Safe Quarter


cooper_icon.gif daphne_icon.gif griffin_icon.gif logan_icon.gif odessa_icon.gif raquelle_icon.gif sasha2_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

aoi_icon.gif espenosa_icon.gif liu3_icon.gif samantha2_icon.gif

Scene Title Safe Quarter
Synopsis An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.
Date 11 November, 2011

Eltingville Blocks

They're calling it the safe quarter: an entire section of Eltingville Blocks that has come under the protection of its own residents. Most within it are incidentally there because that is where they've been assigned to live — others have quested from their own homes to take up temporary residence, as the rest of Eltingville succumbs to madness. Outside the safe quarter, there is partying in the streets that goes on well into the night. Dumpsters and houses and cars are set on fire, doused only by the harsh rain that comes tearing through Staten Island almost daily. Although the scuffling and skirmishes have declined since protesting raids and blockades have pushed military presence out, looters and those who behave badly when chaos breaks out is an ever present danger.

But with strategic blockading, the safe quarter has been established, a retreat for families, for those who are afraid, for those who want none of the protests going on right now, for those who are in favour of the protests but do not wish to be at its frontlines, and for those who are brave enough to bring supplies to those barricaded in, cut off as they are from the outside world. The blockades themselves are ramshackle and seeing improvements as the hour drags on — cars and trucks are pushed to line end to end along specific roads. Overturned tables make view blocking flat faces. Construction material fills in the gaps. Some of these are strong against potential invaders, others more symbolic.

It's late in the afternoon. The skies are grey and crowded with clouds, but the rains have let up, having darkened the asphalt for most of that morning. The smell of the ocean nearby is ever present, but so too is the smell of open air BBQ, and the sound of radios, and conversation. Despite the brimming anxiety of what must come next — a quelling of chaos, or chaos overfloweth — a sense of peace has managed to infiltrate at least this corner of the Eltingville Blocks. After so many have been living here for so long, there is an instinct towards community under an open sky, sharing food, sharing water, reuniting with those who have managed to get past the borders.

At the blockade is John Logan, wondering about the life choices he has made to that led him here — sitting on the trunk of a car, picking his nails with a pocket knife, watching the empty street to the left of him and more or less playing guard dog to innocents. He's thinks that, maybe, it's cowardice. All the way back to the beginning.

This isn't him being self-critical. God knows where bravery gets you.

And from here, he can see first sign of danger, and from within, opportunity to escape.

Movement catches his eye. Figures approaching. One is herding a small family — a woman, her child, their cat in a box — along with some stragglers, and others are variously carrying boxes, hauling wheelbarrows. Supplies. Food, medicine. Necessary lifeblood, siphoned into a necessary organ. Either taken with force from the Community Center or negotiated away from the main pool of supplies, but no one seems to be chasing them down.

Logan doesn't move or acknowledge them from his post, but does glance to whoever else is skulking along the barricade. He's a relatively anonymous figure in ordinary clothing — denim and leather and cotton, shades of black — and isn't determined to present himself as any kind of authority.

Odessa Knutson Price is one such skulking figure. Well, not skulking, but she does pace the lines of the barriers like a restless monochrome tiger dressed in black slacks, vest, wool coat, flat boots, and white blouse, waiting for the next thing to happen. She had meant to get away from all of this. After the destruction of the arcology, she meant to return home, get her things, and leave this place where she no longer belonged. Fate, it seems, had other plans. When the safe quarter was established, she was lucky enough that her home was behind its line already; it saved her the trouble of needing to pack her things in a greater rush.

It’s not encouraged her to take her time with that task, however, because she’s not optimistic that this position will be held for long. She’s already arranged for a pick-up, entrusting some of her vital possessions in a locked container to her contact on the outside. Odessa isn’t optimistic about her chances of holding on to those either, but it’s better than worrying they’ll go up in smoke with her house if it comes to that. At least if her things are stolen, she will be able to steal them back.

Doctor Price has established herself as a caretaker here, treating the injured as they arrive. If she’s going to stick around anyway, she may as well make herself useful to the residents trapped here with her. The influx of supplies is a welcome sight. Some of the tension eases from her, and her pacing coming to a slow halt near where Logan has parked himself. He receives a glance to him out of her corner of her eye, curious. They’re acquainted, but not familiar. And she looks very little like he last saw her. For starters, she has both of her eyes.

The past two days have been a total whirlwind for Griffin. He’s been sticking with Nadira as frequently as possible, as her belly grew larger and larger and her time came closer and closer. Right as all of the insanity began, she went into labor. Thankfully, she was blessed with a quick childbirth, and their daughter, Mackenzie Marjorie Mihangle came screaming into the world on November 8th.

What an unfortunate marvelous birthday to have.

He came to the safe place with her shortly after, their tiny infant wrapped in a blanket, and both mother and daughter have been resting here ever since. Griffin has mostly been at their side, but when they are at rest, he’s also been slipping out to assist. Certainly, he can keep it under the guise of keeping everyone else safe, but when it comes down to it…he would shove anyone in here between his family and danger in a heartbeat.

A lit cigarette dangles from the Telekinetic’s lip as he stands at the barrier, watching in silence. The others prowling about here are summarily ignored in favor of the chemical-filled stick of plant matter that sends burning smoke into his lungs with every draw. He’s not very social of late.

Green eyes land upon the approaching figures, one eyebrow raising as the man spares a glance or two toward those near him at the barrier, before he turns back to them. After a long draw followed by a trail of smoke lazily drifting out of his mouth, Griffin raises a hand, waving to the approaching group as he steps forward. “Hey,” he calls out, “What can we do for you?”

His eyes are white, because one can never be too careful.

Taking the time to make sense of it all takes more time than a single father really has when news starts trickling in with key words of ‘death’ and ‘riots’. Emergency Backpacks have been a thing ever since the relocation, as has a dark blue plastic tub filled with stashed away supplies so the Cambria Clan came rolling down the street finding this safe haven like ballers. 9 year old and 5 year old wearing backpacks, little doc martins, warm coats and woolen hats with their father dragging behind him a wagon with the plastic tub of supplies and holding a baseball bat over one shoulder as he rocked a pair of black docs with sparkly laces, black jeans, black leather coat, purple scarf and dark purple beanie.

That is why at this time, BJ is settled down with Diana at a table of with a few teenagers, playing poker (Little Diana for some reason has been on a winning streak and her stack of candy is ridiculous) as their father is manning a grill. The leather coat has been hung up leaving the Hairstylist in fitted black long sleeve t-shirt, and his jeans.

His set up is simple, there’s the grill, the stack of boxes with the wooden board balanced on top, the large pot of rice, and then the large pot of curry simmering over that-a-way. Not in a position to notice any newcomers he is turning to the people who are helping him out.

“Elderly and Children first, and I need somebody to be a bowl runner get the ones who can’t make it to a line.” He’s quickly working some more pieces of meat onto a skewer and placing it on the grill with a shake of his head. Raquelle Cambria is usually styling hair but right now…feeding people is most important. Baby blue eyes rimmed with eyeliner and make-up today is very much toned down as he looks out at the gathered peeps and sighs softly.

As one of those roped to help, Thomas Cooper, is busy watching the kids in a game of poker. He looks highly amused, brows furrowed a little, wondering if he should be maybe more concerned about his baby girl learning the fine art of poker. Should he be allowing it? This is his first time being a full time parent… He has been realizing that he still has a lot to learn.

One thing that Thomas has been keeping under wraps is his involvement with the Department of Homeland Security. Being law enforcement AND government… that doesn’t make you very popular. So he looks like everyone else, with a ratty looking grey hood with a fairly faded Adidas logo on it, jeans, and sneakers that probably came from a Kmart. Nope… no DHS Agent here. Move along…

“Oh come on, Diana! Spill! How are you even doing that?” Ellen Cooper is having the worst luck at the game, her pieces of candy have dwindled to only a handful. One is currently being pulled away by a rather large ginger guinea pig. “Al! No! Stop it. That isn’t for you!” The thin, pretty, little girl with eyes as pale as the man towering over her, is wearing a cute outfit. Something popular with any teenage girl. It probably even sparkles a little. Her blond hair is tastefully tipped with pink and she is wearing makeup. Something Cooper was still not over.

It is the mention of needing a runner, that pulls the DHS Agent away from the game. “Oh… hey. I’ll take soup to the barricades for you there, Raquelle.” He offered the other man a wide grin. Ruffling the little girl’s hair - promptly getting a loud and embarrassed ‘Heeey!’ - Cooper moves to grab what needs to be delivered. “Dude, you know… Diana is kinda scary good at poker. I - I’m kinda impressed. Never seen someone so good at hustling…. She’s what… 3? 5? A 40 year old card shark trapped in the body if a tiny and adorable, little girl?”

The good thing about the chaos is the powers that be have more serious things to deal with than if a certain speedster is using her powers or not. The strategically gray blur that is Daphne seems to coalesce into a solid form near Logan where he mans the barricade. She’s holding a bundle of belongings she’d volunteered to go get for someone less able-bodied (at least at the moment). A few feet away is the abandoned wheelchair that she’s been using while pretending to be negated and cheeking her pills.

“Hey, Sparkles,” she says with a tip of her head for the man she’s mostly familiar with through her dreams, but has heard about and seen from a distance in the ghetto of Eltingville. “It’d nice if we could wake from this mess, yeah?” She stares out at the area ahead of them, her dark eyes narrowing a little as they fall on…

“Gale?” she says, tipping her head at the familiar form of Odessa — though the woman is newly familiar, back to her former glory. “Well, now it’s a party.”

The worst party, probably, but a party.

How Kincaid ended up in this safe quarter might well be a question for the ages. He won't ask it, and neither will the others. He moves among the people now, offering a soft smile and trying to offer comfort in clothes that look too nice to have been within the barricades long. To be honest, he doesn't really belong here— but he does now. After that fateful broadcast. He's not sure that they would allow him anywhere else anymore.

He just wishes he hadn't lost track of his father. Or that he could have found one of his other family members. He does not see any of them, but that won't stop him from helping those he does see. He spots a man he vaguely recognizes— or at least looks familiar and steps over toward the grill that Raquelle Cambria has set up.

"Need a hand?" he offers, as he gets closer, not trying to get to the food so much as get behind the grill and where he can help at least arrange what is done and help hand it out. "Name's Kincaid. I can help you hand it out, or man the grill while you do, if you need."

It's the least he can do.

After however many long years it's been since Logan has lived in this city, that he runs into familiar faces — in dreams, in waking — fails to hold any element of surprise for him.

Likewise, Daphne's presence here had garnered muted curiosity at best, but truly, it's all the same story, like Eltingville Blocks is just a drain towards which people like them get caught in. He spares her a glance, happy to remain poised as he is as Mihangle takes point.

