Among Us


caderina_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif squeaks5_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title Among Us
Synopsis An impromptu political rally staged outside Red Hook Market holds more than just Medina supporters among the crowd. A shocking event sends both supporters and opponents scattering.
Date October 28, 2020

Red Hook Market

In some ways, it'd be better if the cold snap from last month had persisted into October. But in its final days, the air is mild and fall-like rather than verging on winter's cold.

And the crowd gathered outside Red Hook Market in a lot adjacent to it is larger for it.

Signs are hoisted. Paraphernalia is worn. A man standing on a board balanced on a line of milkcrates near the middle of the lot has a megaphone. The people gathered have the earmarks of a rally, though there's nothing indicating particular formality about this surprise rush of demonstrators. There is, however, the smatterings of unity in their messaging.

Hats both blue and red sport the same message: Medina 2020.

"We owe it to each other to do better—"

A woman at the back of the crowd, one that spills into the street and clear to the sidewalk in front of the market directly, holds her sign that proclaims All abilities matter just a little higher, standing in a black winter jacket. She came prepared to stay up no matter the weather.

"Our country owes it to us to do better—"

A tall man standing in the middle of the crowd, made taller by the toddler sitting on his shoulders clutching a Medina 2020 banner, lifts one hand to his mouth to whistle sharply his agreement.

"To look out for everyone's safety. Everyone's rights! Not just that special one percent!"

One of the vendors to one of the stalls for Red Hook is blocked from making his way into the building by the demonstrators, a long folding table awkwardly held as he tries to inch his way through along with his assistant who carries heavy bags full of metal-wrought goods to sell. He shifts a side glance to the speaker at the dog-whistling in his message, jaw tight. The navy-sleeved, white-bodied shirt worn by the man holding the megaphone preaches Unity in a dark red.

"Frederick Medina is the candidate who will bring about that change— a President who will look out for all one hundred percent of America, and not just the one— No, excuse me…" The man shakes his head, and holding up his other hand, only his index-finger extended. He corrects himself disapprovingly, like the clarification is so minute it might not as well count: "The one. point. five."

Jeers resound from several in the crowd, which otherwise shifts in both murmur and discomfort from some others who have stopped to witness this voluntarily as much as those who were caught up in it unexpectedly.

There's not a cop in sight this midweek afternoon— no one to handle what'll soon turn into interrupted traffic the next time a bus comes by, or if tensions should build.

Isaac Faulkner had come out to Red Hook in the hopes of buying a few things — some groceries, a spare phone… maybe a mask for the upcoming party he's apparently been surprise invited to.

So of course this is the day that a Medina flash rally would happen. Of course. Faulkner sighs, pulling his hoodie a little tighter before glancing around, trying to see a path forward. The sad thing is, some of the words being spoken — we owe it to each other to do better, to look out for everyone's rights — are things Faulkner could agree with… if they weren't being used to mask rather less noble sentiments, as indicated by the specific call-out of the 1.5 percent.

Faulkner sighs, grimacing, and looks for an opening to inch his way forward, towards the doors and out of… this.

Elliot and Wright approach the market on foot, shoulder to shoulder. They walk quietly in the unseasonable weather, alternating heads tilt toward the sun with eyes closed. Cultivated calm wanes as they hear the speaker, revealing a tension they haven’t been able to shake since the festival. Elliot sighs heavily as Wright sweeps her hair back in frustrated silence. Wright, normally a burst of color, wears forgettable, dark clothing to match Elliot’s.

“Cottage?” he asks quietly. Wright’s head momentarily bobbles in consideration.

“Affix,” she replies. Elliot feels her test his knowledge of behavior analysis with a pull.

“Statuesque.” They join the crowd with an air of casual curiosity.

Things have been sore of late for Delilah; current events plus the newscycle tend to run one ragged when it comes to how much one should invest. Somehow she's suddenly gotten snagged up in the rabble outside of Red Hook, and it takes those last couple of spoons right out of her fist.

"Hey, here, let this guy through, will you?" She has otherwise distracted herself from the Soapbox by attempting to nudge people out of the way of the vendor trying their damndest to get inside. Likely that she even knows them, given the effort. "Respect the hustle, Christ." It makes it easier for Dee to not listen to the word vomit.

