The Thread, Part 13: Crystal Frontier

July 19, 2015:

An explosion hits home for the Police Department as 46 of the criminals who have been arrested in the recent attacks as heroes come to the rescue. The Kingpin moves a chess piece in his war vs. Aurelio Martinez and the rest of the 100. The Quraci government plans its revenge on the Americans, while Dick Grayson's long, cold investigation finally yields a big fish.

Various

Various

Characters

NPCs: Rhino, Juggernaut, Gabriel Horatio, Mumgro and Risa, Quraci Terrorists

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: Crystal Frontier, Calexico


Fade In…

The Thread, Part 13: The Crystal Frontier

Marco's shadow falls on the door to the seven lost cities of gold
Finds a raven's head and rattlers tail
Dead in his tracks, this godforsaken soul's
Unwanted here and his ghost lingers for years — Joey Burns

GOTHAM
EARLIER

It's the way that the snap echoes off of the brick, like a breaking dry branch in the woods. The sound bounces off the walls, making it sharper somehow in this dingy excuse for a building. The office, deep within the subterranean portion of the GCPD is equipped with a computer, a simple desk, a chair, and a large pack of sunflower seeds, which Dick Grayson munches on hour after hour.

This is a wiretap, and unlike the movies, they take a very long time.

The young detective grabs the cerulean colored bottle and takes a plug of water, washing some of the salt from his mouth.

NEW YORK

It's dusk when two large vans pull up just outside One Police Plaza and idle to a stop along a no-parking zone. The driver of the first vehicle hops out, makes sure his hoodie pulled up and begins to run along the road. The second driver puts on a black baseball cap and begins to run in the opposite direction.

But an eagle eyed man in a cab just behind the second van sees what's going on. See something, say something is the saying and he pulls out his cell phone immediately. "Yes, I think I have an emergency," says the middle aged man with fading light brown hair, a clean shave, and a pantsize a few inches bigger than in his college days. "I just saw two men outside the police dep-"

KABOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!

The blinding light is the last thing he and the driver ever see and the heat from the explosion is the last thing they feel upon their faces before they are both incinerated.

When the dust settles, a good piece of the corner of the police station is gone. Sirens wail, and people scream. Emergency services spring into action, but they are always so slow, so slow, so slow.

QURAC

Deep within some bunker out in the mountains of Qurac, several men are sitting together and speaking in their native tongue.

< Have you prepared the mutants? >
< They are not quite ready. One more week, maybe. Maybe less. >
< The leader grows impatient for his revenge. >
< I understand. But they are so green. It takes time, brother. >

At the table is a large, paper map of Washington D.C.

Spearhead hears the blast as he reaches the door of his room. As soon as he identifies it as such, he double times it to his stock of guns and ammo and grabs some of his 'trade tools' and dons his vigilante gear, a M249 gracing his back as he makes for the front door and hops on a new Victory Motorcycle, and high-tails it in the direction of the blast.

"I've… just never seen anything like it before, Barr."

"When will you go back to work, dad?"

"… I… I'm not sure."

EARLIER

"Look. Detective West."

Angela Mason, psychiatric specialist for the NYPD, shook her head while going over Joe West's paperwork. "Administrative leave is no laughing matter. It hasn't even been two weeks since the incident, and we have a minimum standard of two weeks."

"I know that, Doctor Mason." Joe leaned forward, resting his arms on the psychiatrist's desk and pleading with her. "I just… I just think the best thing for me is to go back to work. Maybe get my mind off things."

"Have you taken the anxiety pills I prescribed you?"

"I…" Joe frowned, then leaned back and crossed his arms. "No. I haven't."

"Are you sleeping well?"

"Well, I can… no."

"What happens when you show up at a crime scene with a murdered infant? A mortally burned teenager? A mutant in trouble? Joe, we have to be certain that -"

"Just give me something, Doctor, please!" He tried to fight the tears from welling up in his eyes. "I need something to get my mind off… to stop thinking about what we saw."

NOW

"Hey, is that you, Joe?" The voice belongs to fellow Detective Jeffrey Jackson. "What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be on Administrative Leave?"

Looking up from his desk and the mess of papers, Detective West scratches at his ear with a pencil. "No, I am. Sort of. But, Chief agreed to give me a few hours, here and there. Desk work only."