"Don't even know what that'd look like, waking up," Logan grouses, quiet enough to be pitched to Daphne, but easily audible to Odessa, and more or less to Griffin as well. "Them out there quieting down and all running as it ought to, or getting out completely."

He's more or less abandoned his post with the civilian watch, such as it remains in whatever form. Sticking by it feels like risking becoming a potential target for aggravation, and he's not sure what he ought to be preparing for — ingratiating himself back with the powers that be, reclaiming what measure of power he can within these fences, or just setting the whole thing on fire behind. For now, there's a lot of fence sitting — figurative and literal.

Those arriving at the barricade stop up close, and the man at the wheelbarrow tilts it to display its contents. Cans of food, water bottles, some necessary hygienic products.

"Got this from Oakdale," he says. None of them are familiar entities, but all of them desperate. "And picked up some friends along the way."

Behind him, three men, one of them with a black eye, all of them holding weapons of some kind. A shovel, a hammer shoved into a belt loop, a baton of the kind pilfered from civilian watch. Among them is the woman and her son, holding a cat carrier in which a tabby stares out dolefully through wire door.

"Can we come in?" The woman, piping up quickly. "My house was just ransacked, we can't go back there."

What would any of this look like to wake up from? It seems like every time one nightmare ends, another begins. The tunnel has light at both ends, and Odessa is not sure either leads anywhere good.

The familiar voice and the familiar face catch Odessa’s attention. Daphne. For a moment, she begins to smile, but she remembers quickly why she’s here. This isn’t the time for happy reunions, though she does offer a small wave - just a wiggle of her fingers really - before she moves toward the newcomers at the barricade. The supplies get a cursory look over, but the people get more of a discerning eye. “Looks like you’ve seen some action. Apart from that shiner, is anyone injured?” Because she doesn’t look the part, she quickly explains, “I’m Doctor Price. I’m looking after the people around here.”

Were it not for the twinkling glow that betrays Griffin’s power use, one might think him to be a blind man. One might still think him to be a blind man, since the glow doesn’t translate as well in the light of day. That doesn’t matter, though — those eerie white eyes regard the group, landing upon each face.

There is a fine line to be walked between caution and paranoia, and it is often difficult to discern which side of the line you’re actually on. All the same, Griffin contributes at least some of the success of this place to a healthy dose of…whichever side of the line he and the others here fall on.

The telekinetic glances to the others manning the walls, then back toward the peaceful goings on within the blockades. Then, his eyes land on the group, and the wheelbarrow specifically. A long moment of deliberation leads to a slow nod. “The weapons,” he murmurs, gesturing toward the group as a whole. “They all stay up here. We’ll pat you down, so don’t try and hide anything.”

A pause, then a breath. “This is safe quarter. We don’t want any trouble in here, so don’t start any and you won’t be forcefully ejected. No violence, no theft, share your shit, and help out where y’can.” The tall telekinetic nods toward the group again, his eyelids hooding slightly as he examines the woman, her son, and the cat — they get a much more sympathetic look. “We have to search you and the cat carrier, ma’am.”

It might be paranoia.

Over there with the grill and the little gremlins (the children), Raquelle Cambria idly wipes the back of his hand across his forehead as he gives a small nod to Cooper and his lips twist in a wry smile. “You thought you option? Pssh, you know I like to watch you walk away Coupe Deville.” He winks before he’s nodding towards the bowls with rice and curry in them and leaning over to use a knife to slide grilled meat off the skewer and into the bowl.

A glance is spared over to where the girls are playing. Hand drops to the small of his back and he shrugs a shoulder. “Way I figure it, if you teach your girls to play poker, if they ever run away to Las Vegas they hit the casino instead of the stripper pole.” That’s in the Cambria Parenting Manual under ‘Bananas y/n?’

Little Diana looks up at Ellen almost shyly, her lack of front teeth exposed in a small gappy smile. The blond child pushes her pile of candy over towards Ellen’s pile before climbing out of her seat and walking around to crawl up into Ellen’s lap, wiggling to get comfortable and patting her wrists. Her big sister just rolls her eyes. “She’s just freakishly good at this stupid game.”

Their father back at the grill is smirking gently as he turns back to Cooper. “It builds confidence or some shit like that.” More skewered meat is flipped on the grill and then tongs are used to gather some fully grilled skewers and set them aside. A concerned look is cast towards where the barricades are. “I think Baby Spice, Doctor Blondie, Miss Metrosexual and that mfer with the Halloween eyes may be up there. So four bowls should do it. Tell Baby Spice to slow her little fast behind down when she’s done with her rounds and whip it over here to give me a hug.”

But hark, what angel with an amazing jawline and an adorable chin approaches. It is Kincaid, offering assistance to the Grillmaster who has gone through an amazingly long dryspell. Blink Blink as he looks the man over and bites his bottom lip. “Oh there are so many things you could help me with baby.” As he brings his brain back on track he nods towards the pot of rice and the pot of curry. “Goddamn you have a suure have a purty mouth boy. Get over here and skewer this meat and set it on fire so I can fix some more bowls and look at you and think things that would have a hooker running to church.” He shudders and offers Kincaid the tongs. “The name’s Raquelle.”

“Well… look all you want, but just remember this…” Thomas motions to himself in a twirl of his wrist. “merchandise is not for you.” Don’t ask. Cooper doesn’t know why he said it that way either. Though, by the way he gives an awkward, slightly uncomfortable smirk, there is no malice to those words; just his bad attempt at a come back. He focuses his attention on moving the bowls carefully into a box with low sides; cautiously noticing the approach of someone he doesn’t know. Though to be fair, there are a lot of those.

After introductions are made, it should be no surprise that Cooper pipes up with, “And I’m Thomas… Tom… whatever….. this just got really awkward.” As if it wasn’t before. “So… ah… I’m just gonna go take these -” he doesn’t say the direction, just motions with the box in that vague direction. “Yeah? Yeah…” Then he goes.

Right by the girls, who are trying to keep entertained. His daughter Ellen offering the chunky Guinea Pig for Diana to hold, Al wheeks unhappily about this - but will accept it, while the little girl is there. “Okay… so you hold Al and I’ll hold the cards.” She pushes the candy back from the tiny critter a bit. “Just don’t let him have any candy. Daddy says that is how he got so big.” Now whether she means the Guinea pig or her father will remain a mystery.

This is because, Cooper continues on to the barricade. “Chow time! Guys….. And… uh Gals” He hasn’t really noticed… or maybe he doesn’t really remember Logan. Maybe it’s that vague feeling like he has seen him somewhere, but can’t place. Either way, it isn’t Cooper’s former detainee that he is focused on. “Hey, Speedy Gonzales,” there is a toothy grin to Daphne, eyes creasing a little at the outer corners. He fishes one of the bowls out of the box and offers it to her. “You hath been summoned by the master of the grill, for warm and fuzzy purposes.”

“In my experience, if you wake from one nightmare, you just find yourself in another,” says the cynical Daphne to Logan. It’s not even followed by a punchline. Her eyes follow Odessa over to the new arrivals, who she studies thoughtfully, listening as Griffin gives them the rundown. She lets them handle it, though — enforcement, public relations, and medical are not in her wheelhouse.

Cooper’s arrival and the smell of food brings her attention his way, and when he calls her Speedy Gonzalez, she levels a flat, unamused look at him. “That,” she says, reaching for the food, “is racist.

But then she grins, clearly not at all upset by the moniker, and with a glance to where Raquelle is manning the grill, that grin widens. “If fuzzy is a disparaging remark about my hair, one or both of you will be sorry,” she says. Her hair has seen better days — the dreadlocks are growing out, some of them cut off when they’ve gotten long enough. She’s still a very platinum blond, though her roots are starting to show — like a reverse skunk. Some luxuries are not worth risking your life for, and the supply of Manic Panic has run dry.

She decides to walk, not speed over to Raquelle, perhaps because she’s carrying a bowl of hot food, sidling up to him to snake an arm around his waist. “Thanks for the delivery, hot stuff,” she tells him.

Taking the flirting in stride, Kincaid laughs quietly, moving around and pulling a bottle of hand sanitizer from his pockets and rubbing it over his hands until dry before he actually gets to work on skewering the meat. New comer to the block as he is, doesn't mean he can't still try to be clean— it's something he didn't have the luxury of doing back when they prepared food for the community back home. Sanitizers were saved for the medical folks. Flattered by the flirting, he hears the name and gives pause as he looks at Raquelle for a moment.

He's heard that name. It takes a few moments, before he remembers that the man was speaking to another father and looks at the children. His eyes focus for a second on one particular one and his hands stop rubbing together as he sees it. Well. Her.

Those same eyes look back at the older Cambria and he tries to cover it with a shy laugh, that has nothing to do with being uncomfortable by the as he tries to make it sound— something else entirely. It almost seemed as if his heart broke for a second when he looked at those little girls, like he wanted to go over and hug one, for a reason he couldn't even explain if he tried.

He wonders if Hannah knows.

"We got a lot of mouths to feed," he offers after a moment. "It's nice of you to be doing this."

Likewise, Logan either does not distinctly recall Cooper's (stupid) face or is otherwise relying on not being remembered himself: his study rakes across the man's (stupid) features with a certain searching sharpness, but he otherwise just takes the food without complaint.

"No ma'am," says the man with the black eye, looking over at Odessa, and then offering her a bright smile. "Unless you're kissing us better — I can come up with something."

As Griffin turns his ghostly eyes on the family, the boy shrinks back against his mother, who herds them forward again. Logan sets aside his dinner and slides off his perch to land on the other side of the blockade, knife folding closed as he goes to lift the cat carrier out of the boy's grip. "Finally," he says, angling the carrier enough to view the cat inside, who gives a less than thrilled growl at the slightly rocky treatment its getting in Logan's hands. "Someone thought to bring us a protein reserve. Here I thought I'd have to tell Cambria we'd all be going vegan before long."

At a glance, most of the food in the wheelbarrow are standard supply fare — canned vegetables and beans, some boxes of sugar and flour and instant coffee. The one manning the wheelbarrow brings it around for them to go through, with just a touch of an uneasy glance at his companions.

Weapons are laid down against the car hood, though the one with the police baton looks reluctant about it, but goes to put it down just as Logan speaks up for all to hear. It's a rather distinct voice in a sea of mostly American accents, crisply London and apparently familiar enough that the baton-wielder stiffens across the shoulders. "You don't want any trouble here," he repeats, steering his attention back to Griffin, "you wanna search that lady's little kid, but you're harbouring the fucking kapo? No, hey," he says, moving to intercept any approach of the wheelbarrow, or perhaps just the wheelbarrow's coming nearer, baton held a little raised. "Let them starve. That guy's one of them."

