Together Now


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Also featuring:

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Scene Title Together Now
Synopsis It's the week of Thanskgiving in the Safe Zone, and some things have weathered change. Last-minute shoppers (as well as eager sellers) convene at Red Hook Market to prepare for the holiday tomorrow, and the air is filled with anticipation. … At least at first. Disturbances in the marketplace fill it with tension instead.
Date November 27, 2019

Red Hook Market

For how many people have been here the entire day, one would think Red Hook Market to have run out of stuff to sell. But like the people, goods keep coming in. A truck here, a dolly there, a boat by the docks— fresh and canned goods keep flowing in only to be sold out before long. There’s an extra effort being made to ensure there’s enough food here for every table, given the holiday tomorrow.

Not that certain onlookers are particularly aware of that.

"Wow, Baird," Seren murmurs to themself as they stand near the entrance, people-watching for a lack of knowing what better to do at the moment. "If it's like this now, can you imagine before the war?" The creature on their shoulder swishes his bushy, foxlike tail while he peers out at it all, cooing gently. The fins on the side of his face perks up while he lifts his head, crest parting it in two wiggling. His clownfish-painted foxface gawps in awe at it all, tiny paws adjusting to make sure he clings securely to Seren's shoulder as they reluctantly step away from the door, still struck by all the activity.

"So, I know we looked up a few things before we left… let's see what they actually have out here." Seren squints at some of the more impromptu sellers, wondering at the quality of some of their goods. (They suspect some of them may not be legal!!) "Bella is making the entree, so if we show up with a good side or dessert, I think we should be safe."

Baird coos on their shoulder, prompting them to nod knowingly. "Ah, that's right. And we need to find something for Orchid, too, since she's feeling down with the weather turning and all…"

Seren only barely catches themself from stepping right into the path of some children barreling through the crowd, both of them squealing in delight as they tear ridiculously dextrous paths between shoppers.

Seren’s not the only one almost knocked about by the children. Elaine wobbles off-balance for a moment, clutching the basket she has tucked under one arm. It’s currently about half-filled with sundry goods for making a holiday meal—but the quantities seem to be much smaller than enough for any sort of feast. Still, she seems determined to find all her ingredients, picking her way through various stalls to find everything.

She comes to a stop next to Seren, not quite having noticed their familiar face.

Seren does, though. On a lookout for any more potential collisions, they quickly realize just who is nearby. "Elaine!" they enthuse. "Hi! Fancy running into you here again." The fishfox Baird is just as excited, scuttling from one shoulder to the other to get a better look at her. His beady eyes show his excitement, impossibly nose twitching with sniffs at her person. "Baird's here too. We're sticking close to each other this time so we don't get lost like before! Isn't that right, buddy?"

A lifted hand scritches at the side of his face, and the creature sweeps his black- and white-tipped orange tail around the side of Seren's neck to give a similar brush at theirs.

Not everyone is looking forward to the holiday, to some it just reminds them of what they don’t have. It’s with much reluctance that Roxie has slipped into the Safe Zone, finding one of the many holes in the fence. She didn’t trust the guards at the gates. This trip had been a necessary evil. It wasn’t getting any warmer and she needed to look at options… reluctantly.

Roxie’s wanderings have brought her to the market. Hood pulled up to hide slightly unkempt hair, she wanders the edges of it. Despite the anxiety of being among so many people, her stomach clenches and growls at the sight of so much food.

Of course, Goober notices the food as well, vocalizing his hunger in soft whines from his spot in the pack, where his human suffers in silence.

Turning her head to look over her shoulder at the dog in it, Goober looks at her expectantly. He got the privilege of riding in the pack to keep his paws off the icy ground, but in the market…. It was warmer and Goober knew it. Kneeling, the pack is shrugged off and the dog removed. “Don’t get us into trouble okay?” After a shake that fluffs out his fur, the pup turns to the task of looking for yummy tidbits that have found their way to the ground.

Goober, with nose to the ground, leaves Roxie to her own devices and so she wanders the stalls, dodging people where she can. Already, her pack is stuffed with a blanket snagged from a home where it was airing out and a new plifered shirt for when Roxie could find a shower.

“It’s my two favorite shopping buddies,” Elaine says with a small grin. “I’m very glad Baird made his way back to you. I knew it’d be okay in the long run, things like that tend to even themselves out. I also like to think positively.” She shifts the basket on her arm, glancing around her. “Are you shopping or just getting out of the cold?”

Her attention momentarily is drawn to the dog wandering around, but then her attention is pulled back to Seren for the conversation.

The chill of fall has caused Niki to stuff her hands into a pair of gloves and wrap her fingers around a tumbler of coffee. As much as she doesn't miss her ability, she does miss being warm in spite of the cold. But the community is in need – isn't it always? – and she's settled in at a booth selling vouchers for homemade pies donated by area residents. The proceeds are meant to be invested back into community projects, which Niki explains repeatedly with a polite smile each time she's asked.

As good as it feels to serve – it's like she needs it sometimes – she'll be grateful when her turn is up and she's free to wander the stalls herself. “Slow down!” the blonde calls out to the children who stampede by, without any bite to her words. Kids will be and should be kids, but she's done her motherly duty by advocating for moderated speed.

