Start Of A Series


colette_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif lance_icon.gif robyn_icon.gif

Scene Title Start of a Series
Synopsis Authorities arrive on scene to begin investigation of an incident suspected to be of anti-SLC-E sentiment, as noted by its calling card.
Date September 19, 2020

Searchlight Salvage

The floating white businessfront on the water is scorched black along its front. The lobbed cocktail that had shattered against the wood would have done so much more damage had an employee on-site not charged into the building through the back door to grab a bucket and pailed the fire out herself before it could do much more than superficial damage.

The owner of the business, when they'd called in to report the incident, remarked they were glad to have such quick-thinking girls working for them. There was still a need, though, to get whatever law enforcement possible out to document what happened … and begin to try figuring out who was involved.

The calling card the vandals— the arsonists— tagged along the side of the building was singed, having been the bullseye the thrown firebomb struck. But the scorched shape of it was still mostly visible, along with the other graffiti on the side of the building. So far, the scene has largely been left untouched.

The initially-responding officer is coming back up the gangplank toward his patrolcar parked near the levee when the first of the other vehicles start to arrive. NYPD veteran Hung Nguyen is still waving the Polaroids he's taken through the air to help with the processing when he comes up to shore. He sets the camera and photographs aside on the hood of his patrolcar, trusting the stillness of the morning air, before coming up to the car with the SESA agents. He leaves the hat of his uniform in the front seat of his car, opting instead for a friendlier approach. The shorter man nods affably.

"Glad someone could come by so early. The owner was pretty adamant this was anti-Slice, so, wanted to make sure you guys were looped sooner rather than later…" Turning back to look at the building, he gestures loosely to it with one hand, the other buried in the coat he wears against the September chill. "The employee who stopped the fire from spreading is down inside. I told her you all might want to get a statement from her, too, so she's ready for that."

Nguyen's mouth pulls to one side in thought. "Any questions before you head down?"

"Bunches." Robyn Roux's tone is somewhere between tired and sarcastic, though she offers a genuine smile to Nguyen in an effort to downplay the implications her voice carries. "But none of them as big as why he thinks it's anti-" Eyes close and she takes a deep breath. "Slice." She kind of hates that slang. But she's considered Old Guard at this point, a fact which is hilarious as it is insulting.

Pulling herself up and out of the car, she looks over at her partner and then to Nguyen. Eyes drift to the charred, floating wreckage and she sucks in another breath. "How safe in the, uh. building now?" Next, she drifts to the polaroids. "And what've you got so far?"

A second car pulls up, this one an unmarked NYPD vehicle, and the driver climbs out at about the same time Robyn does. Gray slacks topped with a black shirt, her badge on her belt, Lieutenant Harrison got the report across her desk and didn't like the looks of this. So she comes in person instead of sending a subordinate. As she closes the car door, she nods to the patrolman and waits — Robyn's already asking the questions that need asking. Elisabeth tucks her hands into her pockets, holding herself from interrupting with a bit of effort. Meanwhile, she also flickers a glance to the building, stretching out her ability to see what she can hear from here.

The slap of a second door closing from the car shows Elisabeth didn’t come alone, either. Detective Demsky takes a slow approach to the meeting, dark brows creased together with worry and lips pressed together in a thin line. The hand she has at her hip isn’t on a holstered gun, but rather the badge clipped to her belt. It isn’t hers, but it does have the name Demsky on it. It’s just older.

When Colette finally joins Elisabeth, there’s a look she fires over to Robyn that has the subtlest of eyebrow raises. She sees something. Knows something. But now isn’t the time. There’s something about this whole situation that has the hair on the back of Colette’s neck standing on end.

Lance opens the passenger side door and steps out, letting the senior agent talk to the officer on the scene as he looks over the damage to the building; focusing on the half-obscured mark, brow furrowing a little.

“I don’t recognize that tag,” he mutters to himself, pulling out his phone and bringing it up to take a picture of the soot-smeared paint. He’s lowering it when the other car pulls up, and he turns to look— a slightly relieved smile curving to his lips at the sight of two familiar faces, chin raising up in an affable sort of up-nod to the pair.

Officer Nguyen looks uncomfortable when the SESA agent suffers through the slang for SLC-E like she does. "Sorry," he apologizes automatically. "Is that not how they call it these days? My daughter has a friend who is one, tells me all kinds of things." He lets out a faint, forced chuckle and then turns to see the SCOUT officers— leadership and detectives— that are also on the scene.