It won't stop her from periodically tossing a hard frown in that direction, though. For the moment… she has some self control. More than once upon a time.

A political rally wasn't what Jac Childs expected to find happening so close to the market when she volunteered to fetch some supplies needed at home. And yet that's exactly, and unfortunately, what she's found herself facing.

Blue eyes sweep left and right as the speaker’s words echo around her, both literally from the use of the megaphone and in the presence of those who've gathered. Jac has seen the news, caught enough of the political reports to know the talking points the candidates hold to. And even if she doesn't fully understand all of it, she knows this particular point could become dangerous. Her eyes fix on a sign in her search for a way through the crowd, then settle on the little kid holding it, brows knitting with worry of what it could mean.

A young blonde stands at the edge of the crowd, transfixed by the speaker calling for change. Caderina Garbo doesn’t really hear the words, just noise. It’s been like that since she’s been returned to a human form, rather than an arboresque one. Crowds and noise overwhelm her easily, but life has to go on, and she is alone in it. That means facing her fears in the name of progress. She’s promised to reward herself with something pretty from the market for it.

That’s if she remembers what she came here for at all.

It’s the sound of Delilah’s voice that brings her out of her woolgathering state, gasping quietly and standing up straighter. She’d been standing directly in Faulkner’s path. “Oh! I’m so sorry,” Caderina is quick to offer in apology. “I didn’t see you there.”

The table-toting vendor forces a tight smile when Delilah's efforts to help the crowd part go noticed. Normally, he has no trouble lifting his voice in a crowd, even one he's at odds with. But Indy's never felt quite so outnumbered as he does in the middle of this mess, carrying his SLC-E livelihood right through the middle of the kinds of people who'd love to push him to the curb.

"Thanks," he tells Delilah quietly. When he catches sight of a once-familiar face grown up several years, his mood brightens a hair.

"Hey, Squeaks, feel like making a quick buck?" he calls out to the young woman. The assistant lagging behind him is struggling to keep up while carrying both totes full of jewelry, even despite the sluggish pace.

Meanwhile the man with the megaphone continues shouting from his little platform, pacing back and forth across it while gesturing to accentuate his points. "You want to talk about job opportunities, there's no man who will help ensure every last able-bodied American is able to contribute to the reconstruction of this great country. Frederick Medina is a man who understands that all abilities matter, not just the ones we wake up with one morning."

"Hear hear," a man standing on Wright's left shouts, clapping loudly. Unlike many in the crowd who are visibly and vocally in agreement with the speaker, he wears nothing to identify him as part of the rabble aside from his own actions. He's dressed down in a grey hoodie and jeans, white reflective stripes on his sleeve catching the light when he claps.

"Hire people with skills, not abilities—" the man on the platform is shouting, but the flash of the reflective striping catches Elliot's visual attention. From where he stands, he can see that there's not just the out-and-proud in the crowd.

Dotted in with the rest, he sees people wearing masks. Halloween's soon, but Guy Fawkes is an interesting choice any day of the year. Others wear bandanas to mask the lower part of their face, or gaiters. One raises their fist in solidarity with the message being announced.

"You want a job done right, building done safely, you hire a crane operator, not a telekinetic. Instead of an electrokinetic, you hire an electrician to make sure everything is up to code. Don't play with fire by using a pyro, make sure you have a trained welder fixing the pieces of your buildings together." The man on the platform paces back, pointing out the crowd. "Candidates like Cedric Hesser want to put untested, volatile abilities to use to rebuild America, but we need solid foundations. We need solid leadership!"

Faulkner had been woolgathering a bit himself… or maybe woolgathering isn't the right word, going by the expression on his face. Sure enough, they're off into anti-Expressive rhetoric. It's… disappointing. Disgusting, even.

The blonde girl's comment pulls him back to reality. "No worries," he says quietly, offering a smile. "Just…" he trails off, shaking his head and looking towards the speaker. "Just wish they'd have planned this a little better and not blocked the market." In Faulkner's opinion, it'd have been just great if they'd chosen to hold this particular rally somewhere else; the Moon, for example, would have made a charming backdrop, and has the added bonus of having no atmosphere so he wouldn't have to hear this shit. He sighs and shakes his head, dismissing this entire mess… then he frowns, a question occurring to him. "You here to shop, too, or here for the rally?"

