dumortier_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif poppy_icon.gif seren_icon.gif vf_shaw_icon4.gif

Scene Title Racket
Synopsis A group of relative strangers investigate suspicious noises disturbing the peace.
Date August 30, 2019

Park Slope

It started with a sound. One not like the others that littered the air of Park Slope.
Two sounds.

A clang of something heavy and brass while another was more high pitched, more like a whine.

It was well past midnight but not yet the Witching Hour. Trouble could come before or after. So why not now? Bright but distant fires rage in empty trash barrels on the cracked streets. The roots of some trees more off into the brush, some visible while others just amount to peculiar raised concrete masses. The air is thick with humidity and a light haze of smoke.

Though it is past the usual time that people close their eyes for sleep. New York, is still New York City and there are people milling about. Soft chatter, not too many pay to much mind to the noises. Animals call out in the night as well. Owls, crickets. There's even a frog. The meowing of cats might be the most consistent of all. They say a feline telepath use to live in the area but if they're still around nobody knows. They haven't been seen but the cats sure have.

Most of the visits through Park Slope are single-minded ones; Dumortier has no fears of using it as a shortcut, or using it to scour for new plant samples, et al. He doesn't have a habit of wandering aimlessly here. Currently, the quarry is the ruins of old townhomes and manicured gardens, of overgrown foundations and trees sprouted from all manner of stray landscaping.

He scavenges along the faint lines of an old street, jacket zipped up and a duffel slung across his back, letting his hands work freely. Crumbling iron fences are short work to vault over, giving him plenty of access to the property beyond. Rene is pulling shoots from the earth in careful tugs when he hears it- - sounds that don't quite match the murmurs of nature, the brass, the whine. It's a struggle to place what it might be, so he pauses in his work to push his hood back and listen for it again.

Standing on the street in front of one of the burning barrels is a slender figure, clothed in the colors of night. A slightly oversized black-based button down with red and grey swatches of plaidlike design is worn unbuttoned over a black undershirt— even their jeans are a pitch navy. Converse shift while they move their hand over the flame.

Shadows play over Seren's face as they twirl their fingers, watching the flame lick and dance in the air. It has its own rhythm one could get lost in, and they have no qualms about it. By their side stands a wolfish thing, a creature the color of twilight. The dog's narrowed face bears spackles of white on his forehead which seem to glimmer in the darkness. The light trails down his back, dots of whites and the faintest yellows pinpricks against the black, indigo, and wine of his body.

He stands watch, head snapping to the distant sound while Seren keeps theirs toward the fire. When their fingers curl, the flame appears to bend along with the movement of their hand, causing them to smile faintly. The flicker of light catches the silver limning their grey eyes, and the next flame that licks high appears to be caught, too— hand closing delicately around nothing while the light hovers, flaring as it seeks something to sustain itself with. It's held, the shape wildly moving to and fro. It folds into the shape of a heart, and as Seren turns their curled hand over into their other palm, so does the flame twist and broaden. Opening both hands, they blow gently into their palms and away flies a butterfly made of nothing but flame, which they watch in wonder.

The flaming butterfly expires as Seren turns away, wondering finally at the sound they'd heard.

Several years ago, in a timeline far from the present, a young man used to keep his company with suited scavenger teams venturing into the night to search for supplies. Under the cover of apocalyptic darkness, the virus-ridden, Vanguard-ruled world was Shaw's only view of it. Many things have changed since including an interdimensional hop through several times. But, habits are hard to break. Some stay, good ones like being resourceful. Like bad ones, venturing into areas of questionable safety and property ownership to look for said resources. Still, Shaw isn't outwardly bothered by the moral dilemma of it as he wanders the cityscape. Tonight's chosen borough reminds him much of his home-dimension, but he internally still marvels at being able to go on such walkabouts without fear.

Even as there's a loud clang nearby that makes him pause in his walkabout and listen, he's not afraid so much as he is curious. He wipes a hand down the side of his jeans then uses it to hoist the light shoulder bag slung across his body a little higher, and pads through the pitch dark of an alley between broken down buildings. Drawn like a moth to the flame, Shaw emerges not far from view of the barrel fire.

He stares owlishly in Seren's direction right through the dancing flame tips.

This is not where one might expect to find Elisabeth Harrison. Years and timelines worth of being scavengers and on the run has made her grateful for the creature comforts … but she's also all too aware of the fact that some of New York's denizens aren't so lucky. She learned a long time ago the value of having your ears to the ground in unusual places. Black cargo pants and a dark hoodie fit in down on this side of town, and the blonde walks with her hands shoved into the pockets of her sweatshirt. She walks with a dark-skinned companion who towers over her by nearly a full foot who appears casual enough in similar clothes.

As they move out of the alley they were cutting through, the unexpected sounds in the darkness draw her attention sharply and she alters her direction to head toward it. Her companion sighs, "Woman…" Because of course she's going to go look at it. This kind of thing is the reason he gets hazard pay. Nah, let's be honest … she is the reason he gets hazard pay.

