All The Way To The Top


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Scene Title All the Way to the Top
Synopsis SCOUT takes the law into their own hands to root out a conspiracy in the local government.
Date February 14, 2020

When you’ve been arrested for the first time, it’s terrifying.

There’s a palpable sense of shame, fear, and frustration that heats the face. There’s a fluttering sense of panic in the middle of your chest. By the second time, some of the novelty has worn off but there’s still that sense of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear for your future, fear for stability. By the ninth or tenth time, it’s just another fucking chore.

Michael Green has been arrested sixteen times in his life.

Seated in the back of a prisoner transport truck, Green is accustomed to the sensation of cuffs around his wrists and ankles. The thin chain looping between them and going to the aluminum eyelet screwed into the floor prohibits motion in nostalgic ways. The uncomfortable cushion of the truck’s bench seat. The way the NYPD officer riding in the back with him looks like she wants to be anywhere else other than here. There’s even the subtle rattle of the sliding screen on the window to the driver’s partition of the truck. All familiar, all in their place.

“You seeing anybody?” Green asks over the noise of the bumpy road to the officer seated across from him. He doesn’t follow-up until she flings a disgusted look at him. “Because, I figure once I’m out I could use a little company. We could get some drinks and— ”

“Shut. The fuck up.”

“Had to shoot my shot.”


Underpass at Avenue H and Albany Ave
Sheepshead Bay
NYC Safe Zone

February 14th
4:36 am

There’s a stretch of the north side of Phoenix Heights that is remarkably desolate. Rows of unrepaired tenement buildings flank either side of an intersection where a derelict stretch of Avenue H and Albany Ave meet. The intersection serves as an overpass above train tracks for the old Amtrak route. No one comes through here, especially not in the wee hours before dawn in the middle of February. It’s bone-chillingly cold, enough so that thick plumes of steam are venting up from the sewer grates on the street up above. But down on the old rails below the overpass, there are exceptions to every rule.

When hitting Michael Green at the NYPD holding facility turned out to be too big of a risk, Elisabeth Harrison had called the original team to fall back to the Captain’s initial plan of hitting the prisoner transport truck while en-route early in the morning on the day of Short’s arrest.

“Hart spotted the truck.”

Detective Colette Demsky sits under that overpass, bundled up in a thick winter jacket with a forest green scarf wound tight around her throat. Two fingers press the earpiece of her headset against her right ear. “She just saw them turn on to East 43rd, they’ll be coming down the tracks any minute.”

To the small group of police officers going against official federal orders, exceptions are the rule.


Sheepshead Bay
NYC Safe Zone

February 14th
4:39 am

Green jostles forward suddenly as the ride takes a much bumpier turn. He glances to the back windows of the truck, but those narrow view ports to the outside don’t show anything but darkness. A sly smile starts to cross his face, an unearned confidence with it. “Did the boss send you?” He asks the female officer across from him. “Because this doesn’t feel like the way to the airport.” His smile grows, confident and self-assured. The officer checks her watch, then raps her knuckles on the window. When the driver slides them open and looks back over his shoulder at her, she just offers him a quick nod, and she shuts the window again.

“What ah,” Green’s eyes track to the closed window, then back to the female officer seated across from him, “the fuck’s going on?”


Underpass at Avenue H and Albany Ave
Sheepshead Bay
NYC Safe Zone

February 14th
4:42 am

Up ahead, Elisabeth can see headlights come on to the train tracks. Erin sees them too, pulling up the hood of her jacket and tucking her pistol into the back of her pants. She steps into the shadows of a concrete support pillar holding up the overpass, getting into place while pulling up her scarf over her mouth and nose like an old time western bandit about to hit a stagecoach. Colette sinks into the shadows as well on the opposite side of the underpass.

It’s almost time.