“Every able-bodied American,” Wright says. “Good to see them throwing in some classic ableism with the fascism. That’s always a good sign. Also suggesting that people with a COM endorsement can’t also be skilled tradespeople. Big fan.” There’s a flicker of worry from Elliot and Wright looks to him for direction.

“Daydream,” Elliot says. Wright doesn’t countersign but immediately relaxes, eyes momentarily losing focus. Elliot borrows some of her cognition to supplement his own, eyes flickering through the crowd to mark potential bad actors. It could be a coincidence; are they invested in the speech? Do they show any other indication of casual Halloween costuming? There could be a coordinated plan; do they look to one another in anticipation? Are they scanning the crowd for targets? They could be supporting or instigating; do they react to the rabble-rousing with enthused nods? Do they flinch, fists clenched?

“Shop,” Caderina is quick to confirm when Faulkner asks her. “I had no idea this was going on, or I’d have stayed home.” She shakes her head and scans the crowd with wide eyes, like she’s marveling at just how many people have gathered to listen and to prove an inconvenience to those just trying to go about their business at the Market.

She looks like she’s in danger of zoning out again, which might not be good with all the hustle and bustle still attempting to happen around them.

"What a pile of dogshit…" Delilah grouses, though she doesn't exactly present herself; she makes sure she gets people through who need to get through; she may have taken a sidebar to the council, but Delilah is still familiar and safe when it comes to it. She takes a small stock in the mish-mash of crowd gathered, distracted by the bits of similarities which pop out at her. Of course many of them don't want to be seen. Shame is powerful, even if they don't know it.

Otherwise, no reason to hide.

"Commercial licenses mean jack, then? And people who decided to put themselves all into a trade, because they could?" Delilah Trafford simply cannot help herself. She raises her voice, brows furrowed and hands at her sides.

"You wanna know who else is one-point-five percent? Indigenous Americans. Get all the way to two-to-five percent and you hit even more targeted minorities, genius. Medina uses everyone as a scapegoat in the aftermath of a civil fucking war, and he's got you fooled too. Smacks a lot like post-war Germany, don't you think?"

At this point, Delilah adds a few animated flings of her hands. "Golly-gee, let's blame someone else for the decimation of our country, huh? Sounds great to me! Surely there can't be shared responsibility, that's just nonsense!"

Squeaks is a less common moniker than it was a year ago, but the red headed teenager still answers to it. Her head turns to the owner of the voice and gives a wave. When ever has Jac turned down the opportunity to earn some quick cash? Especially when that offer will get her out of a mishmash of opinions that are too likely to boil over.

She weasels her way past shoulders and elbows, keeping her head down and hiding the cringe that comes after Delilah’s counterarguments. While she agrees with the woman, being in the middle of opposing forces to state as much isn't strategically good.

Jac takes one of the totes from Mister Indy’s assistant, nearly stumbling from the press of the crowd. “Are you at the normal stall today?” She asks, juggling the weight of the case and adjusting her grip with a glance over her shoulder.

Two of the masked individuals look to each other— but they're standing next to each other. They seem younger, possibly— one of them doesn't clear five and a half feet. Both are dressed in beaten coats, the shorter with a hoodie underneath the scant protection the thinned fabric the outer layer provides.

The taller looks back to the market entrance, elbows the shorter and taps a hand to their shoulder before pointing in a universal sign to get a look at this.

"And for that matter—" the man on the platform is shouting. "These skills, this rebuilding, it's not just in construction. We must strengthen our infrastructure in other ways. And to do that, who would you trust? A developer, or a technopath?"

Scattered calls of reply serve as the answer, maybe less intense than the speaker was hoping for. Meanwhile, the two young adults in masks begin to move through the crowd toward the market entrance.

And that's when Delilah's shouts cut through the noise very clearly for all to hear. Heads begin to turn. Then more.

The forward progression of Indy, Squeaks, and assistant come to a halt as the crowd shifts— and not out of the way. A woman turns her head to Delilah and then back to the vendor just trying to make it inside. "Hey, are you with her?" the woman asks.

Indy's hands tighten around the table he's holding, jaw tense. He glances back to Delilah. He's not the type to hold back, but they're in the middle of a lot going on here. His shoulders stiffen as he mulls the strength of his reply.

