Standards Of Humanity


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Scene Title Standards of Humanity
Synopsis As some people take advantage of the situation, others decide to lash out.
Date February 1, 2011

Roosevelt Island - Duane Reade on Main

It says something about the human race. It's seen in books, written down in the pages of psychiatric annals. People in situations like those who have found themselves cut off from society, separated from the herd and thrust into a frightening situations seem to fall into a couple categories.

There are those who band together, strength in numbers will overcome any obstacle and that together they can make it through whatever situation. Together they can ride this out, with the help of other humans they can endure through it all.

There's those who are selfish, who think only of themselves and what they can profit from. How can they turn this situation into something that will benefit them, with no regards to others. They will step over everyone to ensure that in the end, they will come out on top.

And then there are others who can't take it. Something inside them just breaks. Whether the crack was already there, a small fissure unseen day to day in life, when a situation throws itself in their face of this nature, they can't take it.

One day into the situation that is the dome and some of it can be seen already.

Roosevelt Island isn't that wide, nor is it so long. Grocery stores, corner stores, bodega's, they are in tremendously short order on this little mooring in the middle of the river. Gristedes is up near the Octogon, safely out of the dome. Liberty of Roosevelt Island is just outside the dome too, if you stand right at the barrier, you can see it down the street.

But on main street, salvation for those who want groceries can at at least go to the Duane Reade. Convenience store, pharmacy, opposite a starbucks and adjacent to the Riverwalk Bar & Grill, the store was late opening and when those who had gone in saw, they has discovered that the manager of the corner store wasn't one of the first group, or the third. But the second. Prices were quadruple, near extortion. Couple that with a skeleton staff due to most of their employee's being off island.

But desperation and fear are good motivators and the refusal to take credit or debit cards meant that cash was the currency and most of the shelves filled in the morning with canned good, food of all kinds and even the freezers and fridges were looking pretty bare.

But there's a rumor that there's still stuff in the back and even as the evening sets in and the restaurant beside has been doing brisk business and the star bucks is still pumping out coffee, there's a growing restless crowd outside the Duane Reade as only ten people at a time are being let in.

The crowd is thick, swolen with fearful and tense people that wonder when or where their next meal will coem from. People cut off from their families, cut off from the outside world by an attack (that's the word the news is using) but one that has done everything to divide the city beneath a shimmering, ephemerally visible bubble.

Gray skies overhead are darkening, and snow is collecting on the top of the dome, dark on the botom where light doesn't reach, looking like a gray-white blot that is steadily growing as the blizzard outside is kept away by the sphere's presence. Wind is diminished, the air is still and calm and haunting in the way it seems to make Roosevelt Island like some sort of inverted snowglobe, cut off from the rest of the city— if not the rest of the world.

Shouts had started in the crowd a half an hour ago, and they're becoming more vocal now. A young mother cradles her two children in line, looking up warily at the sky where the dome shimmers a faint blue on contact with the snow. On the sides of the street, a too-small posse of private military contractors in black uniforms stand together, two conversing with one another, and a third watching the crowd, assault rifle held casually up against his chest. On his shoulder, the emblem of a white circle and a red bird indicates what company he's from; Redbird Security Solutions, the other two bear a black padlock sigil on a gray shield, Stillwater Securities.

None of them look prepared for, or trained for, what is happening here in the dome.

Among the faces in the crowd, a wiry young man stands with his arms wrapped around himself; not for the cold but to stave off proximity with the other bodies pressed together in line for the store. Blonde hair is shaggy, uncombed, and his clothing is too light and too thin for this weather, more springtime attire in a long-sleeved t-shirt and torn jeans. COnverse sneakers scuff the icy snow underfoot, blue eyes watch the street instead of the storefront. Howard Phillips is looking for someone, being in line just gives him a reason not to be questioned for why he's loitering.

Luke is definitely one of the second group of people as well. He's not adverse to mugging people if he sees they have something he wants, he did that even before he was trapped in a giant bubble. The line is eyed with contempt, and yet for now Luke will be a good little boy and stand at the end. But if it doesn't move faster, well, he'll just have to do something about it.