Logan, to his credit, doesn't immediately bare his teeth, except that maybe those with like powers might recognise the way his eyes suddenly gleam a little greener, to no immediately obvious effect. He pushes the cat carrier into the child's hands again, a little carelessly. "I rather think those lines in the sand have gotten blurred, don't you?"

The guy who had set down his shovel slowly goes to reach for it back.

"Aw, you're so sweet." Yes, Odessa is enjoying the return of her good looks, and the absence of horrified stares and pitying looks, even if she swears through her teeth that she's furious for being healed like this without her consent. She'll miss the pirate jokes least of all. "Afraid kisses aren't very good medicine," she laughs off the little bit of harassment in that way that all women are so very practiced at.

Trouble, however, is already beginning to brew, and the doctor holds up her hands to placate. "We're all refugees here," she states firmly. "Whatever our past transgressions against each other, we put it aside and we work together until that craziness," she waves one hand back toward the way the newcomers came, "is over. Then we can all have it out over who's on who's side and who needs to get punched in the face, okay?" Odessa keeps her tone even, gentle. This situation calls for a delicate touch, and not a hammer.

Not that it’s visible, but Griffin rolls his eyes pretty dramatically at Logan. “Nobody’s eating the cat.” This is said more for the benefit of the timid boy, even as Griffin joins Logan on the other side of the blockade.

To his credit, the telekinetic remains measured and calm, even in the face of the aggressive fellow who is intercepting any approach with the raised baton. He raises a hand, as if to reassure the group of people. “This is safe quarter. This is for anyone who wants to get away from the chaos out there. I don’t care which side anyone is on, I just care that we all play nice in here. There’s kids in here. There are newborn babies in here.”

He nods in agreement to Odessa, even as those eyes imperceptibly move over those gathered here. Invisible arms unfurl hovering unbeknownst among the newcomers. “There’s no fighting in here, period. I’m just here to make sure that nobody, not you, not him,” he gestures toward Logan, “starts a fight in here.”

Both hands go up now, in an attempt to show that he means no harm — no matter the fact that he has his ability poised to wreck some shit if they get too aggressive. “It’s just a search to make sure nobody’s sneaking weapons or bad things in, okay? Everyone goes through it before they get in.” He gestures back to the barricade, from which the enticing smell of barbeque wafts.

“I’m not trying to buy, I’m just trying to get one of the free samples honey!” Raquelle replies smoothly to Cooper with a wink and a wolf-whistle as he walks away before laughing softly and shaking his head. It's rare being able to smile and laugh, and it is hard to smile and laugh and to keep things light but the hairdresser does his best. His ability curls and swirls and whispers across the wall of tenuous control he has over it as his own emotions are boxed up and restrained in favor of being there for others.

Baby blue eyes follow Kincaid’s glance towards the children and he’s seen similar looks or what he believes to be similar looks since being here. Everybody’s heart is broken and bleeding for some reason or another and he offers a sympathetic smile and a nod. “It's what you do, you help folks. You find what they need and you help. If you aren’t helping people who need help you are an asshole and not a regular asshole. Like one of them pig assholes they deep fry and try to pass on as calamari so cheap people can pretend they are fancy.”

An arm curls around Daphne as she approaches, the tall man making a happy sound and returning the hug with a tiny kiss to the top of her head. “Well look at you looking like a lesbian indie band leader. You are serving me salt and pepper realness cupcake.” A warm smile is given as he gives a soft sigh. “After this post apocalyptic wanna be dick measuring contest is over, you know you have an appointment scheduled right?”

Meanwhile, BJ and Diana are still playing with Ellen. Diana is holding and cuddling Al with the remnants of toddler like fascination of the small creature and she is watching the cards like a shark. BJ waves a hand vaguely. “You wanna play memory, that way everybody gets to keep their dam-dang candy? I mean…Diana is going to end up being the Bank of Diabetes over here if we let her continue her reign.”

From where he is at the grill, Raquelle isn’t close to the barricade in a way to directly intervene but people are looking that way and the atmosphere is getting more tense and he gives Daphne another squeeze before turning back to the curry bowls, and squinting. “Anybody know if things are calming down yet?”

“Racist…What?” The speedster gets an incredulous look at her back; but, Cooper can’t just let it go, he just has to call at that back, “Oh… come on! He was a cute, tiny adorable mouse that ran really fast.” Duh! It was a compliment in his mind.

As things get tense on the other side of the barricade, Thomas Cooper sets the box of food down on the trunk of one of the cars. His movements are slow, not threatening. He seems easy going, levering himself to sit on the hood of the car, swinging around and letting feet dangle on the other side of the barricade, not far from the kid. He lazily kicks his legs, like a little kid on the time out bench. If things go south, he had positioned himself to be able to attempt to get the kid out of the way; or at least be a shield.

In the scope of things… He is better off if they don’t fight. He isn’t anything like the rest of them and without at least his service weapon, he’s got a severe handicap.

So he lets an easy going smile grace his (not stupid. adorable) face, before Cooper spreads his hands a little saying rather light heartedly, “Really guys? Hey…. none of us are here to judge, he’s…” for the most part, Cooper might be stretching this next truth a little, “…pulling his weight to protect people. Listen to that lovely vision of a lady over there…” Yes, he is talking about you Odessa. He flashes her that toothy, lopsided grin and a wink. “… and the rest of them, too.” Afterthought there, fingers haphazardly motion at Logan and Griffin. “We are just wanting to keep the kids and people… You know… safe.”

In the background, Ellen has gotten distracted by what is going on at the barricade, she can see it from where she is. The cards are set gently on the table, and pushed at BJ, her tone distracted as she say, “Yeah… let’s do that. Only fair she gets to keep what she earned though.” She pulls her eyes away from the game, to Raquelle. “Right, Mr. Cambria?”

“Oh, so now you’re making fun of my height,” teases Daphne back in Cooper’s direction. The smirk she wears does give away that she’s not actually offended. Raquelle’s joke earns a snort, and she too looks over at the argument growing between Logan and Griffin.

“There are people here who can kill us with their brains, but sure, let’s argue about a shovel,” she says wryly under her breath to Raquelle. She’s a little nervous, despite her quips, as made evident by the shifting of her feet back and forth, becoming a red-and-black blur for a moment, like she’s caught between the desire to get the hell out of dodge and stay with her few friends.

“You still have any supplies?” she says instead to Raquelle, because hair is a priority in the apocalypse. Or so she’d like it to seem — that she’s footless, fancy free, and not at all worried about things going to shit. Again.

One little girl, who will grow up to become an amazing woman. Hopefully. Hopefully they didn’t screw up the life of another one when they went back in time. Kincaid already had the memory of one baby girl who would never grow up on his conscience. Whether or not it had been his fault at all. “Yeah— I’m glad to see so many people willing to try and help out with the way things are going the last few days.” He doesn’t even need to say what he means, even if they couldn’t watch much of it.

“Manhattan was still mostly without power yesterday, and the riots in Cambridge had escalated.” He had access to certain things they had not, at least until last night. “Apparently The Advocate did a big broadcast asking people to resist, peacefully. To work together and help each other. We’ll see if that did anything.”

He doesn’t even give a good short version of what happened, but he sounds and looks and feels very proud for a moment. And he should be, he helped get it to air even with the power outages. They had generators though. Every good studio does. “But no, things aren’t calming down.” He shakes his head. It seems like one of those situations where it is going to get worse… and hopefully then better. “But at least it’s safe in here for now.” Again, he glances at the kids. At least he can try to make sure nothing happens to them. Or try.

This feels like Chechyna all over again. Or at least that’s what Sasha would say, in fewer words, if anyone asked him. So far, they haven’t — but the Russian’s increasingly cagey behaviour over the last 36 hours is mostly to blame.

He’s suddenly there in the same way that a shark is suddenly there, all fin above the surface of the water and dark shadow below. He’d been lurking on the outskirts of the gathering by the barricade, wiping the blood from his hands with a towel that’s already begun to crust around the edges. He hopes the runners have brought bleach.

Like Odessa, he’s been putting his more humanitarian skills to good use and — so far, at least — without the use of his ability. It is probably better for everyone that way.

He picks at the dried blood under his nails with his teeth, unconcerned with his overall hygiene. Sweat plasters dark, reddish brown curls of closely-cropped hair to his rumpled forehead. He takes a knee in front of the child with the cat carrier and sticks a finger through the bars to stroke the animal inside along the bridge of its nose, murmuring thick Russian words in a voice that he hopes will soothe frayed nerves — his or the cat’s.

Either will do.

Tempting though it is to shoot sidelong looks at the likes of Griffin and Odessa and Cooper or Sasha's sudden presence, Logan maintains an even, wolfish stare at the one with the baton which, in the language of aggressive posturing, is pretty much an invitation for a scene to be caused. There's a scrape as guy-with-shovel takes back his chosen weapon in a gesture that seems more uncertain than escalating — some of us only have shovels, Daphne — while the last two, hammer-guy and wheelbarrow-guy, exchange a fatigued glance.

"Safe is not letting these fuckers in the gates," says baton-guy, torn between Logan's attempted stare off and refuting the chorus of reason coming from behind and in front of the barricade. "We should string them up out in front like they do anyone else who stepped out of line."

"Oh, my god, dude," says wheelbarrow-guy, exasperation running over, turning his attention forwards again. "Sorry, he thinks we're literally at war. Can we shift the cars to get this crap through or—?"

"Fuck off, man."

Meanwhile, the woman is apparently abandoning the pack she ran with to usher her child towards the barricade, saying a gentle, excuse me to Sasha for help with herself and cat both. She hefts her son up over the hood in Cooper's direction, roughly. "I was wondering if y'all had any antibiotics from Oakdale," she says, towards Odessa. "Kier's come down with something, haven't been able to get him in to see anyone for weeks and then all this started happening—"

Then they'll see it in the distance — a band of three adolescents, two girls and a boy, come tearing around the corner at a dead run, something like 300 feet down. It's far enough away that it won't become immediately apparent to anyone not looking directly forward, the soft sound of their trainers striking the asphalt barely audible.

Possibly distracting is, too, baton-guy moving to intercept wheelbarrow-guy's attempt to move forward, nearly pitching the whole load over. Two cans of beans in brine spill and bounce.

Sasha is eyed warily. The two surgeons have managed to work side-by-side since the fighting broke out without killing one another, which is a blessing. Odessa can only imagine that his little sister – whom she's quite fond of, if she's honest – serves as a calming presence for him. She has been too withdrawn and sullen, in shock from the events of November the 8th, to present as much of an antagonistic entity to him anyway.

