How Many Smugglers Does It Take


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Scene Title How Many Smugglers Does It Take
Synopsis To get a boat unstuck? To pull a man (and a dog) out of the water? To get a comatose girl back to New York City? Three!
Date November 17, 2010

The Water Along the Eastern Seaboard

Re-rigging the cabin of What Jenny Thought so that a cot could be set up inside and not knock around so easily took time, especially given the fact that Wes Smedley and Nick York had to work surreptitiously. While there are cots to spare in Bannerman's Castle, it's not exactly easy to slip one out of the bowels of the Ferrymen's newest facility and down to the docks, let along wrangle it down into the cabin of the small yacht. All the better that their expedition doesn't set off until well after dark.

It will take a few hours to reach Red Hook, especially since Smedley isn't moving the boat down the New York, New Jersey border at full tilt. One might think that traveling so close to the state line would be a bad thing, but the only other option is taking the Harlem River - lined on both sides by state roads, parks, and buildings.

It's not exactly the most low-profile of roots, especially late at night.

Carson stands at the stern, watching where they've been, his floppy ears slicked back against his head by the wind, his eyes squinting, and his nose quivering. Occasionally, the old dog turns his head to look back at those on the deck of the yacht, his mouth opening to let his tongue loll out with the simple joy of being a dog on a boat.

A joy that the three men making this journey fail to share with the only other conscious passenger.

Getting the cot out wasn't the hardest part. Extracting an unconscious Delia from an infirmary, getting her up the stairs from the basement, across the compound without being questioned too terribly much, and then on to What Jenny Thought was up there with cracking the safes at Fort Knox or finding out what color panties the Queen liked wearing.

Lavender, if you must know.

Jaiden makes his way down the docks, his backpack slung over both shoulders, pushing a makeshift wheelchair scavenged from somewhere in the castle - it's amazing what one can bang together when there's a need. "We're almost there, Delia…" he murmurs into the quiet woman's ear, even though she really can't hear him, the IV bottle bobbing with each bump the chair goes over. "We'll get you home and everything'll be okay…"

Still, they managed to get her on the boat without causing too much of a scene, leaving the wheelchair on the dock, out of the way, like it was left there a long time ago. And now, sitting in the cabin next to Delia, is Jaiden, his hand holding hers lightly, watching the water as it passes, listening to the chugging of the boat's engine as they go.

Nick's been given a gun, since he lost his along with all of his other possessions — at least he'll be able to get to his apartment and get some clothes once they make "port" and set up Delia, even if he has to break into his own home to do so. With a hand curled around the steel, Nick feels a bit less helpless — violence is one of the few things in his life he actually does well. Well, recently shoulder injury excepted.

His pale eyes stare at the path their boat cuts through the water, keeping an eye out for anything that might present a danger to this secret voyage. "How much longer?" he asks, glancing over at Wes.

Tides are a tricky thing when one is trying to navigate in the dark, especially after major incidents that might have shifted things around down below. Something bumps along the side of the boat, which is Smedley's first clue that anything might be wrong. A quick pull back on the throttle to slow the vessel down even further is met with a second jolt. This one actually throws everyone forward as the boat is suddenly jilted to a stop. The cot skitters a little across the floor of the cabin, the body on it teetering dangerously off one side of it, only to be caught just in time by Jaiden.

There's nothing around, no lights, no sounds. No sounds. Not even the motor. After all of the scraping finishes, they are left with silence but the gentle lapping of the water against the hull.

Delia is arranged back onto the cot and strapped down this time, for her own safety. The IV pole is dscarded and the bag actually held up by the large Australian rather than relying on a piece of rolling metal that could injure someone if such a think could happen again.

Smedley's concern is split for a moment between whatever is outside his boat and the unconscious girl on board. It's a testament to his experience that Carson doesn't bark, but the dog does turn to look at his master for a moment before he moves to the side of the boat to look over.

He looks at Nick and lifts his eyebrows in a silent admittance of ignorance. Now, he can't be sure how long it will be. Not when he has to kill the engine and figure out what's happened. Getting stranded in the Hudson is the last thing any of them need right now.

