Logs:Butterflies and Bombs

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Butterflies and Bombs

CW: Explosion/terrorist violence

Dramatis Personae

Alma, Chloe, Deanna, Jax, Lucien, Ryan, Steve, Zeyta


"I believe it's about to get a bit more extraordinary."


NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art

All the stars are out tonight. Not /overhead/, of course; it's still New York, and even on a crisp pleasant clear night like this you'll be lucky to see one or two in the /sky/.

But here at the Met, all the entertainment industry's best and brightest have turned out for one of New York's most exclusive parties. The grand entrances have long since been made, poses posed, plenty of pictures taken for all the magazines -- now the /actual/ party has been underway for some time. The food and drinks have been flowing liberally, Lady Gaga has already given one suitably over the top performance; there's plenty of speculation as to what kind of spectacle the next show of the evening might bring.

For now it's /just/ speculation, though.

Throughout the crowds of peacocking celebrities, the Gala staff has been keeping the party moving like clockwork. Also dressed to the nines -- though /far/ less ostentatiously, in neat shimmery black dresses or elegantly tailored suits, they glide through the room making sure dishes are whisked away before they've had a chance to be set down, trash vanishes without a trace, the drinks stay flowing, the paparazzi stay at bay.

One of the evening's security staff is a tall and muscular black woman in elegantly tailored suit, her dreadlocks tied neatly back with a shimmering ribbon. Deanna isn't trying to mingle; she has the /look/ of security staff, earpiece and rigid posture and alert eyes and all. She has, as some small concession to the fact it is a /party/, gotten herself a drink. Sparkling (non-alcoholic) cider. She's sipping it slowly. Watching the room from her current spot near a side entrance.

Jax does not really fit /in/ among this chic and moneyed set, but having turned up on the arm of one of the Gala's rockstar co-chairs tonight he is rubbing elbows with them all the same. At the moment his flamboyant date is nowhere to be found, though, Gala /duty/ having called him off elsewhere. In contrast to the bold and swishy outfit Ryan had been wearing Jax's (TOTALLY BUTCH) outfit looks fairly /un/ostentatious -- by the standards of the night. Going back to his roots, his glimmering black and orange tuxedo (such as it is) has had its pants tailored into overalls, the satin lining of its jacket hatched like flannel. The wide-brimmed hat perched on his head somewhat resembles straw -- if the straw had been spun out of pure gold, cool and metal. He has secured himself a flute of -- well, it's hard to say, really; whatever is in his glass is currently purple, smoking and bubbling over in a way that resembles a cartoon wizard potion far more than any real beverage. He doesn't seem to be paying the bizarre concoction much /mind/, talking animatedly to his /new/ companion who he has latched onto possibly for the reason of being one of the few people he actually /knows/ here besides Ryan. "... I mean for /most/ of his shows he uses like. A whole huge /team/ of actual special effects people. This is just -- well. A special occasion."

Steve is here, not as little Steve from Red Hook, not even as Captain Rogers of the Howling Commands, but Captain America -- the Star Spangled Man. His outfit isn't /quite/ his old USO costume, but aside from being tighter and slicker it looks quite close -- blue for the most part, with a bright white star on his chest and wide red and white vertical stripes below it. His boots and gauntlets are maroon, his shield look not a little like an interstate highway sign, blue across the top with three white stars and similarly red-white-striped below, and his helmet -- or whatever you choose to call his headgear -- blue to match his clothing, with stylized white wings on the side and a bold capital A on the forehead.

His drink is not quite as animated or colorful as Jax's -- just a tumbler of some golden liquid. If it or anything he imbibed earlier has any effect on him it certainly doesn't show. His smile is easy, his eyes bright with mirth. "Well, we're in for quite the unusual treat, then!" He glances toward the stage thoughtfully. "I really should make a point of seeing an /actual/ concert of his, too. Modern stage craft is quite amazing, whatever the mechanics, though I'd reckon your particular approach is one of a kind."

Lucien has been off, ensconced at a table with a number of other theatre performers. Approaching Steve for the first time tonight it may not be /immediately/ apparent that it is, in fact, his friend. His transformation has been quite thoroughly elegant, in elaborately styled white-blond wig and dramatic smokey makeup and a long deep green evening gown, a ruff of soft feathers curled around his shoulders and its train sweeping behind him, emerald-studded silver jewelry glittering at his neck and wrists. "Ryan's performances are always a treat." He drapes an arm over Jax's shoulders. "Though even moreso with your assistance. You do make a good team. Are you enjoying the party, Captain?"

