Bridge of Pain


asi_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif geneva_icon.gif hailey_icon.gif lance_icon.gif

Scene Title Bridge of Pain
Synopsis One group of extremists faces the wrath of another, with a small force of NYPD and SESA agents trying to keep damage to a minimum.
Date April 2, 2021

For visitors, there is only one way to Rikers Island: a bridge that cuts the prison complex off from the rest of New York. Spanning 4,200 feet across the East River to Queens, it feels far, far longer to almost all who have to cross it — whether to work, visit a loved one, or complete their sentencing to one of the most infamous prison complexes in the world.

And for the prisoners, this “Bridge of Pain” is more than steel and concrete, and far greater a distance than just over three-fourths of a mile. It’s a metaphor for regret. For exile.

For Hell.

4:18 p.m.

Rikers Island Bridge

Traffic is at a standstill on the northbound side of the bridge. Those far from the conflict honk their horns and yell out their windows, unable to see the cause of the traffic jam — it sounds like any day anywhere else in the iconic New York of movies and television. But this sort of hold-up is uncommon on the Rikers Island Bridge.

No one is ever in a hurry to get to the prison, after all.

A white prison transport bus, with the large letters CORRECTION in blue, has stopped in the right lane, and a police escort beside it in the left. Behind the bus, a second police escort has also stopped, holding up the dozens of vehicles on the bridge. Among them are a couple of visitor buses, but most are personal vehicles, belonging to either employees or visitors of the prison.

Three police officers are out of their vehicle, but none have their weapons in hand. A glance at their belts will show they are missing as well. All three have their eyes fixed forward, watching what’s happening in front of the bus, blocked from most people on the northbound lanes. The traffic in the southbound lane has slowed to a crawl, the drivers rubbernecking to see the chaos unfolding.

A dozen or so pedestrians are banging on the front of the bus, but it’s clear they aren’t random protestors: each wears a “uniform” of black clothing, hoodies, and most disturbing, a black hockey mask with a spray-pained e, the top portion looping around the forehead, eyes and nose, before the lower curve of the letter follows the curve of their cheekbone around their chin. SLC-e.

“Murderers! Racists!” they shout at those in the transport bus: Louise Noble, Biel Cordero, and Samuel Irons. None of them are visible as the bus windows are shaded to keep prisoners’ faces from being seen from the outside. But everyone knows today was the first day of their trial at the Queens Criminal Courthouse, and that they’re being kept in the jail for criminal plaintiffs on the Island.

Hailey is nervous, though the chestnut giant she's riding doesn't seem affected by it. They've been training hard for instances just like this, situations where a vehicle wouldn't be ideal. Being a junior officer, she's situated a few cars back, next to a small hatchback carrying a woman, a young boy, and his fluffy white dog. Maybe they were on their way to visit or something.

Unlike Dayton, the dog is affected by Hailey's anxiety.. so he barks.

And barks.

… And barks.

Creasing her eyebrows, the empath glares into the car and right at the dog. The boy immediately makes a face and grabs his pet, hugging him tightly to his neck.

The dog stops… growls.


Asi hadn't anticipated that this police detail job would turn into this, but here they are. It's been over a year since these people were arrested, and perhaps that would have been enough time for simmering frustration to settle. It's clear all it's done is bring things to a boil instead.

Armed in crowd-control gear as befits the SWAT capacity she's serving in today, she exits the back of the police van that's stopped and turns out to see the mob that's piling on the front of the prison bus. She glances up sidelong at Hailey on her horse, wondering how the group of officers here will together push back against this.

Because they sure as hell were outnumbered here.

"«Oni to Dahu,»" she keys the radio back to Wolfhound rather than the NYPD. "«We might need more hands soon at the bridge to Rikers.»"

Fighting their way through the traffic jam on the end of the bridge took longer than Elisabeth Harrison would have liked. The lookie lous aren't just in cars, they're out on the banks by now, apparently waiting to see fireworks. This is the kind of thing that Liz is not really supposed to be boots-on-the-ground for anymore. According to the Chief, she's "management" now. Riiiiiight. When SCOUT is down three officers, there flat-out aren't enough of her people to go around. And so the lieutenant is decked out much like the rest of the officers are, black tactical gear, a bulletproof vest. She's not wearing a full riot helmet with face-shield and speakers, but she is wearing a helmet. She promised her husband, after all. Her hair is held back in a low ponytail to keep it out of her way and she is not carrying her service weapon — she was warned as they approached that weapons had been snatched via some ability.

As she rounds the back of the van, Elisabeth's pauses next to Asi. There's a brief moment of intent staring before she turns her attention back to the mob scene. Expelling an annoyed sigh, the lieutenant glances at the rest of the officers. She approaches one of the uniformed guys who is sans weapon at this point and says quietly, "Officer — get those southbound lanes shut down right the hell now and clear as many of the rubberneckers off the bridge as you can. I don't want to think about what will happen if one of these jackasses has an ability that snaps the supports."

With a glance back at Asi and Hailey, the only two officers with abilities that she can see from this vantage point, she grimaces and then comes back. "Well… this ought to be entertaining," she mutters to them. And then she hoists herself up onto the roof of the police van for a better view and possibly some avenues of response.

