basilica's hand.
A little further out in the street would be the best place to be, near where he'd heard guns and shouting.
Unbeknownst to him, it was the egress point of the kidnappers.
With that, Basilica's surroundings would instantly be supplanted with a new venue - the rooftop became tarmac, and the quiet of their conversation was replaced by squealing tires.
IN FRONT OF THE VAN
As fate would have it, this time a blind jump did not protect Randall Smith from pain.
In most cases, he was protected from landing within anything, which would have instantly lethal results. But he could not fully predict what awaited him on the other side of the step-through-nothing.
In this case, it was the grill of a sleek black GMC Vandura, or something like it.
Fortunately, he was not drawn underneath it. He thought of trying to blink out as he registered what was coming towards him, but with his hand still clasped around Basilica's, there was a chance that she would be sucked into a wall on arrival if he tried anything fancy, and there was precious little time for him to wrest his grip away.
Instead he jumped, found the air knocked out of him as the van thudded into his legs, and he slid up on the windshield. The vehicle was mercifully slow - only in the early stage of its acceleration - and instead of wounding him, it only forced the air from his lungs as he scrambled over the front of it, head unceremoniously bouncing off the glass.
The aspect of slapstick belied deadly intent. Channeling his inner action hero, Smith scrambled for his gun in his coat, seeking to withdraw it and press it against the glass, squeezing the trigger until the clip was emptied into the driver - unaware of what in the world had happened to Basilica.
With his arms raised and the steel that covered them thickened to the point that his back was barely armored in paper-thin metal Nat could barely register the effectiveness of his attack as he pressed forward against the hail of bullets. A half step, no more, was all he gained as a clattering bounced from the wall next to him and he saw the grenade come spinning into frame in the space between his elbows. His reaction was almost instinctive, driven by the immediate knowledge that the flash-bang operated on two fronts. With hands already raised Nat clapped them to the side of his head, the metal around them flowing into his mask and forming a protective layer of steel and air around his ear.
There was nothing to be done about the blinding flash and the disorienting spots it left behind, but his quick protection had blunted the force of the deafening blast to his hearing, leaving no more of a high pitched squeal than the gunshots had created in the cramped space. As Nat moved to rub the spots in his vision away a gloves hand jerked his arm back hard, spinning him around with its strength and twisting Nat over the armored S.W.A.T. officer’s back. He could hear the shouts, muffled by the steel around his ears but so clearly militaristic in their barked orders that Nat could easily tell he was surrounded by officers despite his dappled sight.
It was funny how thoughts could race through your mind in the span of a fraction of a second, especially when surrounded by chaos. Nat had come prepared because he knew the response times of the police. The convention hall was one of the safer places he had marked with an average response time of five minutes, but instead they were here already, in a full show of force if the amount of uniformed bodies and whizzing bullets were any indication. They had apparently been prepared for an attack, a factor Nat hadn’t considered and was suddenly paying the price for as he tumbled over the officer’s shoulder.
He could hardly see, could hardly hear with his ears still covered, but he could smell the ozone as Mr. Green charged his attack and crackles of light sparked around him brightly enough to cut through the flash-bang’s legacy. It was pure instinct that saved Nat, an involuntary release from the paper-thin steel at his back that transferred the momentum of the officer’s throw to Nat’s body and sent him flying away while the officer gripped the now rigid steel of the armor he had left behind. The hair on Nat’s arms stood on end and a soft crackling of weak static sparked around Nat’s mask as he hit the floor and rolled, away from the officers and away from the storm of electricity that tore through them.
The arcs died out just before reaching him, the officer that had thrown him inadvertently saving him from a crispy end by sending him out of the path of the storm. Tendrils of the plasma had stretched toward Nat’s mask, but their charge was not enough to reach him and died out before they could. He lay there, gasping lungfuls of air against his racing heart to try to mitigate the fear he had felt seeing the lightning so close. The smell of burnt flesh and seared hair hung on his tongue, an immediate reminder of what he had almost become: charcoal.