On the up side, at least this part of the operation isn't as much deja vu as it is old hat. The number of times Elisabeth's been part of this kind of shit just doesn't bear thinking about. And she hates the fucking cold with a passion — too many months freezing her ass off between timelines. She's dressed in thin layers like for the Arctic, her air tucked up into a dark-colored knit hat so it doesn't shine in the dark or anything. So that at least is not so bad. It's the nerves that have her shivering a little, the adrenaline kicking into gear as the report comes from Colette.

"Acknowledged." Jerking her chin toward Kaylee briefly, Liz moves to take up her position — the cops in the truck are trusted ones. But this is still several kinds of fucked up. "You all know the fallback plan if shit goes sideways." It was the one thing she added to Wilson's plan — covering their asses just in case, she made sure to lay out retreat angles and escape routes from the area for her team. The weapon at the front of her waist is hidden by the bottom of her jacket. The weight of the inner-pants holster is strangely comforting. She blows out a slow breath, waiting for the truck to hit the rendezvous stop.

Kaylee may regret not having on a thicker jacket, though she did throw on a thick gray hoodie under the brown leather jacket. Long blonde curls are mostly tucked up messily under a slouching beanie, with several ropes hanging loose having quickly escaped.

As others prepare for their sketchy operation, Kaylee pulls her own thick red scarf over the lower half of her face, watching the others. The telepath would have preferred not risking Colette’s career, but… she couldn't stop her either. Focusing on the approaching van, she feels a twinge of worry.

Everything felt like it was hinging on her. No pressure, Kaylee.

As soon as the van gets within range of Kaylee’s ability, she reaches out for the minds within, touching feather light along thoughts without focusing too hard. While Wilson and Modi trusted these officers, the telepath was having trouble with blind trust. Dirty cops were everywhere… even her and the SCOUT team members there.


Sheepshead Bay
NYC Safe Zone

February 14th
4:44 am

“Hey.” Green yanks at the chain looping his handcuffs to the floor. “Hey!” He shouts at the officer. “I’m fucking talking to you, where the fuck are we going?” The female police officer angles a look at Green, then squares her attention down between her feet at the floor. Her non-answer has him suddenly twisting in his seat.

“I have a quarter million stashed with Gilbert Tucker,” Green says hastily. “If this is Gideon, for the love of god think about yourself. I can pay you. I know I can pay you. Don’t— fucking turn me over to him. I’m fucking— hey! Are you fucking listening!” Green screams, yanking at his chains.


Underpass at Avenue H and Albany Ave
Sheepshead Bay
NYC Safe Zone

February 14th
4:45 am

Headlights close in along the train tracks, bobbing up and down as the police prisoner transport rumbles along the tie rods. The large truck passes right by Colette and Erin, coming to a stop not far from where Kaylee and Elisabeth are positioned, squarely under the overpass. The driver gets out, circling around to the back of the truck and opens the back door. He’s joined by a female police officer from inside.

Don’t fucking leave me here!” Green screams from inside the truck. “Please for the love of God, don’t do this!” The female officer shakes her head and walks down the tracks, back in the direction the truck had come from. At the same moment, Erin lunges out from under the bridge, leaps at the driver’s side door and phases through it, landing with a bounce in the driver’s seat just as planned to guard the truck.

Colette sweeps in along the side, taking a crouch beside the right rear wheel of the truck and closes her eyes, extending her sight up to the street level by bending the light around her in faintly visible, glimmering fibers. “We’re clear,” she calls to Kaylee and Elisabeth, while Green continues to shout for help inside the back of the truck. “Starting my timer,” Colette adds, hitting a button on her watch. “Ten minutes, starting…”


The silence field around the back of the truck is immediately in place, as soon as the guard is out. No one is going to hear that son of a bitch screaming. Elisabeth nods slightly to the two officers who climb out. "He'll still be in perfect shape when you get back." They have no intention of hurting him. Just getting the information they require in unorthodox ways. "Enjoy your coffee."

Blue eyes turn to Kaylee. The field is all hers while Elisabeth stretches out her senses to keep watch in an auditory fashion.

