Into Focus, Part II


delilah_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif elliot_icon.gif squeaks5_icon.gif wright_icon.gif

Scene Title Into Focus, Part II
Synopsis With the help of Elliot's ability, a clearer view begins to form of just what happened to the victims at Red Hook Market, even if just as many questions remain.
Date October 28, 2020

Safe Zone Cooperative Headquarters, Red Hook Market

With the knowledge that memories would be best gathered while fresh, before time and distance and trauma coping had time to kick in, the decision was made to slip into the offices of the Safe Zone Cooperative to borrow one of the two meeting rooms. At this hour of the day, only a few Cooperative members are still in the office anyway, and happy to cede the space once it's been explained just what they're doing here.

One of the office aides gives Delilah a meaningful, concerned look before she sees herself out of the meeting room she's just shown the group to. The small pool of eyewitnesses now includes the man who'd been preaching from the loudspeaker, unfortunate enough to not be able to escape. He's warily agreed to come along, shooting uncertain looks at everyone else present.

He may only be here to prove he's not anti-SLC-E himself, but he's still nervous about it.

Elliot takes in the room as he enters quietly, looking around for cues that people can look to when forming the link. Colors, furniture, art objects, anything that can serve as a tag when mapping the link to a volunteer’s mind. He moves to the back of the room, giving people free access to the door if they feel like making a break for it. He pulls a chair from the head of the table and backs it up as Wright rolls over two other chairs, forming a triangle.

Elliot sits first, adjusting the sling that holds his cast. Wright takes a chair beside him and smiles reassuringly to those who’ve agreed to come. “I get that this seems weird, and you might be nervous,” Elliot says as people mill about the room. “For your peace of mind, what I can do is not telepathy as you’d think of it; I can’t hear your thoughts. Every step of this requires your consent and cooperation, so if you don’t want to do this, you actually can’t.”

“Also,” Wright adds, “You’ll know what he’s looking at. You have to remember what happened, and Elliot will kind of remember with you. No internal monologue comes through, just your memories of what happened and the emotions you had at the time.” She remains affable and friendly, even to the megaphone operator who she’d probably suckerpunch if she could get away with it.

Elliot turns to look at Lieutenant Harrison and nods. “Who wants to go first?” He gestures to the third chair, first come first served.

Elisabeth nods at the explanation and offers to the people in the room as well, "Just as a side note — this is strictly looking at your memories like they're a camera lens. If you, for example, were doing something less than legal, we do not care. It is not legally admissible and we are not looking for it. You are literally a camera lens so that we have different angles at which to see what was happening."

Because this is Red Hook. And probably half the people here either scav or do other under-the-table business. Not her problem, and Elisabeth wants to make clear that she doesn't care. And since she wasn't present, she can't volunteer, either.

Jac looks up from her own initial survey of the room to Liz first, then over to Elliot and Wright. She considers the task — having someone go into her head and look at things doesn’t worry her — but she doesn't jump with eagerness to do it. There's even a moment, a quick beat in time indicated with a flicker of her eyes to the ringleader of the rally, where she weighs volunteering him to be first.

If she were cruel or vindictive, it would probably happen. But neither of those veins of thought are so solidly part of her nature. She huffs her derision at the man’s uneasiness. “I’ll go.”

As she speaks up, the teen shoots a look at Delilah, perhaps wondering if the older redhead is going to try to step in. Dee is friends with Gillian after all. She doesn't linger on the thought, or give much chance for anyone to reconsider. Both Liz and the two from Wolfhound say it's safe, and in the end it's Jac’s choice to participate. She steps around Wright and Elliot and drops into the assigned chair.

Someone along the way has given Delilah at least a sweatshirt; it's far too large, but it's better that way; she can wash her hands but not her clothes. They're far gone anyway.

She has pointedly been ignoring the man from the stage, instead focusing silently on the others and trying to feel the gravity of her seat, grounding herself. The explanation of something only skimmed over before has Dee's expression ponderous, and only then does she give the stranger a sidelong look. Wondering if he'd do it. Squeaks saves her the trouble of any further consideration; though it's a foreign concept and Delilah is more than ready to look out for Squeaks— she trusts Elisabeth, and if Liz trusts these two, well, not much else to say against it.

"Sooo… like psychometry for people?" It's a simplified version. Brows up, the redhead glances from face to face. "I've got nothing to hide, I'll go after her."

The man in the Medina shirt folds his arms over his chest, posture closing off while he listens to the explanation about how this all works. He doesn't look thrilled, exactly— what kind of trust does he have that Elliot's telling the truth about not being able to read his thoughts?— but he's still onboard. He has nothing to hide, either, after all. He looks over to Elisabeth at her explanation with a gracious nod. He committed no crimes in his mind, believing himself in the clear.

