Mutiny, Part II


des_icon.gif etienne_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif sibyl4_icon.gif

Scene Title Mutiny, Part II
Synopsis Raytech and company attempt two methods of interrogation. Only one is successful.
Date April 30, 2018

Coastal Waters Off Staten Island

Staten Island is still fog-shrouded as the Salve Regina transports them near its looming mass. The aging lobster boat is smooth and sure over dark waters. Most of Alister's men were left behind and instructed to haul the freighter out of dicier territory with the help of hostaged, surviving crew, and so the denizens of the Salve Regina are whittled down to an unconscious Alister laid up in the wheelhouse, the henchman entrusted with setting a course for Staten Island, Kaylee Ray-Sumter who has a blanket heavy around her shoulders, Desdemona Desjardins with a radio receiver in her pocket and bruises slowly recolouring her throat and Alister's blood drying on her hands, Sibyl Black who is staying out of the way, Pohl with his wrists bound in rope and a fresh mouth wound drying cracked scarlet on his lip, and Etienne.

Etienne, who has hauled Pohl out onto the deck into a heap, and is now sitting by casually and keeping a look out over the waters they traverse. He's cleaned his face, mostly, but his nose is still crooked, deep bruises slowly leaking their ink around his eyes. Drying blood is still caught in his whiskers, in the seams of his mouth.

But they got a freighter. As far as he is concerned, they've won themselves a worthy prize.

The state of his employer is a problem that this course to Staten Island is intended to solve, a place Etienne has stronger instinct to go to when it comes to having bullet wounds treated, in place of mainland hospitals and their protocols and obligations. Taking a silver flask out from his jacket, Etienne offers it across to Kaylee.

"It's water," he says, before she can decline mysterious fluids.

This is two outfits now ruined by bullet wounds. Des would be upset about it, but the wounds weren’t her own, and so she’ll count herself lucky. Blue eyes stare out across the water. It’s been some time since she’s been out to Staten Island. She’s wondering if she shouldn’t have crossed over and disappeared there quite some time ago. It starts as nothing more than an idle thought, but soon begins to form roots in her mind. She’ll revisit the matter soon.

“I can fix your nose, too,” Des offers to Etienne in a soft voice. “Least I could do for showing up at the opportune moment.” Saving Alister - at least keeping him alive long enough to find help on the island - was far more than the least. “As rugged as it can make a person look, it can cause trouble later,” she points out, ever the physician.

“What, no rum?” It’s mild humor, even if it comes out with a severe lack of it. Kaylee doesn’t trust the situation. Call it habit, but there is a feeling of unease about how Etienne and Alister Black — of all people — showed up just in time. Or maybe she was just on edge in general. She thought she had that part of her under control, but again… she lost control of it and she was reminded why she kept that part of her locked away. Even now, it is there just below the surface, silken and tempting. Worse yet, she still wanted it.

“I’m sorry, that was really bad form.” Kaylee gives a small sigh and a hand emerges from clutching the blanket, Pohl’s blood — now dried black — in the creases of her fingers. The redness of her knuckles says she might have helped contribute to look of the captive man before he had been hauled away earlier. The hand is held up with palm towards Etienne, along with a small apologetic smile. “But, while I do appreciate the gesture, you’ll have to excuse me for not making it a habit to take drinks from strange men.” Even if they look like him. Especially so…

After taking a moment to look at their captive, Kaylee glances back at the pirate out of the corner of her eye with no judgement for any. Just a glance. It had been tempting to silently slip into the thoughts of the dark haired man, to see what their real purpose was, if any. But, they were not in a state where she could act so freely without risking their safety. Still needed answers from the captive. The blanket is shrugged off and handed to the pirate with a softly spoken, ‘thank you,” before giving Pohl her full attention.

“So, going to tell me who wanted us dead?” Kaylee’s tone in dangerously light.

Pohl meets Kaylee’s gaze and holds it, either in defiance or an attempt to appeal to her humanity. It’s harder, he imagines, to kill someone when you’re looking directly into their eyes — or maybe he’s just projecting his own personal experience onto the telepath, who is already meeting some mental resistance should she attempt to press at his defenses.

“You’ll kill me or she will,” he says, “so it makes little difference what I tell you.”

