In Every Conflict You Find Them


elisabeth_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title In Every Conflict You Find Them
Synopsis The ones who have a calling to help, to serve. In the wake of the Municipal Building's collapse, Magnes and Liz join the legions of rescue personnel attempting to free those trapped within.
Date Oct 7, 2009

Rubble of Manhattan Municipal Building

The site of the collapsed Municipal Building looks like the World Trade Center collapse in miniature. Rubble and dust are everywhere; masonry and glass litter the streets in all directions from where the facade and windows exploded as the structure came down. Somehow the rest of the buildings in the main plaza — including 1 Police Plaza — escaped major structural damage, though all will be getting inspected and lots of new windows once the immediate crisis is over. All night and into the next day, all fire, rescue, National Guard, and NYPD personnel have been crawling over the site of Manhattan's famous landmark Municipal Building. Over 40 stories tall, there were an estimated 600 people trapped when it fell — and it's only by virtue of the time of night that the city is not looking at thousands unaccounted for.

Those who have powers that could be of use have also stepped forward — some from the ranks of civilians, and some from within the NYPD and FD and rescue units. It is more than a job in this city to work these response teams; it is a calling. And once more, just as in 2001 and again in 2006, they have heeded the call. Elisabeth Harrison found herself paired off with Magnes Varlane, in part because of her expertise in the field and in part because it just happened that he was the rookie standing next to her as everyone got their assignments. It is now going on 16 hours that people have been trapped, and Elisabeth is clambering over precariously balanced rubble listening for cries of help that others wouldn't be able to hear, for heartbeats, for breathing, for anything to tell her that people are buried nearby her location as she moves.

By the grace of his talents, Magnes has in fact been called on quite a lot to help lift rubble out of the way or to stabilize areas while firemen and paramedics climb into tiny little tunnels in the rubble to get to people where lifting it would cause additional damage or cause the entire pile to shift. He's helped save a dozen people already today. "Varlane," Elisabeth calls to him as he works, wiping a dust-streaked face with the back of her even grimier hand, "Anything?"

"Nothing yet." Magnes says under his surgical mask as he continues pushing incredibly large pieces of rubble to removal crews, as if they were held up by strings. Every time he makes something float or pushes it to the removal guys, he gives them a number of minutes they need to work with before calling him again. Typically he's been setting most objects to an hour of manipulation, which takes about a minute per object.

He looks over at her, walking a bit closer so only she can hear. "I could have killed him, I tried to kill him, but it was dark, it was raining, there was dust, I couldn't get a head shot while he was trying to collapse the buildings, I just kept shooting… I saw Shard take him away." He's not even sure why he's telling her, but he has to tell someone. "I was there, I wanted to see what was going on…" That's a lie, but, ah well.

Well, half lie at least.

Their conversation on this matter has been stilted, at best. Elisabeth's involvement in that group of people out there is not common knowledge and Elisabeth — even after speaking with Claire about it — is reluctant to TELL him anything. But this is the third time he's sought her out during this rescue operation and verbalized his fears, frustrations, and thoughts. She finally pauses in her movements, pulling the face mask off because it's a pain in the ass to talk through. With a hand gesture to bring him closer, Liz encases them both in a silence bubble in the middle of the rubble — her rage knows no bounds over all this. "I'm going to say this to you one time, and you listen good. I know exactly what you were doing out there — I was watching the broadcast just before the damn building came down. And I know exactly who all was out there. You are not the only person in this job trying to do things from both sides of the fence. Nor are you the only person scared to death and furious and grieving over what's happened here."

She stops, and she forces herself to gentle her tone. "This is not the time or the place to tell me what happened out there. You can do that on our own time, after we have recovered every person or their dead body from this mile of rocks, Magnes. I don't want to hear you justify your actions — not right now. We will talk. But not now. Okay?"

"Alright…" Magnes agrees with a quick nod, still lightly frowning, but there's a vague relief in his tone as he goes back to transferring rubble to the workers. "Why do people do things like this? He says he's trying to protect Evolved, but there had to be a few out of six hundred people in here. I don't understand."

Elisabeth says softly, grimly, "Because he's not trying to protect Evos, Varlane. He's trying to spark a civil war. And he might just succeed with this action." She shoves the mask back up over her mouth and nose, still talking to him as they begin to move once more. "There are two schools of thought on revolution," she tells him quietly, her voice carrying only to him. "The first school of thought is that you have to stand up and fight — make it us versus them. So you rile up all the Evos who are being persecuted and oppressed, and you tell them that everything that's wrong in their lives is someone's fault. It's the fault of Them — the people who are the majority who are different than you, who are scared of you and oppressing you because of their fear, and you tell them that the only way to win back the rights that have been stolen is to fight. And some… maybe a lot… will believe. Because THEY are scared too. And they feel helpless. People like Humanis First are already out there killing Evos and making an example of themselves and the government doens't appear to be doing anything to stop it — or if they are, they're failin miserably. And they want to feel like they're DOING something to better their own predicament or protect themselves and their families."

