EVENT: META: Registration
Event-icon Who: Oracle, Spider-Girl, Emma Frost, Dragnet, War Machine, Blue Beetle, Knockout, Alan Scott, Batman
Where: Lexcorp Towers, Metropolis
When: An otherwise pleasant evening.
Emitter: Maleficent
Tone: Heroic, Gritty, Social
What: A high-class dinner to support the Castroneves Family Memorial Foundation goes awry when numerous explosives go off in Lexcorp Towers. Part of Resistance or Registration. Warning for mild language and violence.

After dinner, the guests of Lex Luthor's Pro-Registration gathering--tactfully named An Evening In Support Of The Castroneves Memorial Foundation--are treated to the music of the Youth String Orchestra of Moscow. The dining tables are rearranged as though by magic to provide some appropriate seating and conversation areas, other clusters of comfortable chairs appear near the orchestra for those who would prefer to listen instead of talk politics.

Guests talk and mingle, moving about the room from contact to contact. Servers bearing champagne drift through almost invisibly. The guard presence is the one mark that this is not just any social gathering. After dinner, the host and the guest excused themselves for a brief time, leaving the rest of their own devices for now.

In amongst the expensive suits and wealthy donors is... a teenager. Specifically, a teenage girl wearing a dress shirt and vest she got from Target, along with a fedora atop her head. The reason she's here is explained by the little 'Student Press' badge hanging around her neck. Anya sure was glad she was able to get a good enough forgery made to get in the front door.

Anya's claimed herself a spot at one of the tables where she's set up with a laptop and a simple, cheap recorder, which is not on yet. No need without the senator here -- /he's/ who she's concerned about. Ugh. Recon. She should'a just asked Zen to get his stealth on or something, she could not possibly feel more out of place.

While he's never heard a lot of truly *good* things about Lex Luthor, Rhodey definitely approves of the security measures that are in place tonight. As a former serviceman, he's gone so far as to engage some of the guards in brief conversations, sometimes as little as a thank you for keeping things safe and tidy.

Somehow, he's managed to get a dinner jacket tailored in a way that it both fits and doesn't make him look like a giant. Matching gloves soften his cybernetic features, but there's no hiding his glowing red eye or the metal plates that surround it. Nor does he attempt to. In fact, he looks particularly comfortable and confident tonight; a true captain of industry and a well-known member of the private military sector. He moves fluidly through the room, shaking hands with diplomats, exchanging pleasantries with generals, and handing his card out to more than one potential client.

When it comes to upscale, formal events, you can never go wrong with a tux. And that's exactly what Alan is wearing: a tux that's been tailored to fit him perfectly which pretty much means he owns it. With dinner over, he's relaxing at his table with a glass of single malt neat and examining the crowd. Anyone who's seen his broadcast knows he's not pro-registration so he's obviously here to see who is and to have a chance to talk to the Senator.

One of these things is not like the others.... one of these things most definitely does /not/ belong and probably shouldn't even be here. But there's someone standing in the back, not inside where the security is as Knockout doesn't want a hassle but somewhere just outside where she can watch what's going on. Of course, how she got even that close is anyone's guess but she is behaving and security lets her watch while keeping more than one wary eye on her.

Not having realized that people dress up for to-do's like this, Kay is dressed entirely wrong in jeans, a tee-shirt and athletic shoes although whether she would have bothered to try and dress up formally.... hahahaha, yeah, right. As if.

In sharp contrast to the poor teen reporter at the table, Emma is absolutely the sort of wealthy socialite one would expect to see here, dressed in a tasteful white suit with impeccable tailoring and a pair of canvas sneakers like she's daring someone-- anyone-- to get offended about them. With the one little exceptional detail-- she does not even remotely support the Senator's current politics. Point of fact, she finds them strange. And if there anyone likely to figure out strange behaviour, a telepath of her skill and power is pretty high up the list. She breezes her way through the mingling crowd, alighting briefly on various conversations, casually sampling the minds of the participants. Some of it is vaguely repulsive, some of it is well-thought... almost all of it is dreadfully mundane and downright /boring/. She gave up useful work for this, and so far, as she casts a mental net around the room, she has found nothing but terribly mundane driftwood. How bothersome.

Barbara Gordon probably doesn't look like she fits into a crowd like this, but somehow she makes up for that with force of personality. From the confines of her chair, which started off as something of a hindrance, she's switched the gears on several would be conversationalists by engaging them in debate before the host and honored guest fully make their appearance. Nothing spirited, no real arguments to be seen, but it's enough that she's wearing a devilish red grin with her black gloved hands folded over the equally black purse sitting her lap.

"Oh, no, I'm sure you're absolutely accurate in your figures.. but I can't help thinking that we've had as many teenage attacks on public schools as 'pro mutant' attacks on government facilities. Perhaps we can institute a registration for anyone over the age of twelve? I mean that would certainly blanket cover everyone right? Mutant and ne'er-do-well a like." Babs beams pearly whites at the 'nameless' General or Captain she's sitting with conversing, who clearly does not like the cut of her jib.

In the ongoing tumult over registration and the threat of superhuman abilities, the Wayne Foundation-- and Bruce Wayne himself-- have remained rather silent. No notable donations have gone to either side of the issue, as yet (aside from the utterly ridiculous cost of a plate or two at one of these dinners), and the only press release basically states that the venerable institution is weighing all possibilities and arguments in the debate, with concerns focused as always on individual rights and the defense of the oppressed regardless of their political affiliation or side in any issue. So it is that Bruce finds himself here tonight, listening and learning, alongside the enjoyment of fine cuisine and music.

To all appearances, the flute of champagne he plucks from a passing tray is his third or fourth tonight, and the billionaire shows a certain languid lethargy to his movements that would support that facade. He arrived and ate with a rather attractive blonde-- a visiting model, for the curious-- but while she splits off post-meal and enjoys the concert, Bruce mingles. Small talk and pleasantries amount mostly to listening, rather than speaking, from the last (known) scion of the Wayne line, but he does double-take a bit as he passes by Anya's table.

"Weighty story for a school paper, isn't it, Miss..?" the seemingly relaxed billionaire queries with a musing half-smile. "Planning on a career in journalism?" Why he picks /her/ is anyone's guess; maybe Wayne is just tired of the commonly sampled perspective in the room.

Ted Kord was among the first to finish his meal, offering the waitress a smile when she comes to take his empty plate away. Left to his own devices, he stands up from his seat and strolls away from to do a little mingling. As he walks he fishes a sleek, fancy-looking smartphone from his pocket and surreptitiously checks Twitter. His thumb dances quickly over the keys, announcing to a few million followers that 'the coq au vin was rad 10/10'.

He looks up from his phone in time to spot Alan Scott, immediately making a bee-line for him and pulling an empty seat over so he can sit down, “Hey, you're the head honcho at GBC, right? I've got a show idea for you.'

Ted holds his hands in the shape of a tv screen, looking into it as though envisioning a glorious and shining future, “B.J. and the Bear ... in space!”

Now, Anya -- /Anya/ likes the cut of Barbara Gordon's jib, just going by what she can overhear from her table. She is also young enough that she actually has to hurriedly bring a hand up to cover her mouth to try and muffle a laugh before she can get herself into trouble. Ahem! Dignity. Always dignity.

Anya is still struggling to rein her grin in when she looks up and sees... oh, dang. She knows who /he/ is. "Corazon, sir," she replies to Bruce, offering him her hand. "But Anya is fine. I don't know if they're going to let me print it, but it did get me in the door so I could ask questions," she notes, with a twinkle in her eye. It's even true, in its own way, just not... completely accurate. "What do you think about all this?"

Some are asked to think. Some are paid to think. One Frederick Jaeger is paid to do neither. He is paid to have fast hands and unobtrusive steps, to keep a sharp ear and a level eye for low levels of alcohol and anyone willing to pay for an extra plate. He is rather late, and received no end of chewing out, but considering it is one of the more better paying odd jobs he has mustered, and he has been promised whatever share of the leftovers he wants to take home in a doggy bag, he will accept it. His servers uniform is crisp and well ironed, and he does his level best to act as one of the silent servants of the highbrow. Not bad for a homeless kid who occasionally sleeps in a clocktower.

