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Scene Title Firelight
Synopsis Everything burns.
Date March 26, 2011

In Dreams

The night sky over New York City is bright with fire.

It acts as a beacon, drawing those who would be drawn to the source of the smoke and flames with the urgency of a signal flare shot up over an endless stretch of black water, and although fires sweeping through the gutted rubble are as common in these dark times as the high winds and torrenting rain that come with it, it's the fire's location that has brought the Ferry to the small commune on the city's edge where Jamaica Bay meets what was once Southern Brooklyn but now lies in ruin.

People used to live here. People with nets and boats and a wealth of oily fish clubbed to death on their wooden decks, either to be consumed or traded on the road every morning for supplies. People whose hands are callused from hard work but plenty to show for it.

People who can no longer be called people because they're dead. The grass gleams red with blood, bodies made visible in the darkness by the light of the flames rolling off the raging infernos that used to be their homes. The men responsible have set fire to their livelihood as well, boats untethered from the docks, set ablaze and pushed out onto the water to advertise the massacre that happened here.

Is still happening here. Screams rise up into the night with the soot and smoke, competing to be heard with the sporadic crackle of gunfire.

A young man in his late teens or early twenties stands on the crest of a rocky dune overlooking the commune as it burns, his eyes so dark their appear almost black, his face hardened into an expression that's difficult for even his mother to read. Nadal Mihangle won't even look at Nadira or the other women in her company, so riveted is he by the glow.

Nicole and her little girl are down there somewhere.

Monica Dawson looks over the scene below, listening to the screams with tears brimming in her eyes. Just barely held off from spilling over. It's incongruent with the guns holstered under her arms and the dagger at her hip and the general warrior look about her. Arms exposed by a lack of sleeves carry scars here and there, some very old. Most considerably more recent.

There's a thing with Monica, adrenalin and her ability. She just can't sit still. And that's probably why she's the first to move, nimble steps starting down that dune toward the carnage below. Battle plan? Coordination? The fact that Nadira manipulates water? She may need a reminder before she charges ahead.

The light the fire provides is more than enough to light up the night and pvide them with light to see, but it's almost entirely for her own comfort that lights hover around Robyn Quinn, a pair of seemingly incandescent balls floating and circling freely around her. It was a trick she had created for when she was on stage, but sometimes those things have practical application the least of when one expects it.

But, really, there's no practical application here. Just something to help her feel calm as she walks forward, just a step behind Monica. Even in her age, it takes a lot to slow her down when it comes to her friend. And now not only is one of them in trouble, it's her brood as well.

Quinn can't just stand there through that.

A smile is thrown back over the photokinetic's shoulder, aimed at Nadira and Nadal. "Hurry up and do your thing, Nadi. I think some of us don't plan on slowing down."

What pressure cannot break it will harden. Lines trace years of care onto Raven Diego's face, years of strain and endurance, no longer exceptional but rather merely a matter of course.

In these latter days, long since considered borrowed, the woman self-named Sable has regressed strangely to an earlier phase of her style: an army surplus urban camo jacket hangs loose over her still small frame, and her well-pocketed pants match the jacket's pattern. Calloused hands grip an AK-47 with a wooden stock - one of the old black market insurgent models that keeps on working - and yellow eyes dilate and contract as they adjust to the great flickering of the conflagration below.

Monica's dead ahead charge draws a low snicker from Sable. "If not with youth, than 't least with vigor," she intones, low, before checking the chamber of her weapon. It's loaded. Good. "Y'all see t' th' works of virtue," she says, looking over at Quinn and Nadira, "me- I'm gonna lay me low some pigs. Who's with?"

Nadira's gaze on the fire is sharp. The fact that everyone's so quick to jump in has her nervous. It's not that she's nervous about the situation itself, she's nervous about potential recklessness. A hand rests on Dal's shoulder where she squeezes lightly before she's already moving away. "Be careful," she utters, though it's most likely directed towards her son more than anyone. Her eyes go over to Quinn, squinting at her words with a narrowed gaze. "You act like I can't keep up." She moves forward, towards the fire, but it's mostly reflex. Her mind's already seeking out the familiarity of the nearby water to pull it to her whims. Her weapons are her hands.