"At this hour?" Jackson checks his watch. "Shouldn't you be here for the nine to -"

The blast blows Jeffrey Jackson to pieces. Joe's desk takes the brunt of the blast, blocking him from fire and flame, but it sends him toppling over himself in the process.

In the Clocktower in Gotham, Oracles eyes snap to her screens as the carnage in New York becomes obvious. "This is Oracle. There's been an incident in New York. Anyone who can attend, do so and respond to me." The message goes out over the OracleNet, JL:A and Titans frequencies…

Starting searches, data and communications, Oracle tries to pinpoint just what caused this disaster.

Fate or Co-incidence?

Natasha wasn't sure which it was as she pulled up on the same street as One Police Plaza only to see the explosion that takes out a large portion of the building.

She was supposed to meet a contact in five minutes, a middle-aged cab driver who had some information for her. That wasn't going to be happening now, "Looks like it was the wrong place, wrong time for you." There's no emotion in her voice at the loss of the contact.

Spotting the two men running from the scene of the crime, Natasha revved her bike and drove directly towards for the man with the baseball cap first, intending to shock him with her widow's bite.

Explosions don't really rate paying attention to. Most of the time they don't concern him and he's not in the business of rescuing people from burning buildings. That's what they pay first responders for. However, Midnighter has a very good sense of direction. One could even say it's built into him. And he knows 1PP is in the direction of the explosion. Gauging the intensity of the sound, what little of the shock wave he felt, and the speed at which the sirens started, it's worth checking out. Tossing a couple bills onto the outside table of the restaurant he was having a beer at, he grabs his bag and starts off at a run toward the police station. On the way, he quickly ducks into an alley to spend the thirty seconds or so to switch into his costume.

J'onn had been in Central Park when the blast occurred- looking up from his hidden place as a duck on one of the ponds- just watching people and enjoying free bread. Because, why not, free bread! He takes wing, flapping as he rises- his form shifting from everyday mallard to The Martian Manhunter. Through the air, he flies with great speed until he comes to the disaster in question. Fire. Pain. The fire would need to be dealt with first, before he was able to assist the people in side- keeping his distance as he scans the ruins for survivors. Survivors not in the middle of a conflagration. Quietly swearing at himself for not being able to face such a thing.

MANHATTAN
BENEATH FISK TOWERS

Wilson Fisk stands over a hospital bed where his right hand and closest confidant is laid out with all manner of tubes and wires snaking off of his burned and broken body, his features twisted in boiling rage. There is a man on his right, a different man. Fisk doesn't know him, nor does he particularly care to.

"Do it," Fisk rumbles. "No witnesses."

The new man takes out his cell phone and makes a call.

METROPOLIS

Jair Maria Horatio had a brother, Gabriel. Has a brother. It took a couple more prisoners disappearing in solitary due to various infractions, but Fisk's employees managed to extract a name. From there, a different set of employees narrowed him down to the Bakerline neighborhood, and armed with this information, he approached Parker Robbins - AKA The Hood - about using some of his men to keep tabs on Gabe.

A few days after that, Robbins receives another call. Whenever he answers:

"Mr. The Hood, sir," a nasally man says, "Th— I, uh— it's time. Please, uh, pick up the package. No, uh… witnesses?"

MANHATTAN

Wilson Fisk slowly turns a withering glare upon his new assistant.

Parker has been waiting for the call for a week, "consider it done," he replies to the man at the other side of the phone. The Hood doesn't have an office, per se, just a table in the corner of a clandestine bar where thugs and criminals go to make deals. "Sorry boys," he says to his fellow poker players, "work called. I will be gone a couple hours. John, prepare a guest room, willya?" He stands heads out. Once through the door, he goes invisible, three steps more, and he is completely gone, teleporting.

The Hood had people following Gabe for three days. But he will take care of this little errand personally.

GOTHAM

"Is it just Grayson in there?" asks one of the officers to his colleague as they pass by the window to the office. "I figured they'd have pulled him off the Perrin case after Mills got popped. If not before."

"I heard they tried but no one else would take it. Face it, all that's followed that case has been blood and death."

"Feel kinda bad for the kid. This is his first homicide, aint it?"

