Human Drama


alix_icon.gif chess_icon.gif ivy_icon.gif

Scene Title Human Drama
Synopsis Chess finds herself confronted by an unknown assailant.
Date April 3, 2018

A cold and steady rain hammers the Safe Zone. Across places like Park Slope, where revitalization halted and never resumed, the pothole-riddled streets are partly flooded with gray water. Clogged drains and poorly maintained sewer systems do nothing to stem the rising tide. The rain is not suspected to last for too long, but the water has already reached ankle depth outside of the crumbling walls of a brick castle pockmarked by old gunfire and cracked from explosions.

It is pitch black here in the early evening hours. No street lights by which to see, just the diffuse and ambient glow of city lights much further away. It's barely enough to see by in a storm, it does wonders to hide the approach of strangers. The rain does that too, with its battering din and splash. Normally this would be cause for celebration for the unscrupulous, except not today.

Some of the rainwater is pink, swirling around the disturbances footsteps make in them. Once-designed suede boots are now ruined beyond recognition, stained equally by water and blood. The boots belong to a sleight woman made to appear larger by her rain-soaked fur coat. She ambles like a wounded animal, blood matting fur as much as rain. Dark hair clings to her scalp and ringlets stick to her flushed cheeks. She stumbles again, pushing past a halfway closed gate and into the spacious brick entry hall just beyond. She could die here, probably. It's dry at least.

14th Regiment Armory

Park Slope

The wounded woman finally buckles ten feet past the entrance, dropping a phone as she does. The screen cracks as it hits the concrete floor. She drops to one knee, one hand swiping blood on the wall as she tries to steady herself. Then, crumpling, she collapses forward onto her face. Exhaling a ragged, gasping breath, she looks wide-eyed into the darkened halls beyond.

Help,” She calls out, weakly. Then, with the desperation of a dying animal once more. “Help!” She isn't sure she can manage that effort again.

One way in, one way out, Luther had said of Chess’ tower just a few days ago; the words had resonated and she’s stopped sleeping there, choosing instead one of the first-floor offices where she could slip out one of a dozen ways — or hide in one of a few dozen places. She isn’t sleeping when she hears that first faint call for help, but simply reading by the light of her solar lantern, the same faded, yellowed paperback she’s read so often she knows it by heart.

The sound makes her look up, squinting, as if that would help pinpoint the location of the voice. It doesn’t. But then the voice calls again, enough to tell Chess she didn’t imagine it.

She’s instantly on her feet, the lantern left behind — she knows the halls well enough to move through them. She stoops to pick up a baseball bat in one hand and her messenger bag in the other, the latter getting slid over her shoulder as she moves out of the office, slowly and near-silently, moving through the halls toward the voice.

When Chess gets to the entry, it takes a minute for her eyes to pick out the figure in the dark. Her own breathing and heartbeat sound loud in her ears, and her dark eyes slide around the hall to look for any other forms before she approaches. “Hey,” she whispers, trying to see the woman’s face. “Are you okay? Is someone chasing you?”

Whoever she is, she doesn't answer Chess’ question. Terrified green eyes stare up at Chess, through Chess, and into the inky darkness of the ceiling. The smell of blood is strong in the air, the sound of her labored breathing nearly as much. The stranger reaches up, bloodied fingers pawing at the air in Chess’ direction. “Help,” is a rasping whisper now, and there is nothing behind her except the partly yawning gate and a sheet of rain hammering the street outside.

It's just cold enough tonight that Chess can see the puffs of breath from the woman on the floor, heaving gouts of steam, getting incrementally smaller. The hand outstretched to Chess is slowly lowering, fingers stilling rather than curling desperately to find purchase.

Chessie,” is but a whisper from the stranger’s lips. They've never met, but the slurred word still belies some familiarity.