Younger, lesser known of her own accord, yet a presence with the selfsame camp ostentation as all those gathered, Zeyta lurks in a solitary corner, austere and unbothered. Sharp eyes conduct surveillance behind the rhinestoned netting of a mesh veil dangled from the plumed fascinator affixed to her woven beehive updo, all the better to curtail the judgment she passes, reduced to the only visible affectation in the prim line of lips pressed together firm and unimpressed. Be-gloved fingers hold a flute of sparkling mineral water to her ear, the private symphony of carbonation drowning out the chatter of idle passersby as the train of her gown sways about her, the multi-tiered tulle confection a pastel glory of hues in roseate pink, canary yellow, and night-looming lavender. Swish-swish, she glides, pausing amidst the flash of cameras capturing candids unfazed, breaking facade only to tilt her chin forward in a clandestine nod here and there with a yielding recognition of a familiar face from her fellow elite, careful to maintain her interaction at just that -- more willing observer and spectacle is she.

"Oh my gosh, /you/ are a treat!" Jax's eyes light; he leans into Lucien's draping touch, a brighter aura scintillating the air /around/ him briefly. Very briefly. "This party is something /else/, though. I don't even know if I'm ready. I've done this for him before but this is like -- bigger. What if I screw it -- no no. I won't screw it up. He's gonna be /amazing/. I'm gonna help him look /amazing/." He takes a deep breath, bouncing slightly on his toes. "Steve's been /perfect/," he adds in earnest assurance to Lucien. "Like ten /hundred/ percent Old Timey. Was this considered super macho in your day?"

At the small stage that has been erected for the night's one-off performances, there's the beginnings of Commotion. Just the beginnings. The lights around the room dim. Where there had been shifting colors playing idly across the stage, abruptly everything goes very black. From somewhere ill-defined, the faint strains of violin can be heard even despite the general conversation bubbling around the room.

Steve smiles wider, and nods his at the approach of the elegant emerald drag queen. He /almost/ breaks character, though, when Lucien speaks. Almost. It is, perhaps, a credit to his training that he only skips a beat before settling on, "Gosh, I surely am!" He gestures expansively with his shield -- if it isn't the original prop, it's a very near facsimile. "If you told me a month ago this phantasmagoria could get any more amazing, well, I'm ashamed to say I'd have doubted you." That Zeyta /happens/ to pass within their field of vision right then only seems to underline his point. He doesn't /literally/ glow at Jax's praise, but he does square his shoulders, exaggerating his drill-ready posture. "So they tell me, but I like to think I'm just an ordinary man doing as he must in extraordinary circumstances." Perhaps to offset the earnest answer, he's laying on the north central accent so thick he sounds like a mid-century radio announcer. He turns when the lights dim, the subtle alarmed shift of his carriage perhaps not very noticeable for its brevity. Just as quickly, though the music cues him that the change is intended, and he relaxes. He leans toward Jax and pitches his voice low, though without dropping his affected speech, "I do believe you will."

Lucien covers a laugh with carefully manicured nails; catches Zeyta's eyes in passing and answers subtle-nod with a very small smile. "Do you know --" He gestures with an /expansive/ sweep of hand (the motion only accentuated by the overly long and ornately filigree'd cigarette holder between his fingers -- which, currently, holds a candy cigarette) toward the stage. "I believe it's about to get a bit more extraordinary." He releases Jax, the parting brush of his hand coming with just a light internal bolstering -- attention a bit more focused, a small boost of energy.

"OHgoshthat'sme." Jax straightens, and where the lights had shut out before now the blackness deepens, spreads, the entire stage area cloaked in an uncannily complete darkness. The small glow rising in its center stands out all the more -- first just a tiny pinprick, blossoming eventually into a translucent jewel-like chrysalis, fragile-looking and faintly glowing.

When it unfurls it bursts open into a veritable storm of butterflies, small and also not-quite-natural; iridescent or metallic or constructed entirely of glittering jewels, they scatter by the hundreds throughout the room, leaving behind in their center only Ryan.