"It is, but that's sort of this town. You sink or you swim. Not sure which one it'll be for this guy, yet."

NEW YORK

Spearhead arrives on the scene first as girders are still falling from the remaining part of the building. People: cops, office workers, and prisoners are screaming for help—those who can scream at all that is. The explosion took out a handful of cars along the road in addition to the corner of the station. Those far enough to still be living wander, deafened and staggered, trying to stumble their way to safety.

Meanwhile, Joe West is alive and lucky. Fire, however, has begun to spread on the side walls, with the rest of the building towards the entrance to the office in the rear. Out in front of him is a brand new view of the building straight ahead.

Annoyingly, the cameras were shut down on the streets around the attack just before the trucks exploded. This was no lone wolf or small team. This was a coordinated effort, to be sure.

As Widow attacks the man with the widow's bite, her electric gauntlets bury themselves into either side of his neck, but as soon as she sees his face, she'll know there's something different about this guy. His entire face looks reptilian and is armored somewhat. The blue electricity dances along his skin but does no discernable damage. Instead he slams a large fist into her chest, knocking her away.

Midnighter arrives on the scene, just to see Black Widow knocked backwards and some man in a hoodie trying to make a run for it.

The alien from Mars has his choice. People stagger around slowly, weeping loudly, trying to look through the rubble for coworkers. There are a pair of crime scene investigators caught under a large pillar and unable to move.

Cain Marko doesn't really want a piece of this job, but money is money and there was a hell of a lot of it. He fastens his protective helm and begins to run, shrouded by the hazy smoke and unseen to the heroes.

METROPOLIS

Gabe does all sorts of fun things. You probably know he wears designer suits and goes to meetings in abandoned warehouses. What you didn't know is he gets his nails done. Professionally.

But Hood knows.

Hood also knows that Gabriel is at home now in a nice little estate out in Bakerline, sipping on Coronas and playing pool with his security crew. All 9 of them.

It takes a few moments for Detective West to recover from the explosion. His vision is blurred, and all he can hear is a deafening ring that blots out the muteness of his ears. He struggles for a moment to get out from beneath his desk, but the sight that greets him is horrifying.

There are pieces of Detective Jackson all over the place, not to mention his shirt. A blasted foot lies not far away, blown clear out of its boot, and a few teeth are sticking into his shirt. There is cooked blood everywhere.

With trembling hands, the Detective scrambles around for his cell phone, but finds it shattered and inoperable. There will be no calling Barry tonight.

Coughing when the smoke hits him, he climbs to his feet and staggers away from the smoke, looking around and about with eyes that declare shock. When they spy a set of legs from under an overturned cabinet, he stumbles over and tries to move the cabinet, but it's no use. Crouching down, he shoves it with his shoulder, but when it topples over, he finds the legs end at the torso. There's nothing else.

"Oh… God."

Looking around with wild eyes, he is having a difficult time making his bearings.

Doctor Mason was right.

"Help… help me!" His voice gains strength. "Someone, help!"

Spearhead is off the motorbike as soon as it stills and begins a kind of situation triage, Who's in danger? whos in risk of having their chances of life lessened by something… Overhanging rubble that looks like a boulder just barely resting on a steep hill: yeah, stuff that looks basiclly like that, get people away from that. He turns on infared sensors to see through the smoke adn drags people to safety, seeing to the injured and putting pressure on wounds. He looks around for someone to help.

With no video surveillance, Oracle is blind and unable to help those on the ground. But that gives the redhead a clue… and she starts to try and compromise the computer system that controls those cameras' … she may be able to restore partial visibility and / or find out who shut the system down.

The force of the impact knocks the wind out of Natasha as she's sent flying off of her motorcycle and into the air with a look of surprise on her face and a faint cry of pain.

The bike careens into the sidewalk and slamming into a low concrete wall before skidding to a stop and falling to its side with the back tire still spinning for a moment.

Somersaulting in mid-air with an enviable grace she manages to land on the pavement in a crouch with one hand on the ground before she removes her helmet and shakes out her hair, catching her breath for a moment.

"Hey Handsome…" Natasha smiled as she called out to her assailant.

A micro-explosive charge from her belt is quickly slipped into the helmet and activated before she tosses it towards him, "Catch!"