Emma's wandering path takes her by Ms. Gordon's chair just in time to hear her comment, and the blonde telepath's attention is caught by the conversation. It's a little cruel to box Barbara's target in on the other side, even in passing, but she can simply not resist. "Of course, if power and responsibility require accountability, perhaps we should start with senators and soldiers," she notes pointedly, then smiles at Barbara. "My apologies. I couldn't resist chiming in."

Alan's mostly bored but if there's anything a CEO knows how to do, it's pretend to be interested. He's managing that superbly mostly by mentally planning his next trip to China to visit his boyfriend, Sam. When someone sits down next to him and pitches a story idea, he needs a moment to shift gears and peer at Ted. "Didn't they already do that with Han Solo and Chewbacca?" It's not really a question.

Knockout watches as she steps in a little closer, prompting two of the guards to step in front of her as if expecting to block the near-Amazonian woman if she truly had the intention to walk into the other room. She stops, however, and merely glares at the two men, her eyes narrowed to just shy of slits. They're good at their jobs and aren't cowed but even then the shorter of the two swallows hard once before gathering himself. "Don't worry, boys," she quips before stepping back again. "I am not looking to cause trouble." Which is a good thing as there probably is not much in the way of people here who could stop her if she indeed had causing problems in mind.

"No, I'm sorry. Force Works isn't currently accepting foreign contracts. I'll keep you in mind if we decide to start offering our services overseas." Rhodey smiles politely and nods before he turns his broad back on another weapons designer.

The longer he's here, the more forced his conversations feel. This is why Tony normally attends these events. In the end, it's a comment about soldiers that grabs his attention and draws him out. "Good troopers always weigh and measure their actions. Bad troopers don't usually last long. I should know. Lt. Colonel James Rhodes, retired." He raises a hand briefly, both in greeting and to excuse his interruption. "Senators, though... Can't speak for them."

Bruce graciously and gingerly accepts Anya's offered hand and dips into a half-bow of greeting that's mostly an inclination of his head. Were she a bit older, he might even kiss that hand, but the gesture carries a similar chivalrous flourish nonetheless. "Bruce Wayne." Which she obviously knows, but politesse is the rule of the night. His attention is distracted to the nearby conversation at Barbara's table, that knowing bemusement renewed to some degree by the time he considers the explanation, and the question put forth.

"I think.. as a victim of gun violence herself, Ms. Gordon has a particular -- if not unique -- perspective on this sort of issue." Bruce murmurs simply, clearly having noticed Anya's reaction (and eavesdropping) as he approached her. "... and I believe we should weigh all options for protecting ourselves, not simply those that continue to fail, and rely largely on the good intentions of those people who are -not- the core of the problem." It prompts him to raise a silent glass towards Emma Frost and Barbara Gordon, in fact.

"Come on, I'll introduce you." Bruce offers, nodding towards the table where Anya's interest had been focused. He knows at least a couple of the people there, by reputation if not direct acquaintance.

“Who didn't love Star Wars?” Ted asks, the unoriginality of his idea doing nothing to slow his train of thought, “George Lucas is one rich son of a gun. Hang on a sec.”

Kord retrieves his phone from his pocket once again, leaning awkwardly in his chair so he's facing the same direction as Alan. Then, he holds up the phone and snaps a picture of the pair of them. He brings the phone back down, looking at the resultant photo.

“Man, I got red-eye again. Omoikane, remind me to get Bill to check out the red-eye reduction. It's all screwy.”

Ted is no longer talking to Alan, instead speaking into his phone. When he addresses it there is a little chime, indicating his reminder has been tucked away in the calendar. Satisfied, he stands up and leaves the obviously-bored guy to his single malt.

“Have a good night, Al,” he says as he stands up, still mostly distracted by his phone as he raises a fist into the air beside him, “Fight the power.”

Barbara doesn't miss a beat as Emma joins her across from their respective target and chimes in, "Certainly so. The Constitution actually dictates that we do. Our country is founded on a government structure that is meant to /protect/ its people. Even if it means protecting those people from itself." Flashing her still pearly smile around the councilman, now boxed, at the elegant blonde across from her.

"No, no apologies necessary. Barbara Gordon." Extending out one black gloved hand to the woman as she introduces herself. It's not nearly as rude that she passed this shake right across the Councilman's personal space. After all, she's in a wheelchair, it would be rude of him not to move. Silver lining.

Which is a fitting point of entry for The soldier, "I couldn't have said it better myself, Mister Rhodes." Extending her hand, yet again, "I've read most of the articles about your tech specs, very impressive." And yet somehow she manages to catch the glance directed towards her from Bruce and raises her own glass which was previously set in a small holder on the arm of her chair. "You're looking dashing tonight, Mister Wayne." All teasing glint in her green eyes and everything.

Fortunately, a response doesn't seem to be required of Alan and he just watches with bemusement as Ted wanders off as quickly as he arrived. Must have inherited his money from his parents. Finishing his drink, he sets his glass down and stands, deciding to wander and listen in on conversations. As a server with a tray passes by, he grabs a champagne flute to take with him.

"Emma Frost," the blonde CEO replies, managing to shake both Barbara and Rhodey's hands in more or less the same gesture with a sort of practiced ease and grace. She absently brushes James' mind, just enough to tell she likes what she sees well enough. "It's good to meet you both. To be honest, I take exception with the unprecedented level of intrusion being proposed to a group that, on the whole, has been a positive force in society. Surely no-one expects criminals to comply with the law." A pause, and her voice takes on an icy edge. "And DNA samples are hardly a harmless collection, are they?"

"Nice to meet you," Anya replies to Bruce, managing not to look /too/ swoony over the gallantry. Look, she does not have much exposure to genuine gentlemen in her life, and also, she is a teenage girl. Give her a break. "And well spoken, too. I'm kind of torn about it, myself," she admits, her lips briefly twitching into a frown.

Anya follows Bruce's gaze towards the other table, and /blinks/ when she sees Emma Frost. For a moment, she looks wholly confused, and cranes her neck to look around the rest of the room as if seeking someone out before her attention returns there. " Sure," she replies to Bruce's invitation, flashing a smile and reaching for her laptop and recorder. Under her arm they go. "Thank you."

"And those are just the declassified articles," Rhodey replies, faux-modest as he runs a hand down the front of his dinner jacket. "You should see what else I have under the hood. As is turns out, we *can* rebuild them. Anyway, I'm living proof of how much a life can be affected when the wrong power is placed in the wrong hands. I'm curious to see if the Senator has answers for us, or just more questions." There's a brief pause, an arched eyebrow, and a small shrug. "If he can find a way to make this work without violating the freedoms of American citizens, who am I to say no? It'd certainly make my other job easier."

Once he hits his stride, that is when he starts hearing the discussions of politics, of force deployments and registration. A fly on the wall is Frederick, unknown even to his erstwhile boss (He had been sticking quite firmly to the Helmet Rule), which he espies at the table full of big wigs. His movements are subtle and practiced, bringing him closer so that he might sample it. These are the people with money, the ones with the hands on the levers of industrial, financial, and political power. Still, he cannot help but murmur, even in spite of his professed need, nay, his imperative to remain uninteresting. "Lot of talk about protecting the regular guy. Seems you would need to protect those with...talents even more. Our society was built on protecting the minority from the tyranny of the mob."

"And history is veritably littered with instances of prejudice and oppression touted by large sections of society as being for the greater good-- when in retrospect it becomes obvious that such controls have been repeatedly ill-advised." Bruce appends to the conversation; the server's comments, more specifically. "Everyone, this is Anya Corazon." He promised her an 'in' to the central conversation drawing attention, and he delivers. Even if he does momentarily interrupt everyone to do so.

"Bruce Wayne." He appends for his own part, offering his hand to those gathered as the opportunity presents. "Lovely as always, Barbara." Bruce offers cordially to the Commissioner's daughter and his secret ally in the war on crime. "The problem, as ever, is not with those who are already willing to take personal responsibility and step up in support of their actions, I think." He segues back and forth like it's the most natural thing in the world. Maybe he IS drunk.

"And with how successful the 'war on drugs' turned out, I can only imagine we'll see a vast upswing of volunteers to sign over their rights as Americans, right?" Barbara twists on barbs set by others, but it's clearly having the desired affect. The councilman she'd been conversing with has suddenly lost the edge he had over the lone woman in a wheelchair. Never mind that she was doing fine on her own, now there's a crowd gathering and she's rather quite smug about this change. She too adds to the general conversation, "Not only ill-advised, but out right foolhardy in application."