He runs his tongue over his front teeth and spits a frothy glob of saliva and blood onto the deck at Kaylee’s feet. She can at least determine, through the lightest application of her ability, that this isn’t meant as a gesture of disrespect.

He simply didn’t want to swallow it.

A cormorant alights on the railing at the lobster boat’s bow. The sun is still struggling to burn off the early morning fog and casts the open waters off Staten Island in a hazy silver glow that makes the seabird’s feathers appear matte black in the absence of true light. It gives a low trill and picks at its bent wing, idly preening itself a few feet away from where Sibyl leans against the rail and watches Kaylee begin her interrogation.

The teen glances over at the cormorant the next time it shifts positions and decides to put some additional distance between herself and the animal, which is unusually large, reeks of the worst parts of the ocean, and perched just a bit too close for comfort.

With his water declined, Etienne takes a swig for himself, and he's capping the vessel once more by the time Des approaches him. She can imagine that the break is a point of pain radiating in the centre of his face, and there is a slight ashiness to his otherwise sun-touched countenance thanks to the redirection of blood flow, the loss of it from his nostrils and down the back of his throat. He glances sideways at her, and his answer is a gruff sound rather than articulated.

It sounded like a yes. Sibyl, over there, has probably made some headway in interpreting the meaning behind certain silences and growls out of Etienne, what it means in English.

He offers the flask to Des.

Then, he takes out a knife. It's not the big wicked thing he'd been sinking into mutineers not so long ago, which is still lashed at his belt. It's a pocket knife, still mean and deadly and well weighted, sharp as a scalpel in the muffled sunlight. His pale-eyed attention cuts towards Kaylee standing over the bound man as he takes out a light, flicking the flame to life, and holding the blade within it.

The fire is watched with a quiet sort of reverence. Or perhaps her respect is for the blade, the surgeon’s instrument. A glance is spared in Kaylee’s direction once more, wondering what their captive might have to say. Des considers the transmitter in her pocket and wonders if she’ll get anything from that either.

“Thank you.” The offered flask is accepted and uncapped. She nearly wipes the mouth of it with her sleeve out of habit, but Desdemona’s sleeves are decidedly less sanitary than anything that might linger there. She takes a drink, believing it will be water as he says, but braced for vodka all the same. Once that’s done, she closes it up and hands it back again.

“Lucky you,” Kaylee practically purrs out, ignoring the spit as she steps closer. “I have no intentions to kill you and she won’t kill you unless I give the order.” It is more of a bluff on that, while she might be Des’ boss… it is a different story outside of RayTech.

It’s not hard to know that people are watching. The call of the bird, pulls the telepath’s attention which has her noticing the young girl’s attention. Pulling her attention away from Sibyl and the bird, fingers move to grip Pohl’s chin, nails dig lightly into the stubbled jaw, forcing him to look her in the eyes. What he doesn’t know is that her ability is already searching for a weakness, but his mind is strong. She might have to be a little more blatant with her ability, to get answers. Letting go, she move around him, catching Etienne watching her. Blue eyes meet blue eyes briefly, before she turns attention to the captive again.

Leaning down, she says softly, for his ears only, though others might catch it. “But see…. Here’s the thing….” He’ll feel her fingers press to his temples on each side. “I don’t need you to say anything.” She then lets the man feel the tendrils of her ability, like the feeling of silk sheets over skin, as she seeks a way in. Though she hopes it doesn’t come to that, those darker parts of her mind what to try and tear apart his mind… it does so love a challenge. Lucky for Pohl, Kaylee has more control then that.

“Now… who is this person that wants my brother?” Kaylee asks as fingers press into his skin, touch has always made the connection easier. “Yet, had no issue with killing me?” His sister… that goes without saying. Her tone might suggest she takes a little offense to that.

Pohl’s eyes squint shut and he clenches his jaw, pushing back against Kaylee’s intrusion. This might have been easier a few years ago, before people learned how to better steel themselves against psychic assault — people like Pohl, whose ability to resist her suggests that he’s had some sort of training in the interim, be it formal or otherwise.

But he is not immune.

Cigarette smoke gathers in a dark, roiling cloud beneath the ceiling of the bar, which lacks any kind ventilation. The air smells like stagnant tobacco, woodsmoke, and the new rain crackling against opaque windows made of warped glass.

