A Mark

Participants:

carmichael_icon.gif julian_icon.gif

Scene Title A Mark
Synopsis …is made.
Date February 15, 2009

Harlem


Sleet comes down silvery and gusty, too light to patter heavy like rain but without that fairytale magic of snow, but with all the iciness. This East Harlem street is, for that reason, almost devoid of people save for those who need to be places, and the sky is quickly getting darker, almost enough to notice. Rundown stores going out and into business line this one anonymous lane of neighbourhood, a few cars parked, one with a senselessly broken window that hasn't moved from its spot in several days.

"Look, amigo, you lock the fuckin' door and what'm I supposed t'do, right? Crawl down a fuckin' drainpipe?"

A Turkish cafe is closing down for the day, windows closed and doors locking, a Latino emerging with a far paler, near-sickly Julian at his heels, the Irish-American's harsher way of speaking cutting over the other's apologies that come out only quasi-sincere. "Yeah, yeah," Julian mutters, stepping out onto the pavement and watching, sourly, as the man locks up the cafe completely. "Next time I'm just gonna crowbar the bloody register and you'll see how fuckin' funny it is." That's the dilemma of renting a room on top of a business with limited open hours - almost getting locked in. It's not convenient, but it's cheap and anonymous and hard to find, plenty space for the equipment necessary.

Show's over for today, and as the cafe manager waves off Julian's complaints and heads away, Julian lingers under the cover, in the hopes the sleet will dry up, a scarf wrapped tight around his throat and coat not quite heavy enough to protect him from the cold. He digs out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, hands bare and pale, fingertips delicately searching through them for a cancer stick, and a lighter sought for right after.

It truly is an abysmal evening. Even when the lighter is flicked open, the warm golden glow of flame just momentarially stealing away the coldness from around Julian's face, it's just not enough to keep the bitter and damp coldness out from his bones. When flame licks paper and tobacco, Julian breathes deep the acrid and heavy scent of a slow death. Lips curl around the filter, and the dry warmth soon rushes in to full his lungs with the plesant burning sensation he has become so accustomed to.

One sputtering car drives past, headlights on and shining against the slick street, its tire clunk-thunking over a loose manhole cover as it passes. It's hard to tell if that particular sound muffled the approach of the crackling wire that soon strings itself just over Julian's shoulder, but one minute it wasn't there, the next it is.

The sparking cable of a taser gun.

With the darts having missed him from the driving wind, Julain's eyes focus not on the deepening shadows between the tightly-packed buildings, but the movement in them. Men rising up from behind that unmoved car, dressed in black fatigues and vests, faces covered by matte black balaclava. Somewhere in the distance, the thumping chop of helicopter blades can be heard, just now beginning to come into the edge of perception.

Eyes dart around, more men coming out of another alleyway across the street, moving into the road with guns drawn, the driving sleet the only thing that saved Julian from a sputtering, electric end. Got to think fast.

He's had this dream before. The worst kind of nightmare. Of course it should just happen whenever the fuck it wants, right? That's the government for you. Gaze darts up towards the hazy clouded sky, fingers pinch back around his cigarette as he takes one last unhealthy drag, the glow of the cigarette flaring up—

The smartest thing you can do in this situation is kneel, and Julian, for a split second, can practically feel the concrete grazing knees through thick jeans as he does so. Lock your fingers behind your head and wait for the snap of metal cuffs, that way you don't get the shit tasered out of you, or shot into a million pieces. Of course, then comes the bitter taste of surrender.

— before the embering cigarette arcs through the air in a careless throw, a streak of light and smoke, and Julian is already running.

His back hunches, using the haphazard cover of another car parked between him and the approaching agents as booted feet slam against the concrete, scraping roughly as he sharply ducks into an alleyway, just next to Abrakebabra and an out-of-business boutique. Julian knows these streets well enough, and his fingers make claws to grip into the wire fence he encounters, yanking, pulling himself up and over, adrenaline somehow lending him that strength.