Chess is inching closer, her brows drawing together in a scowl as she looks for the source of injury on both the stranger’s body and also in the darkness around them, eyes darting between the woman and her surroundings. When that name is whispered, one she hasn’t heard in years, she stills, like a statue, for a long moment, staring at the woman’s face.

Is it someone she knew in the past? Her mind tells her no but something seems to pull at her that says otherwise. She shakes her head slightly, like it might have been just a trick played by the acoustics of the entry hall.

She finally gets close enough to crouch beside the woman. “Where are you hurt? I can try to call 9-1-1 but cell service sucks,” she whispers, offering her hand to the other.

“I have a first-aid kit, but you look like you need more than I know how to do. I’m not a medic.” Her whispered words tumble out rapid-fire and apologetic. “But if someone’s nearby, I need to make sure they don’t come in or it won’t matter, yeah? Were you followed?”

Run,” comes too late as a response to any of Chess’ questions. In that same moment, she catches sight of a change in her peripheral vision. Standing in the arched doorway, insinuated between the gate and the sheet of rain falling outside is a black silhouette of a figure, dripping with rainwater that washes off of a glossy coat.

The flutter of adrenaline that spikes in Chess jolts a second time when she hears the snap of a folding knife opening. Whoever the figure is, they hold a wicked and curved knife in one hand that reflects the muted light from the street across the blade. On the floor, the stranger stares at Chess with a helpless expression, barely the strength to speak let alone protect herself.

Chess’ gaze snaps to the gated archway and she jumps back up to her feet in a smooth motion despite the fear rushing through her veins like ice; as she stares at the figure, one hand slides into her crossbody courier bag, pulling out her own knife, one meant for throwing. She laments that she hasn’t restocked on larger ammunition (like hubcaps) but the bag is full of odds and ends, all potential bombs.

She doesn’t run but instead plants herself between the woman pleading for help and the stranger who’s followed her to Chess’ little castle.

It takes only a second or two in her grip to charge the blade, and in that same instant she breathes in, eyes narrowing as she takes aim, then throws that blade, aiming for the core. Once it’s left her grip, she’s already digging for the next object, all while holding that bat, ready to swing it if the figure draws closer.

The knife impacts the figure in the doorway with a startled help. She recoils, and the knife glows brightly but then does not detonate. Instead, a warm and fiery glow spreads under the skin of the intruder and in that incandescence Chess can see it's… the same woman laying on the floor. Nearly identical haircut, but dressed in a plastic raincoat over nicer clothes. She looks to the knife embedded in her abdomen and winces, that glow moving from flesh to eyes where they radiate light like fire.

Yingsu,” the knife-wielding woman in the doorway asserts, pulling Chess’ blade from her abdomen. She looks at the bloodied edge, light spilling out of the puncture wound. “That wasn't very nice!” The raise of her voice comes with a hand raised, and a shocowave of kinetic energy ripples out from the attacker, passing over the woman on the floor and slamming Chess hard enough to knock her off of her feet. She slides backwards across the concrete, new knife tumbling from her hand before it could receive a charge.

As for you,” the woman in the raincoat hisses at the one on the floor, advancing on her with the folding knife she'd opened on entering the hall.

Chess’ dark eyes widen when she sees the knife glow and the illuminated woman’s face — the same face as the woman pleading with her on the ground a few moments before. But there’s not much time to react before Chess is thrown off her feet, slamming into the cold, hard ground. She winces, but stands up again, grabbing the knife in one hand and tightening her grip on the metal baseball bat on the other.

“I’m rarely nice, biǎozi,” Chess says as she moves toward the woman in the raincoat standing over what seems to be her twin.

She raises the bat and swings for the woman’s head, aiming for the thin bone of the temple — this time not charging the bat but simply using her natural strength and unadulterated physics. If their attacker is using the energy against her, she doesn’t want to give her extra fuel.