Rolling to the side she draws a pair of pistols out of her thigh holsters and opens fire on the reptile with a series of precision shots, aiming for the legs to try and incapacitate it.

Sometimes it's difficult to tell who he needs to beat up. Sometimes it's not. Well trained human SHIELD agent flying backwards. Not human reptiloid running away. Taking into account the armor from the scales, Midnighter ignores the shuriken in his pocket in favor of the heavier throwing spike and aims it at the (presumably) man's knee at the same time as Natasha opens fire. It's so much easier when you don't need to keep them alive for questioning. Though not as much fun. Well, almost. "Does SHIELD pay for your helmets? The bean counters at Stormwatch try to nickel and dime me to death."

J'onn hurries first to those pinned under the pillar, easily lifting it out of the way and tossing it where it won't cause any more damage. He looks towards those who were not as injured- but near by. "Clear a path on the street! Make a path for rescue workers!" he shouts, his deep voice carrying far as he kneels, "Just relax." he offers the two investigators. "Help is on the way." he explains, before he's off again to pull more people out of rubble- using his abilities to easily get to them and get them out. He is exceedingly careful not to cause any further damage to the people. He uses his X-Ray vision, and Martian senses to prioritize the injured- someone who can not wait, would be rushed to a local hospital. After all, time is a factor. He'd be immediately back at the scene of the crime. He hears a voice inside where the blast was- smoke and fire there.

As other heroes arrive on scene, J'onn takes a small liberty- reaching out, he gives the location of the injured, and the dangers of the disaster scene through mental imagery- they will know where everyone is, and who needs the most help. This same imagery is sent to first responders as they arrive. An intrusion, surely, but one that will ultimately save lives.

"This is Ozymandias. Sorry for the delay, Prophetess." Ozymandias speaks to Oracle over the Jl:A communications link. "How are you with being able to see what is going on?" Ozymandias furrows slightly, when he feel someone enter his mind. "Feckin psychics!" Ozymandias begins to help with evacuating the building and clearing a path.

J'onn J'onzz says, "End of July-Beginning of August"

NEW YORK

"Wait, WAIT—!" A chair is thrown to the ground as the Hood heads towards the entrance; it shatters. Aleksei Sytsevich thunders after the Hood in his horned battlesuit, but it's the Hood is gone, and then gone before he can pick up any speed.

"NYET!" he roars, throwing his massive hands up. "FALCONES SENT ME TO YOU! I FOLLOW, LIKE GOOD SOLDIER! I WAS SUPPOSED TO GO WITH YOU!" If he where anywhere else, the Rhino would be rampaging right this very moment. But he's in the Hood's bar, and he likes getting work and not having to worry about his family.

"THOSE ONE HUNDRED MOTHERLESS SONS OF BITCHES," he seethes, stamping ineffectually. "I WILL CRUSH THEIR SKULLS, I WILL— "

"U-uh…" the Vanisher meekly clears his throat, having cautiously crept closer due to his ranting. It's not the norm for him, but he, too, has a job.

"I was— actually just— I could help you, if you don't mind— "

"METROPOLIS!!"

METROPOLIS!!

Vanisher panics and they both appear in the middle of a random street.

"You— BAKERLINE!!"

BAKERLINE!!

The Vanisher and the Rhino appear on top of a random roof in Bakerline. It's closer, just a few blocks from the mark.

"NO— "

Vanisher is already gone.

Rhino doesn't stew for but a few moments before leaping down to the street, picking a mostly unobstructed direction, and running, searching for the Hood.

The funny thing is the Vanisher actually brings Rhino to Bakerline before the Hood gets there. His cloak can't get all the way to Metropolis in just one jump. So when Parker gets there, he can only facepalm. No getting rid of the crazy Russian, it seems.

"Alekesei?" He appears, "I guess we are here for the same reason, isn't it? Good, you take the front door, and I will sneak around the back. Buy you a round or three if you grab our target if he makes it to the door."

The truth is nine bodyguards would have been an insurmountable obstacle a few years ago, before the Cloak. But they are not much for the Hood. Invisible, he walks in the air up to the topmost floor of Gabriel's home, forcing a window open. Not a noise escapes the cloak folds. Then he heads to the pool room, adjusting a gas mask along the way. Nice of Gabe to have all the thugs together in the same room.