Nadal dips his head at the touch of his mother's hand on his shoulder. There's a moment where it looks like he might lift his eyes to her face, but his gaze veers off and he turns, his long legs carrying him after Monica at a lope. Gravel tinkles down the slope around his booted feet, dislodged from the dirt and grass by his weight as his momentum pulls him forward and past her. "It's the house with yellow door," he reminds the women as they reach the bottom of the hill and the wafting smoke blows across the road in front of them, once used for loading and unloading supplies at the waterfront, now occupied by three heavy military vehicles with camouflage netting and cracked windshields. At least one of them is peppered with bullet holes from a previous encounter, and that's no surprise either.

The young man lifts his chin to indicate the direction that the women should be moving, in case they've forgotten. He's about to say something else, when a soldier comes around the corner between two of the buildings the fire has not yet spread to, and levels his weapon with the approaching rescue party. Nadal's brow knits, but before the soldier can pull the trigger, he throws up his hand and sends him hurtling back against the side of the house. The force involved produces a low humm — only a murmur in comparison to the concussive boom of the soldier's body slamming into the brick wall. He's dead before he hits the ground.


Monica only pauses in her run as Nadal slams the soldier away from them, and she draws her guns smoothly. "Keep us covered," she says to him, glancing his way with a hint of a smile. He reminds her too much of his father. Which may be the reason she picks up her run again before he can reply, off toward the house with the yellow door.

There are some times that Monica is reluctant to kill. And then there's… now. She gave up trying to decipher which choices are hers and which are her power's a long time ago. So as she rushes headlong into danger, the others can hear the sound of gunshots even when they can't see Monica for the smoke. They can hear cries of surprise followed by pain as soldiers follow the sound and get a little too close. Heaven help the ones that actually get a hit on her. They won't like her when she's angry. From time to time, her form is visible in a sort of dance/kung fu thing she's been favoring lately.

There's beauty in everything, after all.

An orb of light glides around and past Quinn's face as it makes it's orbit around her, illuminating it better than the fire can even at this proximity, dirtier than smormal with beads of sweat already slipping down her face. Unlike the others, she is the one least equipped for the conflict at hand. No athletic speed and flashy kung fu, no AK-47 (automatic weapons are just something she never adjusted to, try as she might), no telekinetic blasts or waves of water. Hell, sometimes her eyes don't even work properly. But she's far from helpless despite this.

A loose, black jacket is shed and tossed back towards Nadal and Nadira,revealing a very out of palce seeming holster at her side, a high calibur pistol resting within. Drawn from it's place, it's weight is heavy in Quinn's hand, the Irishwoman, taking a deep breath. Dulled as her vision may be with the light of the fire she has no problem telling friend from foe, trying to keep a brisk pace as she follows after Monica. She highly doubts she'll get out of this without having to fire a shot, so might as well get prepared.

Cover her? Sure thing. As they make their advance into the burning settlement, Sable keeps her vision sharp, her grip on the weapon ready. And ready it'll have to be. The firelit motion of hostiles catches her gaze too quickly, and with lips drawn into a thin line that is much more determination than regret, she lines up her shots, seeing where those bodies in motion will be in the crucial split second before they'll be there and-

Crack! Crack crack! Her muzzle flare is a white cross in the red-lit night. Two soldiers are kicked off their feet as the rifle rounds find them. The briefest pause to check that they aren't getting up, and then Sable is on the watch again, rifle braced and ready at her shoulder.

The Egyptian woman doesn't flinch at the sound of gunshots, or even take a second glance as her son dispatches one of the soldiers. Instead, Nadira is drifting into the eerie sense of focus that comes with her connection with the water. Her gaze turns to Quinn, a nod given towards her. Approaching the house, her hands move, as if in some sort of dance, water rushing forth to quell flames nearby.