Zeyta abandons her wall-adorning post to pierce through a throng of other Met Gala attendants, bringing her into skirting vicinity /around/ Lucien et al. For him, her smirk creeps a smidgen brighter, though the effect proves more predatory than inviting with the glimmer of her teeth. Then she continues, glass lifted higher to her mouth for a small sip, as the notes of music creep higher and lure her in to a wary boundary facing, but well enough /away/ from the stage. That she suddenly finds herself bedecked in gemstone-bright /butterflies/ elicits her full intrigue, eyes narrowing behind her veil.

Ryan, himself, is no longer in the elaborate butterfly-motif outfit he had been swanning about in earlier; the strange and prickly antennae'd and many-legged concoction that sprouts from him /now/ does not (even while glittering, even while glowing) shy away from being /monstrous/. The quiet violin music does not stay quiet for /long/. As the light flickers and changes behind him, illuminating a host of backup dancers to somewhat eerie effect, it soon brightens in to the more spirited tempo of his new single "New Skin".

A young woman stands just behind the curtains at stage left, dividing her attention between Ryan and the dark accesses to backstage. Like many of the actual Gala staff members, Alma is dressed down to avoid outshining the stars. Even so, the satin trim on her tuxedo has a subtle iridescent shimmer, and her dreadlocks have been arranged into a tight, intricate knotwork updo. The kippah perched atop this masterpiece of hair styling, though, bears the distinctly inelegant image of a bright yellow smiling emoji wearing sunglasses. When a lone glowing butterfly alights on her lapel she allows the barest of smiles, but keeps her vigil, natural and unnatural senses alike straining for any unusual movement.

Over by the wall, Deanna is taking another sip of her drink. She glances up and over toward the stage, with a small frown. For the briefest moment her eyes flick off towards an upper -- quiet, closed off, not currently part of the party -- level of the gallery.

/Just/ for a moment. In the next moment there's a rumble, a flash. With the sudden swell in energy in the music, the tumult of the lights, for an instant the flash of brightness and additional flickering almost seems like it could be part of the show.

Just for an instant. The ripple of heat, the scattering of debris that follows, the fire igniting where the collapsing stage and its performers had just been -- those things were /probably/ not so planned. Still, in the commotion, it takes a second or two for the screaming and panic to start.

Up in the currently closed section of museum? Chloe had until very recently been admiring a glimmering blue morpho butterfly that had flitted by and then vanished. Sent a quick text. Waited. She's dressed, like many of the wait staff here, in simple but elegant black. The bag beside her is rather too big to /quite/ go with the outfit, but she's making it work. At the ripple of explosion from below, /her/ eyes also immediately shift toward the side exit. Then, thoughtful, back to the erstwhile stage.

/Abruptly/ the lighting in the room shifts back to normal, the glowing and the insects and all of it vanishing in a snap. At the rippling blast, a sudden translucent shimmer appears between the stage and the bulk of the guests -- walling off some of the burning shrapnel that threatens to scatter into the crowd. Jax's hand has lifted toward the stage -- pressed against the thin shimmering wall that lingers just long enough to shield that first blast, then vanishes. He's paled, jaw set as he looks in the direction of what was the stage. Looks at the fire, at the people starting to panic. "-- Can you get them -- back." This is directed toward Steve -- he's pointing towards the exit where Deanna is standing. /He/, though, is already running towards the burning remnants of stage.

Several of the security people stationed to the performance area had been -- conveniently farther from the blast when it happened. But are moving closer to the wreckage as well. "You need to get back, sir," one of them -- tall, freckled, close-cropped red hair tells Jackson, firmly. Another, shorter and stockier with a thick scruff of beard, leans in to say something under his breath to the first, looking pointedly at Jax. The first man's hand drops straight to the gun at his side.

Steve's shell-shocked reflexes are finally correct, but his braced stance and raised shield -- having shifted to put himself in front of Jax -- turn out unnecessary all the same behind the force field. If he's perplexed by this, he does not pause to indulge it. His gaze when it meets Jax's is not calm, exactly, but very /focused/, and he gives a single curt nod before moving to shepherd those closest away from the burning remnants of the stage, physically turning several of them away from the horrifying spectacle. When this proves only dubiously effective, he hops up easily onto a nearby table and raises his voice, "Ladies and Gentlemen!" his voice is sonorous and commanding and maybe even loud enough to register to those who are partially deafened by the blast. "Please move toward the exits if you are able!" To those nearby whose attention he has attracted, he points at -- Deanna, basically -- with his shield arm, then jumps down from the table to continue ushering the crowd.