He decides he better quit putting his feet in his mouth. Both of them.

With a gesture to the photographs on the hood of his car, he quickly segues back to topic. "I just went down and got some photos of the damage, what was left of what caused the fire— simple firebomb, looks like— and snapped shots of the graffiti. I imagine they'll want to paint over it pretty quickly. Detectives might've seen part of it when they drove up; there's some words on the side of the building, too. 'Pure Earth's greater than the SLC-E'… Not sure what the other one said. Wasn't in English."

The photographs have it plainly. Umano è il Primo. For anyone who watched the Itinerant Dawn launch, who had seen the moment when the Humanis First-come-Pure Earth terrorists unfurled their banner with that statement, it's something hard-forgotten.

"Building looks structurally safe, but if you're worried, there's a door on the back of the platform near the dock." Nguyen juts his head that direction.

And from the building, to those keenly attuned to distant sound, something floats back to them aside from the slosh of the platform on the water.

As Elisabeth stretches out her hearing, she picks up a couple voices from inside the floating office. Two young women. Both sound— very familiar, even if she hasn’t heard them in over a year. Not since after the Sunstone quarantine. “Have you been able to reach Eric?” one of the girls asks, making sounds that give off the impression of brushing and dusting.

“Not yet. You know how these phones are here. I mean, better than we used to have though,” the other girl laughs a little, sounding amused. “Did we have to call the cops? I mean that guy seems okay— but… we don’t know who else is gonna show up.”

“We only have this place because of the money they gave us to get a foot up. I think Blackburn was right in notifying the authorities.”

Liz knows both the voices.

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Denisa and Mala, from the flooded world. Eric had been Eric Doyle, their guardian— whoever Blackburn was, though, she had no idea.

"I do." Flipping through the pictures, Robyn huffs out a tired breath. "Human is first," she grumbles as a translation. "I think. I don't really know spanish, but the words are close enough to what I do know, and with the context of everything else…" And she'd seen it many, many times before, in several languages. Well, it seems pretty clear cut at this point. Offering a thankful nod to Nguyen, Robyn turns her attention next to the arriving NYPD officers.

"Looks like we have some old friends poking up their heads," is what she offers, passing over introductions or greetings in favour of getting to the point. She's feeling unusually direct today, it seems. Whatever she catches from Colette's look and appraisal of her, she chooses to keep to herself for now. "Just—"

There's a bit of a heavy sigh. "Just let me know if there's anything else we need to know," she offers to Nguyen. Looking back to Liz and Colette, it's her turn to quirk a questioning eyebrow. She won't know who either woman that awaits them is — while she may have heard that the two made their way over from the flooded world at one point or another from someone — probably Richard or Elisabeth — she certainly hasn't seen them, and it's been far too long to remember voices. A glance is offered to them, and then to Lance. Would he like to work with the officers and lead?

Elisabeth has no way of knowing the reactions that are likely to happen as they all get closer down the gangplank, although she does know that the likelihood of Lance knowing local alternates of the owners of those voices is moderate. She hesitates for a moment, uncertain the right response here. Pulling in a breath, she uses the same call-out used for boats in many places. "Hello the deck!" She lets her voice carry in ways that should be at least a little familiar to the girls — no shouting, just clear as a bell and carrying exactly to them and not out over the water.

She gestures for Lance to by all means precede them, if he'd like. She's all for giving the young man the training he needs to do the job. Rookies need hands-on! "Can't fucking believe it's been a decade and these fuckers are still at it," she mutters in disgust. Human is First her ass.

“Racism’s everywhere, always has been, always will be,” Lance tells Elisabeth in the jaded tones of someone who’s grown up being hated and reviled by such people, one shoulder coming up in a shrug, “If it wasn’t us, it’d be some other minority. Some people just gotta hate someone, Mrs. Harrison.” A beat. “Uh. I mean Officer Harrison.” Professionalism here, Lance!

At the motion - and the glance - he draws himself up and heads towards the back, calling out, “NYPD and SESA here, nothing to be afraid of. We’ve got ID if you need to see it!”

He has no clue who he’s about to see.