The man up on the podium catches the last of what Delilah says in particular, head tilting in curiosity. "You want to talk about shared responsibility, lady? Talk about treating everyone the same? If someone committed the sort of crimes the freedom fighters in the war did, they'd be held accountable for it. If someone did any number of the things that make up most manifestation accidents, they'd be held responsible." He looks back over the crowd, holding a fist in the air. "Equal treatment for all, vote Medina 2020!"

Just to the left of where Caderina and Isaac are standing, someone mutters "Jesus Christ…" before shaking their head and turning away from the demonstration. They can't handle this. A man in a work jacket calls out from the other end of the crowd, "Hey, fuck you!" and gets shoved back out of the perimeter for it.

"Right?" Isaac says, sotto voce, giving the girl a crooked smile of wry agreement.

Then someone goes off railing back against the speaker, and Isaac isn't quite able to hide a grimace. He looks around, sizing things up, and a few things come to him fairly quickly, then. First off, the girl in front of him isn't really doing that well, doesn't seem like; not if the glazed look in her eyes is any indication, anyway. Second, the crowd's starting to get a little feisty, and if she's not doing too well now, she probably won't do any better if things get really energetic.

This is a hassle. Probably wouldn't be too hard to just turn around and nope right out of Hatercon 2020, but…

But he's not quite big enough of a douchebag to turn his back on someone who looks like they're about to have a catatonic meltdown a few steps away from a panic attack in the middle of a hostile crowd, any more than he was enough of a douchebag to sit on his laurels in Montana and do nothing during his 'exile' there.

He considers the girl for a moment. "Are… are you alright?" Isaac asks her softly, doing his best to show concern. "You look like you're feeling a little overwhelmed." He hesitates for a moment. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Caderina’s eyes finally settle on a pair of masks in the crowd and she sucks in a breath, holds it in her chest, then turns sharply when she realizes Faulkner is talking to her again. “Yeah, sorry. It’s just… a lot.” She offers a quick smile. “I’m fine. Really.”

But things are beginning to escalate. Between what’s almost certainly one of those freedom fighters arguing back, and the shoving on the other end of the crowd… “I think we might be standing a little too close now,” Caderina opines.

Elliot cedes Wright’s mind back to its owner, eyes trained on the two Problems maneuvering toward the market entrance. “Cascade,” he says.

“Fisherman,” Wright replies.

“Dimmer.” As they move to intercept Problems 1 (taller) and 2 (shorter), Wright stays on the side of Elliot’s injured arm. When the Problems try to slip past them neither Elliot or Wright yield ground. Wright’s eyes stay with Problem 2, while Elliot makes eye contact through Problem 1’s mask. Elliot’s left hand comes up to indicate that any forward progress will be impeded.

“I think we can all agree that there’s been enough tragedy this week,” he says conversationally in a moment between megaphone blasts and jeers. He maintains an air of resignation, this is already over. He raises his hand further to point toward the perimeter of the crowd. Wright gives a passive shake of her head when Problem 2 hasn’t quite caught on yet, keeping them calmly but firmly boxed in.

“We’ll see you to the edge of the crowd so you can be on your way.” No visible weapons. No flinch, no bravado. The bearing of two people comfortable in a security role. Eye contact steady. “After you.”

"How many indiscriminate camps did you liberate? What about the prison island?" Delilah snipes back, cheeks and ears flushed in her heat. At least, she isn't shouting now.

"How many homes did you watch burn? Kids die? Humanis First and that fuck Mitchell were equal blight— he wasn't shy about conscripting people out of their lives and into a war nobody fucking wanted…"

"I've pulled innocent people from bloody nooses, so try again. Don't even get me started about the nukes— Maybe walk your little arse down to the library and pick up a history book about civil rights— " At this point, Delilah Trafford's virtual foaming at the mouth has drawn a couple of regulars from the market to her, and they visibly move to try and guide her away; at first it's a jerk from Delilah, but the pleading look on their faces has her sense come trickling back. Doesn't stop her last swiping, finger jabbed at the crowd and the stage.

"I see you." Thankfully, she's herded back to the perimeter of everything, which gives time to shed an apologetic exchange with the two shepherds.