When the woman informs them that her child is sick, wariness is immediately overtaken by concern. The quarreling newcomers can be dealt with by someone better equipped to handle the situation; Odessa's method involves knives. Sick children are never a good thing. She has a stash of medications in her home, because of course she would, but finds herself reluctant to admit it just yet. She tears her gaze away from the boy, from the fight about to break out, and stares past the barricade, somewhere far away in her mind. "I'm sure we can find somethi—"

Out of the corner of her eye, Odessa spots movement, her head snapping up in an instant to assess. Trouble, potentially. "Daphne?" she beckons without looking the other woman's way. If there's running to be done, no one is faster than Daphne Millbrook.

Griffin seems unphased by Baton Man’s posturing, even going so far as allowing his eyelids to droop to form a rather unimpressed look. “Safe quarter means safe quarter for anyone who needs it.” The man’s dark eyebrows raise slightly, even as he stands a little bit taller, using his height to his advantage to look a bit more quietly intimidating. “I don’t care who is in there, I just care that we provide them the safety that they request when they come to our gates.”

As the woman moves to enter, Griffin steps to one side, casting a concerned glance to the child. “We’ll help you out, ma’am.” He nods respectfully to her, before turning his gaze back to the problem at hand. “If you don’t want to be searched and don’t want to give up your weapons, that’s fine. It’s no skin off of my nose. But you won’t be finding any shelter here if you don’t leave your weapons here and refuse to let us search you.”

He allows one eyebrow to tilt upwards, expectantly watching the man. “Additionally, your companions are welcome to enter if they are willing to comply, regardless of your actions.” A not-so-subtle hint that if the other ones are okay, they won’t be lumped in with Baton Man.

The fallen cans of beans aren’t allowed to go far — they’re caught in mid-air, gently returned to their place in the wheelbarrow. Meanwhile, one of the cars can be heard clicking as the gears shift to neutral, and it rolls forward ever-so-slightly to allow the wheelbarrow to fit through, coming to a stop as if the brakes have been applied and shifting back into park. Just another not-so-subtle hint that they really don’t want to start trouble here.

White eyes shift focus to the running teenagers, and Griffin tilts his head to the side to get a more clear view, watching them thoughtfully while still keeping tabs on Baton Man in the corner of his eye.

He came to New York for a Broadway Audition that he never was able to make before shit was going crazy then. Ever since then, he’s given up on having expectation and focussed on making a difference. Which is why Raquelle’s attention pings between Daphne, Kincaid and the Children before the commotion up towards the barricades starts to tug at his peripheral awareness.

Status update from Kincaid is listened to as he takes another look at Daphne’s roots with a critical eye and he nods. “I have supplies.” He confirms with a hint of a smirk. “Might not have the rave level eye bleach blonde you want but we’ll get you close enough.” He promises with a wink.

There’s a slight shimmy in his smooth step pivot around Kincaid to get another stack of bowls, frowning as he uses a finger to flick against the paper edges to get an accurate count on how many are left. Raquelle sighs softly and glances back over to Kincaid with a small nod. “But they will get better.” He nods over towards the children. “We owe it to their tiny little asses to make sure it calms the hell down.” And he makes sure to flash a smile to Ellen. “Yes, unless you want to fight Diana for it and that little gremlin bites.” He teases lightly.

Over with the children, Diana is moving a hand to gently cup Ellen’s cheek with concern as she semi-hugs the guinea pig to her chest. BJ is also noticing the change in the atmosphere as she moves her chair around to sit beside Ellen instead of across from her. The older Cambria Sister tries to be reassuring. “It’s okay. Dee and I have seen some spit.” She eyes her Father, see, she said ‘spit’ not the other word. “I got my taser and it is easy to weaponize Diana if you hold her legs and just let her start biting.” Diana shoots her big sister a look.

Raquelle bites his bottom lip as he squints over towards the barricades, sucking his teeth and adjusting his fingerless gloves. “Pretty Quickie and Cheekbones? My give-a-fuck senses are tingling. If Snow Eyes, Prince Albert, and Doctor Barbie can’t check the newbies in…” He is moving towards where the children and the less able of folks are ‘hanging out’ in this safe zone. “I think the Russian version of Tarzan is out there as well.”

“Wow… When you commit to something, dude…. you really commit,” Cooper sounds rather impressed at, his pale green eyes might say another. More annoyed at their inability to move. He really doesn’t want to have to pull the cop card. With the kid in good hands and away from everything, the agent hops off the car….. Especially, now that it is moving and cans are flying around… WTF? He glances at each person, mildly curious of who is doing that. “Come on, man… give it up. There are kids present.”
Thomas steps closer to the man with the baton, moving to be a bit of a barrier between him and the man with the wheelbarrow. Hands apart in an innocent gesture, non-threatening. “Besides, Raquelle over there. Amazing cook…. Absolutely amazing. Just hand over the baton, come get your grub on….. pretty sure there might be a beer or two over there with your name on it.” His brows lift slightly, giving his best shit eating grin – though in truth, he’s watching this man like a hawk, law enforcement training at the ready.
If baton-guy makes a false move, he just might end up with his arm twisted painfully behind his back, face down on the ground. Well, maybe…. Hopefully…. Please god don’t let him have super strength or something wild like that. Cooper repeats over and over in his head. “What do you say? Food smells freakin’ amazing even from here.”

Back behind the barrier, Ellen seems to fidget. Seeing her daddy out there, when he isn’t like her… or them. It makes her worry. The hand on her cheek has the pre-teen looking at the tiny girl, she can’t help but smile a little. “Hey, Diana. Maybe we should put Al in his carrier.” She pulls her own pale eyes away from the scene, giving the quiet little girl a nervous smile. “I don’t think we want that cat to get him, if it gets out.” For his part Al seems to be getting nervous, his tiny — adorable — front paws pattering back and forth on the tiny human persons arm, his little wheek noises pitched with an occasional squeal, possibly smelling that a predator is nearby. More than likely feeling the tension of the girls.
“But… daddy isn’t like us. Remember?” Ellen whispers sidelong at BJ, she bites her lip, and glances up at Raquelle as he gets closer.
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” says Daphne, distractedly, to Raquelle about the state of her hair — she doesn’t see the approach of the adolescents, as she’s watching with worried-looking eyes the standoff of sorts, dark gaze darting from one speaker to the next.

It’s Odessa’s quiet but clear summons that turns Daphne’s head in her friend’s direction, and she sets down both the bowl of food — sadly, untasted, as she’s still merely holding it — and the bundle of belongings she’s been holding onto, both gingerly and away from the danger of trampling feet. Hopefully. If a riot breaks out, the food and someone else’s stuff will not be her priority. These days, she’s looking out for number one.

Which isn’t entirely true, or she wouldn’t still be standing here.

She steps up on her tiptoes to plant a kiss on Raquelle’s cheek and then her solid form seems to unfold into a gray-cream blur before she stops, once again recognizable, next to Odessa. She turns her gaze to the teens running in their direction, to determine if the runners are in danger… or are they the danger themselves?

With everyone paying attention to the barricade, Kincaid focuses on the cooking. Not that he doesn’t notice, he does, he just also knows there’s nothing he, specifically, could do about it to get it under control. He keeps a dark eye on it as he waits, looking between the potential problem that could turn worse, and the children. It’s the children he’s more concerned about. This man from the future wants to make sure that they grow up.

“They will get better.” They have to. They came back on the chance that they would, for some people. Or at least he did, he can’t exactly speak for the rest.

“Your daughters look like they’re enjoying themselves, despite everything. I say as long as kids can enjoy themselves, the world can’t be all bad.” That had been one of the measures of happiness in the wasteland. If the children could still feel free to play at times. It didn’t happen often, but it did. When their communities found a little bit of safety to offer them.

Sasha is might not be looking, but he is most definitely Paying Attention. His focus shifts from the cat carrier to the youths headed in their direction, and he braces both his hands against his legs to push himself back to his feet. It’s been a long day; he’s beginning to feel his age.

He hangs the bloodied towel over his shoulder. It’s impossible to assess whether or not he’s facing down a threat at this distance. Still, the low sound he makes at the back of his throat is entirely involuntarily — only afterwards does he steer Logan’s attention toward the situation unfolding ahead of them with a meaty hand on the other man’s back.

The three adolescents are moving much too fast for his liking.

The show of subtle telekinesis has guy-with-a-shovel opting to change tunes and give up his weapon for the second time, muttering something low to baton-guy before moving forward. Feet planted, he hefts his arms up, fingers wiggling. He's done this before. "The more things change, the more things stay the same," is roughly jokey, more to diffuse the tension of the moment as he glances towards the car that just shifted backwards. "Come on, dude, it doesn't matter right now."

"It does matter," says baton-guy, then, to Griffin, to Cooper, "and you should care. Or you will, when these motherfuckers take names and faces to bring back to their masters."

But all three of his friends are moving in, dropping off their things, wheelbarrow pushed through the barricade. The smell of grilled meat wafts through, tantalising, but not tantalising enough as this guy gives (a distracted) Logan one more dour look before shaking his head. "I'll take my chances," he says, finally, before turning to leave, baton in hand. Which is only when he, on a delay, likewise notices the activity up the road, and stops barely a step after he's begun.

The three teenagers don't cry out, either too far out to bother trying or too exhausted from their sprint. One of the girls, who is bringing up the rear, suddenly sees some opportunity towards the side, and peels off, disappearing out of sight between houses. The boy who's with him catches this out the corner of his eye, seems to shout to the one in the lead, before likewise following, ducking to hide. The one at the front, a long-limbed girl with wild hair, is far too panicked, too focused on the barricade, to even consider looking back. She's bleeding at her knees, right through denim, and her expression is a grimace of exhaustion and fright.

And for good reason.

Slamming around a close corner, heavy metal, plumes of steam, and eyes glowing in the overcast afternoon is a sudden, discordant image in the otherwise deteriorating suburbia. Sparks fly as its claws scrape asphalt to correct itself, long metal tail whipping, swinging its skull head around to its prey. Steam streams out of its metal rib cage sides in one big gust, before it gives chase. Its run is smooth, consistent, loping, and fast, gaining easily on the girl as she gets within 100 feet of the barricade.

From behind the barricade, it's hard to see what's going on, but the rhythmic sound of kuh-thunk kuh-thunk as big attack-cat feet slam on asphalt as it approaches starts to prickle interest. Those at the line have a front row seat.

And as such, Logan immediately reverses, almost colliding directly into Sasha, turning to scramble away.

The men at the barricade are worried names and faces being put on record, relayed to their masters, and they have every right to be. They just aren't worried about the right person. Being much too pretty, so as to be considered unassuming, has its advantages. There's no urge to twist her lips into a smile at that overheard snippet like some sort of comic book villainess, and not just because she's distracted. Somewhere along the line, Odessa finally learned how to keep herself in check.

But what comes storming down the streak in the wake of terrified kids is one hell of a distraction. "Oh, son of a bitch," she seethes. This was absolutely not on her agenda today. "Daphne!" she calls out again to her friend, pointing to the girl unfortunate enough not to have found refuge with her friends. She didn't want to be vindicated in summoning the speedster, but she's glad her instincts served her this time.