His attention wanders back to Jac as she takes the first seat, his eyes squinting a bit in suspicion— to see if anything about her changes.

“It’s,” Elliot begins, but quirks his head with an unspoken, huh. “It’s not unlike psychometry for people. There are other applications for anyone who’s linked into the network, but we’ll not be using any of those today.”

“So,” he says when Jac takes the seat. “I’m Elliot. This process requires concentration and physical contact. It’s also kind of difficult, so my partner Wright,” he nods to his partner Wright, who smiles reassuringly, “Will be taking some of the load off. We’ll form a circuit. You hold our hands, but feel free to let go and break the link if you are uncomfortable.”

Wright rests her left hand on Elliot’s right shoulder as his arm is still in a sling. They each offer a hand to Jac. “I’m going to say a few words,” Elliot continues, “And map the responses to them where I sense them in your memory. You’ll have a sense of the link’s presence, but, for the sake of timeliness, I’m going to keep it closed. We’ll do the actual sharing of the memories once everybody’s linked in. Including you, Lieutenant, if you want to see what I put together.”

Elisabeth looks surprised and then nods. "Sure." She isn't sure how she thought it would work — maybe like Cassandra's ability. But she steps up readily. If she's concerned about what they might see in her mind, right now it's not showing. Elliott has said it's just about their senses and not telepathic. She puts her hand on Jac's shoulder so as not to crowd Elliott… and maybe to offer the girl some comfort as well, though it's not her turn to join the link as yet. She finds it interesting that it's similar to David Cardinal's ability — he could touch her and see through her eyes wherever she went until he decided not to.

Jac returns the look from Medina’s minor mouthpiece, brows raising. She'd taunt him verbally if circumstances were different. Speaking her mind right now just seems childish whereas a look somehow doesn't. She holds the man’s eyes with her own for a beat, then dismisses him with a turn of her head. A thrill of nervousness rises up into her chest as she takes the hands offered to her, but she keeps it from her face. “Let's do this.” And her voice.

It proves harder than she thought to completely ignore the man with them; Delilah eventually gives him a piercing look of disapproval which she promptly diverts to concentrating on feeling the pressure of tongue against teeth. Starting more shit in here would be a terrible idea. Maybe if it weren't this time period and this place— Delilah would be more than happy to knock his knees out from under him and make his a night of regrets.

But no. For now it's just playing out in her head, that particular ass-whooping. Think pleasant thoughts, Lilah. Yes, there you go.

"A human circuit? That's… kinda new." To her, anyhow. The elder redhead's interest doesn't wane, despite internal distraction.

The Medina-lover in the room isn't blind to his particular brand of being unwelcome, but he shrugs it off. There's a cop here. Even if it's an Evo cop. He's fine.

And if for some reason he's not fine, he'd have her fucking badge. So, all's well that ends well, as far as he's concerned.

He rubs the side of his neck anyway, settling a hip against the side of the meeting room's conference table when that's done to fold his arms and wait his turn. He even turns to look at Delilah at one point, offering her a tight, polite smile before going back to his own curious study of the events proceeding, even if there's a different tone to it.

Elliot and Wright don’t grasp Jac’s hands, leaving them open for her to hold but also to release if needed. With Jac settled, Elliot begins. Wright’s eyes lose focus as she cedes her cognition to Elliot, taking on part of the effort required to form the link. Her eyelids flutter closed.

“Market,” Elliot says.

“Crowd,” he continues.

“Lamp post.”

With each word there’s the feeling of memories being seen, held up to be viewed. Then comes the sensation of a door in Jac’s mind, closed against any attempt to look through it. Wright’s eyes reopen and Elliot smiles.

“That’s it,” he says. “Nice and easy. The link will stay active, but I’ll break it as soon as we’re done here. If it makes you uncomfortable you can try to withdraw from the door in your mind, and that will break the link too. Make yourself comfortable.” He gestures with his head to the rest of the chairs surrounding the conference table. Wright takes her hand from his shoulder to give Jac a thumbs up.

The process is quick, the links established for all of them. Even for the Medina Mouthpiece, who gets the word rabble-rouser thrown into his list of tag words. He goes last of the witnesses, stepping back with a vaguely awestruck expression that he tries so very hard to keep subtle. (And fails at.)

This is probably the first personal experience he's had with someone with abilities, and his curiosity about the experience is outweighing his prejudice presently.

His interest doesn't fade by the time Liz, too, is circled in on the experience… whatever the hell it's going to be. He finds himself looking to Elliot when that's done, brows arching. "Uh, so what now?" he asks, suspicion essentially vanished from his voice.