She pauses in a spot, listening intently. "The other school of thought is to … turn the tables. Make Evos look like the victims they are, and force the government into HELPING them, acknowledging the situation, and try to force some change. It's a far more peaceful solution, for the most part… " Well, unless you tke into account what Richard wants to do to spark that. "But it's not as flashy. And people forget when they're scared that the flashy answer that LOOKS like it is doing something isn't always the right way to actually accomplish it in the long term."

She looks at him. "That's a long-winded way, I guess, of saying Norman White's a fucking nutjob." She points to a spot in the rubble, scrambling now to get there. "Here. Stabilize this." And she calls over her shoulder as she tries to squiggle down into a crevice, "Got one!!" It rings across the mounds to draw others.

Magnes quickly places a hand on various pieces of rubble to cause them to float away, then presses his hand on the largest piece, raising it up above his head. "I could have stopped this, I need to find Gillian and we need to get ready…" This is more something whispered to himself, but with her ability, she can likely pick it up. "What do you see down there?"

Sliding her lithe form headfirst into the opening, she's trusting Magnes not to let the rubble crush her. "I don't see anything," she tells him, using her ability to float her voice to him. "But there's someone caught. Don't let this shit crush my skull, okay? And for God's sake, don't MOVE anything until a team gets here. I don't know how it's settled. Just stabilize it, don't let it move while I…." Elisabeth trails off, scrabbles back out, and slides in feet first. "Fuck. Varlane… I'm going get my hips under this piece of rock, and on the count of three, I want you to lift this one," she puts her hand on the top piece, "and keep the three beneath that from moving. Can you do it?" she demands, looking up at him.

Magnes hunches down, placing a hand briefly against all three of said rocks, explaining, "Yeah, I'll just make gravity push against the rocks in every direction, then they'll have no choice but to say in the same spot even if you touch them." He's never quite thought about it before, but if he wanted, he could make those floating Super Mario bricks. "I'm ready, let me know when you want me to lift." he confirms, placing his hand on the one she wants moved.

Elisabeth looks at him as he crouches next to her, blue eyes solemn. "There's a woman pinned with her head under those three blocks, Magnes. I need you to understand… she is probably not going to make it." Super Mario bricks might be a better option, but Liz doesn't have the mental image to work with. The woman she's located still has a heartbeat, but it's thready and uncertain and based on what Liz can see, it's because she's getting no air. But better to prepare Magnes for this one. "On a count of two." She looks over as paramedics arrive and says, "When I slide down, I'll be putting my body between her and the rock above her so Varlane can lift it. You're going to need to move fast — Her throat's been pierced by a piece of rebar like a fish on a hook. I think the pressure from the rock is the only reason we haven't lost her yet." When the two men nod, Elisabeth shimmies her hips back down into the hole, braces her feet and looks at Magnes. "One. TWO!"

Magnes suddenly lifts the rock when she slips under, moving very carefully and waiting for instruction before assuming he should do anything she hasn't said yet. He momentarily looks back at the paramedics, then down at Elisabeth, attempting to mentally prepare himself for the worst. Then again, he's literally seen someone get their brain punched out of their skull… "Are you alright down there?"

As she slides in, Elisabeth moves carefully and once the uppermost block is gone, she slides further down into the hole that is exposed. Magnes can see the sprawled form that Liz heard so faintly now — at least her legs. And the blonde officer wedges her hips between two of the blocks in the hole, slipping her hands beneath the one that is sheltering the woman's head to brace her neck. And then without looking up, she tells Magnes, "Take them. If you can keep her and me stable in here, that'd be a huge help to the paramedics." She doesn't even know their names, but she knows what they need.

Only after Magnes has done what she asked and exposed the woman — clearly a janitorial staff member — who has massive head trauma and a piece of metal protruding from her throat does the cop breath a little easier. Her hands are stabilizing the woman's neck by holding the sides of her head, and there she stays until the paramedics manage to finagle a collar. At that point, FDNY guys are called because the rebar has to be cut — sliding the woman off it is not going to let her survive. And Elisabeth backs up to stand near Magnes, blowing out a slow breath as she watches the insanity. "You okay?" she asks him.

Magnes steps back with her after all the chaos with the rubble, getting everything stabilized, and he just holds his head. "I guess I'm as alright as I'm gonna be. I've seen my friend Abby covered in her own blood with her tongue cut out struggling to talk, my old roommate punched a mugger's brain out for fun, just to save me months ago, I've had my entire body crushed and torn apart, and I guess I've just seen a whole lot more death inbetween then and now. It all adds up to the list of things that make me have trouble sleeping at night." He shakes his head, straightening his surgical mask as he watches the paramedics work with a rather distant look.