Like Logan, Odessa begins to stagger back from the barricade, calling out a warning. "Everybody back!" She trusts that the sanctity of their safe quarter is about to be violated. Again, she would like to be proven wrong.

True to his word, Griffin allows the three men who are willing to deal with not having weapons and being patted down on through — he has no desire to quarrel, really, he just wants to make sure that the newborn baby within the barricades stays safe. And he will stop at nothing to ensure that precious little girl and her mom and brother all stay safe.

Griffin Owain Mihangle’s face has been a fairly neutral mask up to this point. He’s been the most calm, nonchalant wall guard to ever exist — up until now. When the cat bot roughly skids around the corner, the color leaves the man’s face and his jaw drops open slightly.

Well, shit.

His eyes are suddenly glowing much brighter as he pulls out all six of those telekinetic arms of his. Baton man will suddenly find himself floating gently to the air, placed off to the sidewalk and out of the general way of the machine that is currently barrelling down the street toward the barricade that has kept them all safe. “Get the children and non-evolved inside, NOW!!!” This is roared over the man’s shoulder to those within.

Using his own personal plan, the man strategically places his back against the heaviest, most solid portion of the barricade. His power stretches itself out, poising those ‘hands’ as far away from the barricade as he possibly can. And for a moment, all the man can do is wait, his brow set and his teeth clenched, his hands bracing him against the wall of the barricade.

The moment the cat-bot reaches his range, those six arms lash out — four of them wrapping around each of the legs of the cat-bot not unlike the tentacles of an octopus, while the final two push with all of their might against the creature’s head and chest. Right now, his only goal is to stop the damned thing before it can get too close. After that…

Well, we’ll just have to see what happens after that, won’t we?

Over → there. With the children and the Kincaid and the Guinea Pig, Raquelle had been edging closer and closer to them all the while trying to get an idea of what might be going on. He gets a kiss on the cheek from Daphne and he returns it, watching her blur off with concern. His brow almost creases into a frown but he smooths it out self-consciously.

A fond look over to the girls as Kincaid’s words resonate through his skull ‘The world can’t be all that bad’. That resonation however shifts to that of a bad trip as he turns slowly and takes a few steps forward to crane his neck and get an idea of what might be coming.

Diana is being cooperative and will help get Al back to his carrier but it is BJ who tilts her head at Ellen’s whisper. Its true. Her dad is not like them and the little girl looks over to her own father.

There’s a split second between when he hears people start yelling and when he turns back to the group of children and non-evolved. It only takes seconds for people to panic, and when people panic things get worse. Gloved hand held loosely at his side, he clenches them into fists and them releases them as he turns towards the group. His lips part as he exhales softly and concentrates for a moment before letting the tendrils of his own ability caress and wrap around his vocal intonations as he begins to speak. “Alright!” He holds up a hand in a placating manner.

“Grab your babies, grab your shit, it’s time to relocate everybody. Everything is okay. Everything will be okay. We just have to move now. Children, hold hands now. Teenagers, grab the smaller children who can’t keep up. I need some people to grab some babies and let’s MOVE…” While his tone is gentle and almost sing-songy, he’s projecting his voice purposefully.

Ripples of persuasion, trying to wrap around the building panic and lull it into a sense of calm to keep people able to listen and focus. To keep abilities from shooting off in a way that could get people hurt. To keep little girls from screaming in terror.

You hear about these things around the office and even see them on the news; but, it is something completely different to see one come careening around the corner like some raging bull…. Bent one thing. “Oh…shit.”
Not a lot to say to this one, huh, Cooper?
As it gains on the girl, he suddenly realizes he is surrounded by the bot’s favorite prey. “Go!” He starts backing up, grabbing up the sick kid. “Go! Go! Go!” Cooper shouts to people around him, pushing where he needs to. The jokes and easy banter is gone, his face fallen into more serious lines. “Get into the houses, now. Out of the streets.” The kid is handed of to the mother. “Raquelle, get Ellen and the girls off the streets, don’t….. you know run…. Unless…. Well, unless you have too.”

Ellen’s eyes are wide at her father, Al’s cage clutched to her chest. “Daddy?!” Cooper looks at his daughter and motions her to go with Diana and BJ’s father.

Logan’s shirt is snagged to steady him, “Watch yourself there, Fancy pants.” Oh hey, look at that he does remember…. aw!! Cooper doesn’t stay though, moving to stand between the fleeing folks and that thing. He fishes out a flat wallet out of his back pocket and his phone from another. This is a long shot… but… He takes a deep breath and looks for a number…. Why - won’t - his - hands stop shaking! He grips it in both hands, to steady it enough to find the number for the field office and press it.

Hopefully, Mr. Scary-Eyes can give Agent Cooper a few minutes to contact SOMEONE. Cause someonesomewhere must know how to stop this thing from trampling people who are just trying to stay out of it.
He is about ready to out himself to save a few lives here. Or… he hopes so.

Daphne’s dark eyes dart from the two teenagers who veer off to the side to the girl left behind. Then when it becomes clear what the trio is running from, her breath catches in her throat. It’s only a second before she reacts, but for the speedster, it’s a long, slow, drawn-out lifetime where she weighs risk versus reward — potentially life versus death.

In the end of that slow (to her) time span, where everything seems to move in slow motion — but in reality there’s only a half of a blink of Raquelle’s eyes, a single heartbeat from Logan, a half syllable of Daphne’s name on Odessa’s lips — the speedster chooses to run.

Her gray clothing yet again becomes a mere streak in the direction of the frightened teenager, grabbing for her without pause. Rather than making a beeline straight back to the barricade, Daphne moves to the side, perpendicular to the cat-robot, in an effort to confuse it — or at least delay it. Her destination is a spot further down the line where if she’s successful, she and the girl can scramble over the vehicles barricaded the safe zone.

The sound of metal and hydraulics somehow explodes through everything else. At least for Kincaid Russo. That sound haunted him most of his life. It brings that familiar pain to his left hand that he tries to block out with his power and traditional painkillers at times like now. Robots. Much smaller and less advanced than the ones he’s used to, but the sight of it alone makes him freeze where he skewers meat. For all of two seconds. That’s as long as he can allow.

And it may be because he feels that gentle persuasion from so close trying to calm the sense of panic. Because if anyone had a right to panic right now, it’s the one who’s seen what he’s seen caused by these robot’s descendants.

Setting down the meat skewer, he moves, abandoning his station at the food to hurry over to the children. The very children he’d just been commenting on. While there’s other children who probably need help, he intentionally focuses on BJ and the girls with her. “Come on ladies, let’s get you to safety.”

Cause the world may have lost baby Junko, but he’s not going to let a it lose a young BJ as well.

If Sasha knew the saying I told you so, he—

He wouldn’t be saying it right now, because there’s no time to say anything. When Logan’s back meets his front, he hooks fingers into the Englishman’s arm and hauls him aside. Suddenly his ears are ringing and he can taste something faintly metallic in his mouth; it takes all his willpower to fight the dizzy, lightheaded feeling he associates with his flashbacks, even if he can’t remember the last time he had one.

Chechnya was a long, long time ago.

His body goes through the motions on instinct. There’s no difference in his mind between the machine advancing on them and the old T-80s that he remembers pulverizing people beneath their treads back in Grozny. Both will kill if they get close enough.

Both are difficult to outrun.

Down,” he barks at Logan as he shoves the other man to the pavement with enough force to split skin and bruise the muscle beneath it. He makes himself small, and Logan smaller by covering the younger man’s body with his own, curling into him like a she-wolf gathering her pups against her chest.

Let the hunter chase the ones who are foolish enough to draw its attention.

The blur that Daphne becomes vanishes the girl into a likewise blur, and there's a moment where the big robot turns its cat-like head to the side as if it might snap after them, but the rolling gait of its run does not slow. Its glowing eyes, bright red, re-settle to its destination ahead of it, drawn to the— smell?— of the cluster of Evolved, of activated ability, rather than its individual quarry alone. Kuh-thunk kuh-thunk, distance eaten up under its mechanically relentless stride.

Invisibly, telekinetic tentacles affix to hot metal as it closes in, Griffin's reach reduced in service of greater strength — which he needs, every drop of it. The weight of the cat alone is deliberately heavy-set, and momentum strains the grace of his ability as he's shoved back against the truck he braced against. Paws lift from the street, and with a protesting screech of metal, its head twists aside, balance thrown. Griffin feels the drag of great momentum as both its own kinetic force and his more supernatural resistance clash and sends the robot careening aside, pulling Griffin off his feet unless he detaches in that last split second.

On the ground, Logan slams into asphalt, flattened and breathless as Sasha takes cover over him just as super-hot metal, streaming steam, flies over both of them and slams into the barricade, graceless, tail whipping. The sedan that Logan had made his perch crumples like paper beneath the weight of the cat, sending both skidding backwards some feet. Barricade broken. The wheelbarrow is on its side, contents everywhere.

The robot thrashes, steam fuming out of its sides. Between its metal teeth, a long thick needle gleams, and it sets its red sights on Griffin.

Baton-man, safely set aside, has disappeared without gratitude. His other three companions have spilled into the community, running without paying any heed to instruction. The street is a mess of panic, some retreating into houses, regardless of who they belong to; others simply running in whatever direction constitutes away; some clustering together indecisive knots of people. The woman who brought her child clutches her son, headed for where she sees other families and children, and his piercing cry of alarm seems to knife through even the cacophony of the grappled robot; his little hand outflung for where the cat carrier has fallen on its side, the animal within growling and cowering.

The girl, now clutching Daphne, eyes wide with panic, manages to gasp out, breathlessly, "They're coming," she heaves, "more."

Those looking to the horizon may hear it, like a march. In the chaos, it has gone unnoticed, until at least Daphne is prompted to look. The graceful silhouettes of three Sentinels have appeared on the street; two in the distance, where she had appeared, and one that has apparently cut through the houses, appearing closer, redirecting itself to approach the barricade. Its trailing a thick, greasy looking yellow smoke, which some may recognise, some may not. They are each about ten foot in height, four legs supporting a heavy body, a long, giraffe-like neck, an equine head from which snake-like sensors dangle from its maw.

As it nears, the last of the negation gas trailing — well out of range, for now, dispersing in the wind — the nearest lets out a sudden, bone-rattling bellow of warning, that even those without a clear view can hear, and some may recognise. It continues its way, its two friends about thirty yards behind.

"Let's get the fuck out of here," is Logan's proposal, said quietly, to Sasha.

Oh, no, no, no. Odessa knew that this place would not be safe for very long, but she didn't think that the disruption of that peace would take this form. There's a growing horror as she recognizes the sick yellow of the negation gas, and remembers the last time she came under its effect.