Isaac Faulkner likes autumn. The sunlight's getting a little weaker, days are getting shorter, and these are both things that he approves of.

The cold that comes with it is… maybe not quite as welcome, but cold weather means long coat weather, and Isaac is all about that. He's wearing mostly black today — black shirt, pants, shoes, and, as a concession to the weather, gloves — but he's picked up a secondhand longcoat in a dusty off-white that, in his humble estimation, looks sharp. All-in-all he's pretty satisfied about where he's at right now.

It's the future that he's not so sure about, these days. There's the long-term, of course… but also the short-term. Thanksgiving. More specifically, Thanksgiving dinner. He could try to cook something himself, but he hopes to live at least long enough to see Christmas this year, and his culinary skills are probably not compatible with that ambition. He hasn't forgotten what Isis said, about her cooking, either, which puts him in a bit of a quandary.

He's wandering through the crowds, lost in thought, when a group of kids come tearing through the crowd, forcing him to wake up enough to avoid getting plowed into. "Watch where you're going," Isaac calls after them… though without any real malice. He'd never really gone tearing through crowds like that… but then, he'd made up for it later on, too.

And, on the bright side… he spies a booth selling pies. Or something to do with pies, anyway. It's as good a place to start as any, he supposes; he strides up to the booth, schooling his features into a polite smile. "Hello. You're selling pies?"

The market at Red Hook is a sight worth exploring for Shaw, whose experiences of Thanksgiving have swung back and forth, feast and famine, excess and terror. Especially this one, though, his first in this spot of the timelines. This one, he imagines is like a mixture of what would happen in a different war-torn New York in which his friend chose to stay behind. "Thank you," he says to a vendor as he sticks an especially long baguette into a weighty pack of goods and groceries.

And as he turns away from the booth, he freezes as children stampede around and past him. Two blinks and one reprimand overheard from a pie-voucher stall later, he looks down to see one remaining face looking up at him. A furry one. "Oh. Hi," he 'greets' Goober, and glances this way and that before bending down to gently extend a hand out and pet the wandering pup.

"We're shopping!" Seren enthuses excitedly, reaching into the pocket of their Raytech-branded coat to produce and shake out a folded-up tote bag. Now it's official, somewhat more than before. "We're having a sort of — Friendsgiving, I guess, with someone who works at Raytech with us." Because Baird definitely puts in his share of work, too.

They glance down into Elaine's basket with interest. "Can't decide what to pick up for it, though. Never had an American Thanksgiving before." Seren chuckles, and then their gaze wanders to follow where Elaine's had gone to, seeing the pup— and the man crouched by it. Their brow lifts. Oh. No hello is offered to Shaw just yet, a look of surprise lingering on their face.

Baird's already moving, though. He takes a leap from Seren's shoulders, batlike membrane appearing between spread limbs to assist him with gliiiiding over the direction of the dog.

At the admonition, the kids do end up slowing, one bumping into the other. They both giggle, one boy punching the bicep of the other, and they take a moment to catch their breath. A peer off back in the direction of some fresh goods across the way shows maybe the pause is only to plan more mischief, though.

When addressed, Goober’s tail wags slowly and almost expectantly at Shaw. The hand is sniffed with curiosity, clearly expecting a treat. However, sudden movement within his periphery startles the pup. What is that!?! Whatever it is, Goober doesn’t like it! He bumps into Shaw’s leg and backs between both and under a table. There, in the shadowed safety, he starts to wuff softly.

Roxie is busy looking over the food that has been put on display. It was hard sometimes to remember when food had been readily available. Some of the things on the tables had seen better days, but still looked good to her. Her path brings her toward a seller with more items than most.

While the vendor and customer haggle over the ‘ridiculous’ price of onions, Roxie eyes a stack of cream of corn cans, next to her. Teeth catch her bottom lip and worries at it. Should she? Could she? When she finally works up the courage to try and snag one, a voice speaks up behind her enthusiastically.

“Can I help you? I promise my goods are quality. No dents, perfect condition.”

The sudden voice behind her, startles Roxie who has been unknowingly caught in the act of stealing. To make matters worse, when she swings around to look at the vendor with wide eyes, her bag smacks into the tower of cans, sending them sprawling across the table and ground in a loud ruckus of sound that echoes through the market.

The vendor can only stare at their beautiful display of goods… dented and on the ground.

“Oh… oh shit! Oh god!” Roxie backs up away from the mess, face pale and that can still held in her hand. “I’m sorry.” A glance to the can in her hand, she drops it like it’s hot and rubs her hand on her jacket.

When the vendor turns on her, Roxie turns and rushes away from the table, pulling her hood further up on her head, softly whispering the words, “Fuck fuck fuck,” completely mortified.

“I could probably suggest a few dishes if you needed suggestions,” Elaine offers. “Lots of traditional dishes out there and even those vary based on geography. I’m trying to make a little of everything but it’s extremely difficult to measure everything down to single servings. I guess I’m resigning myself to having lots of leftovers.”