It might be New York. Or it might not.

There is a woman seated across Pohl at the table, and although Kaylee struggles to pick out any identifying features from her face, it’s a little like trying to recognize her own reflection in rippling pool of water. If she hadn’t depleted her energy forcing a man to turn his weapon on himself, she might be able to see more than the details Pohl is spoonfeeding her against his will.

A migraine gathers in the space between the telepath’s eyes, the kind she cannot power through but instead has to make peace with even as it begins crowding into the edges of her vision.

Small, pale hands that look like they’re made of polished porcelain or alabaster cradle a glass of bitter herbal liqueur. He’s focused on her mouth and the shade of lipstick he’s chosen, which he thinks is too dark for her complexion and makes her look too severe for him to find her attractive, even if there are aspects of her appearance that he still appreciates.

Pohl is only half-listening to the words she’s speaking, which are German and beyond Kaylee’s understanding. He’s thinking instead about how he’d still fuck her anyway, even if she’s probably a cold fish. He’s thinking about the last woman he slept with, and how much more appealing her face had been. He’s thinking about—

He’s thinking about a lot of things that have nothing to do with what Kaylee is after. It’s a tactic she hasn’t encountered before, and there’s no doubt in her mind that it’s purposeful.

There is a soft hiss of breath from the telepath and nails press into skin; as she grabs what little she can get, even paying attention to the inflections of the woman’s voice and what she can get of where they are. It is frustrating to fail when it was her life on the line. However, going in Kaylee knew it would not be easy; but, she is rather impressed by the defense that the man puts forth, this kind of thing took practice. Training.

She would have to change her tactic.

Eyes refocus for a moment, as she takes a deep breath, gathering her flagging mental strength for that last push. If she can’t get something useful, then he’ll have won. Neither her, nor whatever it was that lingered in the back of her mind like that scenario. Eyes slide shut as she refocuses, as calming breath let out slowly. Her mind curls around his again, like a snake around its prey. She pushes for a single detail, something important. The woman’s eyes. They often say that the eyes are the windows into someone’s soul.

As she makes that final push, blood starts to draw that familiar line from her nostril, teeth grit against the sharp spike of pain that reddens the edge of her vision.

The woman’s eyes are sad, Pohl thinks. He sees loss in them, and pain. It’s reflected, too, in the rigid curve of her back and the way her fingers seek out the old, tarnished wedding band she wears on her left ring finger.

He knows this type of woman: scorned. Wonders if her husband left her, and even makes the mistake of asking this question in his native tongue. Kaylee experiences the secondhand pleasure he derives from her reaction at first, the way her face falls, stony exterior crumbling to expose the more vulnerable individual sheltered behind it.

It might be a trick of the light, but her eyes are abruptly very wet.

He doesn’t expect the pain that comes next — his own rather than the woman’s. It erupts blister-like on his skin and in the tissue beneath, spreading poison through his veins and flooding into his lungs, which are suddenly feeling very heavy.

The sensation is unlike anything Pohl has felt before.

Neither has Kaylee. The resulting scream sounds to her like it’s coming from an entire world away.

But for Desdemona and Etienne, it rings sharp and shrill in their ears — because it’s Kaylee’s throat that it erupts from.

The water that Des takes from the flask is as Etienne claimed it to be. It's cool and clear and probably, one imagines, a necessary thing to have on you when you live somewhere like Staten Island, or off her shores. He's not quick to take it back, leaving it to her to drink from as she pleases as she rotates the blade idly in flame and watches Kaylee crouches over their quarry.

With sharp interest. That is, after all, some mutant shit happening.

By the time she is screaming, Etienne is already on his feet, his step steady and sure on the softly swaying deck as the lobster boat continues on its journey, indifferent to the dramas transpiring on its deck. The henchman manning the wheel does emerge from the house, and at Etienne's headshake, reluctantly and suspiciously draws back inside.

He grasps the hair attached to Pohl's scalp. The knife, at his side, cooling but not quickly. He seems to wait for Kaylee to get her bearings, then asks, "You get a name?" He hasn't spoken much, more to others in the form of quick orders than to them, and his accent is still ill-defined. English, washed up on unknown shores since.

