6705/Ground Zero, Prologue

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Ground Zero, Prologue
Date of Scene: 26 June 2021
Location: Hope House
Synopsis: It was a good day, until things went sideways.
Cast of Characters: Nicolai Codona, Raven Darkholme, Rachel Summers, Laxmi Mallick, Morrigan MacIntyre, Tim Drake, Scott Summers, Betsy Braddock, Ororo Munroe, Jamie Madrox, Lydia Dietrich, Selina Kyle

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    The time is late afternoon, moving on to evening and the party's been in swing since noon.

    Rather than take this shindig to some fancy place outside of Bushwick, Nicolai's decided to hold it right here, in the heart of it all. The five blocks in front of Hope house have been blocked off, two in either direction and the one it sits on - putting the building at the center.

    The entire five blocks has been transformed into a street carnival. At the south end of the block, a stage is set up for various bands to perform throughout the day and night, all of them local and most of the consisting of mutant musicians only. At the north end, the empty lot on a corner is home to half a dozen 'county fair' type rides - a Scrambler, a Ferris Wheel and several other common favorites. In between the two focal points are all manner of games and food vendors. Hotdogs, hamburgers, fries, pizza, funnel cakes, cotton candy, snow cones - all the foods that will send a person home with a powerful stomach ache should they partake too much are availabe. Games of skill and chance promise prizes of stuffed animals and other toys - the duck pond always picks a winner. There's a clown milling about making balloon animals much to the delight of some and the dismay of others - people can be weird about clowns. All of the stands are manned by volunteers, citizens of Bushwick. Only the rides are professionally operated.

    A booth is set up in front of Hope House both for information is also the place to put a silent auction bid in on a number of things, including an all expenses paid stay at a Romanian castle and a year's worth of self defense training from the proprietor of Hope House himself, Nicolai Codona.

    ...Speak of the devil, he's hanging out in front of that booth right now. Beneath his mop of unruly curls, a small earbud allows for easy communication with the security he has set up for the day. He's all warm laughter, big genuine smiles, casual touches and just making anyone that approaches him feel welcome. Just Nicolai being... well Nicolai - all in SPITE of the attack that occurred in the very spot he's standing, only a few nights before. He's wearing a gray t-shirt that reads: X-tra Special with a picture of a DNA chain. Screw those assholes.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mingling with the crowds, moving along from entertaining location to entertaining location, Mystique has her eyes on everything. Although not part of the actual security that Nicolai arranged, her natural state was one of caution and protecting mutants, so it was only natural that in a crowd of mostly, if not all Mutants, she was on guard.

Although she moves through the throngs of people in her natural cobalt state, what she wears is not at all her normal attire. A pair of snug jeans cover her legs and disappear into a pair of knee high front lacing boots. A bright white tank top covers her chest, and over it is a simple blue vest like one might wear with a suit. Her red hair is left to hang freely down her back and haloing her face.

Slowly she makes her way toward Hope House, not having visited it before, she pauses a short distance from Nicolai's location to look it over. It was impressive what money could buy, and how quickly money could get things moving, but over all she was happy for him, even if they hadn't parted on the best of terms.

Rachel Summers has posed:
Fundraisers. Rachel Summers could get behind that. There was nothing special to the way she's dressed, but she was there to help out. X-Factor Investigation's booth was all set up.. and funnily enough, left unattended. Why?

Because the make-up clad woman (hiding her tattoos), has a push broom in her hand along with a garbage bag, making sure that whatever litter that was tossed aside was thrown into the pile of other trash that she shoved around the area.

If she was going to help, she aws going to help, right? Every now and then, she stops and gestures towards a passing child or it's mother to throw their trash -onto- the trash. Sure, it made them uncomfortable to do that, but she was heading to bundling up the garbage to put it away anyway!

"No no!" Rachel could be heard laughing with a teen. "THIS type of littering isn't bad because I asked you to so I could pick it up. It's alright! Now if you're mean about it, -THEN- it'll be bad. Yeah? Now, if you're looking for a small part time job.." She gestures towards her booth. "Snag a flyer, come find me next week." And.. she's off pushing the broom again, looking like a true janitor for the cause.

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    Laxmi and her band are currently on one of the stages - providing their own rather eclectic music. The sound has a heavy metal or hard rock vibe - with with a unique sound, thanks to the contribution of Laxmi's sarod, an fretless stringed musical instrument with a weighty, haunting tone. Laxmi also provides the lead vocals, her well trained voice providing far more than usual scratchy-sounding screams associated with the genre. A general sense of up-beat cheer and rebelious determination carries through her voice to those who can hear her, even though the words of some of her songs are in Hindu - unintelligible to most.
    She takes her bows as the set ends - stepping off the stage in the company of her band to a smattering of applause. They put their instruments away - the others clasping hands and patting each other on the back, and leaving Laxmi out of the casual touches, well used to her own way of doing things. The group starts to part ways - leaving Laxmi to walk through the crowd with her instrument case in hand, headed towards Hope House.

Morrigan MacIntyre has posed:
Declan and Delia had wanted to attend the festivities today, so Morrigan had agreed to be their chaperone. Plus she had an interest in seeing how things were going in Bushwick. The twin redheads have been making themselves dizzy over the rides, maybe they won't give her a headache on the way back to Happy Harbor. Morrigan for her part has a parasol with her that shields her from most of the sun, redheads and sunlight, go figure.

"How about we get something to snack on and take a break?" she poses to the teens as they get off the scrambler for the fifth time. They both seem to think food is a good reason to take a break. And to see how much sugar they can ingest on said break.

Tim Drake has posed:
    The reason Tim is here is ostensibly as a representative of the Wayne Foundation, which has provided a fair few items to the silent auction, as well as a small but not inconsequential donation straight to Hope House. And Tim can do the necessary shaking of hands and small talk that goes along with that sort of thing without being obtrusive like, say, Bruce Wayne.

    Sure, technically he's a Wayne himself--says so on his license--but he doesn't have the same kind of star power. Which is probably more suited to an event like this, and why Tim's been voluntold by someone to attend.

    He's dressed down, which in bougie old Gotham money terms means a blazer and no tie rather than a full three piece suit. Somehow, after a few minutes standing at one of the game booths, the one where you toss rings onto bottles, Tim has managed to win himself a stuffed toy.

    For a long moment he stares down at the stuffed crocodile, and thinks of getting boddied by Killer Croc not more than two weeks ago.

    The toy goes to a little girl who is now on a fated path to become an expert in herpetology as an adult.

    For obvious reasons (to him and no one else) Tim gives the clown a wide, wide berth.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Nicolai's casual, happy demeanor only slips for a second when he spots Mystique in the crowd. It's not like she's easy to miss. It's only a brief, fleeting moment though.

    Because he spies Rachel next. "Hey!" he calls out loudly. "I think you missed a candy wrapper back there!" He's teasing of course. "...Seriously, take a break and get some food!"

    He turns that beaming smile on Laxmi as she approaches. "Nice set," and he means it. Even if he was busy with other things, he always has one ear on the music.

    It's the parasol that draws his attention to Morrigan, but once he takes note of who's carrying the thing, Nicolai is on the lookout for something else... is she being followed today?

    The little girl gifted the crocodile lets out a loud, little girl, squeal of delight. That's when Nicolai spies Tim. ... he doesn't immediately call out, dude looks vaguely familiar. But from where?

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique remains at the edges of the space around Hope House, going back to watching people moving past her. Whether they mean to or it is merely by chance, she seems to remain unbumped into or nudged by people going by. Finding a good spot out of the way, she leans against the building itself and lightly folds her arms across her chest to continue her favorite past time of... that's right, people watching. Not having seen anyone she knows, other than Nicolai, she will keep to herself and just stay observant.

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    "Thanks, Nix," Laxmi replies in a bright voice, giving him a nod in response to his words. "Hopefully it put everyone in the mood to spend, spend, spend. Hrm?" she asks - hefting in instrument as she adds, "I'm just going to go stow this." She steps into Hope House - hand off the instrument case to one of Nicolai's people, who ferry it back to a storage room for safe keeping. The instrument is a bit of an unwieldy burden to lug around while enjoying the festivities, after all, and she has no desire to deal with the inconvenience.

Rachel Summers has posed:
Rachel looked like a deer caught in headlights. She missed a candy wrapper? Where? Her head whips back and forth, determined to find that missed spot, but.. jokes on her! There was none!

"I guess.." She calls out, drab.. in on the joke but not laughing, filled with joy because this seemed to be going well, and barely smiling..

