Press Hijack


aude_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif faith_icon.gif hope_icon.gif matt_icon.gif tracy_icon.gif

Scene Title Press Hijack
Synopsis A press conference regarding FRONTLINE is derailed by Humanis First fanatics.
Date June 22, 2009

In Front of a Courthouse in Brooklyn

Someone up there is smiling this morning, as enough of a break in the clouds has appeared for sunshine to wash the steps of this Brooklyn courthouse. Between the light breeze, the summer greenery, the carefully-erected podium with microphone, and the security guards discreetly posted around the base of the stairs, not to mention the knot of media representatives gathered beyond the line they represent, it's practically a perfect photo-op. Nothing better could be asked for — it's clearly not going to rain any time soon, and that's all the conference needs to go through.

Well, that and the guest of honor, the press milling around like small sharks in their little mob and impatiently watching the seconds tick down. Time moves so slowly when you're waiting. There are others behind them, people dressed casually and people dressed in suits, waiting with the curious air of passers-by who aren't too sure what the to-do is all about. A couple, the security people keep wary tabs on — military-looking camo at one end, and a trenchcoat at the other. Could be nothing, just more of New York's weirdos out for a stroll — could mean trouble.

Aude is one of the weirdos milling about. More out of sheer boredom due to her suspension. So she's sticking close to home, lest someone get it in their mind to take a shot at her like they did another cop weeks back. Which meant that while Officer Castalides has been out doing some grocery shopping, it had taken her past the courthouse on this beautiful day and had perked her attention.

Mind you, anything will get her attention right now. She'd probably stop and watch grass grow if it would relieve her tediousness. So in denim jacket, khaki's, sneakers and green top, the riot-curled petite officer is on the outskirts to the side, watching.

These things never start on time, the world would end if they did. No one expects them to, anyway, but everyone always shows up on time, just in case they do. Tracy Strauss has no wish to break that tradition. She's sitting in a chair, getting the final touches on her face while she speaks into a cell phone. "Just make sure everything's ready, this vote has been delayed too long and in the current atmosphere I don't like the unpredictability." Someone comes and taps on her shoulder. She nods, hanging up without a goodbye and standing. She's got her hair down — she's prettier, softer that way — with an expensive yet cheerful blue suit on, pearls gleaming around her throat. She checks herself one last time in the mirror before she turns to head up toward the stage from the back. If the woman has absolutely any stage-fright, it's not showing in the least bit.

The Daily News has sent two reporters — one senior, one intern — to the event, figuring the senior staffer would have the vast political background on whatever Strauss will be speaking of, but perhaps Hope can get some "Man on the Street" feedback from the citizens. So Hope is walking around with a pen and reporter's notebook in hand asking random people for quotes. Not much really to do until after the conference, but she might as well get some of the work done early.

Some might think they're seeing double, except that Hope is in a dress while Faith is in pinstriped capri pants and a white blouse, for a photographer identical to the reporter is looking for the best angle to view the conference. She finds a spot and sighs. Political conferences make for talking head shots, unless something goes wrong. Faith, of course, is always up for something going wrong. The camera loves chaos.

Shuffle. Shift. Move. Find some place to get a glimpse of who it might be. The glimpse of blonde heading towards the stage catchs her attention as she goes up on her toes. Wait a second, is that…

Shit. Oh shit!

Aude glances around. This… was going to get interesting. The plainclothes, off-duty officer opts to hang her thumbs on the corner of her pant pockets and settle in. Yes, this was going to get interesting.

Yes, it is she. Tracy Strauss, in all her tall and poised glory. She stops in front of the collection of microphones, from ABC, NBC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC, the list goes on and so do the mics. Flashbulbs, cameras, the whole nine yards. There are rows and rows of reporters, some seated, some not, waiting for the opportunity to speak. Tracy waits a beat or two for the murmer to die down before she starts to speak. "Thank you for coming." She doesn't bother to introduce herself — she's close enough with reporters where she shouldn't need to. "I hope you all are enjoying this lovely Monday. I'll try and be as brief as possible so you all can make it home in time for lunch." She smiles a political smile, her eyes never veering from the crowd. No notes, no teleprompters. Just Tracy. "I'm here to discuss with you the recent disturbances in our city. The strange weather patterns, the fires, the fighting and protesting which, I'm sure, all of you are quite familiar with." She pauses a moment before continuing her statement.