Des’ head snaps up, her attention on Kaylee the moment that sound breaks the stillness. Behind Etienne, she strides at half his gait until she closes the short distance and cautiously rests a hand against her friend’s shoulder. “Kaylee? I’m here, you’re safe.”

Whether that last bit is true or not, Des aims to make it so, regardless of whatever this situation is or what it evolves to be. Etienne’s flask is slide into one pocket so she can retrieve the radio transmitter instead. However, she doesn’t engage just yet, watching how the scene in front of her may play out first.

Neither will get an answer right away from the telepath, she is too busy trying to remember how to breathe… now to… everything. It feels like every inch of her is on fire. What breath she manages to take comes out as a ragged hiss of air, her throat raw from the screaming, which stopped when she finally managed to pull herself from Pohl’s mind. Stumbling back, she sits heavily on whatever is available, either boxes or the desk, all she knows is her legs don’t want to hold her up anymore.

Finally, a visibly trembling hand moves towards Etienne, palm out and fingers splayed, it is a motion to stay his hand from what she recognizes of his actions. “Hhn. Don’t. N-not, yet,” she gasps out, looking up at him with eyes watery with pain. “I didn’t get a name… but…” Gritting her teeth against another wave of pain, she’s left breathless. Curling into herself, her hand moves clutch at her chest. “Des…” She says softly calling for her friend, “Burning… everything felt like it…”

As undignified as it is, Kaylee whimpers… there are no flames, but with the way it felt like her flesh had been searing from bone, it might as well be. She now understood why Pohl feared this woman. Illusion maybe? Persuasion? “Damn… I’m a fool. Made…Hhhn. Made him look in her eyes.” It was a rookie move on her part, but she was desperate. Panting from pain, Kaylee looks at them, face pinched in pain, hands pressed to her head. “Dangers of telepathy… Gimme a minute,” she comments, as she sits there, practically curled into a little ball of pain.

The mental link with Pohl severed, and so is the blistering sensation that had been building in the cavity of Kaylee’s chest. She’s back on the deck of the lobster boat with a thin line of blood running from her left nostril down her chin and throat. It gathers there on the collar of her shirt, a reminder of what can happen when she pushes herself too far — even if it will only last until the next time she runs her laundry with cold water and bleach.

Pohl isn’t faring much better. There are tears gathering in the corners of his mouth and in the thin, anemic bristle of what passes for a mustache clinging to his upper lip. He should be pleased with himself.

He isn’t.

The radio in Desdemona’s hand sputters back to life. A burst of static, then—

« Hallo. » The voice that crackles thin across the receiver is male this time, silty hoarse. « …Sprichst du Deutsch? »

Des takes Kaylee in her arms and holds her to her chest. “You’re safe now,” she promises again. “I’ve got you. What’s in his head can’t touch you now.” Reassuring whispers into her hair, which Des runs her hand over gently. She uses a corner of her sleeve to dab at the blood under Kaylee’s nose.

The moment is broken by the crackle of the radio. Des knows one phrase she can use here: “Nein. Englisch oder Französisch.” It helps to be able to communicate what language she can speak when a patient asks, even if that’s the extent of her ability to communicate. Her response is terse in tone, meant to convey some kind of authority. “Qui est-ce? Who is this?”

Managing a glance of appreciation from her employee/friend, a hand grips her arm briefly in thanks. If she had planned to say anything it is interrupted by the radio. Pulling away from Des, Kaylee watches with curious interest as the woman communicates with whoever that is. She trusts Des enough to leave the conversation to her. For now at least.

The telepath doesn't stay static, despite the howling protest of her head. Climbing to her feet, Kaylee steps around Etienne to face Pohl; very quickly noting his own state. “Well… I think I can appreciate the level of fear you have for that woman,” her tone bland, yet edged with pain. “However…”

A sideways glance goes to the pirate, “If that is all you are willing to volunteer, then I have no more use for you. While, I have no desire to see you dead, it’s not my boat.” There is weight to those words. “Your life will be in the hands of this…” So many descriptive words pass through her mind as to what she’d like to describe him as; however, the annoyingly better half of her mind protests such things coming from the mouth of married women…. there is a sigh, before she simply says, “captain.”