She carefully pushes trash to a place where she knows it won't scatter, then idly wanders to the middle of the festivities to figure out which booth to haunt or food to partake in.

ONce again, her head was whipping back and forth, ponytail smacking her cheeks, she spies hotdogs and marches forward with purpose. Tummy purpose. Purpose of the belly kind! She's going to get -all- of the fixings!

Morrigan MacIntyre has posed:
Morrigan's shade is still trailing her. He does give a look to Nicolai, he raises his ebon fingers towards his own eyes, then points to the man. The international sign of 'watching you'. Then he smiles and continues on after the trio of redheads. Or the Trio of Terror as some might view a small pack of gingers. Especially with one who looks like if the sun touches them they'll burst into flames.

Morrigan leads the twins closer towards some of the food vendors and they get into line to get food. That's when she catches sight of Nix and she gives a friendly smile and a wave, "Mister Codona." she greets him.

Tim Drake has posed:
    As if he has eyes on the back of his head, Tim looks up from where he's crouched down, at eye-level with the little girl who is busy lecturing him on the differences between a crocodile and an alligator. He smiles at her and sticks around long enough to find out her stuffed animal is now named "Kevin," which, y'know, is a fine name he supposes, and then he excuses himself.

    The little girl's mother looks incredibly amused as Tim walks away.

    He hovers nearby as Morrigan steps in for an introduction with the man of the hour; for now, Tim puts on an expert show of looking interested in whatever his eyes happen to land on to distract himself while he waits for an opening.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Almost everything here, from food to prizes, was bought and paid for by Nicolai himself. He could have funneled those funds directly into Hope House and its mission, but there's a profit to be had, if a small one, and this way garners more attention to the cause, right? Right. The fact is evidenced by a news crew or two milling about.

    It's not every day that the likes of Bushwick gets transformed into a carnival.

    "Hopfully," he echoes. "Thing's have been pretty hopping all day though, so I'm guessing yes."

    Morrigan's approach has him looking over her shoulder for a moment before his attention snaps to her face. "Miss MacIntyre," he greets along with, "Your dog's about somewhere." See, it should be a question since well, the dog isn't obviously here, but... it's not. It's a statement.

    Damn but that guy looks familiar. Those odd, glowing blue eyes, fixate on Tim for just a moment too long and he asks, because Nicolai is just like that - bold, "Do I know you?"

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    Laxmi re-emerges from Hope House with a relaxed smile on her features - devoid of her burden. She'd signed up for a shift at one of the game booths in a little while - but she thought she'd enjoy herself for now. Nicolai gets another nod in passing - since it seems the Man of the Hour is rather busy, no surprise there. Instead, she makes her way to a booth selling funnel cakes - intent on getting one with the works. Strawberry jam, chocolate syrup, and a little powdered sugar. Health-wise? A very foolish decision, but sometimes you just have to live a little. Right?

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Content that things are as they seem, Mystique pushes off from the wall and makes her way over to Nicolai. She pauses a moment there, with a quiet, "A moment of your time Nicolai, when possible." then remains at a short distance and waits.

Morrigan MacIntyre has posed:
Morrigan gives the twins some cash to get what they want and then she steps out of line to give a look over to Nicolai, her violet gaze is hidden by sunglasses, but she gives a sigh at his information, "Ah, yes. He's a bit of a new addition." she tells him. "And a bit hard to explain." she adds with a chuckle. "You have done a really good job with the festivities today." she tells him with a smile. She doesn't move much closer though. Not wanting to take up too much of the young mans time.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers is mingling with the crowd a bit, his hands in his pockets. He's dressed casually enough, in khakis and a polo shirt, the kind with the little alligator on the breast. He is wearing his visor, though, rather than his glasses. Partly as a just in case option and partly because he wants to wear his difference on his sleeve among his fellow mutants. Solidarity, after all, is a big part of what the mutant community needed.

He spots Rahel heading towards a hot dog stand and cuts over that way, arriving at the same time she does, "On me," he says to her, then turns towards the vendor, "Just mustard for me and whatever the lady wants for herself," he says, then looks around, "Big crowd." he says. There's a little trepidation there. Big crowds can mean big targets. If someone wants to make a splash, there's a lot of casualties to get wet with a big old cannonball.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock had promised Nicolai she would be here, and here she is. She's already played a few games, winning stuffed animals that found their way to children as she went. Purple hair is loose in long curls, over the halter-neck romper in pale pink worn with comfortable sandals that lace up her calves. Even in casual mode, Betsy isn't quite Bushwick casual. She's pondering stopping at a food stand, but decides hunting up the man himself should come first.
     Nicolai will feel that mental 'ping' he'll know is Betsy, even before she can see him. She'll come into view soon enough, long strides carrying her quickly over the pavement towards him. When she meets up to him, there's a air kiss to his cheek. "Nicolai, dearest. This is so much fun."

Tim Drake has posed:
    And there it is, the aforementioned opening. Tim flashes a practiced smile at Morrigan as he steps by her, hands coming out of his pockets as he sidles his way smoothly into the conversation. "Hello, Mr. Cordona," he says, extending a hand towards Nicolai. "Nice to meet you. I'm Tim, from the Wayne Foundation--I think one of our representatives might have reached out to you recently?"

    To Nicolai or at least someone working for him, to coordinate the silent auction items. Most of them are "experience" bundles, all-expenses-paid-for trips to Gotham to eat at one of the city's famous restaurants, and go to a Knights game or a showing of La Gargouille, Gotham's equivalent of a Cirque du Soleil production.

    And once the connection between Tim and the name Wayne is made, it's probably easy to match his face to his semi-frequent appearances on the edges of Wayne Foundation or Wayne Tech-related events.

Ororo Munroe has posed:
    Ororo is not one to overlook a fundraiser, especially when she got the request to show up. She doesn't have the kind of fortune to make huge donations, but for a fundraiser, every little bit counts. She moves into the crowd, a little uneasy with the number of people in the area, but at least she knows some of them. It makes it a little easier.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Mystique's request gets Nicolai's attention. The nod he offers in response doesn't come with his normal smile included, it's a bit curt even but he agrees.

    A moment, just a beat and he is smiling, at Tim. "Yeah, I know you," he says... with meaning behind those words. He KNOWS. "Pet any cats lately?"

     There it is, now he gets it. Petsy... shit there's a lot going on, a lot of demand for his attention. It's honestly not something he's used to. A little overwhelming but he doesn't falter. He returns that 'air cheek kiss' and responds, "Not as much fun as Bucharest," with a wink.

    ...but something catches his attention in the crowd. It's that white hair, he'd know it anywhere even without seeing her face. Holy Shit. He's on the move a second later with a mumbled, "Excuse me..."

    "Ro!" he calls out loudly. Everything else is on hold for the moment.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
With the acceptance given, the cobalt mutant steps over and offers her hand to shake. This is a rare thing for Mystique, not only a social politeness rarely seen, but permitting someone to touch her.

"I just wanted to thank you for such a great fund raiser, I personally enjoyed a ride on the ferris wheel not that long ago." She offers with a smile. "I also wanted to give you this."

In the hand not offered to shake, she extends a simple red colored envelope labeled in thick black ink, 'Hope House, Nicolai Codona'. "If you ever need any assistance, please do not hesitate to call," are her final words.

Rachel Summers has posed:
Rachel doesn't flinch easy, but she does once Scott appears next to her. She ducks a little, then waves her hand briefly. "It's free." He didn't have to pay for much. As it was her time to order, she goes -for- it. "Fries. Three large dogs with -everything- on it. And I mean everything. And a soda with ice." With the order placed, it was now time to at least pay attention to her father.

"Everyone seems happy today," She tells Scott, wanting to reach out to place a hand upon his shoulder to reassure him, but doesn't. "The only incident I've seen was a little girl who accidentally fell and scruffed her knee." Once the orders were made, Rachel turns to grab her hotdogs, fries, and soda with a telekinetic air, it was a mutant party after all. It was also too much to carry.

With a little smile towards Scott, she slow walks her way to the X-Factor booth. "It's not like you to be late. Is something wrong?"

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    With food in hand, Laxmi slides into an empty seat at a table to consume her funnel cake - glancing over at a group of children who seem to be counting out their allowance money with a grim expression on their features. Whatever the kids had planned - they didn't have enough money to accomplish all of their goals. Using the extra plate she was given - she cuts off about a quarter of the funnel cake, which she keeps for herself the rest she nudges towards the children with an encouraging smile and a nod. "This is too much for me. Here - help me out?" she invites.
    It's not even a lie. The children happily and excitedly dig in while she continues nibbling at her share.

