Through the Cracks


butch_icon.gif danko_icon.gif felix_icon.gif joseph_icon.gif


BJ NPC'd by Raquelle

Scene Title Through the Cracks
Synopsis Working hours and conditions that fall far short of optimal finally take a detrimental toll on Humanis First's vigilance. Even terrorists get sleepy sometimes.
Date September 17, 2009

Monmouth County Jail

Natural light filters in pure white through the barred window of neighboring cells, deceptively cheerful in its play off concrete walls cracked and worn a smooth, uniform grey above a waist-high band of neutral blue. The floors are clean, for the most part - large drain grates worked into cement flooring every so often likely responsible for that. The cell entrances are barred over as well, chained and padlocked where the original mechanism is chewed over thick with rust. The hallway outside looks exactly like the interior, smooth and lifeless and flat, stretching on for God only knows how long before the next locked door looms out of cold sunlight to cut off any hope of escape.

It's moving day at Monmouth County Jail. Too many phone calls made from the interior. Too many tire treads and polished boots wearing increasingly well defined tracks in and out. Too many glimpses of freedom out of barred windows or open doors.

The assembly of prisoners being marched out of cells, patted down and shoved into line is a sorry one. Felix in a wheel chair that hasn't seen use since 1960 with his hands cuffed lazily in his lap is the caboose. Joseph ahead of him, wrists bound behind his back and ankles shackled close enoough to restrict his stride. BJ's ahead of them both, still groggy-headed with the fading smudge of a sedative they've been using too much of, hands bound and feet free. They're all dirty, tired and variably starved, depending on how well they've gotten along with what little food has been provided to keep them stringing along.

At the head of the line is Butch, assault rifle slanted lazy over his left shoulder, right hand wound slack through a leash. A great black dog drowses shaggily along at his side, well-fed and familiar.

It's early enough that the prisoners' feet are the only ones dragging, and there's still a molten warmth to the light that filters in through what few narrow openings they pass on their way down the cement of an arched hallway. Two masked marines with rifles keep the line hemmed in against the wall to their left, one all the way behind, another to the right. Neither of them looks or sounds to be all the way awake — what little communication there is comes in mumbles and mutters and grunts.

Most significantly, owing to miscommunication or mishearing or maybe just the ungodly hour — no one has a bag on their head.

Joseph's foot steps only drag thanks to the shackles tangled up around his ankles, otherwise— he wasn't asleep enough to rouse. Concentrating only on the unfamiliar pace he's forced into, in an attempt not to trip, he has his eyes down at the floor as he's led out into the hall. There will be no running, today. It seems like an age ago that he'd been bolting down the hallways, out into the yard, a frantic race of all these details around them save for the fact he'd barely even seen them in the frantic race— a memory that is vague enough that it could well have been a dream.

But there's the sound of creaking wheels, and the shuffle of smaller feet, and the scrabble of claws. Chancing a look up from the ground, Joseph glances over his shoulder towards Felix, his expression mostly featureless before he swings it back forwards again. BJ is not called out to, not immediately, breath catching high up in Joseph's throat, guilt constricting.

And then of course his dog, and her lazy attention and floppy ears perked uselessly forward. It's all he can do to not greet her, out of all of them, eyebrows going up in some surprise. Turns out, Joseph doesn't need to— the Newfoundland dog lets loose a deep and guttural bark that both pierces the sedate quiet and scrapes an echo off the walls.

Joseph bites down on the urge to tell Alicia to be good, but he does wake up a little further, casting bleary attention ahead. Recognising the route, maybe, or trying to.

It is, to all immediate appearances, a corpse in a wheelchair that's bringing up the rear of this macabre little procession. Handcuffs are really sort of unnecessary - there's not enough strength in Fel's fever-wasted body to give a healthy cockroach a run for its money, let alone pose any threat to the armed men escorting them.

His head lolls limply to the side, and it's even money he's conscious enough to know he's being moved. At least one until one blue eye cracks open, rolls like a marble to try and track on something definite.

BJ will never do drugs…more than likely. She's groggy and was half-dreaming about being at home and watching the monkeys on TV while Diana slept and Daddy and the Werewolf did not make-out on the other end of the couch because that is gross. And Daddy says weird things in Japanese and that Spanish language about things that she doesn't understand and more money gets put in the jar and then everybody eats pink ice cream and dances in tutu-no…that's the part of the dream she usually wakes up. But if she wakes all the way up…the bad men will come back…she's going to stay half sleep here and stumbling along…it's hard to be short and 8 and have to kick somebody's ass. It really is.

They're getting close to the exit, now. Close enough that there's a splash of red and orange light pooled in the shape of a wide door across a span of hallway some twenty paces ahead — the opening itself obscured by the edge of an unturned corner. Fifteen. Ten.