A blonde with her hair cut close to her scalp exits a nearby townhouse, the windows are all intact and that was more than Poppy Norwood could ask for when she and Celeste had taken it for themselves. The woman's clothes are dark and a little revealing for the chiller night but nevertheless she stomps out and looks to the sky with a sigh. Wrapping her arms around her exposed midriff, the sleeves of her dark velvet top are long and puff out at the wrists.

Down the steps she walks until she meets the barrel fire with Shaw and Seren standing near, the young woman smiles with dark painted lips towards her neighbors offering a mute nod in passing as she makes off towards the trees though she stops when she hears the brass and whine. "Hah…" Nervously rubbing the back of her head Poppy takes off towards the tree, nearly knocking Shaw over. "Sorry!"

Though when her back is turned she mutters the only word that feels right for what she suspects is happening down in the forest, "Fuck." Her path takes her along where Liz and her bodyguard make way, Poppy doesn't stay on any path but instead cuts through the trees. She and Celeste had roamed amongst the trees long enough, or well Poppy had and Celeste reluctantly agreed to follow in case there were weirdos.

There's a flicker of light in the corner of Rene's eye, not to close but certainly not to far either. Another whine, it's human. Followed by a low and mournful wail fills the night sky. A fzzt and pop follows after and then some banging on some sort of metal.

Always on some sort of alert, Dumortier remains where he is amidst his torn up earth to listen. Distant sounds of people, that's always a given. Old paths and deer trails make travel straightforward. As he hears it again, Rene shoves the last of his moment's take into his bag and slings it back; he stands and peers past old, partial neighboring fences. Tension makes him still, a light jerking his head towards what may have been the noise as well. It certainly tracks.

Wailing never makes anything sound better. Normally he'd not be bothered in a place like this one… but he's been dealing with way too many automated killing machines to ignore clanging and crying and crackling.

"Fuck me." His voice is a tiny growl as he takes a route around the backs of yards, kicking down a few pieces of rotten wooden picket in his path, all on his way towards the sounds.

It’s in better observing their surroundings that Seren notices the others that have drawn nearby. Grey eyes catch on Shaw’s observation of them, interaction forestalled when Poppy passes. A polite smile is returned in her direction, admiring her sense of style briefly in the dim light. They might wonder longer at her, but there’s still their observer to address. They wince sympathetically when Poppy clips into him, a soft chuckle coming from them. “I guess people have places to be even at this time of night,” they commiserate in Shaw’s direction. The star-spackled coyote by their side remains stock still, attention firmly on the grumbling and pops in the distance, head unmoving from that way. Shaw’s not spared a single baleful glance to size him or any potential dangers he might pose.

“Have to admit,” Seren muses, nearly as quiet as the crackle from the bin fire. “Wasn’t expecting to see so many people out at this time of night.” Looking up at their observer, one corner of their mouth quirks back in a warm smile. “Guess New York still is the city that never sleeps.”

“I’m Seren,” they introduce themself. “Nice to meet you.”

Largely focused on Seren at first, Shaw hasn't noticed Poppy coming out until she's nearly knocked him over. He stumbles aside, sideskips and avoids getting knocked into the barrel fire. His attention whipped back to the offender, he peers at her and belatedly recognizes the young woman. She's taken off by the time he puts a name to the face.

"Poppy?" Sure he might sound a bit nutty to present company by blurting out random word-names. Shaw bobs his head in a short but polite nod to Seren, giving them a brief though faint smile. "Shaw," he indicates, hand pressed to his chest by way of attaching name to said body and face.

He'd ask about the oddly colored coyote by her side, but the noise - the wail - trips a false start to further conversation down that path. He instead turns and stares down the path Poppy had run off to. Not until there's yet another metallic bang, Shaw jumps and looks urgently in the direction of it. "What is that?" he asks as if Seren has been there longer or possesses said knowledge.

Poppy's direction makes it clear that she may have some idea of what's causing the sound, and as the young woman whizzes by her, the audiokinetic pauses only long enough to alter her course to follow. The wail, however, makes Elisabeth a bit more alarmed. Shaw's face in the firefight of the barrel does draw her attention, she sends a trill whistle that Isabelle taught her long ago — just a three-note warning of other people you know nearby.

Mike keeps with the blonde, a dark shadow in the night. He is far more watchful now, not liking that his primary is heading into what may be a mess.

Elisabeth sends her sense a bit ahead too, to see if she can identify what's going on.

Either Poppy didn't hear him or she is faking it. Regardless she goes forward, through the branches. Not looking towards Liz or her companion. The platinum blonde barrels out of the side patch into Rene's path with a widened eye expression, "Hey," There's another clang of metal on metal and a spark of light behind Poppy. "Umm.." She just starts to back away, towards the sound. "I heard the night is kind of dangerous round here, best be careful!" Then she's sprinting into the clearing behind her.

Poppy's face is filled with dread, she hopes she isn't right. That the balance of the scales hasn't been tipped. She heard Eve say something like that once before.