Jamie Madrox has posed:
There's a crowd and Jamie is simply part of it wearing blue jeans, and a black t-shirt which reads "I've got skills, they're multiplyin" with a displayed multiplication table. His hands on the sides of his heads, he's faced with a conundrum.

"Pizza or Hamburger and Fries." His fingers tighten against his scalp and then draw down his face as he groans in the face of so many options for carnival food. "Or maybe a hotdog."

Frowning, he nods to himself and decides on his plan of action. He slips behind one of the booths for a moment of respite and soon emerges in triplicate. Prime and his two dupes give each other the head nod and then fan out to purchase their agreed upon vittles.

Prime calls over his shoulder, "Remember, we rendezvous at the X-Factor booth."

The dupes offer a salute and then Prime gets in line for his hamburger.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers takes a sip from a soda as he watches Rachel order the kit and kaboodle. They weren't entirely comfortable with each other, still, father and daughter, but he was working on it.

"I was reworking the clutch on one of my bikes. Lost track of time," he says. "I'm not sure a carnival is exactly a strict appointment to keep, regardless."

He scans the crowd idly, recognizing a few faces - Ororo, Madrox, Betsy - and takes a bite out of his own hot dog. "Crowds don't make me nervous but...they make me nervous for them."

Ororo Munroe has posed:
    Ororo looks over as Nicolai greets her, with a soft smile. "Nic. It's good to see you again." She steps up to him, and unless prevented, will give him a gentle hug. "Things seem to be going very well here." She offers an envelope to him. "My contribution to the cause. It isn't much, but every little bit, yes?"

    She takes a look around at the crowd. "Quite the turnout." She frowns a bit at seeing Mystique there, but this isn't the type of event to be petty at.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock watches Nicolai for a moment, before she sees a familiar white head of hair. Lazy, long legged steps take her along in Nicolai's wake, so she can offer her own greetings to Ororo. She's glancing around, avoiding collisions, knowing Scott, Rachel, and others she knows are around.
     She will stop a couple of steps shy, while Ororo hugs the man of the hour. "Hello, Ororo. I didn't know you and Nicolai were acquainted. Such a small world, especially New York."

Rachel Summers has posed:
"Why?" Rachel asks, finally settling in at the booth once they arrive. Her food was placed upon a tiny shelf underneath the row of fliers, all to keep everything she means to eat, out of sight. And if flies were attempting to invade to partake of the food, there was a tiny little shield there that would bar them from entry.

Now that she wasn't sweeping or busying herself with menial tasks, she too.. takes alook at those familiar faces. Some she could faintly remember from the future.. others.. not so much.

Seeing the stark-blue that is Mystique, however.. Rachel does lift a hand to wave. Then lowers it with the intent to focus on her food.

Morrigan MacIntyre has posed:
Morrigan gives a smile to Tim, but lets him converse with Nicolai for the moment. Then she notices who he is exactly. Damian would be embarrassed...or murdery if she talked to one of his siblings. So she goes back to see how Declan and Delia are dealing with their food orders. And ah, there it is. A lot of sugar in the form of funnel cakes, soda and they got her some chips at least.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Hell no, that hug isn't stopped, it's embraced. Nicolai pulls Ororo in closer, tighter and murmurs, "Man, girl, I've missed you." He lets go, steps back, but attempts to take both of 'Ro's hands in his own, one wrapping around the envelope too. He looks her up and down and lets out a low little whistle. "Look at you. Man, FaceTime just doesn't do you justice."

    When Betsy arrives on the scene he turns his attention toward her. "You guys kno- of course you do..." X-Men and all that stuff, he's not completely clueless. "Well, girls... I promised I'd put on a show tonight and that's due to start in about five."

    ...a beat and he adds, again, "Man, I missed that real live face," to 'Ro.

Tim Drake has posed:
    "Gotham isn't really known for cats," Tim answers, interest vaguely piqued but his generic PR-smile still solidly in place. It's the introduction he's here to make, and given that it's done, he slips away, because there are a lot of people trying to get Nicolai's attention right now, and Tim's fine with losing it.

    He returns Morrigan's smile, and though there is some spark of familiarity between the two of them, it's not really the time or the place to explore that. Too loud, maybe. Or too public.

    As Tim leaves, he once again makes the widest circle possible around where the clown is making a balloon giraffe for a waiting child. Yeesh.

Jamie Madrox has posed:
The gaggle of Jamies reconvenes at the X-Factor booth with a variety of food trays in their clutches. Upon seeing Rachel neatly tuck her food away, there's a moment of sheepish panic as the group in unison tries to avoid cluttering up the display.

They settle for piling up the loot on a cooler lid behind the booth, nod in their collective accomplishment, and then remerge into a single Jamie.

The individual Jamie comes around to the front of the booth munching on a pizza slice, the first course, of his extended meal. He gives Scott an up-nod and then Rachel a grin, "Let me know if you need to me to hold the fort down while you two catch up."

He accidentally strips the pepperoni topping of his pizza, slurping in near molten cheese as he avoids creating a mess of his t-shirt. Frowning, he looks at his remaining crust, then shrugs, resuming his nibbling.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers sighs, "Because crowds, especially crowds of mutants, tend to be targets. I've seen too many bad actors unleash hell on these very streets to feel entirely comfortable with this kind of gathering. I get it. We want to defy the 'haters' and show the bigots that they can't shut us down, that we won't be terrorized. But that won't bring back the dead if someobdy decides to make a violent statement of their own," he says.

He sighs and runs a hand back through his hair. "Sorry. I'm a downer, I know. But somebody has to be."

He notes Mystique's presence as well, and Rachel's wave to the woman, "Didn't know you and Mystique were acquainted."

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Having completed the only piece of 'business' for the day, Mystique moves at a slow pace back toward the place she had previously chosen as 'hers'. Leaning her back against the wall, she once again folds her arms lightly across her chest and let's her amber eyes search the faces of those in the area.

Noting Scott, he is offered a nod of acknowledgement, as is Ororo. These are faces she recognizes, people she knows but she's pretty sure despite her attempts to change, and the agreement of working together for patrols in Bushwick, neither would be welcome a conversation.

Rachel Summers has posed:
"Woah.." It always amuses Rachel to see Madrox at work. Even as the dupes look panicked, she has to break out into a laugh, clearly avoiding picking up food.. drinks.. and anything because she was busy clapping. As the dupes disappear, she takes a -quick- look at all that was gathered.. and if she spies a pickle spear?

Gone in sixty seconds.

As Jamie walks up, she gives him a quick wave, then shakes her head. "Oh no no no. Come on and sit down, its not like we're talking family secrets."

Though, as Scott tells his truth.. no.. the truth, Rachel does look a little bit concerned. A lot of the X-Men showed up a bit in force, and that usually marks the sign of the times that things were going to happen. Good? Bad? Who knows, but -things-.

"Mystique? Oh, I don't know her personally. But a lot of her ide.." She stops herself, then awkwardly changes the subject. "Hows the hotdog, Scott? I can get you another.. uh.. better yet, I can do a quick scan to see if there's a potential for anything bad to go down...?" Most do tend to run through the steps before they excute a plan in public spaces..

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    With her portion of funnel cake consumes, Laxmi cleans up - throwing away her plate and napkins, and getting the utensils in the recyling. She then moves towards a ringtoss booth, smiling and exchanging a few friendly words before she takes a shift manning it for the time being - crouching down to offer a small child a chance to toss at the targets - with a few extra rings nudged the child's way. Look, she's not going to be very successful, anyways. Let her have a few extra tosses...

Ororo Munroe has posed:
    Ororo smiles back to Betsy, after she releases the hug. "A very long time ago, and a world away. It's nice to see you here too, Betsy." She chuckles at Nicolai's comments, and says "Well, nothing beats face to face interaction. Though I generally don't choose venues with this many people in them at the same time."

Morrigan MacIntyre has posed:
Morrigan's settles in with Declan and Delia and there is a soft smile to the two of them as they converse. She however is a bit quiet while the two teens enjoy things. Then her phone is ringing and she gives a soft sigh at the number, "Hey Reggie." she answers it. The rest of the conversation is quiet and there's a look between the two of the youths as she settles the phone down, "There's an issue at the hospital that I need to go check in on. So Duncan is going to take over things here since you guys won't run off on him." she chuckles. There are pouts from the kids, but they understand that there's a lot going on at Mount Sinai for their principal.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"Always a pleasure, 'Ro." Betsy responds, that accent crisp, her smile model bright. Violet eyes will turn to look at Nicolai, a brow arching. "I'm sure you'll put on quite a show." The model's face is closed off. "I hope you both enjoy the fund raiser. Nicolai, my donation was already being handled. You should have it in your accounts shortly." Her chin lifts, a waggle of fingers from her lifted hand, before she turns on a heel and will manage to head off and blend into the crowd....somehow.