Flipping his oilskin to one side, Smedley pulls one of the revolvers from the holster at his hip. He moves to the side of the boat where the noise originated, clicking the hammer back as he peers suspiciously over the edge.

"What the fuck—" Nick mutters. Standing as he is, he stumbles a couple of steps, reaching out to catch the back of one of the seats for his balance. A muscle in his jaw twitches as he turns to look out the side of the boat as if that will tell what's caused the damage — but whatever it is, it's invisible from where he stands.

The thud from outside the boat doesn't feel exactly right, all things considered. The IV bottle is hung on a protruding nail in the side of the cabin and he bends to give the sleeping girl a kiss before running upstairs, two steps at a time. If there's anwhere that a hydrokinetic is useful, it's on the open water. "What'd we hit?" he asks in a low whisper.

And whatever they're looking for, doesn't come to the surface, not for a few minutes anyway. The boat is still stalled to a still, not even drifting, which means it must have caught on something. Then the culprit, or part of it, bobs just above the waterline. A jagged piece of broken tree branch. The way it's positioned and the fact that it's not moving either is fairly indicative of the size of driftwood that it's attached to. Not just driftwood but drifttree.

Along the water's edge, there's the five foot diameter remains of an oak tipped into the water.

There's no way that Smedley is about to jump into the water to free them the branches their caught in. He curses under his breath, swearing oaths against the health of his motor's blades as he holsters the gun again.

When Jaiden arrives, some of that tension fades. "Damned tree in the water." When you're running dark, you're bound to run into things that you wouldn't normally guess would be in the river. But still - this is one big damned tree. "We're stuck until we can get loose, and we don't want t'linger."

"I can take care of it….at least move it enough to get us out of the way." Jaiden moves to the front of the boat and waves his hand across the water, the inky black stuff moving away slightly to reveal a few gnarled branches. Lifting the boat is out of the question, but perhaps moving the tree with the current, or raising the water level enough to float over it may work.

"Okay, hang on…and Smedley, be ready to go when you feel us get free…" He sits, cross-legged, near the bow of the boat and rocks his head back and forth before his power goes into effect. The current behind the boat builds but does not pass the point that Jaiden sits….

"Fuckin' hell," Nick mutters, his own gun getting set down on the seat in front of him. He heaves a sigh, glancing around the helm for the emergency bag and grabbing it, glancing up at Wes to make sure the cowboy doesn't take a swing at him for being grabby, looking for the hatchet or Marine knife or both that Smedley likely has in there. Clearly, he's about ready to go fight the oak tree, despite the fact that he looks like a welterweight highschooler could beat him in a fight — let alone a tree in dark water.

And Nick's not really much of a swimmer.

Luckily Jaiden comes to the rescue, and Nick looks relieved — he does move toward the edge of the boat to peer over, watch the water show. "Hopefully the motor ain't broke but just jammed…"

The water rises around the boat and it shifts to one side, and keeps shifting to that side… and keeps shifting even more to that side. Before Jaiden stops raising the water level the boat is teetering dangerously to starboard. Whatever has them is not letting go. Poor lightweight Nick might have to jump in the water or they might have to think of something else.

"Fucking hell, Jaiden!" Smedley shouts, breaking the tense hush that had hung over them since they left Bannerman. He grips the edge of the boat that has now lifted high into the air, and he can't help but think what the shift has done to the girl down below. "York, hold tight!" Smedley grits his teeth, then shakes his head. "Set us down!"

Carson slips along the deck, his claws scraping against the surface. He whimpers, unable to get any sort of grip given the incline. And after some struggling at the far edge, finally opts to just jump into the water.

The very, very cold water.

When the water rises and the boat tilts, Jaiden's power doesn't automatically shut off, instead lowering the boat to the level of the water with nary a splash. "Sorry!" he says in a bit of a stage whisper scrambling to his feet, a platform of water sweeping around the outside of the boat to help Carson out of the water.

The younger man grabs the edge of the boat to hold on when the yacht's angle threatens to throw him over to the far side of deck. But when it's clear the tree isn't going to relinquish its grip on their vessel, he swears under his breath — careful ears might catch a few bloody 'ells along with ain't no fuckin' do gooder, who do you fucking think you are.