“The reason the freedom fighters did what they did wasn't any different than the Colonists did to the Redcoats,” Jac mutters her own answers while the guy trying to play to the crowd continues. She's barely old enough to really remember the spark that finally ignited the war, and she knows that neither side is truly innocent. However, for as deep and varied as the gray area is, there are also those who are truly good and truly evil.

It's hard to believe anyone who would align with the former regime's ideology as anywhere in the gray or honestly looking for equality for everyone. She may be a teenager, less than a year from being old enough to vote, but she can find the fine threads of hypocrisy laced throughout Medina’s message. And these people are tangled up in them like flies in a spider’s web.

Impulsively, Jac sets the tote on the ground between Indy and his assistant and pulls herself up onto the base of a lamppost. It doesn't get her near as high as she'd hoped, but being head and shoulders over the crowd is better than nothing. “Believing that we are not equal because some people can do things others can't is a dangerous mindset to have,” she calls as she loops an arm around the pole to keep her perch. “If we were all equally good at everything, equally abled at everything, then we wouldn't need jewelers or painters or electricians and I really doubt we would have evolved out of the Stone Age. Medina’s message isn't going to lead us into prosperity,” she shifts her weight, eases from leaning on one side of the pole to the other.

“George Santayana said ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.” Pausing briefly, the girl looks around to gauge the crowd and let that thought sink in. Blue eyes flick from the familiar faces of the shop owner nearby to the less recognizable further away. “Medina’s platform is based on the same fear tactics the Mitchell administration used, and we all know how that ended.”

Jac glances toward Delilah again, then focuses her confrontation on the speaker instead of the crowd as a whole. “If you can't see that, you're dooming us to a fate worse than our already dystopian existence.”

There's a lot happening now. In response to Delilah's rousing, there's some jeers. The ignorant insult her accent of all things. Then when she's pulled back and Jac takes up the flag, there's attention pulled back further. The rabble become more riled, and at this point, the man with the megaphone simply lets it all play out. He wears a small, satisfied smile to see his party in the argument is the louder one.

"Are you serious? Colonists and redcoats? Don't compare apples and oranges here!"

Never mind they've engaged in the same themselves.

"All abilities matter, kid!"

Stopped by Elliot's hand, 'Problem 1' finally looks up to him. Stark blue eyes reflect surprise, maybe even indignation. Just who did this guy think he was? "I'm sorry, is there a problem?" the young man behind the mask scoffs.

Not unused to having to slip through crowds against a flow that's at best unwilling to his presence and at worst, actively against it, Problem 2 only seems to realize Wright's match of his movements is deliberate right then. "Wh—"

"Hey buddy," Problem 1 argues, gesturing to his side with the blade of his hand. "I got a right to be here same as everyone else. How about you move?" He seems particularly tense, and his friend catches on. His friend, in general, seems to be better at reading people, for better or worse.

"Ev, come on. We'll catch up with them later." The shorter looks to the taller, pressing hard with a patient but insistent, "Yeah?"

"No," 'Ev' scoffs. "Fuck these two, Rome, who the fuck do they think—?"

The rest of his question goes unsaid as a scream, feminine and piercing, rings clearly in the fall air over the sound of everything else. It brings both Problems' heads to turn, as do many others. There's a sudden ring made in the crowd as people recede back from a certain point.

A body, just the lower half of one, lies in the space left behind, part of a spinal column visible sticking from the pantlegs.

The woman continues to shriek hysterically as the top half of the man the rest of the body belongs to clings to her coat, glassy-eyed and confused. A question forms on his lips before his torso parts in a diagonally-split two. As his head hits the ground, it too parts in an uneven two, ripped apart jaggedly like a torn piece of paper.

Before, there was agitation in the crowd. Now pandemonium erupts as people flee the bizarre happening, and others still begin to point and fling accusation at each other as to the cause and perpetrator. There's little time for theories to be formed, as the phenomenon spreads to the woman, too. One of her arms, coat and all, splits from her body first, and then—

Whatever else happens can't be seen as she falls and those nearest to her all run out of fear they might be next.

Elliot only breaks eye contact with ‘Ev’ to witness the dismemberments. He immediately pulls out his phone, calling emergency services through the lock screen. “I need emergency response to Red Hook Market. Two civilian casualties at a political rally, possible 10-34 Echo. Wolfhound officers Dahaka and Maenad on site off duty.”