She doesn't need to move her hands like that, but energy needs to be expressed somehow, and the graceful movements of her hand in time with the water just happens to be how it comes out. The water moves from shore and rolling up over land and feet like the sudden wave of a tsunami, low to the ground but still dangerous. It follows around her feet as she moves towards the house, ready for whatever purpose she might deem it necessary to use it for.

Lines of laundry flap haphazardly in the wind. Either the men or women who hung them forgot to bring them in before it began to rain, or it the killing started before the weather turned. There is no way to know for sure, and by morning the water will have washed much of the evidence away but not the bodies strung up in one of the trees the rescue party passes on its way through the smouldering commune. A dog trailing rope from its collar, cut loose by someone in the chaos, darts out into the path in front of them, then streaks off through the reeds on the other side without so much as a panicked glance in their direction.

There are signs that some people may have been able to escape. Among the pyres burning out on the water, Nadira catches sight of a few boats still intact off the shore, small figures huddled at the rail, watching their lives and loved ones go up in smoke.

She and the others can maybe hope that Nicole and her daughter are among them but—

The yellow door is hanging open.

Inside, the small, one bedroom house that Nicole has claimed for herself and the child is in a state of disarray. Clothes and books are scattered across the living area with its simple wood floor and faded throw rugs. A chair in one corner has been upended, and the loveseat beneath a broken window, glass shards glittering on the paisley cushions, likely would have been too if it hadn't been too much effort to lift.

Outside, embers from a nearby tree have spread from its branches onto the roof of Nicole's home, sparking flame to burn through the shingles. A limb too thin to support the weight of a teenage girl dangling from it by the middle at one point cracked, spilling her broken body onto the grass.

Stay under the bed and don't come out for anything, my little princess. Mommy will take care of everything. Just don't come out. No matter what you hear or what you see.

Mommy has not gone quietly. Some of the damage done to her home was done by Nicole herself, in an attempt to fend off her attackers. In the end, she's still an aging woman that isn't exactly throwing lightning about like some sort of Sith Lord anymore. But for all the signs of struggle, and the fresh blood spilt on the carpet, a shard of glass from the window thinly coated in it, there are still signs of life, rather than death.

Even if those signs are shrill screams coming from the bedroom.

"No! No! Please! Get off of me!" It's a horror Nicole's lived many times before, but one generally relegated to nightmares. Pants around her ankles make it difficult for her to lash out and kick at her attacker. The fight doesn't quite drain from her, but she grows strangely still and stares blankly up at the ceiling. Shutting down is an instinct she hasn't had to employ in a long, long time. Fat tears well up in her eyes and roll down her cheeks when she squeezes them shut.

Oh hell naw. All it takes is that scream and Monica's off running. Guns are holstered, because shooting is messy and that might just make the moment more traumatic for Nicole.

Plus, sometimes it's a good feeling to just punch someone, especially when they really deserve a beating.

So it is as Nicole gets that blank stare, Monica runs into the room, jumping up into the air just enough to spin a kick toward the side of her attacker's head. The woman's eyes go a little distant, because right now, she's letting her body and her instincts to the negotiating.

Quinn has a different tactic from Monica, one she somewhat ironically learned from Nicole's sister. She can hear the screams but she can't see what's happening. She doesn't really need to. The two spheres of light floating around burst in a flash of light, the goal being to blind anything in the immediate vicinity - and give her cover which can use, as her form shimmers behind Monica and fades from view.

Vision impaired as it is, this is a walk she's done enough times to be able to wheel herself well enough through the chaos that she reaches her destination without much incident. And when she does fade back into view, she stands just to the side of the other man, appearing just after Monica's kick lands. The gun is quickly raised level with the man's head, Quinn ready to issue a warning and demand a back off - and then she finally sees just what they had interrupted. Or what she assumes is happening. She doesn't care.

No mind is paid to the child that may be able to see when Robyn Quinn snarls and pulls the trigger, eyes blurring a bit as she watches what appears to be a grey mess splatter across the wall ahead of her.

In come the heroes. Nadira's fists clench at the sound of screaming, her own legs carrying her two stairs at a time up towards the sound. Thankfully, she doesn't have to do much of anything involving getting her hands dirty, but her gaze shifts around the room. Her instincts are to find and make sure the little girl is okay. Mothering instinct.