“Now,” Elliot replies, “We can get comfortable around the table while I start pulling your memories of what happened.” He nods to Lieutenant Harrison formally before spinning his chair backward to propel himself into the table with a push of his feet. He rotates in place again, steadying himself by grabbing the edge of the table with his hand. His expression doesn’t betray his action as absurd. Wright, however, does so with a quiet giggle as she too maneuvers her chair to the table without getting out of it.

He queues his own memory of the event, starting from the outskirts of the crowd, up through the arrival. He’s already compounded his and Wright’s memories on the ride here. When he looks at it now he looks from two vantage points simultaneously. There’s less chaos here with their perspectives starting from close proximity, though that will get a bit more unwieldy as they progress.

When everybody is settled, he says, “Everybody just needs to start remembering what happened, and you’ll feel me remembering with you. You can talk if that helps put things in order for you.” Again Wright shows the relaxed posture of her earlier assistance.

There is a bitter satisfaction in seeing the change in the stranger's demeanor once things begin; Delilah doesn't expect this to be a world-shattering revelation, but will it help soften the blows? It's possible. Maybe he'll learn something today after all. Wishful thinking, whatever.

Ms. Trafford's recollection starts similarly to the Hounds', the whole coming upon a situation by happenstance, on her way elsewhere in Red Hook. She wasn't looking for trouble, but she has such a hard time not kicking back— much to family members' dismay. The impression is likely not lost on the others here, of course.

"I think our new friend here should preface at least part of this—" Dee looks to him without the previous spear of judgement. Well… it's blunted now, not quite gone. "— the crowd wouldn't have been there otherwise, would it?"

Jac’s perspective differs vastly, having been weaving through the crowd instead of approaching. There's plenty of shoulders and elbows she'd maneuvered around, frowning looks landing on people who, from her point of view, were deserving of it.

Her interaction with Indy is recalled with more clarity. But then she knows him and the rest of the crowd are just nameless-faceless beings parroting words. It's when Delilah's words send ripples through the crowd and her own annoyance peaks that her perspective shifts again. She'd mentioned climbing onto a pole and it must be at this point. Viewed from just above, the masses are still without significant detail but she could see a lot more. Some people do stand out more sharply than others but it's the victims particularly who are most clearly recalled in all their severed gory glory.

“Wasn't he closest to where it happened?” Jac tacks on her question you Dee’s comment of the Mouthpiece. “Maybe he actually knows who did it.”

He honestly wishes he did.

The memories of the man with the megaphone certainly see more of the crowd, the sound of his voice echoing over the megaphone particularly hard to shut out of his recollection now that he's face to face with the people who his message grated against. Every word hangs heavier now. His eyes had been roaming the crowd frequently, though, trying to see how eager his message was received. Where to lean in and where to move on.

It was equal parts exhilaration and fear, bedded by a deep-seated comfort that so many had come out in agreement with him. In the direction he felt the country should head.

What had he been saying when things had started going wrong? Elliot, and Elisabeth who is able to view with him, are aware of the slowing down that happens in the man's recollection— the small skip forward in frames as he goes back to just before everyone started screaming.

He remembers looking that direction in particular. A man behind them had had his child on his shoulders, and he'd felt proud for putting out a family-friendly message people felt comfortable bringing their kids to. He'd started to move on after that, comforted by that and beginning to let go of the annoyance and indignation that had cropped up due to Delilah and Jac. The memory freezes then, as he tries hard to remember anyone that stood out in the moment before his eyes moved on. Faces that looked particularly out of place, unhappy, determined…

None that near, anyway. Faces like Dee's or the other man that had been ejected from the crowd were far away.

But he saw clearly the moment the crowd began to recede from the screaming, stumbling woman and the body halves of the man who'd been attacked. He'd looked back immediately, then, and saw not a single person who tried to elbow their way through the crowd like they were aiming to make an escape. In the first, critical moments, the responses were purely shock driven.

In the conference room, in the present, he rubs his forehead as he tries to think. He had to have seen something better… he had to have. His frustration with himself mounts, making the memory harder to hold onto.

Elliot and Wright devote most of their effort into maintaining the composite so that Lieutenant Harrison can maneuver through the various perspectives without an overwhelming amount of difficulty on her part. Elliot continues to assemble smaller pieces as they're remembered, and dims sections where attention was elsewhere. Little formatting edits that are second nature to him. If he's going to permanently alter his memory of this event, he might as well make it look good.

Medina's man holds what he considers to be the most informative perspective: it appears that the attack happened outside of the victims' adjacent area. He doesn't draw additional focus to this, allowing Liz to come to her own conclusions with the available data.