There’s a lot going on in the market right now and she’s certainly keeping a bit of an eye on it. She doesn’t seem too alarmed, simply glancing over her shoulder whenever there’s a bit of a kerfuffle.

“You can never go wrong with pie, though.”

“Yes!” Niki is quick to chime as she realizes she’s been approached again, shaken out of her woolgathering. “Well, I’m selling the promise of pies. If you buy one of the vouchers for sale, one of our generous donors will bake a pie just for you and deliver it to the location of your choosing tomorrow. Hot and fresh, and one less thing to worry about for tomorrow’s dinner.”

The councilwoman smiles wide at Faulkner, hoping her pitch is doing the trick. “All proceeds are donated to projects that benefit the Safe Zone. Like our community garden, or play space for the kids.”

Alas, there are no ready edible treats in hand for Goober. But that is remedied quickly via a quick search of other pockets from which Shaw extracts a re-wrapped nut bar primarily held together by peanut butter, all handiwork of the Wesley-Khan house with help from their agrokinetic adoptee. He starts to break off a piece to share when Goober scoots away abruptly from him. "It's organic," he promises the dog, but the flash of orange-black-white catches his eye enough that he turns to look in the incoming flying-fishfox's direction.

Owlishly blinking, he watches the fantastical creature's approach. But before Baird can be offered the bit of nut bar in his hand, the clattering of cans lures his attention away like everybody else's in the vicinity. Shaw stoops to pick up the few cans that have rolled his way and come to a stop at his foot, and straightens slowly. While Roxie rushes away, dark eyes follows her escape route. He doesn't move, though, given he's got some of the vendor's pricey property in his hands now.

Faulkner frowns thoughtfully. On the one hand, that's dropping off money for something that has a chance of not materializing. On the other hand, that's also getting a pie delivered, which means he doesn't have to carry a pie around while wading through this crowd.

The 'proceeds going to a good cause' bit is also nice, he supposes. The 'fresh pie delivered' bit is nicer still, and the 'not having to eat his own awful cooking' bit is best of all.

And he's always been a sucker for a pretty smile. Why not? It's a little pricy for his budget, but Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to splurge, right?

He smiles back. "Alright, I'm sold. Where do I sign?"

"Pie, huh?" Seren wonders aloud, right as they note Baird's weight missing from them. Their search for a pie table is abruptly shortened, head snapping to the soaring figment as he soars for Shaw. "Baird, I swear—" they huff as they take off after him, afraid of him creating too far a range between them. "Sorry, Elaine, I'll be back!"

Baird doesn't seem to mind the lack of treat, scampering after Shaw all the same as he chases down cans. He stops to sniff at one right as Seren kneels to pick it up, holding it somewhere between Shaw and the disgruntled vendor who waffles between chasing Roxie down to make her pay for the damage and recovering his goods before they're swept away in the flow.

Seren is oblivious to that much, and just offers the can to Shaw instead. "Hey. It's— good to see you?" It should be a statement, but instead comes out like a question, their uncertainty in how they should interact with him showing. Baird is much more friendly, a light presence that Shaw might swear he could feel as he scampers up Shaw's pant leg, and then clings to the side of his coat sleeve in a gravity-defying stunt. The little creature doesn't seem perturbed at all that the laws of physics indicate he should be falling, not lightly stuck to the coat's fabric.

The boys see their opportunity with the falling stack, though. Within a blink they've left their spots, surging past the fleeing Roxie and leaving a tear of air in their wake from the sheer speed of their movement. In the space of time it took Baird to make his upward crawl, the kids approach, snag a can each, and are off again before the vendor can even raise his voice.

And it's not him who ends up doing it first.

One of the boys has taken his eyes off the path before him, and barrels headfirst into a passerby, sprawling on the ground. The man he collides with lets out an initial oof, staggering and growling. "Hey."

Unlike Niki, unlike Faulkner, his voice carries malice. And an assumption, though not an incorrect one.

"Fucking slice brat, watch where you're going." He roughly reaches down to grab the boy by his bicep to haul him to his feet and catches sight of the cans. "What's this?" At the same time, a woman behind him shrieks and he nearly lets go of the boy's arm, but only just keeps a hold. "May??" he starts. "What's—"

The woman he apparently knows is recoiling in horror from a confused shopkeeper with a necklace pendant held in his hands. "He's— this man is—" A regular face in the pool of marketplace vendors, selling metal jewelry as always.

"Joe? May?" Another voice calls out on hearing the hubbub. Neighbors to them, perhaps. "What's going on?"

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself." the woman named May insists to the shopkeeper, voice still raised.

While Shaw is distracted by the flying thing, Goober sees competition for the treat and darts out to snatch the offered piece from the man’s fingers before it is stolen! The clattering can startles the pup again hides under the table, before running after Roxie. Time to go?

That might have been her plan, but the kids zipping by has Roxie coming up short and whipping around to look back where she came from with a wide-eyed look. “Shit…” The word is stuttered out in a sudden surge of fear. She should have known there would be evos there. The young woman finds a place to wedge herself, somewhat out of sight, with a table obstructing view of her. Crouching, her arms instinctively open for Goober to jump into.