There is a small nod to Colette, before Kaylee - with a quick glance to Elisabeth - squares her shoulders and casually steps around the door of the truck. It’s been a decade or so since she saw Michael Green, she’s already been working to sink her mental fingers into his brain.

Stepping up into the truck, Kaylee pulls the scarf off her face. There is no way of knowing if he remembers her, she is older. “Hello, Michael,” she greets him, her voice almost sultry. “It’s been awhile.” The smile on the telepath’s lips is honestly dangerous. “We need to talk and there isn’t much time. So I hope you’ll co-operate.”

Glancing at the door out of the corner of her eye, Kaylee continues, cutting right to the chase. “I need to know what you have on the mayor and her connection to the Ghosts.” The warmth is gone from her eyes when she focuses on him again. “I’d rather you do this the easy way and just tell me, but either way. I’m leaving with it today.” She’d find what she wants and take the information either way. Him saying out loud was more for the others.

Eyes narrow at him, as Kaylee settles in to find what she wants, digging into the man’s memories, searching. “«Talk.»” Power laced words urge him to speak, demanding that he tell them about the Mayor and what he has on her; more for the benefit of her teammates than her.

Michael Green looks like he’s seen a ghost. His wide-eyed and wordless stare at Kaylee is accompanied by a white-knuckled clench of his hands into fists. He backs up against the wall of the truck, chains of his restraints rattling softly. “Mayor?” Green asks with a croak. “N-no you’ve— yeah. Yeah. The mayor. Yeah sure.” Sweat immediately begins beading on his brows, even as Kaylee sees his own recollection of events bubbling to the surface.

The warehouse is lit only by chemical lanterns, shedding a pale and colorless light across a yawning space occupied by so much darkness. Michael sits in a wheeled office chair, feet up on a stack of cardboard boxes, hands folded casually behind his head. There’s someone else there too, a tall and tanned man with buzzcut-short black hair and dark brown eyes.

“Mayor’s dirty,” Green stammers, staring at Kaylee unblinkingly. It’s as if he doesn’t even notice Elisabeth for all that he seems afraid of the telepath. For good reasons. He knows her.

“Twenty thousand now, another twenty thousand after performance.” Green says to the dark-haired man in the suit. “It’s easy money, you charge enough per head for the experience and it’ll pay for itself.”

Green’s nervous expression shifts into an awkward smile. “She bought from us, zeitgeist, you know. Designer drugs. Helped us push Refrain. I already told your bosses…” Green adds, swallowing noisily.

“What about the physical shipments?” The dark-haired man asks, stepping closer to Michael. “I have a source in Yamagato who will accept them, but I need a guarantee your fucking Triad friends aren’t going to fuck this up and get caught.”

“Nothing more to tell,” Green says with a nervous grimace.

Michael waves one hand in the air dismissively. “Jimmy,” his tone is patronizing, “we’ve been at this a long time. Trust me when I say we’ve got this down to an artform. Now,” he swings his feet off the stacked boxes, sitting forward and lacing his hands together between his knees, “why don’t you go and tell me why you came all the way out here, mm?

“I was just a middle-man,” Green says with a tightness in his voice, “I never actually talked to anyone.”

“You’re lying.”

The words are said with a soft tsk of disappointment. The fear shown towards her is not unfamiliar, normally Kaylee balks at it. Hates it, but at that moment she let it fuel her. Embracing that fear to get what she needed. Deep down a part of her was even pleased.

The face of the man is passed on to her sister-in-law, since Kaylee didn’t recognize it and it was an important clue. Something was bugging her though…

“You’re hiding something from me,” Kaylee says out loud with confidence. Reaching out, Kaylee makes like she’s going to touch his temple. It was only a visual for him, she was already threaded through his mind, taking in the truth. The years had taught her to be almost invisible. A thief in the night.