The audiokinetic has her eyes closed to better focus on the memories and although she didn't expect to do it, his agitation is making things harder. "~Mr. Evans, I need you to take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and then walk back through your memory again for me, please.~" Elisabeth's voice is laced with the lulling subsonics that she's so adept at. "You're doing great, sir. I just want to be sure I have it."

She's not sure if that little skip might be important, but she'd like to see if it happens on a second pass too. She's studying the faces and the crowd to see how it flows when things start to happen. Jac's higher point of view is helpful because it offers two angles to see from.

The Medina mouthpiece, Mr. Evans, lets out a slow, deep breath and takes another one in like he's suggested to. It helps that he wants to, for sure, and it doesn't hurt that Elisabeth's voice is soothing. He struggles to bring his thoughts back around again, but with the nudges provided to him, he does so. One moment flows to the next, this time with the emotion of the paces deadened owing to his focus.

In the end, though, even from his excellent vantage, there's no signs of a physical attacker. The most he has is a better angle of the gruesome falling apart of both victims… which in itself is validation that there was no visible disturbance in the air around their victims. There's no somatic signs from those standing nearby that seem to indicate they could be the attacker, no look of concentration from anyone in the immediate area around them.

It makes this that much more puzzling. But at least there's a multi-angle confirmation of the situation now.

Her own remembering of the incident given over, Jac rides the loop like a ghostly witness to what the others recall. It's weird seeing it from angles she wasn't privy to at first, almost disorientating. Especially when she can see herself from Delilah and Mouthpiece’s point of views.

But really it's the latter one that draws her interest. She knows enough about a lot of things to realize, with his vantage point he should have seen something.

Turning her head, the teen looks at Elliot and Wright, then tilts her head to look up at Liz over her shoulder. The guy, forever Medina’s Mouthpiece in her mind, should have, could have seen anything from where he was standing. So why didn't…

“Did he manifest there?”

Jac’s head tilts to one side and she includes everyone in the question with a round-the-table look. “Could he be slice? Is that why there's no one else around that even looks like they did it?” Everyone she knows that’s slice is already manifested, and had been before she met any of them. So it's something that's definitely outside of her experience, and she's hoping any one of the others might have hooked on the same assumption.

For as long as it has taken until they close in on the end, Delilah doesn't chance interrupting; much like Jac, she is intent on finding something and sees nothing else. Just the square, the speaker, the crowd, and then a burst of chaos.

The little memory seance is given a gliding stop by Jac's question. Delilah's features edge on a grimace.

"I don't think so. Something like that— " To the guy's credit, Dee looks to him and sees just anger and frustration— but this? This would take a lot more than politics, to her. "I've only ever seen things like that with trained skills… or mosaics." The latter is aimed at Elisabeth rather than anyone else. "Sorry we couldn't be more help."

Elisabeth watches through the memory carefully, comparing it with Jac's and Delilah's as well. There's just nothing there that she can see. Sighing quietly, she tells Elliot, "Thank you … I think that's all we needed." Her gaze turns to Evans and includes him as well. "I appreciate your cooperation, Mr. Evans." Because he was pretty much the only reluctant one.

Her blue eyes flicker to Delilah and Jac. "It's actually possible it could have been an ability eruption, but if it had been, I'd have expected to see someone standing nearby lose their shit in a different kind of horror." She shakes her head. "Not sure what that is, but I'll definitely be figuring it out. Nobody wants that kind of shit happening."

The blonde lieutenant can't share much of anything about her own thoughts, but she definitely looks unhappy with it all. "You all did great. Your help has been invaluable."

“I’m going to disconnect everybody in three,” Elliot says when he feels the last participant let go of the memory. He taps his finger against the table, Two, one, and breaks their connections to the network. There’s a brief feeling of a pressure change, and the sensation of the door vanishing along with their ability to detect it in their minds.

Wright shrugs off her sustained effort and becomes alert again, stretching in her chair. Elliot looks to those around the table. “Thanks for your cooperation, that went smoothly.” He checks the time on his phone and makes further alterations to his meal plans. He’d gone to the market with grand ideas of crafting something time-consuming. At this point it’s looking like take-out pizza.

Mr. Evans, for his part, is sombered and more ill at-ease than before. The reassurances that Delilah and Elisabeth lay out regarding the likelihood of the event having been inadvertently caused by him do nothing to unseat the seed of uncertainty sowed by Jac's words.

The officers and other witnesses who leave Red Hook have just as many questions regarding the crime as when they entered, but he finds himself determined to close off at least one path.

He buys one of those marker-reading field test kits from the drug store. Just to see. Just to be sure.

And for the first time in his life, when his blood hits the test strip, it turns blue.

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