The sounds of the world around them close out once more as Magnes speaks, keeping most of what he says between the two of them. "I helped rescue Abby that night," she tells him quietly. "And the list of atrocities I've seen and worked I won't bore you with. It includes being taken hostage by Humanis First and tortured and killed… or as close to it as makes no never mind… last month. And I can't even report it because I was working on the wrong side of the fence when it happened." Her blue eyes on him are weary. "I understand," she says simply, putting a hand on his shoulder as she looks back over the rubble. "I understand," she repeats even more softly, her voice tired.

"I can't let anymore people die like this, I can't stay clean forever, I think it's time to bite the bullet on this." Magnes doesn't say what he means, but he quiets down for a moment as he averts his eyes to his shoes, taking a deep breath. "But I can't let myself drown either."

This is so not a conversation to have here. Not really. Elisabeth turns to look at him. "Claire talked to me about you yesterday," she finally tells him. Yesterday? It seems so far away now. "And I told her to tell you to come talk to me. I know the drive to help, Magnes. Better than most. And I know the stresses you're facing at this moment. Here… now? It's not time to talk about this," she says quietly. "But it is time you decided what you wanted…. and what you're willing to give up to try to get it." She nudges him lightly, heading for a new section of rubble to search. "After this is over… when this is all done… come talk to me. Off duty, out of the realms of listening ears. Right now… our priority has to be this." She points. "There's a subway tunnel under all this, and people probably in that station. We gotta find a way to pinpoint survivors and get down there. C'mon."

Magnes follows after her as he stares at the ground as if searching for something himself. "If I feel around, I might be able to feel where there's not any objects, which might give me some idea of where there's an opening. I don't think it'd be totally accurate though, I mean, it's mostly just educated guessing…" But the idea of Claire talking to her sort of causes redness to rise in his cheeks. "I, uh, she talks to you about me? I mean… she tells you stuff?"

Elisabeth's lips twist into a bit of a smile, and she shakes her head slightly. "She talks to me a little." She doesn't know the young blonde terribly well, though she has great respect for what Claire has already accomplished. And high hopes that the younger woman will have the chance to someday step out of this mess and have a life that isn't about killing people for the greater good. But she speaks none of that aloud. "She told me that you were frustrated, and that you needed someone to talk to who might understand the problems you're facing." She glances at him as they cautiously climb over slippery rocks. "One of the things I can tell you is probably as hypocritical as it gets — but take this as you will: It's far far harder than you think to be a cop and do what we do on the side. Think long and hard about whether you want to do both, Magnes. It means walking a very fine line, and so far…. you haven't shown much skill in covering your tracks. If you want to do both, I can try to help you do it. But it's going to mean changing the way you do things. You can't be the public face of the NYPD," and yes, she's heard about the interview that's coming up, "and then expect to be able to pull shit like Japan or Coney Island appearances. It's a fast track to being picked up by Homeland Security and tortured for what you know."

"Well it'd be kind of impossible to identify me on Coney Island. I use unregistered weapons, I'm covered from head to toe so they can't identify my race or even my hair color, and I wear a voice distortion collar. And as far as my ability goes, I'm registered to have a lower range of the abilities I normally use." Magnes explains, keeping his voice low and figuring he can trust one of Claire's friends with this stuff. "I'm not trying to be the face of the NYPD, I have a larger plan in mind, but I haven't really told anyone yet. I'm not even sure if it'll work, I mean it's kind of insane. Losing my job as a cop is a calculated risk."

Elisabeth chuckles wryly behind the mask. "Losing your job as a cop if you get nailed is the least of your worries, and that's the thing I think you're missing. But…" She looks at him and her blue eyes crinkle slightly. "A topic for tomorrow, though," she sighs heavily. Nodding toward a group of firefighters, she tells him quietly with an intent look, "They found the entry to the subway station. They're going to need your help to try to get down into it." She holds up her hands. "I'm covered in blood," I'm going to go wipe down. I'll join back up with you as soon as I'm cleaned up. Careful up there," she tells him.

"I'll be fine. And there might be something to all you've been saying, maybe what I need is to be more of a cop…" What Magnes means by that goes unsaid, but he nods, smiling with his eyes before heading off to the firefighters to help them out.

Perhaps he's considering becoming season 4 Peter Petrelli?!

The shake of her head might not be perceptible to the young man, but Elisabeth can't help doing it. More of a cop? *sigh* That's not going to bode well. But it's a conversation she'll have to have some other time. She heads down the slippery piles of rubble to go find something not blood covered to wear before she rejoins the search.

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