Alicia's bark rebounds harsh off concrete walls — echoes back twice before it fades under the scuff and drag of reluctant footfalls. A wind breaks in at a rush; billows dust dry across otherwise clean swept floors. Four paces. Three.

One. They round the corner, and beyond the wide open spread of double doors, a black van is waiting ahead of the dead black carapace of what looks a lot like the front half of a helicopter, rear doors open to expose paired benches and a computer monitor white in one a far corner. Alicia sees it first. Then BJ, then Joseph. Felix is last, wheelchair creaked out into the dawn sun's creeping warmth at a snail's pace.

Unfortunately, the helicopter and the van are not alone. A compact man in black fatigues they've all had the pleasure of seeing before waits with a clipboard balanced between gloved hands, and boy does he look pissed when Butch rounds the corner with an assload of unbagged prisoners. Grey brows hood into a level flatter than the desolated horizon at his back, fuzzy burr bristled on the tail of a softer breeze while he looks the lot of them over and immediately crosses left boot over right to head their way.

"The hell are you thinking, Godspeed?"

"Whaddya mean what the hell am I thinkin? You told me to let 'em get a little air on the way out."

"They can breathe through the bags — " one is jerked stiffly off the loop of Butch's leash arm as Danko advances on BJ, " — and I know I told you to shoot the dog yesterday."

"He likes me!"

"She." There's a sort of nihilist recklessness to voicing something out loud, rather than just ducking your head and ambling along. Out here, in the yard, with fresh air setting a grain to clammy skin and the sunlight soaking in all directions as opposed to one filmy beam through a barred window. It's fleetingly familiar. Joseph squints his eyes against the dawn-light, focuses on the vehicles, on the guards, on Danko.

And stops walking. Restricted steps come to a stubborn halt somewhere between the way out and the waiting van. Joseph's heart doesn't beat any faster, sluggish and weary. It didn't even skip at the news that his dog was meant to be shot like a— well. A dog. It's tiring, being herded like cattle.

Well, now Fel's awake. And got enough muscle tone to turn his face to the light of dawn, like a sunflower. It's as if the guards, Danko, the waiting vehicles, all aren't there. He's fairly sure this may be the last time he sees it, last time he breathes open air.

Focus on the voices…that was the Jeezus man wasn't it? BJ's little mind stutters and flips and churns and she blearily tries to take in her surroundings and she sees Danko. "Morning James and the Giant Stupidhead." Groggy glower and tiny sway but she's on her feet, eyeing the things coming up and getting scared and starting to cry at the notion of shooting a dog. "Don't be su-such a meanie."

"He's a dog. He likes everybody." Danko is not impressed. He's not impressed with Butch, he's not impressed with Joseph's correction ('She' gets a sideways glance sleek and grey as a reef shark rounding on a stir of movement under loose sand) and he's definitely not impressed with BJ, who gets a burlap sack jerked down over her (stupidhead) face with maybe just a little too much force.

"He doesn't like any of the other guys. Tried to bite Simon the other day — nearly took his goddamn leg off." Butch squints speculatively out into the sunrise, takes in a great sniff of irradiated New Jersey air and stoops to lean his rifle against the wall so he can shuffle around in his fatigues after a smoke instead.

In the meanwhile, Danko's retrieved the other two sacks and is now advancing on Joseph at a clipped pace, Felix eyed past him with all the fleetingly annoyed focus deserved of a hostage who may not survive long enough to be publicly executed.

"Male or female, the dog dies. Not that I don't appreciate the distinction, given that we are an equal opportunity terrorist sect — "

"Are we officially terrorists now? Like — officially?"

At close quarters, Danko's brows adopt a hopeless tilt while he rocks up onto his toes to see Joseph's burlap bag jerked down over his eyes.

Joseph doesn't quite go into reverse once he's stopped walking, although every hint and cue of his body language dictates that maybe he'd like to. Shoulders bunch and tense beneath his shirt, and he seems, as ever, to readily accept to the blinding, stifling addition of the burlap sack. As far as captive Evolveds go, he's been a patient one, sometimes even tolerant. His gaze breaks from Danko's slately pale one when it doesn't really quite meet his anyway—

And shifts to squirm away when the bag is brought up to draw over his face. It only takes one correction of a hand, the tenuous connection between pastor and the hate-criminal to spark up at Joseph's will. Familiar to Danko, his head is promptly filled with vision that has nothing to do with a disgruntled precognitive and the desolate outside of Monmouth County Jail. Sounds erupt inside his own skull that allude to a future, not a present.

Meanwhile, Joseph staggers to the left, barely catching himself to continue standing as shackles correct the gait of his feet, his hands in fists where they're drawn behind his back.

