Come Home To Roost


abby_icon.gif devon2_icon.gif elisabeth3_icon.gif modi_icon.gif

Scene Title Come Home To Roost
Synopsis What should be a simple call becomes anything but when NYPD SCOUT realizes an attempted murder has just taken place.
Date February 5, 2020

The site of a condemned building, Jackson Heights

It’s not pleasant, but it’s necessary.

There’s a number of buildings within the Safe Zone that have been previously condemned, where plans were made to demolish and reconstruct them in the future. While progress might have been slow to reach some areas over others, it’s been steadily working its way toward this moment— where a boarded building with only a makeshift front door would be torn down in favor of a safer establishment being built on its foundations. With that moment come, it meant the people squatting in the building would need to find somewhere else to live.

Warnings had been posted previously, remnants of the notices to vacate still stapled to the boards though their messages have since been torn down. In their place, someone’s seen fit to spraypaint the words Fuck off where the notices were stapled.

“It’s a shame.” Officer Modi says on approaching the building. “We might encounter some people who were unaware they need to leave, thanks to whoever tore down the notice. It’s not going to make this any easier.” He’s not been out here before, but he’s seen other buildings like this one since the war, especially in the Midwest before he came to the Safe Zone. “We’re likely looking at war vets and old residents who haven’t found their way in the new system more than hooligans looking for a free place to stay.”

But it wasn’t safe for them here now, and it definitely wouldn’t be in the coming weeks.

A social worker accompanies the small group of police officers, who are in turn overseen from afar by a representative of Kajima Corporation— the company that’ll be beginning the teardown. The representative is content to stay by his vehicle, sipping his coffee while he observes. The social worker carries in hand and in her bag papers and pamphlets to point to resources for homeless and veterans in the hopes they’ll be able to find more stable living for anyone squatting in the building. She keeps a separate list, a silent one, of tenements and contacts within Park Slope for those who either refuse or find themselves unable. It’s a boon as much as a burden, that area’s resilience to the Safe Zone restoration efforts.

There’s no way to know who awaits them inside, though. In the back of the SCOUT officers’ minds, they can’t help but recall the BOLOs freshly issued for prisoners— war criminals— missing from PISEC. With the Safe Zone being a nearby center of civilization, there’s a chance they may run into unfriendly faces taking shelter in sites like this one.

Modi’s personal approach to the task at hand sees to it that the only thing he carries with him is a flashlight to better see by once they’re inside.

Elisabeth's mindset is similar to Modi's. She's armed with nothing more than tranq darts in the weapon on her hip on the off chance they run into someone who needs to be negated, and she is wearing her usual under-uniform body armor. Along with the damn helmet. Which, to her, looks ridiculous but she promised her husband she wouldn't go in anymore without it. And if she's going in mostly unarmed, she won't push her luck. Pulling in a slow breath, her flashlight in her left hand, the blonde stands next to Modi and murmurs, "I hate this part. I really hate this part." There have been times when she was one of these folks. She picks her way through the rubble of the yard toward the door they're using for entry, and she pauses there to make sure they have everyone. Her blue eyes flicker toward the social worker briefly and then she turns her mind to business, using her ability to sweep ahead for subtle sounds of the locations of squatters so she can point in directions for her companions.

Abby is at Liz’s back, armor and tranq darts in hand as well, the other blonde with her helmet on and prepared. Her own flashlight sweeping as they go. “Memories?” Abby inquires through the helmets speakers. “Places like this were our bread and butter.”

Bringing up the rear, visibly armed with both lethal and nonlethal options in spite of being in what could pass as plain clothes from a distance with only a minimal amount of body protection, Devon Clendaniel perhaps still makes a more imposing figure than truly necessary. That’s just how Wolfhound rolls, though. He’s watching their surroundings more than participating in small talk. Shadows that lurk in broken windows have the potential to manifest into enemy combatants. It’s these scenarios that he hates most, going into structures that should be empty, unknown threats likely to be waiting around any corner or behind any door.

Fingers flex, and the grip on his Banshee shifts slightly. Leather against high impact resin squeaks quietly. It’s more a tangible sensation than an audible one. Dev turns slightly, to sweep first left then right as they cross from street to yard.

Modi looks back as they come up on the door, his overall relaxed demeanor shifting at seeing the Wolfhound with his Banshee in hand. "Hey, there's no faster way to send a wrong message than to walk in armed. Do you mind?" It's not a question, ultimately. He glances afterward to Abby. Telling the Wolfhound directly, he felt comfortable with, where he only hoped the message would carry on to her, too.

For his part, he wears only an NYPD breaker on this mild day, the protective vest beneath it not obvious. For headwear, only the black, tight folds of his turban. He understands the concerns of the unknown, but he approaches them in a different way. One that leads him to take point as they approach the 4-story building.