When he lands on the other side of the fence, two more crackling and snapping taser darts deflect off of the chain links, followed by the expended rifle being dropped to the alleyway with a loud, clatter. The black-clad soldiers reach up to their shoulder-mounted walkies, and Julain can hear the rasping voices even as he breaks away from the fence, running through an open parking lot full of used cars, head ducked down. «Target is fleeing through used car lot onto 123rd street.»

Skidding across slicked ice in the parking lot, Julian ducks down behind one of the cars, breath hot and steaming out from his lips as his chest rises and falls with each shuddering breath. Closer yet, the sound of spinning rotors signals the presence of a helicopter he can't quite see. Just the blackened silhouettes of buildings as the sky begins to grow darker from the approach of night.

One of the black-clad men begins climbing the fence, and assault rifle slung over his shoulder, while the man staying behind readies his rifle, staring through the open fence for signs of movement. Christ, where can he run?

He can hear it, the rattle of metal wire as the agent more calmly scales the fencing, Julian wincing at the sound of him landing on the other side. In the moment he had to breathe, Julian attempts to think. No cellphone on him, but he wouldn't want to contact and endanger anyone anyway. A wallet with fake ID and a few notes of cash from his stipends. No gun. No weapon.

Well… that's not entirely true.

His knees begin to ache a little from where he's crouched, back against the icy metal of the car. He doesn't dare peak at the man pursuing him, but he can guess he's just another black-clad balaclava wearing man with a taser gun and probably something a little more deadly. Julian's breathing comes out in quiet wisps of steam, another glance darted to the sky in the hopes that whatever birds eye they have up there doesn't see him, and slowly, as quietly as he can, he lays a hand against the cold pavement and lowers himself down a little more, to note where the man's feet are, where he is.

Then, he reaches out. If agents of the government don't have their fair share of battle scars, then the world is an unfair place. It's a gamble, but Julian tries it, anyway, attempts to reeeach with that aura of degeneration, to nudge at those old wounds, at current ailments, to bring them to life again. All at once.

Rushing over the fence, the masked officer leaves his rifle stowed at his back, and when he gets within proximity to Julian, there is a strange reaction in the air. At first it is Julian feeling a numbing sensation in his fingertips, a weak and prickling deadness that begins to spread up his arms and down his legs, a sluggish feeling like being slightly drunk. But the black-clad agent react in far more horrified form. He stops, stumbling forward before simply tipping head over heels to roll along the ground. There is a pained, howling sound that comes from him as he skids to a bloodied stop, crawling up on his knees. Both hands going to his knee, the masked Homeland Security agent rolls onto one side, hobbling up to his feet as a darkening spot at his shoulder begins to bleed freely, numerous bullet wounds suddenly opening all at once.

When the agent looks up, there is a disharmony inside of Julian's mind, a throbbing pulse of something in his head akin to being struck at the back of the neck by a blunt instrument. It isn't strong enough to knock him out, but it makes his vision blur, an ache throb behind his eyes and all of the feeling to be lost in his extremities. But it is brief, a quick wave of dizziness and threatened unconsciousness.

Dropping back down to one knee, sliding his shoulder against the parked car nearby, the agent is stopped dead in his tracks, blood flowing freely from old gunshot wounds to his leg, shoulder and abdomen. Overhead, the helicopter finally peeks into view, a jet black form painted against a backdrop of slate gray clouds being swallowed on the edges by night's cold hands. A single searchlight shines down on the used car lot, sweeping from Julian to the downed agent, then back again, kicking up the sleet and the wind, even as ziplines begin being thrown down from inside.

The first man down out of the helicopter spins on his line with a gurgling scream, clutching at his chest before crashing down to the ground, a bullet that punctured his lung six years ago suddenly having that old path torn open once more, filling his collapsing lung with vital fluids.

Julian jerks back against the car when the man falls to the ground, swearing. Where bones would fracture or simply rattle, they snap under Julian's influence upon the impact. Scarlet red gushing blood creates a fast puddle around the agent as fresh injuries grow worse and old injuries grow relentless, and he doesn't need Julian concentration to die. He'll die soon enough on his own.