Jamie Madrox has posed:
Laughter is a response Jamie doesn't actually mind to his own discomfort. Way better then many alternatives. During Rachel's clap, a brief bow is offered, pizza crust clutched between his lips.

"No family secrets? Where's the fun in that?" He pulls up a chair in the booth and then settles in. Finishing off the pizza crust, he leans way back and fetches a few french fries from his ad-hoc buffet.

One of those fries hangs from the corner of his mouth like a cigarette, "Look on the bright side, Scott. If something happens, we've got experienced people nearby ready to respond. Maybe a few too many chefs to manage a crisis, but I guess that's better then no chefs." He pauses in consideration, "Maybe, but you know me. I've always been a more is more kind of guy."

Mystique gets a brief glance.. "And some people are staying in plain sight for a change. Also a good thing, yea?"

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Why does he feel like he's just stepped on a land mine? Nicolai watches Betsy retreat with a little frown. "Huh..." Sometimes men ARE just that clueless. He'll call her later.

    His attention back on 'Ro, he says, "One set and I'll be back. You can come up front for it or ... mingle? I know there has to be other people you know here?"

    He leans in to kiss her cheek, maybe a little too close to lips to just be that overly friendly European thing and then he's making his way through the crowd toward the stage.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers arches his eyebrows at Rachel's response, "You know you're allowed to think for yourself. I don't even think Mystique's wrong about everything," he says. "I don't believe in censoring conflict or looking away from unpleasant truths. I think she's wrong about some things, too, and I'd say as much to her directly."

"A scan isn't the worst idea, but there are other telepaths out here, too. Maybe just keep a psychic ear open for violent or disturbed thoughts. I've seen some unstable individuals showing up to public mutant events lately, just on the fringes. Hope House is a good thing, but, like any bright light, it's going to attract pests."

Ororo Munroe has posed:
    Ororo looks over at Betsy's reaction...and then Nicolai. She groans once. "Nicolai, is there something going on with Elizabeth that you might have mentioned? And...I think I'll stay back here to watch. The crowd up front would be a bit more than I would care for." That, and it might add extra fuel to a fire. She looks about for Betsy, trying to see where she's gone to in the crowd.

Rachel Summers has posed:
"Are you going to -pay- for those secrets though, Jamie?" Rachel asks, finally reaching out with a foot to nudge his knee once he's settled. Even if he does pay, she probably wouldn't tell a thing. She was nodding now, finally picking up her tray of food, carefully handling her hotdog so she could take a rather large bite. As she chews, a bit of mustard and ketchup messed her face like crazy, but whilst looking around at everyone, she ignores it.

Who was she impressing anyway?

But hearing from both men pretty much made up her mind. Not one, not two, but three bites finished off the first loaded dog, and soon the plate was replaced. Messed face and all, her legs lift to sit indian style upon her chair, her shoulders rolling, head bobbing left and right to loosen her muscles.

"Mystique's a genius, as I was going to say. Her idealism and tactics are.. well.. were used where I came from." She says nothing else about that. "I'll be right back." She says, finally closing her eyes to settle into sending herself out into the world to find if anyone had any ill intent against the event..

Jamie Madrox has posed:
Jamie considers Scott's statement about bright lights and pests, humming as he slowly nibbles on his French fry. His gaze settles briefly on the X-Factor stationary in front of him. Brow knitting together, he wonders if they are inviting similar trouble. Ultimately, he shrugs it off. "Well, someone has to turn the lights on. Good thing we've got a collection of bug zappers ready and willing."

Rachel gets a raised eyebrow from Madrox, "Pay, huh? Check is in the mail. Just don't cash it too fast, let the renovation and grocery bills hit first." The nudge to his foot is replied with a playful flick of a tiny piece of fry.

With his booth mate scanning the crowd, he leans back and fetches his hotdog, the next item on the multi-course menu of Cafe du' Dupe, then keeps a watchful eye on their immediate surroundings.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers nods to Rachel, "Even geniuses are wrong sometimes. But your point's taken. I'd rather we didn't get to the state where we need to use those tactics, though."

He grins at Jamie, "I'm rather good at zapping bugs myself. Zzzzzzt," he says. "I'm glad to see X-Factor back in business, though. It's a valuable resource," he says. And he's glad to have something solid to keep Rachel's focus in the present, but he's not going to say that out loud. She might've heard him think it anyway.

He finds Mystique in the crowd again, taking a long sip from his soda straw.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    There's a band waiting on Nicolai when he climbs up on the stage. He pauses a second to discuss a bit of the song line-up and then snags his Fender from its stand, straps it on and steps up to the microphone.

    "This thing on?" Old joke that, "Anyway, I wanna give everyone a big thanks for coming out tonight. Not just because of the funds either. Hope House may need your financial support, but more than that... we all just need to support each other, be there, help each other through a sense of community. That's what Hope House is about.

    ... He turns to nod once at the rest of the band before, "I had a different song in mind for our first, but this one goes out to a special lady I didn't expect to see here tonight."

    When the band starts and he steps up to the microphone, taking both lead guitar and vocals, the man is *good*. He's 'should be a rockstar' levels of good, but his life took a different path and that's not rock he's playing right now.

    <<Baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low...>>

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock is not going so far as illusion to blend into the crowd. Purple hair, even here, is not so common, let alone on a rather tall supermodel. She's moved on to a food stall, intent on a hot dog and a large fry, waiting her turn ever so patiently.
     Violet eyes glances towards the stage, a snort at the menion ot supporting each other. Her head turns to look ahead again, chin lifted again.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique continues to lean against the New Hope building, arms across her chest, just watching the people moving along and enjoying themselves. Her amber eyes settle on a person here and there, watching body language, but they don't miss Scott looking her way from time to time.

After the second or perhaps third time of Scott looking at her, she turns her attention fully to look at him and cants her head. He's far enough away that speaking would require almost yelling, so she won't bother with that, but she will stand there and stare at him.

Ororo Munroe has posed:
    Ororo approaches Betsy, and looks over. "Elizabeth...I'm so sorry if I misstepped. You seem to be upset, and I certainly didn't mean to be the cause of that." She looks to the food stall. "I can get you a snack, if you like?" A peace offering, perhaps?

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Her head turns, violet eyes taking in Ororo's face. "Darling, how could you have possibly misstepped? Nicolai and I have been seeing a fairish amount of each other, between Sion's opening, and Hope House getting off the ground. There was what appeared to be a mutual interest." There's a simple, elegant little shrug from shoulders bared for the weather. "I did not know he ...porte une torche, for someone. Let alone a fellow X-men. Betsy Braddock doesn't partake in those sorts of games, lovely. "

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Up on the stage, Nicolai is totally clueless as to the various potential cat fights in the making. Betsy and 'Ro, Scott and Mystique - he has no idea! At least it's not Country. 'Here Comes the Sun' by the Beatles.

    He really, really is good people! Pay attention to the music, not the interpersonal conflicts! He even has stage presence in spades, with that winning smile and even those odd eyes of his that add something to it.

Jamie Madrox has posed:
"Psst. Scott. Mystique is totally giving you the eye." Jamie stage whispers not-so-helpfully within the booth before chomping on the end of a hotdog covered in sour kraut. He considers making some kind of gesture of solidarity to demonstrate that Scott has his support against the staring Mystique. He, in a rare display of restraint, elects to shrug instead. He whispers again, "Get your zapper ready."

When someone shows interest in the booth, Jamie scrambles to offer a business card and proclaims, "X-Factor Investigations. No job too big or small."

A napkin is stolen from Rachel's tray and promptly used to wipe his fingers.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers nods back at Mystique, setting off perhaps a potential moebius strip of stoic nodding at one another, back and forth, Pong-style until the end of time or at least until Scott finishes his hot dog.

"Yeah. I noticed. Let me know if either of you two see something worrisome," he says to both Rachel and Jamie and then heads towards Mystique. Scott isn't exactly somebody afraid of confrontation and, after all, the Brotherhood and the X-men have a truce, it's perfectly normal for some of the leaders of the two camps to interact with one another.

"Mystique," he says in greeting. "Not used to seeing you. Well, at all, really."