Even as he swears, he's angrily pulling off the tuque that keeps his head warm, then his DC sneakers and the sweats and flannel shirt that someone lent him.

Don't worry, boys, he keeps on the boxers beneath. "If I fuckin' get hypothermia…" is his last bitter comment before grabbing the hatchet and moving to the little ladder off the side of the boat.

Without going too far down the ladder, Nick can actually see the culprit that has them caught up. It's not the tree itself, but a bunch of vines and seaweed that have wrapped themselved so tightly around the tree and the propeller blades that they're effectively anchored to the driftwood.

Losing any man, be it to the Coast Guard or their death of cold, is not something that's very high on Smedley's to-do list tonight. Once they're level again, Smedley follows Nick to the edge of the boat, his eyes drawn to Carson as the dog surfs on a wave.

The old dog whimpers again, unsure of himself as the water holds him aloft. But he doesn't hesitate long before jumping back to the deck and immediately shaking himself, sending a spray of cold water onto the men.

Smedley only winces slightly at the sting of cold water before he grabs a rope from where it's been coiled on the deck. He ties a quick loop into one end and drops it down beside Nick, letting it rest against the hull. Just in case.

"Talk t'me, York," he says steadily, his tone relying just how on-edge he is.

Jaiden gets to his feet slowly, padding over to peer down the side of the boat, to try and see what there is to see. A quick glance to either shore follows, and an apologetic scratch behind Carson's ears caps off the deal. "If we're hung on something, I could make a kind of platform to stand on for us to do…something."

Clutching the ladder, Nick looks back up. "It's a clusterfuck — can you hand me the blade up there? I need to cut 'er loose, and hatchet ain't gonna do fuck all," he grumbles, waiting for the knife to be handed to him. "Buncha plant shit wrapped around the tree and the propeller. That motor ain't gonna kick back in alla sudden, right?" Nick has no idea what yacht motors do — his boat's a little speedboat.

"Cut the engine so it doesn't restart on me, yeah?" He'd like not to lose a hand in the operation. "Standing ain't gonna help, I gotta get low I think — just be ready to pull me up if something goes wrong, I think." His teeth are already chattering just thinking about it. "And throw me the life jacket…"

Tying off the rope as Nick relays the information, Smedley gives him a brisk nod. "Jaiden, there's a hatch at the bow - lift out a vest and toss 'er down, would'yuh?" He doesn't wait to see if the younger man complies. Instead, he heads to the wheelhouse to ensure that not only the engine is dead, but that the keys aren't in the ignition.

Once they're dangling from their lanyard, Smedley leans out of the wheelhouse. "Your set!" he calls to Nick, glancing down as the woebegone Carson slinks his way into the small structure that will offer him some protection from the wind.

When he returns to the deck, Smedley kneels to grab the knife from the bag, then grips the edge in order to hand it down - handle first - to Nick.

Jaiden stands at the railing, looking down. When Nick's feet hit the water, it's solid, almost like standing on the deck of the boat itself. Jaiden smiles, but it's obvious he's concentrating. "Take your time, mate. No sense in you getting any more wet than necessary."

Nick takes the life jacket and throws it on, then connects the rope to it — just in case, and lowers himself down, shivering at the cold water as it touches his feet — seemingly solid.

He kneels on it and begins to cut through the vines, but soon the fluid "ground" beneath him is not so solid— and he beings to sink into the water; he glances up at Jaiden but doesn't yelp or yell; instead he keeps at his work with the knowledge the life jacket will keep him afloat, and he's moored to the boat thanks to Smedley by the rope.

The vines take time to cut through, and once he's finally cut loose the last vine, the oak begins to float away; he now has to unwind the dead strands of plant matter from the propeller blades.

Not only does the oak float away, but so does the boat. Were it not for the mooring, the young man might ahve been left behind with the log instead of being tugged along behind the boat. While his cold hands work to untangle the propeller blades from the mess of vines, his foot catches on something else in the water and he tilts forward for the time it takes him to free himself rather than more vines. By the time Nick is finished pulling the props free of their tanglements, his lips have turned color and he's chattering violently.

Smedley's eyes are glued on Nick, waiting for the go ahead to start the engine up again. He is far from patient though, and moves away from the edge of the deck back to the wheelhouse, shaking his head along the way.

