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Adventure! RPG: Heroes of Our Time - episode 4: Killer in the Rain (part 2)

Alex Craft

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(early March, 1924)

The Baltimore Union Station is a fairly public place, with the platforms and main floor all constantly busy with travelers, well-wishers, and employees. The intricate Beaux-Arts architecture culminates in the lobby - a large, airy space hosting the ticket booths and serving as a launching point off onto the platforms. A train has just come in and a couple others are boarding, so the floor is teeming with passengers and baggage men hurrying back and forth.

The meet is to take place above all of this, on the balcony wrapping the inside of the lobby. There, the crowds are mostly absent, confined to a number of people watching the crowd below for friends or family. Blaine (and anyone with him) is doing something similar - watching the doors for Angelo Cimino's arrival. Union Station isn't too far from the row of brownstones that the Angel uses as headquarters, so the old man doesn't have an excuse to be late.

Almost exactly fifteen minutes after Blaine made the call from a pay phone down in the lobby, a familiar face comes through the main doors - Cassidy, followed momentarily by Angelo and Luca. When they catch up to him, Cassidy gestures up toward Blaine, and the three push through the crowd toward the balcony stairs.

Angelo Cimino reaches Blaine soon enough (Cassidy preceding and Luca trailing). The Angel is an extremely thin Italian man in his early sixties with a face that looks like it has been forcibly rearranged more than once - far from his once-'angelic' features. Cassidy flanks him while Luca continues to hang back, watching the rest of the room for trouble. All three men are fairly obviously armed, though Cimino may well be a less formidable opponent these days.

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Jameson stands on the balcony opposite to Blaine overlooking the lower level. Dressed in shabby clothing patched far too many times with dirt and ash on his face and in his hair he passes very well for a manual laborer, possibly working in one of the city's coal power plants. A great knee-length winter coat pulled around him maskes the bulk of his two revolvers.

In his left hand is a lunch box with a ticket sticking out of the corner. He chomps on a hard roll filled with cheese and hard sausage with the other hand.

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Blaine adjusts his hat with one hand, keeping his other hand near the opening in his jacket. As they approach he spits a mouthful of phlegm and spittle at the ground near them.

"That's far enough mooks. Hands out of your pockets you dego bastards, all a' you. And keep 'em where I can see 'em or this meetin's gonna be over real fast." Blaine waits for compliance.

"Well the ol' Prune face himself has the balls to show up. I feel all special, like I got a new bike for Christmas. If you'da had the guts be there the last time I chatted with your boss we wouldn't even be havin' this issue. Anyone ever tell you that a bust a your ugly mug would be called modern art?

"Your two dancin' monkeys tell you that you owe me a new door? Anyway let's get this over with, I can't stand the fact that I'm talkin' to you instead of bustin' your head wide open."

Blaine grimaces at the sight of them and keeps his hand near his jacket opening.

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Janos calmly leans up against his pillar as the busy crowd begins to attenuate around him. With the arrivals from one train filtering out and another train just now departing, the people are fewer and in less of a hurry - probably a good thing if things get confrontational. Ironically, the front page article in Janos' paper is a followup on Carlos Sapetti's escape a few weeks ago. Must be a slow news day.

On the balcony above, Jameson Bradford plays the part of a laborer while keeping a surreptitious eye on the proceedings across the lobby. The sound of intermittent crying causes him to glance downward, spotting a young woman with a baby carriage and a couple of suitcases murmuring over the agitated child in the carriage, quieting him as best she can.

John follows Blaine's gaze to identify Cimino and his hit men as they enter the building. Tailing them invisibly, he doesn't notice them doing anything particularly suspicious. There is no checking the positions of gunmen planted in the crowd, nothing that is likely to be a secret signal, and there is no other activity really worth noting beyond Luca and Cassidy's cautious examination of the room. Following up onto the balcony, John is in a position to interfere with any and all of the three men if the situation turns ugly.