He steps up onto the stoop, pushing aside the sheet of particle board partway. "Is anybody here?" he calls ahead, and Liz can hear that there are— a number of people on this floor, and a few on the second story as well. Those on this floor begin to shift, hearing Modi's voice. "This is the NYPD, we're coming in now." There's indistinct, faint sounds of movement from directly above once he pushes aside the board enough to enter in, but then the sound from above stills, like someone's waiting to see what happens next.

This building used to be an office, the poorly-maintained interior alludes to as much as the presence of office desks in the lobby, all shoved against the walls, some of them in pieces of what they used to be. Interior doors leading off of the lobby are missing entirely. The single elevator is clearly out, as there's no power to the building. Modi frowns as he steps further into the lobby, the light in his hand sweeping from one end of the it to the other to brighten areas the sun behind doesn’t reach.

“Hello?” Modi calls out, calm. He ducks his head forward to listen for sound. He’s not got ears quite like Liz does, can’t hear the footsteps approaching the doorway to the left of the lobby until they’re almost in sight.

A middle-aged man cautiously approaches the doorway, still dressed against the weather of the night before. He looks to Modi first, eyes narrowing, then glances to see he’s not alone. The social worker with papers in her hand seems to get his attention most. “Uh, can I help you?” he quizzically poses to the group intruding on the space. “Not looking for any trouble…” He shifts his weight, half-gloved hands finding the pocket of the jacket he wears over a zipped hoodie.

Beyond the elevator, a doorway to the right darkens with another figure poking their head out. Keeping her distance, a woman tentatively steps into Modi’s beam of light, brown hair tied back. She squints at the figures. “Who the hell are you?” she snipes, arms crossing over her chest. A shine glints in her eye as she glances back and forth quickly at each unfamiliar face, tense. “The hell do you want?” The man closer to the group glances back her way with a frown before looking back in the officers’ direction.

"Yeah," Liz mutters in response to Abby's question. "A lot of years worth of hiding."

A quick glance at Modi is followed by hand motions from Elisabeth to indicate where she's hearing people, though she can't give him a good headcount. "NYPD," she replies calmly to the residents appearing. "We're sorry to have to be the bearers of bad news, but the building's demolition is about to begin. We need to ask all of you to vacate the premises for your own safety. We have some resources to help you get settled in a new space." Her tone is gentle but it's lightly enhanced to carry so that the words are clear.

Abby, like Elisabeth, doesn’t have any of her weapons in hand. So the look from Modi is taken but the Pyromorph simply follows behind and, remaining quiet for now and adopting as non-threatening a posture as she can while in her armor. Though behind the faceplate, she’s regarding those who can be seen and keeping an eye out for anyone who might be taking this news of eviction less than well.

Eyes flick over to Modi, then away again, returning to the doorway. But Devon doesn't give up his arms. As Wolfhound, he quietly asserts his paramilitary mindset by keeping the non-lethal weapon in hand, just in a more restive grip.

It doesn't make him very much less intimidating. But he also isn't actively covering anyone or anything.

Dev brings up the rear again, as the police move inside he follows. A last look is cast over his shoulder, one more quick survey before he crosses the threshold and turns his attention to the interior of the building. And those faces that appear as the calls to vacate are made. He watches them, weighing, but makes no indication that he's going to strong arm anyone.

The man closer to the group of cops leans his head back in a mild recoil. "You— what?" he asks, clearly taken aback by the development.

The social worker is calm, taking a step forward. "We can do everything we can to make sure you've still got a roof over your head come tonight," she insists, papers rolled in her palm. The man only shakes his head, still reeling. His surprise pales in the face of the aggression suddenly shown by the woman at the back.

"What? You can't do that!" she insists loudly, gesturing forcefully for them to make their way back to the door. "There's dozens of other buildings in the Safe Zone needing work, just go do one of them!" There's a fierce, possessive edge of this place in her voice, aggravation rising. The man quietly frowns as he looks over at her.

Sweat on her brings wisps of hair to stick to the side of her neck despite the chill still in the air. Her arm quivers while she points them at the door, and she gets control of it quickly by balling her fist and bringing her arm back down to her side. Modi's brow creases as he notes her behavior. He stays calm and quiet, not wanting to trample over any rapport that might be being made here.

The raised voices down here further alert those on the floors above, feet and gear shifting with only the mild tone of a creak to hail its happening to those below.

Elisabeth notes the woman's response, and she keeps her tone quiet but firm and now laced with the same calming subvocals she's used to manage crowds in years past while still enhanced to also carry. "Ma'am, I'm sorry if you were unaware. Signs and warnings were given, but I know it's hard to actually believe it will happen sometimes. The owners of the building are coming in to work on the premises, and the residents must vacate the building." There is genuine regret for the woman's upset, and Liz doesn't want to have to resort to ultimatums… but ultimately her tone tells those listening 'This is happening.' Whether they like it or not.

Abigail for her part just tries to let Elisabeth’s own skills work for them as opposed to speaking up herself. She stands relaxed though, doing her best to ensure that there’s not a lick of aggression in her own posture. Though she tilts her head and looks at the woman speaking and that sweat. Especially given the weather. “Liz, pyro or sick.” She murmurs quietly, oh so quietly. “She’s sweaty like I get if I ramp up too high. Just before I implode.”