Colette reaches inside of her jacket, withdrawing her actual badge from the inside pocket to keep in her hand. After everything these women had been through the last thing they need is any amount of uncertainty. The good thing in this case is a badge that says SCOUT means some measure of kinship at the very least. If Humanis First or some fifth-rate knockoff was doing this, Expressive boots on the ground was the first step to mending wounds.

With Elisabeth here, Colette hangs back. Belatedly, she looks over and adds, “Figured we might be done with this flavor after lighting them up in the desert a couple years back. Guess an idea’s a lot harder t’kill than a person.” She takes a few steps backwards, looking at the surroundings with that kind of glassy-eyed blind stare that says she’s looking at the situation from multiple different angles.

It’s been so long, for Colette, that she doesn’t recognize Denisa or Mala’s voices.

While girl’s voices don’t change as drastically as boys as they grow older, they do still change as they get older, age and different lives aside, they were different young woman entirely than the girls that they had known— but there was still that hint, of those young girls, when they peek around the corners. It’s the eyes, the smiles, the way they hold themselves. Denisa had always had a life to her, joy, sneaking into Ferry meetings sometimes and playing in the snow without a proper jacket.

Right up until the feral dogs tore her apart.

Mala had an infectious smile and joy for life that, but a weakness from having been malnourished on the streets for so long— this young woman looked fuller, healthier, but the smile was still there, the joy in her eyes. And they recognize at least some of them. “Liz!” Mala says with a smile of excitement. They both look pleased at the sight of the traveller whom they had come with all this distance, even if they hadn’t seen her since they had stayed behind in KC after the quarantine and the signing of all the paperwork.

They hadn’t even given any indication they planned to settle in the Safe Zone, but— apparently they had decided to, eventually. “What are— “

They trail off, seeing Robyn and Lance. Both look familiar. But… there’s a moment where they look at each other, it’s cut off by a new sound, from the side. It’s a small fenced off area, like a dog kennel. A square of fencing, but it doesn’t contain anything.

A sliver of light slashes the air with a sound like a knife cutting down glass. The light rotates into a door and out steps a young blonde woman, with a big backpack on her back and a bucket in her hands, like she had went for supplies. The gateway rotates and closes behind her, with the same scratching sound. She steps up to the fence to unlock it. It has a lock on both sides.

Liz knows her too.


From the Wasteland.


She doesn’t even make it out of the gate before she suddenly drops the paint bucket, which thankfully does not spill, and gasps in surprise, staring directly at Lance, specifically.

Lucy had been much younger when she succumbed to the virus, it’s harder to recognize her as a teenager.

Officer Nguyen might be standing a good distance away, but the tableau of people down on the dock is still close enough to read the potentially awkward events about to follow. "Everybody knows each other then," he murmurs to himself under his breath, brows raised. "Possibly not in a good way."

But he hangs back, lets the SCOUT officers and SESA agents take things from here. Even if he's keeping one eye on them and another on the perimeter.

"It never goes away," Robyn remarks in a low voice to all three of her compatriots, though she stops as the others step up on the gangplank. "It just changes names." Cynical as it may, that's a truth she's had to accept through one means or another. There's always prejudice against someone, and… well, she'd already said the rest.

Shaking off that morose thought, Robyn huffs out a breath as she looks at the building's exterior. "Do you know anything about burns and accelerants?" This question angled at Colette, the SESA agent raising an eyebrow at her. "I know what the tags say, but… I'm not gonna rule out some evolved ability at play."

She lingers there for a moment, examining that tag, the gray ashen design. Her lips thin, and she sighs. "I hope this isn't another anti-evo gang taking Humanis First's bullshit and making it their own."

The blonde audiokinetic grins at Lance's brief stumble. "Lieutenant," she whispers in Lance's ear with a wink. Not that she stands on ceremony much around those she knows, but he's trying to do a good job and she wants him to be able to do so.

As they make their way down to the floating platform, Elisabeth's smile for Denisa and Mala is affectionate. Her relationship with them isn't excessively close — they are from the Flooded world where she had to hide in the walls for a while — but they spent time with Aurora and they were kids who never deserved what they were living, so she tried to make a point of looking out for them. She's known Lucy a bit longer. There is relief in her blue eyes when the girl also comes around the corner — Lighthouse Kids definitely stick together even through alternate worlds, as she's already seen. It makes her happy that they stuck together even as it enrages her that they're the target of anti-Evo hate. Again.

