A Different School of Thought


bryan_icon.gif elle_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title A Different School of Thought
Synopsis Bryan and Elle track down Huruma, an elusive serial killer that the Company has been tracking for several years.
Date September 17, 2008

Thomas Jefferson Trailer Farm

Before the bomb, this was Thomas Jefferson Park. Some of it still is, stretches of grass and trees that far fewer people visit than once did.

Some of it is not.

Faced with the sheer number of people displaced from their homes after the bomb, but too stubborn - or without the means - to move from Manhattan, this is one of the many places the city and various federal agencies have given over to shelter the refugees. As such, what was once meticulously maintained greensward has been turned into dirt road and trailer lots. The grass has been worn thin by the repetitive passing of hundreds of feet. Trailers sit all but side-by-side, with room only for a car and perhaps a few chairs to be parked in between. Younger children run around underfoot, seemingly undeterred from their games; older ones might slink behind the trailers with hungry eyes, resentful of those who have more, while the adults seem more heart-weary and worn-down than not. These are the people who have nowhere else to go; some have jobs, but many do not, surviving on as little as possible. Alcohol and drugs are common; so is suicide, for those who have passed from desperation into surrender.

Dusk in the heart of East Harlem's trailer district is usually a normal affair, complete with its fair share of those that crawl out of bed instead of into it for the night ahead. Recently, however, there have been less and less of these particular shady people going out in the middle of the night for whatever reason may have spurned them. Ask an adult why, and they might just pass you off. Ask a teenager, and there is something afoot. Ask a child, and they will happily say that there is a bogeyman taking them away.

That may very well be true, but as dusk creeps to a finish on the horizon it seems like any other night. Families gather inside of their homes, teenagers skirt curfew and skulk around the shadows for secret reasons, and those thugs and punks that so often come out to play don't hesitate to do so. What every person does, regardless, is avoid the portion of the trailer park where the trees and brush have grown more freely. Perhaps they have no reason to bother with it, or perhaps there is something either actively or subconsciously keeping them away. White, glowing lights from the edge of the park illuminate the trees down the dirty road that winds through, the farther point swallowed up by the dark trees as the sun dips below the skyscrapers and a familiar September chill settles onto the air.

Tonight there seems to be at least one handful of youthful figures that looks tempted by the dirt road; the trio hangs close to one of the white trailers near the outskirts of the lot, a plume of smoke curling from between some of them. Urban legends are the fodder of screamer horror films, are they not?

It wasn't too difficult for Bryan and Elle to get a hold of a picture of one of Huruma's victims and start showing it around New York City in search for the last place he was seen. As common as these sorts of disappearances are, it also isn't difficult for Bryan and Elle to play the parts of concerned friends rather than law enforcement. The advantage that the agents have is that they know what they're looking for.

They're canvas has directed them to this particularly squalid part of the city. The now-potent Bryan is dressed in a decent pair of jeans and a white long-sleeved tee under a brown leather jacket and with simple brown boots, thankfully, not too out of place here. He wears a cold, determined expression as he walks alongside Elle, and his eyes narrow as he spies the youths loitering near one of the trailers nearest them as they enter the area.

If they were not high as kites, those teenagers might be more inclined to see that someone has spotted them; unfortunately, nobody really notices now. The boys continue chattering in low, hushed voices, now and then posturing with squared shoulders and a puffed chest when it looks like one might have insinuated about another. Normal behavior. The smallest of the boys appears to be suddenly ruffled by something; he makes a colorful remark rather loudly before he turns to stalk down the dirt road towards the trees. His friends hesitate and stand back, watching as he leaves with two irate fists at his sides. Maybe out of something sensible or something out of fear, the dark-haired boy stops around halfway down the path. He then turns right around and rejoins his friends with a loud, obnoxious, crack-voiced "Shut up!" once they snigger.

Elle's eyes have been busy since Bryan and she entered this part of the city. She'd been taking her share of the 'asking around', though she hasn't been saying a lot to her partner aside from that - possibly out of a combination of concentration and a failure to work out interest. Dressed in the same clothes she'd been wearing when she went and visited Jessica - dark sweater, gray slacks, and thinly pointed heels, she's taken care to make sure her behavior isn't too obtrusive, either. Once the lone boy breaks away from his group of friends, she gently seeks to place a hand on Bryan's forearm. Just to make sure he's watching, like she is.