“This was a bad idea,” Roxie whispers into the dog’s fur, clinging to him like a lifeline… hunger momentarily forgotten for all the screaming, leaning from her spot to watch warily as the woman starts to accuse the vendor of something.

Red Hook Market always had something going on, Elaine had long since noticed. Today being no exception, she was at least ready for something unexpected to occur. It was always a gamble on what. While the yelling certainly has her attention, her glance in that direction only lasts for a moment before it shifts instead to Roxie as she slips more out of view. She pauses for only a moment.

Her feet carry her over to the table where she hides, quickly turning on her heels to stop just in front of it—blocking the last little view someone might have of Roxie. “You’re alright,” she says, not looking in her direction. She instead casts her gaze towards the chaos.

Faulkner's eyes flicker towards the sound of the crashing cans, but he's trying to ignore it… at least, until he hears the words 'fucking slice brat'.

In a way, it's interesting — how certain words, delivered in a certain tone of voice, can grab attention like nails on a chalkboard. Those words have certainly grabbed Isaac's attention; there's a flicker of something in his eyes, his head turning towards the sound of the disturbance, a faint remnant of the pleasant smile he'd had earlier still on his lips, but not quite touching his eyes.

Now he's watching. He's not sure what the woman's on about, but hopefully at least it's a better strain of assholery than 'fucking slice brat'. Ugh.

Shaw briefly, helplessly watches Goober snatch the whole nutbar away, wrapper and all, but it's fine. He's not offended, but rather looks slightly concerned for the loose dog running around the marketplace. But then, Seren's there. "Hello, good to see you too." What awkward hesitance on their part isn't reflected back as Shaw accepts the dented can from Seren despite knowing the can belongs to neither of them. Baird's upward crawl onto his sleeve distracts from the other going ons, and he looks down at the creature, head tilting as if mimicking the angle of Baird's upside down view.

At least, until the scolding nearby. Shaw's not heard the terminology, but he does understand malice. He's heard that tone used in a variety of situations, none of them good. Concern rising, he straightens up from his interaction with Baird and peers in the direction of the angry man. The shriek startles him, his brows shooting up in alarm, arms clutching dented cans closer by reflex. A quick scan of that vicinity finds a second familiar face. Shaw takes a step towards Faulkner and the Niki's pie table, wondering aloud to his co-worker, "Isaac. What's happening?"

“Great! I—” Niki’s intention of signing Isaac up to receive one of the offered baked goods is cut short by the sudden commotion in the market. First the cans, then the shouting. “Hold that thought,” she requests, index finger raised to indicate the moment needed.

Climbing to her feet, Niki leaves her post at the pie stand and dithers only a moment before deciding first to address the man who’s still got his hands on the errant child. “Joe,” she addresses in a mild yet warning tone, “you need to let him go.” She can address the fact that the kid’s stolen some food later. Probably by paying for the goods herself and letting the kid run off home. And while this is her main focus, she spares a look toward May and the shopkeeper, wishing she had a fellow councilperson around to help calm tensions.

At least the power hasn’t gone out?

The disgruntled man, Joe, whips his head back at the sound of a challenge. He almost argues back before he recognizes her. "Councilwoman," he greets as much as protests. But ultimately, he realizes he doesn't have a lot of ground to stand on and lets the boy's arm go roughly. The kid takes off all too quickly, fleeing as fast as he can back to his friend, one can dropping to the ground while he makes off with the other.

"Lady, what's the issue?" the shopkeeper asks, trying to get an understanding going as politely as possible. Someone pointing down at him, Karening him like this is trying his patience, though. He rubs his thumb over the pendant in his hand, starting to smooth the surface of it over.

This only incenses her more. "What you're doing is disgusting, is the issue."

Now he's reaching his limit, pushing himself to his feet behind his stand. "Now, you wait a minute here, lady…" he starts, putting the pendant down. The metal is uneven, pushed more to one side on the back, a result of him leaving the alteration he'd been working on half-finished. "You came here to my shop, and I was doing what you asked."

"Well I don't want it anymore. Certainly not from the likes of you." May's words bring the shopkeeper's brow to climb in offense, forehead arching up under the beanie he wears against the chill. He might say anything, but Joe has swept up to her side. "Honey?" he's asking. "What is it?"

"This man's a…" May's hissing goes inaudible, but it's not hard to fill in the blanks. "… is what it is!"

Seren finds themself turning in the direction of the hubbub, a frown pulling at the corner of their mouth. Baird continues to cling to Shaw's arm as he moves off, crawling across his back to set his head just over his shoulder to peer at Faulkner with a quiet coo. His head turns when Seren's does, though, fins flipping out from face in alarm. He's in tune with the dread the proceedings instill in his friend.

"They let people like that work here??" Joe is appalled as much as his wife, recoiling from the shopkeeper who's as perplexed as he is offended at this point.

"This can't be happening," Seren murmurs to themself. "Not in the open like this."

May shakes her head. "The shame of it all. An abomination just flaunting itself like that. Right in the open!" Joe's neighbor and a friend approach, asking what's wrong. When the news about the jeweler is conveyed in hushed tones, one of the men turns, the shopkeeper agitated but quiet in the face of the group huddled in front of his tables now.