Moving forward, she doesn't bother to pull her badge. "Holy hell, you lot, why didn't you let me know you were here? Aura'd love to see you." Not to mention, she tries to keep an eye on those of her people who allow it — to help in this kind of bullshit, if she can. Her familiarity with them is obvious. It's just that she has no idea what happened to the local analogs of the girls and has no real reason to expect the reactions that are about to happen. She gestures to the building. "This is your place?" She sighs. "I'm so sorry." This is the kind of shit that she wishes she could ask Cassandra to stop in for. It would make the investigation a good bit simpler.

Lance flushes a bit at the further correction, but quickly recovers, making a mental note for the future to use the correct title. He straightens his shoulders and stance, adjusts his tie, and walks beside Elisabeth back towards the voices in the back with his best ‘professional’ sort of expression.

Of course, as soon as they come into view there are casual-friendly greetings being thrown back and forth, which rather ruins any hope of being formal about this. That’s not a bad thing; formality isn’t something Lance has ever really been good at.

“You know them, I take it,” he asks Liz, and then looks back to the two— no, three now, the appearance of the portal making him tense up for a second before he realizes it’s just one of the other residents. His gaze sweeps over them, and he’s given pause, brow knitting a little as something about them tugs on the strings of his memory. They look and sound so familiar but he can’t place them. It’s itching at the back of his head, which has his brow furrowing a little, but he pushes it aside. He needs to be professional.

“Hi. Lance Gerken,” he offers with a smile, holding up his federal ID, “Junior Agent with SESA, we’re here to look into what happened to— ”

The paint bucket drops, and he jumps a little, looking over to find Lucy staring at him, staring back at her, “—uh, are you alright?”

Vertigo hits Colette for a moment as she looks away, swallowing hard and wiping her thumb at the corners of her eyes. There’s a flush of emotional red to her face, a blotchy bleed of colors that rise off of her shoulders like the twisting of light in a soap bubble, but it’s quick to fade. Colette whispers, “Get your shit together,” to herself, though there’s no hiding it from Elisabeth.

Forcing a smile, Colette regains her composure and sucks in a slow breath through her nose. “Sorry,” she more audibly apologizes, showing her badge. “Colette Demsky, NYPD-SCOUT.” The formality out of the way, she offers an uncertain look between Liz and Robyn, then to Lance before swiveling a look back to the young women who live here. “You ah, you remind me of somebody I used to know,” she offers with a hitch in her voice, forcing another smile.

Because it can’t be them. Lance would know, she presumes. Lance is calm, so everything is okay, and Colette is jumping at shadows that exist only in her nightmares where snow turns blood red.

Realizing that Robyn is hanging on a question that she didn’t hear, Colette blinks a few times and offers a hushed. “Sorry, what— did you ask me?”

The two young women glance at each other, looking a little sheepish. “We wanted to try to make our own way I guess. We didn’t tell a lot of people when we decided to set up here. But how’s Aurora doing? She must be so big by now, kids grow up so fast when they’re her age.” It’s Mala speaking, grinning openly as she does, while Denisa frowns over at Lucy and Lance for a moment. She also can’t stop looking at Robyn, who looks so familiar— because of course they had briefly met Roux while staying among those under the flooded waters of Cambridge. “Yeah, this is ours. Usually someone’s here, but even we have to sleep sometimes. We don’t have any of the fancy cameras and stuff out here.”

So they didn’t have much to go on.

“Denissse— “ the name got drawn out a little longer than necessary, because, well, she was talking to Liz, who knew, and it almost slipped. “She got here just as it started to burn, so she was able to put it out before it spread too much, but— it’s weird that it only started to burn once someone got here, right?”

At that, 'Denise' speaks up. “Bastards, could’ve burnt the whole place down if they’d done it earlier. But maybe they didn’t expect me to run up and act quickly either. I’m not afraid of heat.”

Meanwhile, the blonde teen seems nearly dumbstruck, but slowly recovers as she watches him. Lance Gerken. Junior Agent. SESA. “You’re with— you’re with SESA?” she says with a surprised sound, but— “Oh, sorry, I— Lucy. I’m— Summers. Lucy Summers.” She blushes, and not because he’s cute or anything, but because she’s lying, and embarrassed about it.

Much as he'd like to keep eavesdropping, Nguyen's attention is called away from watching the docks directly when he gets a call. He cradles the produced cellphone between his ear and shoulder as he begins to round up the photos he'd taken. "Yeah, boss?" he answers the phone.

