Indiana Squeaks And The Market Of Doom


raquelle_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Indiana Squeaks and the Market of Doom!
Synopsis Squeaks is hungry and goes to the market. Porcine chaos ensues.
Date April 2, 2018

Red Hook Market

The rain and snow flurries of Easter Weekend has finally passed, the coolness of a spring morning causing the temperature to hover just above freezing, rising as the sun starts its passage from the east to the west. The rising sun brings life to the city, people stirring from their warm confines to get on with the day and the market is no exception. The snow drifts are already starting to melt as the day starts, icicles melting, dripping

In the midst of a food shortage, people still need to eat, and there are still people with who can provide to people without. The Red Cross has started to distribute meals again from their little distribution place - hot meals this time instead of supply boxes, since it allows them to stretch their limited resources even more. They run out quickly, but if you’re lucky enough to have a place in line, you’ll generally get something. Other places, too, serve breakfast - the coffee stall run by Eleanor offers small baked crackers topped with a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon with purchase, while others cook up eggs in a boiling pot, passing them out to passerby who pay the asking rate.

It is here, in a bustling market, full of traders, that we set our scene.

The market has never been a place for Squeaks. Bartering is a thing she can do, but often people ask too much and give too little. Few people are willing to take the odds and ends left behind by those who’re dead and can’t use them anymore. It makes them feel weird or something, which she’ll never come to understand. If it’s still good, why turn it down?

But with her own stash of goods depleted – nothing ever lasts as long as it should – and the idea that she can’t freeload off the kindness of strangers forever. Not that those Lighthouse people are necessarily strangers anymore, mooching is sure to be frowned upon after a while. Especially during a food shortage.

Squeaks has found herself a vantage point on top of a presently unoccupied vendor stall just as the stalls began to open. It’s not one of the permanent structures and will probably be moved in a day or two. But for now, it’s where the skinny little kid has posted herself to watch and analyze the motions of the market and determine her best course of action to get some food and get out again. As a rule, she normally wouldn’t attempt stealing from anyone alive; today, however, she’s making an exception.

One of those passing through the market is Ygraine: clad in her now-customary dark hues, with a hood up over her hair to protect her from the inclement and chilly weather, she peers around with wary interest. Being around this many strangers in such close proximity is not something to set her at ease, but forcing herself into such situations provides one way of fighting the urge to hide behind books and computer screens (or on rooftops).

And Liberty HQ could do with a top-up of its tea supplies, while the odds and ends that turn up in the market can be fascinating.

Thus, the Briton is prowling through the throng, hands thrust into her pockets, scanning stalls for anything of interest and people for signs of threat.

The hustle and bustle of the market avoids Squeaks and her out-of-the-way stall for now, giving her the perfect view of the ebb and flow of the crowd as it moves. How shoppers stop at the edges, with the center allowing free flow of traffic without too much crowding, allowing people to come and go at the stalls that they think work best. This stall, as well as all of the ones in this area, are in a sort of cul-de-sac on the bottom floor, with loading docks on the left taken up by the more successful scavengers and their wares, the exits there blocked or locked to prevent people from easily pilfering things. The center - where Squeaks sits, is between a food stall selling scavenged canned goods and another selling apples and root vegetables with a larger stall in the middle that sells, of all things, live chickens and pigs, ready to butcher for your pleasure.

The weather must be comforting to the Brit or, at least, might remind her of home. Rain and snow and the promise of sun, all mixed together in some sort of insane melange that comes and goes as it wishes. Much like the British isles and ten out of the twelve months of the year. There are scavengers with shops all over the market, and with luck, Ygraine will manage to find enough tea and sugar to top up her stocks.

The boiled eggs the kid had passed earlier were of some interest. Better those than the hot food the Red Cross is giving out. That stuff will never keep long enough to be useful. Here, in the little cul-de-sac, the pickings are better but riskier. Live animals aren’t so useful. Even if she knew how to turn them into meat, they make noise and require food that she can barely supply for herself. The canned goods and vegetables however…

Grasping one of the horizontal supports, Squeaks climbs down from her perch. Legs and body dangle for a second, and then she lets go of the support and drops just a couple of feet to the ground landing with a light thump.

The girl exits the stall when the flow of the crowd rises. Few things are remarkable about a kid slipping around the bodies of market goers. As far as she’s concerned, everyone she passes will return home with whatever they had left with. She’s not out to pickpocket. Her path takes her on a serpentine route, but never too far off track, and she wounds her way to slip out behind the market stall with the canned foods. Behind it, she hopes to make her way up again. For a better view.