What would it do to her now?

She doesn't have time to think about maintaining her cover. She's not powerless anymore, but it's the secret and the terrible truth of what the use of her ability does to her now that has Odessa doing what she's always done best: Abandon her friends to save herself.

Odessa is suddenly very, very glad that she's not wearing her signature heels. Turning away from the breached barricade, the woman goes running as fast as her legs will carry her, feeling the impact of each bootfall in the bones of her feet and her legs. She reaches the nearest building just as the door slams and the deadbolt clicks unheard in the chaos. The handle rattles uselessly in her white knuckled grasp. Whoever shut it up behind them is already too concerned about retreating further into the home to come back and let someone else in. Her palms slap hard against the door twice. "No! No! No! Open up!" Her voice is shrill with her terror. If she had been smart, she’d have called on Daphne for her escape.

Well shit.

Griffin is yanked briefly off of his feet with a shout, though the effect doesn’t last long — mental tendrils disengage from the beast and catch him, leaving him hovering in the air as he reels from the fact that he somehow just stopped one of those damned things.

Then, he’s moving again, not leaving the creature any opening to send any projectiles his way. In fact, he reaches out for that gleaming needle, attempting to wrap his invisible brain tentacles around it and, perhaps, snap it off.

If nothing else, he can stop it from hitting him.

Here Griffin stands floats, staring at the cat bot. And then, the cat bot’s friends make their presence known. White eyes turn to regard the other machines, widening especially upon viewing that lovely negation gas. For a moment, the man is frozen, debating his next action. Which way will he go? It’s kind of up in the air these days.

Then, the bellow sounds.


While he may still be trying to take that damned needle with him, Griffin is not sticking around for this shit. He doesn’t have anything to worry about if he’s captured, but that would make things a great deal more complicated than they need to be when he is in the position that he is in right now. That, and he really doesn’t want to fight all of those fucking machines.

The man turns in the air, invisible tendrils flinging him through the air as fast as he can — away from the machines.

Ain’t nobody got time for this shit.

The insane thing about riots is that it is hard to be heard when panic really starts rearing its ugly head. There's a radius of calm emotion and reassurance around the single father, and Raquelle's had to up the volume, taking deep breaths in between litanies of reassurances and calmly uttered instructions.

It's his girls that get his main attention though, turning to look to Kincaid as he points to them. "Get them to safety." Over Kincaid's shoulder he raises his voice slightly so that they can hear him. "Ya'll be brave now and get Mr Kincaid to safety now. Show him the safe place." His gift wrapping around his words as he glances to Ellen. "I'll make sure your Daddy is comin' right behind us. Okay sweetheart, okay." A look to Kincaid and a solemn nod before he's turning back to the fray.

He has seen many things in his life, even a 6'9 Finnish drag queen that did not tuck and even that was not as disturbing as the chaos he sees churning in front and around him. He turns slowly in a circle and then his breathing catches as he sees more robots coming. "All around me are a…" He whispers softly to himself as the lyrics swim into his subconscious like they own the joint. "…familiar faces.."

"Cooper!" Raquelle starts to take a few jogging steps forward until something else catches his attention. He glances over to where Odessa just got a door slammed in her face and then in the direction of his girls who are actively trying to lead/follow/swarm around Kincaid towards the safe haven of another home.

He whistles sharply to try to get her attention. His ability winding its way around the words, reassurance given. "They shut that door like they owe your shapely little ass back child support, so c'mon!"

Right, onto the next thing. Cooper and the Woman and the Kid and the Cat.

"Cooper, I'm not gonna ask you twice bitch, we gots to go. They den pulled out this Jurassic Park Animatronic Bullshit and we are not playing fetch with the robot pussy and her backup singers." He offers his own physical presence as assistance to making sure people are headed in the right direction, hoping Cooper is brave enough to get the cat carrier as he reaches out to steady a stumbling lady who is also fleeing, wrapping an arm around her.

"We are way too pretty and your baby girl is growing titties and I am not prepared to handle that yet. So…we gotta move because I feel they are going to start singing 'the circle of life soon' and I'm not trying to meet fucking robot Rafiki." Hoping, praying…he accompanies him in time for them to get to safety with his girls.

He does look back for a moment to where Griffin went. "But this motherfucker right here.."

Raquelle’s approach doesn’t register right away, Cooper is too busy arguing with the woman on the other end of the phone. “Just find out who the hell turns these Fucking robots off, Lin-dah! There are kids and people just wanting to … ” Finally he look at his neighbor and blinks. What?

Then he is back to arguing, though he is allowing himself to “ No… You listen… No Linda. Listen. No you Listen Linda.” He holds his phone out to where the loud sound coming from the… metallic cthulhu cows, but only for a moment, before the phone is at his ear. He uses the flat black wallet to help cover the other ear against the outside noises. He is greeted with a dial tone. “Linda? Shit… SHIT!” He stares at the phone and then the robots as they lumber closer. “I knew I shouldn’t have made that joke about her red leopard print heels.”

He turns on his own heels and hurries after Raquelle, taking only long enough to snag the handle of the cat carrier. “Must hurry…. “ The box is almost dropped on the ground again, when the cat lashes out at him. “Don’t make me throw you at those things,” Cooper snaps at the cat, getting a hiss in return. “I’ll do it.” Okay, no he won’t. His phone has been pocketed, but he clutches his badge wallet…. His last resort if he needs it.

Ellen is only slightly resisting the strange man that has been put in charge of them, her eyes watch the big robotic beats lumbering just beyond her daddy.

The girl’s warnings makes Daphne look up — first hearing and then seeing the robots coming for them. Adrenaline rushes through her, cold and metallic.

“Run,” Daphne tells the girl with a jerk of her head toward the buildings.

The speedster takes her own advice, only for her, it’s back toward the robots. She looks to where Odessa stands, to where Raquelle and the kids are, to where Logan is being pulled back by Sasha.

It’s time for wind sprints.

She takes a deep breath and then there’s the a crack in the air as she puts herself at top speed, the teenager girl’s hair and clothes blowing a little in the backdraft as the speedster rushes toward the danger she was just pulled away from.

The gray-and-cream blur rushes toward Odessa as she pounds on that door, not stopping as she grabs the other woman’s hand and moves to rush her forward to catch her up to where Kincaid is leading — or being led by — the children. At least Odessa will be familiar with the nausea-inducing G-force of being towed at supersonic speeds. A few seconds later, she lets go of her friend’s hand, pausing just long enough to make sure the woman doesn’t just pass out unconscious from the dizzying ride. “Help her,” she tells Kincaid.

To Odessa, she says, “If that gas hits, I’m dead in the water. Can you…?” She waves her hand around to indicate the stoppage of time — after all, Odessa looks like she did when Daphne first met her. She doesn’t wait for the answer, though.

Daphne’s form blurs away again, the speedster intent on helping the Woman and the Kid get a little farther away from those bots, too — leaving Cooper (with the Cat) and Raquelle, for the time being, knowing both would want her to help these two first. But she’ll be back for them. And Sasha and Logan too. If time permits. If she isn’t negated. Griffin seems to be moving pretty well on his own.

The simple glance of trust between him and Raquelle is enough to spur Kincaid onward as he rounds of the young ladies and plays it off as them needing to protect him. And if that sickly gas touches him, he may actually need that help. It depends on how much the painkillers he started taking as soon as they moved him work to stop the chronic pain in his hand. He knew he should have looked into surgery as soon as they arrived in the past, but they just had too much going on.

“Yes, show me that safe place, ladies,” he hurries them away, hoping to get them to a safe distance quickly enough, as Raquelle gathers another father to assist. Before more robots arrive. Even one might have been too many in his opinion.

He makes sure to keep the girls in front of him, even as they try to swarm, gesturing gently with his hands and keeping his back between them and the dangers as much as possible, glancing behind him as they herd away through the throngs of people panicking. And rightly so.

No arguments from Sasha. He’s all for getting out. “Find Tania,” is his only stipulation, and it must be a stipulation because his voice is flat, no uptick at the tail of his sister’s name in the shape of a question mark.

He isn’t asking for Logan’s input. He’s telling him what they’re going to do.

“Our abilities, not so useful, eh?” That is a question, if a rhetorical one. “The gas— is no problem. We get them back. Go through gas, around machines. Safer to be behind.”

His tongue feels so thick in his mouth, and over the commotion he can’t even hear the sound of his own voice. Hopes that he’s making sense. He cranes his neck, trying to get a better look at the sentinels’ positions and visualize a potential escape route — if any exists. If not, they might have to chase down Odessa and force their way into the house that just locked her out.

There are windows, and windows are made of glass. Plenty of bricks and heavy debris to go around.

The needle protruding between the robot's fangs snaps in Griffin's invisible grasp, a splintering sound following a minor gush of fluid like drool leaking from its maw. Its struggle against the telekinetic force binding it is entirely without animal quality — insectile twitches, heaving mechanics, angry gusts of steam twitch and judder and groan as it drags itself from the wreckage it caused.

As Griffin cuts and runs, it rolls to its feet, and turns its red gaze to the chaos of safe quarter.

Beyond the sounds of the immediate chaos, the especially attentive might be able to hear even more blaring horns, or see the drift of negation gas through gaps in the buildings, drifting up from adjacent streets. This attack, whatever it is, may feel deeply personal and immediate, but it won't be hard to extrapolate that the invasion of their safe quarter isn't the only thing being steamrolled down through the crushing weight of marching robots, trailing thick negating smog.

Logan is nodding to Sasha's works, likewise darting a look here and there for escape routes, only conscious on lizard-brain level of the blur that is Daphne, rescuing bodies nearby. His hand is gripping the other man's forearm as if scared of the prospect of losing track of him. "Safer behind," he agrees. "C'mon."

Any concept of abandoning his post is obliterated. A non-existent transgression. The boundaries are well broken. Still keeping a grip on Sasha, Logan darts forward and away from safe quarter, up onto sidewalk, intent on gaps through which they can pass. In a moment, the coming wave of yellow smog, even before they're in the thick of it, begins to nibble at their superhuman ability. Logan's awareness of Sasha's heartbeat twindles into a vanishing point, and his hand tightens.

Prowling into the safe quarter, the attack bot takes a moment to sight the warm bodies swarming away from it, just as shovel-guy — having collected back his shovel in all the panic — appears in its periphery, and slams the shovel at its face. There's an almighty clang as metal meets metal, the spade of the shovel now twisted on its end, and a very minor scratch showing on super-hot skull, which turns to look at him. In Daphne's bullet-time world, the big cat crouches down, and propels itself in a full-bodied spring to crash into the far squishier shovel-guy who hasn't her reflexes enough to dart out of the way.