Nadal stands guard at the front door, one hand out and at the ready with fingers splayed, his larger body shielding Sable's much smaller, slimmer one should any bullets come flying their way. He may be younger than her, but younger does not mean more important.

In Nicole's bedroom, there is a dead soldier bleeding onto the floorboards, and an unconscious one sprawled at Monica's feet, the topmost button of his pants undone — they hadn't gotten much further than that. It makes little difference to the tiny figure huddled under the bed, blonde hair plastered to a round face that's yet to lose its baby fat, hands clapped over her ears to dampen the sound of her mother's screams.

She hears gunshots and abruptly lets out a loud wail. Nadira hears her before she sees her.

Nicole said not to come out. She didn't say anything about not making any noise.

It takes several moments and gasped intakes of breath before Nicole snaps back to reality after the gunshot. The sob that tears from her throat is one of relief, and she starts quickly putting herself back together, pulling her shirt closed and tugging her pants back into place. Fly up and button done with fumbling fingers. Her shirt is missing some buttons now, but that hardly matters. What matters is scrambling off the bed and crouching down onto the floor, her hands held out to her little girl. "Come on, princess. Come, come."

Her jaw is trembling when she looks up from her place on the floor to survey her friends and saviours. "Thank you," comes in a squeaky rasp, accompanied by a loud sniffle.

It's a good thing someone goes looking for the kid, because Monica follows that soldier to the floor, knees straddling his waist, offering a strangely similar visual to what was just happening a moment ago. Only Monica's version consists of her fists slamming into his face. A lot. Nevermind that he's unconscious.

And if there's one thing in this world that Monica knows with any certainty, it's how to throw a punch and make it count. Her hands are bloody before she stops, realizing that the child is in the room suddenly. Right.

She lets out a breath, then looks over at Nicole. "Sorry we weren't here five minutes ago." And she's genuine in that, enough that when she pushes herself back to her feet, there's a sharp kick added to the soldier's side. "Let's get you guys out of here."

Quinn's hands shake as they grip the gun, kickback having raised the weapon so that the barrel now points at an angle towards the ceiling. The damn thing still hurts her hands, but it's what she knows how to shoot and it gets the job done. Every time reminds her of the first time she fired something this strong, though, and it threw her shoulder out. She'd have to remember to think Special Activities again, like she always does.

It takes a few moments for her breathing enough that her eyes refocus, and she tries to wipe smatter off her face,mostly just succeeding in smearing it on her arm. The weapon is shoved back into it;s holster long enough for Quinn to bend down, and despite what she's just gotten all over her, she near lunges forward and hugs Nicole. "I'm so sorry we weren't hear sooner," she says quietly. "An' I'm sorry if anythin' got on you," she adds with a bit of a darker grin, leaning back and offering a hand to help her up with. "I hate t' rush you, though, but I hope you're both good t' go. That sound was loud enough t'tell anyone else right where we are, I figure."

When Nadira hears the child's wail, she's down to assist, checking on her while Nicole fumbles to compose herself. When the little girl won't budge from under the bed, the Egyptian woman leans under the bed a bit, her arms gently reaching to pull the girl out and return her to her mother's arms. "You're both safe now," she offers, her voice soft before she looks to Quinn. "Even if they heard that, our welcome wagon at the front should be more than enough to keep them at bay." She peers down at Nicole's daughter before looking back up. "But let us not take any chances. We should leave now."

Daughter is passed off to mother, and small hands tangle in dark hair. A child's lips smear kisses across a tear-streaked face. At the front door, Nadal and Sable watch the commune around them burn. A house across the road crumbles before their very eyes, the roof collapsed, and Nadal raises an arm when the smoke, soot and microscopic debris tumbles in a wave toward them, but the wind takes it before it hits. Embers die in midair, turning from gold to black.

His mouth presses into a flat, unforgiving line, and there's quiet judgment in his voice when Sable hears him mutter darkly under his breath, "She never should have left."

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