Even a snared and throttling weasel has one last bite in him. Feverish, starved, and maimed, Fel's a shadow of his former self. The fool pushing him didn't secure him -to- the wheelchair, nor his hands behind him. Acts of negligence, acts of mercy, it doesn't matter. His legs don't work beyond the hip, but he can still find strength and a fraction of his unnatural speed enough to round on his guard, rear up, and latch fingers onto the unfortunate HF! guard's throat. It won't kill him, won't even knock him out - but there'll be some desperate moments while he tries to detach the crazed and dying man from doing his very best to tear his windpipe out bodily with bare hands. He's got no idea what Joseph's doing, none at all. If there's conscious thought, it's that he can possibly earn a quicker death, out under the sun.

"NO NO! Don't you DA-AEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!" That bag goes over her head and BJ protests rather loudly, shrieking and stomping her foot, or trying. She's doped up folks. And going a tad rabid as she runs towards the person closest to her, head down like a little bull. With a bag on her head, tripping over her own feet and staggering but there is force there! Somewhere. Yep, look guys, a distraction.

It's not uncommon for a prisoner in chains to balk. Odds are it's something Danko's seen and felt before — tension mounting unseen in worn out muscle, like a horse about to buck. He drops the clipboard still hindering his left hand with a clatter to grip at Joseph's shoulder instead, prepared to manhandle the priest into the near press of the wall if need be. Unfortunately, he's a just a little stiff on that side, and the wiry he strength he tries to summon into a shove is also roughly en absentia with the bag only half on and everything going dark.

It's odd, the way he pauses next. Stops everything, silvery irises and wide pupils turned off in a blank aside after something no one else can see. His grip on Joseph's shirt slacks; his boots shift enough to keep him standing on inelegent instinct with the pastor as an anchor. Too odd to escape the notice of the armed marine loitering nearby. He lifts his head and checks over with a gruff, "Boss?" to which there is inevitably no answer.

He steps closer.

…And is summarily dead-legged in the thigh by the little round rock of BJ's head at ramming speed.

At the front and back of the line respectively, things are not going any better. The marine Felix has wound his claws into is gasping, gloved fingers grasping for purchase at the collapse of his own throat even as he flings his rifle aside and wrenches at his sidearm insead. A garbled, "FFfhkkk — " would probably be enough to alert his brothers in arms if they weren't already otherwise occupied. Having only just lit up, it's all Butch can do to keep his cigarette clenched in between his teeth when he sounds off a sharper "Fuck," and slings Alicia's leash down to scramble for his rifle instead, his shadow jagging long and black through orange pooled across the back wall.

Ten seconds of ignorance and now everything's gone to hell.

As Danko is summarily transported to the future, at least in mind rather than body, and he's rendered blind and deaf, Joseph takes the opportunity to— well, stagger. It's all Joseph can do to stay on his feet even as one shoulder hits the other man's in an effort to wrest free, greater weight thrown forward and hindered from going much further with the shackles. Burlap slips free, falls to the ground.

Presented with something that imitates freedom, it appears as if everyone had something of a similar idea. Alicia, however, does not make a bid for freedom when her leash is slung away, only giving a whine and backing up from all the chaos, tail tucked between her legs.

Fel's honestly not sure what he intends to do. He can't run. He can't even walk. It's only going to be a moment before the bigot who was playing chauffeur pulls that pistol and blows him into his next life, or another rifle butt sends him spiraling into unconsciousness. But maybe, just maybe, he can kill one of these goons before they kill him.

And in that moment, he fishtails, trying to use the weight of his ruined legs to bring down both the rusting wheelchair and the man he's clinging onto like a drowning rat does a branch. All dead weight hanging off hands gone spidery in their thinness. His teeth are bared, and there is the light of a complete lack of sanity glittering in his eyes.

WHAM! The Cambria genes come in handy, she's got a hard melon and she growls as she flops like a little fish, squirming and working on getting her hands free. She wants to go HOME damnit. Then bag will be next if she can get her hands free in time. FLOP FLOP, flip, squirm flop. Home home home home home. "I'm SORRY I argued Science in Sunday school!" Just in case Jesus is also around and listening cuz his employee is here.

It's Joseph that gets the rifle butt. Big and black and slapped up under the chin like a hardened — hammer — it rocks his crossy-eyed head back nearly into the wall before cutting back down to brick stiff into his sternum. Butch's eyes gleam brackish green behind the jut of his cigarette, down'n'dirty excited that these assholes've decided to give freedom one last futile shot.

Danko is — well. He's around. A couple of feet off to the side looking faintly bewildered with brows knit and one hand drifting slow to the back of his head while Felix and Marine tangle eel-like over and out've the wheel chair and BJ is flung aside like Bride of Chucky to flail and wrestle as she will. That the bag should be loosed and shaken off in the process is no surprise — it was too big to start with, and when gentle sunlight bleeds warm back into vision that makes sense, there's a big black nose snuffling wet and dimly worried at her hair.