He frowns as he tosses the photos into the front seat, pulling out a notepad instead. "Sure. Go ahead. Where?"

"What you know about accelerants." Robyn affords Colette a concerned furrow of her brow, turning her attention away from the ashen tag. "You doing okay, Colette?" her voice is similarly hushed, quietly walking over to her friend and placing a hand on her shoulder. Concern turns to a friendly smile as she reaches up and ruffles the officer's hair very unprofessionally. "Get it together, Demsky."

Said teasingly of course.

Her attention turns to Lance and Elisabeth, fishing out her own ID as she approaches them. "Agent Robyn Roux, SESA." That's really all she gives for identification, offering the women a nod of her head and a smile. She doesn't want to otherwise interrupt Lance as he takes lead. There's certainly something unsettlingly familiar about them, but Robyn just can't quite place it. Instead, she turns back to Colette. "Anything grabbing your attention?"

It is only now that Elisabeth realizes that at least one of the party who came with her from other worlds would obviously recognize Lance. Lucy has met the one who fled the Wasteland with her. She clears her throat and offers the girls a small smile accompanied by a searching look — you gonna be all right?

"Honestly, I'll admit to being grateful you weren't here. Fuckers have been making noise a bit lately and things can be replaced. You can't," Liz informs them. "But despite the circumstances, it's really good to see all of you. Aurora's doing okay. I'll be happy to catch up with you after we manage this situation, hmm?"

She smiles slightly, knowing that this may wind up awkward. "Agent Gerken needs to ask a few questions. He's working on his field hours… think you can help him out?" She specifically meets Lucy's gaze — she'll help cover or deal with any gaffes. And if shit gets messy, well…. Robyn and Lance already know there are travellers. She's not sure that Colette does, but Liz would trust Colette with the information as well. So…

Lance slants a you don’t need to tell THEM that look at Elisabeth when she reveals his status, his nose wrinkling up a little. He’s trying to be professional and impressive, darn it all! He clears his expression quickly, looking back to the girls with that easy smile of his.

The staring and blush he completely misinterprets - because all young men want to think they’re handsome enough to make women stare - but he manages to suppress a private grin, instead clearing his throat. “Ms. Summers. Denise— ah, full names, please?”

He looks over the three women, “If you can tell me what you saw, if any of you saw anything? Have you had any recent threats or unusual encounters…?” He flips out a notepad, but keeps glancing at Mala and Denisa with a furrowing of his brow. Why are they so familiar?

“Accelerants,” Colette breathlessly exhales, “yeah. Yeah. I’m— I mean, a decent amount. Shit like this is usually done fast and cheap, you can tell the difference between something like a liquid accelerant fire and a solid block fire based on the way the fire spreads.” Slowly approaching Robyn, Colette looks up toward the scorched back half of the boat. “I’d need to get on board, but in these kinds of situations there’s only really two sides we’re looking for.”

Colette looks back to Robyn. “Whether this was a chemical accelerant or an expressive on. Just because there’s hate speech scrawled on the ship doesn’t mean it was a Non that did this.” Colette turns, taking a few steps closer to the boat. “Forensics will be able to tell you the accelerant type, procurement specifics, all that. But if we’re looking at an Expressive, that changes things.”

Turning to the ostensible owners, Colette motions to the boat. “Can we take a look inside?” They don’t have a warrant, so getting the resident’s permission is the next step.

“Ericsson, with two ses,” Denisa responds, leaning forward to help him spell it. While these young ladies didn’t know Lance well, they had seen him with Lucy and understood why their newest sister was blushing and looking embarrassed. The girl had been so worried about him making it to the sub with his family and she often regretted not staying with him like she had when they got separated from their family in Wasteland too.

The darker skinned girl with an Indian-American background continues to look on happily, though, gesturing toward the dock and small shop, “Of course. Blackburn said to cooperate fully. It’s pretty sturdy too, really. It always looked like that,” she jokes about the dock, because, well, except for the burn marks, it had always been about that run down. They would repaint it, replace some wood here and there, but the dock itself and the building seemed to be about as stable as it had been. “Luckily none of our scuba supplies were on site. If they’d blown up some of the oxygen tanks it would have been much worse.”