Oh, Bryan saw. Bryan saw. He nods to Elle, then looks to the group before he starts to wander down the dirt path where the boy had just gone, but unlike the inebriated youth, the undercover agent moves with the outer calm that comes with purpose. His hands in his pockets, he even starts to whistle an old jazz standard.
The boys just stare after Bryan when he wanders past, all of them pretty much giving him apprehensive looks from afar. Assuming Elle stays with him, she'll get the same, just through a trio of stoner smiles. The tallest lifts his hand to cup his mouth. "Leave us your valuables!" Right.

The chilly air doesn't seem to give off any sort of vibe, at least until the point where it brushes through the trees where they begin to meet the path. There, the nose-nipping air has something uneasy to it; whether it is simply the vibe of those creaking, dark-leaved trees at night, or something more than that is hard to discern. The further one gets, that sinking feeling that there is someone, or something watching, gets even greater.

And Elle stays right beside Bryan as he moves off down the past, her footsteps fluid (in heels!) with long practice. Inwardly, she is nothing but calmed confidence, though outwardly she appears just a bit more thoughtful as she moves. A smirk appears on her face as the order is issued, and she turns slightly to give a response - though that's before something darker than the threat of the boy pulls her attention in. She leaves her hands free, though her eyes are narrowed and more focused than ever.

After they've gone past the point where the boy had, Bryan narrows his eyes and licks his teeth, making his lips bulge out a bit. "Huruma?" he calls out, letting the lowness of his voice carry it rather than volume. "Come on out here, now. You don't want people to think you're scared of a little white girl, do you?"

True to form, nobody answers him, nor does the air shift. She's not coming out of her hiding place in the woods, chocolate sauce- you're going to have to do better than that. You have to go in, or threaten to leave empty-handed.

Excuse me but what. "Way to be /quiet/, Bryan," Elle snaps in a half-hiss. "I'm gonna get you for that later." And go in she does - plunge towards the woods, at any rate, one forearm held loosely at her side with its sleeve rolled up. Bryan'll just have to follow.
Bryan clears his throat a bit before he follows, a few steps behind and to the right of Elle. He takes his hands out of his pockets and rolls his shoulders before licking his teeth. But this time, he opens his mouth to do it.

Oh, fantastic- the little one is confident, and the tall one is a doormat. That sinking feeling never leaves. When the shadows of the trees ripple over the path on every side, they seem to carry with them the chilled wind and a half-hearted warning through each click of twigs and each leaf that spirals down after a breeze. Only when the start of the dirt road is at the edge of vision does something creep up the spine and tickle the hairs on the back of one's neck. Another puff of wind picks up, though this time the hiss of air between the leaves overhead comes with a similar sound. Another hiss, prolonged enough to seethe to a slow, haunting halt once the leaves have come to a standstill.

A sharp snapping of a branch echoes off to the right, followed by a rattle of twigs on bark.

As far as stealth goes, Elle sees little further point in pretending that their intentions are peaceful. If Huruma has any sense at all, she's probably already realized what they are coming for. A soundless stiffening of her fingertips reveals five, softly glowing points of light that is held up a little ways in front of her: a minute but obnoxiously blue point of light in darkness. The sound causes the glow cast by her electricity to swivel as well; though her gaze is as wary as anything, there is a small smile on it that does not quite reach her shadowed eyes.

"Come ouuut, baby. We don't want to /hurt/ you."

"Why to /not/ be bait, /Elle/," Bryan mutters as he comes up alongside Elle and turns to survey the foliage around them, if only not to leave their backs exposed. Focused once more, Bryan does his best to peer into the darkness.

"We just want to talk, Huruma. See, my friend here and I…well. We're connoisseurs of a sort. Interested in your technique." The stillness, the utter /creepiness/ is starting to get to him, but all he does is ball his fists in an effort to keep his nerve and stave off frustration.
You're going to share too many tricks if you keep it up. A woman has to have some mystery…

"Talk…?" A smooth, low-toned echo melts through the black, that voice just as creeping as the ripples of shadow all around. "…talk is cheap." The words hiss through a set of unseen teeth on an unseen face. "Speak, and do not waste m'time." Like velvet she talks, crooning, purring, choice words biting like something pleasantly acidic, though it all comes with the inflections of an accent that threatens to come forth were the woman speaking them not concentrating.

Though Elle could let her temporary source of light blossom a little brighter, she chooses to keep it fairly closely under wraps, as though keeping a sheet wrapped about it. "I can take care of myself, Bryan," she breathes almost as an afterthought, under an exhalation, not even looking at her partner. She raises her voice to a normal volume to call out her short reply. "We know what you can do, Huruma. Like we said - we're interested in your /technique/."