The clanging stops and there's the sound of ragged breathing. Someone is tired or recently labored in some way. The leaves rustle as feet drag through them. Another crackle of light and a audible pop fill the night.

The small frame freezes in Poppy's line of sight like a stray cat, bristling just so. Her study gets a good look at a flinty set of eyes, reflecting the spark of light behind her. Rene knows the night is dangerous, he tends to be part of it. After Poppy stammers and backs away from him towards the sounds of metallic contact, Dumortier steps after her at a slower pace than before. She gets that buffer as a courtesy, as he isn't abandoning his intended path.

Weeds prickle at his boots, creeping up his ankles as he moves freely among them and the scattered layer of pre-autumn leaves.

At first Seren wonders when Shaw says someone else's name instead of his own, but it doesn't take much of a jump to fill in the gaps. They wait until he gestures to himself, giving a small smile in return for his. Then comes the question.

Their imagination running wild growls low at their side, and Seren visibly acknowledges their concern about the noises by furrowing their brow and looking in the direction of the groaning. In short, the shiftings don't sound pleasant. And that trill sound? It was a stretch, but the first thing that comes to mind is that distinctive-sounding round-up whistle bad guys give in movies to order closing in on someone.

The shadows loom around them more menacingly than they did moments before, the direction Poppy popped off to seemingly harder to look into.

"Probably… nothing good," Seren is forced to admit. "Maybe we ought to go. Wandering the city this time of night isn't the safest." Even with a protective coyote by your side, ready to intimidate off sketchy strangers.

That girl who just wandered off, though— she didn't have such a guardian.

"Your friend, she seemed to be headed that way, though," Seren notes with a tinge of concern. "I hope she'll be all right?"

What conversation had started to formulate around Shaw's synapses doesn't make it further as three specifically pitched notes put a pin in it. Seren can see him perk in response, though Shaw doesn't vocalize a return Polo to the audiokinetic's Marco. He bobs his head in a polite regard to his latest acquaintance. "Yes she should. But I'm going to go make sure," he responds to Seren. Shaw turns and strides away following the source of the trill and Poppy's path, leaving the safety of the firelight.

Noting that Shaw caught the sound, Elisabeth makes her way down to check on the sounds as well — because this is her job. When things don't sound right, you check them out. Her tall shadow keeps her to his left but there's enough distance between them that if weapons have to come out, they can. At this point, though, Liz isn't thinking it requires weapons. Or at least not more than the one she can bring to bear before the pistol clears its holster. She's mainly just curious as hell by now and wants to see what's up. The person ahead of them is acting a little squirrely anyway, but she's struggling to place whether the whine that's happening is mechanical or something else. Because mechanical whines make her hair stand on end. The Wasteland is a year behind her, but it still haunts.

The ragtag group of people travel through thick trees and hanging vines, roots unearthed and pushed up towards the surface. All until they come to a clearing where the moon shines down upon brightly. Poppy's head turns and she looks over to her left to spot a familiar face she missed on her way to this very spot and her eyes widen in shock while shaking her head, "Wha…"

March 10, 2019

"Leave us the fuck alone!" Comes the shout from Poppy, her eyes wide as she stands right next to and up on her best friend Marigold. The rooftop door bangs open as a greasy looking man with scruff stalks forward, a particular leer on his face.


Marigold to her credit is holding her hands out in front of her, dazzling bright sparks leap from her hands and she tries to look menacing. Celeste was always better at scaring people off, the blonde twin had always been more interested in befriending others. Even through the war, her sunny outlook on life had remained but in this moment she knew she was in danger and so was Poppy. "Back!" Shoving her hands forward in a gesture of warding off evil.

Lewis laughs a low rumble but he eyes the young woman's hands wearily still, for a moment there's a stalemate but that ends the moment the man pulls his gun out. "I have something that can hurt too bitch! Fake ass Jubilee!"

There's the sound of pounding footsteps coming up the stairs and a dark haired woman bursts onto the rooftop, hazel eyes wild in the light of fire hovering around and on her hand just barely trailing up to her elbow. "Hey you bastard!" Isa Wesley Khan yells, she seems confident and well angry. Her husband right next to her has seen this look.

Shaw has seen that look of smoldering anger. In his dreams and drawings, sometimes, the same expressions have found their way onto a dragon. Sometimes, a phoenix. Either way, it’s an expression he does well in recognizing. What it heralds. “Eanqa’ wait,” says the man, a touch out of breath. They had sprinted up the stairs, several floors. Park Slope isn’t known for working elevators.

He stares past Isa’s shoulder, past Lewis’ back, at the two young women backed into a precarious trap. Then, back to the gun being brandished at them. “Don’t do it,” he calls at Lewis. “Leave them alone. Don’t be a bully.” It’s what some might consider a mild statement. But the others don’t know what Shaw has been through, in the context of bullying. Isa does. And so it shouldn’t come as any surprise when Shaw’s wide-eyed stare holds flickers of dire warning.