The crowd ebbs and flows, not noticing when another joins in and, as the smaller girl moves, she notices a Squeaks-sized gap in between the wall and the edge of the stall itself, giving her just enough room to slip in between and into the darkness behind the stalls without being seen. From here, she’s behind the stall’s displays with a brick wall to her back - a little more than two feet to work on. The guy running the shop uses these shelves for display, so if you wanted something from him, he’d reach back and get it for you. All the cans were pushed to the back of the shelves, letting him keep count of what he had simply by looking. If there were bricks, he was out of that particular item and needed to scavenge, hunt down, or swindle some more. Cans of beans, green beans, potatoes, carrots, and even a few cans of meat and dog food are there, just right there….

“Well, my little grubby handed salmon roe…at the end of the day, Prince Timberlake was quite disappointed because when he ripped the bustier cup expecting to find the heart of a true Jackson, instead he found nothing but…pound of milk chocolate cookie dough. And that is how the great Superbowl of 2004 went down in history, with Duchess Janet of the Jacksons, attempting to breastfeed the whole world.” Raquelle has someone’s seven year old on his hip, and his hand in the grip of another child that is not his as they make their way into the market. He had been walking and talking with them, giving them unique history lessons of times gone by. Fashionable knit scarf around his neck, jeans and a plaid shirt buttoned up over a black t-shirt he wears a comfortable leather jacket and one child is wearing a fedora that was probably on his head originally. Slung over his shoulder is a backpack, and the children have cloth shopping bags with things ready to trade as well.

But upon their arrival, he is lowering his hip buddy down and accepting hugs from them both as he shoos them forward. “Ya’ll know what we need. Find me the best price and what is our motto?”

In unison, he and his accomplices for the day recite. “We got the good stuff, so make the biscuits work for it.” Three snaps and they are sent on their way. Then Raquelle is headed towards the stall selling root veggies and what now, arms outspread. “What did you bring me today baby?”

The woman manning the vegetable counter perks up at the sight of the man approaching. “Oh Mister Raquelle, have I got some things for you.” She busies herself behind the counter, pulling out a few baskets of assorted things. “We’ve still got the root stuff, so if you need turnips, onions, parsnips, or anything like that, I can help you. I might have a few potatoes left, too, but those are getting a little up there in age. Half price if you take them off my hands.” She rummages about a bit more. “Let’s see…Lettuce, dandelion greens, peas, fresh beans, some mushrooms…” And she slides a small container from under another basket. “Strawberries…”

The man at the canned goods stall was busy haggling with someone over the quality of a can. “Yes, I’m sure it has what I’ve written on it.” he sounds exasperated, trying to explain this to the woman asking the questions. “No, you look here, lady. I can read the code on the can, i’m not /a friggin’ moron/ over here. Look, if you don’t want my business, fine. Go somewhere else and buy your food.”

Considering there’s really no choice for that, she capitulates and pays for the can of beans with a bit of scavenged jewelry.

Narrow spaces are not a problem for someone of Squeaks’ size and stature. She’s small, skinny, easily fitting into places adults can’t. Two feet of space is plenty of room to work in. And being behind the shelves while in front of the brick wall is perfect. It negates any need to go upward. At least in the immediate present. In fact, when she finds herself in that space, she squats down to further hide herself.

The cans, tantalizingly close, are regarded. A ratty, well used backpack is shrugged off and opened. There’s enough noise that she doesn’t worry about being absolutely silent, but her movements are still careful. No need to draw attention to herself.

Without scruples, the kid begins filching cans from the back row. Squeaks skips over those that would be missed quickly. If there’s only one or two left, those columns are passed over for ones that appear more well stocked. But she doesn’t pick too many, either, not wanting to be weighed down too much. And there’s more stalls to visit. Those cans she does get away with go right into her pack.

Easy smile but a very critical eye, Raquelle eyes the various produce items with a small nod, folding an arm over his chest as he looks thoughtful. “Oh talk veggie to me darling. This is getting ridiculous really…I may have to tell my fiancé about our meeting like this.” He winks and then nods. “Onions, Mushrooms, Parsnips most certainly…do have any extra ginger for me? Maybe some carrots?”