As a Junior Agent with SESA, Lance Gerken was along for the ride in order to understand the legal end of how all of this goes. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but someone misjudged the public sentiment, it seems.

“Lieutenant?” Of course he managed to slip up through the parade of stopped cars to the police van that Elisabeth’s standing on, keeping an anxious eye on the crowds even as he calls up to her, “If you need to— you know— do anything? I can give it some boundaries if you need, so you don’t accidentally sonic blast our own people.”

It’s not much but his ability is normally better suited to stealth, not riot control.

The officer, a young woman, nods her understanding to Liz, and pulls out her radio to bark some commands into it for the police units on the far end of the bridge, shutting down to the entrance to any new traffic heading south on the north end. Another set of orders is given to the officers on the Queens side of the bridge, to help direct the flow of traffic off the bridge as efficiently as possible.

The lookie loos are another matter. “With me,” she tells one of the other officers, and they head across the meridian to get traffic moving. They seem only too happy to get away from the mask-wearing vigilantes swarming the bus.

One of those takes a cue from Elisabeth and jumps up onto the hood of the police car, a megaphone lifted to her mouth. “«We have no faith in the justice system to give you the punishments you deserve for killing our kind.»”

The rest of the masked people pound at the van, as if to applaud the woman’s words — it has the same sort of cadence as the shuffling musicians ‘applaud’ one another with — a few moments of pounding hands against metal, before it stills again.

“«We take it on ourselves to protect our people from predators like you, who fear us, mock us, use us, and kill us!»”

The pounding ensues once more, and then the van begins to lift. At first, it looks like the swarming pedestrians have lifted it, somehow, together, as their hands follow it upward, but eventually they step away and the bus hovers mid-air.

Dayton dances to the side, causing Hailey's leg to bump up against the hatchback. The boy and the dog, scramble to the other side, away from the two officers. She can feel the horse's impatience and readiness to act. Because of their training, he won't spring forward until she urges it but the desire is there. His iron shod hooves spark against the pavement as he paws at the ground, waiting for action.

The empath is still a bit nervous, but stabilized by her mount's confidence. He's a firecracker and Hailey almost feels like she's just along for the ride. Which she might be when they finally get the signal from the Lieutenant to surge ahead.

When the bus is lifted into the air, she yanks back the reins, forcing the horse to back up. Carefully as she can, she wheels the horse closer to the pedestrian bridge along the side. She will not risk her partner to some jacked up hoser bent on destruction.

Asi regrets there not being a middle ground in this kind of situation. There's no demand in there that stands a chance of being met. And so, she resigns herself to what she sees as an inevitability. "On your word, Lieutenant," she reminds the SCOUT leader of what's needed to set her forward, as grudging as it might be done. Even if it ends up with her potentially being thrown around by whatever telekinesis-like ability is at play here.

She especially does not look forward to that, though.

If today's situation weren't quite so dire, Geneva might be far more distracted marveling at how quickly things had evolved over only the past year. This is not the type of situation she would once have envisioned herself in together with Hailey and Lance. It's certainly a far cry from lazy nights in the Lanthorn.

They might all be striplings in their fields, but today, three of the 'Lighthouse Kids' are here on business.

Stevenson's late advance up from near the back of the cavalcade is quiet, devoid of any punctuation from her usual odd curses. Instead, her expression is totally solemn as she slips up behind Lance to stand just behind his shoulder, staring across the distance at the protestors with some hard, barely unspoken thought.

"We don't have to fight," she finds herself calling suddenly to the protestors, completely regardless of whether it's actually her place to do so (hint: it most certainly isn’t). Her eyes have flashed darkly upwards to the levitating bus, but her voice, though as hard as her gaze, betrays a tone torn by conflict.

"If I have to go that route, Gerken, make sure everyone between me and that bus is held within your field, if you can." Elisabeth's voice is so low as to be inaudible to all but Lance and Geneva, at his shoulder. Blue eyes slant to the girl as she calls out, a warning look because things are already dicey. Quietly, she murmurs to Gene, "Let me do the yelling — that way if shit goes sideways, it's on me." It's her job to take the heat for her people.

Mentally cataloging the abilities of the people she's working with at the moment — Tetsuyama's technopathy, Stevenson's fire, the Gerkens with animal control and sound manipulation —just about now, Elisabeth really wishes she had a Felix under her belt. "Officer Gerken," she murmurs, differentiating that she's speaking to Hailey and not Lance, "if there are any critters available to locate that telekinetic out there, it would be of huge help to have a definitive target."