If Lewis makes a move, the man’s going to get hurt. Or worse.

Lewis looks over his shoulder with slightly widen eyes at the fire and wheels around so he's facing all four of the people on the roof. Moving her gun between them all, "Fuck! Did you lure me here on purpose!" His voice is shrill with fear now that he's supremely outnumbered and Poppy gives the man a dubious look from behind Marigold who faces Lewis and keeps her hands up, eyes going to Isa and Shaw. Nodding her head with a small smile, it's unspoken.

The Evolved stand together.

"You chased us you fucker!" Poppy shouts and the scruffy man tightens his grip on his firearm. "Stay back!" His back faces the edge of the roof.

Isa acknowledges Shaw's voice but still walks closer to the hateful man near the edge, "You get off on attacking innocent young girls huh?" Her voice choked with emotion, body shaking. It's taking all of her to not just roast him now where he stands.

She doesn't need to do anything though as the man backs up too far and trips backwards on the slight raised edge of the roof, he yells and his gun fires. Poppy and Marigold both shriek in fear and one of them in pain as Lewis goes over the side of the building. Isabelle screams at the sight of Marigold crumbling to the ground, she failed her. The pyrokinetic shoots flames out in front of her at the roof's edge, where Lewis fell to his death.

The blonde girl jerks on the floor and stares up into the night sky with wide eyes. "Hey.. Pop? …I don't feel so sunny and bright right now." The young woman coughs up blood with a loll of her eyes, Poppy kneels at her side with tears streaming down her face. "No no no no, Mairgold. Hey, Miss Wax. Paging Miss Wax, we still have dancefloors to crush silly. Just hold on." To which the slender woman with blood pooling out from the hole in her chest nods, "Yea.. dance…"

By the door Isa's flames roil and lick around the surface of the place, catching along and trailing down the steps. She's losing control, tears fall down her face but they sizzle and turn to white vapor. Rising up towards the night sky.

Shaw gasps, not having expected the man to trip. The gunfire, shrieks and screams fall secondary to his initial reaction of hurrying to the roof’s edge, peering down to see… Lewis hanging on by his fingernails. Alive. The mental checking off of the box lets him move on, the next crisis being…

“Eanqa’!” His cry comes at the sight of the building catching fire, the source - his wife. “Izzy stop! The girls!” Poppy and wounded Marigold being innocent bystanders but also witnesses to the raw power Isa holds, he looks back to them desperately. “We need to move, go. I’ll help you,” he tells the pair, seeing the blood starting to reflect orange and yellow flames. Shaw grabs for Poppy’s arm, hoping to pull her away from Marigold and get her moving first.

Lewis looks up towards Shaw with a pleading expression that widens into genuine shock as the dark haired man turns away to help the women. "Wait! Wait! I'm sorry! I-" His words are cut off.

A line of fire shoots across the roof blocking off access to Marigold, Poppy shrieks as she is pulled by Shaw. Isabelle doesn't go to help Shaw and Poppy instead she runs down the stairs leaving flames in her wake. She's lost herself in this moment, consumed by fire inside and out. Her scar glows a hot orange and her expression shows the pain she feels so clearly like ice water splashed on her face in the morning.

There's a snap and crackle as the flames consume the stairway as the three make their way out of the building. Marigold lays shaking on the rooftop, bleeding out. Left alone, blocked off by fire. Her assailant not too far off.



"You!" Poppy says loudly as Shaw and Seren enter the space and the woman takes a step back away from him. Even though he saved her, his girlfriend.. The blonde looks over his shoulder for the other one, the pyro. Not seeing her puts her less on edge but..

As the group of people converge on the spot that Poppy ran off too they are welcomed to a strange sight. There in the middle of the grove of trees stands a mannequin, painted black but even that can't hide the scorch marks all along its limbs and words in red written across its torso.


A brunette woman with dark brown eyes stands near it.


Rene enters, Shaw following suit with Seren not too far with Liz and her bodyguard. Her hands, the woman's hands give off bright white sparks. Her expression is twisted, her limbs twitching. Celeste chokes out but the arrival of the newcomers has her looking shocked and taking a step back. "An intervention?" The woman scoffs and rolls her eyes but Poppy rolls hers and comes to stand a bit closer to her friend. "No, listen, everyone in the neighborhood could hear you. That guy, he was there that night. The night Mari, she…" Poppy chokes up and looks down at the ground.

Celeste's eyes flare open and she mistakes Poppy's choking up about Shaw to mean that he was one of the ones that hurt her sister. The young woman charges forward without another thought, revenge she thinks is right in front of her. Brought to her by her sister's best friend who failed her, maybe this would redeem Poppy in Celeste's eyes.

For now she aims to tackle Shahid, her hands sparkling madly as she shoves them onto his chest.

It does not take much for Dumortier to backtrack back into the shade of trees, once he sees what's going on in the clearing. Maybe he was just a trick of the light entirely. He stays there in the brush, leaves quiet around his shoulders as crystal blue eyes study the effigy from afar. There is no obvious signs of what he believed the noises to be— a panic brought him, and it dissipates when breath steadies.