He’s unslinging his backpack, to draw it around and front so he can rummage around, checking something for a moment. “Of course I want your aging papas, you sure half prices? Annnnd, the greens would be good I’ll take some dandelion greens and some peas…” Then his eyes fall on the strawberries and he bites his bottom lip. “…oh, oh my.”

He glances over towards the canned goods and then back to Fresh Food lady and back to canned goods. And then back to Fresh Food Lady. “I’ve got to know, you want womanly things today for trade or are you looking for something else?”

Vegetable Lady, who went by Carol in another life, can only smile and pat Raquelle’s hand. “The strawberries and some of the other things, yes, we can do a trade for. I need to get a little something for the rest to keep my stall open. It’s getting to cost some to keep the fresh stuff coming in like this. My farmers up North need to keep their mouths fed too.” She rummages around and finds a knob of ginger about the size of her hand along with a few carrots, all of which is added to the basket, along with a few other things. She’s easy going, despite all that’s going on, giving good prices to Raquelle.

Behind the shelves in Canned Food Land - yes, that’s what he calls it - Squeaks fills her backpack fairly quickly. A row of two cans by three fits easily with room for a second row if she’s daring enough to fill her backpack. And she’s being smart about it too - keeping the missing cans down to where they could easily be missed, even leaving a couple fallen down behind just in case they’re found later, so it could be thought that missing inventory just ‘fell off the shelf.’ Technically it did, but it landed in Squeaks’ backpack instead of on the ground.

It’s when Squeaks goes for a second can of dog food for Jude that something happens. A shelf pin gives way and, without much warning, the shelf that holds some food starts to tip over towards squeaks - the individual shelf, not the whole thing - threatening to spill the cans all over the red-headed thief!

Having made it this far into the Market, Ygraine has relaxed a little - and even lowered her hood. A small resupply of tea has been acquired and tucked safely away into a (buttoned-down) inner pocket of her coat, and now she is simply browsing for interest’s sake. The sight and sound of Raquelle catches her attention, prompting her to adjust course and head in his direction - smiling as she begins to be able to hear his cheerful banter with Carol.

Of Squeaks’ presence, she remains wholly unaware… the slight sound of the shelf beginning to move not yet sufficient to focus her attention that way.

Two options immediately come to mind when the shelf wobble registers: let it fall and make a run for it, or push it the other direction and hope it doesn’t fall over. Squeaks’ hand at least promptly stops moving can held in a white-knuckled grip, but set so it balances the loosened shelf. It’s precarious, and her eyes dart from the shelf and the bounty to the man who’s operating the stand.

In that moment, she goes for a third. Ever so carefully she eases the can back into place, more or less, without shifting the shelf any more than is necessary. It’s a painfully slow process and Squeaks holds her breath until her hands are freed up again. Then she breathes a slow, shaking breath. Too close.

Best not to press her luck any further. Squeaks, liberated of balancing the shelf, zippers her backpack closed and precedes backward with her haul to wait for the flow of the crowd to shield her return to it. Next stop: fresh vegetables and fruits.

The hairstylist has gotten used to this, bartering and trading keeping things stocked up that are needed so he always has something worth something to trade or give away. “Alright my lovely Carol of the Bells, as long as you make sure to swing by so I can touch up your roots in a couple of weeks.” Raquelle, glances over his shoulder as he is shaking out a cloth shopping bag. Disaster and Civil war turns everybody into hippies.

Even as he sees Ygraine, flashing a smile, he’s holding the bag open for Carol. “If it isn’t Yggy Pop, I’d hug you but my hands are filled right now. So…” He goes ‘mwah, mwah’, a couple of air kisses and a shake of his head. “Come, meet Carolina Sunshine. She has all the best veggies. Her tuber flirt game is on point too.”

He doesn’t notice the Canned Goods thing or Squeaks just yet. But, there are strawberries.

Contents of Squeaks’ backpack after her time at Canned Food Land - 5 15 oz cans of various vegetables, 1 large can of roasted chicken in water, 1 can of Happy Pup REAL Beef dog food.

Squeaks is able to easily maneuver out of the space between the wall and the shelves, a plastic bag of garbage there to block the obvious entrance if she chooses to hide it. Otherwise she can move from left to right, from the canned goods to the fresh vegetable stall without too many problems.

Fresh vegetables are kind of a big deal here in the market. They’re rarely seen and, when they are, they’re normally horribly expensive, but thanks to a lucky break with a truck, Carol and her stall were figuratively overflowing with merchandise, which meant there was a nice queue of people desperate to get something that hasn’t been in a can for the last few years.