For right now, the lieutenant pulls in a deeper breath and starts to speak. Her words are cast forward and manipulated so that the subsonic layering of sounds is only on a vector to impact those immediately around the bus, though they are at a volume that carries perfectly well to all in the vicinity. "~This is the NYPD. You are ordered to STAND DOWN and allow the prisoners to return to containment. I do not want to escalate this situation. Your anger and your desire to see them punished is not wrong, but we cannot rebuild a society that works with us if it continues to be us against them. Don't feed their hate-mongering. Let us do our jobs.~" Her tone remains calm and calming throughout. "~Most of you know at least of me. My name is Elisabeth Harrison, and I'm still working for this city and for you. I didn't let them get away with it before, I will not allow them to get away with it now. Work with me to make the system what we need it to be. Don't go vigilante and prove us to be exactly what they claim.~"

“Whoa,” Lance breathes out as the van starts to rise, his eyebrows raising towards his hairline, “This is the worst game of ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board’ I’ve ever seen.” Maybe the most successful, though. When they were kids, they never even got Lucy off the ground. That old DVD of ‘The Craft’ got a lot of play during the autumn season though.

“Let’s hope we don’t,” he mutters to Geneva, looking around for some sort of solution. Stepping over towards one of the other officers present, “Hey— do you have any tow chains in any of these vehicles? Maybe we can secure the bus before it goes floating off to Oz— ”

At Liz’s commanding voice, a few of the protestors back away from the van, bringing their hands down and glancing at each other, a few murmuring to one another. It’s hard to read their expressions, hidden as they are behind the black e-marked masks, but they seem uncertain, backing away from the others. One turns to run toward the south, dodging through the stalled traffic, and another toward the north, the road open ahead, though eventually there’s nothing but Rikers Island in that direction. The last two stand, looking unsure of what to do and simply back up toward the guard rail.

The remaining eight tighten their ranks, standing in an outward-facing circle. Some tilt their heads upward toward the bus while the others face the agents and police on the scene. It’s hard to tell who the telekinetic is.

The transport bus suddenly lurches upward, more forcefully now that it’s safely above the heads of the vigilantes, but the back of it sags, like someone stronger might be lifting in the front and someone weaker holding up the back. After a moment, the back lifts, evening with the front, then past it, so the front drops a few degrees. It’s like watching two people try to coordinate moving a sofa.

A scream, muffled by closed windows and doors, penetrates the metal of the bus. The tinted passenger windows keep the inmates out of sight. But at the front, the driver can be seen — the tilt of the bus pushes him forward against the steering wheel.

At Lance’s suggestion, one of the officers stares wide-eyed up at the bus, then back at Lance. “My arms ain’t that long, kid, and they ripped our guns away. Don’t think they’re gonna sit still to let you tie ‘em down.”

Suddenly the driver’s door opens and the driver falls out — dropping the fifteen feet or so to the ground, crumpling on the asphalt by the front squad car. The door slams closed again, by some unseen force.

Hailey's internal soundtrack is tuned to Ludacris, just one of the many songs Lance would have never played on the radio when he was working there.

Move bitch, get out the way

Like a spring coiled too tight, Dayton leaps forward. His hooves clack loudly against the pavement, a warning to any protesters in his path, as they race toward the crumpled form lying on the ground. Apparently someone in the bus lifting crew considers him innocent enough to spare from being tossed off the bridge. When they reach him, she yanks on the reins to wheel the large animal around. Leaning over in her saddle, she offers a hand to the driver to help pull them onto the horse.

Asi's eyes flick away from the telekinesis feat being performed to Lance and the officers he's talking to, finally taking note of what she hadn't before owing to having looked more to the commotion. The protesters took their guns?

"Shit," she breathes out behind her visor. A double-take back to the wobbling bus well off the ground now speaks to her they don't have much time at all— that thing was going over the bridge if they didn't act now. At her side, Asi produces a tool she'd never thought she'd need, waiting for Hailey to make it to the downed driver before she pulls the pin on it to prime it.


She waits that second out, then hurls the canister of teargas to the cluster of eight, the thing starting to spew a cloud of white gas as it sails in their direction. Asi grits her teeth over her choice, and the potential for it to be batted back their direction.

But the way she saw it, there weren't many choices.

"No!" The growl at Asi rips out of Geneva's throat when she sees the canister of tear gas go arcing towards the crowd. For once, she doesn't crave an escalation of violence towards these people who, by her estimation, don't deserve it—

However, it's too late now. It's always too late, isn't it.

Inflamed by an instant flare of frustration, she grinds her own teeth so hard inside her closed jaw it hurts her. Forcing herself to focus on the action in a fit of sudden calculation, her gaze coming to a narrowed point on the cluster of protestors, she comes to a decision of her own.

When Agent Stevenson raises her palm, a lean but withering current of heat from her hand streams straight across the field in the wake of the eruption of tear gas. Compared to what she is capable of, it's a gentle thing, and even more painstakingly aimed— her goal specifically to force the protestors to begin stripping off their masks as dry, biting heat claims ownership of the fabric, mounting with piecemeal inexorability from mere discomfort into pain.

Perhaps this way, they can at least manage to readily identify the telekinetic(s) among the masked crowd, then proceed to take them down.

Shit. And it all goes pear-shaped in the blink of a goddamned eye. Elisabeth's eyes go wide as Asi throws the smoke grenade — it's something she believes won't stop the telekinetic(s) from chucking the bus.

"Gerken, I need you to corral what I'm about to throw — straight line vector from me to the ground just in front of the protestors."

