When last we met, our heroes got into a nasty situation at their regular group meeting, and Gareth and Drake started a major falling out.
The morning after the incident at the book store, Morgan meets two detectives, Det. Hernandez and Det. Paolo, at her apartment to discuss what happened. Detective Hernandez, a woman, leads most of the questioning, while Detective Paolo, a man dressed in a grey suit and trench coat, casually looks around the apartment. Morgan runs through the events, and gives what little description she can of the man who assaulted them (“Honestly, he looked kind of homeless”). Hernandez shows her a mug shot of someone who could conceivably be the guy, and tells her that the guy is a known quantity, with a history of mental illness and multiple arrests. Det. Paolo asks if he can use Morgan’s restroom, and disappears for the next several minutes.
Hernandez also asks Morgan about the two “heroes”, of which Morgan has no knowledge of, because she honestly wasn’t around for that part. But as they don’t use last names, Morgan can’t really help. Hernandez starts to pull out pictures, surveillance shots by the look of them, and asks if Morgan can ID any of them. One is a photo of Charles Drake III, Drake’s double, and Morgan says he looks familiar, possibly from the news. The next picture is of Meagan, though not a picture Morgan had seen, and she identifies her. The next pictures are of a handsome African-American man, Diggles, and an older woman with too much makeup. Morgan (who has seen the handsome man while out drinking with Drake) admits he looks familiar-ish, and outright denies knowing Diggles or the woman, who she has genuinely never seen. Then Hernandez offers another picture – this one is of Drake, as he looks currently. Again, Morgan says he looks familiar, but offers nothing more.
Paolo returns from the bathroom after ten minutes and no notable flushing. They thank her and leave. Detective Hernandez seems about to say something, but thinks better of it.
Earlier that morning, around 4:30, Gareth and Kali caught a cab to the closest E.R. They sit for about 90 minutes in one of the partitioned off “rooms”, even though Gareth insists to the triage nurse that Kali is in bad shape, but since she looks fine (thanks to Gareth’s revival) the nurse waves them away. They chat for a bit, Kali commenting that Gareth looked so different when he came into her apartment, sort of sparkly, and very much like he knows his shadow self to appear. He waffles, lies, brushes her off, saying that she’d taken a lot of shit, and besides of course he looked haggard, it had been a long night. She admits that harming herself has been a long time coming, and again stresses that she feels the company Gareth keeps is not good for him. Finally a doctor comes in, and once noting that Gareth is not family, asks him to leave. Before he goes, Gareth offers Kali assistance with anything, watching her apartment, feeding cats (she has none), and to please just call him. She smiles and thanks him, and after shuffling around the waiting room for a while, just in case, he makes his way back to his apartment to wait for Drake.
Drake, after leaving Gareth’s the night before, went to one of his local haunts to drink. While there, he’s called into the back room by his associate, Luthor (who happens to be the handsome man in one of the pictures Morgan was shown). Luthor is there with a Guido in an ill fitting suit, a man introduced as Tony. Tony launches into a thing, about how though NYC just had a mayoral election, people will still be looking for new blood, and Luthor wants to move up in the world, and how can they do that? He pulls out a copy of tomorrow’s paper, with the headline “MOTHER OF ALL STORMS HEADED FOR NEW YORK” and says that this is going to be bad. Like, worse than Hurricane Sandy bad, and how can they leverage that to their advantage? A storm like that will knock out power, make life real terrible in lots of projects, lots of people without homes. Luthor wants to start sowing seeds of discontent against the mayor among the projects. When Drake suggests a carefully aimed “car wreck” to knock out a main transformer to the lower half of Manhattan, Tony and Luthor are beside themselves. Drake’s the new campaign manger, they gloat, and Drake takes it all in stride. Tony promises that he’ll get everything – new bank accounts, whatever – set up since Drake’s “off the books”, if Drake will just manage things. After congratulating each other at their treachery, Drake leaves out the front.
Sitting in a corner booth is his on-again/off-again girlfriend – currently off - Angie (the older woman in another photo Morgan saw). She’s rough, chain smoking, and looks scared but relieved to see him. After learning about how his apartment got shot up, they decide to go to a cheap motel to spend the night. Drake ends up waking early, and heading back to Gareth’s to collect his things.
Gareth finally gets home around 8:30, and starts cleaning his apartment. He’s not at it very long when Drake walks in. Without hesitation, he lays into Drake, telling him he’s got five minutes, five fucking minutes, to get out you asshole. While packing, Drake explains himself; he’d apparently taken a little bit of piss-taking Kali’d dished out very personally, and thought she should get as good as she gave and then some. Gareth lambastes him for being such an egotistical twat, and Drake asks if Kali just couldn’t take it. Gareth says that she tried to kill herself, which Drake just brushes off. They both go silent, Gareth building to another outburst, while Drake loudly packs.
Just then, Morgan walks in, eager to share what went down with the police. Sensing the tension but deciding not to comment, Morgan goes into the story of her morning, especially the part about them having pictures of Drake and some other people. When she describes them, Drake confirms that the two people she didn’t know are associates of his, Luthor and Angie. Finally, Morgan acknowledges the tension, at which Drake replies that he’s leaving, which opens the dam for Gareth to lay on again. During his explanation to Morgan, Drake takes his leave, telling him he’ll be in touch in the new year. Gareth says he’s done with what their powers have done to them, but that he won’t bow out now with whatever insanity (wyrd or meteorological) is heading their way. Morgan offers him help, and he says he’ll also be in touch, just needs some time. She accepts this and goes.