Carol laughs merrily. “Mister Raquelle, you’re terrible! You know John and I have been married for twenty years!” Shaking her head with a laugh, the woman starts to load the cloth bag with the requested items, bigger, bulkier things on the bottom, lighter, more delicate things on top. The strawberries are held up, though. “John and I were thinking of going more auburn, reddish….kind of like I used to have when I was a girl, before my hair got all dark. I’m sure /you/ can take care of it, Mister Raquelle.” She gives the man a pat on the hand and a wink, taking the agreed upon amount and tucking it away into a metal box behind the counter before turning her attention to the next customer, Yggy getting a cheerful wave if she comes close, a strawberry handed out as a sample if she’s interested in something sweet.

There are no gaps behind this place. This is a loading dock with a truck backed in and two tables butted up against each other with gingham sheets thrown over them. Piles of vegetables are laid out for perusal - each with their own bit of charm and the right shapes and blemishes to show they were grown somewhere that wasn’t blighted too badly by the war.

Stealing from here will be difficult.

Laughing and shaking her head as she shoots Raquelle a look, Ygraine moves closer. Carol receives a warm smile even before the strawberry is offered and gratefully received. Giggling around it, she nibbles carefully.

“Mmmm. Thank you. Both of you. But particularly for this.” The remainder of the fruit is raised slightly. “If you can find a supply of these, I suspect there’ll be a lot of competition for them. But I should probably be good and focus rather more on buying some vegetables than this sort of luxury. Still… this is deliciously tempting.”

That there’s a crowd isn’t so much of a concern. More people means less chances for Squeaks to get overlooked. It’s that she can’t just slip in like before, like she had at the canned food place, that makes her not stop immediately at the fresh food vendor. She lets the crowd carry her nearer then further then nearer again to the fresh foods stall before removing herself from its tidal flow. In her drifting, she catches a momentary glance at Ygraine’s back beside Raquelle’s, but then it’s gone before she can make any decisions about them.

She lets the crowd deposit her near the corner farthest from the stall, right next to the loading ramp. She can clearly see Ygraine now, as well as Raquelle but she doesn’t know who he is. She can see everyone from here, including Carol as she runs the business. That’s good. Her attention isn’t where Squeaks is, and there’s plenty of people about.

The skinny little kid waits until the woman is well ensconced with people wanting to sample strawberries before she makes a move. Quick as she can, she scoops up a couple of apples to make them disappear into her pockets. Those are followed by a tied off bunch of carrots.

“He would so understand, Yggy Smalls here is absolution stunning is she not?” Raquelle then sobers a bit to peer at Carol’s hair and he nods slowly. “We will be able to get you looking so fine, Mister Carol will lose his mind. I promise you honey.”

Then he looks back to Ygraine. “But seriously, she is a good resource. You treat and pay her fairly, never be a dick to her as a customer, and she is a cornucopia of goodies, and amazing hugs.” He pauses for a moment in mid setting his bags down at his feet as he steps out of the way of the next customer. There’s a bit of a squint in the direction of where Squeaks would be before he just looks down, and crouches beside his bags with a soft sigh, bowing his head.

Then he looks back up, staring in that direction with the look of concern and fatherly worry that comes automatically and he just stares with blue eyes that read. ‘It's okay, I don’t know you, but I still love you’. It's a special look, designed for dealing with teenage daughters who say ‘I HATE YOU! GOD!’ About once a month.

It's at this moment that a chain of events starts to occur. Set in motion by Squeaks, but unbeknownst to her. The intricately balanced shelf she had kept from falling by propping a particular can in a particular spot was only able to maintain that balance by the weight of those intricately balanced weights maintaining their positions. So, when the proprietor of Canned Food Land removes a single can from the far left side of the shelf, the right begins to tip and, without a Squeaks present to prevent it by placing cans beneath it, the shelf and its contents, along with the entirety of the other shelves, collapse in a clatter of wood and metal.

All attention is drawn to the collapse for a moment, people jockeying for position to see. There's a shout of dismay from the owner as he moves to block any sticky fingers from taking his stock without proper payment, and when the crowd moves to see, the people that were blocking Squeaks from being witnessed stuffing the tied up bundle of carrots, the leafy greens still visible, into her backpack no longer there. There's a shout as someone notices her. "Hey! I think she's stealing!"