“They took your—” Lance sounds entirely incredulous, looking to the guards’ holsters - noticing their absence for the first time. “All of them? Are you serious?” Well these guys aren’t going to be a lot of help, his tone says as he turns just in time to see that grenade hurtling through the air.

His first instinct is to duck away, but then his name’s spoken— and he straightens up, stepping over beside the vehicle Liz is standing on and sweeping out his sound absorption field as requested, creating some nice bumpers to absorb anything that isn’t going straight.

“Got it!”

Waiting until Hailey has the driver and is clear, the blonde peacekeeper uses the noise of the crowd itself to shape into the concussion wave that she wants. With a tightly controlled burst, she attempts to take down that entire line with what amounts to a kinetic bowling ball with the protestors as the pins. It's a tough calculation but she hopes that if they all go skidding off to the sides, that bus will drop back to the pavement. There'll be injuries, but at least they won't go in the river.

The tear-gas canister spews its contents, but it doesn’t take long before it comes rolling back toward the agents and the officers, white gas still billowing.. At the same time, the bus lurches at the front, but stabilizes again, then begins to edge slowly toward the east side of the bridge, inch by inch, the front leading the back.

A dust devil of sand appears, serving a two-fold purpose of dispersing the gas and absorbing it. The defense isn’t perfect; one of the maskers near the western edge of the cluster, closest to the gas, coughs a little, turning their face away — it seems like a woman, small and petite, but the black baggy sweatshirts and masks make it difficult to tell. Whatever her ability is, it doesn’t seem impacted by the tear gas’ effect on her.

Geneva’s gambit, clever as it is, does reveal at least one of the maskers’ powers as they lifts their hands, stepping a little out of the cluster to protect the others, though not before one of them to the right hisses in pain. The “catcher” seems to take that stream of heat in their bare hands, and throws it back out — not at Geneva, but to the bus in midair and to one of the police officers who yelps in pain.

A flurry of snow out of nowhere begins to sprinkle around the cluster of eight, dampening the heat to soothe the one affected.

And then the catcher does the same to that funnel of sound coming for them, though it takes more effort and they can’t catch all of it, having to throw their arms wide and step further out in front of their crew. This time, the woman still coughing from the tear gas and the obscured masker back to back with her, are flung to the ground, though the remaining six manage to stand.

The bus lurches again, the back sagging a little, as it moves further east, now hovering above the guard rails.

Join us.

It isn’t a voice, exactly, that the younger agents — Hailey, Lance, Geneva — hear. And hear isn’t the right word, either. It’s an insidious command that pulls at something in each of them. They feel it, in every cell. It comes from nowhere and everywhere, it seems, but they know it wasn’t something spoken aloud.

They don’t deserve to live. Join us.

Brother, the voice tells Lance. Sisters, the voice tells Gene and Hailey. Join us. We deserve justice. We deserve peace.

Necking the reins, Hailey guides Dayton around one of the stopped vehicles and helps the driver down. "You should get to the ambulance over there, you took a pretty nasty fall." A thought niggles at the back of her mind that maybe part of her job was to escort them, but… she was in the middle of a situation. After their feet hit solidly on the ground, the empath wheels around again and her horse bolts for the space between the rest of the police and the bus.

"Lieutenant, they don't deserve to live!" Hailey shouts, her fury at the situation coming to the surface. This isn't what she became a police officer for. She wanted to protect innocent people, people like herself and her siblings, not murderers. "We shouldn't be trying to hurt people who are already hurting!"

When the gas can comes sliding back, Asi's teeth grind and she rushes forward to correct her own mistake before it can well and truly backfire on them. As soon as Liz's cannonfire is clear, she sprints where it sits spewing, sucking in a breath before winding up to kick it like a football (the soccer kind) off the side of the bridge.

It had been worth a shot.

Hailey's vocal change in opinion regarding the matter brings her to look back in that direction, brow lifting. The technopath bereft of her ability staggers back one step to the side, then the other, and it takes her near the two by the guard rail. She finds herself turning to them.

"If you can't get your friends to stop— this is going to get so much worse. Your point's been made. Your pain's been felt. Anything further is just going to hurt you and them… it's going to keep your message from being its strongest."

"You could kill them," Asi concedes to them. Her shoulders lift with the next breath she takes, still winded from her sprint. "But we're better than they are."

We, she says, and looks back to the group struggling to hold their ground and complete their mission. They weren't listening to the authorities … but maybe they'd listen to their friends. Just enough their ranks would break apart further.

The stream of heat from Gene's upraised palms cuts off abruptly the instant she sees it being turned against them, and shortly after, her bright-blue eyes narrow even more at those responsible. Even so, it seems that the young SESA agent is still being conspicuously silent by her standards, with the air around her devoid of her normal grab-bag of threats and jibes and curses.

Then, the first of the protestor's commands finds the anger already present in her.

Old anger. Years of it, formed over time into an ever-larger whorl of accumulated resentments, until it had grown into what it is now — the great, ugly, magmatic mood that glowers always just beneath her surface, kept in check in this encounter only by Gene's increasingly grudging awareness that she should maintain some kind of professional status quo.

It already hadn't been a particularly good barrier.

And now, it breaks.