“Oh man, that would have been awful. And if we’d had the boats here…” Denisa shakes her head, thanking their lucky stars that they didn’t keep everything on site. Cause the oxygen alone could have caused quite an explosion.

In the meantime, Lucy nervously reaches down and picks up the paint and supplies again, still looking nervous. “Is Blackburn going to show up?”

“He’s taking care of a job— we offer some ferrying services as well as salvage, so he has the boats,” Mala explains to the officers and junior agent. “I hope you figure out who these guys are. Someone could have really gotten hurt.”

Robyn stops, regarding Colette for a long moment. Her expression twists into something between concern and annoyance, but such feelings are fleeting. By the time she looks away and back at the outer walls, whatever was brewing in her has faded, returning something a bit more stoic. A bit more practiced.

"I didn't know you knew our victims," is half mumbled by Robyn as she steps up to Elisabeth, eyebrow quirked up as curiosity fills her face. Several possibilities cross her mind, though none of them close to the truth of the matter. She finds herself saddled with a less uncomfortable feeling than the others, but that doesn't stop an odd sort of familiarity from gnawing at the back of her mind. It feels like memories wanting to bubble up, but unable to find purchase to break through.

Lips thin as she takes a moment to look out at the water, almost immediately peeling her eyes back to Colette. A deep breath stifles the suddenly rising sense of anxiety she feels. She's still not sure when she started being so uneasy near water, but suddenly she wishes she hadn't picked this particular call to respond to. "Yes. Inside. That would be…" Better. An improvement. Nice, even. For a given value of nice.

Elisabeth fights a smile as Lance gives her that look. Her blue eyes are watchful on the girls, but they seem to be okay with talking to the young agent-in-training — maybe except Lucy, but hopefully they're adept enough at faking it. "I didn't know I did either until I saw them," she murmurs in reply to Robyn.

As she glances between the three agents, the blonde can't help but think the universe is fucking with them all. Some people's lives seem destined to touch. "Demsky, if you and Agent Roux want to check inside and see if there's anything worthwhile to get forensics down here for, I can stay here with Agent Gerken," she offers. That way, both organizations are represented in both of the crucial spots.

Given the context, she expects that Blackburn is none other than Doyle, and she's grateful he made himself a bit scarce. That would tip the fragile balance that they have going on right now, with the Ferry-related people standing here looking at three of the Lighthouse Kids. She can only assume Denisa, Lucy, and Mala here were not around because no one is recognizing them. Yet. If there's any luck in the world, maybe they won't.

(Somehow even thinking that thought feels like a dare to the universe.)

"I'll check the outside of things so you guys don't have to deal with rigging or anything." She's got plenty of practice with seafaring these days, so has no worry about clambering over the outer part of the floating business.

“I’m glad nobody was hurt,” Lance affirms in agreement with Mala, “But it could have been worse than it was. We’re going to do everything we can to find out who did it, we take this sort of thing very seriously, I promise.” He flashes a quick smile, “Hopefully it’s just some misguided teenagers or something.” The alternative is worrying, after all.

“I do have some questions I need to ask - have any of you run into anti-expressive sentiment around here at all? Any harassment, any threats of any sort, or was this completely out of the blue?” He looks between the three, “Any ex-employees or anyone else that’s been causing trouble either? Anyone with grudges against Mr. Blackburn?”

There’s something terribly familiar here, and his brow knits a little, “And— sorry, this isn’t a professional question, but— have I met you before? You two seem really familiar.”

Lance’s question has Colette pausing for a moment. She feels the same thing, but dismisses it easier than Lance does. It’s a big city, but you’re bound to run into someone twice.

“On it,” Colette calls out to Elisabeth after she’s completed a cursory exterior view of the ship. Threads of bent light dissipate around her and she offers a look over to Robyn. “C’mon, we’ll see if we can find anything to give to the fire department when they turn this over,” she says with a jerk of her head toward the boat, heading up the walk toward it.

As Colette passes by Robyn, she hesitates and her brows pinch together and her head angles to the side in the way a dog might if it heard a very high-pitched noise. She looks back at Robyn, thoughtfully silent, then shakes her head and continues to board the boat. Robyn can only wonder what it is Colette sees, given the transformation she’s been going though.

Up on the dock, another car has rolled up, door sounding out in an echo over the water. Officer Nguyen looks up from his writing to see a journalist with a camera inching forward. "This is an active investigation, you stand back until we're done here," he calls out, one hand lifted in warning.