All attention turns to Squeaks.

"THIEF!" Someone else yells.

A man emerges from another stall, heading directly towards Squeaks, ready to grab.

Though she had been laughing, blushing, and shaking her head at Raquelle, the cascading metallic crash accompanying the demise of the Canned Food Land shelving does more than a little to trigger Ygraine’s combat stress. Rising slightly, to balance on the balls of her feet, she is glancing around for threats even before the accusatory shout is heard.

Though still by instinct a law-abiding moralist, Ygraine’s first response to identifying the diminutive redhead as the focus of attention is to arch her brows in surprise… and relax, at least enough to suppress the urge to start reorienting the criminal perpetrator’s gravity. Instead, she spares a moment to glance around for anyone identifiable as an authority figure, whose aid might be enlisted to help prevent things getting out of hand.

For just a heartbeat, the girl meets Raquelle’s gaze. She doesn’t recognize the expression. Sure, she’s seen the pitying looks that are cast willy-nilly to the homeless community, but the one from the hair stylist? She’s not seen anything like it, and it holds her in place long enough to be caught up in the cacophony of crashing goods and rubberneckers. Even as she’s shoving a bunch of carrots into her backpack. The murmurs that arise from her antics snap her attention back to the present just in time to register someone yelling THIEF.

That would be Squeaks’ cue to disappear!

There are too many people to make an elaborately mad dash for freedom. But even as they hinder the girl, she knows they’ll make difficult any attempts to get at her also. She takes a dive, going low and between legs to escape grasping hands. She has to dodge feet, but people in large groups are clumsy animals. She goes under the flow now, a sneaking little weasel of a girl, on a serpentine route for those farm animals she saw. Those will definitely slow people down if they break out.

Is one of those cinematic stares, a heartbeat lasting for a decade in the space and time of reality slowing down. When everything snaps to reality however, Raquelle is shaking his head and pushing himself up to his full height, bringing his fingers to his lips and whistling sharply. “Hey! Hey….hey, calm down everyone. You just scared - Felicia! Felicia baby - damnit.”

He strides forward, trying to put himself in the way of the people getting stirred up. “She was obviously /not/ stealing. She was shopping. I told her I’d pay for whatever she got, but I think the crowd scared her so she hadn’t brought me her haul yet. Calm down everybody, please.” His gift wrapping around his words reflexively, trying to project the calm that his heartbeat is not feeling as he looks over his shoulder and back to the people.

“Carol, darling, I got her produce. If I can get her over here…see what she got, I’m good for it, you know I am.” He holds up his hands in a placating manner, taking a deep breath.

The crowd moves in all directions at once. Towards, away, near, far, legs coming together and moving apart as people shuffle closer to the booths and away from the central part of the market. Thieves are a usual thing in the market - when they're caught, it's generally taken care of in a darker, quieter, unofficial part of the marketplace where no-one really asks questions. Thieves generally steal once.

There's almost never a second time.

The man going for Squeaks is quickly blocked by the crowd, trying to force his way past to where she was, but with the crowd and her quick exodus through people's legs, he's going to where she was, not to where she is. And people can see as she goes through the crowd - sort of. If you can imagine the old cartoons with the rabbit, digging, and seeing the trail left in the dirt. As the crowd moves around her, that little trail can be seen imperceptibly as she heads for the stall selling livestock in the center of the cul-de-sac.

The table - or rather, tables, are set with people on either side, the tops blood-slick from the butchery that goes on there, the floor covered with straw to soak up any bits that hit the ground. It's as sanitary as it can get, really, and with the cool temperatures, the smell isn't that bad, and the flies have been kept to a bare minimum. To the left are the stalls where the animals are kept - little cages for the chickens and a pen for the pigs, each held closed with a simple wooden dowel that can be pulled out to free the animals within. A large man, wearing an apron, stands there, arms crossed, bemused, as he watches the chaos spread from the food stalls, heading towards his part of the market.

As Raquelle’s oh-so-reasonable request fails to yield immediate results, Ygraine sighs. Casting around for options, she habitually looks up - and duly purses her lips.

“Excuse me. I do apologise,” she offers to both Raquelle and Carol, before extending one arm above her head, bouncing on her toes, then jumping upwards… and carrying on up as she reorients her personal relationship with gravity. Now pulled to the underside of the catwalk overhead, she flips in mid-air so that she can perform a neat (if noisy) landing, sinking into a crouch to absorb the impact as she thumps solidly into contact with the metal.