The shuffling, creaking sounds from overhead pull a look upward. Devon's posture remains seemingly relaxed and unconcerned, a conflict to the unwanted panic that lances through his core. For an instant he's back in Sunstone Manor, hearing the faint footfalls of unknowns, the possible enemy combatants.

His attention shifts to the woman yelling. It takes a second, a hard gaze, grasp briefly tensing on the Banshee, but the fractured piece of memory passes.

“If you don't leave willingly,” he supplements to Elisabeth and Modi’s orders, “then we will remove you.” Devon's voice is calm, patient, but unwilling to allow argument. “Gather your things, go with the social worker, take it up with the mayor if you've got a problem. If you stay, you give up your chance to be helped civilly and will be arrested for criminal trespass and failure to heed a lawful order. If you resist, those charges will be added as well.”

"Signs?" The homeless man echoes, looking back to the woman down the hall. But she doesn't look surprised. "No… you didn't…" he says slowly, understanding dawning. His shoulders sag, all the while the floor above creaks with the sound of someone heading away.

The woman refuses to look his way, seeming like she'll take umbrage with Elisabeth— until Devon echoes the order again with the potential consequences added. Her energy shifts, less aggressive, but just as insistent. "Y-you can't do this," she repeats. "I won't leave here. This is the only place—"

The man interrupts her, his irritation plain. He gets that they have to go, but his frustration with the situation needs outlet. "You seriously tore down signs posted by the cops? We all could have had time to get our things together, to look for a new place to live, but you—"

"This is the only place I've ever been able to remember him, okay?!" she shouts over him, eyes widened. Her arms come into a tight fold in front of her again in an attempt to keep her from shaking, or her voice from shaking. "I won't give that up. They can't make us leave. We've got rights. We…"

Modi frowns all the while she speaks, lowering his flashlight so the glare of it is less directly pointed at her. Gathering his compassion, he breathes in to speak— but blinks and looks up instead when the sound of a shriek erupts from one of the floors above. "Oh my god," is a clamor understood with any clarity only by Elisabeth. "Oh my god, he's bleeding!"

The social worker ventures a step toward the agitated woman, ignoring the sounds above. "Hey, I hear you. This isn't easy. But you don't have to take this all on alone, okay?…" Her path brings her before Modi, who looks back to Elisabeth to gauge her reaction to what's going on. Do they need to move?

Sympathy is evident in Elisabeth's expression, and a hint of regret. She knows what it's like to feel that lost. The social worker's willingness to step up frees Elisabeth — which is good because the shriek instantly brings the blonde's more militant experience to the fore.

"Clendaniel, Caliban — bleeder on the…. probably third floor? People between here and there on second. Go." The medically trained Abigail will know what to do to triage that while Devon will make sure no one touches the officer. She'll be right behind them momentarily.

Returning her blue eyes to the male resident who seems to understand what's happened, Elisabeth keeps her ability tuned to Abby and Devon's ascent while she speaks to him. "How many people are living in the building? It may be possible to negotiate a couple more days to give people time to pack, given the circumstances but… I can't promise anything." She glances at Modi. The Kajima representative is present on site, so if he's not a total dick, maybe that can be worked out? "Think that rep will come talk?"

“On it Harrison.” Abigail as she parts from the group that’s here and heading for stairs. She’s confidant that Elisabeth can handle everything down there and Modi. “Third floor.” And she’s on the move, the pack at her side unslung in anticipation. She will still take her time to observe the appropriate caution when coming around corners. She calls out a warning that she’s coming through as she goes so that people won’t get in her way. “Medic coming through! Please move!”

Neither the complaints and arguments, nor the blame game coming into play, sway Devon emotionally. Compassion and sympathy are partitioned from reason and patience. His attention stays on the woman and male, undeterred by attempted negotiations and emotional reasoning, balancing the social worker’s understanding with his inflexibility. It isn't as though he doesn't see where she's coming from, but the point is, they need to move.

His head turns, eyes lifting to the sound of scream. Again, for an instant, he's surveying the ceiling of a manor house in Southern California. He nods at Elisabeth’s observations and starts after Abby.

Unlike the medic — and probably to Modi’s chagrin — Devon holds his Banshee at the ready as he navigates through the crowds. The weapon, non lethal as it is, is still something that probably creates space well enough that he doesn't need to force his way. He keeps pace with Abby regardless, covering her back as they wend their way to the third floor.

It's a good thing everyone else is working on their compassion, because the homeless man isn't. He's found the perfect punching bag for his frustration that won't get him tazed, theoretically. "God damn it, Maisie, there's things more important than your need to get high!" The announcement that someone's been injured brings him to an abrupt calm, looking quickly between the authorities figures.

The woman called Maisie undergoes a rush of regret and guilt and anger that's capped only by the fact there's cops heading her way now. "They're not for you, they're not for you…" she has to remind herself in such a low tone she probably didn't mean for the words to come out aloud, all while she steps aside so Devon and Abby can take the stairs up.