The Angel seems irritated by Blaine's reception, responding in kind, "That's real funny coming from you, shamus. You look like someone worked ya over with a pair of rocks ... maybe the boys were overeager last night?"

Suddenly bursting into an explosive bought of coughing, the Angel blatantly ignores Blaine's threat and reaches into his suit jacket. Cassidy eyes Blaine overbearingly as the old man pulls out a small cigarette case and a book of matches - proceeding to light a smoke. He coughs a little more as he gets the cigarette burning, then puts the case back in his jacket and drops the now-empty matchbook over the railing.

"But, yeah. I don't like you much, so let's get down to business, as they say. Carlos isn't good for the organization. Way it used to be, we were fighting to build our territory - fighting the Baltimore gangs, the D.C. gangs. He was good then. Now, things are different. Booze, women, gambling ... it's all a business, and he doesn't understand that. Boy's like a pit bull - keep him tied up too long and he just goes crazy."

"These last couple years've been good. Profitable. Carlos ... he is unnecessary, and I don't think I want him ruining our business. I tell you where he's hiding out, give you an idea of what you can expect to find, and we can both forget we ever met each other, capiche?"

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Blaine's hand twitches as Angel reaches for his cigarettes, but his eyes are mainly on the two hired guns, especially the little one.

"Your boys took the smart route, that's why I'm smellin' 'em right now, and you didn't need to make a late night trip to the morgue. I'll give you the route, you're gonna need it soon I bet."

"So the last couple a years have been good huh? For who, you? What do you call good? Peddlin' your bath tub gin, havin' father's daughters shake their ass on the street corner? Cheatin' ham and eggers out a their lousy pay? That what you call good? How many people's lives get ruined for you to have it so good huh?"

Blaine scowls some more, he was right though. People were into vice, there were less murders and shake downs while 8-Ball was away.

"So let's say you give me that information. How do I know you ain't in cahoots already? How do I know you ain't settin' me up? I mean he was your boy all them years. Also, how do I know your intentions when I do bust his head? You plannin' on rubbin' me out if I do this for you? That why you brought those yutzes from outta Chicago? And finally, what makes you think that once I get what I need outta ya' I won't just bust you right here and now?"

Blaine's eyes lock onto Angel's at that, his fingers twitching slightly, his other hand near his collar, in case he needed to make the signal.

"Basically I want some insurance. Oh, and by the way, why'd you whack 'Lucky' Falconi last night?"

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Jameson shuffles lazily towards the balcony rail and squats down. He places the lunch box on the floor and opens it, removing a second sandwich. Leaving the lunchbox on the floor he stands and begins munching on the new sandwich apparently staring blankly at the terminal floor.

As he stands there he slides his right hand into his jacket pocket and through the hole he cut in the lining to grasp his revolver lightly, ready to draw through the coat pocket should things get ugly.

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Rhiannon enters the lobby as inobtrusively as a stunningly beautiful brunette with a pretty jade comb in her bun can. She is wearing a long forest-green jacket that has been left open to reveal a cheongsam dress of black silk brocade embroidered with bamboo leaves and piped in dark green, the garment unusually long at ankle-length but cut with slits to the knees for freedom of movement. Her matching slippers had thick leather soles in case she had to run for it and she carried a lovely little reticue with a gun inside in one hand, and a sandalwood fan in the other.

She takes a position where she can watch the balcony, waiting for some kind of acknowledgement from Blaine before heading up there.

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Everybody notices Rhiannon's entrance - even Cimino and his boys, following Blaine's gaze down to the lobby floor. Despite K.I.S.'s lack of involvement in this situation, King wanted Rhiannon to be at the meeting (everyone else suspects that she's there to keep anyone from doing anything too embarrassing to the company). Of course, if what she says about her mentalist skills is true, she might be able to extract a little extra information from Cimino.