His study moves to other bodies who heard the commotion, each of them earning a spot in memory. Rene knows none of them, and even as Celeste, hands shining, goes for the unfamiliar man, there is a practical temptation to bail out of there entirely.

Oh no, Seren thinks to themself as they follow after Shaw. "Oh no," they murmur, seeing the dummy in the moonlight with its reminder scrawled across it. There was pain here, an accompanying hardening of self to go with it. Something terrible had happened, clearly, something those two women still struggled with in their own way. And with Pure Earth scrawled there in red…

Their heart hurts for whatever it is these women went through.

Which is why they are shocked when the brunette's hands begin to spark and she lunges for Shaw. Seren's eyes widen, mind racing. How could this be de-escalated, if it could be at all? The edges of their irises take on a silvery glimmer. "Help him," they murmur like a prayer. The twilight-colored coyote by their side doesn't move at all, yet his existence folds in on itself, stars and all going out with him.

And it's then that Shaw's form begins to glow unnaturally, an ethereal blue ringing around his outline. White specks surrounded by indigos and lavender hues speckle within that light, making him seem otherworldly, even celestial— much like the protector friend who was now missing from Seren's side.

Holy shit. Elisabeth pulls to a stop, Mike a step ahead of her. He has a weapon drawn, but it's held pointed at the ground. A burned form scrawled with Pure Earth has two possibilities — someone burning a form labeled "Pure Earth" in effigy or Pure Earth leaving a reminder that that still exist. Neither is exactly a good option.

The audiokinetic hesitates there a moment too long and Shaw is under attack. Her hand goes for her own weapon, but she doesn't draw it. She couldn't fire into that without risking Shahid. Seren's ability flaring to life keeps her from jumping into the fray, but she throws a grateful look at them.

She skirts the periphery, noting the young woman they followed and calls quietly but urgently, her voice carrying specifically to Poppy, "I need to know what she can do. I don't want to hurt her to get her off him!"

Shaw's steps shuffle to a stop when he's come to the source of the strange noises. In taking stock of the scene, the scorched mannequin first gets an alarmed stare. He lifts a hand after, shielding eyes from the brightness of the sparks coming from Celeste, recognition of the twin slow to come. But he remembers sparks. Sparks, then fire.

"Poppy, what's going on?" The question is about all he gets out.

It's all he gets out because suddenly he's glowing, and it's more startling than the sight of Celeste lunging for him. In those precious seconds his form pivots and limbs reach out to grapple with Celeste, fingers seek to lock up her wrists as if it weren't her hands sparking, but instead holding knives. The superheated plasmic sparks find his shirt, sizzling away fibers and eliciting a grimace of pain.

The sparks singe Shaw's clothes and his facial hair but the man is no stranger to intense heat, nevertheless it is surprising when Celeste goes for him but not enough for him to be out of his element, survival. His body reacts to years of training by experience and being on the run has the man ending up on top of the young woman who snarls. Eyes widening as Shaw begins to glow, you could never know what power someone had in a street fight, not until you get hit by it and Celeste feels a snake of fear stab her in the heart at the unknown before her but the months fighting in the ring, have hardened her. She stabs her hand forward again to rip at his shirt.

Poppy takes a step back, she knows how volatile Celeste can be. "Celes- God damn it Celeste!" The blonde at a loss momentarily before Liz comes into her view and she snaps to the older man looking her up and down and the man beside her. "She's like.. Jubilee." She offers sheepishly, eyes darting back to where Shaw and Celeste roll on the ground. "Marigold use to say they were better than Jubilee," She whispers softly, clearly unsure of what to do next. Not as prone to violence like Marigold's only surviving family member. Poppy and Marigold had just wanted to party, one mega awesome lightshow at a time.

Still, she needs her friend and roommate to chill, "Celeste he isn't fucking Pure Earth!!!" Shouting it loud enough that it rings through the place, Poppy's expression is twisted in pain and irritation at the fight taking place, she understands how Celeste hasn't moved on but it doesn't excuse attacking that man from the rooftop, he had saved her.

Even if he failed to

Poppy's eyes slide over Seren and watches as their eyes glow. In that moment the woman feels hollow in her as of yet manifestation of an ability. She feels useless.

"What the fuck." is just what Dumortier whispers to himself in his hiding place, watching the ensuing altercation with a dread fascination. Something about all of it creeps at the back of his neck, and despite wanting to, he doesn't leave them to it. There is a lot to process, and a lot of power leaving echoes in the clearing. Mostly, he just hears the crackle-pop and shouting.