The better half of her mind is always taking away her fun. If that is indeed all the captive has for her, Kaylee turns her attention back to Des, just beyond them.

« Call me a concerned neighbor. » The voice rasps naturally into English, no trace of an accent through the sizzle and pop. « And you are? »

Des watches Kaylee even as she listens to the voice on the radio. Her lower lip is drawn between her teeth, worried at absently. There’s the faintest shake of her head at the thought of ending their captive’s life. It would be premature, in her mind. There may still be some value.

Oh, and she’s supposed to be trying harder to be one of the good guys.

Rolling her tongue over her teeth now, she offers her response to the mysterious voice. “Doctor Desjardins. What are you so concerned about, neighbor?”

« A shadow, » says the voice. « A stain.»

Static fades across a break in transmission.

« Are you one of them, Doctor? »

Well, that’s delightfully cryptic. Des gives a single, breathy chuckle. “Are you asking if I’m a mutant or a patriot?” She’s been both, depending on who you’re asking. “Us and Them is so 2008.”

« Je sais qui tu es. » This time he keeps hold of the push to talk, tinny traces of Fleetwood Mac threaded through white noise in a delay that feels leisurely, for the circumstances.

« Et je pense que tu sais ce que je demande.

How many of you are there? »

Des presses her lips together until they’re a bloodless line cut across her face. “Savez-vous? Comment saviez-vous que?” A shudder runs through her and she looks to the deck at her feet. Anything to keep from meeting Kaylee’s eyes right now.

“This isn’t my boat. I didn’t take a head count. I think the answer is enough.” When her thumb lifts off the transmitter, she heaves a shuddering sigh. This is not what she expected.

There'd been a subtle tick up at a near smile while Kaylee struggled to name what this is, Etienne unfussed with where she lands. It's accurate enough in the moment. And just like that, the mutineer is left to his hands, where the only thing talking is the radio receiver held by the dark-haired of the women.

Etienne is listening too, head tipped as he watches Des and her responses to the voice coming thin and distinct over the line. One can imagine that he is well-travelled enough to pick up a little French, but his expression gives away nothing about how much about all of this he is comprehending. He does know a few things, though. How to make men talk, without the need for telepathy, being one of them. He still has one hand gripping Pohl's scalp, and he sures up that grip as if anticipating imminent physical protest.

"Give the ladies a name," he says, the still hot tip of the blade now resting at the entrypoint of Pohl's ear. "Maybe we don't throw you over the side."

And with unflinching ease, he slips the blade in deep, blood quick to flow, barely a fraction away from damage to deafen.

There is no amount of training that prepares Pohl for this.

Bitte nicht,” he’s hissing as Etienne’s fingers clutch at his hair. “Bitte nicht.” But just as there’s no amount of training that can prepare him for the pain, there’s no amount of pleading that will convince Etienne not to inflict it, either.

His scream startles the cormorant from its perch on the railing, its wings snapping open the instant Pohl’s strangled wail cuts through the air. It launches off the lobster boat and soars several hundred feet away to where a nearby buoy is bobbing inoffensively amidst the waves.

Sibyl flinches, too. Even with all the time she’s been spending in the pirate’s company, these flourishes of violence still make her stomach turn — especially when she’s complicit in them.

“You’re hurting him—” she starts, her voice small but strong. Blue eyes plead for Etienne to stop without speaking the actual words.

Maybe they were coming anyway. Etienne will never know because before the waifish teen can finish, Pohl gives him what he wants. “Ihr Name ist Natalie!” he barks. “Natalie Gray! Sie hat uns beauftragt, Thatcher zu töten!

She’ll grimace, but later on Kaylee will realize it wasn’t for the act itself, but for the fresh pain that Pohl’s screaming brings to her head. Sucks to be a telepath sometimes. Finger press against her temple as she listens to the man talk. A flash of irritation as he lapses into German again.

However, she does get what she needs a name. Also a bit more.

Kaylee straighten and her hand falls away as she hears her maiden name. “What?” Stepping close again, she grabs his face so that he’ll look at her. “In English, please.” It’s hard not to yell, but she has to know. “Was I your target? Really?” Already she is going over in her head, who might want that.