"I didn't sign up to protect people like this." Gene's hoarsened voice rises up to join Hailey's shout. At her other side, her other hand is folding into a clenched fist. A halo of golden heat immediately begins clustering around that fist in the tiniest visible swirl, as though drinking in the very light of the sun. "The fuck does 'we're better' mean, Tetsuyama? Get off your goddamned high horse. The world doesn't work like that. I say we're better than being meat shields for these murdering fuckheads."

Elisabeth turns on BOTH of the vocal young officers and gives immediate orders in a vicious tone, "Withdraw RIGHT NOW. We will speak when this is over. If either of you says one more word, I will arrest both of you."

Turning back to the situation at hand, she modulates her voice again and tells the ones holding the bus, "~People, listen to me. You have every right to be enraged. To be disgusted. And to protest. But this is not protesting! All you are doing is making killers of yourselves. Every single one of you — have you ever killed someone face to face? Because I promise you, it is not like you think. You think you're going to stand there and watch them die and feel vindicated. But you won't. You will feel empty, because there are ALWAYS going to be more people scared of what we can do. When you do things like this, you just show them that they are right to be afraid of us.~"

Elisabeth desperately laces her words with as much of her slight hypnosis as she can, hoping that these are all decent people driven to rage and not militants whose minds she has no chance of changing.

"~Put the bus on the ground. If they go in the river, you will be forcing me to charge all of you. If they die because I can't get them out fast enough, you will be charged with premeditated murder. You will be no better than they are. This is not you. You are good people, enraged by the actions of others — you know lynch mobs are wrong! You have been on the wrong side of them! Don't let them make you the monsters they paint you to be! Because that's how they win. We fought a war so that people like this would be brought to trial! So that we could rebuild a system fair for all. You are negating the very thing you fought for. Put the bus down PLEASE, don't make me have to arrest the very people I agree with!~"

She has not pushed her power this hard in a long time. Concerts just require noise manipulation on broad ranges. Trying to lace enough subsonics into her voice for riot control is something she hasn't done in a decade. Elisabeth isn't sure it will be enough, and she has nothing in her arsenal to actually halt the bus.

Just why are they protecting these people, these criminals?

Lance was there, after all; he walked over the blood-caked sands that these bigots threw Geneva onto for their own violent amusements, he was shot at maybe by some of the same people in that bus. Why in the world would he fight to protect them? He's Slice, like whoever's not-speaking in his head, they should be on the same side…

But Lance has always been a contrary young man, and maybe his not-too-infrequent exposure to a certain other SESA agent's persuasion has given him practice shaking off this sort of thing, because he doesn't immediately join the roaring throng of protestors like Geneva and his sister.

"Lieutenant, there's— I—"

No, they're right, he shouldn't be protecting the bus. To hell with the bus, let the protestors take it, let those bastards drown— but they don't need to kill their own friends in the process! A tight shake of his head, pulling away from near the officer and heading back towards Geneva, hands up, "Whoa! Gene, put the heat down, okay, let's just let them do their thing— " Without the younger Evolved, he figures, they'll have no choice but to let the protestors win. To have the justice they deserve. That they deserve.

The back of the bus, that end that’s sagged a few times, suddenly drops, the weight of it pulling the front downward, though it’s still held aloft. The back end slams into the guard rail, sending the two separated maskers running and screaming. The faint sound of screaming can be heard inside the bus as well, despite the thick glass windows shutting out most of the noise.

“«Don’t tell us what we think or how we feel»,” the megaphone speaker blasts back at Elisabeth, though she looks to the bus when it crashes — that was definitely not in the script. “«Yes, we’ve killed. And we will again, because legislation doesn’t stop people like this. Don’t think you’re better than us simply because you won your war. That was also considered terrorism — but victors write history, so now you can call it patriotism.»”

The two masked terrorists who had fallen to the ground, separated from their group after Liz’s funneled sound attack, help one another up and edge away, then turn to run south. One of the officers gives chase this time, but they are younger and more spry, dodging cars and zigzagging through the traffic.

Set fire to the bus. The voice speaks to Gene. You understand. Sister.

Thank you, Brother. Sister. The voice reverberates, warm and welcoming, in Lance’s and Hailey’s mind.

The door to the bus opens again, and one of the prison guards spills out of it onto the ground below. After a grunt, he manages to scramble back. “My partner’s one of them!” he shouts to the officers on the scene. “A fucking spy!”

“«What?»” the woman holding the megaphone says, shock and fear in her voice. “«Darius, dump it!»

The bus moves again, though with considerable effort, the bottom dragging along the guard rail with the ugly sound of metal against metal screeching.

Hailey glances down at her brother and gives him a proud grin.

The lieutenant's order specified not to speak. Technically, Hailey is following it to the letter when bootheels deliver a sharp kick to Dayton's sides. He rears up before galloping toward the bus. One guard on the ground means there's still one innocent life left to deal with.

As her horse nears the small crowd carrying the bus, she throws one leg over her saddle and prepares to jump. The moment she's close enough she takes a big gulp and launches herself into the air, her arms scrambling for a piece of the prison transport to grab onto.