His voice was still lost to him, overcome with chaos and grief as his vision finally cleared and the bodies left behind came into clear definition. He might have been a vigilante, and the officers there might have loved nothing more than to see him locked away for what he did, but Nat believed in law enforcement. He wasn’t a vigilante out of distrust, or because he thought of them as incapable. It was about protecting people, and despite the artillery at their disposal the police were in danger against metas like himself. Like the man who had turned them into barbecue. The only defense against powers like theirs lay in other metas, and as far as Nat could tell there weren’t likely to be any that would be willing to become a weapon for the city police.
She hadn't expected it to be comfortable, but the shock still hit her like a truck. One moment, they were standing on the chilly rooftop, her hand in his. The next, she was spinning, flying, squeezing - pressure all around her, unsure of which way was up, which way was down, if up and down even existed anymore. For a small moment, she thought she was going to die. Then, they were out, and her body was one, and the air was breathable.
She drew in a long breath -
Then let it out in a gasp as she leapt to the side, narrowly avoiding the van bearing down on her and the teleporter. She hit the ground on her shoulder, wing apparatus collapsing on that side with a crunch. The harness dug hard into her side. Hopefully nothing was seriously broken, both on her outfit and in her body. Scrambling to her feet, she watched the van veer, multiple gunshots echoing like thunderclaps in the alley until her ears rang.
Basilica blinked. The teleporter shot into the van. He shot into the van with the hostage.
She took a limping step, then took to the sky, wings unfolding again, a few pieces of glass falling to the ground as they did. It was enough to let her take to the air, still, so she raised herself up, debris from her shattered wing and the broken windshield rising up in a cloud with her. Close your eyes. Concentrate. Wait for the ringing to fade. Count the sounds in the van - one, two, three, four - five. Eyes flying open, she plummeted down feet-first, letting loose a thin warble to prime the back window of the van before she drove her heels through it.
Matt watched as the impossible happen: blue streaks of lightning erupted from the hands of the man in the green mask. Matt was lucky enough that he only caught a light part of the energy, enough to contract his entire right side and force his head to turn to the right as he stumbled backwards into the wall for support. He locked eyes with the last two officers in the stack right as the majority of the energy hit them. The meta who they tried to subdue had somehow escaped the bounds of his armor without so much as a millisecond's delay, leaving the fourth man holding a metal plate at just above hip height. It provided a clear target for the electricity, which Matt was unfortunate enough to watch arc through the man's body and into the floor. The officer's entire body contracted and the smell of burnt flesh filled the air, though Matt was unsure if that was from the man in the green mask or his officer. While Matt knew that the officer was badly hurt or dead, he didn't know that the energy had been enough to melt the sole of the officer's boots to the floor.
The detective regained full control of his body a fraction of a second after he lost it, though he was still able to see the third officer take a good portion of the energy. It focused on the man's rifle and, while half of it arced off of the lowest part of the rifle and into the floor, that still left the other half to go through him. Matt watched as his body tensed all at once and he fell over with a groan of pain. He was not smoldering, though Matt knew that electricity was nothing to play with. The third officer was still breathing and rolling around in pain, though Matt knew that he was out of the fight.
Brett, being as far forward as Matt but on the other side of the wall, took a burst of energy that was only slightly stronger than the energy that hit Matt. Matt watched as Brett's body contracted as if hit by a taser, though Brett was able to catch himself before he faceplanted directly on the door. Matt heard a stream of swears from the less experienced officer, though he had already wasted a full second and he began taking off at a sprint out of the door. As he started moving, Matt called out behind him. "Brett! Cuff the suspect and render aid to him! We need him alive! Get medics to you immediately!"
As he ran, Matt pressed the button on his bodycam with his off hand, main hand still holding his rifle in front of him and forcing it as far into his shoulder as he could feasibly maintain. Pittsburgh's software was set up to allow them to retroactively record not only the industry standard of video but also audio and the retroactive period was two minutes, more than enough to cover everything that happened. If he's waiting for me on the other side of the door, I'm dead but maybe I'll get a good look at him and catch the fuckers who did this.
Just before he breached the door to the alleyway, Matt used the quiet of the hallway to make what he thought be his final statement. "Cece, I'm sorry. I love you. Be a good girl." It was way more depressing than he intended but he wanted her to have one last statement to remember him by. If he died the second he stepped out of those doors, slain in the line of duty by a gang of criminals and metas, he wanted her to have one usable clip that she could play when she needed to hear his voice. He wanted her to be able to remember him. The thought of leaving her without so much as a one-second clip was too much and, while Matt was prepared to die, he was not prepared to leave Cecelia.