Quickly, before the huge Russian lummox arrives. Two grenades, one is tear gas, the other flash bang. For the men in the room, they appeared from thin air and exploded a tenth of second afterwards.

GOTHAM

Eventually fortune favors the patient. Over the lines comes the voice that Dick Grayson has been waiting for. Save nabbing Tony Zucco nothing in his life has felt so sweet when that voice, husky yet elegant, villainous yet refined. It is the voice of who he's looking for and Dick Grayson can nearly scream and gives a joyful fistpump as that voice begins to give him hours and hours of material.

Hours later, Dick bursts out of the stairwell and into the main part of the Gotham Police Department. "I need a car, and I need it now. And I need a phone number."

"No problem, Grayson," says one of the office workers who handles such affairs. "Where you headed?"

"Metropolis. I've got to make an arrest."

NEW YORK

West can hear the haunting sounds of sirens that are so far away from him. His training tells him they'll start at the bottom and work their way up. Help is coming, but it's a long way from the 6th floor with the carnage all around him and the flames a comin'

Spearhead helps several people to safety, bringing them clear of the carnage just as the ambulances are beginning to arrive. Despite what Representative Sarah Traverstein down in DC would like, heroes are still legal and very much appreciated. On his third or fourth trip, he sees something high above. There on the sixth floor, a detective is trapped in an office with burning walls. By the time emergency services get there, that officer will surely be dead.

Oracle dives into the electronic zephyr of detective work as her hands glide over the keys. No luck on getting the cameras back o—wait a minute. They're back on. Sometimes it's that easy for the woman from Gotham. Since they were off during the explosion, she can't see the moments just before it, but she at least has eyes. A quick trace leads to a familiar site. The same internet cafe that was used before in an attack. Sloppy.

"Wha?" says the reptilian mutant as he catches the helmet just as it explodes, knocking him backward. He's tough, but he's hurting. He gets back to his feet just as Natasha begins shooting the hell out of him with her pistols.

Meanwhile, Midnighter gets him in the knee as Widow pumps him full of lead.What's left of his hoodie is gone, showing a clearly armored hide. 1. 2. 3… and down he goes!

J'onn efforts may not be dramatic, but they save scores of lives as paramedics begin getting more people out than the Manhunter can do on his own. The paths of the roads clear, almost on command, as more and more ambulances and firetrucks pile up, beginning to help where able.

Ozymandias runs south, and as he contacts Oracle, he sees what appears to be a man in a hoodie and sunglasses, running away from the scene. There are many people running away from the scene, of course, but this one seems strange.

Meanwhile, in the depths of the 1PP, where authorities have yet to make it, the Juggernaut takes a running start and begins smashing through the walls of the cell block below. Inside, 43 of the gang members who have been apprehended in this reign of terror now have a way out. And they're using it to try and escape on the north end of the building. Juggernaut, meanwhile, escapes out the other end and continues on as fast as his legs will take him in the other direction. His job here is finished.

QURAC

As the conversation ends, the pair of men head out towards the light. Outdoors a legion of mutants are training in what can best be described as a terrorist training site. Vast, almost an entire valley big, they've so far been able to avoid Sentinel detection. So far. The first man nods to the other, obviously approving. < Not long, now. Not long. >

METROPOLIS

Inside Gabriel's house things turn to strict pandemonium almost immediately. The tear gas forces the thugs to cough uncontrollably, and there is a ton of screaming and yelling in Spanish.

Gabriel, being smart and good at getting out of things like this, begins crawling on his hands and knees under the gas, trying to escape into the hallway, towards the garage, where his SUV awaits.

Spearhead recieves the mental imagery, things like this have stopped bothering him, as mos things do after a short while. With help here, he takes to helping all those inside in the smoke and flames, His gear very well suited for the smoke. the flames…..maybe not so much, buit it's still not made out of fuel…. But some ammo clips might not be the best thing in a fire… As this though crosses his mind, he rushes to his Motorcycle, and empties all the ammo off and into a side bag, but keeps a pistol with a clip in it, just in case, and hopes he doesn't have a bullet BBQ to deal with while he rushes back into the smokey fray of ruined building, pulling people out from the fire and smoke.
He spots Joe inside the 6th floor with the IR of hjis helmet, and he rushes into the building, quickly finding the fire staircase and, skipping 2-3 steps at a time, flies up the stairs, bashing into the door marked by '6Th floor'…. Hopefully, there isn't anything blocking the door…

"Ozymandias" Oracle speaks to the man as he checks in "Video feeds have just been reestablished. They were cut off just prior to the explosion." She'll relay information to the man as soon as she can.