She’s as graceful as Sport Goofy.

"Goddamn it," Elisabeth breathes out. Hostage situations are volatile as hell and she's got three officers who have apparently lost their minds. As the bus drops, the blonde peacekeeper murmurs, "Tetsuyama, if you've got a suggestion up your sleeve or a trick I don't know about, now's the time." Her voice is tight. "If that bus goes over, we're both going in the Hudson." Because she will choose their lives over chasing the mob. Freeing them from the bus before they drown would become top priority.

Raising her voice, pitching it once more to carry, Elisabeth closes her eyes a second and reaches deep into her power. What she uses for crowd control isn't compulsion and she can't force anyone to do a damn thing… but she hopes that with a name to focus it, it will have just that little bit more influence. "~Darius, *put the bus down on the bridge safely*. Lethal force is authorized on your group.~" She can't force them… but she can make them very afraid. Layers upon layers of infrasound laced into her voice and the noise around them, building up. "~This night does not have to end in tragedy! *Put the bus down safely!* I do not want to have this confrontation. If the bus goes over, it will happen.~" It's a promise. "~*Put the bus down safely!* Darius, are you willing to die for this? I want all of you to go home to your own families tonight. *Put the bus down safely!*~"

My God, she'd forgotten how fucking much it hurts to push this hard. There is blood coming from Elisabeth's nose as she tries desperately to convince at least the guy holding the bus to be afraid and to do what she wants.

Do something, Liz effectively tells Asi. Mouth hardening into a line, she does the only thing she can think of doing. Dispersing the cluster of activists with tear gas hadn't worked, so—

Without hesitation, she slides the wide-barreled rifle off of her shoulder and checks in a glance its readiness. She aims for the heart of the group quickly and fires off multiple rounds of rubber bullets that bounce from the ground up into the cluster of Evolved youth, her grasp on her gun tight to do everything she can to hold on in the event the telekinetic who pulled the cops' guns from them still stands in their number.

"Stand down!" she shouts, her voice a far less soothing accompaniment to the efforts Elisabeth is attempting.

In the distance, more sirens sound from the direction of Rikers. A helicopter’s rotors can be heard in the distance. But the tense standoff on the bridge may not be able to wait that long.

When Hailey jumps to the bus’s side, the entire vehicle wavers, but luckily one of the telekinetic — Darius? — still has a hold on it so it doesn’t topple into the water below. Her fingers scream as they take most of her weight before she can find a foothold; the windows themselves, with the bus standing on end, create a ladder she can climb to get to the driver’s door.

So close to the windows, she can hear the high-pitched screaming of one woman inside the bus: Louise Noble, aka Ouisie Noble.

It’s hard to tell if Elisabeth’s orders to Darius connect with the young man’s conscience, but then the front of the bus begins to lower. It’s then that Hailey hears nothing inside the bus, only the creak of metal beneath her.

When the bullets hit the asphalt in front of the group of masked youth, most of them finally break rank and file, trying to evade being hit or falling from being struck. One, from the back row, holds up a hand to bring up another whirling funnel of dirt and sand to keep another round from doing any damage.

The bus that was slowly lowering suddenly crashes down onto the railing — Hailey, clinging to the side, is unable to hold on, and falls to the ground below. The bus straddles the guard rail, but then begins to tilt toward the water side.

A single male voice can be heard screaming inside.

“Darius!” one of the youth cries out, falling to their knees beside one of the fallen youth as he gasps for breath, wheezing and clutching his chest, the solar plexus, where the rubber bullet had struck him. The other youth pulls his mask up so he can breathe better. The face beneath is smooth, youthful — the lanky boy looks to be maybe fifteen years of age. “He has asthma!” The voice sounds even younger, feminine.

With most people’s attention focused either on Darius, the bus, or Hailey, the masked protestors from the back row make a break for it, to join their fellow brethren in getting away. They too run south, with a flurry of snow and a dervish of sand put between themselves and any chasing officers.

The second fallen — the “catcher” — tries to get to his feet to run, but stumbles and falls again.

“«Mercy begets mercy. We’ve never known it so now we act without it,»” the megaphone speaker says. Her voice is tense — this isn’t how this was supposed to go down. “«Time to fly.»” She suddenly drops out of sight — down through the squad car she stands on, disappearing before their eyes.

The bus creaks again.

Lance’s head snaps over towards Asi as the gunfire starts, shouting, “No!” He doesn’t know they’re rubber bullets, but there’s some relief when the bridge isn’t suddenly painted red with the blood of… his people? His friends? Contradictory impulses roiling around in his head, ones that he finds a way to work with as there’s the shout from the front lines.


He springs forward, holding a hand up towards Asi as he passes the police line to rush towards Darius, shouting back to her, “Cease— cease fire, damn it!” Skidding to a halt, he drops down to kneel beside the young man and his friends, encouraging, “Alright, come on, get him sitting up straight. Dude— Darius? Just take slow, steady breaths, try and keep calm, I know that’s fuckin’ hard right now…”

"Owwiiieeee," Hailey groans as she rolls onto her front, gingerly pushes herself to her knees, and then staggers to a stand. Rubbing her shoulder, she begins to run back toward the bus. She's already got regrets but this one is going to be one she'll really feel in the morning.