There's a lot happening, and a lot of nothing actually being successful. Rene closes his eyes for the span of a breath, scowling then when he opens them again. He should just- - go- -

And yet- -

"Pourquoi fais-tu ça?" The shadow that comes from the brushline is small, hissing at itself, appearing at the periphery and fearlessly approaching the scuffle. No words, just action; gloved hands raise up, hood pushed back with one. The other, lifted, splayed, no sparks- -

Just …quaking? The ground turns into a wriggling mass under Celeste and Shaw's feet. Roots spiral up legs in a feisty tangle, pulling whatever it can grasp earthward. "Asseyez-vous… Down." Dumortier's voice may be fair but his tone is commanding, despite that; he just hopes it's enough to startle. He doesn't want to have to explain away hurting someone out here. Especially not to strangers.

Elisabeth's appearance, surprising as it is commanding, jars Seren in place. Their eyebrows climb their forehead, wordless shock at seeing her here— and apparently reaching for a weapon. "Miss Elisabeth!" is all they breathe out, wondering what in the world is going on. Had they all come across a live police investigation somehow??

Already on edge from Elisabeth's appearance, Seren starts and steps back further from the scuffle when Rene reveals himself, every level of concentration shattered and causing the ethereal glow around Shaw to wink out in the space of that jump back.

Their French isn't great, but they try it on for size given that things couldn't possibly go any worse (knock on wood). Seren throws their hands up placatingly as they call back, "Arrêtez! C'est un malentendu, arrête ça." 3.5 stars, Seren. Your accent needs a lot of work, but it's not bad for a language you never thought you'd actually need to speak outside a classroom. Once more though in English, with frantic passion, just to be safe: "Please, stop!"

Just fucking perfect. Jubilee of the fireworks hands (thank you, Magnes, for an education in comics she never wanted) is climbing all over Shahid screeching like a banshee. Blue eyes narrow and Elisabeth shakes her head, muttering, "Fuck it. Mike!" The tall African American man looks at her, double-takes at the hand sign, and rolls his eyes as the blonde eases into the fray, grabbing for the back of Celeste to haul the woman off her de facto brother-in-law. "~That's ENOUGH, goddamn it!~" Even with the vines coming from who-the-fuck-knows where, she's not letting Shahid get hurt.

Her voice is laced only with a low-level reverb effect that makes it rumble around the two on the ground like a roar as she attempts to simply haul and throw the female sideways by the back of her clothes.

Tucking his pistol into its holster, the large man apparently called Mike wades in from the far side, perhaps to help Shaw out of range if he can get close enough.

Shaw's struggles with Celeste come at a price of a shirt that's burnt and ripped from him into rags and the acrid smell of a singed beard filling his nostrils. The comments and shouts of others around him drown out as adrenaline spikes, warps the sounds of bystanders into memories of whooping and jeering spectators, the calls of bloodlusty audience surrounding a cage.

He jerks, trips nearly flat on his face as one leg gets caught in a thick root sprouted from the ground. A sense of panic beats at Shaw's composure's door, he tries to spin and tug his foot away. But in the moment he sees more waiting into the fray, especially Mike coming for him, the door bursts open. Shaw slams out a rippling, invisible field around him that cuts off the sense of touch. An unnerving feeling in the most literal sense, where everything from the feel of clothing rustling against skin to the sensation of breathing and one's eyes blinking simply disappears.

The chaos ensues around them and Celeste is being relentless until the ground shakes and roots are coming for their limbs. Both combatants are restrained at the same time that Liz's voice resounds with a rumble in the whole area. Celeste's eyes grow wide as she tries to fight it off but she soon sees there isn't any hope. She's had.

The sensation of touch being wiped away has the young woman struggling again, "What the fuck are you doing to me?" Celeste barks are the man with obvious fear in her voice.

Poppy goes to her with a hand outstretched, "Calm down, fuck. This man was there the night Marigold was killed… but he didnt do it. He saved me, he and his… warrior woman old lady."

Celeste looks down and tries not to look embarrassed, "I…" it's been awhile since she's felt cowed. "Sorry. Marigold happened… I had to change things for myself. Harden." That's about as sincere as she will get.

She is still looking for whoever is controlling the flora in the area, testing her bonds. The sparks do die though, Celeste figuring she needed to make herself more vulnerable looking to be let go. Dark brown eyes glare daggers into the effigy named 'Pure Earth.'

Seren's attempt at drawing his attention is, of course, enough for Dumortier to hesitate in getting closer. He stops to look across to her, fierce expression set and hands free. The roots settle some, but they still come crawling up from the dirt in a vaguely threatening field of tendrils around Shaw and Celeste. The ones attached stay that way, their grip strength more scolding than strangling.

The agrokinetic doesn't get any closer after he stops, watching the tussle at the edge of his field of influence with a more curious eye. A fistful of Evos in the middle of who knows where. Had they all heard that crackling metal too? Or is he losing it?

Vines clamber up and around Mike's calves and he stops moving. Elisabeth has her hands on Celeste's back when the sensation of touch vanishes and she too goes immediately still, if only because now she has no clue what the hell is happening. She can see the vines climbing her bodyguard's legs, can see them writhing on the ground around the lot of us and holding her own ankles though she can't feel them. "Oh shit," she murmurs.