As the traces bring back that Internet Cafe, her eyes narrow. Now, she's really going to get serious… More hacking to get to the security footage to see who had been there that day… oh and accessing the computers to get the comms history off them as well.

"It's a perk of the job. All the helmets you want." Natasha winked at Midnighter before lowering her pistols as the mutant fell to the ground, "The bean counters can't nickel and dime you if you don't let them know what you 'requisition', just be creative."

Walking towards the downed mutant, she recalled her last meeting with Midnighter and asked, "You want to take him home with you or shall I call someone to tag him."

She kicked the reptile to make sure it was going to stay down, pistols trained on it.

Midnighter pulls the three pieces of his staff from his coat and assembles them as he walks toward Reptile Man to look down at him. For a similar purpose, he uses the end of the staff against the man's head to see if he's conscious. "By all means, you take him. He's just not that interesting. But that does lead to the question, what was the point of this? Terrorism? The mutants should be blowing up government targets, not the NYPD."

And, indeed, J'onn takes the point to ensure that those who need the most help are helped first. He may not be a doctor- but his ability to see through a body certainly helps triage. He continues in this fashion- doing all he can to save lives. He focuses on those things a gentlemartian with super strength would be suited to- allowing the emergency crews to do their jobs.

He does another scan- checking to see if there are more hidden under rubble that he may have missed. He scans for thoughts, or even unconscious mind. As things progress, he updates the mental map for those who have called to action- so all may work at best efficiency to do their life-saving duty. He further assists those paramedics- subtle suggestion sent out along the most efficient paths to hospitals, the roads there almost empty- other motorists given a small push to take a different path than they might normally. Some might consider it a misuse of psychic might- an intrusion. J'onn, however, feels that saving the lives of the victims is more important.

This is done, all while J'onn continues his assistance of the victims- those, at least, he can assist.

Ozymandias calls to Oracle and says. "Okay, Prophetess." Ozymandias is about to relay his exact coordinates, when he spots the hooded person with the sunglasses fleeing from the scene. Even during these chaotic situation, the person does stand out He quickly changes his sickle sword to mystical energy as he uses his superspeed to track down the hooded man with the sunglasses. He slashes the back of the hooded person with his mystical energy sword, the mystical energy attacking the hooded person's soul

Ozymandias quickly pulls out his plasma pistol with his other hand and puts the gun to the person's head. "Time to give up. I am sure that you have a lot of new friends that would like to speak with you."

This time, it takes Aleksei a while to actually stop: all 700-plus pounds of him skids past the spontaneously appearing Hood after his name is called, and then he briskly tromps back to the relic-toting gangster, snorting and huffing angrily the whole way.

He looks like he's on the verge of bursting into another stream of accented filth, but fortunately, Parker is pretty good at handling people like him; he'd have to be. The Rhino doesn't settle, exactly, but he does dutifully turn towards the house with his violent chuffing. "I will boil his blood inside his body and draw bath from it!" No indication of how, with his powers of 'running really fast' and 'smashing things'. "I will RIP his pulsing— wait— " He turns his head, briefly confused and disappointed. "'Grab'?"

Whether or not the Hood actually answers, it doesn't take the Rhino long to get with the program; he just has to make peace with his feelings about it. He's scraping his feet and orienting himself towards the house as the Hood vanishes; it is entirely unnecessary, but the ritual is important to him.

"Rrrrrr— " He takes off, pounding across the street and rapidly gathering momentum like a bullet train with a score to settle. "— rrrRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!"

The Rhino crashes through wood and drywall like they were paper, carving a trench through Gabriel's home that is only kept from cleaving it in twain by Sytsevich slamming on the brakes somewhere near the fireplace. "WHERE— "

What's left of a bodyguard sloughs off his body as he twitches back and forth, straining to see through the gas. And also, not breathe too much of it in, because his battlesuit doesn't do shit for gas. Tears well at his eyes as the Hood's gift to Gabriel's men stings them.