Raven Darkholme has posed:
A half smirk, half smile settles on the cobalt mutants face, one brow lifting toward her hairline. Mystique had watched him finish his hot dog then start to walk toward her. Truce or not, there was a chance he was going to attempt something, but then he just... talks like a normal person and throws her thinking askew. It doesn't show on her face at all, that this wasn't what she was expecting. Aside from the smirk/smile, her features are as neutral as ever.

"Scott," she offers in return, with one of those nods, just one. "That is something we will have to rectify. Perhaps you and I can go on a patrol together, help make Bushwick a safer place for all Mutants." Her tone is smooth, calm, no hint of animosity or distain... not at all what one might have been expecting from her.

Ororo Munroe has posed:
    Ororo sighs faintly. "Well, I can't help feeling as if...oh, nevermind." She looks over to the stage, and given the dynamic...and the crowd, which makes the place far more crowded than she likes...she opts for the less tense route. She turns, and quietly makes her way to the door. Once she's outside, she breathes a deep sigh of relief, outside the building, and then takes to the air, flying skyward.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
Lydia is fashionably late to the scene, or at least that's what she tells herself. She had decided to take a nap after staying up for a long night working on her project, and had completely missed her alarm, and had decided to fly to the scene rather than take the Toaster and deal with traffic. So that's how she enters the scene, swooping in, emerald wings behind her dissipating into the ever present ectoplasmic mists that constantly surrounds her. Apparently she knows how to make an entrance, too.

She takes in the scene before her, occasionally ducking her head in embarrassment as people not used to her presence stares at her from her from her entrance. She's wearing jeans and a green button up blouse that matches nicely with her aura, and a pair of sunglasses to help shield her eyes from the bright sunlight of the warm summer day.

She mills about for a while, occasionally stopping at a booth here and there, and when she finds the one that's selling elephant ears, she nearly squeals in delight and purchases one. When she gets closer to Hope House, she spies Mystique, and wanders over to her.

"Hi, Mystique," she says, taking a chunk out of the elephant ear. Looking over to Scott, she takes in his ruby quartz glasses, and turns back to her. "Who's your friend?" They were speaking on friendly terms. At least as friendly as Mystique ever really gets, right?

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers cocks his head, "Be careful, I might take you up on that. I haven't gotten to do a proper patrol in ages. My own fault for getting involved in the dangerous world of higher education, I spend too much time driving my desk instead of my motorcycle," he says.

"I'm glad our two groups could come to agreement on the importance of Bushwick and keeping the burgeoning mutant community safe. Whatever differences we may have had in the past - and probably still have, on some subjects - creating a good and safe place for mutants to gather is paramount to both of our goals."

At Lydia's approach and greeting to Mystique, Scott offers his hand, "Scott Summers. Cyclops, to some," he says, offering his hand. It's possible one of the leaders of the X-men has at least some reputation around here. BUt you never know.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    It isn't until Nicolai is near ending his turn on stage that things begin to go south. He's up there pelting out, <Stray Cat Strut> - he has really varied musical tastes it seems, and is completely unaware.

    The very observant might notice a few faces in the crowd, around the fringes, on the edges, of people that just look 'out of place.' None of them are eating anything or with anyone else, they're just alone and mostly staying in one spot.

    And if Scott in particular is on the observant side of things tonight, he'll notice that one working his way toward the stage looks familiar. It's the man from the news footage and the article. The 'lurker'.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock gets her hot dog and fries, with plenty of condiments on the first, and just some ketchup on the second. She watches Ororo go, but..well, it's not really her place to stop the weather mutant from leaving. She'll wander about, looking from booth to booth, munching on the start of her share of carnival food.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique offers Lydia a smile as she approaches, not a forced one, but a real, genuine smile. As Scott introduces himself, a part of her really wants to roll her eyes, but she keeps it in check and does note.

"I'm quite serious. I gave Jean and Charles a number to reach me at, and while Clarice is handling the regular scheduling, I could most certainly make some adjustments to fit in a patrol with you while the students away for the summer."

Although she's no Scott, and thus doesn't recognize the man, she does note the group collecting in one place and her body tenses. Her eyes check the faces, read the body language, start picking up on the 'does note belong' vibe. "Scott," she says quietly and with her eyes directs him toward the 'does note belong here' group. "We may have a problem."

Instinct. She puts herself between that group and Lydia, ensuring that anything that might happen has to get through her to get to the glowing green mutant.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
Lydia looks at her hand which is covered in powdered sugar and gives Scott a sheepish smile as she quickly wipes it off with a napkin she had stored in one of her pockets. She takes his hand and gives it a firm shake. "Lydia. Just, um, Lydia." She gives him a cock of the head, "Cyclops? Hm. X-men, right?"

She looks like she's about to say something when Mystique interrupts her about a potential problem. Her eyebrows furrow in concern and she looks over to where Mystique is looking. And then the cobalt mutant is standing in front of her.

It takes her a while to see the men in the crowd who just do not belong, and her scowl deepens further. "I see them," she says. "This can't be good." This wouldn't be the first time that she's been to a charity event that has been gate crashed by mutant haters.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers frowns deeply, "I see him," he responds to Mystique. "He's been charged with hate crimes before and I've spotted him staring down Hope House on a few videos. Let's shut him down before he starts something," he says.

He starts giving orders rapidly because that's who he is and what he does. It would be like asking a fish not to breathe underwater or a Kardashian to hide from a camera. Not going to happen.

"Nice to meet you, Lydia. Do you think you could let Mr. Codona know we've got trouble incoming? Mystique, you and me in a pincer to cut him off. I'll try and get us some back-up, too."

He begins thinking VERY LOUDLY 'RACHEL RACHEL RACHEL' alongside an image of the man approaching the stage.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock is heading slowly towards the stage, devouring her food. She will toss her trash out into a proper receptacle, brushing her hands off together to make sure there's no salt of crumbs remaining. Violet eyes move to swing over the crowd, mentally counting those she considers friends: Scott, Rachel, Madrox et al. But what she sees is Scott with Mystique, a brow lifting. << Scott, is everything all right? >> She's seen that look before, after all. Bossy Scooter.

Selina Kyle has posed:
Selina arrives fashionably late to the party. While she doesn't know anyone here, the fundraiser sounded like it was something at least looking into, and after taking care of some rather.. urgent matters she changed into a party gown and sunglasses before heading to Hope House on her motorcycle. It must have been quite the sight to see such a finely dressed woman on a bike!

Selina clutches her handbag as she makes her way to the party area.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
There is no need to say it twice. Looking to Lydia she says quietly, "Keep yourself safe, use your abilities to protect children first it needed, and remember to be /behind/ it yourself this time."

And then Mystique is moving with Scott to take up the secondary position for a pincer move in an attempt to get to the man and keep him from getting to the stage. Under normal circumstances she would outright tackle the man to the ground and start punching him, but this is the new and improved Mystique we're talking about here, she'll let it play out to a certain point before resorting to any kind of violence.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Nicolai is just leaning back to the microphone for the chorus of 'Don't Fear the Reaper' by Blue Oyster Cult when... BLAM... kidding, it's more like SPLAT. He gets hit square in the forehead by a paintball, the paint a luminescent green, not unlike the color of the mutant's 'blood' for any that are in the know of such things. He staggers back a bit, both from the just surprise of it and well, those things do sting a little. The band stops, the crowd grows silent.

    "See how easy it would be, Codona!" the man that was approaching the stage yells from a ways back. He turns in a circle and raises both hands in the air. "What're you all gonna do? Huh?"

    The milling news crews are quick to hone in on the potential trouble. What is everyone going to do? Attack? Using powers? With cameras running? Attack at all... with cameras running? The asshole seems to think that won't happen.

    From the rooftops, paint balls rain down into the crowd. The 'don't belongers' on the fringes start chanting, "Fence it in! Fence it in!" ... maybe implying that Bushwick should be some sort of fenced in 'mutie camp'?

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers had been sending Betsy the image of the man when he acts and Scott is only thankful that he's decided to be symbolic rather than actually violent. The questions as to why he would do it that way is something he'll have to sort out later.

"Detain him. Hard," he says to Mystique as he looks up at the sky and touches the side of his visor, letting out rapid, pulsing blasts of crimson energy to intercept incoming paintballs, the force controlled. He keeps scanning the roofs and, if one of the attackers sticks their head up, well, he can hit them just hard enough to put their lights out without blowing their brains out. Because Scott Summers has spent every minute of his life learning to control and manage his powers to maximum effect.

"Mr. Codona, I suggest with all due respect and sincerity that you get your ass down and stay down!