While everyone else registers Rhiannon's arrival, Janos happens to look past her and notice three men following her in. They look like perfectly normal business men in suits and coats, but their behavior is subtly off. As Janos watches, they clearly check out the lay of the land, then scatter - loitering in separate parts of the lobby despite seeming to have arrived together. None of them check the departure/arrival boards, move to buy a ticket, or otherwise demonstrate any business at the station.

Blaine pauses for a moment when he sees Rhiannon, then continues, telling Cimino: "Basically I want some insurance. Oh, and by the way, why'd you whack 'Lucky' Falconi last night?"

Cimino eyes Rhiannon while Blaine finishes, then turns back, saying, "Falconi? I didn't do him, though I ain't sorry to see the little rat gone. Ever wonder why he didn't go up the river? Squealed to the feds."

"I'm not selling you out to Carlos, either. If I wanted you dead, I'd send some boys with choppers to your home. Not waste my time with some kinda fuckin' game. And am I going to come after you once this is done? Give me a reason and I will. Otherwise, I don't give a crap about you. That's all the 'insurance' you're gonna get."

Looking back down at Rhiannon, Cimino asks Blaine, "Are you going to invite up your friend? Or is she supposed to be your backup? You know, in case you want to bust me?"

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Blaine tries to keep his look stony as he notices Rhiannon's entrance.

"Yeah, I knew Falconi was a snitch, I helped work the confession outta him. Who did him then, 8-Ball?"

"Don't worry about the skirt there Angel, keep your eyes on my pretty mug if you know what's good for you. And I don't need back up to bust you, just like I didn't need it to bust 8-Ball. I got your number any time the mood hits me."

"OK Angel, people are startin' ta get antsy. Let's say we move things along. I can see your angle in all this, and I gotta admit, it's in my best interests to put a leash on 8-Ball. Has he come after you yet? Or is he mainly settlin' old scores first? Gimme somethin' to work with here, I'll do what your choir boys here can't."

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Rhiannon takes herself up to the balcony, ignoring the stares of the others with practiced ease. She inclines her head to Blaine and then to Angelo, giving the latter a dazzling smile.

"Pardon me for inviting myself," she says crisply, her enunciation and English accent precise and obviously educated, "but I am Rhiannon Lewis, a colleague of Mister McCallister's. I took it upon myself to meet you, Mister Cimino, having never encountered one of your kind before and having a certain scholarly and professional curiosity."

She gives the Mafia man another smile. "My experience is more with the Chinese side of things, I must admit. I must say, it is a pleasure to meet you."

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Janos folds his paper and takes out his pocket watch. Looking at the time, he pockets the watch and sticks the paper under his arm. Janos heads around the balcony with a practiced arrogant air. As he passes a Great War veteran down on his luck with a duffle and cardboard suitcase set beside him on the bench. The man looks broken down and cast aside. Janos seems to notice him, stops, pulls out his wallet, and offers the man some bills.

The veteran seems rather surprised, but takes the bills. Janos moves beside him and puts his foot up on the man's bench, testing the lacings on his shoe. With his back to the gathering, Janos tells Jozef about the newcomers that came in with Rhiannon, finishes checking his laces and continues on his way.

Approaching the gathering on the balcony, his gaze passes over the goons and settles on Rhiannon. He gives her a smile and tips his fedora.

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Blaine has a very hard time hiding his shock and consternation at Rhiannon's bold approach of one of the East Coast's most notorious mobsters.

"Girl, what are you doing?" he mumbles as he adjusts his collar. "No no, don't tell him your name for crissakes!" the last is literally stifled by his own fist as he practically shoves it into his mouth to make sure no one else understands what he's saying.

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"Who d'ya think took care of Falconi? Punk nailed Carlos to the wall and walked away. You're the P.I. - need any more clues?"