Rounding the landing to the second floor, the fire door has been torn free and that lets the faint light that comes in from the windows cast passable vision through the second floor — enough that the odd shape can be seen without flashing their beam of light in that direction. But what's clearly visible to Devon and Abby both is the streak of a bloody handprint curving around the doorframe, from someone grabbing onto it to steady themselves while they hurtled through the space.

A middle-aged woman stands near the door, wrapped in a fleece-lined robe while she stands in winter boots. Her hands are notably void of any tell-tale red stains, but there she stands, a shell-shocked kind of confusion written on her.

From around the bend of the stairwell, the approaching agents can hear the sound of a voice upstairs, different than the female one that had screamed initially. A man upstairs can be heard saying, "Ronnie? Ronnie— look at me— stay with me, okay? It's gonna be fine, you just gotta be calm…"

On the first floor, the social worker draws a look that’s openly skeptical that the rep outside will give any ground at all. But Modi, on the other hand, seems optimistic. “We could try,” he agrees, then looks back to the homeless man. The man blinks, realizing he’s unwittingly become the resident representative here. Awkwardly, he turns a look down the hall toward the woman who’s cutting him a dirty look, then clears his throat as he looks back to the officers, realizing he’s burned any bridges he had in getting backup for these answers.

“There’s… uh, about a dozen, maybe sixteen of us here. We have people come and go sometimes. If there’s space, if there’s no trouble, we kind of just live and let live.” he explains, then shifts a telltale glance upward, as if he’ll suddenly be able to see whatever’s gone wrong up there— because that was definitely unexpected. “Some of us have been here for a while. About a half dozen of us. Me and Maisie included in that.”

Elisabeth nods slightly and murmurs to Modi, "you see what you can do with the rep. I'll start knocking on doors." If what's happening upstairs is too much for Abigail to handle on her own, she expects the radio will squawk. But in the meantime, getting the other potential residents alerted and moving seems like the best plan. She peels off the stairs on the second floor to start rousting people.

“Sorry ma’am, excuse me. Coming through.” Polite as can be, despite the mask, she’s looking both ways as she goes, trying to cover all her corners despite Devon at her back. “Medic coming!” She yells out so that those who are up further with the injured man know helps coming. There’s a gesture to the bloody smear and a glance to Devon so he can keep watch behind them since the man was hurt somewhere on this floor or just below. Danger could be behind them. There’s a dip of her head to those that her light catches or look her way. "Thank you for your calm.” She tells them and up she goes, following the bloody streak.

“You need to gather your belongings,” Devon states as he nears the shell-shocked woman. He's seen that expression more times than he can count. “Get your things and go downstairs.” The instructions are simple, two parts without any deviations from two known points.

«On the third floor,» Dev’s voice comes clear over the radio. He continues after Abby, without a second glance for the woman. She'll either stumble through her haze and follow his instruction or she won't. «We've got a female in shock, possibly needing assistance. Still looking for the victim.»

It's brighter on the third floor. When Abby and Devon emerge off the landing, it's clear that's because of a hole on the eastern side of the building letting sunlight streak through the area. There's three people visible up here— only one standing. A young woman, maybe in her early twenties, has her hands clasped around her mouth. She turns at hearing the footsteps coming up the stairwell. "He's over here!" she calls out in reply to Abby.

A boy her age or younger is on the floor, chest twitching as he resists the urge to cough. The man crouched over him is in only an undershirt, the flannel button-up he was wearing balled up and pressed into a wound around his neck. The man glances up, neither upset nor relieved that Abby's here, because the boy is bleeding out and his eyes are… "Ronnie, look at me. You gotta focus on me. You don't gotta say nothing or do nothing, you just have to listen to me, you hear?"

His hands are shaking, the pressure he's applying uneven for all his attempts to stymie the flow of blood. A steadier, more skilled set would be welcome.

"I just came up here and he was like this— I— I don't know how long he's…" the girl tries to explain, lowering her hands just enough to do so. Tears in her eyes as she looks back, she falls silent at the sight of how much blood stains Ronnie's jacket and shirt.

Despite Devon's clear and proper order, the woman on the second floor is still standing there when Elisabeth rounds the stairs next. The other cops had announced themselves, so she jerks away from the doorway in shock when another unexpected figure in armor appears. Her booted feet stumble a step back in the gloom. One hand lifts to keep Elisabeth at arm's length… or in self-defense of a different kind.

She's jumpstarted into a rush of words. "I thought they were good kids. They seemed like good kids. I told them we don't tolerate any trouble around here, and they… they seemed like…" Her eyes go past Elisabeth to the handprint curled around the doorframe — the directional smear of it indicating someone came down from above when swinging around the corner. "What have they done? They've ruined it, haven't they." Her tone grows mournful. "We had such a good thing going here…"

Instantly on her guard when the hand comes up, Elisabeth stops. When nothing comes at her, though, she says gently, "I'm sure they are good kids. Whatever happened upstairs, it's not connected to us being here. Ma'am, I have to ask you to go back to your apartment and gather whatever things you can. The owners of the building have been planning demolition for months." Her tone is regretful. "One of the other tenants took the signs down, but today is moving day. You all have to clear the premises. It won't be safe for you here."