"We need some rabbits," Bryan mutters idly before he starts to scan the bottom of that line of foliage. Or something. Squirrels. That way we can swap." Elle's shown off her bit of pretty, but Bryan has yet to tilt his hand, even if the tiniest bit. He's calm, save for that nagging sense of time and the frustration it brings. "Think of us as…" and Bryan lets his voice trail off as he searches for the perfect wording. "…students of a different school of thought when it comes to ending lives."

"Oh, ohh, I think I know who you are…" Comes the silky reply through the air. "I am not an idiot." Do you feel that shiver again? The one tugging hard at your bones? Now you do. That ache of uneasiness, that dull feeling in the pit of the stomach. "…I know when I am being followed. When I am being…observed." Her hesitance is obvious, but there is no fear in her own voice, heavy and dripping.

"And, my boy, wha'do you know, abou'ending lives…? How do you figure tha'we are different?" The quick, nipping hush of wind comes with this question, and directly on its tail is one of the slowest and most malicious of laughs. The hidden face of amusement, of curled lips and narrowed eyes- it manifests in that laugh, drawling and teasing all the same.

"Oh, ma'am, I don't," Bryan is quick to answer, looking back toward that voice. He takes a breath to try and steady himself. It's his first bag and tag, and that's what he's chalking up the emotion to. If this were a clean job like the ones he /usually/ gets, he'd be just fine. He's sure of that. "I figure we're quite similar, in some ways. And I think everyone needs to focus on what we have in common, especially nowadays. Don't you?"

Elle the Executioner. Yeah, 'different school of thought' is a good way to put it. As far as prettiness goes, Elle hasn't shown off anything yet - the knowledge of which is still maintaining that pool of self-confidence inside her chest. She lets fear's source wash up against it, seemingly affecting her behavior little. Inwardly, she shudders dully. Her voice is still bright and feminine in tones against the darkness, and she pauses casually enough.

"Good. I can show you a bit about ending lives, Huruma. If it's what you want. We've been keeping tabs on you for quite a long time, even if /following/ is more recent."

The puff of air that sounds off is a scoff.

"Does she rrreeeaaally think she can use words to intimidate me?" This is for Bryan, who so far is getting the best of this trip. "I can feel that…lil'swash of arrogance, and it tastes bitter on m'mind…" Her tone is sour, and that washing of fear onto Elle's core starts to become more than just that.

It burns into her, suddenly and without penance, sending one overwhelming and jolting word through her body and mind. Fear, Fear, Fear. That is now the only thing that she will feel, that fear. The pool of confidence she has kept so far? It is dried as if it were rain falling to the surface of the sun.

They'd been warned about facing unknown qualities, as far as Huruma's ability went, but perhaps this isn't what she had had in mind. "Stop that!" Elle screams, her limbs lifted to new life in as terror floods through them. Rage and logic arise to battle that new sense of fear, and in the end, all three are blinded.

Self-defensively, stumbling with wildness, she lifts both hands before her face and releases a ZZZZRAK of voltage into the heart of the gloom. Like a lance of lightning it sears the clearing into brilliance, though everything untouched by its blue-hued path remains oddly shadowed. It hadn't been aimed, and so god only knows what it had hit. It is up in the air though doubtful that she hit Huruma, but the main hope here is that she hadn't accidentally set something ablaze.

With a comment like that, it doesn't take Bryan long to at least make an educated guess at what they're dealing with. /Well./ Knowing that that nagging feeling in his stomach isn't really his gives him a small boost of confidence, but he tries to retain some humility, given Huruma's comment and apparent attack on Elle. "We don't want this, ma'am," he calls out on the tail of the sound of cracking lightning. "I don't want it either. I just want us to talk, and I'd prefer if you didn't hurt the little one /too/ much." Not when the boss is her daddy.

There is quiet stillness for a minute or so. Just the chirp-chiree of crickets at night. Elle's fear subsides, her emotions melting back to what they were before that sudden attack.

"You are th'one skirting in your conversation, no'me…" The purring voice is back, glittered with amusement. "Besides th'usual, why th'talk? D'you wan'me for something…? Why should I talk t'you? You bore me, with th'same old words I always've expected."

Crackling leaves off to the left of the path. A snapping twig. "Be more interesting t'me, if you wan'me t'listen. Give m'somethin' t'chew on…"

"You first," Bryan says with a smirk, one fang gleaming in the dim light. He glances to Elle to make sure she's alright before he looks back to where he suspects the voice is in the shadows. "Literally. Preferably something alive." Rat. Squirrel. Bird. "But not a bug. I don't do bugs."

Raw anger filters in as fear drains away. Huruma will sense it coldly, the emotion stronger and barer than even her self-confidence had been. With lips parted slightly, her breathing shallow, Elle stares with slitted eyes at where she also guesses a face might be. "Call me 'little' again, Bryan, and it's you who'll be the bird."