Watching him squirm is definitely pleasing her, at the very least. "Oh, I don't know, you probably don't want to encourage me to go digging for your classified specs, Mister Rhodes." She teases, brushing a few strands of red bangs from her brow with a thumb extending out from her flute. It's a segue to meeting Bruce's arrival with a crystal like smile, but she turns it upon introductions to Anya, "Ms. Corazon." Said with a look over her general dress and accompanying accessories, "Which paper are you working for?" Brief, with an aside to Bruce. "And you look like you've just arrived from a GQ shoot, as usual. How have you been?" offering her hand up to the dashing Gotham Bachelor.

While he's surprised to see a waiter speaking directly to the guests at such an upscale event, Rhodey's initial response is to arch his eyebrow a little higher. After letting everyone's words hang in the air for a moment, he offers a quiet, solemn opinion. "I do believe the idea is to protect everyone. That's why this issue can't be chopped up into small, easily digestible bits and pieces. It just isn't as simple as Us vs. Them. If it were, Tony and I could have the whole thing wrapped up and be home in time for the playoffs. Ahem. And I wouldn't dig too deep, Ms. Gordon. For your own good, if nothing else. I doubt my valet would appreciate it." It's a friendly warning, but a warning all the same.

Emma, of course, knows who Bruce is. She knows all her potential competitors, and he certainly qualifies. "Mr Wayne," she greets him politely, and turns her gaze on Anya. A far more interesting specimen, for many reasons. "Ms. Corazon. Here to get a look at the dreadfully dull world of high-class pretension first-hand?" she quips with a bit of a grin.

"Student paper, Ms. Gordon. Milton Summers High, out in Brooklyn," Anya tells Barbara, flashing her a smile. She /is/ a student there, yes -- but she is not actually on the paper. Nothing! Nothing! She looks up at Rhodey and tilts her head slightly at the obvious cybernetics, before she offers him a quick grin. "I don't think anyone here is /actually/ gonna go home and try to hack the Gibson," she says reassuringly, completely and utterly oblivious.

Anya's expression actually looked more collected and comfortable when she was taking in Rhodey's cybernetics than it does when she turns to Emma. Gosh, this is /weird/. She gives herself a quick mental shake before she nods crisply, adjusting the brim of her hat. "Something like that, yes'm. The extra credit doesn't hurt."

Indeed, he has slipped, and Frederick retreats immediately. "My sincerest apologies sir. May I freshen your drink, sir?" He offers with utmost sincerity. Most likely, being invisible has done much to dampen his social skills. He keeps an eye on the table, but with Mr. Rhodes either accepting or declining his request, he fades a bit back into the shadows of servant class clandestine food and drink service. Oh, and napkin folding. Something he had always had something of a gift for.

Alan's path detours slightly as he spots Bruce and walks over. "Mr. Wayne. How nice to see you again." he says, extending a hand. "Ladies." His smile includes Anya as well as Emma and Barbara in the greeting and a nod is given to Rhodey.

Ted walks with his nose buried in his phone, checking replies, favoriting and retweeting as he goes. He looks up at the Waiter speaking to Rhodey, clearing his throat and shrugging his shoulders.

“The way I see it, the whole 'we license people to fly a plane and own a gun' argument is kind of ridiculous. It's not mutants are choosing to be mutants. I'd bet that if they had a choice, they'd probably choose not to be.”

And then, because that was too much seriousness, he raises his camera phone to take a picture of the billionaire industrialist nearby, “Oh hey, that's Bruce Wayne.”

After a moment Knockout wanders in, the security following her. While the threshold into the party is breached they keep her from going much further than a few feet, mindful of their duties as much as they are of the fact that she looks like she could be a handful. A quick glance is given to her little gaggle of shadows, each one given a quick glance before she rolls her eyes. "Of all the parties..." she starts to say but then she reaches out, snagging a fluted glass of champagne from the tray of a server who was heading back to the prep stations to get more drinks for the guests. The startled woman skitters away at the same time Kay takes her first sip, her attentive gaze darting here and there, from face to face as well as to the various places within the room's interior.

Bruce grins momentarily at Barbara as he dips to graciously accept her hand with a similar gesture to Anya's, previously. "I'm flattered." He doesn't seem at all concerned to be written off by this or that member of high society, Emma's dismissive acknowledgement drawing a simple nod-- he's aware of her activities in part, as well.. but for now the enigmatic Ms. Frost is simply peripherally considered, bits of body language and perspective filed away for future reference. "Alan. Surprised to see you here." A firm shake greets Alan Scott, "I take it you're curious to find out the extent of and reasons for the Senator's shift, as well." Bruce has his own suspicions, don't they all?

"The idea is-- at least usually-- about protecting everyone, Mr. Rhodes." Bruce acknowledges, "But we know where good intentions alone can lead us." Beat. "How is Tony?" He leaves most of the squirm-inducing to Barbara, at least for the moment. If Frederick's speaking out of turn bothers him, Bruce doesn't show it now, and certainly didn't show it by his initial comment in support of the server. He sets down a champagne flute a bit more than half empty and picks up a fresh one off the man's tray, however! It draws a second glance to the amazonian redhead hanging mostly on the outskirts of the mingling rich.

"Good," Emma opines, and absently straightens Anya's badge ever so slightly, as if it was not quite hanging perfectly enough. "Being serious about education is important. Maybe the most important of all things," she notes in an odd tone. Of course, Anya probably isn't paying attention. Emma has not failed to notice the girl's reaction to her, and she delves into her mind for confirmation, and then to gauge the young girl's comfort-level with telepathy. |"You are not losing your mind,"| Emma's reassuring mental voice drifts through Anya's head with a tint of humor. |"We look alike for exactly the reason you're piecing together."| She hadn't actually intended to start ignoring the conversation or other participants... but this is actually considerably more important to her than they are. The sad truth.

"I don't customarily eat or drink, but thank you," Rhodey replies, not unkindly. Then he turns, shrugs at the young woman who has become a part of their group, and offers her an almost completely genuine smile. "You might be surprised at what people are willing to try. Anyway, this seems a bit stuffy for a high-school paper. If you want, you can video me throwing a truck at something. Show it to your classmates. Jim Rhodes: Man or Machine. Discuss."

It might be the first time he's made a joke about his own condition and followed with a laugh that didn't sound forced. "Not that it'd help you much in a poli-sci class, but I bet it'd be fun to watch."

Now the big man turns to Bruce Wayne, a face that everyone knows. "Mr. Wayne," his greeting is a pleasant one, coupled with two fingers raised to touch his brow in an old-fashioned salute. "Tony's been busy. You know. Saving the world, and all that. It's a hobby of ours."

A quiet murmur ripples through the crowd as doors open at the far end of the hall, across from the orchestra, which quiets and turns to a very soft martial theme. Luthor and Castroneves are entering, though barely visible among the lackeys and security guards. They pause just inside the hall and few photographers are permitted to snap photos of the group before they proceed.

Luthor, once he surges ahead of the pack and into the crowd, is in fine form tonight, practically glowing with confidence and charisma. Men like Tony Stark have their own slick appeal, but Luthor is something else entirely. He is Ozymandias in his prime with the clarity of vision to ensure he does not end up the broken subject of a cautionary sonnet. His laughter, at some small quip offered up by a well-weathered general, rolls like a chord from the orchestra's cello section.

Castroneves seems subdued tonight compared to some of his rather fiery television appearances of late, remaining in the company of his press secretary and his security men, near the podium from which he is expected to speak. A few people are allowed near him, particularly a young woman, plainly dressed, and a boy of about thirteen who looks markedly uncomfortable in his suit. They exchange a few words and Castroneves looks sympathetic. He embraces her and shakes the boy's hand, obviously offering his condolences for something. Then Castroneves turns away to step up onto the low dais behind the podium, reviewing something on his phone.

Barbara takes a breather from interjecting her personal brand of opinion into this conversation just long enough to take stock of those who have slinked up into the growing company. Still wearing her soft smile, settling her retracted hand back upon the black bag in her lap. "Mr Scott, lovely to see you here." She offers him a singular greeting, though she shifts away moments later to inquisitively inspect the out spoken server with a perked brow.