Some people are a little more furtive and desperate - or at least possessing of forethought. Brand has been trapped without friends or a base of operations since the Dome fell. He spent the better part of yesterday finding some abandoned hidey-hole. Now? He's been abusing his Ability all day to filch supplies, cramming his new backpack full and ferrying it back to his newly secured maintenance room with its shiny new lock.

He blends into the rowdy crowd, making no waves as he slips through gaps that open up when he draws close. With his empty bag and ill-rested face, he just blends in anonymously with the crowd as they surge back and forth. Oh, the ebb and flow of his Ability helps too. If he could get to the front, he could get in for a run at this store - assuming it has anything left for him to filch. Oh sure, he'd pay the store back later, no doubt. Brand steps forward slightly, a puddle lapping at the dried bloodstains on his boots.

Three people leave and everyone moves up in spot, a couple more people come up to join the line behind Luke. This means that three more leave and Brand is just that much closer to the doors. But the Duane Reade isn't dumb, and those up front can see that when a person leaves, their bags are checked.

Stealing, is going to be hard here, even for people with abilities like Brands. In times of desperation no matter how short it might be, no one it seems is going to be allowed to steal a ten dollar can of soup or a ten dollar bag of spaghetti.

There's jostling in line though, someone dares to dart into spot in front of Howard and Luke, hunched shoulders and head down, hoping that people are too focused on the dome and the PMC's to notice that someone just jumped the line.

"HEY." Luke snaps when someone skips ahead of him. "BACK OF THE LINE." but he doesn't just say it, no, he grabs the poor guy by the wrist, then throws him back. And, well, if he got thrown a little past where the line ends, that'll just serve him right, no? Cracking his knuckles, Luke glares around. "Anyone ELSE wanna piss me off?"

An askance look of sharp blue eyes is all the line-jumper was going to get from Howardm right up until the aforementioned man disappears from the line by way of a dislocated arm and being hurled off of his feet. Blue eyes snap wide, a breath sucks in and Howard follows the blur of body as he watches the line-jumper bounce on the concrete, strike his shoulder against the asphalt and roll to a sudden stop, unmoving. A few dark spots in the snow show where his cheek and nose impacted the street.

Shouts rise up from the crowd, and Howard feels the surge of bodies press against him as people try to move away from the display of violence. Caught up in the crowd's momentum, Howard is pushed away from the doors of the convenience store, his sneakered feet scraping along the icy sidewalk. Arms windmill as he tries to keep his balance, pawing and grasping at other people pressing close, trying not to be dragged down.

A shout erupts from the Redbird Security officer on seeing the teenager hurl someone out of line. He had been watching a different part of the crowd, might not have even seen what provoked Luke. But he saw the end result. "Out of the line!" The RSS officer shouts, striding forward and flicking two gloved fingers in Luke's direction. The two Stillwater PMCs look back and forth to each other, then the crowd before they start to uneasily follow on the heels of the man at the fore. "You!" He continues, directing another point towards Luke.

"Out of the line, now!"

The scuffle sure gets Brand's attention. He sidesteps as Luke starts throwing people, or at least one guy around. His hackles rise, or would if he was an animal. In its stead, his Ability uncurls itself, sinking him all the deeper into the background, out of the spotlight all the more. A new response, too, is his gloved hand drifting down to one voluminous pocket. He gives the PMCs plenty of room to pass by him, and sidesteps to keep himself out the path of crossfire.

The response of the Duane Reade is immediate. Clunk go the doors, shutting and locking, leaving those inside stuck inside and those outside, out of luck to be let in. The polo shirted individual inside remains silent and scared, not daring to open the doors for fear of what might happen or the stampede.

The others in line are confused. What happend? Is that guy okay that the other guy threw? How did he throw someone that far and hard!?


It's soon spreading through the crowd and some people back away from Luke, bumping into BRand, bustling him about unintentionally. The situation is ripe, feet getting stepped on. "Evovled freak!" Someone in the crowd calls out. "Freak! Dome made by one of you!"

Man, the last time someone in Luke's vicinity started spewing racist(evolvist?) garbage, he fried the guy's balls and removed him from the gene pool. Alas, Luke doesn't have that power anymore. "Yeah, so what? What's a talentless idiot like you going to do about it? Get bent." and now he's got officers facing him, and he punches a fist lightly into the palm of his hand. "Oh yeah? And what are you planning on doing? Gonna shoot me?" he sneers, bending down to pick up… a rock. Sure, he doesn't have a gun, but he could throw that rock pretty damn hard.