Hope jots down notes as Tracy speaks, taking in any "color" from the audience to add. Hers is the less important "human interest" part of the story, so she seeks ambience. Her twin fits to the camera a long lens so she can get some close ups of the woman speaking, but really, as it's televised, she only needs a few of those shots, and looks instead for any interesting signs from protestors and the like to take shots of. Faith's view lands on Aude and she recognizes the cop but keeps the camera in front of her face so Aude won't see her face.

There are signs in protest; there are signs in favor. There are a lot more people without signs, and the woman who is there to observe the crowd may see the most interesting examples of those a brief moment before the rest of the crowd is made aware. "We're also familiar with your silver tongue, witch," comes the harsh interruption from stage right. The security personnel turn to address the uninvited guest, only to find themselves staring down the barrels of semi-automatics, on both the left and the right. Wisely, they keep their hands well away from anything that might be construed as remotely threatening.

Trenchcoat and Camo pull out guns of their own, the one a rifle, the other a handgun; two of their associates flank either side of the stage, and the man who is apparently the ringleader of this conference hijacking steps up onto the temporary stage. Half of the audience stares in shock; half of them merrily flash away, snapping photograph after photograph, even as they also stare. "In fact, we're sick and tired of listening to it and the prattle you spout, so why don't you take a step back and give it a rest?"

Oh right. All that. You think they'd send someone else right? Someone that people would know, instead of.. who was she again? Oh right. Stiss, Hauss? Something like that. She was impatient, that's what the blonde was. Strauss. That's it. Oh well, she'd be something else soon. scratch that, right now. Right on time. You have to give them credit. They at least show up at time. There's a shake of Aude's head, the reasoning though is safely in her own head and she watches from her place away from her fellow Humanis Firsters.

While Tracy does take a tenative step back as guns come out, her face remains…well…icy. Whatever is inside of her remains so. Her eyes stare, cold and blue and such a mix of strong emotions. Rage. Fear. Frustration. All of this is in her eyes, but only those close enough to her eyes can really see it. The rest of her is stoic. After a moment, after a breath has passed, Tracy takes another step up, speaking toward the microphone, her eyes on the invader of her space. "If you'd have a seat please, I'll be happy to take your questions and comments once I've finished my statement."

Faith and Hope catch each other's eyes. Maybe this isn't a lame story after all is clear in both sets of wide green eyes. Hope scribbles down more notes while Faith snaps pictures of the gunmen before turning her long lens on Tracy to get a picture of that stoic face —- the telefoto lens will capture a bit of the cocktail of emotions in her blue eyes, but news print always loses a bit of clarity. Faith sighs again, despairing at the waste of her talent on newsprint. Wait, focus. She snaps several photos in a row, then turns to get the faces of the audience watching. Some look frightened, some look nervous, some look… gleeful. She takes a picture of a protestor holding up her hand in the "rock on" gesture, and shakes her head.

The ringleader is more than close enough to see, and his lips stretch back in a humorless, dark smile as he regards Tracy. "No. No, I don't think so. We've already heard your statements." He lifts his own gun to emphasize the point. "It's time for someone else's voice to be heard."

With his cell's constituents providing the guard that keeps the security personnel staid and the civilians cautiously meek (albeit with pens scribbling and cameras rapidly running out of storage space), he steps closer. "We speak for humans. Proper humans, who want nothing to do with the demon-spawn you advocate. Better to cleanse the world and restore it to its rightful order than to accept them into our military, our workforce, our homes!"

He takes another step forward, staring at Tracy with fanatic intensity. "Why do you deal with them, witch?" the man asks. "Or— " A last step forward, left hand snagging a handful of her hair, twisting. "Are you a demon, too? Maybe we should begin our cleansing with you." His right hand raises the gun just enough to aim it at her head.