The Angel glances over his shoulder as Rhiannon approaches from below. Luca watches her carefully as she climbs the stairs, splitting his attention between her and the rest of the room. When she reaches the group, he says nothing - just eyes her speculatively and lets her pass by. Cassidy remains standing solidly beside Cimino, now splitting his attention between Blaine and Rhiannon.

Cimino doesn't bother to hide his disbelief at the manner of Rhiannon's introduction, and he clearly doesn't miss Blaine's consternation. Halfway through, he breaks into a grin, laughing, "'One of my kind,' is it? I like this one, shamus."

His laughter falls apart into hacking coughs, which occupy his for a few moments. Recovering, he drops his cigarette and stubs it out with a patent leather-clad toe.

"Chinks, eh? I think I've heard this joke before. Some friends up in New York mentioned a little while back about a couple of tong girls heading down inta my territory - said one of them was white. Ain't that interesting ... maybe the dick here has something of a double standard. Can't say I'm all that surprised."

The Angel coughs more quietly, clearing his throat while checking his bodyguards. He is turning back to Blaine as Janos comes up behind him. As Janos tips his hat to Rhiannon, Luca steps in his way - the little Italian man palming his pistol as he tells Janos: "Hey, pally. Sorry to disappoint, but the doors close at the beginning of the show. Why don't you just step back nice'n easy?"

Ignoring the confrontation between Luca and Janos, the Angel turns back to Blaine, saying, "But alright. Business. Carlos hasn't hit me yet, but that's just because I haven't given him the chance. I've made damn sure to keep anyone with loyalty issues out of headquarters, and he doesn't have enough men to try a raid. Instead, he's cleaning up his loose ends while he waits for a chance."

"The boy's gone and pulled together the guys still loyal to him with a bunch of hired guns. They're not doing the hits, though - he brought down a professional from Chicago. He's is holed up with his boys down by the stockyards while this guy works his way down Carlos' kill list."

"You want Carlos, you'll check the old Stadler meat packing plant. He has at least a dozen boys in there, though that could go as high as double. Might want to take a few friends, shamus, unless you're real sure of yourself."

Across the lobby from the conversation, Jameson begins to notice a number of men gathering on the floor below. Individually, they are largely unremarkable - a general assortment of businessmen and workers hanging around in the lobby. However, many of them have arrived just over the last minute or so, and none of them appear to be doing more than stand around.

Jameson could be mistaken, but he's inclined to read this as an ambush in the brewing. Depending on how many of the recent arrivals are normal passengers, there could be between five and ten men waiting in the lobby. Some of them are definitely packing heat, and some are carrying bags or cases that could be transporting more serious hardware (or a change of clothes - there's no way to know).

Casting another glance back at his boys, Cimino hesitates for a moment, then continues, saying: "And here's a freebie. You bring down Carlos and I'll be sitting pretty, but this gun from Chicago was paid cash on the barrel. Even if Carlos goes, he'll probably keep going down his list. Work ethic - you understand."

"I'm not one of Carlos' old grudges, so that's no skin off my nose. You, on the other hand ... well, you might want to be watching your back for a while, won't you?"

"Still, that ain't the best part. See, Carlos had outside help getting out of the lockup, and you know that didn't come from any of my boys. Really, I'm not sure who Carlos is shacking up with these days - not someone local, I do know. Whoever, he really wants your boss dead."

"I tell you this because Mr. King and I have an agreement - I don't mess with him, he don't mess with me. Carlos is about to mess that up, and I have better things to do than play politics with King Industrial Steel. That was the price, you see. Carlos got the cash and hired guns he needed to break out in return for promising to fit Anthony King for a coffin."

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"Hey, pally. Sorry to disappoint, but the doors close at the beginning of the show. Why don't you just step back nice'n easy?"

Janos does not attempt to appear afraid of the little Italian, but he does indicate his understanding and replies in heavily German-accented English,

"Ja, I go around the other way, yes. Bitte."

Janos backs away, hands open and extended out from his sides.