But he didn't die as he exited the door. Instead, he saw the van about a thirty meters ahead of him. It was a black van and, getting a proper cheek weld with one hand, he flipped his magnifier and used the 3x boost as he scanned the van. "Control, we've got a black GMC van, Pennsylvania plate QFZ-8191. Headed south on 10th, seal the bridges and shut down the 579, 376, 279, and Bigelow Blvd. I need any available airship and immediate medical. Multiple dead, multiple officers down. One suspect down. Three in the van, plus the hostage. Multiple Metas here. And start a supervisor." The last sentence was an obvious joke, the deadpan inflection obvious even over the radio. With how much radio chatter there had been over the last minute or so since the shooting had started, Matt knew a supervisor was likely speeding towards the convention center with as much speed as their SUVs could muster. Still, it needed to be said or else someone could bitch that nobody officially asked for a supervisor. He might make mistakes but he wasn't going to make an obvious mistake like failing to call for additional resources.
Pink was alive. Green was dead. He could hazard a guess as to what did the poor fuck in; no use mourning him now. Barely knew the bastard, really, which made it easier to rationalize leaving him behind.
"The fuck happened in there, then?" Kieran asked as Mr. Pink threw himself into the van; the doors were closed, and the divider between cabin and driver's seat was knocked on twice.
"FLOOR IT! GET US TO THE METRO, WE'LL DITCH AND LOSE THEM. BEAT THE FUCKIN' ROADBLOCKS THEY'LL HAVE UP!"
Time. Losing too much time. The longer they spent twiddling their damn thumbs, the more prepared the police would be to utterly destroy them. This wasn't any armed robbery-- this was political assassination. A shooting. Descriptions and manhunts would be underway within hours. In all honesty, he was beginning to fucking regret taking this.
"SWAT was ready for us." Came a soft reply from Mr. Pink. The engine roared; the vehicle jolted, nearly sending the pair onto their asses if it weren't for the rails bolted into the ceiling that they were grabbing onto. "Lit him up. That was that." Kieran shook his head, one hand still clutching the barrel of his rifle as it lay hanging against his chest with the sling.
"Aren't out of this yet. If we don't want to join 'im, we need to--"
There was an indistinct yell from the driver's seat; not even a moment later, there was a thud, and the car gave another sudden jolt. Another moment passed. The gunshots came, then, and Kieran's head snapped to the front of the van, brow furrowing with no small amount of incredulity. "THE FUCK IS GOING ON UP THERE--"
Then, of course, came the shatter of glass-- and the force of an entire body ramming into his back.
"MR. PINK"/WILLIAM LAVERNE
No rest. No rest.
LaVerne kept those two words repeating in his head as his rifle raised towards the back window of the van, glass shattering and body knocking the barrel of his gun aside as another vigilante made her presence known. Too much happening too quick to discern what the fuck was going on-- all he knew is that it was somebody who just crashed through the window, which was bad. The reaction was instinctual, as he pressed himself against the back doors of the vehicle-- acquire the target, and fire. Doing so in a moving vehicle, however-- especially with Mr. Orange right next to her-- proved to be far more difficult in practice than in theory. The first shot went wide from a jolt in the cabin; the second struck Mr. Orange directly in the shoulder. The third and fourth were, hopefully, as on-target as he could manage with the acceleration of the van and trembling of the vehicle interior; the fifth and sixth, unfortunately, went into the side and ceiling of the cabin, as Will soon came face-to-face with the grim realization that whoever spearheaded themselves through the window of the door must've utterly compromised the integrity of the fucking thing.
As his weight leaned against it, the latch failed, and the door swung open; he didn't even have enough time to yell out before open wind greeted him and he fell out onto the open asphalt of the Ninth Street Bridge. Pain came first; then, the sensation of rolling, rolling, his body sliding a good twenty feet along the pavement as he turned over himself and scraped off a good portion of his two-piece suit as he slid. By the time he came to a stop, his shoulder was in agony, his breath was knocked out of his lungs, and half of his body was burned with road rash-- but he was alive.