Wright puts her hand on the pistol under her jacket. She holds steady as the crowd surges, her eyes remaining fixed on the unfolding horror, searching for a possible cause. Elliot sets his right hand on her shoulder to keep his footing, awkward in the cast.

"No different from what you're doing." Duh. Jac swivels from one yelling voice to the next. "No one's saying you're wrong," she calls back, "except the megalomaniac you're considering voting for." She straightens, stretching for a better, higher vantage in the lamppost as she addresses the crowd. Her eyes catch on the disruption as she continues, "He's slinging half truths and playing on your fee—" The argument severs as the victim's top half slides free of his bottom half. Her mouth stays half open, brows knitting over blue eyes now filled with uncertainty, as she struggles to find comprehension in the brief interlude between shock and pandemonium.

A jostle from the crowd nearly steals her from her perch. But it also shakes her from her own state of disbelief. She tightens her grip around the pole, both arms clinging like a koala to a tree as she's bumped and jarred by the panicked masses. Her eyes lift from the victim to the widening ring. The very idea that an attack actually happened qualifies itself into recognition that course it would. It's got to be a plant.

Scanning the bodies trying to flee from the attack site, the teen searches for faces or anyone trying to leave the scene in a manner that doesn't fit the current climate. Anyone seeming to calm or a haste that doesn't seem driven by fear. A rough shoulder into her shin from one of those pushing on Indy knocks one foot and nearly the other from the base of the post. Jac has to scramble to get back into her position, but she sends a couple furious kicks and stomps at the jerk-face and their partner in criminal mischief. "Your table's a shield,'' she yells at the shopkeeper, as she chances to resume her scrutiny of the terrified rush.

Faulkner grimaces. "Maybe you're right," he says, nodding to the blonde. "Maybe I'll just go grab a coffee or something and hope this has died down by the time—"

Then the scream. Faulkner's head turns, and it's hard to see what just happened through the crowd, but… he sees enough. "Ohshit," he has time to say, in the instant before the crowd erupts into utter pandemonium. He doesn't have time for much else after that — the vast majority of his attention is fixed on keeping his feet under him and not getting bowled over by the stampeding crowd.

Delilah's apologies with her acquaintances doesn't last much longer than it takes for Jac to hop up and draw her attention. For all the hateful rhetoric being spewed, the teenager's actions bring a tentative smile; even if it doesn't get far, it's something she can be proud of out of a once too-shy girl.

Unfortunately, that comforted feeling of something wistful shreds away with the sound of a scream; blood curdling in more ways than one. Being far from the middle of things, Delilah can't see what's happening until the crowd's thinned and the sight hits everyone at once.

"Oh god, no no—" Words turn into a hasty string of murmurs, virtually breathless as the once angry redhead shoulders past some of the oncoming crowd trying to disperse; someone tries to grab at her wrist, but she slips away in time to see the second flicker of violence. Rather than scan the jostle of people around her, wide brown eyes turn up towards the stage, and the sky, her skin pale and heart in her ears.

Still pushing her way towards the growing clearing, Dee quickly realizes there's nothing she can do about the first victim— maybe the second? It will be the woman that she tries to get to, even if she is still unable to see the entire scene.

The shriek causes Caderina to jolt, jostling Faulkner’s shoulder. Being much shorter than he is, she can’t see over the tops of heads to see. “Oh god, what’s happened?” The eruption of the crowd, the sudden press of the edges of the circle to expand tells her enough.

But rather than run, she just shuts down, rooted to the spot, covering her ears and lowering her head, gasping for breath with her eyes shut. Willing everything to just be a bad dream that she’s about to wake up from.

The moment the chaos starts to break out and it's clear Elliot and Wright are no longer roadblocks to them, Problem 1 and 2 both bolt along with the crowd, heading to either side— but still ultimately curving in the direction of the entrance into the market building rather than follow the spreading flow of the crowd.

It brings them to the tree made up of Caderina and Faulkner soon enough. The shorter of the masked pair stop up at the sight of someone clammed up in the middle of all this moving. The fuck was she doing? "Hey," he calls out, segueing from his friend and causing him to follow after. "Hey."