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addendum, simultaneous with Cimino revealing Crazy 8's location

Luca sighs theatrically and replies, saying, "It's really sad how many people think they can pull a scam these days. Stick around, kraut. You ain't doing a great job of hiding your relationship with these jokers [jerks head toward Blaine and Rhiannon]. Just stay back enough that I don't get nervous, unnerstand? Any more of you hiding in the woodwork?"

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If Janos is hurt that he has been 'found out', he fails to show it. Instead, he smiles politely to Luca and nods.

In near-perfect english, Janos continues,

"Eh, I can see how developing a suspicious nature would have come in handy in your line of work."

As he gets ready to reach into his coat pocket, he stops himself.

"Mind if I smoke Mr ...?"

{{Alternative situations in the War Room}}

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Up on the balcony Jameson is watching the situation below unfold and geting worried. It seems to him that there is the potential for an ambush in the works but aside from Dr Mystery and himself Blaine is fresh out of surprise backup.

Jameson unbuttons is coat and walks around the balcony to get a better angle on this new group. As he moves position he attempts to get the attention of either Janos or Rhiannon (since he can't see Dr Mystery he doesn't try) so that he may signal them about the newcomers.

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Luca eyes Janos, saying, "It's a free country, so long as you don't get any unhealthy ideas. Then, it could get very expensive. And it's just Luca. Maybe I got a mamma somewhere to think of, yeah?"

Nodding, Janos pulls out a cigarette case, keeping nice and slow. He palms two cigarettes and offers one to Luca, who declines. Replacing the second cigarette, Janos pats his pockets, then asks Luca for a light. Luca seems to suspect something is up, and reaches under his coat to toss Janos a lighter, saying warningly, "You remember what I said about expenses?"

Janos easily snatches the lighter out of the air, shrugging in response to Luca's question. Lighting up, he draws on the cigarette, then tosses the lighter back, saying quietly, "Some time after you and your Boss came in, a half dozen or so others arrived, but they have stayed below so far. I don't know who they are with."

As he speaks, Janos notices Jameson moving around the balcony, now standing over the street entrance. Rhiannon and Blaine have their backs to that side of the lobby and miss Jameson's movements, though John - lurking invisibly around the meeting - does not. Seeing that he has caught at least Janos' attention, Jameson gestures subtly towards the floor. At first, John and Janos do not catch Jameson's meeting, but everything quickly becomes apparent.

Following his own finger, Jameson sees one of the men below move, dropping a heavy suitcase on end and popping open the latches. With a flip of his wrist, the lid falls open, revealing gunmetal. The man makes a practiced movement, reaching down and hefting up a Thompson with a straight magazine already loaded.

Jameson utters a choked curse and drags out the Beginning, but a gunshot rings out even as he is bringing up his weapon. The Tommy gun drops from limp fingers and clatters against marble as its owner falls bonelessly - a bullet hole in his forehead, and the back of his head spread across the floor. A few steps away from the meeting stands Luca, a heavy, blocky pistol in hand and leveled at the collapsing gunman.

Luca makes another spasm of movement, drawing a second, smaller pistol and giving Janos a good look down its barrel. The two men meet gazes for half a second, then Luca refocuses on something past Janos' shoulder. Dismissing Janos, he pulls to the side and fires a couple rounds over Janos' shoulder, then ducks and says in a clear, tight voice: "Cass! Balcony!"

On the balcony across from the street entrance (and directly opposite Jameson), three men have burst through a set of glass doors and begun firing upon the meeting, though they dodged back temporarily in response to Luca's couple of wild shots in their direction. On the ground, guns are sprouting like mushrooms as a number of faux travelers whip out with pistols or haul out Tommy guns.

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"Ohhh son of a bitch!" growls Blaine as he sees the set up. How could he have not seen it! In a flash he's in motion, one hand pulling his gun from its holster aiming at any guns heading his way. He hurries up to Rhiannon and basically envelopes her with his bulk, grabbing her around the waist with his left hand and picking her up like a loaf of bread. He keeps as much of himself around her as possible as he bulldozes towards the nearest railing. Once there he brings both of them down with himself covering most of her.