Pointing done, the Redbird Security officer rests both hands on his rifle and raises the fat barrel of his M4 Carbine up towards the young teenager. "Lay down on the ground, right now! Lay down on the ground and fold your hands behind your head!" The barked order and raised gun, along with the hostility from Luke in return has the Stillwater officers bristling with anxiety, reaching for their sidearms instead, drawing handguns out but aimed down towards the ground for the time being.

They may not be on the same payroll, but right now it seems like they're on the same team.

Panic hits the crowd when weapons are drawn, and the presence of guns has people screaming and spreading away from the front of the store's now closed doors. Howard is jostled around by the movement, his wiry frame thrown against the front doors, wind knocked out of his lungs. As the crowd starts to disperse around Luke, Howard's eyes grow wider on recognizing the situation he's found himself in and that acerbic punk has thrown himself into head first.

"Lay down on the ground or I will shoot!" The bark of the security officer is met by a shout of frustration from one of the scattered civilians, a few citizens of Roosevelt Island not fleeing the scene entirely, instead turning to watch a teenage boy staring down the barrel of an assault rifle. Most of the people who seem even slightly indignant to the act probably didn't see what he did.

Everyone that can flee are fleeing, more or less. If they can. Brand has retreated, but not far. He casts his eyes around for something large and conveniently throwable perhaps. He's like to help out an Evolved friend in need, after all. They are all in this together. A box, a barrel, something….

Luke doesn't throw the first stone. Someone not fleeing, in fact going to stand with the teenager has a chunk of rock in his hand too. "Fucking Mercenaries! You're not the boss of us! Fucker cut in line he deserved it!" COllege age, maybe pushing it, dressed in clothes that aren't cheap, he winds up his arm and throws the rock towards the stillwater PMC just like the opening pitch to a football game.

Others aren't so brave and most have cleared out from behind luke and the nameless man for fear of getting hit by stray weapons fire. This could get hairy, and somewhere in the mess near howard, there's a lovely blonde creature in a teal knit cap who's suddenly clinging to him in quaking fear.

Luke throws his own rock right after the first one is thrown; his is with a lot more force though, and is aimed at the poor guy's gun. Hopefully, that means it'll be unable to be fired at him. And here's also hoping that the other guys are too scared to shoot him.

Brand seemed to have the right idea, though perhaps better execution in that he's waiting for the right moment, where passion and high emotion drives Luke and the other scattered ne-er do wells. Watching chunks of broken asphalt from the poorly tended streer be hurled towards the security officers, they seem unprepared for what to do at first. One rock pelts the Redbird Security officer on his helmeted brow, sending him staggering back. Another rock strikes a Stillwater Securities officer in the chest, then Luke's forcefully hurled stone misses the narrow target of the gun and hits the Redbird officer dead-center in body mass, knocking the breath out of his lungs and his feet off of the ground.

He lands flat on his back, gun still looped around his shoulders by its strap, but otherwise unattended. His legs bend, heels scrape on the pavement and a rattling breath wheezes in his lungs. Down on the icy sidewalk, the young man that Luke threw out of the way is slowly pushing himself up onto his knees, holding his face with one hand, blood trickling from between his fingersm his other arm cradled like a broken wind to his abdomen.

Watching all of this transpiring, Howard skirts along the front facade of the store, hissing and cursing under his breath, trying to get out of the way before this reaches the flashpoint he can see it going towards. One of the stillwater men lifts his assault rifle, screaming something at the top of his lungs, a barked hey or stop. It's lost over the noise of the crowd.

Brand's opportunity presents itself in a handful of options readily available to him. A few broken pieces of concrete and asplant from the curb are heavy enough to make a difference. A twisted length of metal that likely was shrapnel from the accident on the sagging and derelict Queensboro bridge is driven into the snow behind the security officers, a good four feet long and heavy enough to make an impression on someone. A few empty glass bottles sitting on the top of a nearby trash can would suffice too— or if he's feeling bold the entire metal trash can itself, though it's hard to tell how much weight is in it.