It's passing, of course, as Luthor and the man of 'honor' appear on the floor. Her smile, particularly at seeing Luthor, wanes slightly but it's fractional at best.

Anya grins broadly at Rhodey's offer, even as Emma is adjusting her badge. "I do enjoy a good truck toss," she confesses, and in this, she is completely honest. "A video like that's going straight to Tumblr, I hope you realize."

Of course, Anya's expression flickers slightly when Emma speaks in her head. She looks up at her and tries not to frown, but it's difficult, given the tone. |"...oh. ...huh."| Well. This is. This is a thing. Thank GOD the Senator and Luthor have shown up, because it shakes her out of her distraction and gets her to go quickly looking for a free chair to settle back into. Laptop open. Recorder on. Let's DO this.

“Man, that's a head to make Mr. Clean jealous,” Ted mutters to himself, tucking his phone away in his pocket once more as the doors open and Luthor arrives. He glances left and right to see if his little joke struck anybody's funny bone. Then he's quiet once again, arms crossed and head tilted slightly to one side.

Knockout happens to look up and in the right direction at the same time she's noticed by Bruce, the way he glances at her causing her to chuckle. She knows she's not exactly the most easy to miss even when she is being on her best behavior, her height and the vivid color of her extremely long hair more than attention-grabbing. "Excuse me, I'll be over there," she announces to the team of security men before starting to drift in Mr. Wayne's direction, that causing a little bit of panic to settle in amongst the suit-wearing men. Two peel off and really start to tail her now, not trusting her.

Bruce lifts his refilled champagne glass to Rhodes' words, "Thank goodness someone's taking care of that." He muses, somewhere between sincerely warm and downright flippant; there's respect there, though, under the layers of playboy. The billionaire's attention diverts slightly to Anya and Emma, even as he listens to and interjects into the ongoing discussion-- though that attention is paid mostly by the periphery of his vision. Musashi stated that it was vital to learn to look around without redirecting one's gaze.. also that it takes practice, a great deal of practice. Bruce Wayne has practiced.

Wayne has little time to ponder the implications, or revisit the topic at hand (or truck tossing!) as the host and guest of honor reappear, however; Gotham's favored son instead turns to mostly face that podium, or starts to. Then it's Bruce's turn to look pensive-- it's almost a frown, but notably more subtle than Anya's, and seemingly at random the billionaire wanders unhurriedly off, sauntering towards one side of the room. The west, for the curious. For the moment, Kay seems completely forgotten-- not that Bruce would be hard to catch.

"Ms. Gordon." Alan's polite smile grows more real as he greets the woman he's met at other events along with Bruce. He's about to say more when the murmuring alerts him to the entrance of the host and guest of honor. Falling silent, he turns to study those by the dais.

Emma allows Anya her reaction, but if she was inclined to say anything else, Luthor and the Senator's arrival does a perfect job of diverging her from it. She-- perhaps to some surprise-- sinks into the chair next to Anya's as it is the most convenient to her position, and settles into place, hands folded into her lap as if to listen intently.

The truth, of course, is a whole different matter. As soon as she's settled, her mind reaches for the Senator's and spreading out over his retinue. There are bound to be answers here somewhere.

There's a subtle WHIRR and CHIRR from Rhodey's prosthetic eye as it focuses in on Castroneves, then on Luthor. An entirely different lens irises over it as he changes filters, then a second lens, and finally a third. He seems... distracted. His attention is focused, not on the speakers, but on the podium they'll be using. He also shoots an occasional glance higher up, though not all the way up to the ceiling. "Enjoy the show, ladies and gentlemen," he murmurs. Then he steps closer to the stage, like an attentive schoolboy seeking a seat in the front row.

Things have become inevitably more interesting with Luthor's arrival and the addition of one newly minted reactionary senator. Frederick is glad that his functioning wariness about...well, pretty much getting up in the morning has caused him to upgrade his capabilities, and keep his armor in an easily accessible but hard to locate location. He continues shifting about the room, doing what it is servers do, making sure all the while to have an easy exit route. Speeches. Speeches attract the crazy.

Luthor turns away from his admirers in order to--graciously--offer some champagne to the wizened conductor of the string orchestra. That signals the end of the music for now and the old man signals his young charges to bow. They do so obediently and Luthor leads the crowd in a round of generous applause. The young musicians are herded off to take seats near their instruments so that they can have something to eat and drink before taking up their tasks again.

Luthor turns back to his admiring guests and fends off a few questions. "I would rather let my good friend the Senator speak to that point," he says to an older woman. "I will say, however, that if one is going to plead that we should rely on the good will and humanitarian nature of our 'more gifted' brethren, then I shall only ask, why should they not rely on ours? Are we less capable of decency and defense of the minority than they are? It wounds me that there is such distrust of people like myself who are--what?--mad with envy?" The idea makes him laugh again.

Castroneves looks up from his phone and casts a tight smile Luthor's way. His press secretary brings him a note, a security officer brings a glass of water to the podium. In the chandeliers' shimmering light, the water in the crystal glass looks as though it is trembling slightly. Castroneves gestures for his secretary to step aside and walks up to place his tablet on the podium. Several cameras swing into position.

Barbara guides her chair closer to the table where Anya and Emma have settled and watches the podium with an almost raptor like intensity that is completely the opposite of her earlier whimsical toying with the councilman. Both hands cross across her lap and she presses thin red lips tight at the reply directed towards the older woman from Luthor. Her chair, comfortable as it is, also collects feed of the presentation. Little modifications here and there that allow her to broadcast it back to the Watch Tower.

She tries to keep her expression from souring and for the most part succeeds in keeping it from becoming a clear sign spread across her expression, but it's hard not to let some of it bleed into her eyes. Her hand goes up before she can stop it and when she's called out, her voice is clear, if a bit chilled. "We're talking about American citizens, Senator Castroneves, Mr Luthor. American citizens who have no more control over their genetics than any of us do... How exactly would any agenda put forward to 'keep track' of the various individuals be implemented without breaching their rights /as/ Americans?"

Anya is glad she got the recorder going. She can have a laugh with the guys over Mr. 'I want to let the senator speak, but first, here is a lecture' over there once she gets home. She glances briefly after Bruce, curious, before she returns her gaze to the podium, and the senator. ...well. /Mostly/. Her eyes slide to the side to briefly regard Emma askance.

|"...say. Ms. Frost. You're a telepath,"| Anya thinks carefully, her fingers poised over her keyboard. |"Exactly how full of crap /are/ these guys?"| This, more than anything, is what she's here to find out, especially in light of Barbara's question. Now /her/ eyes are hawklike on the senator, as well. Under her breath, she murmurs, "Here we go."

Ted nods his head in response to what Barbara says, showing his approval. He's not about to speak up just yet, though. Nobody really wants Ted Kord to start speaking his mind. It's probably bad enough that he's surreptitiously live-tweeting the whole thing. 'Luthor doing his Kanye impression.'

The trek to where Wayne is halts when Knockout realizes there's something important going on, the speech-makers glanced at before she merely shakes her head. "This promises to be fun." Not that she understands all of what is being spoken about. 'More gifted'? Just what the hell is that all about. Deciding to listen, Kay sips her bubbly while the event truly gets under way.

Bruce's westward wandering diverts his attention from the entrance for the moment, though only the rather unwise or unaware would assume Wayne simply isn't /listening/. There's a brief furrow of his brow that could be a product of the opening comments, head canting slightly as if listening very intently. He pulls a smartphone, jet black of course, from his suit pocket and flips it open, tapping swiftly at a high-tech keyboard. Here it is even easier to assume that Bruce is simply pulling a Ted, entering status updates, tweeting, or perhaps simply lolling to some contact on the other end.

In reality, Wayne sends a tightly encrypted transmission directly to the distant Batwing, triggering its liftoff and inbound flight on an automated mission of sensor reconnaissance-- sweeping the area and explicitly seeking to intercept unusual transmissions. Once the quick message-- actually a series of numbers and letters-- is sent off, Bruce turns in a new direction and wanders forward, cutting through the crowd casually and swiftly all at once to lightly tap Jim Rhodes on one shoulder, and gesture over to the far wall as he leans in to whisper to the cyborg, apparently oblivious that the guy might be, you know.. listening.