Rising to her feet - though now upside-down to the rest of the world - she lopes along her personal clear path, ready to tweak the focus of the charge she has placed upon herself, to let her spring to and fro between pillars and walkways, with the intent of bypassing the crowd and getting into position above Squeaks.

This. This is exactly why Squeaks takes pains to avoid the market. Now she’s gone and made a scene when she could have gotten away had someone just kept their fat mouth shut. Raquelle’s efforts would be rewarded if she knew him or recognized his voice. She unfortunately doesn’t. There isn’t even a look in his direction. The name isn’t her own and she’s not listening for it, so it’s lost on her, mixed into the rabble of the market goers.

She sees the butcher, but he seems too engrossed in what’s going on behind her to worry much about a kid coming at his establishment. True, she’s crawling and the milling throng keeps her obscured. Hopefully it keeps her concealed long enough…

To get under the tables and to the other side, where the animals are held. The mess of mud and muck and blood and hay is just another thing that life holds. Squeaks pays it little mind and heads for the chicken cages first. The world needs a bigger problem than a hungry kid. Dowels are removed and cages opened in order to free the birds. In the same breath, she turns to the pigs. Like with the fowl, the porkers are freed, and the girl throws herself at one of them to piggyback a ride out.

This is getting out of hand and Raquelle just throws his arms up. “Really. Tinkerbelle’s red headed step child gets some goddamn carrots and everybody loses their shit. Brilliant…” He pauses to watch Ygraine for a moment, blinking slightly and quickly shaking his head.

There is literally nothing he can really do except facepalm when the animals are released and place a hand on his hip. “Dios Mio…” Is muttered before he takes another deep breath and opens his mouth to say something and then closes it. He just starts striding forward, a glance to Carol with a ‘really?’ Look as he starts to put down a little extra than he normally pays, offering it. “Whoever thinks the pig whisperer over there stole from them, come let me know…let's see what we can work out.”

Ygraine reorienting her gravity does get a few cries of surprise out of the crowd, and a few point and whisper to each other as she runs along the underside of the catwalk in a way that most people aren’t able to do. And Raquelle’s sassiness and demeanor actually starts calming down the crowd. The guy who was going for Squeaks actually stops and heads back to his stall once Carol gives him a nod and a wave, turning to look over her stocks to see what went missing - not that much, thankfully. She then looks to Raquelle and throws her arms up in the universal sign for ‘what’re you going to do’ before she goes back to dealing with shoppers.

Normally, food wouldn’t be such a big deal, but in times of shortage and hunger, it suddenly becomes a far bigger deal than it would have been. Canned Food Land man is still trying to repair his shelving unit, which means Squeaks probably will get away with that, but now that the vegetables are missing, there’s a theft and people are a little on edge.

The butcher’s stall is easily gotten into, Squeaks’ formerly somewhat clean clothes now coated with a mixture of gore, dirt, and whatever else ended up in the hay beneath the butcher’s table. The man in the apron is more interested in Ygraine running on the ceiling to notice Squeaks by the cages, but when the chickens get loose? He notices. Chickens are loud and feathery and flap around crazy thanks to the noise, providing the perfect distraction for the fleeing girl.

“What in the world!” the butcher cries, trying to catch the chickens, to herd them back into the cages and not noticing as two hundred pounds of pig start running at him, bowling him over, sending the tables sprawling, with Squeaks mounted on the back of one of them!

A capacity to respond quickly to swiftly-changing physical circumstances is something upon which Ygraine normally relies. But of all the assorted forms of chaos she has encountered, none have really prepared her for dealing with an underage thief careering atop a pig through a crowded marketplace.

For some few moments, she just stares.

Then she stirs herself into motion once more, her own course a little more carefully planned but at least as erratic as that of Squeaks and her mount, given the Briton’s need to place herself upon sturdy structures at a useful height.

Still, she hopes to be able to seize an opportunity to calm things down - or to pluck someone (Squeaks or a bystander) from harm’s way, should such be required.

A look is spared over her shoulder when the butcher is all but trampled over. That was unfortunate. She knows well what it’s like to wear grime and yuck. Squeaks might’ve apologized if not for her life being at stake. It’s not greatly likely, but she might have.