Selina Kyle has posed:
Of course this would happen right as she arrives.. and there is now paint. On. Her. Dress. This will not do at all.. she slowly and calmly takes off her sunglasses and places them in her handbag, making sure that her pistol inside can be accessed easily if the need arises.

She isn't going to fire on extremists with paint guns though. For now she looks around to make sure no one is hurt, playing the good samaritan seems like a logical choice for now.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
Lydia nods to Scott, "Okay." She wants to stay and help. She can shield anybody who might be in harms way, but this /is/ the leader of the X-Men after all, and knows what he's doing.

She nods to Mystique and starts heading to the stage to both warn and protect Nicolai, but she's too late. She gasps in horror, and then sighs in relief when she sees that it's only a paintball, but winces. Those things can leave bruises.

Then the hail of paintballs start raining down on them. "Crap!" She yells. Holding a hand to the air, she pops up a shield a good twenty feet in radius above the crowd trying to cover as many of them as possible. The green of the paintballs blend in with the glowing green of her shield, with the paint slowly oozing over the edge of it.

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    As the sound of unrest begins to ripple through the crowd - Laxmi glances towards the stage where Nicolai had been playing, concern on her features. What she does next is almost on instinct; she begins to sing, softly at first but with slowly increasing volume - her tones carrying calming influences as she brings her own mutant power to bear on the situation. If everyone can just stay calm... maybe the worst of the trouble will be contained. Right?

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock reacts with a start at that green on Nicolai...it's a little too close to his blood color for comfort. She's already moving to follow Scott, before the paintballs start hailing down. She pops up a large tk shield over more of the crowd, and well...those paintballs will start being 'caught' mid-air, and flung back at those shooting them instead.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
There are moments in a person's life where they can repeat mistakes they've made in the past, or change the direction and thus their path. This was one of those moments for Mystique. Numerous times her face has been plastered on the news for violent acts against humans, and numerous times she had owned that violence with pride and conviction. It took a young teleporting mutant to make the old cobalt one realize the mistakes of such actions, and she wasn't going to repeat them again.

Her intent and actions are non-lethal as she moves in on the man shouting, but they are quick and determined. The police have numerous lock holds they use to detain a person, and one of those is about to be used. The paintballs are completely ignored, if she's hit by one, she's hit by one.

By the time she reaches him, she has determined a reverse arm lock. In a fluid motion of a finely honed and trained body, she captures the man's arms from above his head, wraps them around behind his back and merely holds them there. No punches, no kicks, no violence... she holds him.

"You are being asked to leave the premises," she states very loud and clearly, so that everyone around can hear. "Just as you say to my people, I will say to you sir, you and your hate are not welcome here!"

With that, she starts to escort the man out, away, and hopefully to the police who may or may not have been called. In the end, it didn't matter, she'd walk the man all the way out of Bushwick if she had to.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    It probably doesn't help, when Nicolai's growing anger over the situation sets off that whole 'poltergeist' thing he has going on. The air around him and the stage grows cold - the kind of frigid that makes breath visible. Equipment begins to shake and rattle, smaller items even float off the ground. ...and he fades into Haunt, the not so cute, B-Movie ghoul version of himself, his astral form given life in the real world.

    He keeps his cool - no pun intended - enough to step up to the microphone. No, no Scott, he's not going to be cowed by these bastards.

    His voice is even and calm when he replies, "What? To keep shit like you out?" as he reaches up to wipe paint away before it drips into his eyes.

    "Fence it in! Fence it in!"

    Cameras are rolling, catching every moment.

    The man of this hour, the one that had been approaching the stage joins in the chanting, right in Mystique's ear, but only after he spits out, "Not private property, freak."

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers sighs as Nicolai stays on his feet. He'd have done the same thing, but since he's clearly the main target of the current troublemakers, they might not necessarily be done. He's not convinced that they're going to stop at just paintballs and he won't be until they're all disarmed and escorted away.

He hates the cameras, not because he's ashamed, but because he knows he can't rely on the judgment of the people running them - or the people on the other side.

"Good work," he calls out to Mystique and the others, taking note of the additional protections provided by Betsy and Lydia. He jogs up and puts himself up the stairs to get next to the chilled and eerie version of the man he'd glimpsed before, "I get it, I do, but the less we egg them on, the faster this ends."

Selina Kyle has posed:
Selina doesn't see anyone injured, in fact the mutants present can clearly take care of themselves. She glares at the men with the paint guns for a moment, but not long enough for her to get pelted, and is soon running for cover.

Clearly her instincts were right on, this fundraiser did turn out to be interesting, just not in the way that she expected. As much disdain as she has for people like this, she isn't going to agitate them, it will only make things worse.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
The desire to maim, to maul, to hurt this man is great, but Mystique keeps herself in check. Even as the man screams in her ear, 'Fence it in!' she just keeps doing her level best to urge him out of their.

"The most beautiful freak you'll ever see, sir," she comments right back to him with a big ol' smile on her face. "However, I should inform you that despite the weapons being paint guns, it is still considered assault in the state of New York, so I do hope you and your friends enjoy your time in jail." Again, she is speaking loud enough to be heard, no whispering, no concealing anything, open to be recorded in what she is doing and saying.

Rachel Summers has posed:
Where ever Rachel had gone, she snapped -RIGHT- out of it. Only to see Scott nowhere in her immediate vicinity. "Huh? What?!" Rachel near shouts out from the chanting of her name, finally pulling herself from her seat, tuning into the scene and.. oh.. commotion! Not her bread and butter but..


With those unprotected, Rachel stays in place. Outward, it looks as if she couldn't be assed by the situation, even if she stands from her seat to approach her counter, leaning in with an elbow and hand pressed under her chin. Whilst Betsy is protecting most with her TK shield and reflecting the paintballs back towards the shooters, Rachel intercepts.

The globs of liquid halt in their place, and soon begin to move together. One bit of the paint.. another.. and another.. with Rachel attempting to form a big, massive ball of paint that hoovers over most of the small festival. To make it all seem even more threatening, she causes the liquid to shift and move, creating a colorful, yet hellish visage upon the surface of the liquid, all by denting it in a few places.. letting it move.. drawing parts away and back in again.

<<Look up, Scott. >>

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    The real kicker? If this wasn't Bushwick, if it wasn't 'Mutant Town' sirens would already be wailing in the distance if there weren't already two dozen cruisers skidding to a stop around the perimeter. But it is, so that hasn't happened yet and the haters are well aware of the fact. They have time.

    The man Mystique subdued laughs out, "It ain't over yet..."

    That sounds... foreboding.

    "Fence it in! Fence it in!"

    The paintballs, however, stop.

    Nicolai's fists clench and relax at his sides. He sucks a breath in through his nose, holds it, lets it out slowly. His color rushes back, the chill fades and things settle back down on the stage. "I hate these fuckers," he hisses at Scott, but his voice is pitched low.

    When the explosion happens, it's limited to the area directly behind the stage. It originates from some of the electrical equipment. It's only really a threat to Scott and Nicolai. It's not big as far as explosions go, but it'll be enough to throw the two men from the stage.

    Paint splattered bigots flee the rooftops, during the chaos after the explosion, any of them in the crowd flee as well, if they're not detained by mutants.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
The calming effect of Laxmi's song helps keep Lydia's anger in check. Enough so that she gets a wicked ide. She curls up the edge of the shield and angles it towards their attackers, slowly constricting it into a ball of her own. She takes the ball of ectoplasm that's containing the paint and hovers it over the heads of those who are shooting the paintballs.

"Whoever is doing /that/" she shouts, pointing at the massive paintball that's hovering in midair. "Follow my lead! On three!" There's malicious glee in her tone. "One! Two! THREE!" And with that she lets go of control of her ectoplasm, and lets the paint drop on their assaulters.

Selina Kyle has posed:
Selina is now aware of the giant ball of paint hovering some distance away, "What the f-.." She doesn't finish her question, she -really- needs to take cover now before the explosion of paint that is no doubt coming drenches her completely in paint!

She heads for the nearest unlocked door and quickly hides herself inside, closing the door enough to avoid the coming tempest but leaving a tiny crack to peek through.

Scott Summers has posed:
The explosion behind him takes Scott off guard. He'd been slightly behind Nicolai, trying to gently guide the man from stage as calmly as possible, only for the forceful blast behind him to knock him forward. He's glad he was wearing his visor rather than his glasses, knowing those might have been knocked askew and just made everything worse.

He probably gets a bit of shrapnel in his back, enough to stain that polo shirt crimson in a few spots where he's laying on his belly on the ground, his muscles screaming at him as he processes the concussive impact.