The baseball bat strikes true, and when the knife-wielding woman is struck the area around the impact flashes with a ripple of orange light beneath her skin that backlights veins and capillaries, as though her skull was glowing. Though she recoils, it's clear that the blunt force impact did less harm than it should. There's still a split in her skin, but she's not on the ground or unconscious. Instead, she flips her folding knife around and lunges at Chess with a backhand swing.

Chess leaps back and away from the slash, blocking a downward stabbing motion with a strike of her forearm to her attacker’s wrist. The brunette in the raincoat tosses the knife up to face level, catches it in her other and and stabs forward. Chess isn't quite as quick the second time and the tip of the blade nicks her stomach.

“You can't beat me, Yingsu.” The knife-wielding woman stares with certainty. “Lie down and just die!” She lunges out again with a face-level slash of the folding knife.

The impact reverberates through Chess’ hands, and, in both pain and horror, she drops the baseball bat when she dodges, the metal bat clanging against concrete before it rolls away in a semicircle, the handle caught in a groove in the floor.

“Fuck,” hisses Chess when the blade makes contact; hand-to-hand isn’t her strong suit, especially against someone who isn’t as damageable as she should be. “You’ve got the wrong person, lady. I don’t know anyone named Yingsu.” The words are spit out in anger and pain at her assailant, as she takes a couple of steps backward.

Her own blade is held in front of her like a cross in defense; meanwhile, her free hand delves back into her bag to come up with a handful of something from one of its deep corners. Whatever she has found is held in her fist for a second, before she flings it - nuts and bolts and pennies and screws, a handful of metal odds and ends — in the attacker’s face.

She doesn’t wait to see if they connect but instead rushes for the gated archway to run for the street and possibly help; she casts a quick, anguished look over her shoulder to the woman on the ground. She can’t save both herself and the stranger — she might not even be able to save either of them.

The distraction has the attacker reeling, and she pivots on one heel, considers the woman on the ground, and then sprints after Chess. In her movement, Chess can see her relocate that glow from her skull to her legs and she moves with alarming speed to the gate. But her timing is just inches off, blade clanging with the metal bars as Chess slips between the gates and out into the rain.

The attacker gives pursuit, hopping forward and delivering a kick to Chess, side that sends her sprawling down onto the wet sidewalk, rain pounding down on them both, pattering with plastic reverberating off her attacker’s translucent yellow raincoat. She covers the distance fast, leaping down at Chess and straddling her waist. The knife is gripped double-fisted and swung in a downward arc, but Chess is able to reach up and grab her attacker’s wrists, fighting for control of the knife as it bobs and dives down closer to her chest.

“They didn't even have the decency to tell you who you are?” The knife-wielding woman hisses, straining to force the knife down at Chess, but physically the two women seem equally matched, if perhaps Chess with slightly more upper body strength.

Chess cries out in pain when she hits the concrete a second time, trying to roll back to her feet when the other woman leaps on her; her hands shake with the effort of keeping the knife from striking her.

“I,” Chess all but growls, voice low, “don’t know what you’re talking about, you psychotic bitch.

The last word is punctuated by a headbutt fueled by anger — and not reason, given that each strike she inflicts on the raincoated assassin seems to empower her and not Chess. Still, the adrenaline is pumping through her and there’s hoping that the crack in the skull hurts at some level.

At the same time, she drops her left knee to the side, then follows that movement with the rest of her body, rotating her right hip toward the left in an effort to throw the woman’s weight off of her, attempting to shift their positions.

The blow to her head sends the attacker reeling, blood running from her nose and a warm glow spreading through her bones beneath the skin of her face. She’s thrown to the side, knife clattering to the asphalt. She rolls again, onto her knees and a few feet apart from Chess, bringing a bloodied hand up to her mouth and nose. Light brown eyes assess the knife on the concrete between them.

Headlights round a corner, the rumble of an engine, an approaching car. Suddenly her attention is diverted to the end of the street, to the lights cutting through the rain. It’s a momentary but ill-timed distraction, one that she realizes a second too late.