The first of the Sentinels looms, now, at the barricade. Rather than slinking through the gap made by the attack cat, it lifts one forelimb, sharp metal gleaming in the light, and brings it down with a crunch of shattering wood. Metal crumples and screams as it climbs its way over the top, its sirens continue to wail, gut-low and bone-deep. Negation gas still trails thinly from its vents.

Outside of Raquelle's circle of calm, the crowd is of no single mind. Windows are smashed for people to climb into houses. Some already within protest these invasions, sense of community crumbling as they try to detract attention to their homes by shoving people back out onto the street. The woman, propelled forward by Daphne, grips her child's hand with bone-crushing force, her other now snagged on the back of Cooper's shirt in an effort to stay close to this little group.

Once completely clear of the barricade, the Sentinel pauses, the other two looming up behind it. Then, with a sudden forward rush, thick clouds of yellow negation gas come streaming out of its vents, pushed forward, engulfing a twenty foot radius almost instantly. A second gust, just air, pushes the onslaught forward. Those lagging behind come stumbling out of the smog, largely unaffected in any visible way. The attack cats eyes glow from within before the robot sights the huddled group emanating empathy, and moves, the greasy smog sliding off its metal flanks.

Odessa clutches Daphne tightly when she’s dragged away from the locked door. The sudden stop sends her stumbling forward a few steps before she catches her balance with the help of the hand on her arm. When she’s asked if she can use her power, Odessa starts to shake her head, but her friend is already off again in a blur of motion. Odessa shoots a panicked look to Kincaid, who’s been instructed to help her. Just looking at him, she can’t imagine how he could.

She’s about to break out in a run again, but there are kids. It’s always kids, isn’t it?


He’s doing an admirable job of keeping the girls from panicking, but… “We don’t have time for that,” Odessa insists. And when there’s that sudden rush of air behind them, it proves she’s right. “We have to run! Now!” Without waiting for permission, Odessa scoops Diana up off her feet, wedging the child against one hip. “Hold on, honey. We’re gonna get you out of here.” With her free hand, she reaches into the pocket of her coat and pulls out a cell phone. Jamming down send twice to recall the last number, she holds it to her ear and takes off running as fast as she can now that she’s got a five year old weight attached to her torso.

“Pick up! Pick up, pick up, pick up!

The needle is pulled back to Griffin, held floating in the air like some kind of wicked knife as he flees. Once he is well out of range of that negation gas, Griffin Mihangle stops, hovering over a rooftop as he turns to see the chaos he is leaving behind.

Well, shit.

Griffin might not be a very good guy these days, but he’s not a bad guy either. He might be a coward these days, but he isn’t cowardly enough to let a bunch of children get swept up in this crap.

Careful to avoid the gas, the man drifts closer to Raquelle’s circle of calm, glowing white eyes on the machines — he’s still ready to cut and run again, if they get too close or if the gas comes close enough to work its wicked magic. Several telekinetic hands reach through the gas, attempting to take a few of those kids and pull them to safety on the rooftops above.

He’s not scared of the government anymore, but he can’t just sit back and let them do this to children.

Nobody has to tell Raquelle to hurry. He looks ahead of him where the gap between him and the other people in his bubble of calm are moseying along. His lips part to utter something pedantically inappropriate. It involves explicatives and ejaculation no doubt but it fades on the wind as he takes in the gassy death fetishished mecha looking monsters that are following after them.

His baby girl is snatched up by the good Doctor and Diana wraps her arms around Odessa tightly, hiding her face against her shoulder and trembling like a leaf. She peeks up to look back at her father and reaches out a tiny hand with a protesting whimper.

BJ has taken it upon herself to keep close to Ellen and Kincaid as they find shelter. The girls had been approaching a house with their new caretakers. Almost there, even though other people are also trying to shove past their bubble of calm towards the same house. Which does not matter. Because Griff is there and the girls are probably going for a magic surprise ride with their new friend Catboy.

This leaves Raquelle the opportunity to just call out. “Coupe De Ville, time to put your butch boy panties on and help me.” He looks back towards the monsters and is sprinting for the house with the shut door, trying the handle and pushing it open, and looking over his shoulder with a gasp, he can’t keep this calm up must longer. “WHY does this house smell like cornchips and ass…” He coughs softly, and blinks. “C’mon people!” He holds the door open. He prays.

A pause.

He stares at the gassy predudice robots. And prays some more, trying to hold that door open long enough for Odessa, Griffin, Kincaid, Cooper, The cat, The cat’s mother, The cat’s boy, and the powerpuff girls to all make it. He prays some more.


The surprised shriek of his daughter, manages to bleed over the loud horns -maybe it is just parental instinct — pulls Cooper’s attention up and he comes to a sudden stop. Of course, those behind him collide with him, sending him tumbling. Cat lost again; since it goes tumbling. He doesn’t really notice, since he is watching half horrified as Ellen is lifted, still clutching that damn Guinea Pig cage being lifted off the ground.

“What the….” The words won’t be heard over the loud blaring horns. It takes a moment for Cooper to realize that she is being pulled to safety. God he hope so. He scrambles clumsily to his feet, motions the woman and child to go with a flailing motion, “GO!” he shouts picking up the cat cage again, smacking it against her chest.

He waits till the group is in the door, he snags the handle from Raquelle…. He looks a little terrified. “Just… stay here.” And Cooper slams the door behind him, turning around he scrambles down the stairs, planting himself there. He’s not evolved… He isn’t doing anything wrong. Right? Right?

He pulls the flat wallet out and flips it open, holding it out to the stalking cat. It must have camera’s somewhere. His phone is extracted again and he dials again, when it picks up he starts talking quickly, half shouting over the horns. “Linda…. Listen Linda… I’m sorry. I was a dick…” he watches the robots nervously.

“Yeah… a dick. A really big dick. Those heels were wonderful on you… but I really need to find someone who can tell whoever has control of these robots, that DHS Agent Thomas Cooper” insert his badge number here, “has peaceful evolved civilians being stalked by a freakin’ a cyberpunk feline freakshow and chuthulu’s jumbo circus.” He takes a step back, heel of his shoes hitting the bottom of the steps. He steps up on to that first step. “These people are under my protection and have not done a god damn thing wrong except stay away.”

All this time, in his head he says over and over again, Go away little kitty…
Daphne, turning back to find more people to speed away forcibly sees that catlike body poised, ready to pounce. Her brain moves fast enough to wonder slightly, to appreciate, the craft gone into the machine, registering the idle thought that whoever designed it truly captured the fluid motion of flesh-and-blood felines, albeit in chrome and carbon.

The speedster sees the yellow gas — her nemesis has never been a person, but anything that can take away her ability. To take away her power. She is afraid.

Every instinct in Daphne’s fight-or-flight nature screams ‘run.’ She makes a U-turn, seeking her own refuge, but then suddenly spins back to run into the face of danger. The blurry streak zooms back to the man with the shovel, to grab him by the wrist in an attempt to rip him out of danger’s path.

When Kincaid turns back around from trying to usher the kids forward, his eyes catch the light haired woman that he had been told to look after (as well as the children). There’s a moment of hesitation that lasts just a little too long as he sees her. Almost as if— some part of him recognizes her. Even if she looks very different from how he remembers.

Very different. But she may spot a kind of recognition in the man’s eyes, one she’s probably seen a few times before already. Being from the future means you know things. And people. Especially people who died to protect children.

That hesitation costs, because some of the misty gas hits him and— the damaged nerves in his hand start to remind him why he always has his power active. Not chalk. Not chalk at all. “You heard her, hurry!” he yells, following the remainder of the young ladies through the door that Raquelle holds open for them, hoping to get inside and out of this mist before the pain really sets in. He already can barely move his left hand without it hurting, so he wants to hopefully be inside where it’s safe before more of it floods the area.

Sasha’s anaconda-tight grip on Logan contracts. There will be bruises, later. He will apologize, later, in his own way: refusal to meet eye contact and vague excuses that sound like he might be accepting fault if they didn’t also implicate Logan as well. Getting Sasha to say the word sorry is like getting a cat to sit on your lap when you want it to.

It happens, but it is rare.

As the gas strips him of his ability, his hold loosens a fraction, and the muscles in his body relax. Without his power to keep in-check, he can focus on other things. Mapping their escape route, for instance. He drives Logan up an alley, stopping midway to prick his ears and listen for anything waiting to ambush them in the darkness between the streets.

He counts.

Odin, dva, tri.

One, two, three.

No terror comes. Death does not descend. No shrieking metal. No hail of bullets. An arm swings across Logan’s chest and holds him against the alley’s wall as Sasha risks a glance around the corner to see what’s waiting on the adjacent street.

"Jesus Christ."

Logan has dealt with his share of enthusiastic bodyguards, but Sasha, he could swear, is causing enough bruise-damage that perhaps he needs an additional filter of security for him alone. That hiss of complaint is quiet, between his teeth, and then silent then as he presses himself back against the wall, watching Sasha watch the road. Ability gone, left alone with his own neurochemicals running riot.

Down the next street over, the sight is similar. Two Sentinels march side by side, pumping generous gusts of negation gas. Sasha sees, in the thick yellow fog, two lanky teenage figures making a run for one of them, and between them is a length of chain, rattling noisily. Their intent is obvious, but the angle is wrong — with more grace than you'd expect of a ten-foot tall llama demon robot, the construct suddenly raises its long, scythe-like forelimb, and slams it back down in such a way that sharp, hot metal catches one of the teenagers on the shoulder, sending her spilling aside with a shriek. Her friend yelps, runs, leaving her clutching her arm, sprawled on the asphalt. The ghostly figures of other residents running to and fro, in search of safety, pass by like phantoms through the fog.

Fortunately, no sight of attack cats. Yet.

Back in safe quarter, Daphne's hand finds shovel-guy's arm, bringing him into the Blur Zone, superheated attack cat body finding only empty air in its lunge. Yellow vapour shivers where they used to be, and they go rocketing down the street. Rocketing for a moment, anyway, until Daphne feels it — heaviness like lead suddenly clasping onto her muscles, a protesting bone-deep pain immediately throbbing up from her joints. The world around her slows. Gravity lands its hooks in her, and pulls.

The house the rest pile into is like any other Eltingville house: a little cheap, a little nondescript, a little sad. One of the windows is flung wide open, which will very much need seeing to. The sounds of the outside world dampen, the slightly dusty air stagnant and warm and humid. Someone, in their panicky rush in, has knocked over a coffee table, and a mug of coffee that's been standing since morning upends onto carpet, giving off a sour smell. A few other residents come slamming inside past Raquelle, but fortunately the crowd is dispersed enough that he has to manage no more than a few more panicky individuals than expected.