You'd think that they would have someone on the HF boards, keeping tabs on stuff like this. Riot going to happen here, local cops should be informed. So that they could be ready for this. But no. Aude's trasnfixed, watching as the ringleader snatches up Tracy's hair, yanking her close. Bold. But his accusations. They're something, and she doens't leave, not yet. Nope. Aude wants the answer, much like any other person here is going to want to know too, now that it's been asked.

Oh no he didn't! That's really the only thing Tracy's mind says, and her countenence really shows it. Tracy gets yanked, allows herself to be, she likes to think, and grabs her hair to try and loosen the pressure. She glares at him, her icy loathing now visible to anyone in a hundred mile radius. A chill breeze seems to touch the air. "If you've been paying attention in the last four months you'd be aware that everyone in the Executive Office staff took the test." She says it with a growl in her voice, but loud enough for the mics to pick up.

"Right, like tests can't be faked and like the White House would admit anything if any of the staff was positive," Hope murmurs more to herself as she scribbles the notes down. Faith gets the shot of the yanked hair. She moves closer to her twin so they can commiserate over the ensuing chaos, as well as keep track of one another — if this goes bad, well, they're each other's closest of kin. "Insane," Faith breathes over her sister's shoulder, glancing down at the notes her twin has written down.

When things started to go south, an enterprising guard (and probably a number of civilians too) managed to slip away and call it in — and given the prevailing attitudes of many New Yorkers, 1 Police Plaza rolled a SWAT team and a SCOUT representative on top of the normal response teams to a hostage situation. Elisabeth Harrison is usually a good choice for these kinds of runs, given her years on the negotiation squad, but as soon as she finds out it's Humanis First, she has to question the wisdom of sending any SCOUT reps on this run. As the SWAT vans and black-and-whites roll to either end of the block, surrounding the area, Liz rides in with the negotiation team — one of whom is her old captain — and keeps a relatively low profile until we can get in closer and get a read on the scene. Vests and windbreakers and lots and lots of weapons start making an appearance as soon as the vehicles stop.

Once the command post is all set up, Hagan takes point, considering it might be best if Harrison were NOT the person — when she doesn't require a megaphone! — to initiate conversation. "This is the NYPD! We have the block surrounded and we'd like this standoff to come to as peaceful a conclusion as possible. We know you have access to police-band radios. My name is Frank Hagan, and I'd like to talk to whoever's in charge." Elisabeth scoots around the side to try to get a clear line of sight (and sound!) on the leader to see what they may converse about amongst themselves up on stage.

The problem with situations like this is that there are too many people and too much tension for the figurative bottle to remain corked. The NYPD are here, and for some that is a breath of security — the cops will deal with these fanatics, we'll get out, and everything will be okay.

Either that, or there's going to be a gunfight like all the movies show, and everyone's going to die.

It's the civilians who react first. Half of them bolt for the dubious cover of the ground. Half of them bolt with the intent of making good an escape. The fanatics, focused on the arrival of uniformed officers, turn back just that moment too late to stop the stampede — woe to anyone caught in the midst of those reporters who aren't that interested in sticking around. Namely, the two flunkies on stage left. The other four look nervously at one another; those between the police and the stage draw up closer to the stage (and any reporters that remain in the field), while those at stage right start edging backwards, one of them more than the other. They may yet be able to slip around the building and get away, with a little luck.

The guy on the stage continues to hold Tracy by her hair, staring defiantly across the podium at the police. Then, in a show of arrogant pride, he tosses her aside. Probably not very nice on the hair, that. "Your day will come!" he announces into the microphone, shaking his weapon to emphasize the declaration. "All who deal with the devil will be punished! It's already happening — can't you see what's before your eyes? Forsake the demons before it's too late!" Fanatic, indeed.

Shit. There's SWAT. Crap. No. She can't be caught here. Wouldn't matter if she was only passing through — she has the grocerybag and bills to prove it — if they think she was here attended as a supporter of Humanis First, she'd be screwed. Aude's one of those that starts to take off. She's moving away, making sure to remain on the outskirts, away from the stampede. She's got no gear to help her if she goes down and gets trampled.