Chess’ eyes half close at the stunning pain of her own headbutt, but at least she knew it was coming. She too rolls, but manages to get to her feet — she watches the knife and the woman, her face contorted with anger, pain, confusion.

Rather than grab for the knife, she reaches into her bag, still slung awkwardly across her chest and back behind one hip from all of the wrestling and movement, pulling out the largest item still within — a heavy book: Shakespeare’s Complete Works, Volume I. It’s a five-pound tome. As she holds it in her hands, Chess dashes forward to kick the knife backward, behind herself, then back again. There isn’t enough time to charge the book to the full, explosive and incendiary potential; she throws it like one might a frisbee, the cover opening and pages fluttering as it flies toward the kneeling woman’s face.

Chess doesn’t wait to watch but bends to scoop up the blade before breaking into a sprint — away from the Armory, though she darts one glance at its gated maw as she flees — a tacit apology for the woman who called for her help.

The knife-wielding assailant isn’t prepared for the book, though when the tome detonates it does so with a thunderous and resounding cacophony. Concrete dust blasts up into the air, rain is blown aside, and Chess can see the incandescent glow of nearly an entire skeleton radiating through the cloud of dust, followed by an agonized scream. There’s a zip sound, like a crackle of electricity, and when she looks back again the knife-wielding woman is gone.

The rain hammers down harder, wind picks up and stinging gusts batter against Chess’ face.

When the woman disappears, Chess’ running feet stumble, slow, then stop and she turns back around, her eyes wide. “The fuck,” she mutters to herself, before moving back those few feet toward where the other woman had knelt, glancing around like she might suddenly appear in front of her or behind her.

Chess holds the blade in her hand, charging it as she steps forward again. She wants to run away. She was planning on running away. But her feet take her back instead, toward the gated entry to the Armory. There, she hesitates, peering through the darkness inside to where she’d last left the bloodied woman in the fur coat.

She’s moved some, enough to roll onto her side and fate the open gate, but not further than that. By now the rain has soaked through Chess’ clothes and left her chilled to the bone. Whoever the attacker was, she seems to be gone, but without even so much as a trace. The vehicle that had distracted her with its headlights turns onto a street a block up from the armory, disappearing into the dark.
In that absence, Chess is faced with a choice. Leave the stranger who tried to warn her of the impending attack, or get as far away from this disaster as possible. There’s a voice in the back of her head that says run, while a pang of guilt in her chest that says stay. The driving rain has no opinions, and is a cold and unfeeling third party to this human drama.

“Shit,” Chess all but spits through gritted teeth, angry at herself for choosing to live so far from help — if she were closer to anything, she could just call 9-1-1 and leave the other woman there for someone else to help — if cell service was reliable.

She edges forward, not letting go of the knife. “We need to go,” she says. “Do you know — can she recover from that? Is that your sister?” she asks, wincing as she crouches down, glancing between the door and the injured woman, before finally sliding the knife into her pocket and pulling the other woman’s arm over her shoulder in an attempt to help carry-slash-drag her away from the Armory.

She really should have tried to meet some of her neighbors — but most of the Park Slope people are like her. Anti-social.

Whoever she is, she’s conscious but weak. There’s a faint hint of a smile that crosses her face, reaching up as her arm is taken and blearily being hauled to her feet with a keening noise of pain. She’s ashen, knees bent, having a hard time focusing. She gives a weary, unsteady nod, and then looks to Chess with the certainty of someone who desperately wants to be as far away from here as possible.

But then, “she is.” Her sister. The answer is a weak and quiet one, barely heard over the roar of the rain. “Ivy, I— she’s— she’s mad at me. You. Everything.” There’s confusion in this stranger’s eyes, but also a visible appreciation. “I— I’m Alix.” Comes with a wince, as she starts to limp alongside Chess.

It’s slow going, but wherever it is they’re headed in the dark and the rain, is has to be better than here. Alix offers a side-long look at Chess, wearily smiling through her pain.

“She’s your sister too.”

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