The end of the matter.
Seeing that the paramedics have the situation in hand, Delta V grabs some medical supplies from them and races outside. There-- is-- a-- badly-- injured-- person-- outside-- who-- needs-- immediate-- attention," he says to the paramedics while gathering the medical supplies, careful to time his words so they can be understood at the speed he is moving at. Delta V heads straight towards Dumas, cursing himself that he left the man to fend with the two super powered threats outside. When he reaches Dumas, he brings all of his medical knowledge to bear in order to try to revive the man and stabilize him.
Delta V skids to a halt next to Dumas. One look is all it takes. Victor Dumas, the Specter, is quite dead. The trauma from having more than 1,000 pounds of enraged bear land on his chest probably killed him very close to instantly.
"Lower your weapons!"
It is Wiesel, with DePalo close behind. Wiesel is holding a handkerchief against his brow, trying to stop the flow of blood, blinking against the red liquid as it gets in his eye. He sees the looks from Avengers, from his men, from DePalo, and shrugs.
"Captain America has escaped," he says.
"What!?" DePalo bellows. "Secure the area, damn it! He can't be allowed to get out!"
Wiesel shakes his head, and flashes a grin at Aegis before turning to face DePalo with a decidedly more serious expression on his face. "You secure the area, Colonel. I'm not going to put my men in harm's way trying to apprehend a man who could overpower me and four guards while his hands were handcuffed behind his back. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have other business."
And with that, Wiesel marches past the speechless DePalo, gesturing for his guards to fall in line behind him.
In a short time, all that is left outside the UN are the assembled Avengers, DePalo, and a growing crowd of on-lookers. All this and, of course, the unconscious KGBeast.
Aegis waits to stand up until she can do so with a modicum of grace. Wiesel's grin she files away for later thought; she's glad to hear the Captain made it out, but there are too many unexplained undercurrents to the whole situation.
Those currents are very far from the forefront of her mind at the moment, however. Aegis walks over to where Delta V is kneeling and looks down unwillingly. Closes her eyes for a moment; despite her occasionally violent occupation, she's never seen anything quite this bad. She's glad that no one can see her expression right now as awareness of her own responsibility, of ultimate failure, knifes into her. Those few seconds had been too many, after all.
She wonders if that thought she'd had a moment ago was correct, if the SSS plan for the day had always been intended to end in this, if Dumas had been half correct after alla diversion with a goal none of them had suspected until too late. _Dammit. Should have had a plan for this, seen what they were capable of...._
Crossing herself reflexively as she takes a step back from the body, she clears her throat and asks Delta V, "Stark and Sallis all right?" _Please, tell me we got something right today._
Delta V suddenly realises that someone has asked him a question. "What? oh Stark and Sallis are okay...I can't believe we lost Dumas..." His voice trails off. Most of his medical career has been spent as a research scientist and teacher. He hasn't seen this much death and injury since the war.
Emerald looks from one of his companions to the others, then finally at the crowd gathering around the dead body of their companion. It seems he is on the verge of flying away, and then he seems to remember that he has no where to go. His shoulders slump as the depth of their failure takes hold of him. He reaches out one last time with his power to gather up Captain America's shield. Without a word to anyone he walks over to join Aegis and the others.
Ambulances arrive. Reporters swarm the area like flies on roadkill. Stark is rushed off, along with the critical but stable Sallis. Dumas's body is also taken away. The police say a representative will be in touch about final arrangements. The KGBeast is taken into custody by federal marshals. There are several hours of debriefing, first with the police, then with DePalo, then with Wiesel, then with DePalo and Wiesel. The police are professional, even respectful a bit. DePalo is livid. He makes threats; tempers flare. Aegis manages not to throw the colonel through a wall. Wiesel, alone, is conciliatory. The bluster the heroes first received from the man is gone, replaced by a quiet, thoughtful demeanor. He thanks all four Avengers for their assistance. He expresses what sounds like sincere regret that Dumas was murdered. When both Wiesel and DePalo go through the same battery of questions together, Wiesel is hostile, arrogant again. Obviously, it is DePalo that Wiesel cannot stand.
Press conferences are held by all of the authorities involved. Little new information is volunteered. The Soviet embassy releases a statement deploring the violence. A condemnation of Sergei Kravinoff, the KGBeast, is also made public. Kravinoff's diplomatic immunity is revoked; the Soviets approve of him standing trial in America for the death of Dumas. Ivan Kragoff, the Cosmonaut, regrets he was unable to stop his renegade colleague.
No mention is made of the Voice.
A city-wide manhunt commences for Captain America.
Public affairs reps for the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House busy themselves denying any knowledge of the Agent Orange program. All promise that a full investigation will be made, and that the guilty will be punished.
It is close to sundown by the time the Avengers are able to leave the UN. DePalo vows there will be further "meetings". Again, Aegis refrains from throwing the colonel through a wall. Ravdna does, however, ram Gugnir through the engine block of DePalo's limo. He and his agents vacate the area without comment. The four heroes depart together, heading for the Empire State Building. Memories of previous meetings lurk nearby.
As he soars up the side of the tall building Emerald seems to reach a decision. At the top of the large tower he pauses to look back at the New York City skyline. "We'll have to tell the others about Dumas," he says finally, mostly to himself. Anyone looking on can see that the young man is troubled.
"That's assuming we ever see them again," Aegis shrugs, leaning on the rail to look out at the city; she can see the others if she turns her head. "No easy way to track any of them down. I'm sure they'll see it on the news." Her mood is profoundly bleak, and she has no idea what she's going to do when she leaves this high vantage. Moments roll by, silent and infinitely heavy.
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© 2000 Mark L. Chance et al