He flips up his Guy Fawkes mask, becoming human in an instant. Roman furrows his brow at Caderina, flicking a look to Faulkner and then back to her. "Come on, you gotta move before one of these idiots runs over you." He seems uneasy, like he's not even sure why he stopped. He turns back to Faulkner, trying to get an idea of if he's with her, or just a generally nearby person. Evran, still in his mask, has been eyeing Faulkner the entire time with that same, less-passive question.

evran_icon.gif roman_icon.gif

"It'll be quieter inside," Roman suggests quickly, lifting a hand to begin tugging Caderina by her arm. Clearly she's not doing well with all the noise and chaos, and she won't find peace from that even if she does run with the crowd.

Elliot hears a reply from the operator after a brief pause, during which he can clearly hear a keyboard being worked away at. "Understood. There were already squadcars headed that way in response to the… rally. Adding an ambulance to the mix. If you can, stay on the line with me and continue to give me details." As an afterthought, the woman's voice cuts back in, "And Wolfhound? I've not exactly got a decoder over here for you guys. My name's Rosario. Can I get your first and last?"

She sounds calm, collected, like this isn't her first rodeo.

Nearby, Indy struggles to keep control of his table, beaten one way and then the other. Despite the insistence it's a shield, the flow of people disagree. Eventually, he drops it entirely, letting it land with a hard clatter. "Ariel," he calls out to his assistant. "Get behind me." She holds up her tote as though it were a threat, pulling it to herself and staying sandwiched between Indy and the lamppost Jac's taken residence on. Between the two of them, the young woman stays safe even if she's shaking, not understanding— not having seen what even happened to cause this.

The initial swell and scatter turns bearable before long, much more room now. A young woman who had been standing near the now-abandoned podium is on the ground with a bleeding knee and gritty palms while the former speaker stands over her, a hand on her shoulder as he tries to verify if she's okay, and then encourage her up and away before she can see what's happened only a handful of yards away from him.

By the time Delilah's close enough to see, the damage is already done— irreparably. The woman, having had fallen to the ground in horror, left the pieces of her to be less scattered than the man she was with. The split down her body is imperfect, starting at her forehead and veering slightly to the right until it reaches down to her hip. Three horizontal lines chunk out the rest of her fallen body.

An engagement ring gleams on the hand that came off first. It lays close to the man's torso, where he has a wedding band on his own hand.

The man who'd been up on the podium has lost all his swagger, all his smugness as he looks over to Delilah. That could have been him, he's clearly thinking.

So why wasn't it?

Nearby, police sirens begin to whine, headed this direction.


Just. Fuck.

Sure enough, Miss Social Butterfly has gone full catatonia. Isaac would love to get out of here, and it'd be easy for him to let himself get swept along with the crowd, away from… whatever the fuck is bisecting people over there. Unfortunately, he's still not quite enough of an asshole to do it. If he still had his ability, he might be able to do something, but as it is, all he can do is try to keep from getting run over.

Luckily the Fawkes Brothers are here to save the day; as much as their choice of masks might make him a little uneasy, they're right about one thing — they need to get out of here before some stampeding idiot runs over them. Faulkner nods to the unmasked one, putting an arm around the blonde's shoulders.

"We've got to get out of here," he says to her, in the most reassuring voice he can muster. "Just… breathe. Let's get inside before we get run over, and get away from this crowd. Okay?" he asks her gently, trying to encourage her enough to get her moving, at least.

Elliot looks over his shoulder to make sure he’s clear of the suspicious, masked Problems. He looks surprised when they stop to talk to someone who appears to be in distress. Huh, he thinks, Definitely thought they were headed for the vocal critic of Medina. How did I misread that? Fucking masks. To the dispatcher he says, “Officers Elliot Hitchens and Wright Tracy. I’ll stay on the line. I can hear the sirens incoming. The crowd is dispersing in a panic, watch out for runners.”

Wright continues scanning the crowd with growing frustration, drawing her pistol and keeping it tight and low. “Railcar,” she says.

“Capricorn,” Elliot replies, pulling the phone away from his face for a moment. They begin maneuvering through the press to the thinnest, and grisliest, area of the crowd. “Dispatch, it looks like these people were sawed apart. No clear indication of a perpetrator.”