"Fucking Siren's here. I'll let the others know about this and then get back in touch with you. —All right, thanks." Phone slipped away, Nguyen picks up his notepad, issues a stern glare the direction of the journalist, then quickly heads for the gangplank to head down to where the other agents and officers are. With two of them slipping to look inside, and Lance occupied, it's Elisabeth he idles near.

"Hey, uh, as it turns out— there's been a couple more times that symbol's been seen around recently," he offers up as soon as he's within reasonable earshot of them and out of the reporter's hearing. "Someone called specifically to report one of them as vandalism. No other fires, though. Figured I'd pass at least that much along." He glances to the ongoing conversation and then back up to shore, keeping an eye out. At least with the crime scene being mostly on the water with only one way up and back from it, it was easier than normal to keep potential onlookers back.

“Yeah, nobody was really hurt, thank goodness!” Denisa responds with a grin, looking toward the other young women in agreement, even if, well, Mala’s giving her a look toward her arm that indicates that maybe she’d gotten at least a burn. Denisa was ignoring it, What was a burn on top of everything else? It wasn’t like it was that bad, anyway. “But no, as far as I know we don’t got any major grudges— we haven’t even been in town that long really. We just moved here from KC. And before that…”

She trails off, glancing at Liz, well, yeah. They didn’t really know many people around here. Mala pipes in a moment later, “There’s always some people who scoff at the idea of working with young women with abilities, even if we have our licenses. Den’s even SCUBA certified without her ability, her ability just makes things easier. Same with me. We each trained and went through classes on watercraft and everything anyone would need to to do this job. Not Lucy, but she mostly just handles the paperwork— did you ever get any threats, Luce?”

The inside of the dock office is smaller than they might have expected, with metal desks and locked file cabinets and a small safe. The safe is mostly undamaged, and also unopened, but the desk and the file cabinets all show scorch marks and damage from water and fire extinguisher blasts. There’s nothing really cozy about it, either, no major decorations, no pictures hanging up, just a small scorched clock hanging on the wall over the desk, counting down the time.

“We didn’t get any direct threats that I know of, no—” the blonde teen says, looking nervously at the sight. “Was this just because of our abilities?”

"Yes." The response comes quickly from Robyn. It sounds more definitive than it really is, of course there still needs to be a proper investigation. The graffiti, however, paints a pretty clear picture or is an even more clever misdirection. There's even a bit of a scoff tacked on to the end of it - of course it is. Do they live under a rock? Or have they simply been that lucky?

She doesn't stick around the elaborate, instead slipping away and after Colette and into the interior. Nostrils flare and she huffs out a breath as she takes in the acrid smell of smoke that still lingers in the air, eyes gliding across the room. It's small size is a boon, making it that much easier for just the two of them to look over it.

As she makes her way towards the safe, she offers a half glance back over her shoulder. "Out with it," sounds almost more like a command than a request, running a finger across the safe as she bends down to inspect it closer. "You've had something on the tip of your tongue since you got here." Both curiosity and a lack of patience have gotten the best of her, though she doesn't seem poised to press beyond that.

"The safe seems like it hasn't been tampered with," is a much more mundane and appropriate statement, eyes scanning for anything that looks out of place as she rises back up to her feet.

Turning to Officer Nguyen, Elisabeth has half an eye on Lance and Denisa while she nods to him. "If you don't mind emailing the particulars to me about that call, I'd appreciate it." She wants to follow up there and see if maybe there were any cameras. There aren't here. Jerking a chin toward the reporter, she murmurs to Nguyen, "Just keep him back. It's just vandalism, as far as he needs to know. If he gives you any shit, dump him in the drink," she shoots the officer a grin.

No, she's not serious, but cops and reporters are not all that friendly.

Then she turns her attention back to the girls, her tone gentle. "Some things are similar no matter where you live — people being afraid of what they don't understand is always a part of life," she replies. "But between us, we'll get you fixed up. And we'll have patrols down here a bit more often to help keep an eye out." Those are the things she can do on the job. But she also adds with a wink, "You also have friends who have things like security companies. When I'm off-duty, we'll talk if you want."

Despite the niggling familiarity she sees in The agents — practically all of them — Liz is still working on glossing over that sensation. But she's almost sure this is going to go sideways real soon now.