Celeste's 'apology', such as it is, at least seems sincere enough. Blue eyes scan the area and she brings both hands back toward herself, only knowing for sure that she lets go of Celeste by the fact that she SEES it happen. "Okay, what the fuck is this?" She doesn't sound pissed, more exasperated. It's not Seren, it's not Mike, Celeste seems to be more like Izzy… it's not her, so… maybe the Poppy girl or the other guy? "So… now that my friend isn't about to get french fried by fireworks, everybody cool? Cuz… I'd really like to help him off the ground… if the person doing whatever the hell they're doing could stop now please." Her tone is very dry. "Shahid, you good?"

She pauses and then quirks a wry grin. "And whoever's got the damn vines? Find me later. I might have a job for you."

If you can't laugh at this kind of shit, what the hell else you gonna do?

It's a good question, one Seren certainly doesn't have an answer for. They're still marveling at everything that's unfolded, trying to recall if they've ever seen this many abilities in play at once— and they're entirely outside of the range of one of them. Their relief is palpable in the drooping sigh they let out as things appear to calm.

A quick look behind them is given to see if their imaginary friend returns— not yet, it would seem, but maybe the canid protector would emerge from the shadows at any moment. Seren turns back to the situation, to the girl on the ground.

They lift their voice carefully. "I'm sorry something so terrible happened. Living with that pain, it's easy to see why you lashed out. But … not everyone is like that. Not everyone is like them." Seren's eyes dart to the scarred dummy.

Shaw shudders as he tugs against the roots, even as they and Celeste seems to settle down. Gradually his breathing pattern slows, his dark eyed gaze at first pinned on his immediate adversary in Celeste shifting away to look around them. Elisabeth's question gets a small nod; he swallows nervously, wincing a bit when he touches tender, singed spots. The field of sense negation shrinks back at the pace of Shaw's heartrate slowing.

"I'm sorry," he apologizes aloud first to Celeste, but also including a look to Poppy. "I was… I don't know, trying to take away your pain." Much to his chagrin at failing to do so, in a way. Especially when he's trying to do so while lying belly-up from the dirty ground.

"I'm cool." Celeste's tone is as cool as she claims but she continues to look between the group of people, not entirely off of the edge.

She's been teetering ever since Marigold was killed.

Poppy sees that she backs down and finally begins to relax, as to what the hell is all of this, "Celeste… has been trying to adjust. We both have. Both our families are…" Celeste looks to the ground now, her expression dark. "We're all each other has. The fucker who got Marigold, he's in prison, but it's-"

"It's not enough." Celeste finishes the blonde's sentence, lifting her head as doe brown eyes scan the withering roots binding her and slithering around the clearing. "He's not the root." She looks even more sad in this moment. The journey to self sufficiency had been rough, Celeste was still on it for all intents and purposes.

"I come here… to prepare. In case I ever run into anyone like that." The notion of actually hunting these people isn't uttered but Poppy knows the other woman's motivations and sighs. "You'll get killed."

Defiantly, Celeste flexes her hands as sparks dance and that intense crackling sound echoes through the trees, "Then I'll be with her." In the months since that night, what was once a quiet and slightly disturbed woman has grown to speak more of her mind. Sometimes she was still unsure of her words.

Normally, he would just turn heel. This isn't quite so normal, so he remains, lingering where he's stopped. Dumortier watches the tableau with a mildly interested fascination after the first few responses to the girl apparently a danger to herself. It has all cemented him in place long enough that he makes his way forward again, though this time the earth fails to rise up beneath them.

Rather, they slither away like worms in mud as Rene steps over them. Between this and the pack covered in dirt and grass, safe to pick out who the plant one is.

He's heard as much as he needs to understand what the hell is going on. The details aren't important. When the blonde stops at the edge of those gathered, his shoulders are squared and his brows pinched at Celeste.

"If it's not enough, do something about it. Or start over. Fuck's sake. You can burn all the scarecrows you want and it will never make you fucking feel better." Dumortier's tone is faint in its scolding, though his manner is more bristling to make up for it, and animated as his hands lift to gesture around himself. "And making the forest sound like Hell's machines have risen from the depths is a fast way to piss people off." Him. Just him, looks like. "Find a fucking karate class."

Or something like that.

As Shaw's field backs off and the plants do as well, Elisabeth puts both her hands up so that the crazy girl can see she's no threat. Or at least… not a visible one. A jerk of her chin at the tall, dark shadow on the other side of Shaw is a silent order to holster the pistol in his hand. Mike is wary as hell and backs up several steps once he's free, and he points the weapon at the ground but doesn't holster it.

Blue eyes flicker to Rene as the plants slither around, and then Elisabeth finally moves forward to offer both Celeste and Shaw a hand up off the ground. "He's not wrong," she murmurs to Celeste. "Training is all well and good, but that kind of noise will bring down either the new cops or the soldiers pretty fast. I'm sorry you lost your families," she tells both of the women sincerely.