The empath doesn't have super strength, but the bus is creaking and tilting. She grips onto the bumper and places all her weight on it. "There's a guard inside!" She yells, throwing a look over her shoulder to her brother, "Lance, help me! Please!"

The bus drops, and Asi feels herself sink with relief until it starts to tip. Behind the plastic shield in front of her face, her expression falls. "Gerken, tell him to run to the back and open the emergency door!" she shouts. Either Gerken will do.

The request of the one that's dove to the aid of the activists is summarily ignored, even if she doesn't turn again on the ones already down. Her head goes in the direction of the runners. "Stop where you are!" The warning is followed by two shots into the storm moving away from them before she opts not to continue shooting that way, swiveling instead to the boy who's fallen in his attempts to flee.

"Don't move," she warns, rifle trained on him.

As it turns out, it is Geneva's hesitation that saves her.

And no doubt everybody in the immediate vicinity of the bus as well, which does not burst into flames, as the voice inside her head had been so vociferous in suggesting. The harsh light wreathing her raised hand sputters out.

Setting things on fire has consequences is a rather basic law of nature that Gene has been forced to contend with far more intimately than most other people ever could, especially over the past few years of her life. Nice try, bud.

Despite that, the young SESA agent is still struggling to return her internal senses to a solitary point of focus, which the sight of Hailey provides; right now she really couldn't care less about the figures who are attempting to flee the scene. "Hailey! Shit!" she yells out when she sees the other girl go toppling to the ground, causing her to abandon her previous position almost immediately. It is she who reaches her friend's side first, first scanning the other over for any serious injuries, then adding her full weight to what might be a vain attempt to keep the bus from careening over the rail.

They have to try, though.

"Dispatch, get me some fucking help out here! That bus is going over the rails!!" Elisabeth's voice is intense but calm. Her goddamn trainees have broken ranks and the scene is chaos. Meanwhile, she's holding her bloody nose with one hand and desperately trying to figure out a way to keep the people in the bus from dying. Just about now, someone with super strength or telekinesis would be a major help. There is no way in hell that they're going to hold that bus.

Half blind with a migraine now splitting her head in half, Elisabeth runs toward the back of the bus as well. Grimly, she tells the two girls attempting the impossible, "I'll try to get the back door open." The other guard or driver — if there's still one at the front of the bus — is going to have to be on their own. She jumps for the bumper to try to pull herself up high enough to attempt to release the back door emergency exit.

When Asi trains her weapon on him, the would-be escaper holds up his hands, falling back down onto his knees, apparently resigned to arrest. Without someone’s ability being flung at him, he likely has no ammunition of his own. The others ignore Asi’s warnings and zig-zag away — on the farther end of the bridge they’ll have to deal with the police who are trying to make their way through the gridlock, but their combined sand-snow defense might keep them safe unless they get negated or Banshee’d.

Darius blinks and nods at Lance’s words, before wheezing, “Pocket. Inhaler.” The girl beside him begins to look for it, but one of the uniformed police officers clears his throat.

“Keep your hands where I can see them. Kid, you do it,” he directs Lance.

When Liz opens the back door, after sliding out the pins that keep it from being opened from inside by a wayward prisoner, she finds no guards, but instead a lone passenger in his prison jumpsuit, still handcuffed to the chain that had once linked him to two others. Biel Cordero, Louise Noble, and the remaining guard are all missing.

When the man turns to look at her, she finds herself face to face with the baleful dark eyes of Samuel Irons, the former NYPD commissioner, Humanis First member and war criminal.

“Tell Donovan I don’t think much of the new and improved department,” he says wryly, but she can see the fear in his blood-shot eyes.

Outside, one of the rescue workers calls to Gene and Hailey as well as the other officers and a handful of civilians who have run up to try to help pull the bus to safety. “Stand clear and Magneto here will pull it down,” he says, with a nod to his partner, a short Korean man who grins broadly and lifts a hand in greeting. It’s neither superstrength nor telekinesis, but metallokinesis will do.

The taller of the two heads to the side of the bus to peer in. “Let’s get him and you down first, and then we’ll keep the bus from going in the drink,” he says, then calls to his partner, “Keith, hold ’er steady while we get the prisoner out, eh?”

Emergency vehicles from the Rikers side finally pull up, casting the entire bridge in red and blue lights.

The sound of Lance’s name has his head jerking up, but there’re rescue workers already helping his sister with the bus - so he turns back to the young man in the midst of an asthma attack, nodding at the wheezed words. The officer gets a look before he digs for the inhaler, noting scathingly, “Junior Agent, thank you.”

It’s pulled out, and he helps Darius take a drag off it, shaking his head. “I’m not saying you were wrong,” he says to the pair quietly, “But this wasn’t how to do this. Trust me, I’m as pissed as you at these guys, but… there’s been enough blood.”

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. We gotta stop the cycle somewhere.”