She has one ear out for what's going on around her but she focuses on this part of her job while letting the others do theirs. "The wrecking crews arrive tomorrow, ma'am." Unless Modi convinces the hardass to give a small extension of time due to circumstances. "We have someone downstairs who will help connect you with resources that can get you to a new place to live."

It takes a moment to focus on the young woman and then to the two on the floor. There’s a sucking in of her breath and Abby’s peeling off the helmet and tossing it to the floor near the pair and comes to a sliding stop beside them. “Hold on. I gotcha. You’ll be right as rain here soon enough. Sir, keep pressure, lemme get something to help yeah. Ronnie’s yer name?” The southern accent at times can be soothing. Or not. All depends. “ He’s right, better if you don’t say anything right now, we gotcha.” She’s swinging that pack off her back and digging for the things she’ll need to stop the flow or at least get a look at what’s the problem. “ On the count of three, just move your hands sir and I’ll get a quick look and we’ll go from there.” She looks over her shoulder to Devon. “Ambulance, now. Right now. There’s no time to wait.” And then back to Ronnie and friends she focuses.

“Anyone got an idea of what happened?” Devon asks while Abby gets to work on the victim. He motions for the onlookers to move back, a hand signaling to approach him as much to give the medic space as to facilitate their eventual departure from the building. «We need paramedics and transport.» The message is relayed into his radio before he regards the scene again. “Anyone hear or see something?”

Stepping back as directed, the girl with her hands clasped before her only shakes her head as she draws closer to Devon. "It didn't sound like much of anything at all. Just… they were talking, then they weren't. I'd heard footsteps, so I thought they all left. I— I don't know why, but it just felt… too quiet, and I came out and…" She draws in a deep breath abruptly, the clasp of her hands tightening as she closes her eyes and turns away. "Oh, god."

She's looking away from the wound which the man uncovers on Abby's count. Ronnie's been stabbed in the front of his neck twice, one low to the side in the gap between clavicle and neck, and the other in the center, puncturing his trachea. He tries to look up at Abby, eyes glazing over with the effort of trying to say something, but his breath stutters and wheezes.

"I don't know what to do," the man admits, looking to Abby for guidance. He presses his shirt back down onto the lower wound to get back to stemming the bleeding from it. "I don't know how to get him air."

On the second floor, the woman only blinks as she looks at Elisabeth. "Oh." comes from her along with a deflation of her being, her shoulders sagging and her hand coming back down to her side. Any fight she might have had in her is overwhelmed by the number of other things going on. "The boys won't know…" she realizes in a daze, looking down the hall. "They took off. They won't…"

She turns away from Elisabeth then, making her way down the hall to a former storage closet just above where the entry of the building would be. Initially, she hesitates on seeing the door left open, ultimately fishing into her robe pocket for a pen light and shining it within. The shock in her suddenly fades, replaced with a keen apprehension. Her wrist flicks the light about the room from one space to the next. "Wait… what?…"

The woman uncomfortably turns back. "Hey, Officer…?" She can't begin to describe what she's seeing, so she simply looks back into the room.

It's a mess in there, gaps in the living space where things were hastily grabbed and hauled away, but a number of materials were left behind. Plastic containers with a strange assortment of odds and ends— one left open filled with batteries— newspaper clippings and other papers scattered. Scrawled in spray-paint on one of the side-walls, the writing is hard to make out on a set of words, but the first red word appears to be pure, while a second blue one reads earth.

"What in the hell is this?" the woman wonders aloud.

Elisabeth moves cautiously behind the woman. The boys? Her plan is to knock on doors, alert residents to the impending move. But the woman's apprehension creates a wariness in her. She flips her own flashlight off her belt and on, scanning the hallway as she moves to join her.

The sight that meets her blue eyes makes her go taut and she activates her com link. "Heads up, team, we've got at least one Pure Earther on the loose in here." There is a tension to the officer now that wasn't as pronounced before — Pure Earth is just Humanis First by any other fucking name. "Ma'am, down the stairs. Now. Which of these apartments are you residing in?" She'll sweep the apartment for trouble. "Tell me about these boys."

“Hey hey, I got you. I promise. I’ve been doing this for years.” Abby smiles down at the young man, not letting the trace of worry. “But I can’t promise it won’t hurt. So you stick with me and this’ll be just a bad dream at some point okay? I got you Ronnie.” She’s talking, while hands move. “Sir, keep pressure. Don’t be light, keep the pressure firm. It’ll be fine. He just got stuck bad is all. I seen worse on my Dah’s farm.” And she presses down on his hands to show him the right pressure. “You don’t let up. You understand me, not till I say so. I gotta get him some air.” And she’s doing that then, letting Devon handle anything that might come for them, her gloves already off and tucked under a knee, grabbing what she needs to get Ronnie an airway. “Pure earther, got it. You hear that Devon?” He probably heard that.