She’ll probably have to get off the ride soon, but for the moment the pig is given free reign. She lays her body flat against the porker’s back, legs and arms clinging to belly and neck and generally making herself a smaller target. It’s a good thing both the straps on her backpack are secured around her shoulders.

When she comes near a stall that looks like it’ll provide ample climbing and a possible escape, Squeaks makes her next move. She pulls her feet up under her and frog-jumps. Poor piggy is used for a springboard. Arms extend and hands reach for a low-hanging awning support, something horizontal but not on the ground that she might pull herself onto.

The sassy hairdresser just brings his fingers to his lips to wolf whistle in support of the pig whisperer/thief. Raquelle looks around because it is a very impressive feat. “That’s it baby…ride that pig.”

Then back to crowd control.

Several things happen at once.

Raquelle’s wolf whistle gets people’s attention, a good portion of the milling crowd stopping to look in his direction, away from Squeaks and her noble steed. The immaculately-coiffed man is speaking the truth, and tempers start to go down, people turning to watch the mayhem.

Ygraine is one of those watchers. She watches Squeaks and the Pork Chop Express barrelling through the crowd from her vantage point above the crowd and can move easily to follow. Most people are aware of something coming and step aside before the stampede reaches them, a path cleared. In the case of one woman, who does not have situational awareness, a leap, gazelle-like, out of the way, is the way to go. One tall man lifts a leg, nearly clotheslining Squeaks before he topples over on his side, unhurt, but upended. And the children…oh, the children are having a /ball/ watching this, laughing and clapping from their vantage points, cheering as Squeaks rides to freedom amidst the chaos. It’s not every day you see someone around your age riding a pig through a marketplace. It’s like something out of a fairy tale!

There’s a louder cheer from the kids’ section when Squeaks crouches on the pig’s back. Porky /does not/ like that sensation and squeals, skidding on the concrete, trying to fling Squeaks off, giving the girl momentum as she leaps for the rickety awning support.

The crowd holds its breath as Squeaks extends to grab the support….



And cheers when she catches hold!

Squeaks actually can start to climb. And then tragedy! A sharp metallic bang echoes through the market, a bump going through the whole awning as the support pulls free from the wall…

Ygraine could not say that entirely approved of Squeaks’ choices, but the display is certainly an impressive one. And, keen to try to ensure that no one winds up significantly hurt, she endeavours to keep pace via her own unconventional route.

Thus, it takes her only a moment to close the distance sufficiently that an outstretched hand bring Squeaks within reach of her ability. Abruptly, gravity’s pull on the girl inverts: her descent slows, then reverses, and she starts to fall upwards - but at a slight angle, towards Ygraine’s outstretched hands, where the upside-down woman stands ready to catch her. Hopefully in a manner the young thief won’t object to with too much violence.

Legs swinging, the kid pulls her lower half upward to hook a leg on the awning. Just as she does, it gives way. The shuddering bang loosens her grip too much. That’s what happens when you use up all your luck on a fool stunt like stealing from the market. Rather than fight fate, Squeaks accepts it. On the ground she’ll be able to make another break for it, provided she’s not too badly shaken.

Just as she orients to falling downward, she’s abruptly falling up. To say she’s shocked would be an understatement. That switch in gravitational pull would surprise anyone, even knowing the source. But Squeaks never saw Ygraine in the marketplace, and there could be a thousand other people with abilities similar to the one drawing her up… or is it down? However, in the heat of the moment and the contraband in her backpack she doesn’t look to see what the cause of her sudden reversal is.

Like the little weasel she’s been all morning, Squeaks flails with hands and feet. There’s no going quietly for this kid. A second ago she had accepted where gravity would inevitably take her, the landing wouldn’t have been pleasant, but survivable. Now she fights it. She’s worked too hard to just give up. Do you know what they do to the thieves they catch?!

This is a very strange. Raquelle is quiet as he takes a deep breath, eyes darting from person to person and then he’s quickly moving forward. “Whoa, whoa…whoa! Bacon Buster!” He holds out his hands slightly as he tries to get within hearing distance and eye contact distance.

“Look at me baby, look at me!” He raises his voice, trying to get her attention. “Look at me…listen…” He takes a deep breath, focusing on the young girl, his gift wrapping around words…trying to keep his tones calm and reassuring. “Calm down, you are not in trouble. I’m not going to let anybody hurt you, okay honey? Look at me, I’m Raquelle…Raquelle has you darling, just calm down so you don’t get hurt.”