"Something buzzing over there." The west wall. "Could be a problem with the wiring." The words are hushed, hard for even the people sitting next to Rhodes to hear without augmentation, most likely. Why Bruce thinks this is a problem for Rhodey is left up to Rhodey; maybe Wayne just thinks he's part of the event staff and security. Either way, there's a hurried, "Excuse me." and Bruce cuts back the way he came, working his way towards a service corridor adjoining the banquet room; and with the amount of champagne he's apparently been consuming, probably the restrooms beyond it.

Alan glances around then reaches out to grab an unoccupied chair to drag over near the table closest to him. Sitting down, he waits to hear what the Senator has to say.

|"You have already met all three of my answers to that question, Anya,"| Emma's response comes to Anya's head. It's uncomfortable, like the thoughts are dripping with ice. Luthor's little speech has her furious, and it's quite the feat of willpower that she doesn't simply attempt to lobotomize him on the spot. Relax, Emma. Control. Atta girl. Once she has, something else infringes on her awareness. She glances at Bruce, Rhodes, and then Anya. |"I hope you brought a change of clothes,"| she adds in a far more controlled 'voice'.

"Mr. Wayne. Bruce--damnit! PATTON, are those what I think they are?" Rhodey mutters.

"They are," the AI replies unhappily. "I scanned them three times to be sure. I can't nail down the transmission. There's some kind of interference. Jim, there's no time. You have to do something."

"I know," Rhodey agrees. He takes a single, deep breath and holds it briefly. "Go," he urges himself. "Go. Go-go-go-go!"

He goes, taking off for the stage at impressive speeds for a man his size. There's no apology as he ploughs over princelings, dodges diplomats, and shoves past serving staff. He's headed directly for... Castroneves? No, it's the podium he's after. Paying no attention to protests from security and onlookers, he smashes it with a metal fist and digs inside the wreckage. There's a bomb buried inside the mess. A big, complicated one.

"Back!" he shouts, shoving the Senator into the arms of his security personnel. "Everybody get back!" Then he splays himself out over the explosive, sandwiching it between the floor and his cybernetic body.

Frederick does have a change of clothes, one he is going to retrieve post haste. The advantage of being a groundling is that he can always tell another server to take over for him. He doesn't really have any extrasensory powers at this point, but as any wait staff, he watches the rich people. You know the ones. The ones who just 'happen' to be in dangerous situations. Does he know anyones super sekrit identity? No. But he does read newspapers. Ever notice how three of the people at that specific table always show up as the 'I did what any person would do' section of the newspaper? Besides, he really does need a sandwich. Also, yeah. lots of running and yelling after the harsh whispers. Time to do the Dragnet thing. "Now to see if these actually work. Sensory diagnostic: cycle through all senses at maximum magnification." Once the abrupt field diagnostic has been proven NOT to barbecue his head inside his helmet (Actually did nearly happen, once. Science and Dragnet have a rather love/extreme hate relationship), he drops into stealth mode and slips around the crowd no doubt primed to panic and scream and shout like good little terrified denizens. Maybe he can actually pick up something now that he is properly plugged into all those senses AIDOS spoils him with.

Luthor's security staff thoroughly tackle the host to the floor. Luthor is, for a moment, completely nonplussed as indicated by the shout he gives as he goes down under the pile of bodies. Castroneves' people throw him to the ground in the corner and shield him with their bodies. With amazing alacrity, the Moscow Youth String Orchestra hit the ground under their tables--their conductor is shouting at them in Russian to leave their instruments and leave by the emergency doors.

For the rest of those present--heroes excepted--there is a lull. An incredibly long pause in hero-time. Voices rise in curiosity, shrill with an edge of panic. Maybe the man rushing the senator is a mutant, maybe this is an assassination. Then that well-worn general belts out, in a voice pitched to cross a battleground, "TAKE COVER!" as he throws his rather plump, dignified wife under a table and piles in on top of her.

The bomb goes off, but with less impact than it could have had. The entirety of the floor under the dais disintegrates and everything plunges down to the next floor. The shockwave that does escape is enough to take people off their feet and rip up the tiles on what floor remains around the hole.

Those near the edges of the room, with good senses or with telepathic ability to pick up from those who have them, can detect whining and clicking noises from various areas under the windows, as though something else were about to blow.

Barbara caught Bruce moving out of the corner of her eye and steadily turned her stare on him more as it becomes increasingly apparent he's 'found something'. That act might work on the general population, but she knows the man beneath that suit well enough to know something is about to happen... especially when he puts the Batwing on standby.

It's not that she monitors all the Bat frequency (hahaha, she does).. Then hell breaks loose. Rhodey is running at the stage and security is going nuts. Babs turns to look suddenly at Anya and Emma beside her a second before the bomb is revealed, "Get down!"

Then boom time.. Another of the explosives, one nearer to the table, goes off... The shockwave catches her chair and flips it over on it's side, spilling the woman onto the floor with a grunting roll. Her ears still ringing from the force of the concussion, eyes squinting, the former Batgirl still has a clarity even in the chaos that no doubt ensues as she props herself up on her arms, legs dangling useless out behind her in a heap. Already she's trying to grab for the overturned wheelchair and one of the consoles on the arm rest, pulling herself with startlingly agile swiftness towards it.

|"Ah, so... pretty well full of it, then. I thought so, but it's nice t--"| Anya's train of thought is abruptly derailed twice over, first by Emma's note about a change of clothes, then by Rhodey rushing the stage and diving on... a bomb. A BOMB. ARE YOU KIDDING. 'Get down' INDEED. Scowling darkly, Anya's fingers take a very fast dance across her keyboard...

       the_spider_girl: THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS. #tableflip #luthorcon2012

Then Anya's laptop is slapped closed and shoved back into the bag draped over her shoulder. She hauls herself to her feet, grabbing for her recorder, and then... yes. She /flips the table/ that she, Emma and Barbara are sitting at, putting it between them and the stage just in time for it to be rocked by the shockwave. She is not in costume, but it does not stop her from throwing an arm around Emma's shoulders and hauling her behind the cover with her and Barbara. "You okay?" she calls after the redhead, casting a wary look up at the chandelier overhead. Ohhhh, boy. She needs to get that table back up over their heads before those things start making their lives very bloody...

“Hey, wha-” Ted lets out a squawk of protest as he's shoved to one side, watching Rhodey as he charges the stage and reveals the bomb, “Oh.”

Ted hits the deck when he hears the shout, combat training bubbling up in his brain and allowing him to avoid injury save for a shredded suit jacket. But that doesn't matter right now. A minute later he's on his feet, crouching in an effort to scoop Barbara up in a fireman's carry. The others can help themselves, can't they?

“I'm really sorry,” Ted shouts over the chaos, looking around anxiously for somewhere that isn't exploding, “I know this is probably a social faux pas but civility goes out the windows when stuff starts blowing up.”

One of the bombs goes off next to Knockout; the explosion itself is pretty damn strong and manages to cut deep gouges into her arms and back when the debris hits, her durability keeping it from killing her even though it did hurt like a sunuvabitch. The following shockwaves are also less harmful but while she survives being hit by them they stun her, send her stumbling and staggering into someone. Unintentional hero is unintentional as her bumping into one of the dinner attendees which pushes them out of the range of a shower of sharp crystals. They instead land on the impromptu heroine, each glittery stone bouncing off of her like they were... well, something a lot softer and a lot less pointy and sharp than the crystals are.

"Out the back stairwell, quick." The first words out of his mouth as Wayne bursts into the event's kitchen. Bruce may have hurried his way out of the banquet hall, but with Rhodes' reaction time and robotic perceptions, there's plenty of time to realize the basics of what's going on as he ducks into the hallway, and abruptly into the kitchen. "There's a bomb, maybe more than one." Pretty much the worst case scenario that leapt to mind is already playing out around him. Anyone doubting Bruce's warning amongst the catering staff or security gets treated to the report of one shockwave, and then several more from the main room. Pots and pans tumble from their moorings, unsecured appliances lurch with the rumble that shakes the structure around them again and again, and in instants-- if incredibly long in superhero time-- Bruce Wayne is alone in the kitchen.