The trio ignored Lance’s final question rather blatantly, but that can probably be chalked up to them being focused on what’s going on— and after all, it wasn’t super professional to ask, right? He just pushes away that itching feeling at the back of his head that he knows these three, and instead takes notes on their responses.

“Yeah,” he agrees with Robyn after a glance to the safe, “This wasn’t robbery, seems a pretty clear-cut case of intimidation. I don’t recognize the symbol, but I’ll run it through the hate group database back at the office - it might be a new one, there’s always a new bunch of bigots just looking to cause trouble.” He’s trying to be extra professional now, even if that means talking like he walked out of a Law & Order spinoff.

He grimaces, but looks to the girls, “Do you have a— security system here? Any cameras…? Or do the neighbors that you know of? Might have picked something up.”

“It’s nothing,” Colette says as she files in behind Lance and Robyn, looking up at the ceiling more so than the floor as she walks through the cabin. It absolutely is something, but whatever it is Colette doesn’t seem inclined to bring it up with Lance following them. At least not more than, “Your hair just looks curlier than I remembered.”

A code, between friends.

“Not a robbery,” Colette opines. “Whoever these folks are, it’s a calling card. I’ll compare the arson database back at the Watchtower, forward any comparable cases over to SESA,” she says, stalking up close to Lance and Robyn. “With any luck they’re doing the same things, y’know? Patterns. Might be able to pin down an area.”

“Yeah, we should probably look into taking better security precautions,” Denisa agrees quietly, her lips pressed together thoughtfully. Lucy, at least, still looked skittish and concerned, moving abruptly and looking around as if wondering when the next attack might come, but she always had a hint of that to her— it had never gone away. She had thought this place was safer, but never had thought it was safe. “We don’t have anything like that. We didn’t even have electricity, really.”

“We’ll bring it up with Mister Blackburn,” Mala says. Cause while the girls might be the ones who are on hand to answer questions, while the owner was away, he would probably get the last say in most things. Even if he might just be a faceless owner, as far as things were concerned. He did exist, as far as the officers knew— he’d called them, after all. But that he wasn’t there might mean something.

Mala kept looking on as they talked, nodding in agreement that it wasn’t a robbery— nothing had been taken, “I feel like it could have been a lot worse. I’m grateful no one was hurt and that we didn’t lose anything important. We should be able to repair this in a few days. We already got the paint thanks to Luce.” Who offers a sheepish smile.

There's a look that lingers on Colette for a long moment, Robyn's eyes slightly narrowed as she regards the other woman with curiosity. "We should get lunch after this," is offered out lazily as she looks around the room at the damage. "Get Tasha. It's been a minute since we all got together."

With that offered, she turns around, looking to Lance. "Yeah, let us know what you get. This can't be the only time… and if it is?" She sucks in a deep breath and looks around. "It won't be the last. That's not how this ever works."

Unfortunately, Elisabeth is thinking Robyn is right about that. She grimaces and says, "We don't have the kinds of databases we used to, but I'll check around the Watchtower and see if any of the guys on beat patrol have seen smaller versions that didn't get reported anywhere." Neighborhood tags, chatter on the street that didn't seem to mean much at the time.

Her blue eyes are troubled as they rest on the girls. They've been through so goddamn much. She pulls a small card from her pocket and scrawls her private numbers on it along with the RayTech Security number and hands it to Mala. "You can contact the security number for a system too — tell Mr. Blackburn he'll get a fair price and reasonable payments, and it'll include getting you up and running with solar electrical." She knows they're unlikely to take charity but fair pricing and payments Eric might take. "Also, anything else goes on and you can't get to me on the personal numbers for some reason, security will make sure that I get the message immediately," Elisabeth murmurs for Mala's ears only.

Back to normal volume, she says, "We'll make sure patrols are more regular down here for you while we work on this, okay?" There's little else Elisabeth can do just yet.

But it's better than nothing.

After lingering longer than he meant to, Nguyen finally noses his way out of the exchange, heading back up the gangplank to establish a firmer perimeter on the crime scene and provide bland answers to the question he's sure the Siren reporter already has ready for them all.

He hopes to himself this isn't the start of a series of run-ins with SCOUT detectives and SESA agents. But he also knows that with the way this last year has gone, with the election ahead, that cases like these may only become more common.

Only time will tell how many come to involve the calling card they've discovered today.

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