Yes, Jimmy. Why come all that way? What was the plan? Kaylee continues to follow that memory. The individual in Yamagato was confirmed at least. “You never directly dealt with her, Green, that means what you have is merely circumstantial at best. And, being a criminal means you’re not a fully credible witness.” Eyes narrow suspiciously like she’s considering something, “I don’t believe you were merely a middle man. You dealt with someone.”

Kaylee leans even closer and hisses out a soft, “What are you hiding in there? You know I’m going to find it, so might as well tell me.”

This is why Elisabeth stayed with Kaylee while the rest of the team had a little distance. Colette maybe aware of what Kaylee can do, but it's better for the telepath if no one else becomes aware of exactly how far that can go. She narrows her blue eyes on the prisoner, the face of the man flashed into her head bringing her eyes down. That's the mayor's assistant, she tells Kaylee. It lends credibility to Wilson's thought that Short is being framed, but it's not enough. She leaves Kaylee to continue working, keeping her attention on her comms and their surroundings. Holding a simple silence field around the truck is easy. Widening her 'net' to listen for oddities takes a lot more focus.

Green’s teeth clench together “Get— get out of my head, Thatcher.” His voice hitches in the back of his throat, head angles away from her but it doesn’t help. He knows exactly what she can do from their days running together with Adam. That knowledge has only given him one thing:


Reasons,” James says with a squint at Michael. “Stay the fuck out of it and don’t fall through. Because if you do, the whole fucking 81st brigade is suddenly going to get an anonymous tip about your whole fucking operation.”

Green sucks in a sharp breath. “You don’t— know what the fuck you’re doing.” His chest rises and falls sharply. “He’s here, Thatcher. He’s here in the fucking city. You do me in and he’ll come for you. He’ll come for your fucking kids. He’ll come for your fucking dog.

“If I could kill the Founders a second time, I would.” Adam admits with a razor sharp bitterness. “But this isn’t about them, it’s about the…” his upper lip curls into a resentful snarl, “it’s about the Dragon.” Though as much as he’d been resentful, there’s something else in Adam’s expression. It’s sadness, regret, and pain.

Kaylee’s own memory of the last time she saw Adam mixes with her drilling into Michael’s mind. He may not have training against telepaths, but he knows how to manipulate people, knows how to get under their skin and rattle them. It’s how he’s lived for so long in a world so dangerous without so much as a scrap of power of his own.

But Kaylee, not her anxieties, is stronger.

In a highrise condo, Michael is shown in by a bodyguard in a black suit. He carries a briefcase with him and is followed by the Triad telepath, Wong. “Jimmy, look at you all fancy and proper. Like a fucking pig in a suit.” Across the spacious foyer of the condo, Caroline Short’s assistant James Mullen fixes an unamused look at Green.

Fuck you,” Green strains, clenching his eyes shut, “fuck— fuck you get //out of my head!” He screams, but his voice doesn’t carry past the truck. Green is unaware of just how isolated he is in the moment, of just how helpless he is in this situation.

“Cut the shit, where’s the data?” James says, angling a look down to the briefcase Michael carries.

“Who says I’m going to hurt you?” Kaylee asks casually, a touch amused, as her hand finally clamps down on the side of his face, strengthening that mental bond in preparation of shifting his memories and covering tracks.

The only anxiety Kaylee has is for the time, they were running out. The rest of her was calm and relaxed, even as the pressure started to build behind her eyes. “You and him don’t scare me anymore, Michael, and you only think you know what I am capable of. I’m not that girl anymore.” She finally lets him feel her there, sliding through his mind silk on skin.

«What data?» Kaylee pushes a bit further down that line of memory, like a snake winding around its prey. «What was James Mullen after?»

“Almost have it,” Kaylee says out loud for Elisabeth’s sake.

Elisabeth's nod is slight, her gaze watchful of their surroundings. Low through her comm, she murmurs, "Sitrep? We're almost done here." She herself isn't hearing anything in the wider area she's listening to, but she can't push out too far and has no ability to narrow what she's listening for.

«Coast is still clear,» Erin calls from the front of the truck.