“Hey Ronnie, winters going away and springs coming. My daughter, she’s real excited because it means she gets to mess around in the garden. She sure loves her garden. Last year she grew tomatoes that were the size of her two fists. You stay calm, you get through this, I’ll let you and your family come, and y’all can sit in my backyard and we’ll have a nice dinner. No worries about anything. We’ll sit and slice some tomatoes yeah? You’ll get to take some home too. Okay, you ready? I’m real sorry for the hurt, but breathing's gonna be a whole lot better hmm?” And then she’s working. A look to the man with her helping and a reassuring smile.

A hard look angles to the stairs following the announcement over the radio, and Devon swaps Banshee for handgun. To borrow a page from his commander, Modi can go fuck himself. It's gone from slim chance of real problems to definite danger — as if the dying boy on the floor wasn't enough of a clue to that.

And me without my armor.

A short breath is huffed out and the Wolfhound officer motions for the onlookers to head down. “Stay together, down to the bottom floor.” He states it as a command, no longer a firm suggestion. “Go to the officer, nowhere else. Belongings will remain here until the building is cleared.”

«Civilians heading down,» Dev explains into his radio. He moves with the residents, checking over doorways and corners as he guides them through the building. «I’m escorting to the second floor, Harrison take over to the first. Once I hand off, I'll clear the third floor then join you on the second.» “Let's go, people, we need to move now.”

Ronnie's struggling. Even as Abby works to get him a clean airway, he's starting to slip off again. The blood loss is taking its toll, and it's only just now Hart's voice chimes back «Ambulance en route.» over the officers' earpieces. The man working with her leans into the bleeding wound firmly, calmed by Abby's story even if the victim they're both supporting is barely following.

The sound of his name draws light back into his eyes and he finds Abby's while she works on him, mouth moving in silent words that don't come. Just the beginnings of a sound. "R… Ro…"

Devon's command is met with a solid nod from the girl, even if she's reluctant to go. The danger spelled out by the name Pure Earth sends her going, though. She doesn't even ask about her things.

A floor beneath them, the woman in robes crouches to pick up something that stands out to her in the paper debris left behind— what's apparently a thicker note, handwriting on it. Once it's in her hand, though, turning it over reveals it's not a note at all: it's a photograph.

"The boys," she confirms in a daze to Elisabeth, then offers it out for her to see.


The back of the photo seems to list those pictured by name: Suzie, Evran, Cady, and Roman

The one on the right, though— they look familiar to Liz. It's a sullen face hard to forget.

"They… must have run out of here in a rush to forget something like that behind," the woman comments quietly. And a rush it must have been indeed, for the earlier shuffling that came from this floor can be heard no longer. The sound of hurried footsteps are long gone. Finally, the woman pulls from her reverie and shakes her head. "I'm in the office across from here… I'll pick up what I can, but my bed… I don't have a sleeping bag anymore. Gave it away." She's starting to seem like that type of person.

Downstairs, Elisabeth can overhear Modi successfully coaxing the two in the lobby out— along with another pair that have since appeared.

Elisabeth hasn't had a weapon in her hand as yet and she doubts she'll need it now, given the pieces she's mentally putting together. But she says quietly, "Go downstairs. After we've cleared the building, you can come back up for your things." Studying the picture for a long moment, she adds, "I'll get this back to you. You can keep it safe for them after we're done with it." Right now she needs it for both identifying the 'boys' and for potentially following up and locating them later.

She escorts the woman to the stairs and urges her and the two coming from the third floor down, keeping an eye on them until Modi has them. Only then does she unholster her pistol to methodically start clearing the second floor.

“Ro? I'll remember that Ronnie. You just keep looking at me okay? You know I used to be a healer? I’d say a little prayer to god and I could wick away the hurts. I was nine I think, when it first happened. Was a bird that flew into my momma’s window of her sewing room. I was right proper upset. So upset.” Once she has an airway for Ronnie though, and the assurance that there’s an ambulance coming, she’s checking in to make sure pressure is still applied and takes a deep breath. “I asked god to fix the bird. I know now that it was all just in my head, sorta. That I didn’t need to really ask god’s permission to heal. But back then, I didn’t.” She’s grabbing clamps laying them out on her knee’s, fuck the care for sterility at the moment.

“Anyways Ronnie. A few minutes after I was praying, I could feel the bones slip into place in it’s wing and before I knew it, it was flying right off.” There’s a glance to the man helping and she nods. “When I say lift, you lift, I’ll try and find the bleeder and clamp it. Buy some time for the paramedics. I’m real sorry I can’t heal anymore. Times like these that I wish I did.” Then back to Ronnie. “I learned then, that I had a gift. But I only had so much time with it. I like to think that I made the best of it that I could. But even though I don’t have it Ronnie, doesn’t mean that I can’t help you. So it’s gonna feel weird, but we need to do this to keep you alive so we can have tomatoes in my backyard kay? Just think of the big red tomatoes, and how good they’ll be sliced up on some toast with some salt and pepper hmm?” And then comes the nod and in the blonde goes, trying to locate whatever god damned bleeder is going to kill the teenager/young man. “Our father, who art in heave-” She starts to murmur, focusing on the task at hand. Trusting Devon and Liz to have her back.