Breathing harshly, panicky, Julian finds himself ducking under the car he'd been hidden against, crawling on his belly to the other side. They are clumsy, exaggerated movements, attempting to shake off the feeling the first man's affect has on him, the horizon of the oil-stained parking lot ground tipping back and forth as his heart thunders in his chest. It's reasonably impossible, though, unfeeling hands getting scratched and bruised on rough ground as he tries to drag himself across, tries to reach out—

One pale, bone white hand lashes out. Gloves. Agent wearing gloves, so much protective gear it's hard to find skin, but this close, the effects of Julian's ability are strong. But they could be much worse. Still half beneath the car, he clumsily goes to grip the man's ankle, shove fingers up the hem of his pant leg, a brief struggle between a dying man and one who can barely feel what he's doing, eyes unfocused. Kill him, take his weapon, and then…

What plan? Die fighting, maybe. Grim. Retreat, ideally. Better.

The man on his back on the ground struggles under the pain of broken bones, mouth yawned open into a piercing scream from too much pain to vocalize the need for help, outside of that primal cry that transcends language boundaries. As Julian goes for the closer, wounded agent, as his hand grasps the leg of the man that had chased him over the fence. Bone-white fingers tuck at pant-legs tucked into laced boots, trying to pull, scrape, yank, something. But even before there is skin contact, the man drops to the ground, but not in the same way the other had, this is something of a slide, one hand pressed to the surface of the car, slouching down from the smooth and sleet-wet metal, with his other hand moving fast to a sheathe on his vest — too fast—

The flicker of steel and the sudden placement of a razor-sharp edge across Julian's face is his reward for grasping at the agent's leg. Even as the helicopter circles overhead, the cold steel of a folding knife rips Julian's face open from lip to cheek, like a permanent half-smirk that spreads almost to his ear. Blood sprays along the side of the car from the wound, and the agent — still bleeding from re-opened gunshot wounds, spins the knife around and thrusts it through Julian's outstretched hand, lifting it up and pinning it to the underside of the car as the folding knife punches through the rusted steel undercarraige.

"Y'almost had me." Comes the rough voice from behind the mask, droplets of blood oozing out thorugh thick layers of black cloth, collecting inside the front of his vest — what doesn't soak in and bleed through the kevlar weave. With the knife pinned there, the agent exhales out a shuddering breath, and there is one more, strong telepathic wave of concussive force in Julian's mind. At this proximity, so close to the masked man, it is like being struck full force in the forehead with a cinder-block. A sudden blackening of vision, followed by spots of green and blue, dizziness, and then eventually the sinking feeling of unconsciousness.

The moment that concussive wave rolls out, the agent legs go of his knife, the last of his strength expended as his body slumps to one side and rolls onto his back, drooling a trail of blood as he goes. Over the radio at his shoulder, calls are already being shouted out, «Carmichael is down! Carmichael is down! Medic on scene!» The helicopter stays overhead, swirling spinning blades in the sleet, ice forsting its windows even as more — fresh — agents begin to descend down the black ziplines, boots on concrete, floodlights, and the crackling pop of radio static.

An incoherent scream as the blade slices through Julian's face, splitting skin and spraying blood, and another, more guttural, more primal cry as the blade pushes through his hand, tearing skin, breaking delicate bone. The telepathic, mental blow is almost unnecessary, but it's a nail in the coffin, and a blessed release from pain as it pushes him forcibly under consciousness. Sleet continues to descend, damp icy droplets peppering Julian's face, tilted to the side, the carving of the folded blade turned to leak blood onto pavement. In the same instance, his ability drops entirely, sickly-pale skin no longer deadly to touch in unconsciousness. But it's left its mark.

As has Carmichael.


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February 15th: He Says She's Confrontational
Previously in this storyline…
A Kind of Fear

Next in this storyline…
Chin Up, Soldier

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February 15th: One For The Money, Two For The Show
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