As for where the dead-legged marine went, he blips back onto the radar in the form of a boot applying its tread solid to the side of Felix's face half a beat before an errant bullet ricochets down off the ceiling.

Joseph's head snaps back, misses the wall before it can become something like a pinball machine of concussive blows, and a grunt is evoked when the weapon slams into his chest. It takes about that much to crumple him - nothing breaks but it may as well, the brunt force rocking him back too far for shackles to compensate and colliding pastor into wall. Steps to correct himself only drag him down, knee hitting asphalt and blooming blood red into expensive fabric.

One leg kicks out with the other, a by now scuffed black shoe aiming to hook and catch about Butch's ankle— and that's about all the fight Joseph has left, slumping back and rolling his gaze towards where Felix might die soon and his dog is snuffling around his friend's daughter. Breathing hard and dizzied, his jaw numb rather than in pain, for now, impossible amusement tickles up his chest in something that's almost a chuckle and doesn't really get there.

That'd've put down someone in far better shape than Felix. He's a crumpled heap on the asphalt, and there's that terrible stillness there that means he likely won't open his eyes in this world again; he doesn't even seem to be breathing. There's blood under his nails, though, from where he clawed Danko's marine, fingers still loosely curled. Maybe he won't make it to the noose after all.

Hands free, bag gone, BJ holds on to the bag with one hand and the other pets the doggie and then carefully the drugged up spawn of Glam Daddy carefully climbs up on Alicia's back, whispering softly. "We're going to go get an BK-47 (she doesn't remember what it is called) and a boot to shove up stupid head's boyparts…" She promises and pets some more, snuggles against the dog, clinging and, trembling as she catches glimpses of more bad thing…then Murmuring. "GO go go go…" She's got her doggie horsie, kthnx, holding on to that bag and the leash like it is the reigns. Home, that's where to go. Horror, more horror than a girl her age should see she's caught glimpses of…she's learned new bad words and probably lost weight as well. Now she's riding a dog, and crying.

The marine Felix had been busy trying to kill isn't doing a lot of moving himself — down for the count with one hand at his bloodtorn neck and the other slacking away from the click and clatter of his sidearm against the dusty floor. Whatever he tries to curse comes out as a leaden rasp — Felix's limp and maybe even lifeless body levered off his chest with another stiff hook of that same dread boot.

Butch trips, stumbles, catches himself with his shoulder against the wall over Joseph's near chuckle just in time to turn the near accidental fall into an intentional one. Before Sumter has a chance to pull in a breath to replace the one spent on dire good humor, there's a marine sitting sprawl-legged on his stomach to bounce around a bit in any softness he might detect there 'fore he settles in enough to hook the rifle nose into the join at jaw and neck.

Danko's the last to rejoin reality at a hard blink and an unsteady waver over to one side, pale skull gone all the more blanched for the muzzy damp of something warm and sticky blotching through the flank of his fatigues. Butch on top of Joseph, one marine down and another dragging Felix back into his chair by the collar, a spent casing glittering gold across the floor. His eyes cast over it all without a chance to get focused before he twists back to the open door and the transports beyond — all empty.

"…Where's the girl?"

That's a good question, one Joseph isn't going to answer as Butch's heavy weight settles firm on his stomach, driving air out of his lungs for a moment, hitching over the gun angled against his throat. Arms trapped into the small of his back. The back of Joseph's skull hits the ground dully as he settles back, awaiting the inevitable manhandling. He could curse Butch with the same plague of chaotic images of the future he cursed Danko with—

But would also like his head still attached to his neck, when all this is done. At Danko's brisk question, the pastor is quick to glance in her former direction once more, both eight-year-old and dog departed. It's a small satisfaction that she's not there. No doubt she'll be hunted down again, dog and all. Freedom is cheap and fleeting.

Black eyes tick back up towards the compact man. "Welcome back. You don't look so good," sounds flat and sullen. Takes a breath through his noise, words gritted out. "See somethin' bad?"

Where is the girl. Both mostly conscious marines concede to look baffled at the question, with all manner of glances this way and that and at each other. The obvious answer is that she isn't in here, and it's all Danko can do not to shoot both of them when Butch punctuates their silent 'dunno's with a tentative single-shouldered shrug.

"Call the other van back and get the chopper up now. I want a sweep of — " Christ, his side hurts. He creeps his left hand over automatically to apply pressure after rent stitches with an unpleasant squish against his ribs, only to shake the worst of it off against the black of Joseph's eyes and gritted taunt. So far as big raggedy holes in your thorax can be shaken off with a chilly, (slightly miserable) look and a twitch at his brows. "I want a sweep of the entire area. I want her found."

Emile wants a lot of things that he's probably not going to get. But his marines are moving anyway — all but the one catching up on a little much needed (if ill-deserved) R & R on the floor while he remembers what breathing feels like.

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