Sometimes he hates being right.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Although Mystique is silently wishing to beat the ever loving crap out of this man, when she hears the explosion behind her she actually uses her own body to protect the sack of sheet. She puts her own back toward the explosion, keeping the guy in front of her. No idea how large it is, or what's going on behind her, she didn't even really think about the action itself, she just did it because this man needs to remain unharmed. People need to see that Mutants are not always violent, even the most volatile of them... aka herself... can manage things peacefully, even when the bastards are blowing things up.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
"Rachel!" Betsy is screaming vocally as well as mentally. "Take care of Scott and Nicolai! " She, on the other hand, will take to the air. She's not always fond of using telekinesis to fly, it's a weird phobia/not phobia she has from when her TK first was discovered in her. She won't harm those running. Oh no. She will be in the air, picking them out to mentally tag them. Then she'll ping all those minds. << Know this. You are not getting away for this, scot-free. I will find you. I will hunt you. I will make you pay. You will learn from this error. >> ...someone's maybe a bit pissed off.

Selina Kyle has posed:
Selina watches events the best she can from her new hiding spot, safe from whatever other projectiles might begin flying about, who can really tell how these conflicts will go? Selina for one is not going to draw attention to herself by engaging the extremists.

She is still an "on the loose" thief after all and this evening wasn't exactly supposed to involve her kicking butt.

Rachel Summers has posed:
One shouldn't have this much fun while attempting to protect the massive with a paintball in the air of the massive sorts. Rachel slowly steps out of her booth now, both hands turned upright, keeping the growth of the paintball going until she hears a voice.


And Rachel does just that. They weren't perfect sections, but Rachel lets it fly. Pelting and bombing those who attacked the fair with the paintball guns, some being washed in color, the others pelted as they leave. What a joyo--- ..

Explosion near the stage. Rachel immediately swivels her head in that direction, pushing the attendees who would be running out of her way as she tries to make it to the steps. "Dad.." Rachel says as she slowly drags her feet to the area. "Daddy.." She mutters again, her bottom lip trembling. "DAD?" Once more, as she sees Scott upon his belly, Betsy did -not- have to scream and tell her what to do, because seeing Scott? Laying upon the ground? It turns her eyes 'red'.

As to accent on what Bestie Betsy -will- do when she finds them; Rachel slowly begins to rise within the air, the ground beneath her cracking into a near perfect circle with a symbol etched into the solid ground. It was like hell on earth, at this moment, as the young girl who had -already- lost her parents.. -believes- that she had lost them AGAIN.

The debris from the concrete that she had broken begin to rise as her fingers clench, now swirling around Rachel in an orbit. Even clumps of grass, dirt, paint and quite possibly blood form into those little harden balls as Rachel submits to the lesser ideal of retribution.


Or murder, should anyone else tell it. At least Selina is safe! Right?!

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Nicolai, like Scott, is thrown forward by the concussive force of the blast. He groans out a, "Fuck," under his breath. But doesn't move... because, well. "Dude, you're kinda cute and all, but really, we just met? Could ya roll of me now?"

    It stings like a bitch, actually it *hurts*, but he's had worse in the past and will likely suffer worse in the future, that is to say he'll soldier on.

    Finally, sirens can be heard. But anyone that hasn't been detained is long gone.

    Little kids are crying everywhere - parents trying to soothe them. Mutants covered in paint splotches and bruises. It's a little chaotic, but it could have been worse?

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
Lydia starts to feel panic rise when she hears and feels the explosion. She gets flashbacks from when the Friends of Humanity used a car bomb during a charity event, and only her shields prevented any deaths that might of occurred. The wound in her side from that event twinges in sympathetic pain and she begins to hyperventilate.

It's only Laxmi's calming music that keeps her from going into a full blown panic attack. She takes a few breaths to help calm herself and in little time she's back to feeling normal. Then she sees Rachel.

She rushes towards her waving her hands to get her attention, ready to throw up another shield in case Rachel decides to impale their attackers. "Hey, okay, I get it. I'm angry too," she says trying to keep her voice calm. "But this is not how to deal with this. Hurting them is only going to make things /worse./ Please don't do this." Should she need to use her shields, they aren't any match against Rachel's power, but they should be strong enough to keep them from being lethal.

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    Things are getting out of hand - rather than retreating, Laxmi approaches the worst of the chaos - raising her voice to the top of its volume. She has a considerable ability to project her voice - after years of voice training, since she was a child - and with her voice carries those calming urges as she tries to calm people after the explosion and after - hell. Whatever that floating mutant is up to. She uses some of the booths for cover as she tries to get as close as she can to Rachel, to try to get through to the panicked woman.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers shoves himself back up to his feet, shaking his head at Nic's attempt at humor. Contrary to his playful reputation, Cyclops: not a huge jokester.

"Let's make sure nobody's in the wreckage or in need of medical attention," he calls out loudly. Of course, he should probably need some himself, his back bleeding noticeably and soaking his polo shirt as he rolls his arms a bit. He can see things escalating a bit with Rachel and stumbles forward a bit, "Rachel! Enough! It's over!" he calls out.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But he needs her brought down to earth and fast. He didn't know the worst of her capabilities but he suspected neither did she.

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock turns mid-air, violet eyes widening as she looks at Rachel. "Rachel. No. Not like this!" She will zip over to Rachel, and her tk will start to press against the missiles Rachel is building. "Not like this." She says much more quietly, closer to the redhead. "Not while people can see this. There are cameras. We can find them..later." She turns her head to look down. "Scott's up, see? He needs your help. Come on. Let's not give them what they want."

Selina Kyle has posed:
Selina watches the growing chaos from the cracked open door, it's clear that paint sploshes would have been the least of her worries out there! She's ready to slam the door shut quickly if the really angry mutant over there decides to take her revenge in a messier way than a paint'splosion..

One thing is for sure too, it's going to be really hard to get the paint already on her dress out. It might be a lost cause at this point..

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Knowing now that the explosion wasn't nearly as big as she feared it would be, and hearing the sirens in the distance, Mystique holds her ground. As people run and screaming around her, her hold on the man tightens to ensure that he doesn't make an attempt to join his friends in running away. He's not going anywhere if she has anything to say about it.

A quick glance around, that's all she risks, to check on Lydia first, then Scott and Nicolai on the stage, but then her attention is back on the guy. A smile plays at the corner of her lips. This man had hoped for so much more out the Mutants, for violence and blood shed so he could scream out, 'Look at what they did to us!' and thus far, he hadn't gotten any of it... Clarice was right, and the cobalt mutant would be sure to let her know that.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Nicolai pushes himself to his feet slowly. He surveys the damage on the stage and bends over to pick up the shattered pieces of his beloved Fender - a gift from Cristian. He stands there, holding the thing for a second or two before he lets it fall again.

    Like Scott, he's leaking a few places, bruised in others. The former oozes slowly though, green and glowing and the latter start to form as glowing splotches on his skin.

    He pulls it together enough to tell Scott, "The clinic's right down the street, the duck pond is in front of it."

    "I'm going to go speak with the police." That normal smile of his is gone, but his eyes are flashing a little brighter.

Rachel Summers has posed:
What a combined effort! Laxmi's beautiful voice did reach her ears with as close as she could come, taking off the edge of panicked anger that she felt over the percieved loss of her father. Even the waving hands of Lydia causes her to shake her head, attempting to blink back the rage to find -something- that was half part normal out of this mess. But Lydia was angry too! Sisters, it seems they would be, for Rachel reaches out with the -intent- to TK Lydia up into the sky right along with her so that they both could go cause hell to those who had fled..

And then that voice. The voice of Scott, Rachel turns to look at him with a -very- slow blink. Betsy adding to the realization while suppressing her missiles that.. Scott was -totally- fine. And real! Her shoulders slump as she melts herself to the ground, her legs folding back indian style as her hands sink into her face. Thank god, makeup. No one would see the monster she is.

And curses. Selina's dress is all screwed up and not a cleaner in a hundred mile radius could get those stains out. It was enough to rage against the machine but..

Rachel tired. And Betsy was right. Cameras were around and they could do this later.

Scott Summers has posed:
Scott Summers goes to Rachel and kneels down next to her, putting a hand on her shoulder. Not exactly a fatherly embrace, but they're not quite there yet. "It's okay. Just breathe," he says. He's seen how much these sort of outbursts can take out of Jean, he's sure Rachel isn't far off.

He looks back over his shoulder and finds Mystique and gives her another nod, this one of appreciation. He hadn't been sure she could stick to the script, so to speak, when things went down. But she had. Hell, she was probably easier on the guy than Scott would've been.