He's either going to do something now, or he's going to stand by and watch the gunfire.

The chaos is rapidly degenerating to a spiral that looks like it may well end in the fully automatic slaughter of the crowd. Brand sees it, and his heart thuds faster in his chest, his adrenaline begins to spike. His face goes pale as death as all the blood rushes to his organs and muscles, priming them for combat. A slightly shuddering hand pulls down his winter mask, and then the long hunk of steel is hefted. Strong, long - an excellent club. Its time now for life and death, and his Ability is screaming at its highest level. As he steps off the sidewalk, he is a black hole of disinterest, all but a hole in reality for any of the onlookers as he approaches the Stillwater guard with the rifle.

Its when he launches into the overhand swing that the power of his Crypsis falters - but it served him perfectly for the ambush. The twisted beam sings through the air, propelled at lethal speeds by powerful teenage muscle supercharged by adrenaline. Even a combat helmet might not stop such a blow - luckily for him the beam was aimed at his arms, which shatter like glass. The rifle falls to the ground, along with the steel beam in a clatter of plastic and the ringing of metal. Still running on adrenaline, Brand scoops it up.

His Ability still sings its siren song through the infected crowd, wreaking havoc through the subconscious and sensory nerves. The eye wishes to be drawn to Brand for the threat he implies, but at the same time incredible mental forces repel the advances with misplaced apathetic indifference. The constant back and force push and pull generates backwash and froth in and of itself as attention is diverted from Brand to whatever else can be prioritized.

They see not the man, but the gun - not the man, but the fallen soldier - wherever else the mind can be goaded to focus, it is driven as if by whips. On another front, memory is being scrambled and ripped out even as they are inscribed into the mental framework leaving gaping hole that will no doubt be filled in time.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and details imagined and reflected will fill those gaps in time. Odds are even that later the crowd would be unable to agree on the race of the man with the beam, much less his age or appearance as each person fills in from their own memories.

Brand gestures inexpertly with the rifle towards the PMC still standing. "Just drop your weapons and run, dumbass! They'll kill you!" He shouts it as loud as he can, the shape and sound of his words being ripped apart even as they are spoken - if not the thrust of his message.

Confusion sets in as Brand shatters the arm of that Stillwater PMC. The dazed Redbird officer on the ground has nothing to do but try to catch his breath and regain his senses, and the last of the standing PMCs now faces hurled bottles shattering against the street and walls of the store. Some of the people who had been waiting in line charge the door of the store, running up to plant kicks against the plexiglas, while others hurl rocks and pieces of broken concrete at the windows, shouting for the people inside to open the doors. Chaos has set in as quickly as it could have been avoided.

Somewhere amidst the carnage, Luke is able to slip away like a thief in the night, thanks to whoever it was that drew the security team's attention away from him in time to not be perforated by bullets — rubber or otherwise. Blending into the crowd of angered patrons and the riotous mob, Luke's departure leaves Howard wondering just how soon it will take for reinforcements to arrive, however many there are on the island right now.

The blonde looks back to the waylaid security team, watching the remainign stillwater officer pull a canister of tear gas from his belt, popping the pin and sending the canister bouncing along the ground, spewing noxious smoke that billows up white-gray into the air, the can spinning and rolling around from the release of pressure on the ground.

On his radio a second later, he's shouting for help to whoever will listen that's within the boundaries of the dome on the island. Maybe someone at the Suresh Center, maybe someone up by the Tram station. There has to be more here, and not just confined to Summer Meadows and its vicinity.

Unaware of Brand's heroism, Howard tries to weave through the crowd, stopping to look at people running by, then out across the street. Whoever it is he's looking for, they're not here. As he gets to the edge of the growing crowd, where rock throwing citizens are shouting obscenities at the store, there's a look of haunted familiarity on Howard's face at the scene. His lips sag into a frown, brows raise, and as he backpedals away from the carnage, he's reminded of home.

Heroism has been accomplished, and now Brand feels like he can leave. Looks like nobody is going to get shot. He slings the rifle onto his back and hot-foots it away from there. He'll unload and dispose of the rifle in the river or something later. For now though, he's leaving. His Ability cloaks him, every step of the way.

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