Very well. Do you want something alive? You will get something alive.

Where neither of them are looking, Huruma finally shows her face. As subtle as a blink, a pair of moon-colored eyes glints open under a stretch of light filtering past the trees. It is followed by the rest of her face; dark, exotic, and with cheekbones seemingly as sharp as razors in the low light. Both eyelids are shaded, and her shadowed, curled lips are pursed in a silent coo of laughter. The outline of a tall, curved, black-clad figure can be made out, but only just.

Scratch. Scratch. Fear bubbles in both of them.

Something pulls over the dirty path, Huruma's shoulder rolling forward to slide something onto the road in front of Bryan. It's a man. Most of him. He is missing an entire arm, the stump on his left torso wrapped with red gauze and covered with a layer of dust. His mouth is taped shut, the silver wrapped around his head just below flared, bloody nostrils and a pained, gray-eyed look upwards. He's alive, sure. Barely. Alive enough.

"Bon appetit." Huruma parts her lips in a further curling smile, the white of her own few pointed teeth peeking out.

God. /God./ Fear /indeed./

Bryan needs little prompting from Huruma when he sees the terror and violence-stricken man. Yes, he saw her. He saw the one they came for, but this… this might be the test that brings her along without any fuss. Bryan struggles to focus on the task at hand all the same.

He's in so much pain. It's really a merciful thing to do. Yes. Taking a deep breath, Bryan curls his hands into fists once more and bends down. He closes his eyes before he darts at the man's neck, sinking his teeth into his skin to let that venomous saliva trickle down and into the vein below. Blood, of course, gushes up between the agent's mouth and the man's neck.

Thankfully, that only quickens the process. Once enough of the poison has gone in, it is only a matter of seconds before the man's heart stops and his chest and nostrils fall completely still.

Huruma watches like a statue, still as death in her posture, and those lidded, chalk-white eyes staring down the path.

"My, my. You are merciful, hmmmm…?" Her head shifts in the dark, eyes blinking open proper and mouth in a tight-lipped smirk when it is not speaking. "Perhaps…we are no'so different, afte'all." Huruma purrs, a spike of a chuckle cutting it short.

"Do you taste death, mamba?" Now she smiles, white teeth shimmering down at him from further along the pathway.

There is blood on Bryan's face when he rights himself, and true to form, the only part of him that has touched the body of this man is his mouth. He slowly turns his head to lock eyes with Huruma, and as he does so, he lifts a white handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his face methodically. "I taste the blood I destroy as it bubbles up before it stops flowing altogether. If /that/ is death, then yes. I taste it."

He gulps, not in an attempt to swallow, but an attempt to keep his calm. "Come with us, Huruma. We can learn about each other in a different place. A place safer for all of us. If the police found us all here, together…well, I'm sure you've heard what's been happening on the news lately." He smiles again, but there is a different quality to it now, and those fangs are streaked with blood.

"Well, I do—" Elle mutters shortly beneath her breath, wasting no time from her lightly distasteful-yet-curious watching of Bryan do his work. The outpouring of words from the dark-skinned man makes her glance slightly askance at him. Just slightly.

But the moment /she/ sees the glimmer of white teeth, the whites of eyes, she discharges a second KRAAAK from the seat of her palm right as Bryan smiles at Huruma. This shaft, unlike the previous one, is controlled and relaxed upon release. Oops! Sorry. It may very well have just had a zero-sum net effect on Bryan's eloquence.

The dark woman lifts her chin, the edges of her nose wrinkling just slightly upwards. "If I am there, it is no safe place." Her smile flickers back, just for a split second. It turns right into a sharp-toothed snarl as Elle moves to discharge the bolt.

She gets fear flung back at her for those few short moments, and Huruma even moves forward in lieu of back.

Huruma is not impervious by far, but her reaction to being for all practical purposes- tazered- is surprisingly resilient. The initial shock gets a loud snarl, Huruma's figure arching and contracting when the blue connects to flesh; in the next few seconds, it looks like the African woman might just be ready to lunge for the blonde girl. Looming forward out of the dark, every muscle in her is tensed from the shock. Huruma spits out a hissing stream of foreign words before her breath fails her and the veritable creature of a woman buckles to her knees, then to the dusty path while still letting out that snarl- and when she hits the dirt, a loud choking grunt ends it.

September 17th: Just Trust Me

Previously in this storyline…
Just Trust Me

Next in this storyline…
Murder is my Métier

September 18th: Murder is my Métier
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