Shaw reaches up, readily accepting the helping hand of Elisabeth to get back onto his feet. With things and himself calming down, he finally gets a full breath in and winces slightly in discomfort when he pats himself down and finds a few tender spots that will need salve later. He looks a little perturbed at his hands, half expecting them to start glowing again but with his ability cooldown period ongoing, he doesn't try to reach out with his power again to test it. He also doesn't look afraid of Celeste's renewed sparks that crackle through the forest. Not afraid, but worried. For Celeste, and for Poppy.

"Marigold would not want you hurt," he says, "or dead." He shakes his head at Celeste. "Protect your own, yourself, yes. But smartly. What he said, the Poison Ivy. Ivy… Poison Ivan." Shaw nods at Dumortier, agreeing with the plant-manipulator's spirit of his words if not the content or his tone in delivery.

With everything appearing to calm, Seren slowly begins to gravitate in the direction of Elisabeth since she’s the only familiar face. Well— aside from Shaw, but even he is new. Their eyes are the point of them that give away they don’t feel the calm they externally try to project, darting from person to person with intensity. An effort is made to commit all these people to memory. As painful as it is to imagine the way Celeste has suffered to treat her life so lightly, it isn’t words from Seren that will alter her course. Others around have done enough to try and encourage her on … if not a better path, then a healthier one.

Celeste takes in everyone's words but her eyes stay on Dumi. "I've been… I train. I learn." But to protect Poppy? Celeste had never thought of it that way, her need to be better had come from a selfish place of revenge. Rubbing her wrist as they are freed from the bounds of the forest around them. Shahid's words have a dual effect on the woman. First her eyes widen as she stands and the sparks leaping from her hands die down, backing up a step she almost nods, almost shakes her head. Looks towards the burned up doll in the center of the clearing.

Marigold wouldn't be doing any of this but that's why Celeste had always been the stronger of the two. "I'm gonna find them." Turning her back and running off into the foliage. "I'm gonna find them all."

Poppy reaches forward with a hurt expression, "Celeste please!" Those two words something she had found herself saying multiple times now in the last few months. "I'm.. really sorry about that. She's been having a tough time." Squaring her shoulders to deal with the aftermath in light of Celeste's leaving the scene.

"She use to be quiet. Always slightly… off." It feels like a betrayal to admit this to strangers practically.

Sparing Shaw a bizarre look before his eyes go back to the girls, Dumortier lets out a huff of air. Of course he's right.

"Ivy's fine." The agrokinetic asides, just for a spell. Good try though, buddy. Brows arch up at the rest of Celeste's words, and he can almost sense the snip - snap of her feet for a small distance. Or maybe that's in his head.

"We all have had a tough time." Rene tips a tight look to Poppy. "And nobody is off they are just different. Harder to figure. Out, but never off. Merde." What ever else he has to say is cut short by his mood, hands in the air. "Why am I still here? If you're all peachy now, love, I've got other things to attend to. Go get your friend before she finds real trouble."

A single brow pops upward as Elisabeth listens to the (apparent) Frenchman. He makes plenty of sense, and she doesn't feel the need to really get in the middle of that one. She holds Shaw's hand tightly for a moment, looking him over with some relief. He seems mostly intact, perhaps a little scathed. Her eyes flicker to Poppy and she says quietly, "You're a good friend." She is looking out for her own the only way she knows how. "Hopefully she'll think about what's been said. I'd hate to see her get into trouble, doing this stuff." She jerks a chin at the effigy.

Mike steps to the side, keeping an eye on everything silently. He recognizes Seren from around Raytech, so that's not a threat. There is a subtle nod to Seren from Elisabeth as well, a smile offered, and then she says quietly, "Seems like we should all maybe disperse before anyone else gets the bright idea of following the noise, hmm?"

“Yeah,” Seren agrees, a little breathy for all the excitement. They look back and forth in the dark, wondering what else might come out … when the shadows cast by the cluster of bodies start to rise, twisting into a thigh-high shape. Dim specks of color appear in the black just before Seren turns to note the apparition, shoulders sloping down in relief. They set their hand on top of the coyote’s head, between the golden eyes that peer up at them. Ruffling the fur of the reformed twilight creature, Seren turns back to Elisabeth with a small smile of their own.

It fades as they look back in the direction Celeste took off in, wondering after her … hoping she’s all right. A nosed nudge from the beast at their side brings them back to the moment, though, reminding them it’s probably not best to linger any longer in this strange, darkened environment.

"Maybe she's hungry," Shaw comments about Celeste's rough resistance and abrupt departure. His singed beard gets a rub like he's testing how much is Isabelle going to be cross about someone else taking a shot at her man. And, how much shaving he's going to have to do to even it out. As for the rest of him, he shivers with a chill of the cold New York night air seeping through the holes of his burnt shirt. But he looks back to Elisabeth, tilts his head at her words and then back to Poppy with a silent decision made in his dark eyes. Once the shadowed coyote reappears, Shaw turns his gaze to the creature and Seren, watching both with a curious, studying stare.

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