The music has definitely stopped. Ryan's violin is -- somewhere in this wreckage. In splinters, most likely. Burning. Later, he'll find it a terrible loss. At the moment he is half-buried amid scraps of stage that are still more than a little on fire. Between the choking dark smoke and the burning and the -- possible pieces of one of his backup dancers that he is struggling to retain consciousness among, he is Not Having a good time.

The cigarette drops from Lucien's cigarette holder. His eyes fix towards the stage, frozen for a long pause. Steve's voice gets him moving again -- sweeping a few others along with him on his way with a calming word here, a calming /touch/ there, the panicked partygoers seeming more biddable in his presence. /He/ stops by the door, though, pausing by Deanna. "Oh -- you are here." There is faint relief in his voice. "Ryan --"

"I know," Deanna replies, meeting Lucien's eyes for a moment. Offering him a small frown, a small nod. "I'm sorry. We'll do what we can."

A great deal of the shrapnel from the bomb itself veered uncannily away from their expected outward trajectory and pelted the scorched floor /beneath/ the detonation instead. It's not likely anyone noticed this in the moment other than Alma, who in one instant strained her power to the limit and didn't quite have the wherewithal to get herself clear of the collapsing floor. She does not land gracefully, her cry of pain lost in the general cacophony, but a few seconds later she is rising shakily, teeth gritted and eyes squinting against the smoke and heat. "Ryan!" she calls out, stumbling in more or less the right direction, though she's half blind and keeps having to detour around burning debris.

"There was -- a lot of people on that stage, they could be," Jax is beginning, but he stops, mouth clamping shut, at the Look exchanged between the men. At the man's hand dropping to his gun. The small narrowing of his eyes doesn't actually resolve into any overt flare of anger. Just a shake of his head, a very small bright light -- at the man's hip, the gun has severed itself in two as he continues forward. "Don't even try me." Ignoring the men, he continues forward towards the burning wreckage, eyes closed in the smoke and his other senses extending to feel out who or what he can among the rubble. "Ryan? Alma?"

"Thank you." Head bowing, Lucien gives the stage one more quick backwards glance before sweeping out the door to busy himself among the panicking people outside.

Alma turns at the sound of her name. "Jax!" she cries, cut short by a fit of coughing, though when it's done manages to gasps out. "I can't find them!"

The taller man reaches to draw his gun when Jax moves forward -- frowning when only /half/ of it comes out of the holster. "What the --"

The other grimaces, starting to reach for his own but then eying the crowd around them. He shakes his head, watching Jax head toward the chaos. "Whatever. Let the freak burn."

From beneath the debris there's a rumbling, a brief tremor that pushes with a whine through the smoldering refuse. On the plus side, it's fairly localized. On the down side, it's -- probably likely to destabilize the whole mess further.

Steve has leaped up onto another table and given a stunning encore performance of Captain America Leads The People To Safety. From this vantage point he looks back at the stage and sucks in a sharp breath when the security guard draws his gun -- or /tries/ to draw it. In the same breath he starts to reach for his shield -- then frowns down at it and instead takes a running start -- hardly even necessary -- to leap onto the next table. "Keep moving, folks!" he bellows again. "Bring a buddy with you, but keep moving toward the door!" /He/, however, is heading rapidly back toward the stage, shouting encouragement at stragglers and exhorting others to help them along.

"Here," Jax calls back -- then swivels, pivoting immediately toward that /sound/. There's a sudden fluctuation that runs through the entirety of the wreckage, hard to immediately /see/ or pinpoint as some of the detritus just -- shores itself /up/, settles more stably into place. A thin layer of forcefield has worked itself in between much of the more tremulous rubble, holding it carefully where it is in a complex network of webbing. "-- /Steve/." Despite the fact that it looks like he is doing Not Much, he's kind of pale, kind of drawn -- well. There /was/ just an explosion, plenty of smoke. "I need your muscles."