And there goes Tracy, across the stage. She stops only after she hits a light stand and topples it, the top of the light attachment shattering and falling off when it connects with the hard wood of the stage. The woman lifts her head, peering through her long blonde hair with fury in her eyes. Without thinking, she reaches for the light stand, now half its height shorter. She rises, in a fluid motion, and swings at the back of the ringleader's head with it. But something's strange, the metal isn't reflecting the light the way it should, maybe that's because the lights are all askew now. Everything's shaking, there's screaming, in the chaos people are bieng pushed and shoved and things are falling over. Tracy's half hidden by the podium. And yet, something…

Amid all the chaos, Hope starts trying to get quotes. Faith edges closer to the podium, her camera — its strap around her neck and across her shoulder to avoid it being taken by a thief — continues to snap photos, now focused on Tracy Strauss as she wields the light stand at the ring leader.

The shadows and drapery that help to hide Tracy and set the staging for the press conference also help to hide the owner of a pair of arms that come swooping out to grab the woman, aiming to wrap around both her chest and waist at once. But isn't just a hug from some stalking stranger. It's an attempt to pull her down into the dark and make her miss her mark.

The attempt fails, in that the frozen light stand still impacts the ringleader's skull. Not square on, but hard enough — hard enough, in fact, that the already-damaged metal snaps again, leaving Tracy with a much smaller improvised weapon in her hands, a large piece thunking on the stage, and several small shards scattering nearby. The man drops to his knees with a grunt, momentarily disoriented by the unexpected blow.

There is a very, very faint trace of frost in his hair where the pole impacted. It doesn't last long at all in the summer morning sunlight.

With their leader apparently disabled, the two goons on stage right bail around the courthouse — no doubt only to be caught by someone maintaining that city block perimeter. The others exchange anxious looks — this isn't at all how anything was supposed to go.

Even as it becomes clear to the SWAT teams and uniforms that the situation is falling apart, they begin to sweep in. Elisabeth glances at Hagan, takes her cue from him, and clambers to the top of the cop car to start using her abilities — the whole reason they sent her in the first place — with the aid of a bullhorn (no point in ADVERTISING if she can get away with NOT when it comes to a Humanis First situation!) to work on calming and directing the crowd to exit the area in an orderly, quick fashion. She continues to talk the entire time, guiding pockets of milling people in various directions to get them out as quickly as possible along with guiding uniforms when the crowds stymie their movements.

The uniforms ringing the block take into custody the ones fleeing the scene, and the uniforms that came in with SWAT backup hustle their way toward the stage to round up the last of the hostage-takers and try to bring order back to the chaos around them, and they also retrieve the hostages to take their statements. In truth, Liz is eternally grateful for no shots fired.

Tracy yells. She yells, not when her pole connects with the head of the Humanis First leader, but when someone reaches through the curtains to grab her. She clings to the pole, ready to continue her fight as she's pulled backward, but…something's wrong. As she's yanked back behind the curtains, away from eyes and cameras and screams, she looks at the pole. It's frozen. It takes a second or two to process, but the thing is frozen. Just like the straight jacket.

Faith glances over her shoulder at her twin and gets closer to the stage, taking more photos of those shards. They look frozen. She then glances up at the various suited men with electronics snaking into their ears, and decides she's not going to linger too long. She turns to let herself get moved by the crowd, her fingers quickly sliding over her camera to find the little memory. This she slides into her front pocket.

The shouts of the SWAT team make it difficult for the man holding Tracy to think straight, but once ducked back into the drapes that provide a psuedo-backstage and out of sight, it becomes slightly easier. The threat is still there, of course, but it's not as bad as it could be. "Be quiet, and stay down," the man whispers into Tracy's ear. "And for Chrissake don't get yourself killed."

She grips the pole, Tracy does. A very different scenario than her own twin sister does. "You'd better let go of me." She hisses at whover is behind her. And…who she is kind of leaninag against. With some wriggling and stepping, she tries to move away.

"Stay down," the hushed voice repeats before the large hands tighten down on her and he starts to pull her away while remaining bent. "And shut up, if you know what's good for you."

The voice might be familiar. Maybe. If Tracy had ever heard it under such stress before. Not that it will matter for long.

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