«Three minutes left,» Colette reminds, checking her watch. «I think I see the officers coming back around the corner.»

Inside the truck, Michael grits his teeth. “Stop,” he insists, swallowing audibly. “I said stop!

“The data’s here home-boy,” Michael says with a jerk of his thumb back to Wong. “I told you, we had a system.” James bristles, taking a step forward and look at Wong, then back to Michael without understanding. “Zeitgeist was a fucking sham,” he says with a laugh. “Smoke and mirrors, Jimmy.”

Stop!” Green hisses through his teeth, fingers clenched into the palms of his hands and eyes wrenched shut as he struggles against his restraints.

“What the fuck are you pulling, Green. We had a deal, Mr. Culbert paid you handsomely for access to— ”

Michael takes a step forward, pressing a fingertip to James’ mouth. “Shush,” he says, quickly retracting the finger. “Wong here is a fucking telepath. All this Zeitgeist shit is to draw in the crowds you wanted. We made it seem exclusive, then we proffered it off to the folks you wanted to target. Everything’s here.” Then, Michael raises the briefcase. “And here.”

Suddenly, everything makes sense to James. “Jesus Christ, you… they thought— ” he bursts out laughing. “That’s fucking brilliant. You get them high and just…”

Green waggles his fingers in the air, “Houdini, pal. Pay no attention to the elephant in the room, while Wong’s picking their proverbial pockets. You want dirt on all of Culbert’s competition? You got it. You want all the dirty secrets and skeletons in all the closets of the city’s elite?”

Michael offers out the briefcase. “Congratulations. Mr. Zhao sends his regards.”

“You son of a bitch!” Green hisses, and Kaylee has almost completely run out of time.

«One minute!»” Colette calls back in a sharp whisper over the comms.

“Got it,” Kaylee half shouts towards Liz, though her attention is fully on the man. The smile she gives Green is a little wicked, satisfied. A bit of the girl he knew was shining through. In fact, he doesn’t know it, but she’s been showing through the cracks a lot more lately. “As much as I have enjoyed our little reunion, Michael, it’s time to say goodbye. I really do hope you enjoy your time in jail and I, especially, hope I never see you again.”

They were hollow words really, this moment would be hidden, trapped behind a temporary block and a trigger forcing him to disrupt that train of thought and turn to another memory or simply skip over it. He had merely spent the journey pondering his choices in life. Kaylee couldn’t leave it at just that though, taking a moment to overlay ghost shadows from his memories in case any of it failed.

Layers of precautions to cover their tracks and easily unravelled if she needs to do it.

When Kaylee pulls away and wobbles her way out the back of the transport, Michael won’t be able to focus on anything, lost in thought to allow them to get away. It would break once Kaylee was out of range, which is all the needed.

Speaking of the telepath… Kaylee winces at the small stab of pain behind her eyes as she hops out of the truck with a crunch of gravel underfoot. “Done,” she says, scarf settled back into place around her face. Looking at Liz, the telepath. “Wilson’s right, I believe she’s being set up. I’ll show you in the car, cause we’re gonna need a warrant.”

"We're on our way out now," Elisabeth replies to Colette. She keeps the silence field in place around the truck for now and nods slightly, steadying Kaylee as the telepath shuts the door firmly. "Did you actually get enough for a warrant?" she asks. Because they have to backpedal through what they just collected in order to get that warrant. That was the main problem with hitting tonight.

“Out,” Erin says, opening the driver’s side door of the truck and touching boots down to the ground. Colette pushes out from the corner of the vehicle where she was crouched, enveloping Kaylee, Erin, and Elisabeth in a sphere of invisibility. Erin grabs a hold of the back of Colette’s vest, while Kaylee is able to synch into Colette’s mind and see through her photokinetic vision and Elisabeth might as well be a bat for all she navigates the dark.