Just in time to see their getaway car slam grille-first into the bright yellow guardrail.
He didn't stick around long enough to see the aftermath-- instead, he used his one good arm-- the other broken, most likely, judging from the intense pain of landing on it after falling out of a moving car-- to lift his rifle and push to the opposite side of the street, weaving in between the gridlock traffic that had been instantaneously produced from the crash.
Change of plans. Switch cars. Get as far as I fucking can.
"MR. BLUE"/CARMINE MORETTI
Carmine gave a chuckle as he checked the rearview mirror, watching Mr. Pink filter into the back of the van. A moment later, two taps upon the divider confirmed the inevitable-- their fourth was fuckin' mincemeat.
"Looks like Jolly Green Junkie didn't make it," He muttered, slamming the van into drive and stamping his foot on the gas pedal. The tires screeched, and Carmine tightened his hand on the wheel; a moment later, the frame of the car seemed to jitter, a slight tint eclipsing the metal as he felt his muscles scream in pain. Fuck, their boss wasn't kidding. Shit hurt. Still, he looked to Wynn, giving a smile beneath the mask. His gaze returned to the road a moment later as their van seemed to accelerate, fast-- its decreased intertia owed to Prometheus' gift. A lightened frame meant faster movement-- which meant they were gone quicker, thank fuck.
When his eyes returned to the side-street entrance, however, they widened in shock.
"What the FUCK--"
As if he'd blinked and skipped time, two people appeared in front of the van. One was smart enough to dodge out of the way; the other was hit head-on, rolling onto the windshield. Rather than brake and waste time, Carmine opted to floor it, sending the van out onto Fort Duequesne Boulevard and careening towards an intersection. With one hand on the wheel, Moretti quickly pulled his pistol from his hip holster-- about as quickly as he could manage, anyways, from a seated position.
Unfortunately, their unwanted passenger was quicker on the draw.
Bullets cracked the unarmored windshield with ease, the first shots striking Carmine in his arm, chest, and abdomen; while everything was happening too fast to properly internalize and navigate with any ounce of reason, the fact he was still breathing meant he could still shoot, and so his brain went on autopilot to fully draw his own sidearm and empty its magazine back at his attacker. The sound of gunshots and the feeling of being shot caused an instinctive duck of the head as Carmine let out a yell of surprise, foot involuntarily slamming down upon the accelerator and sending the van on an understeered arc the intersection-- barely missing a family of four in a sedan, and coming within a hair's breadth of t-boning an SUV. Luckily, Carmine's hand was still on the wheel to steer. Blindly, of course, but the end result kept the van on somewhat of a curve, screeching into the beginnings of a fishtail before the wheels caught.
"-- MOTHERFUCKER-- FUCK-- GGLLRRHGCKK--"
The bullet to the neck, though, made things all the more difficult.
Carmine felt it enter, and he felt the warmth spread out from the wound-- but more importantly, he felt blood enter his throat, his airway, and his mouth, and he gave a sputtering gasp as his hand immediately dropped his pistol and snapped to the site of the wound. His hand groped at the steering wheel, faltered, and slid-- inadvertently turning the van and sending it perpendicular towards the road they were now on. At the mouth of the Ninth Street Bridge, the gunmen's getaway van skidded and slammed into the guardrails at the fringes of the implement, the hood bowing as Carmine came to a fatal realization.
He wasn't wearing a seatbelt.
The impact sent him flying forward out of his seat and through the windshield, the already-compromised structure of the glass shattering under the full force of a body being ejected from the driver's side. Carmine's suited form slammed onto the hood, and then out past it, sailing over the rail of the bridge and into the open air above the Allegheny River.
If any onlookers were lucky-- or unlucky-- enough to catch the sight, they'd see a body whirl over itself and drop forty feet into calm waters, slapping the surface like a wet bag of concrete.
The end result of the collision was a van half-perched upon the guardrail of the bridge-- enough weight forwards, and it'd most certainly tip over, judging by the precarious creaking of the chassis as it leaned over the side of the now-broken railing. Wynn, thankfully, hadn't been ejected alongside his captor; though the airbags had gone off, and who was to say if he'd even survived the impact?