"I'm going to get Hank to pull these splinters out back at the Mansion. I don't feel like dealing with a shifty-eyed human EMT right now."

Selina Kyle has posed:
Selina continues to watch from behind the safety of her door. Things look like they are calming down and the angry mutant has sat down, no longer in her threatening pose.

Sirens.. yep it's almost time to leave. She fishes her sunglasses back out of her handbag and puts them on, slowly opening the door back up, and walking out. She didn't even get to have a snack.. Big Belly Burger again tonight looks like..

She begins to make her way back to her motorcycle, casually of course, not in a panic.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
Lydia lets out a surprised "Eep!" as she feels the beginnings of Rachels' TK to lift her up. She knows that feeling because she uses something similar herself for when she wants to fly, but having somebody /else/ do it is something else entirely. Fortunately, it never comes to pass and she stays firmly on the ground.

Then she feels something, a tugging on the senses that she uses to control her ectoplasm. It's like holding onto something when your hand is numb. You can't really feel it, but you just /know/ it's there. She turns around and uses that sense to guide her to where it is, only to find that it's coming from Nicolai. She blinks, surprised. "You're bleeding ectoplasm."

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock lowers to the ground to land lightly, near Scott and Rachel. "Just be careful going home." She will say softly to them both, her head tipping to look at Rachel. "Talk later?" But she thinks right now might be best for father/daughter time.
     She will turn and head back for the stage, TK moving debris up and out of the way to neat, tidy piles that will be easier to clean up. Those that are more than bruised, the purple haired telepath will direct towards the clinic, until she draws up close to Nicolai. "I know you wanted things to have a bang, but this seems excessive, Nic."

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    Even with the worst of it over - Laxmi continues to sing, that calm and soothing voice a strange counterpoint to the violence and chaos. As she sings, she takes a child by the hand who appears to have been separated from her mother, giving the girl a reassuring smile, and simply keeping her with her for the moment as people gather their things and - for the most part - leave the area. But boy is she relieved when Rachel decides to take the hint... to calm down.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Lydia was getting a chance to meet the very person that all the ectoplasm research on the Asteroid was about, but not in a way Mystique would have ever wanted.

When the police start showing up, that is where she ensure the man goes... toward them. Now here's the part that is likely not immediately caught. When the sirens reach a certain closeness, Mystique's entire appearance changes. From cobalt blue to average human looking. The only thing that remains the same is the clothing, apparently they are real for a change. The last thing she needs right now is to go, 'Here officers, one of the bad guys... why yes, I'm the blue mutant who used to blow shit up.'

Rachel Summers has posed:
Rachel shakes her head in her hands, but then reverses a nod towards Betsy. She was completely determined to keep herself hidden. She severly wanted to leave, finally peeking through the cracks she makes with her fingers to look at the scene as it's calming, Laxmi helping with that effect. Especially with her. "We gotta go.." She finally says to Scott, but not moving from her spot. Her legs didn't want to work, and she allows that moment to settle into Laxmi's song before she rises to her feet.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    "Yeah..." It's sort of in response to both Lydia and Betsy. "I gotta deal with this," he mumbles before he brushes past both of them to meet the police. Really, he's not... typically that rude? But things are kinda shit right now. But he picks up a bit more steam as he passes by Hope House on the way to speak with the police. "Keep the food comin' all night, give space to anyone that needs it!" he calls out to a mutant woman, small, slender, webbed fingers and gills - Angie. She's standing outside just looking lost until she's given a direction to move.

    When they finally do arrive, it takes the police a few minutes to sort through the mess, in that time... it's best everyone not make sudden moves.

    They'll take the lone suspect off Mystique's hands, cuffed in the back seat of a squad car but not before he whispers to her, "It's still not over."

     Slowly, the police will make their way through those remaining, asking questions, taking statements. It could have been worse.

Selina Kyle has posed:
Selina is already riding off when the police begin taking their statements. She doesn't speed off, instead attempting to blend in with others driving through the area, and hopefully managing to not draw the police's attention.

Oh yes that would have been the last thing she needed. There's little chance of them recognizing her without her Catwoman suit on but... no it's just too risky.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
Lydia is almost transfixed by Nicolai's blood. She's never encountered ectoplasm coming from any source other than hers. She reaches out with a shaking hand. It's right there. She could just /grab/ it and make it do her bidding. She stops, shaking her head as if to clear it and drops her hand. What is she /thinking/ That's another guy's /blood/.

It looks like she's about to ask some questions to the man, but his dismissive tone causes her to frown, and turn to walk away. She searches the crowd to see if she can find mystique, looking for cobalt blue skin, but doesn't find her. It's only when she sees a woman escorting the man that Mystique had apprehended does she figure out where she is.

She makes her way through the crowd to the mutant and hangs back while Mystique hands over the criminal and answers any questions the police might have. Once free Lydia steps up and beams at her. "That was really well done. I'm proud of you!" It's a heartfelt sentiment. She really /is/ proud. She knows what it must take for Mystique to restrain herself like that.

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique offers the officer a nod, but the man, he gets a look. His face is burned into her memory, and while he is busy being hauled off she will hunt down his family and educate them on the numerous mistakes the man just made. No, she won't kill anyone, she won't need to, but her war with this particular arsehole has just begun.

Turning, she slowly starts to walk back toward where Lydia is, looking far too human for her comforts but it beat the hell out of going to jail. When she reaches the glowing green mutant, she offers a huge smile. "I wanted to rip his heart out through his own penis," she states with that same smile on her face. "I realize that's a physical impossibility, bit I /sooooo/ wanted to try." She glances toward the stage for a moment, then looks around to see where Nicolai went, then finally looks back to Lydia. "That's not exactly how I had hoped you would meet him. He is in fact the reason for the research."

Betsy Braddock has posed:
Betsy Braddock will work to clean up and pile up debris and trash, TK is wonderful for such things. In this moment, the model's face is beautiful, as always, but the expression is closed off, remote. Violet eyes are dark, and her cheeks are pale. Once things start winding down to managable levels, she will make her exit without so much as a word to anyone.

Nicolai Codona has posed:
Once he's done with the police and the ambulance and fire crews seem to have everything under control with the wounded and the ... well, small fire at the back of the stage, Nicolai will, once again, retrieve the broken Fender. Then he heads for Hope House, still leaking, but not dangerously so. He doesn't retreat inside though, instead he stands outside, talking to anyone that needs to talk, offering a comforting hug to anyone that might need that and, basically, reassuring people that everything was going to be fine.

    ...but was it?

Laxmi Mallick has posed:
    It's a relief when the little girl's mother makes herself known and sweeps the child up into her arms - and Laxmi has to fend of a hug from the woman. It's only then that she finally stops singing as it seems that - for the most part - things are calm now, and the danger has passed. She looks around at the mess caused, letting out a quiet, disappointed sigh. What a shame - at least things hadn't been worse.

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
Lydia laughs with Mystique, "Well, I'm glad you didn't," she says. "Though, if I were being honest, there's a part of me that wants to see you try, too." She shakes her head, and lets out a long breath. "I was doing fine when it came to the paintballs but the explosion... it really threw me for a loop. I nearly had a panic attack." She looks up at Mystique, eyes wet. "I've never had a panic attack before."

She looks back at where Nicolai has disappeared to and nods. "That makes sense," she says. "I could feel his blood. Not like I can with my own ectoplasm, but I think if push came to shove, I could keep him from bleeding out."

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique lays her hand on Lydia's shoulder gently, the only comforting thing she can think to do and she'd like to be comforting. "I'm just glad you weren't too close to it, and that you're alright." She then tries for something maybe a little more comforting, but way new to her, she slide her arm around Lydia's shoulders, it she allows.

"That was part of the hope, I merely haven't had the chance to talk to him about it, things... came up." She offers Lydia a smile. "Why don't you and I go get a drink, how does that sound?"

Lydia Dietrich has posed:
Lydia seems surprised at Mystiques efforts to comfort her, and allows herself to be comforted by them. She nods, giving the other mutant a smile, "Yeah. I'm okay. I'm just glad that nobody got seriously injured today." She walks with Mystique as they make their way out of the crowd. "A drink?" She asks, eyebrows raised. "Yes. That sounds like a good idea. They're on me, though. You deserve a treat, and I've got plenty of money."

Nicolai Codona has posed:
    Nicolai be up all night, seeing to clean up and making sure no one in the community needs anything. Tomorrow, the street will be returned to its normal state aside from the stage, it's still there and roped off by police tape.

    When the sun rises and the dust is cleared, it's a new day, but there's a lingering sense of ... more to come that he just can't shake.