"Down! Stay down!" he tells her as he starts looking for his first target.

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For just a milisecond, Janos thinks this might be it for him, but Luca doesn't fire at him and then he too is moving.

{In Szekley}"Jozef, keep them at the main doors."

With a quick shrug of his shoulders, the overcoat comes off and his sword and a pistol spring to his hands. Janos moves to position himself so that he and Luca are nearly back to back. While scanning area were Luca fired over his shoulder moments ago,

"Luca, rifleman and twin-pistols are mine. Any idea how we are getting out of here?"

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Not bothering to keep an eye on Janos, Luca drops into a crouch, saying, "I've got an old man to babysit, so I'll be leaving over the other guy's dead body."

A handful of steps away, the meeting breaks up up - Cassidy pulling the Angel down and away from the balcony, and Blaine sheltering Rhiannon with his own body. The air comes alive, humming with a sudden flurry of lead, shattering tile and pocking plaster in lieu of living targets. Blaine catches Rhiannon up about the waist and dives for cover, feeling at least one bullet clip his back - tearing through both his coat and his thinly armored clothing.

At first Blaine feels nothing in particular, but that gives way to the sharp stinging of a fresh wound. Shock could be blunting his judgment, but it doesn't feel too bad, relatively speaking. Rhiannon hears Blaine grunt in pain, then the two of them heavily hit the ground a little way from the railing.

[1L damage to Blaine]

On the balcony, above the main doors and in front of a broad, semicircular window done in long vertical panels of yellow glass, Jameson finishes bringing up the Beginning and snaps off two shots - pinning on of the men on the balcony across the lobby with a round each in his shoulder and chest. The gunman jerks backward, gun flying from his fingers as he reels back into the office block and hits the ground.

One of the other two gunmen begins to turn toward Jameson, only to be met with a more measured shot from the End - planting a bullet cleanly in his left eye and painting the wall behind him red. Another shot clips the third gunman, staggering him, but not dropping him.

Everyone, friend and foe, regains track of John as he pops out of nowhere, snapping his cane around behind the knee of the third gunman (already staggered from Jameson's shot). The gunman's feet go out from under him, and he topples backward with his arms splaying for balance and his gun flying off over the edge of the balcony. His back hitting the ground, he lies stunned on his back for a moment until John whips his cane around, up, and down - putting the man down for good.

Glancing to his side, John sees the first man hit by Jameson - hurt and down for the moment, but still alive. Away from any other combatants, Jozsef Szekely lowers his rifle for a moment, seeing the doors onto the balcony cleared, then shuffles back a bit to drop to one knee and take aim down toward the lobby floor.

Next to Janos, Luca rises - bringing the heavier of his two pistols up and beginning to fire down onto the floor of the lobby. Below, half a dozen gunman return fire, targeting Luca and everyone else they can see on the balcony. The many bystanders are panicking, turning the floor into a chaotic mess of running, screaming people.

The sound of individual gunshots is soon drowned in the sudden roar of a Tommy gun, controlled bursts saturating the region of the meeting. Luca ignores the gunfire, running laterally along the balcony railing and firing repeatedly into the crowd below.

With at least a small amount of gunfire drawn off by Luca (the most obvious target), Cassidy begins to hustle Cimino toward the stairs - both men crouched, with Cassidy's bulk interposed between Cimino and the rest of the room. By this point, all six gunmen are firing on the balcony. They keep moving as well, taking advantage of the panicked crowd for shelter and moving for the shelter of pillars and furniture.