"Get out of here, slicey," the man in flannel whoops. When the shopkeeper doesn't immediately move, the man responds by putting a hand under the table and flipping it. The goods and stands atop clatter noisily on the floor, rings scattering. His friend follows suit, knocking over the display on a second table.

"You're not welcome here. No one wants you here. You should leave."

"Hey, asshole— I've been working here longer than you've been standing here, and nobody's had any complaints before!" The shopkeeper plants his hands down on the remaining table to keep them from flipping it, too, or at least to try. The handmade metal jewelry, many pieces altered with his ability, clatter in their cases as the struggle over the table ensues.

"Maybe because they've not had the guts 'til now!" The man in the flannel insists, louder even than before, continuing the struggle. "But I'm not afraid of you." His friend joins him in an attempt to overpower the shopkeeper.

Distressed, Seren looks away from the scuffle to find Baird. Their eyes are wide with uncertainty as they look between Faulkner and Shaw, approaching them quickly with an arm outstretched. "Here," they direct Baird, who leaps from Shaw's shoulder to Seren's arms, body camouflaging the dark color of their coat the moment he reaches safety.

Well, looks like the pie vendor — Councilwoman? — had the same thought he did anyway. Good on her. Pies can wait.

At the mention of his name, Isaac's eyes flicker to the side, then back to the action… then he turns his head, surprise flickering on his face for a moment before fading into an honest grin. "Shaw? Ha, you shopping too?" He doesn't notice Baird — his gaze is already trying to drift back towards the ruckus, and at Shaw's question he turns his head back that way; the mess that's unfolding seems to be getting worse by the second. "Bullshit," is his answer, delivered in a low, tightly controlled voice, cold anger clearly audible in his voice. "That's what's happening. The same old bullshit."

The first table flips, and Isaac's jaw tenses… but the sound of another familiar voice draws his gaze back once again, and he finds yet another familiar face. "Seren," he says, a momentary grin touching his lips. "You too? I was just trying to do a bit of Thanksgiving shopping, in the hopes of not eating my own cooking…"

Alas, not a lot of time to enjoy the chance meeting, not when these assholes are starting to flip tables. His head turns at the clatter, and now they're starting to try to flip another one. Nope. Fuck you, assholes, he thinks, and reaches out. There, where the table legs meet the floor — there are shadows there. It's a bit too far for him to reach easily — which is good, because if he was closer he might get noticed — but it's close enough that he can reach if he really focuses on it. He wills the shadows beneath the table legs to solidify, to stick the table legs to the floor; it might not be enough to stop them if they get more people on them, but it'll at least make these assholes work for it. "Do me a favor and don't let anyone cold-cock me," he murmurs, pitching it low enough that Seren and Shaw are probably the only ones who can hear. "I'm a little distracted."

Roxie is so intent on what’s going on down the way, she is startled as her line of sight is suddenly blocked. “Wha—!” The young woman starts to protest, a few choice words in mind for them, until she looks up. This stranger was just being nice and protecting her. In a whoosh of air that puffs her cheeks, Roxie stalls the tirade of insults.

“Yeah,” comes the begrudging admission. Roxie’s mouth half buried in her dog's fur, as she grumbles out the word.

Then all hell breaks loose.

The term slice is new to Roxie, but it doesn’t take much to figure out it meant the same thing as evo did while she was growing up. As voices rise, Goober’s ears perk forward and he starts to growl, straining in his person’s arms to see the threat.

As the first table goes over, Roxie decides to return the favor, reaching up to snag Eliane’s shirt tail and attempting to pull her into the hiding space. “Gonna get yourself fuckin’ killed standing there.” The action, gives Goober the opening he needs to act.

With a loud bark, Goober launches himself out of Roxie’s arms and barrels after the men behaving badly. Roxie tries to stop him, but only manages to catch empty air. Leaving her to watch in horror as the smallish yapping pup tries to nip at one man’s ankle, attempting to snag a pant leg to yank at. Bad man!

While the table-flipping does get Elaine to back up slightly and consider ducking into Roxie’s hiding nook, it’s Goober that attracts her attention. Oh no. That certainly could not have gone any worse. Unless there was a full on bite…

Elaine doesn’t think about that.

“If that guy’s going to be an asshole to people, I don’t think he’s going to have much patience with an innocent dog,” she says, reaching a hand towards Roxie to help her out. “We’d better get him before there’s some kind of ignorant asshole-on-dog violence.” She says this with certainty—it’s not Roxie’s problem. It’s their problem. Maybe it’s not her dog and maybe she’s only met Roxie but this is where she’s casting her chips.

Niki’s eyes get wide as she watches the scene unfold. At first, she felt relief when her presence was enough to convince Joe to unhand the kid, but now he and his partner are picking on someone their own size. Normally, this would be where she takes the high road and tries to talk people down. Uses her words.

Fuck that.

Shouldering her way through until she’s between the small knot of bigots and their target, Niki puts on her fiercest expression, hands held up in front of her with the order: “Stop!” Those palms make contact with the front of Joe’s shoulders, shoving him roughly back. “It’s your kind that aren’t wanted here. Your hate has no place in our Safe Zone.”