Raquelle has a way with words despite his evolved ability, but with it working, it does a wonder at calming the crowds, the livestock, and even Squeaks and Ygraine. The crowd kind of mellows out, the jostling and pushing to get away, the cheering at Squeaks’ exodus calming as children go back to doing whatever it was they were doing. Even the butcher, a sight to see half-covered in what was on the floor of his stall, manages to get the calmer chickens back into their cages, one pig just flopping down where it stands to be dragged back to its stall, the other one to be rescued later and returned to its owner.

Ygraine has a very real chance of getting accidentally kicked if Squeaks doesn’t calm down or if gravity keeps working the way it is and not the way it was. As it stands now, Squeaks is falling ‘up’ towards Ygraine, right over a large awning very near Raquelle. Gravity righting itself would find Squeaks plummeting, bouncing, and then landing in front of Raquelle.

Ygraine only discovers quite how violent Squeaks’s objection to being caught is once she has the girl in her arms. A brief burst of swearing in French and Russian follows, as she struggles to find some way to safely hold the little spitfire.

But Raquelle’s preternaturally-empowered voice does have an effect, even if she’s not really free to pay much attention to the actual words being spoken. It helps her to look more urgently for less confictual ways to ensure the fiery young girl’s safety… and that prompts her to push Squeaks out to arms’ length, and look around for options.

That awning seems to be a viable one, so she strides along the underside of the catwalk until they’re directly above it; flips the charge on Squeaks to orient her to the awning; then lets go so that she drops onto it. Once the girl is safely settled onto the canvas, she dissolves the charge, to let her thereafter move freely… though by then, Ygraine hopes that she will be listening to Raquelle’s continued efforts to calm the situation.

A very angry raccoon would find a kindred spirit in Squeaks’ efforts to get free. After all, she’s not above biting. In this moment, however, she just wants to escape and so there’s no intentional attacks on Ygraine’s person.

Raquelle’s requests don’t go unheard. Not this time. He’s caught the girl’s attention. She’s looking at him – glowering almost – while continuing to pull away from the not normal gravity and twist out of Ygraine’s grasp. It’s actually a shock when it works and she’s summarily dropped onto an awning below.

There’s an indignant look when she lands. It’s not exactly directed anywhere but probably intended for the Briton. The girl sits on the awning, shoulders raising and lowering as the excitement of her misadventures catch up with her. She secures her backpack, a side-eyed gaze seeking out Raquelle or peering above once to find Ygraine. So that’s who caught her! It’s after she’s made sure everything is safe within her pack that Squeaks swings her legs off the front end of the awning and lowers herself to dangle, then drop on to the ground.

Feet on pavement again, the girl’s attention goes back to the hairdresser. She doesn’t say anything. She probably doesn’t have to. Her expression is imploring, if you look long enough to see through the suspicion.

“That’s it darling, there you go.” Raquelle continues speaking clearly, taking a deep breath as he watches the young woman get lowered down and there’s an appreciative nod to Ygraine.

He now just narrows is focus on Squeaks, the rest of the people fading to the background for him as he offers a kind smile. “There we go, damn girl you a speedy one aren’t you?” He makes a come over gesture towards the girl.

“Now, let me see how much you got so I can get this paid for and you can go on your way, okay? Did you get everything you needed? Do you have any…special things that you need?” He holds out that offering hand. “C’mon, lets get this over with so you can go on about your business, nobody will hurt you. If they try, they’ll have to get through me and Yggy Pop over there and she’s a bad ass, and I will cut somebody if I have to.” He winks.

The marketplace’s chaos starts to wane, people going about their shopping again while the owner of the canned food stall starts to pick up his collapsed shelves, stacking the cans of food a little less precariously, concentrating them on the lower parts of the thing to keep it all from toppling over again. He’s not caught that anything was stolen from him, but given some time, he probably will be able to tell what went missing out of his stock.

Carol the Vegetable Lady went right back to business once the chaos ended - people need food, after all, and she gives Raquelle a wave off, as if to say it’s okay. “Just tell me what she got and we’ll go from there. And Mister Raquelle, we /should/ have Okra in the next couple of weeks if you’re wanting to do some Creole or Cajun dishes.”

Even the lunk who was coming after Squeaks has gone back to his stall and is busily trying to flog cell phone repairs and batteries and the use of his cell phone for people who don’t have one. The insanity of a few minutes before melts away, like footprints during a heavy snowstorm, impossible to see now.

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