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Blaine grits his teeth hard enough to leave teethmarks in steel as he picks out his target. The burning pain in his back focuses his sight as he draws a deadly bead on the man with the Tommy Gun. He wasn't likely the one that clipped him, but he was the biggest threat. He'd punch the other guy's ticket later. Making sure his gun isn't too close to Rhiannon's head he snaps off two shots at the guy with the burner.

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Janos mutters a curse, then sprints after Luca.

"Blaine, the Assassin is here! Now!!"

{In Szelkey} "Jozef, stick with Blaine and get out of here."

"Luca, the assassin that is after Blaine is here, now. He knows how you and your partner think. The rest of this is a distraction so he can get close to Blaine and your Boss! Two birds with one stone, as you Yanks say."

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Bullets rattle off of the railing's densely worked iron, occasionally getting through and caroming off in unpredictable directions as they ricochet off the quickly deforming metal. Rhiannon and Blaine crouch behind this partial shelter and fire back down into the crowd, picking their targets as they see them.

Rising partially for a clear shot at the man with the Tommy gun, Blaine snaps off a round and miraculously lands a perfect shot - the bullet entering above the gunman's ear, killing him instantly. The man's body crumbles, and his gun momentarily stitches the ceiling's skylight with bullets before his hand relaxes on the trigger. A shower of glass rains down on the crowd, and the chaos is suddenly spotlighted in brilliant noontime sunlight.

The gunmen are scattering, maintaining random bursts of gunfire as they run for better cover. Beside Blaine, Rhiannon peers through the gaps in the railing's scrollwork and fires at the nearest target. She hits, wounding the man in the meat between his hip and ribcage. Staggering, the man almost falls, clutching his side with his off hand as he randomly squeezes off a shot in the balcony's direction and works on limping toward the nearest good piece of cover.

However, he too falls - presenting an easy target to Luca as he runs along the edge of the balcony (Janos in hot pursuit). It isn't clear if Luca has heard Janos' shout, as he drops his (now empty) heavy pistol and switches his light pistol to his good hand. Reaching the corner of the balcony, he plants his free hand on the top of the railing and vaults it. Luca drops to the lobby floor lightly, hitting, rolling, then scrambling behind the cover of the nearest pillar.

Cassidy and the Angel have reached the staircase, with Cassidy preceding the old man through the doorway. On different sides of the balcony, John, Jameson, and Jozsef all drop behind the railing's limited cover, with Jameson narrowly dodging a wild burst aimed in his direction. On the floor, the crowd is nearly gone - the last of the panicked bystanders pouring out the exits as the remaining four gunmen duck behind some of the round pillars supporting the balcony.

All is quiet for a moment. The gunmen are taking advantage of their full cover to reload near-emptied weapons, and our heroes get a brief chance to adjust to the situation. Luca is out of sight (under cover behind a pillar) but is probably lurking around the stairwell, covering Cassidy and the Angel's descent.

Plaster crumbles quietly from the perforated walls, covering the edges of the floor with white flakes. In the center of the room, sunlight streams in from the shattered skylight, glinting off of the carpet of fragmented glass and highlighting the slow settling of dust from bullet-riddled marble and plaster.

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Ducked down behind the limited cover of the rail Jameson smiles the cold smile of a man ready to do some killing. Muttering to himself about quality versus quantity he prepares to make his move. Taking advantage of his opponents reload time Jameson backs away from the railing far enough to gain a short running start.

Jameson leaps at the rail and plants one foot onto it using the leverage to push himself over and out into the intersecting space. His guns at the ready he hits the floor of the lobby looking for targets to unleash vengeance upon.

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Blaine takes a quick look at Rhiannon, about to object, but sees the calm seriousness of her, the ease at which she takes charge. He frowns and takes another glance around. They had some cover, but were sitting ducks for when they reloaded and began their lead dance-tune again.

"Alright listen, we can't stay here anyway. I'm gonna get up and start blasting. Head to that pillar there and take your shot, stay low. When you're there gimme some cover. OK? King would have my ass if anything happened to you. On three. Ready? 1...2...3!"