Urgency lends speed to Devon’s feet as he goes up the stairs once the civilians have been handed off. Before he reaches the landing, however, he slows to take a more thorough approach to each doorway. From there everything becomes methodical, practiced, precise. Measured steps carry him into the apartment for a sweep of the interior. He’s thorough without dawdling, clearing obvious and potential hiding places before moving on to the next. His progress is noted, a murmured announcement into the radio upon entry and as each room is cleared.

All told, there's just under a dozen residents in the building, missing the two vanished boys and a couple faces who were out working somewhere in the Safe Zone. Any fuss over having to clear out is muted at understanding the apparently-present danger. Devon and Liz find no redhanded young men in their sweep of the aisles and side rooms of the second floor, and by the time Devon heads back up to the third floor, the entire building feels eerily silent. Abby's words disperse out into the air, no echo of them coming back from any of the walls while she works. The silence is oppressive, held at bay only by her murmurs, as the other man is grim and quiet.

Ronnie's lips move while she prays for his sake, the discomfort that comes with trying to stem his bleeding, something that doesn't cause him to so much as grimace. He just continues echoing what Abby's saying, taking in a labored breath of air. His hand lifts from his side, reaching for hers with a surprising strength in his grip.

Devon's trip up into the far stairwell after clearing the second floor reveals light coming up from the landing on the first— an emergency exit left hanging open. Likely the exit the attackers used to escape. The trip up to the third floor is made short by taking the stairs two at a time. By the time he clears the few rooms that are up here, he can see Liz coming up the main stairwell to the third floor, can still see Abby crouched with the stab victim and the lone other resident still in the building.

«Ambulance coming up now.» Modi announces over their comm, the siren of it heard indoors as well. «Able to bring him down or should I send them up?»

As Elisabeth and Devon clear the two floors and find nothing, the blonde's alertness level doesn't drop. But she does holster her pistol once she gains the third floor, meeting Devon's gaze with a quick nod to indicate that they're clear as far as she can tell. As she rounds the corner and sees what Abby is dealing with, Liz blanches a bit. It's a lot to see a tracheotomy in action. "Send them up — he'll need to be boarded," is her reply to the Sergeant downstairs. "Abby, where do you need me?"

Pulling off her helmet, Elisabeth puts it on the floor and sets about helping Abby with the man bleeding out on the floor, instinctively moving to stabilize his head and neck so the medic can do her job more easily. Kneeling above the man's head, though …. she's not sure he's going to make it to the hospital.

“No, we can’t get him down. They need to come up.” Interrupting the prayer as she speaks, but then back to praying with Ronnie, that beatific smile on her face as she goes. When she thinks she’s got what’s doing the most of the bleeding clamped off, there’s a nod for the only other resident to put just light pressure now. Hopefully that bought him more time. When Ronnie grabs for her hand, she slides her hand into his, entwining fingers. “You’re gonna go have a gnarly scar as a friend of mine would say. And it’s gonna be a bit getting better. But you got this Ronnie. I have faith. Tomatoes in the backyard. I’ll come check on you in the hospital, you and yours hmmm? We’ll get you better, get you squared away some place better to live than here and a belly fulla food.” She’s looking behind her to Devon and hopefully what will soon be the paramedics. Then to his companion. “You going to ride with him or do you have time to speak once they get him going?”

Devon remains near the stairwell while Elisabeth joins Abby, ready to move at the first sign of hostile intentions. He tilts his head toward the stairs to listen, while angling a look at the two women and the victim. He’s seen similar before, more times than he cares to remember, throughout the war and before. And to know that the zealots are still at it, the hate still remains, sets a coldness in the pit of his stomach. He looks away a moment later, rather than let his anger show.

"I'm not going," the man applying pressure mutters, still looking down at Ronnie and that odd smile he wears. "The girl from before— she'll probably ride over with him. She knows him better. Me, I need to get my pack and find someplace else for the night."

Now that the adrenaline of it is fading, he's changing. He's well-past the initial shaking hands, even past the get-shit-done of the moment in the race to stabilize Ronnie. Brush encounters like this serve to remind him why he's given up on ever going back to a normal living arrangement, on pretending like things really can go back to normal after all they've gone through.

The more They push for change, the more things ever stay the same.

"'m gettin' my things. Going." he abruptly announces, clearing the way for Elisabeth when she comes over. His soles scrape the floor as he steps back, looking over to Devon briefly before he decides to ask forgiveness rather than permission to head off into one of the side rooms to grab his things.