« Des amis en haut lieu. » There’s a leer in the radio’s inflection — easy assurance, sanded smooth. Don’t worry about it. More seriously:

« Monsieur Pohl doit avoir un accident. »

Tels bons amis,” Des replies with more ease than she feels. Such good friends to have. The fingers of her free hand have curled into a fist. Gray carries such significance, but could be coincidence.

She doesn’t realize it should strike a stronger chord with her.

“Vraiment?” Blue eyes alight on Pohl, considering his distress. Wondering how much longer he has even if they set him free. A glance is spared to the small blonde protesting this treatment of their prisoner. She’s clearly running with the wrong group. Then, she casts a look to Etienne, brows raised as if to ask if he’s getting this.

« Vraiment. »

Des rolls her eyes. “«He does seem to be teetering on a very precarious edge.»”

As a name is finally drawn from Pohl like seawater from lungs, and with all the grace as such, Etienne tugs the blade back while still maintaining his grip on the man's scalp. Crimson is smudged on the end of sharp steel, as if it had caused an only very minor injury, and Etienne stares down at his face for a moment before looking up at the women speculatively.

Ice blue eyes flick to Des when she looks to him, and his demeanour changes, ever so. Standing over Pohl, his shoulders curl and his hand remains in its clench in the mutineer's hair. Possessive, a predator guarding a savannah kill.

Smoothly, he switches hands, scalp and knife, and puts the tip of the blade against the opening of the man's other ear. His stare switches back down to Pohl, and he says, "Answer the lady's question." Pitched in the realm of suggestion, over threat, but the bloodied knife waiting near ear canal does all the threatening for him.

“Natalie Gray,” Pohl says in English, as requested. Demanded. It makes little difference. He flinches away from Etienne’s knife, head turned away from his reflection gleaming in the blade pointed at his ear. “Her name is Natalie Gray.”

A low, involuntary whine shudders up from the pit of his chest. He’s acutely aware not only of Etienne’s menacing presence, but of the radio as well — and that whoever is on the other end can hear him divulging sensitive information like names.

There’s no turning back now, so what does he have left to lose?

(Besides his hearing in both his ears.)

“Your ability,” he croaks hoarsely at Kaylee. “Too dangerous.”

This answer takes Kaylee by surprise and she doesn’t bother to hide it. There are few who really know what she can do with her ability. A lot that isn’t publicly known. She studies Pohl for a long moment, before looking up at Etienne. “Thank you.” His technique worked much better. “I like your style, very effective. I could learn a thing or two.” A part of her protests the saying of such things. She does not need to learn things like that.

And then looks beyond him to Des a brow arching in question, her ability too burned out for her to feel safe using it. She can still hear the hums around her, but any attempt to focus on one particular line of thought makes her migraine blinding.

So instead… “Anything else you’d like to tell me?” That directed at Pohl, gaze falling on him again.

In return, Des lifts her own brows at Kaylee’s look. You could, huh? her look conveys. Don’t need telepathy for that. There’s only the briefest of smirks that follows. They both enjoy it far too much when they’re bad, and they both know it. That said, Etienne’s methods are effective, and appreciated.

But Odessa lifts her head and begins to look around, certain the other shoe is about to drop. The only question she has is from where?

The radio scratches in Des’s grip, sparked back to life after a patient stretch of silence.

« Tu pourrais te rendre utile.»

Mild, as suggestions go.

« No pressure, » the voice adds, tinder dry in its dip back into English — and right back out again. « Ton secret est en sécurité avec moi. »

Etienne gives Pohl a little breathing space to speak now and save himself from further damage, saying nothing to compliments as to his effectiveness. Pain is fleeting, where permanent damage is an innately scarier, immediately tangible prospect. But he doesn't hurt Pohl further while the man utters that he has nothing more to give. He closes and pockets his knife, gets a firmer grip on Pohl's jacket and hair, and goes to drag him away like this is routine labour.

One might imagine he would go overboard. Brains blasted from his skull with an efficient gunshot, or throat slit. Instead, still living, Pohl is practically kicked belowdeck through a hatch, permitted to tumble where he may amongst supplies and gear, the hatch closing off struggling, overcast sunlight.

It is, after all, his boat.

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