It's unlikely anyone expected him to stay behind, but that's exactly what he does, stepping into the huge walk-in fridge and piling numerous boxes of steaks off to one side to reach the bottom one, which he simply /rips/ open around a hardened, nearly seamless safe. The black metal is coaxed to release its wears with a combination of a code and a fingerprick DNA scan, folding outwards in all directions to lay bare a precisely packed batsuit.

His ears filled with distant screams and the smashing, crashing, blasting clatter of breaking glass, falling crystal, and detonating charges, it's possible that Wayne suits up in record time; it's also possible this is the normal circumstance wherein he needs to do this and he's gotten extremely efficient at it.. sad as that may be. As the cowl lowers into place completing the ensemble, the Dark Knight immediately filters his vision to try to detect further devices and transmissions electronically within the building's superstructure, overlaying thermals to track the flight and plight of the trapped civilians even as he exits the fridge and heads directly back towards the chaos.

When you hear people shouting 'get down' and 'take cover', the smart thing to do is listen. Alan listens. He dives under the table and grabs whoever else is close and trying to get down too in order to help them take cover. The shockwave is muted. The following explosions, not so much and he covers his head with his arms for added protection. One of the chandeliers falls right onto the table above them and while no crystal initially gets through it, the table does crack in half and collapse under the weight.

Emma is too busy, as it happens, to even notice Anya grab her and haul her off the chair. Her attention is wholly on the room. Her cursory attention on Rhodey, in particular, gave her some warning-- and it put her in a position to prepare. So as Anya drags her behind the table, she is already reaching out. It is difficult to control a room of this size, especially in a panic, and it takes every bit of her experience to latch on. She's still getting a grip when she feels Anya's alarm, and the direction-- UP.

There isn't time to be subtle anymore. An urge, a directive... a thought, whips around every mind in the room: I NEED TO BE UNDER A TABLE. It is not terribly directed-- Emma can't risk missing anyone. Though with so many minds to affect... the more strong-willed just aren't going to feel it as much.

"Baby, I had no choice. I swear," Rhodey rehearses. They're the last words that come out of his mouth before the first explosive goes off.

He placed the shaped portion of the shaped charge against the floor before using himself as an improvised bomb blanket, so this is a best-case scenario as far as diving on grenades goes. There's more than enough boom to go around, though. His evening wear is shredded and he's launched high into the air, almost straight up before he peaks and drops toward the crater left behind by the blast. Still, he's coherent enough to catch a handhold on the edge. Unfortunately, that hand is attached to an arm that's little more than a few frayed wires and twists of metal. It squeaks ominously, then comes apart at the elbow just as he's about to haul himself over the crater's lip.

Rhodey's hand and forearm clutch at their tenuous grip while the rest of him smashes to the ground after what feels like a very long fall. Barely conscious, he groans and reaches over to paw at the ragged stump where his missing limb used to be. That's when an entire chandelier factory lands on him.

"Listen up, dirtbag!" PATTON screams in his ear. "You've got systems failing across the board. Cybernetic *and* biological. You. Cannot. Die. Do you hear me? That's an order, Colonel!"

Dragnet is knocked back by the first shockwave, and rouses himself, shaking his head out. The surprise is enough to temporarily disengage the stealth system, standing as the lines of glowing circuitry temporarily increase in illumination as he returns to stealth. If anyone has proper communications equipment, he begins scanning and relaying information to anyone with an open channel. The telepathy unfortunately comes out as so much static, Dragnet cracking his knuckles as he goes bomb hunting.

People actually do what Emma says. They hit the ground under tables and huddle there as the explosives go off. It's the safest thing for them to do and likely saves a number of lives. Still, she can't hold them all unless she wants to be more invasive and people are beginning to panic, scuttling out into the crystal rain, panicking even more and shrieking, adding to the tension.

Luthor himself is rising out of the heap of his guards in a state of high agitation."Pull every file. Lock this place down. I want everyone who's set foot in this building in the last week rounded up. Bring them all in," he bellows as he regains his bearings. "Get me to the Senator!" His men form a well-practiced human shield around him as he heads for where Castroneves' people are helping the Senator to his feet.

The retired general rolls out from under the table and, covering his head against the falling crystals, makes his way to the hole, searching for Rhodey. "Man down," he bellows. "Medic! Luthor, you brass-pated figurehead, get your people down there! Hang in there, son."

Another explosion rattles the room, this time blowing out a window frame with a shower of glass. The chandeliers shake and one swings wildly as the brake on its winch slips. The youth orchestra is on their way toward an emergency exit but anyone with sensors will see that there is another explosive waiting there--possibly strategically placed for doing damage to them. Another lurks unexploded behind the beautiful ice sculptures and tower of champagne bottles.

It's all instincts kicking back in, really. Split second decisions for good or ill, Barbara's hand swats out at Ted's when it comes down to scoop her up, "I'm crippled, not dead... You want to help someone help them!" Said, pointing over towards an older couple who're are groaning not far away, bleeding from head injuries where a piece of plaster came loose in one of the mini explosions around the room.

With one thrust of her hand, Barbara's chair is upright. Demonstrating that when one loses one set of appendages the others get stronger to compensate... More so when she throws herself up into the chair without even grimacing and flips open a console on the side of the arm-rest. Fingers blazing over a small keyboard, linked to the Bat's cowl through fancy fandangling. The text to speak is in the monotone voice of the Oracle. ||"Clock Tower computers are tracking the signatures on the other devices. I have a dozen of them triangulated and am shutting them down now. I locked the locations to your cowl your cowl for the others."||

Low tech radio signatures... That explosion over by the door, the one about to tune the band... stops blinking just before it goes off. That moment, that brief disengagement of Dragnet's suits stealth, it's enough... and he's getting fed the same locked on coordinates as Batman with a flashing green face in the bottom of his HUD.

Yes. Yes, under a table. That would be ideal. GLAD SHE THOUGHT OF IT. Anya hauls the table back up onto its legs and over her and Emma's heads just in time for a long, dagger like crystal to stab through the surface in front of her nose. She goes cross-eyed to stare at it and laughs nervously. AHAHAHA YES THIS IS MY LIFE. WONDERFUL.

|"Ms. Frost? Are there any /living/ threats?"| Anya asks of Emma, keeping low and staying close to her. Barbara seems to have her shit well and truly together. She, on the other hand, can't really go sprinting out of the room to change without risking horrible stabby death. So she stays put. |"We need to get that damned chandelier dealt with and the big robot guy already blew himself up."|

“You're welcome,” Ted mutters, moving away from Barbara and over to the elderly couple lying on the floor, “So, any objections from /you/ guys? Go away, Ted. We like being blown up.”

No, he's not the most mature person in the world. Still, he does what he's asked and he begins to drag the injured couple under a nearby table. He crouches there a moment, looking at his watch and tapping a button on the side.

High above, ensconced in fake fog and looking like a gloomy little cloud, the Bug begins to drift down towards Metropolis.

The creaking chandelier support draws Kay's gaze upward. It takes a moment for her to realize just what is about to happen but once it does dawn on her she's on the move. Moving under the gianormous light fixture, the Fury raises her arms up over her head as if expecting to be able to catch it if it were to come crashing down.

The Batman arrives, seemingly, at ceiling level, riding a zipline from one side of the room to the other, grapnel hooked to the far wall. With the crowd's... surprisingly measured reaction, the Dark Knight pushes a gambit-- focusing on projecting the detected location of the charges outwards. Rolling the dice on someone to notice isn't exactly enough to satisfy him, but the Oracle's monotone reassurance comes as extreme comfort, cold as it may be, in these circumstances. The Batwing circles high overhead, thankfully already transferred to Metropolis just in -case- things went south, its advanced sensor suite centered on triangulating the source of the signals tripping the bombs, the protocols used by the surveillance devices... or even the terrorists controlling it all, should they be nearby.

The Dark Knight's personal mission is somewhat more focused. As he passes the chandeliers that still hold-- if barely-- to their moorings, whipping lines are thrown outwards to each side, wrangling them to one another, his flight tightening the noose of line suddenly with his impressive momentum. It's not going to help the place's structural integrity, but as the Caped Crusader passes, the lines snap taut, mooring one to the other as the first gives way. The strain drags one towards one another, giving it time to swing beneath the second before both come down together in improvised, controlled demolition-- broken at the mounting and falling towards each other, and their intended impact point below.. instead of shattering under repeated explosive strain.