It’s been a long time since she’s been in a scrap, but Niki’s itching for one. Go on, pals, escalate this one.

With Faulkner's assessment of the situation, Shaw also bears witness to the group of people coming to disrupt the jeweler's setup. Shock first, at seeing tables flipped and further merchandise scattered. Dark eyes widen at the bullying he witnesses unfolding, spurring his next decision.

Baird's return to Seren frees him up, and Shaw sets the dented cans he's carried onto the pie table. "Please watch these," he requests of Seren politely. Alas, they will also have to help protect Isaac too. He steps rapidly towards the two men who flipped the jeweler's tables. As Goober runs up and bites at ankles of one men, and Niki manhandles Joe, Shaw reaches behind him and grasps the end of the baguette in his backpack as if it were the handle of sword. The long shaft of bread pulls out and swings down, aimed for the back of Flannel Man's head.

"What the—"

The shove to Joe's shoulder has him pushed away from the other two, bewildered as he looks down at Niki. He just shakes his head at her, scoffing, "It's their fault a war even happened in the first place, otherwise we'd still have a New York, and not a Safe Zone, Councilwoman." He doesn't put up a fight directly against her, not yet, at least. But he looks right past her to where the other two are having trouble.

"The hell, where did this dog—?"

That's man number two, giving up on flipping the table because Goober has a hold of his pantleg. "Get it off, get it off!" And so May surges forward, crouching and grabbing Goober by his scruff and collar to yank him back with all the force she can muster. "Come here, you…" she grumbles, stumbling back.

The man in the flannel continues to struggle with the table that honestly should have given way by now, at least stuttered more than it has. Especially when the shopkeeper starts back and lets go of it entirely, and the table only jumps up a little. Admittedly, that's partly because flannel man is wondering what the hell else is going on, turning back…

To get a faceful of baguette.

The most injurious part is probably how shocking an improvised weapon it is. It crunches against his forehead, crust scratching his face in annoyance. It also doesn't help Shaw hit him with considerable force, and that the sturdy baguette surprisingly doesn't crack in half on impact.

Damn you, hard bread.

It crumples, though, under his grasp. Just a lot. Just like flannel man's pride.

He stumbles back into the table, falling onto it and sending it askitter. The shopkeeper jumps again at that, believing he's about to be attacked, and throws a punch for the head. Joe surges forward then, shoving Niki as hard as he can to push her out of the way and get to Shaw. He readies a swing for the face.

Seren frets as they watch it all play out, holding onto Baird as he nests camouflaged against their chest. Shaw's request to watch over Isaac and the cans is one rapidly adhered to, mostly because it's easy enough. The actual vendor of canned goods lets out a shout as he sees the punches start flying nearby and abandons his wares to start rushing to his neighbor's aid, leaving Seren the only one keeping an eye on things.

And as they watch Elaine step forward again, their heart jumps to their throat, encouraging them to move, too. But a look back at Isaac and his concentration has them hold for now, only anxiously watching the brawl that's begun to break out.

There is a worried note that vocalizes in the back of Roxie’s throat as everyone attacks the evo hating jerks. Indecision on her own actions keeps her planted, even as Elaine tries to help her up. The tug drags her attention back to the woman trying to help. Fear finds her jerking her arm out of the red-head’s grip. “Are you fucking insane? Someone is going to get hurt!”

Almost as soon as those words leave Roxie, Goober is yanked back and his yelp is loud in the enclosed space. He’s been hurt, struggles against the collar in the woman’s hands, he coughs and cries for help.

At the sound, Roxie is instantly on her feet, pushing past Elaine, while swinging off her pack. she might be willing to let the humans beat each other up, but hurting an animal? That is a whole different thing. The teen is furious as she rushes forward, hood sliding off short cropped hair and exposing her to the world.

“Hey Bitch!” Roxie shouts as she swings back that pack. “Get your fucking hands off my dog,” Roxie snarls bringing that heavy backpack back around - with all her pilfered goods (;_;) with all the force she can muster. All of it aimed at the woman hurting her dog.

The councilwoman stumbles back when she’s shoved. Internally, she curses the fact that she no longer has the literal power to hold her ground when that sort of thing happens. But superstrength or no, she will not be bullied by these hateful cowards and she will not allow them to bully others on her watch.

Regaining her footing, Niki mentally squares with herself that she’s comfortable spending the night in jail for assault and the political backlash that’s going to follow.

With both hands, she reaches out and grabs Joe by the back of his jacket, wrenching him away from Shaw in mid-swing so that he only catches air. “I have had it with being polite to monsters like you!” she shouts as she roughly forces him back around to face her. “You aren’t wanted here!”

Niki pulls back her fist, hesitates for only a fraction of a second —

It’s okay. That pumpkin pie will be delivered to her mother’s for dinner tomorrow whether she’s there to receive it or not.

— and lets it fly straight toward Joe’s face.

Isaac's expression relaxes a bit when the goon seems to give up on flipping the table… then, as he releases his focus on the shadows holding the table legs to the floor, his attention returns to what's going on around him.