The four depart the truck as the officers return, the pair of them bundled up against the cold just as much as they were when they arrived. The driver adjusts his balaclava, tugging at the mouth hole in frustration, then turns in the direction Elisabeth and the others may have gone. He doesn’t linger, pulling himself up into the truck and slamming the door shut. The female officer climbs into the back, closing the rear doors behind herself. Green is stammering, looking around and spitting man.

“My fucking lawyer is going to end you!” Green shouts at the female officer, who rolls her eyes and pulls off her balaclava, setting it in her lap. “You hear me? You think you can just— fucking— rip through my mind? Do you have any idea who I am!?” The truck’s engine turns over and the vehicle starts moving. It rumbles back up the train tracks, heading up onto the street it had originally come from.

“Don’t care,” the female officer says to Green with a roll of her eyes. “Go ahead, complain to your lawyer. You’re a piece of shit drug-pushing thug. I hope they flush you down a deep drain,” she says with a shake of her head. The truck takes another turn and Green exhales a frustrated growl through his teeth, slouching angrily back inside the truck.

For a while it’s quiet, up until the female officer in the back recognizes a landmark out the rear windows. She sits forward, then clicks her tongue and leans over to the back window and raps on it with her knuckles. “We missed the exit,” she says firmly, “we’re supposed to be going south, not west.”

The window slides open.

She’s staring down the barrel of a gun.

The report of the handgun in the back of the truck is deafening. The officer is shot point-blank in the face, brain and bone exploding against the wall. Green’s scream is a panicked one, his chain restraints jangling as he struggles to find somewhere to hide. The officer in the back with him slumps down onto the floor of the truck, dead.

Holy shit!” Green screams, his ears ringing. “Jesus— fucking Christ!” The truck slows down, pulls over to the side of the road in a desolate stretch of Ferrymen’s Bay, and comes to a stop. When he’s not immediately shot, Green exhales a ragged and nervous laugh, then tries to keep his shoes out of the growing pool of blood on the floor of the truck.

He hears the driver get out, leaving the door open. It isn’t until the rear door opens that Green squares his shoulders and confidently sits forward. “Fucking took you long enough. Why the fuck did you let them grab me? Jesus Christ, when Adam finds out about this he’s going to— ”

“Shut yer’ yap,” the masked officer says, climbing into the back of the truck. “Y’all think think this is a rescue, yer’ sorely mistaken.” Confidence bleeds away from Green like life from the dead officer. All the color drains out of his face, his eyes divert down to the gun, and he yelps when he feels it pressed under his chin.

Whatever you want,” Green whispers in a panic. “Whatever you want.

“Ain’t about what Ah’ want, kid.” The officer says with a press of the gun deeper against Green’s chin. “It’s about what Gideon wants.” When that name is invoked, Green thrashes like a wild animal,

“No!” Green screams, “No! No!” The officer lunges out, grabbing Green by the hair and stuffing the gun into his open mouth. Green’s screams are muffled in panic, teeth scrape over steel.

“Mister d’Sarthe sends his regards.”

A lone gunshot rings out in the night.


Fire crackles softly in a steel drum on the shores of the Hudson river. Planks of wood pulled from a dilapidated building flattened by Hurricane Sandy all those years ago swell with growing flame. An NYPD jacket is added to the barrel, a pair of gloves and a balaclava with it. The man standing by the fire pulls a cell phone out of his back pocket, dialing a number with one hand while he plucks a cigarette from his mouth with the other.

Someone picks up on the other end of the line.

“It’s done,” he says gruffly. “Yeah, left ‘em for th’ birds.” Taking a drag between his words, the man watches city lights ripple on the surface of the nearby water. “We might have a complication, though. Somebody got t’Green before me.”

He sighs, smoke issuing out of his nose. “SCOUT,” he explains. “A’ight, Ah’ll expect payment as usual.” The phone is closed without a goodbye and added to the burning barrel. He will stay there for a long while, watching everything burn, fire reflected in cold, blue eyes.

The fire burns because it doesn’t know how to do anything else.

Kain Zarek sympathizes with the fire.


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