Hopefully without a scattering of shrapnel /everywhere/.. those people can get clear.. and Kay's efforts to shield and deflect that descent can be focused on a single point. Without the aftershock the other remaining fixture could have provided. The Dark Knight himself cuts his line immediately after, dropping through the chaos and scattered dust of the repeated destruction... and directly down the hole in the center of the floor.

Crash, bang, boom. Silence. Alan tilts half the table that's on top of him, the chandelier sliding to the ground, and glances out to see what's happening. Another explosion proves this to be a bad idea and he ducks back under what little cover the broken table provides. Bombs don't kill people. Shrapnel plus concussive blasts kill people.

Emma can feel a few slip past her mental grip, but there's simply nothing she can do about that-- she's near her limit as it is, and already having to let some of the calmer minds go as they huddle under tables. "Don't think so, can't tell," she grates out in response to Anya. "Too much going on." Someone in the room seems to know something about bomb locations... the only thing she's got left to deal with the fleeing band's danger is to link one person's knowledge of the danger to their thoughts of the door and hope it's good enough to back them off.

As she starts to lose her grip on the minds under the tables, she whips one additional thought around the room-- 'I'm lucky there were superheroes here'.

Rhodey should be unconscious. Hell, he should probably be dead. As it is, even being mostly made of vibranium and titanium was barely enough to hold him together. He's lost an arm, he's blown out another reactor (that makes two this month), he definitely has a broken nose, and virtually every inch of flesh he still owns is bruised, cut, scraped, or some combination of the above. Most of his cybernetic systems have been compromised, if not outright destroyed, including his prosthetic eye. His insides feel as if they've been run through a coffee mill, and likely look that way as well. He's lucky that his insides are still *inside* of him. After all, he's buried under a chandelier with God knows what poking through his torso.

Unfortunately, he's not capable of losing consciousness. There's no blissful blackout to take away the pain. His good eye is open, but it's pinched down to an agonized slit. Slowly, he raises the arm he still has and gives the general a wavering thumbs up. "S-Status is green, sir," he calls out, but his voice is strained and fading. "Still in the fight. M-M-Medic would be nice."

The arrival of Batman is more than Jim could've expected. Coughing weakly, he focuses on the shadowy figure as well as he's able. "I didn't know you were a medic," he chuckles. The quip costs him. His next cough has him spitting out blood.

By all rights, Dragnet should be coughing blood. Its what the /manly/ heroes and vigilantes do. The scans he has made are fed back into the Oracle computer as he tags bombs, but he really doesn't have the knowhow to disarm any of the bombs, so he settles for...hmmm. Maybe the dazzler? Its primarily a visual thing, but maybe if its not entirely mechanical he can offset it. Still, he takes no chances and tries to relocate any bombs he does not try the light show thingy upon.

Luthor's security staff are in motion now and they're actually highly effective at starting to clear the room. Men in full body armour are beginning to form a human hall through which guests are being herded on the way to the stairs. Emma's thought suggestion seems to have been helpful because that's exactly what the departing privileged few are saying on the way out. "Thank goodness Batman was here. Thank goodness there were heroes around!"

Kay's feat at catching the chandelier--and she did manage to catch it by a central part of the frame, stopping it from hitting the floor in the midst of innocents like a crystal bomb--hasn't gone unnoticed, by citizens or by the intrepid blogger under a nearby table. "This is what Metropolis needs! More heroes! What the world needs!" he gushes, starry-eyed. "Superman couldn't make it, but here you are."

Batman downs the other chandeliers in the middle of the empty dance floor and he disappears down into the hole after Rhodey. Medics from Lexcorp are actually attempting to enter the conference room where Rhodey landed but the doors are under emergency lockdown.

Oracle and Batman, with the help of the Batwing, have a lock on the signal source that was detonating the bombs. It's no longer sending the detonation codes but one lone bug--the one above the door near the youth orchestra--is still broadcasting back to the mothership. Or, in this case, the mother-truck. It's a fairly innocuous looking cargo van, the kind you'd see making deliveries anywhere, and it's headed for the Suicide Slums of Metropolis.

The other eye that remained has shut down, baffled into inactivity by the infrared flash of Dragnet's beams. His scanners return to Oracle's computers an outline of the remaining shaped charge--which would have been impressive and destructive--as well as a good look at what walls remain and the work that was done on them already.

Lexcorp security guards are also searching for those who need help and, surprisingly enough, giving all heroic-looking persons a wide berth and a certain degree of respect. "Sir?" One offers assistance to Alan. "Mr. Luthor apologizes for the inconvenience. Please come this way." Anya and Emma get similar treatment, a politely offered hand and a smile.

Ted's Bug is on the way down--there is a surprisingly convenient hole in the wall of the building there for boarding--and Lexcorp's shocked security system doesn't pick it up as a threat. The elderly couple he saved are carefully removed from under the table by Lexcorp security. "Mr. Luthor sends his apologies."

Babs wipes blood from her brow and pushes loose red hair away from the wound. She's got a few bumps and bruises, but for the most part she's whole... short one dress, probably.. and she really intended to return this after the event. So much for that plan.

Her bloody fingers move back to the keys as she wheels herself quickly towards a group of people struggling to pull some bit of plaster off of a downed dignitary. She wants to help, she's going to help... then her console buzzes and she's forced to look at the screen. Can never be too careful in LexCorp, <It is twenty five hundred miles and distancing towards Suicide slums. I have the Batwing locked to follow.>

She's feeling a little woozy.. not really faint so much as the ping of joy that 'heroes' where here. Odd that. Not impossible to overlook, just a little difficult and getting more so.

The head injury must be a little worse than she thought since her hands are trembling a bit when she looks at them level... another glance at the screen to make sure everything is running on 'auto pilot', as Babs head bobs a bit, slumping back in her chair with a sigh. She's just sort of hoping nothing blows up beneath her.

A hand up? In this case... Anya will take it. She is /not/ used to being on this end of the fray, but this time out, she will remain in the role of Helpless Civilian. "Thank you," she tells the security guard, and absentmindedly, she grabs ahold of Emma's hand with her other to make sure she can help guide the very distracted telepath along.

|"So this was an awkward dinner,"| Anya muses dryly, quipping where it's safe to do so. |"On, like. /Five/ different levels."|

In the confusion, Ted made sure that his elderly charges were secure under the table and then made a quick exit. Even as he darts towards the hole in the wall, quietly hoping that nobody spots him and doing his best ninja stealth master impression, he's concocting his cover story. 'Why weren't you in lockdown with everyone else?' Oh, well, it was a bomb so I did the honorable thing and ran away. Yeah, that works. People will believe that, won't they?

Ted fancies himself a hero after all, and he's not going to just sit around while bomb maniacs get away to bomb more dinner parties maniacally. Nobody is going to suspect Ted Kord (of all people) of climbing aboard a flying robot beetle and disappearing into the night to do some investigating of his own.

This looks like his exit. Ted flings himself out the hole, catching onto a cable dangling from the bottom of the Bug and slowly disappearing up into the cloud and the open hatch beyond it. Once aboard, he's already calling out orders to the on-board computer, “Run a scan. See if we can pick up how those bombs were detonated. I'm guessing they're not on a timer. Nobody expects billionaires and politicians to keep to a schedule.”

The large object is set down carefully just as the man starts calling attention to what Knockout did, that being entirely not what she expected. Part of her would like to pick a verbal fight with the very man who called attention to what she did to help but there's no time. An effort is made to see if anything else is obvious, any more explosives or things that are about to fall or people who need punch. The latter is especially important.

"Don't try to talk." The Bat deeply intones, pushing immediately to his feet even as he lands to begin clearing the chandelier pieces from Rhodey with the help of a miniaturized plasma torch with an alarmingly potent output, and exerting heaves of his own honed arms. Spider-man would've had some witty retort for Rhodes, Batman just has good advice that sounds more like an order... granted it's hard to argue with the wisdom, particularly as Rhodey loses /more/ of his blood. He does the swiftest, and most minimal job of debris clearing possible to get a good look at his patient and prevent further strain to the cyborg, leaving most of the wreckage where it fell: all around them.