Well. Here we go, he thinks, eyes widening a bit as he sees what's happening. The Councilwoman appears to be the kind of civic leader who isn't afraid to sort things out by hand on occasion — good on her — and Shaw… Shaw appears to be trying to fight a racist lumberjack with a baguette. What the actual fuck, Shaw? he thinks, more amused than anything else. Great idea, bad implementation.

But there's not much to be amused about here. The way things are going someone's going to end up internet famous, and that's something that Isaac's just as content to pass on…

…though letting Shaw get killed by an angry lumberjack would also be bad. Hm. His attention turns back to the fray, watching. As bad as things are at the moment, there's plenty of opportunity for them to get worse… and if they do, he has no intention of being caught with his pants down if he can help it.

There wasn’t really much Elaine could do at this point. She takes a good couple of steps back, assuring herself that she wouldn’t be in the way of a stray swing. She does stay light on her feet, though. Years of being in the wrong place at the wrong time have given her enough insight to know that things can go south at any moment. Or even south of south. Or even more southerly than that.

Yeah, she’ll stay back for now.

The rounded stare of surprise that Shaw gives the Flannel Man shows he really hadn't expected his opponent to crumple like the dented baguette held in baseball bat style grip. The surprise leaves him open for the crucial moment of seeing the incoming fist but not being quick enough to duck, though his luck would have it there's a councilwoman-angel saving his face from a mean hook. With the scuffle escalating, his assesssment shifts away from Joe to the other trio, to the crushed baguette in his hand, to the struggle between Roxie and May.

"S-Stop," he utters, softly, then louder again, "Stop!" With a whip of his gaze around him, Shaw narrows his eyes with a focus on his ability, a curtain of blinding darkness invisibly reaching out to steal the sense of sight from everybody immediately around him.

May isn't exactly pleased to be suddenly holding a mutt of dubious origin that might start biting her, so she continues to hold Goober by his scruff, trying to get her other arm around him. She's almost got a solid grip across him when shrieking Roxie surges forward with her well-stuffed bag as a weapon. May is hit right across the shoulder and arm, stumbling and crying out, but maintaining hold on Goober while she tries to get her balance. At least until her vision goes out. Then down goes Goober to the ground, unceremoniously dropped from about three feet high. "I can't see! Joe, help, I can't see!"

Joe was having trouble with that even before the sudden, total blindness, nearly cold-cocked by years of pent-up frustration for having to politely manage people like him. Vision swimming, he tries to get Niki off of him, hand to her face to push hard. It's even more frantic when the lights go out.

Flannel man ungracefully slips off the back of the table he'd tried to flip earlier, finally accomplishing the task he'd set out. He's dazed, unmoving as he hits the floor, but the shopkeeper is standing over him ready to punch again anyway. He swings, and misses, hands suddenly needed to brace himself instead as his vision goes black. "Wh—?" The other hooligan and the canned goods vendor continue to tussle, even blind, scrabbling with each other and shouting incoherently.

The other bystanders who are caught up in the curtain of dark that falls let out murmurs of unease, shifting around carefully as they try to figure out what happened to the proverbial lights. Seren, just outside the range, looks on with curiosity. Their neck cranes forward and color slowly returns to Baird as the danger seems to be mostly? defusing with whatever's happening.

Just in time, too. One of the kids is back, leading a uniformed officer by the hand while two more trail behind. He points. And in that instant, the officer sees everything he needs to see.

"NYPD, stay where you are!"

When the woman doesn’t immediately let go of Goober, Roxie prepares for another swing of the bag. Shaw’s call to stop is totally ignored, she couldn’t let this lady hurt her friend! “I said…!!!” The world goes dark. The hell? The bag flies from her hands, as her grip loosens when confusion descends.

Blinded, she doesn’t see Goober dropped, can’t reach out to grab him. He doesn’t see the ground rising up to meet him. Doesn’t know how close until he impacts. There is a yelp of pain as his lands wrong on his leg and his jaw scraps on the ground, teeth snapping together. What happened? His mind is filled with fear and confusion, backing away from the darkness until he bumps into Shaw’s leg. Startled by the sudden obstacle the instinct for flight kicks in.

Run away!

Scared and in pain, the dog bolts away on three legs. Bumping into people and things along the way. Even when his vision clears the injured pup hobbles on, panicked, looking for a place to hide and lick his wounds.

“Goober?” Roxie calls for the dog, fear in her voice. Rubbing a hand over her face, Roxie tries to rid herself of the darkness. When it doesn’t work, a thought sinks in. This wasn’t natural. “Goober?!?” Roxie calls in pure panic, but he’s not there anymore..

But the police are. SHIT!

Everything was going wrong. Why did she come here?!? She should have never left the dead zone.

Roxie doesn’t care that she can’t see, or that they don’t want her to move; she couldn’t afford to get caught. What if they found out? Even disoriented and blind, she tries to run. With an upended table in her path, the young woman won’t get far. “Oof!” Stars exploding in front of her eyes and the wind is knocked out of her as she hits the ground hard. Her booted foot caught on the leg.

Dazed, Roxie can only lay there as Police descend on them to make their arrests.

'NYPD, stay where you are' sounds like an excellent cue not to be in the area, as far as Isaac is concerned. Shit. Sorry, Isa, he thinks. On the bright side, Shaw didn't get killed… but at this point he thinks it's pretty unlikely that he's gonna be able to keep him out of trouble.