Now that the weight of the bus is no longer in danger of toppling over the edge, Hailey moves away and collapses against a part of the barrier that hasn't been crashed into. Her shoulder stings with the pain of her road rash and save for the patches on her arm, the uniform shirt she's wearing is pretty much trash.

"Thanks for the help Gene-Bean," she says with a bit of a grin, "couldn't have saved that dink wrinkle without you."

A piece of her really wishes they hadn't, but she wasn't sure whose voice was screaming for help from the bus. It's safe to say she wouldn't have been able to forgive herself if it was the guard. Frowning, she watches as they move in to escort the prisoner out of the bus. "When I was hanging on, I heard Noble screaming… and then it just stopped."

Asi will have to satisfy herself with the one she's managed. She begins unfastening handcuffs from her belt, gun still trained. Her eyes leave for only a second to note that the bus is nearly emptied, a flash in her eyes.

She looks back down to the boy quickly. She inquires with forceful urgency, "Where did you take them?"

The boy shakes his head; this close she can see dark fearful eyes behind the eye cut-outs in the mask. “No English!” he says quickly, the words accented with the tones of a life far away — an Arabic country, perhaps.

The girl, now kneeling with her hands up near Darius and Lance, adds, “We didn’t take them anywhere! Whoever took them wasn’t with us!”

Breathing heavily in her last moments of bracing against the bus, Geneva casts a questioningly appraising glance over at the rescue worker who had bid them to stand clear, but is only too glad to obey.

"Good riddance," she also can't help muttering not very under her breath to the mention of Noble. There are plenty of other things happening around her to bury the sound of her comment, anyhow, but nonetheless she can't even pretend to care. She is of similar mind to Hailey in that respect; if it weren't for the guard trapped inside, she would have been only too glad to 'accidentally' let the dink wrinkle slide.

Similarly, Gene purposely gives no response to Lance's moralizing observation about stopping the cycle.

"Just glad you're okay," is her final sidelong but meaningful mutter to Hailey, her gaze now fixed on the interaction between Darius and the others.

With her nose still slowly dripping blood, Elisabeth finds herself face to face with Samuel Irons. Her blue eyes narrow on the man — he was, at one time, a man she admired. Then he says something to her, and she frowns slightly. She can't hear him. Or… she can, but it's muffled. Sounds rather like the old Peanuts cartoons. The shouting outside is barely registering. She risks a glance behind her, sees what they're doing — trying to help her and Irons out — and she moves forward to haul the prisoner toward the back of the bus. "Let's go," she growls at him, shoving him ahead of her. She'll hand him down into their waiting hands before clambering down herself, with the help of the men holding the bus in place.

As they hit the ground, the blonde looks around to see what the situation on the ground is now and to whom she can hand off Irons. "Hey… can you secure the prisoner in a squad car?" she calls to another officer. The sight of the man on the ground, being helped, is the one thing she is glad for. And she takes a minute to step to the side and flex her ability a little. It's almost like her ears pop, and she can suddenly hear just fine. As one hand rises to her ear, she frantically scrambles through her memory to try to figure out… when the hell she began using her power to hear. The transition had to have been smooth to be so not noticeable to her. And her jaw firms as she realizes when and where is mostly likely that she lost most of her hearing. The detonation that killed David Cardinal was right beside her. She remembers Kain hauling her up, the sound around her almost non-existent… and then suddenly fine. Shit.

It's something to be dealt with later. She looks toward the agents and officers that came with her and calls, "The rest are gone. Call it in, please." Elisabeth has to wonder if the demonstrators were encouraged to come out here so as to be the distraction for a jail break. But until they can question any of those people, there are no answers.

Irons is brought to one of the Rikers vehicles, head buffered by guard’s hand, before being pushed inside. He’ll be questioned later, along with the three young kids who are hauled up to their feet. They don’t fight, not without the rest of the group left to help them, though they seemed to be among the most powerful of the crew. When the officer pulls down the masks of the girl and the boy who doesn’t speak English, they too are teens, the girl probably thirteen or fourteen, and the boy a little older.

Darius shrugs at Lance’s wisdom. Still wheezing, he seems to be getting more oxygen now, the color returning to his face. “Who the fuck took the others?” he mutters, staring over at the bus. “This was all for nothing.”

Three officers push the teens toward separate squad cars, murmuring their Miranda rights as they go.

With the teens and the responders now clear of the bus, the rescue worker dubbed as Magneto holds up his hands, and like a maestro of an orchestra, lifts his hands like he’s asking the musicians to lift their instruments — the bus rises up off the guard rails with a groan of metal. He then beckons toward himself with both hands, the epitome of someone helping another driver back up, and the bus inches over a few inches and then another few inches, until it’s fully above the bridge and not the side of the bridge. Finally, he lowers his hands, to bring it back down to a gentle landing.

“«You’re such a show off, Magneto,»” booms the voice of the helicopter pilot above — one Finn Shepherd. The metallokinetic grins and gives him a thumbs up.

“Let’s get traffic moving!” booms out the voice of one of the Rikers officers. While it’ll take some time to do, it’s a far easier job than unraveling just what happened today.

Irons stares out the window of the car he’s been put in, wondering how he is the only one heading north on the Bridge of Pain.

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