Stark would already have the spare parts and emergency equipment lined up to start fixing him. The Dark Knight, however, isn't the super-genius Jim Rhodes deserves; just the medic that he needs. There's a compact first aid kit and repair kit in the utility belt at all times, and in this case Batman appears to need /both/ for the same job. He's careful, precise, practiced at battlefield medicine that goes way beyond throwing narcotics at the problem and hoping for the best, but this is bad. Still, sterile adhesive is quick to staunch most of the remaining blood loss, providing at least a temporary patch for the torn skin and, well, gaping holes here and there on Rhodes' form.

Meanwhile, the rather electronics-savvy Bat is also quick to stem the loss of less biological fluids, ground out shorted conduits, and even quickly figures out how to hook Jim back into a portable power battery also taken from his belt, which is quickly affixed to one of the few uninjured portions to ensure it stays with him. The Dark Knight could probably bypass the lockdown and let Luthor's boys in-- but somehow, he doubts it would be faster than their own people can deal with that issue, and from where he lands, it doesn't look like Rhodes has a lot of time to /wait/.

As things stay quiet and Lexcorp guards start helping people, Alan climbs to his feet and dusts himself off. Crystal shards and dust cover his shoes and pant legs where they were closest to being unshielded. "Inconvenience?" he repeats, a wry expression tugging the corners of his mouth. "Yes, you could call it that. Fortunately, the Batman was here to make sure it wasn't worse." i.e. even more people needing to go to the hospital.

Emma is unsteady when she takes a hand up, mentally exhausted from trying to split her attention across so many tasks quickly and so many minds. But it isn't as if anyone except perhaps Anya knows that it's anything other than the shock of the attack. She is NOT, however, tired enough to avoid the opportunity to do her best Outraged Rich Person, and her voice carries just fine. "Apologize? I should think Mr. Luthor should be more concerned about how someone planted so many explosives all over a room in his own tower! They *certainly* must have had occasion to take their time choosing locations." She peers at the nearest guard as she breezes past with Anya. "Do you even know where the Senator is?"

Dragnet takes a few more cursory scans, sending them to the Oracle mainframe for analysis later. With the outraged rich folks on full alert and a need to pursue his own far more minor league manner of crime stopping. He takes a few steps, and then jogs out through the giant hole in the wall. A handy exit indeed!

While Rhodey is fading, PATTON is still up and at 'em. "HEY," he shouts, routing his own voice through Jim's vocalizer so he can address Batman directly. His harsh, grating tones are an abrupt change, to say the least. "Hey! Listen up, puke. You might be big in Gotham, but I'm an AI. I'm big in *everywhere.* If you fart and I don't like the aroma, I'll bio-scan you and upload your genetic profile to Wikipedia so fast it'll make your hood spin. You get me?"

"What?" Even Rhodey seems confused by this. Not just the voice, but the fact that PATTON's being protective. Either way, he's regained control of his vocalizer. He rubs at his throat, wincing as his fingers make contact with yet another bruise. "Sorry. Tony programmed him. He's... c-c-cranky. Thanks."

After some frustration, the Lexcorp medics and guards burst into the room where Batman is helping Rhodey and... come to a screeching halt. It's the Batman effect. They're not so much starstruck as a little intimidated. There's a certain amount of nudging each other--no, YOU go first--as they try and decide how to handle the situation. Apparently it only takes a giant bat and a bleeding robot to reduce trained professionals to schoolboys hissing and elbowing each other.

Luthor and Castroneves had managed to escape out a side door, their security staff piling them all out that way. But Castroneves has escaped somehow and is bearing down the hallway on those who are departing. "Is everyone all right? I'm so terribly sorry. Do we have all the medical attention that we need?" He's pale and anxious, sweating profusely, but he seems determined to persist in helping. His security staff are back down the hall, momentarily caught up in a little territorial scuffle with the Lexcorp guards. No, WE get to guard the... NO, us!... and so on. The retired general, helping his wife out, barks at them all to straighten up and actually be useful. Startled, one of Castroneve's men comes forward to help the general's wife.

Everyone leaving with the Lexcorp staff are being escorted across to another building where they'll be debriefed and tended to by medics who will ensure that they're well.

Emma is exhausted, but not so exhausted she's going to over-look Castroneves being Right There. She's not precisely gentle when she scans him. She's too tired for it, but she also can't get deep in, either. But she doesn't have to. The man has something definitively on his mind. |"Relax. I will pass your need to the one you seek. He will help you. Most of us are not to be feared,"| she tells the Senator, and then she seeks a different mind. A little raincloud. A precise instrument. A detective. A dark knight. Yes: Batman. |"I am very tired, so listen and do not argue. Castroneves is being coerced. He is trying to get your help and yours specifically. We can't get to him now, but you need to soon. Something is very wrong."| And then there's the sensation of the voice withdrawing entirely, and Emma leans on Anya, handing her a set of keys. "You can drive, I hope."

Batman barely pauses when PATTON pipes up, somewhat ironically as he's taking some readings of his own. He doesn't even bother to argue with the construct about the fact that he's /trying/ to save Jim's life. It should be readily apparent swiftly enough, after all. It's hardly a butcher's job or amateur workmanship: the Dark Knight may not build cyborgs, but he understands advanced technology far better than most in this world, and he's equipped to handle the breakdown of prototypes in the field. Rhodes certainly qualifies as a prototype, to the Bat's eye.

"No apologies." It comes out much the same as the initial 'shut your mouth' did, matter of fact, even, deep.. intense. After a fashion, though, it's the Caped Crusader's way of accepting it; possibly even halfway to 'you're welcome.' The arrival of Lexcorp's medical team doesn't forestall the Dark Knight from finishing his work-- he's quite content to let his silhouette keep them at a distance long enough to pack away his tools. There's a simple nod to Rhodes, and the Batman fires his grapnel back up through the hole above, launching himself once more towards the vaulted ceiling above the event hall.

It's there that he perches, surveying the room for a moment.. Lex's security has crowd control in hand, the injured are being tended, and the Dark Knight has extremists to chase. The only thing that forestalls him is that tingling voice, as if in the distance, creeping along the edges of his mind with fatigue-- but no shortage of urgency. The Bat listens. Cowled head nods slightly, white eyes narrowing as they seek not the source of the message, but Castroneves himself. |I know.| Very wrong, indeed. There's little question Batman intends to follow up on this: for the moment, the form that takes is to swing abruptly to one wall, palm and pocket a tiny device in a pouch in his utility belt, and fearlessly hurl himself out the second story of Lex's high-rise. Anyone looking out the gaping hole in the bank of windows that the Dark Knight utilizes for his exit will discover the manifestation of a universal constant: The Batman is /gone/.

Anya's night is just getting weirder and weirder. "Senator?" she asks in a tone of surprise and disbelief, which quickly turns to concern when she takes in his appearance. Politics are one thing. This is something else. Even as they're bustled along by security, she nods to Castroneves, oblivious to the interplay going on in his and Emma's minds. "We're okay -- are /you/? You look pale."

And then Emma is leaning on her. Anya blinks and reflexively puts a supportive arm around her, accepting the keys with a simple nod. "Arguably," she replies, full of confidence. Hey, Emma just asked if she can drive. She didn't ask if she could drive /well/. She gives the keys a curious look. The hell is a Maserati?

There isn't an ounce of fight left in Rhodey. Not a single iota. He did, however, save the strength to raise his hand in a brisk, precise salute before Batman made his exit.

Then he's the proverbial property of LexCorp. "I think I'm going into a coma," he slurs. "Stark. Tony Stark."

His voice trails off, but his eyes are still open. Once again, PATTON takes the lead, barking orders at another man's employees as if they were soldiers under his command. In seconds, the AI has the team working on safely extracting Jim so he can be properly treated. Where and by whom are questions that, for now, remain unanswered.

Lexcorp Media Control is swarming the grounds, a perimeter has been established around the area, Metropolis police are being ushered in by Lexcorp liasons. Unseen and unheard, the Blue Beetle and the Batfamily are headed to the Suicide Slums to track down the source of the transmissions triggering the bombs. Castroneves is reunited with his security staff--to his chagrin--and is swept out of the building and into a waiting armoured vehicle.

Rumors are flying in the press and on the internet. Was this a meta attack? Who could have infiltrated Lexcorp? Perhaps the bomb was meant for Luthor himself. Only time will tell.

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