But… maybe there's still someone he can keep out of trouble. His gaze flickers over to Seren, and he jostles them lightly with an elbow. "Time to go, I think," he murmurs. It's not that he doesn't trust government authority figures, it's just that he doesn't particularly trust government authority figures. Also that he doesn't want to waste time dealing with this mess and, in the worst case, spend a few days eating jail food (even if it would be better than his own cooking).

Just on the periphery of where the darkness meets the light, Elaine is temporarily blinded. She freezes, not from the police yelling but so as not to cause more chaos than needs be. While she can’t observe what’s going on with the others, she can certainly still hear people stumbling and panicking. Unfortunately, in her position, there’s not really that can be done. Especially with the darkness there.

There’s a grunt of surprise and frustration as Joe’s hand slaps against Niki’s face and pushes hard. She squeezes her eyes shut to avoid getting jabbed with a finger. When she cracks one open again, she finds she can’t see anyway. Her hold on the front of her foe’s jacket tightens for a moment, just to assure herself that he’s still there, as though the hand on her face isn’t a clue.

The call to freeze does nothing to stop the riled councilwoman, who lets go in order to flail her hands at the arm outstretched toward her, beating fists against forearm. “Enough!” she hollers, even though she’s the one doing the hitting still.

Unlike those around him, Shaw is still capable of watching results of his induced blindness. Anybody looking his way from outside the field probably can deduce the origin point eventually, but the ensuing chaos of wild swings and yelping pups and bystanders alike might cover things up. Might.

But at least it seems like people have stopped. Most of them. Gradually, the blinding field shrinks back and vision starts to return from the outer most parties to those closest to Shaw. He starts, stutters in a retreat, before finding Roxie dazed on the ground. There's a moment's indecision, torn between better instincts to run from authorities and leaving a young girl behind to them. He decides. Stooping, Shaw reaches out to help Roxie up at least to a seated position instead of prone.

By the time sight returns to those scrabbling or already down in some way, the police have more or less descended on the group. An officer goes to separate Joe and Niki, yelling ma'am for the most part, given Joe is just trying to pry himself of the Counciloctopus wailing on him. A second goes to shout down the canned goods vendor, who's just as agitated as Niki is. He lets go of the rabblerouser, but jabs a finger in his direction, yelling loudly that him and his friends started the whole thing. He wants it known.

Cradling her shoulder, May looks left and right as her vision comes back. She's alone. She sucks in a breath at seeing the police, and slides a step back. Maybe she can slip away into the crowd. She rolls her shoulder as she inches away from the scene one step at a time, still facing it, but gaining distance. She's basically in the perimeter of people ringing the scene. Practically home free.

Until she turns, finding a middle-aged woman with thick curls of hair standing in her path wearing a stern expression. "I don't think so, honey," the woman warns. May tries to sidestep and bolt for it, but Rosario Alicea steps quickly into her path. "This is all your fault." She doesn't raise a hand, but steps forward into May with a presence that drives her back from the crowd and toward the cops. "Hey there, officers," Rosario calls cheerily. "The one who started this whole disturbance is this nena right here, don't let her fool you."

When May starts to protest, a man nearby lifts his voice in agreement with Rosario, who squares her chin and stands her ground. Another voice calls out, trying to add details. "Yeah, her and that guy…!" And then there's a clamor, the group ringing the upended tables closing ranks to provide a better perimeter than the cops could have done on their own. Hands are waved, gestures made, each person more loudly than the last trying to ensure each bigot gets their due.

The message is clear, echoing Niki's earlier declaration: it's them who aren't welcome here. Together, their voices ring out in cacophonous unity for that cause.

Seren breathes a sigh of relief, anxiety they didn't realize they were projecting starting to seep away from them entirely. They look to Isaac at their side, then back at the cops who seem to be treating everyone involved in the scuffle equally. Biting their tongue, they reluctantly step back to follow him. Baird climbs up their shoulder and curls around their neck, camouflage fading so his bright clownfish colors return. The way the crowd rallies against the anti-SLC-E sentiment gives him the encouragement to flourish again, and his summoner the confidence to let him move freely.

But man, had that been tense. Looking one last time back at it all, Seren then turns to Isaac to ask, "The holidays around here always this lively?"

Safe Zone Siren
November 29, 2019

A vandalism incident at Red Hook Market Wednesday evening lead to a number of arrests being made following the disturbance. After a vendor’s tables and merchandise were overturned, allegedly over the vendor’s SLC-E status, a fight broke out between instigators and onlookers. Among those confirmed arrested is Safe Zone Cooperative Citizen’s Watch member Niki Zimmerman.

Tension in the SLC-E community continues to remain high following the terrorist bombing of the Itinerant Dawn launch earlier this month, and incidents like these are doing little to ease fears of continued assaults. In the Safe Zone alone, since November 8th there has been a marked increase in reported crimes that involve anti-SLC-E sentiment. The Safe Zone Siren reached out to both the NYPD and SESA for a comment regarding these incidents, and as of the time of posting, has not received a response.

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