Blaine pops up to a kneeling position, giving Rhiannon the space she needs to get clear, and begins spraying bullets into the gunmen's position, his finger on the trigger like a bullet producing machine.

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Janos drops heavily to the floor below, sending glass shards skittering across the floor as he catches himself and dodges behind a pillar. A couple pillars down, Luca glances over and raises an eyebrow, then sprints from his shelter to the open doorway of the stairwell. Janos can just see him as he ducks into the stairwell and camps out around the edge of the doorway.

A similar maneuver is taking place above, as Rhiannon rises and makes a break for better cover. As with Janos and Luca's movements, the remaining gunmen do not break cover to fire - instead remaining safely placed behind their pillars. Rhiannon actually settles just inside the doorway of the stairwell, finding the location to be the best cover around. Below, she can see Cassidy and the Angel reaching the bottom of the stairs and meeting up with Luca.

Across the balcony from this, Jozsef sighs and gets back to his feet. He has lost his targets again, since the gunmen have relocated to beneath his feet. Moving in a half crouch, he begins to circle as quickly as he can (given his age and a pronounced limp).

The relative calm is finally broken by Jameson, leaping off the balcony and out into the room. He hits the ground running, shining shards of glass leaping into the air with the force of his impact. He runs parallel to the line of pillars being used as cover by the gunmen, glass crunching and sliding underfoot as he steps under the opposite balcony and turns sharply - now running perpendicularly toward the men's line of pillars and using the pillars supporting the balcony as cover against the enemies guns.

John drops down just behind Jameson, trailing white smoke and scattering glass. The glass is enough to tip Jameson off to John's arrival, allowing Jameson to get a feel for the other man's invisible presence. It is likely, though, that nobody else has spotted John's movements, distracted as they would be by Jameson.

Jameson and John reach the corner of the lobby, coming around the last column to get a clear shot down the entire line of pillars covering the gunmen. They were waiting, of course, and they and Jameson open fire simultaneously, filling the gap between pillars and wall with hot lead. John is invisible, but still subject to stray bullets, so he drops and rolls out from under the balcony and into the lobby - rising to loop around and come at the enemy from the side.

Jameson keeps moving, dodging erratically while taking measured shots at his enemies. Bullets pluck at his long coat, but mercifully fail to strike home. One of the men gives him an angle and Jameson shifts his aim to take the opportunity, planting an easy shot in the man's chest. That man tumbles backward, insensate, as Jameson takes another shot at the gun hand of a second man - disarming the man and probably ruining his hand.

The men are reacting to Jameson's new angle, attempting to keep the pillars interposed between them and both Jameson and their other opponents. This is, naturally, impossible. Taking the opportunity, Blaine, Rhiannon, Luca, and Cassidy all open fire from various vantage points across the lobby - quickly joined by Jozsef, having circled around to a better angle. Taking advantage of this suppression, Janos breaks from cover and sprints toward the other side of the lobby.

Another of the gunmen falls, dropped by concentrated fire from across the lobby, and the remaining two (one of which is the man disarmed and injured by Jameson) attempt to cut and run - sprinting across the lobby toward the doors onto the street. John appears out of nowhere to intercept the one with a gun, bringing his cane up in a backhanded swing against the underside of the man's jaw.

John connects, his whip-like cane drawing blood across the other man's neck and face. The gunman staggers back, firing wildly at his attacker. He misses, and is bringing his gun around for a more aimed shot when he collapses backward, hamstringed by Janos' blade. Janos lets the man fall, then finishes him off with a quick downward thrust.

The one remaining gunman has struck out diagonally across the lobby, and is almost to the doors onto the street.

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Jameson spins and slams into a pillar with his shoulder to stop his lateral movement. He orients it the direction of the fleeing man and takes careful aim. With the last two shots in his revolvers he fires low aiming for the man's calves, hoping to disable him but leaving him alive for questioning.

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