The stairwell echoes with the paramedics as they ascend quickly, board carried with them. The two set about their work quickly in taking advantage of the work already done to stabilize the victim, in lashing him down onto the board to move him. In the background, the homeless man returns with his coat on and a pack over his shoulder, visible for only a moment. He heads down the stairs before he gets in the way of the work being done.

When it's time for Ronnie to let go of Abby's hand, it's gone slack.

The area in front of the building is taped off when Abby, Devon, and Elisabeth emerge from inside. Modi's talking with the construction company rep, who's abandoned leaning against his car in favor of gesturing wildly between the building and the situation in general as he negotiates a way to still keep his timeline. Modi only shakes his head at him, and looks back to his fellow officers as they emerge from the building. He draws his hand across the side of his forehead, brushing into the fabric of his turban as he resets his focus back on the construction rep. It's the rep who storms off a moment later, phone in hand.

Nobody gets what they want today.

The social worker is talking with a few of the residents to quickly exchange as much information as possible so they're armed with knowledge before heading off into the daylight. She harbors no illusions that a few of them won't stick around any longer than it takes for them to be cleared to head back in and gather up their things. The man who'd just come outside with a backpack on his back and a sleeping roll tucked under his arm surely number in that group. But for the others, she tries.

She looks more somber than before, having heard what had been going on inside. Her eyes follow the paramedics as they begin to get Ronnie aboard the ambulance, then she looks back toward Abby and Devon and Elisabeth. What she sees in their faces drives her to look away before long.

Somehow, it felt like she was intruding.

Modi crosses over to the other officers, looking between them. "I've been following along the best I can from out here. Few people on the first floor said some kids tore out of the back of the building when we first got on site. I'm thinking it's too late for me to do a visual sweep from a higher vantage. They're probably long gone." Securing the scene instead of taking off was the smart call, the better call, but that doesn't make it one he feels better about. "Did you find anything that'll help us ID them?" he asks, unable to keep his hope for that from showing.

The photograph with the group of teenagers might be the only thing. But the kid on the right— Liz abruptly remembers where she'd seen this face before. It was back on Thanksgiving, when Shaw and Niki had shown up at the station. Roxie, the kid called herself.

The corresponding name on the back of the photograph says Roman.

As they all come down from the upper levels of the building, Elisabeth watches the injured Ronnie be loaded into the ambulance. She shares a long-distance grimace with Modi, sympathetic to his plight as he deals with the construction rep — who is being a total asshole, as expected. She retrieves wet wipes to clean her hands from helping hold Ronnie's head and neck stable for Abby and then the paramedics, but it's not until she looks at the picture that she pauses. "Son of a bitch," she breathes out. "Yeah, Modi… yeah, I just might." She turns around and makes her way back over to the woman from the second floor who had the picture.

After a few moments, she comes back with the photo in her possession, showing it to the small group and then explaining, "One of the kids got printed and put in the system after getting picked up a couple weeks back. Under the name Roxie, if I remember right." She points out the one in the photo, and then tucks it away under her vest. "I might know someone who can find him. Or at least have an idea where to look." Shaw always has his fingers in so many pies, he sees so damn much, and he might well have opted to try to help the kid after that night. It's worth checking, anyway.

Abby watches Ronnie get loaded, hovering almost but not getting in the way, a soft request for an update if and when the emt’s get him to the hospital. There’s a glance to the man who helped her and with her helmet tucked under her arm and gloves tucked inside, she dips her head to him and a mouthed ‘thank you’ before he disappears. But attention is back to Liz. “Someone whose name started with a Ro. Ronnie tried to say it before I had to work on him. Whomever they are, had something to do with at least what happened to Ronnie” She is speckled in blood and a few splashed on her wrists. Most on her knees. She will need to clean up.

Only once he’s cleared out of the building, after Abby and Liz and the EMTs have moved away from the entrance, is when Devon holsters his firearm. He directs a look to Modi, cold and unreadable. There are likely to be words to share in the near future. Elisabeth gets it to a slightly lesser degree. He moves to stand slightly apart, giving the police room to do their thing and the medics space for theirs.

"If they're in the system already, it's that much easier to put out a BOLO. That's one…" silver lining? Modi can't bring himself to say something so optimistic, evidenced by a glance back at the ambulance as they prepare to head for Elmhurst Hospital. "… consolation." He looks back to the other two officers, a double-take of an act interrupted by a momentarily glance afforded to the aloof Wolfhound agent as he steps aside. "Maybe there'll be a hit for one of the other kids, too."

That seems to be the part that distresses him the most as he looks down at the photograph Liz has. These aren't war vets— these are an entire new generation ascribing to Humanis, to Pure Earth ideology.

"Going to get worse before it gets better," he airs in a quieter voice. "Thought we might have seen the last of the spike that happened after the terror attack, but this…"

Hate against their kind hadn't come and gone in a wave. It wasn't a wave of popularity that simply died off with the season. It wasn't so easily put away.

No. Hate had come home to roost; its insidious few only growing in number…

And audacity.

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