Delilah has seen a lot in her short time on Earth, but even coming up on this has her stumbling into a halt and hand reaching to catch the bile rising in her throat. Death is one thing, of course— being rent apart? By nothing? It's something else, and she forces herself to catch her breath back and approach the scene with one wrist lingering over her mouth.

As she crouches down next to the fallen woman, Dee's eyes lift up to where the soapbox speaker had been; he's still there, and got the full view, and perhaps she feels a pang of pity for that. What her expression says only part of this, the rest of it mournful and braced. This woman she can close the eyes of with one hand— the man, too far apart.

Still, the redhead puts a knee to the ground and does the little she can, including the tentative shift to shakily fetch both rings; habit, from years of war— you save what you can, from the dead. A lot of rings. Dog-tags. You know.

Objects you can't bury, but serve as memorial nonetheless. Red soaks at her jeans and shoes, her hands. Tears in her eyes as she folds her fingers together around the rings as if they were a shaking songbird.

She doesn't trust someone else to be kind for them.

“We need to get into the market.” Catching sight of the widening circle of death puts a note of urgency into Jac’s voice. Her head whips around to the gateway into the marketplace. Were she alone, getting through the crowd wouldn't be an issue. But she can't leave Indy and Ariel to figure it out on their own. She scans the press and push of panicked people, for an instant considering picking up that table and using it like a wedge. Not that it would guarantee her and her friends a way through the mess. And trying to pick it up now would be dangerous at best.

Keeping as much contact against the pole as she can, Jac slips from her perch. As her feet find pavement, she presses in close to Ariel and guides her to grab hold of Indy’s hand. “Keep really close,” she calls while taking the man's other hand. “We’re cutting diagonal upstream, so when we hit the wall we shouldn't be far from the entrance!”

It's risky, but it's safer than staying where someone is running free with an ability that's killed at least two people. Jac curls her hand tightly around Indy’s, a lifeline for all three of them. She watches the crowd and breaks for an opening, toward the entrance but at an angle against the crowd.

The hand on Caderina’s arm causes her to gasp shrilly and start to tug away until she recognizes the advice delivered in that calm voice. Between Roman’s tugging and Faulkner’s nudging from the arm looped around her shoulders, the blonde starts to come back to herself, though she’s still breathing hard and in the middle of a panic attack. She knows getting away from the crowd is the only thing that’s going to help.

So, she allows herself to be guided by the unfamiliar, willing her feet to move, one in front of the other, toward the building and the refuge it represents.

With Faulkner's encouragement on the other side of her, Roman leads the way first into the market. He peels the mask off his head entirely, all the better for blending into the crowd directly. It takes a look back at Evran for him to grudgingly do the same, lifting his mask away with one last glance over their shoulder.

The rally's dispersal brings with it a return to everyone looking normal— no suspicion of what lies inside able to be gained at a glance. Evran shoves the masks away inside Roman's backpack while they walk in, and that's that.

Now they're just regular faces in the crowd.

Indy is less reluctant to leave his goods behind— they can be replaced and people can't— but Ariel takes coaxing before she drops the bag and leaves it on the street for later. They too slip inside the market space shortly after the others who thought to seek refuge inside the old mill's walls rather than on the street.

When Elliot and Wright come upon Delilah crouched by the bodies, the man crouched nearby is watching her with a bewildered expression. He mistakes the compassion, at first, for the gathering of some kind of trophy, on the verge of shouting his suspicion at her— to have her get away—

But when the others come closer, one of them armed, he quiets. He nudges the girl at his feet to get back to her own, leading her by the arm away. They should get out of here while they still can, leaving what's become of this mess for the authorities to figure out.

They sure as hell didn't have any part in it.

Rosario's voice comes back into Elliot's ear after a break of silence. "If that changes, if you see someone, ID them for me right away." But there's no one to see, with the last of the crowd scattered away. Some of the morbidly curious linger in duos, wide eyes and fearful, but none carry hallmarks that would identify them as suspicious.

No intent glances, no smiles, nothing that looks like calm or reveling in the chaos. Everyone looks appropriately impacted or off-guard.

Whoever this was, they're in the wind.

The moment the first of the patrol cars roll up, silencing their sirens but leaving on the lights, they begin to draw up a perimeter, yellow tape in hand. One of the cops who ventures closer echoes a confirmation that it's not just an ambulance needed— it's a coroner.

And also, SESA.

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