Cooper, stationed outside, comes under visual range of the attack cat as it rolls on forward. Its glowing red eyes are light only, inexpressive, save for projections of danger and aggression. From its mechanical maw, a clear fluid continually drips at a steady thin stream where Griffin had broken the mechanics within when he wrenched away the needle, giving off an impression of salivating. It stares at Cooper. Analyses. And does not launch itself at him, turning its gaze away.

On the other end of his phonecall, Linda's voice cuts in, stammering through a bad connection. What he can glean, though, is that a response to Evolved aggression has been launched, and once the threat is neutralised, personnel will be moving in. And also, kuh-thoo-loo what?

As Daphne stumbles, the man she saved shoves his arm around her, under her shoulders, dragging her alongside and scrambling for the same building Raquelle and Kincaid and the rest started filing into. Several feet away, the attack cat gets a visual, readies itself back on its haunches, and launches itself into a leap, a big grey and red shape in Griffin's periphery, momentarily airborne.

In Odessa's ear, through her phone, there comes a tinny, familiar

“I need an extraction fifteen fucking minutes ago!” Odessa shouts into her phone. She grimaces and looks at Diana in her arms. Sorry, kid. She sets the little girl down, nudging her back in the direction of her sister, and dashes toward the open window so she can shut it. Her hands are shaking as she holds the phone between her shoulder and jaw, tugging down, down, down until the damn thing will finally budge and give some barrier between them (her) and the gas outside.

She’s about to explain why she needs an extraction, but the words die on her tongue. Her brain races as she tries to rationalize why she - she - would need a rescue. “It’s chaos. I almost got trampled.” She’s quiet again for the space of time it takes her to take in two gasping breaths, looking around to see who’s watching her. She doesn’t care. “«Please.»”

Outside the window, Daphne’s running comes to a juddering halt and Odessa recognizes it for what it is. No. The phone is dropped into her coat pocket, with the call still going, as she goes running to meet them at the door and help drag her friend inside. “I’ve got you! It’s going to be okay. Just had to be a big damn hero, didn’t you?” She laughs against the other woman’s hair, but it’s shaky, betraying her fear. They feel similarly about playing hero, so she hopes she will take the joke in stride.

From afar, the telekinetic helps a few of the children get into the house below, eyes darting across the scene from his rooftop vantage point. Once he’s sure at least some of the kids are in safety, he turns, glancing toward the other cat bots with a frown.

And then, the telekinetic is off again, making a beeline for the building that houses his family. It’s not far from the barrier, and thankfully has a nice rooftop entrance that he ensured was available when he put his wife and two children within.

Assuming nothing gets in his way, Griffin darts within to safety, ready to fortify the building if need be — and ready to be there for his family if he needs to, as well.

There is a mental count going on in Raquelle’s head as he sees Odessa clear the doorway with Diana in arms. (Diana is too distracted by Chaos to demand her swear jar money up front.) When she’s placed down, she’s running to join BJ and Ellen when they too clear that doorway and make it into the home. “Bubbles, Buttercup, Blossom…” He murmurs counting off the girls. “Cheekbones, Doctor Barbi-” He accounts for Kincaid and Odessa.

The hairstyling is ushering people in with an arm, steadying people when need be, urging people to step or move back away from the entrance to make room. When Daphne and her rescuer are clearing the doorway, he’s there with Odessa to make sure they are pulled in appropriately. “Get her on the couch!” He barks out before looking back out the door to hiss/shout after Cooper.

“T.R. Cooper! Get your—” He makes urgent ‘get your ass over here’ motions, jerky and emphatic. But he doesn’t say it because he recognizes what Cooper is indeed doing.

He tugs something out of his back pocket, the pre-paid purple flip phone he has had to use. And he’s calling Cooper’s phone number. If it picks up or if it goes straight to voicemail. He is whispering urgently. “We’ll send Linda a fucking fruit basket and a spa coupon…but get your ass in here before I run out of ‘daddy’s going to be okay’ juice and your pre-teen loses her shit!”

Then he flips the phone shut and looks at all the people gathered together in the room, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes for a moment as stands in front of the door. “All around me are familiar faces.” He starts out softly. “Worn out places. Worn out faces…” He sings softly, looking from face to face as his jaw sets and he just blinks back tears of frustration. That’s not what is needed. He stumbles slightly as his legs are tackled and wrapped around by the younger members of the Cambria Clan.

He moves away from the door and more towards the center of the room, leaning down to wrap his arms around his girls and beckoning Ellen and the other younger people closer, pausing to wipe a couple of tears off of BJ’s cheek. “Shh, remember baby. Remember the song?” He starts singing softly. “But I gotta think twice. Before I give my heart away. And I know all the games you play, because I play them too.”

Tiny Diana joins in with her little voice lispy and wavery in a childish harmony with her father, singing the next few lines before BJ joins in too. “…Oh when that love comes down.” He kisses cheeks and holds hands. “Without devotion…well it takes a strong man baby, but I’m showing you the door.” Raquelle swallows thickly, letting the remnants of his hope and love wisp into his tones.

“Cause I gotta have faith. I gotta faith. I gotta have faith…faith.” He holds Diana to his chest, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “I gotta have faith…”

The information from Linda is useful and it helps that the cat is turning away. The arm with badge drops limply at his side. Yay for no evolved genes here. Cooper’s knees suddenly go weak — what the hell was he thinking?! — and he drops down to sit on the steps, letting out a huge sigh of relief. “Oh thank god!” He watched the green mist pool around his feet, he feels nothing, of course. “I owe you a dinner, Linda,” he breathes out deliriously happy before he ends the call, not explaining the rest of it.

He rubs a hand over his face, glancing back over his shoulder at the building front. Finding his daughters worried features in the window before she is pulled away. That is about the time his phone makes noise at him. A glance, “Oh hey…” He listens to the message left for him, an amused smirk tugging up a corner of his mouth. “Sorry, buddy,” he murmurs when he shuts the phone off. Cooper is staying right there, to make sure that he heads off anyone federally. All good here. He’ll risk it to vouch for them all. The wallet with his IDs is flipped shut, gripping it between his hands. He owes it to them.

He’ll sit and watch the parade of robots, until they fade into the distance and the sound of singing drifts from inside.

Inside, Ellen will shift over to sit with Raquelle and the girls, with a watery smile. Al’s cage finally set down next to her, the guinea pig making all sorts of noise at the singing. While she is worried about her daddy, at least he wasn’t getting eaten by a metal cat.

Not fast enough, Daphne’s mind is telling her even as she feels the gas’ effect on her body, the inevitable slowing and then stuttering of her feet. She doesn’t protest shovel-man’s help — quid pro quo, after all, but she might not say thank you right away.

When Odessa’s arms come around her, there’s a shaky, shuddery sigh of relief that the other woman will feel and hear, but she lifts her chin and jokes, “Are you calling me fat?”

Deposited on the couch, she pulls her feet up with the held of her hands, wrapping her arms tightly around her knees. Her eyes move to Raquelle, expression softening as he sings to the little girls. “Thanks for the place to crash, Big Daddy,” she says lightly, before glancing back to Odessa. “Looks like we have catching up to do.”

Once inside cheekbones sinks to the floor, trying not to grasp his hands together as the pain radiates up from the old wound. Kincaid wishes he would have scheduled the surgery to attempt to fix that, but they’d not come from the future to repair their old wounds. They’d come to try and keep them from ever being inflicted on a world that didn’t deserve it. As he hears the robots march, he wonders how much they succeeded. And how much of it would still happen, all over again.

He looks toward the girls, checking to make sure they’d made it in, focusing on BJ for a moment. She’d already died once, in a far off future, as a grown woman. She had been meant to be their leader, the one who told them what to do. Benji, also, had been a good leader, but he wondered how things would have been different if BJ had come back with them.

She would have wanted her family protected.

“Glad you’re safe, Mr Cambria,” he mutters as the other man sings, calming the conflict in his soul slightly, even helping with the pain slightly, as his eyes shift over to Odessa, and the woman she’s helping. This place had many people who needed a second chance.

“This way,” Sasha urges Logan. This isn’t going to end the way he wants it to, and he knows. He’s seen enough insurrections to recognize that strange, electric feeling in the air right before something terrible happens; the only difference is that he’s always been on the other side of it.

The side with tanks. The side with the guns. (He’s going to need one.)

While the Sentinels are occupied with the teens and their — by Sasha’s estimation — pathetic length of chain, he scissors out of the alley and into the street.

The tangle of their lives—everyone here in Eltingville—will never be the same again. There is a certainty in all of this, a certainty that the world will never be the same after all of this. Too much has changed, too many nightmares have been dragged into the light, and too many bodies clog the gutters of the streets.

As embers rise up over the rooftops of Eltingville as screams—as moments in time—blur together into a muddy palette of hopeless fear for the future, threads of causality are woven together into a tapestry that will take a decade to come to completion.

The threads seem disparate now, but even then…

…they’re coming together.

Three Days Later

Miller Air Field
Staten Island

The skyline of New York, when viewed from Staten Island, is a smear of orange and red tinged with smoke. Fighting and riots have continued for days, and at the headquarters of FRONTLINE-OS, preparations are being made for merciless intervention.

A tactical black armored personnel carrier rolls out of Hangar-3 with several USMC Spec Ops soldiers walking alongside it, faces shrouded by balaclava. No badges or insignia on their armor. Heller’s most loyal men.

A member of Frontline-OS leads the vehicle, helmet under his arm as he does. Liu-Ye, OS-01, looks over at the approaching silhouette of another Frontline officer in her powered armor. Aoi Housen, OS-03, creates an electrokinetic spark between her fingers to get Liu’s attention. Liu glances back at the marines over his shoulder, then puts on his helmet with a snap-click and marches toward Aoi.

«What?» He asks her, and Aoi's response is turning and beckoning Liu to follow her across the muddy stretch of grass toward another derelict hangar. Liu looks back to the marines, but follows none-the-less. «Heller needs us mobilized soon. We’re headed north.»

Aoi says nothing until she reaches the ruined aircraft hangar where the third and fourth members of FRONTLINE-OS stand waiting. OS-02, Smantha Lee Tanner, flips her blonde hair over her shoulder and looks askance to the older, mustached man standing beside her.

Daniel Espenosa, OS-04 nods to Liu. “We gotta talk, niño.”

Liu rankles at the nickname and turns his masked visage to Aoi, who snaps her fingers again to create an electrical discharge. Like a signal. Liu tenses, halfway expecting this to be some sort of murderous ambush. He’s half right.

“Liu Ye…” A voice rumbles in the dark, and the hair on the back of Liu’s neck rises as he sees a darkly-dressed figure stepping out of the shadows of the hangar. Liu’s blood boils as he locks eyes with the older man emerging from the dark, the man who sought to benefit from his father’s death, the man who consumed the Flying Dragon’s empire.

“I come bearing an olive branch,” the man says with a sly smile. “We need to talk about your futures…”


“…as Children of the Eclipse.”

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