Still— he thinks he sees something out of the corner of an eye. Someone crawling, or maybe dying, or…

Rhino doesn't waste much time thinking about it.

"RRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!" he roars as he begins running after Gabriel. It's muffled by one hand while the other sweeps around in anticipation of snagging his ankle. His bent elbow shreds through one of the walls, knocking a painting here and a photo there to the ground.

Hopefully, he doesn't slip and step on the guy instead.

Parker keeps his eyes in Gabriel, not letting him sneak out. The bodyguards, well… those who kept his wits are going to have a very large Russian problem in a second. He wants Gabe alone, though.

Then Rhino burst in the room. Somedays Parker gets what he wants, and some days he gets a Rhino making a mess out of the simplest things. But hey, he loves his job.

Jumping forward, he grabs Gabe and smashes him against a wall, zapping him with a taser before he recovers. With a bit of luck no one will see how the cloak becomes visible a second, envelopes both men and they vanish.

No witnesses and they send Rhino? He got to talk with Fisk about this.

Hood materializes a couple miles from Gabriel's place, spends a minute applying duct tape to the shocked man and then drags him all the way back to New York.

METROPOLIS

Hood leaves with the main target, so Rhino is left to clean up the mess. When he's done there's a bit of blood and a lot of devestation, but he finishes long before the Metropolis PD arrive. After all, they are busy with an errand that neither Gabe nor Aurelio Martinez foresaw before tonight.

NEW YORK

Spearhead bashes through the door and sees the man he saw from below. He was unconscious, and so he just heaves the unfortunate soul over his shoulder and hurriedly makes his way out of the building; the fire looks like it has eaten a bit away at the building. Spearhead emerges out of the shadow and smoke of the building and just behind him, a portion of the ceiling falls along with some ducting and a fluorescent light fixture, all crashing down into the space on the ground floor he just vacated, He gets Joe away from the building, safe, and into the Paramedics. He most likely has some bad smoke inhalation.

Oracle slices through the internet cafe fire wall like a knife through butter and begin to view the youth who did the hacking. Seems to be the same kid who did it for them before. Short. Thin. Curly mop of hair. Running info on the kid gets nothing, but oddly, she does get a trace of an instant message conversation between the boy and his girlfriend back in Mexico. A trace leads to the girlfriend's house in Monterrey, Mexico.

Natasha and Midnighter work together to bring the terrorist down. His motives are thus far silent, unsurprisingly. Yet it can be assured that the Black Widow has all sorts of tricks in getting people to talk. All sorts of tricks.

The other type, another muscle, is busy being apprehended by Ozymandias. Martinez never said there'd be JL:A here. That was not part of the bargain.

By the time J'onn is done, only 15 people will have lost their lives in the attack. If not for him, about 73 to 74 would probably have perished. Those almost 60 people owe their lives to an alien who they will likely never meet and never get to thank.

METROPOLIS
PARK RIDGE

NOW

Metropolis SWAT, led by Detective Grayson from GCPD, form a small task force that bursts through the door at a mansion on the outskirts of the Big Apricot. The SWAT team clears the rooms in tactical precision, but Dick has no time for that sort of thing. The perpetrator won't attack them. He hasn't got the guts.

By the time Grayson clears the hallway and makes his way into the parlor, he can already feel the presence of the older man.

"Senator Henry Ballard," he begins as his eyes look down at the well respected Senator. The smug look upon his face from the hearings where his committee eviscerated Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Captain America is gone. He had no pithy questions, no smart ass replies. Instead, just a look of shock.

"My name is Dick Grayson with the GCPD, and you're under arrest for murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and about a hundred other charges."

The Detective yanks the robed Ballard out of his chair and throws him against the wall. "You have the right to remain silent," he says calmly as he begins to close the handcuffs around the Senator's wrists.

QURAC

Along the banks of the Quraci air strip, hundreds of mutants make their way onto old military style transport planes. One could never presume to get to the United States by plane, no of course not. But the planes are just one of a couple of steps that lead to the shores of the most arrogant nation in the world.

And the Quraci's aim to bring that nation to its knees.

THE THREAD
TO BE CONCLUDED, JULY 31!!!!

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