"You let me know as soon as we're good t'go, and you pull his ass up as soon as he's done." Because Smedley can only imagine how bone-cold that water must be, especially for a man without shoes on, not that they would matter after long. He pulls off his oilskin so that just his ribbed turtleneck covers his torso and tosses it onto the deck for the hydrokinetic to use to at least keep the wind off their industrious shipmate.

As soon as Nick moves away from the propellers, Jaiden reaches down to grab Nick's hand, his power taking hold, hopefully letting him step out of the icy water and onto surface tension. A quick tug gets him on the deck and another judicious use of JAiden's power gets his clothes bone dry.

"G-g-good to g-go," Nick manages once he's on board, the knife dropping from his hand with a clatter as he moves for his clothes, pulling his cap over his bare head with shaking hands and trying to open the sweats with numb fingers to climb back into. "I'm g-gonna go d-down to the c-cabin to get warmer," he chatters, stumbling toward the steps that lead down to the cabin.

The engine roars to life once again, but Smedley doesn't gun it, despite how far they've drifted. Instead, he eases them away from the spot before returning to his former cruising speed. "Go do that," he says flately, his brow furrowed. If he's lucky, Nick won't suffer any disastrous ill effects, but getting the man someplace warmer than Jenny's bowels is as much a priority as it is to do the same for ol' Red.

When Nick heads down the hatch, Carson is soon to follow after him, taking advantage of the opening to jump down into the lower compartment as well. "Thanks," Smedley says to Jaiden after a moment, his voice only a little more relaxed than it had been. "If you're tired after all that, I understand if you want to snag a nap. If we were gonna get humped, it would'uh been right there, and if something else happens, well… it ain't like you'll be goin' far."

It's a relief to be moving again under their own power, and Jaiden nods to Smedley before glancing over his shoulders at the shorelines, far in the distance, looking for any twinkling lights there may be that are showing interest in the lightless boat making it's way past. "You're welcome." is Jaiden's response, the man taking a seat near the stern where he can see just about everything and hold a conversation with Smedley as he drives, if he's a talking kind of man. "I don't know how I can thank you for this….you need any work done on a car, you look me up."

Down below, Nick rubs his arms to get his circulation moving again, finding a blanket with the emergency supplies to wrap around himself before finally moving to re-arrange Delia where she's slipped a bit off the cot. He stares at her a moment, but being alone with someone so fragile-looking is too disconcerting to him, and he moves back upward toward the deck once more.

He nods to Jaiden. "Thanks for the help. Neat little mojo you got there," he adds.

"No car," Smedley says with the smallest of grins. "Just Jenny, here. Been thinkin' 'bought a bike, though. Maybe when the weather gets nice again."

When Nick returns, Smedley looks over his shoulder and gives the man a nod, his frown returning for a moment. The army surplus blanket, as thick as the wool cloth may be, won't do much for very long, even if Jaiden's dried the other man's clothing. "You sure you're okay?" their captain asks with furrowed brows. "If it's all the same, I'd like t'return you in one pink piece."

"You've got one parked at my garage. When the streets are a little safer, come by and pick up the keys." Jaiden returns that smallest of grins with one of his own, standing after a moment to greet Nick before slipping downstairs to be with Delia. "Let me know if you need me. I need to sleep, but probably won't."

"Been c-c-colder," Nick says, which is, sadly, not a lie — but then, it's true for anyone who lived in this city last year. For Nick, the freeze was not so distant and yet more — just days ago and years ago in the paradox that is time travel.

"I'll stay up and k-keep an eye out. P-probably better not to sleep anyway."

He retrieves his gun and slips into the seat at the helm beside Smedley's, blue eyes bright in his pale face. "Fuckin' tree."

Below deck, Carson has already jumped up onto Delia's cot, and braced as it is against the cabin's wall, it doesn't suffer any ill effects from the addition of the old dog. So he's a little wet. But Delia is warm, and she won't mind if he curls up at her feet, right? Of course she won't.

Smedley gives Jaiden a nod before he watches Nick resume his seat in the wheelhouse. He chuckles, shaking his head.

"Y'could say that again."

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