On Christmas Eve, a winter superstorm brings New York City to a grinding halt. Much like when Hurricane Sandy hit the year prior, but worse – the storm brings ice, coastal parts of the city, warehouses, apartments, are washed away by the frigid storm surge. Property damage is in the billions. Power loss results in fatalities. The highs for the foreseeable future will only be a degree or two above freezing. With the exception of Drake, who has cash to burn and puts himself up in the Waldorf, the rest of the group are among the city’s disadvantaged poor who are without power or heat.
Goom, who lives subterranean, is not poorly off, and so goes out to help the homeless of the city, making blankets for them. He notes that there are significantly fewer people on the streets than he’s used to, realising that many of them likely have frozen to death. Goom also visits Gareth with a bundle of blankets, and when Gareth says that he might not see the group any time soon, Goom tells him to hand them out to whoever needs them. Gareth says he will, but until then, they’re staying right on his bed where they’ll be very useful indeed.
Among the insanity of the storm, Detective Hernandez manages to visit Morgan again, this time to inquire more about Meagan. Morgan tells the officer what she knows, which is admittedly not much.
Wally still manages to cook drugs for his landlord Hank, although with the storm the demand is low. He and his neighbour Alexis have a small Christmas together. She’s knit him a Christmas sweater, which he loves if only for it being an extra layer against the cold. Just before the storm hit, he’d bought her a copy of a Woody Allen movie, as she’d taken interest in a local film festival of his some weeks before.
Four days into the mayhem, Kali calls Gareth, saying that she’s really thinking of taking dire action against herself, because the hospital has electricity heat, and really, wouldn’t he do the same in her shoes? She sounds so much better, and is joking of course, and she promises that she’ll make something for Gareth in her art-therapy group at the hospital.
Drake spends his time with electricity, heat, and internet access to begin seeking out people to help with Luthor’s campaign.
Alia stays in her apartment, reading Harry Potter, and getting together with the other girls she works with to stay warm. A woman in her community (though not one of the working girls) approaches her to ask for her assistance in finding her son, Barron, who had gone missing just before the storm. Alia doesn’t know him, but says she’ll be on the lookout. One night she has a dream that she’s walking around a place that looks like a faire ground. There is snow melting on the ground and adverts everywhere advertising “The Hand-Made Man”. As she wanders, circling a large circus tent, the adverts change. “The Hand Made Man is Coming!” “The Hand-Made Man is Coming For You!” “The Hand-Made Man is Coming For All of You!” All of the posters have a similar design, which changes with the text – a spotlight with a girl’s silhouette, then the silhouette with a figure looming behind her, and finally the girl is replaced by the abductees’ group, on their backs and screaming with the Hand Made Man, a figure made of burlap with a doll’s head with one eye melted standing over them, staring out at Alia. She makes her way to the front of the faire and peers into the tent. It is pitch black, but she can hear the sound of hundreds of voices chanting. Alia says, “Fuck this,” and walks away. The dream fades.
On Christmas day, Alex takes his ticket and goes to Times Square for the Konstantyne extravaganza, figuring if nothing else, the teeming masses will be warm. Power has of course been restored to all of the main touristy parts of the city, and Times Square looks as it always does. All of the lights in the area are synchronized, and the crowd is chanting Konstantyne’s name. It is a bombastic show. A massive screen shows a helicopter shot overhead, and they hear the aircraft zooming in above them. Konstantyne is in the chopper, holding the camera on himself and the crowd, before affixing it to a helmet and leaping from the helicopter. He falls easily 500 feet, but never deploys a parachute, landing heavily on the stage with a burst of flames and a roar of guitars. As the crowd goes nuts, he goes into some spiel about the birth of Christ, there’s stigmata, there’s a big black cross, all in all a very impressive display of heretical douchery. He does a few tricks, some of which Alex recalls from his early days.
He finally starts to draw the show to a close, saying that he couldn’t be here without his wife and daughter. Alex recalls from his research that his wife, according to Wikipedia, is dead, and yet there she stands on stage, or at least a very convincing stand in, smiling robotically. And then there’s his daughter, right there, just a few hundred feet in front of him, looking for all the world as though she’d rather be anywhere else.
As the finale crests, a platform rises up from the stage with a shotgun on it. A chair is brought out. Konstantyne takes a seat, removing his right boot and setting the butt of the shotgun in it. He opens his mouth, swallowing the end of the gun, and proceeds to blow his head off.
The crowd goes fucking nuts, cheering and screaming as a chunky red spray rains down on the stage and Konstantyne’s body slumps forward. His wife is still up there smiling and waving, never flinching. His daughter, though, is covering her mouth, likely screaming, and crumpling to her knees. Alex tries to fight his way up to her as figures rush onto the stage, when the Jumbotron cuts off and the lights go down. Something is wrong.
Then the screaming starts. People realising that this is not an illusion. Panic sets in. Alex is about 90 feet out from the stage when the stampede begins.