Water Below


brynn2_icon.gif colette4_icon.gif daphne_icon.gif gabriella_icon.gif gillian2_icon.gif isa_icon.gif squeaks4_icon.gif scott_icon.gif vf_shaw_icon4.gif

Scene Title Water Below
Synopsis Information begins to trickle in from the journey to Czechia and those who stayed behind are given a one-time opportunity for answers… or revenge.
Date July 11, 2021

There’s very few holdovers from the days of the Ferrymen. The safehouses and shortcuts the network used were either destroyed during the war or turned into public memorials in the years that followed. But, if you know where to look, there’s a handful of bolt-holes still kicking around in the periphery of New York that neither survived the war, nor were co-opted into cultural memory.

The Bronx was never integrated into the plan for the Safe Zone due to the tremendous damage it took during the war and its proximity to the Manhattan Exclusion Zone. In the years that have passed, the Bronx has become a new “Staten Island”, a refuge for the criminal, the forgotten, and the hidden. Most of the Bronx’s post-war activity happens underground in a literal sense, leaving the overland stretches mostly uninhabited.

Much of the Bronx looks like a war zone, even today. Bombed out shells of buildings crumbling from nearly a decade of abandonment and disuse. One such structure is a five-story brick tenement building covered in faded graffiti. Buildings on both sides of it are flattened to the ground, leaving sloped of jagged rubble climbing the walls. Inside, only a few floors are still structurally sound enough to occupy, though no one does.

This tenement building has been abandoned since the Ferrymen left it before the onset of the civil war.

Which makes it a perfect meeting place.

Gun Hill Apartments
Ruins of the Bronx

July 12th
10:17 am

There is a faded mural painted on the second floor foyer. It’s hard to tell what it is now, but a long time ago Eric Doyle put a significant amount of thought into it, and the residents of Gun Hill all contributed. Now, it’s just an unrecognizable blur of faded colors on crumbling plaster. But some people remember, even if you can’t see it anymore.

Colette Demsky places her hand over a painted palm print on the wall. It’s hard to tell that it was ever a turkey, but she remembers the day in November they painted it. She lowers her hand from the wall, frowning, and steps away to look at the people that are coming up the stairs. There’s a heaviness in her expression, both from being back here and from knowing what she has to relay.

“There’s nowhere t’sit,” Colette says, choosing to lean against the wall beside the faded mural, “just don’t lean against the railing. Ain’t safe.”

Nearly all the faces of people coming up the stairs are unfamiliar to her. But Colette is relatively well known, even if only by association with the Ferrymen and Wolfhound. Less so her work with the NYPD.

The dour-looking older man with Colette is Scott Harkness, even less well-known among those who weren’t directly working with the Ferrymen. “Sorry for the haul out here,” he apologizes, “but operation security means not having you all come parading around the Bastion again. I got word from my boss who took your friends overseas about a… complication. We’re gonna relay the details to you and let you all decide what to do.”

“Far as anyone is concerned, I wasn’t here and I never heard anything.” Colette says quietly, crossing her arms over her chest. “I took some leave, lending a hand in Nicole’s place since she ain’t here right now.”

Scott glances at Colette, then nods in agreement. “Same here.”

Getting here was hard for most people, but especially so for Daphne; the crumbling ruins make for uneven streets, which makes for rough going in a wheelchair. She’s made it to the meeting place with the help of her crutches and Gabriella Milos, who stands nearby with her arms crossed and looking angry.

Daphne has found a block of broken rubble to perch on, though it certainly doesn’t look comfortable, and sets her very low to the ground, peering up at Colette and Scott. “Ferry adjacent” in the old days, she looks even less familiar to them now with brown hair, dark clothing, and her inability to walk well, let alone speed away.

“Mum’s the word,” Gabby says, then, with a sigh, “What, no coffee or donuts?”

Daphne rolls her eyes. “She’s just bitter she’s grounded.” The other woman had wanted to travel to Czechia with the others, but had been deemed a bit of a liability in training (and probably due to her appearance in some very disturbing dreams).

“Their loss,” Gabby says, with a jerk of her shoulder.

Picking her way carefully up the stairs to the meeting room, Brynn too pauses on the steps to touch the walls once bursting with colors. Even now, when she knows that the power never belonged to her, color still doesn't look quite right. It doesn't match a chromakinetic's memory of a vivid world. And the mural, faded and cracked and unidentifiable as it is, actually kind of matches the world as she sees it – somehow muted in inexplicable ways.

The petite girl continues up the stairs, moving carefully with the help of a cane to keep her balance. Between being able to hear on one side and being unable to feel her foot on one side, she still needs the support. At her side, a medium-sized golden labradoodle walks sedately. As she gains the meeting room, though, she pauses. Her brows pull down slightly as she tries to place Scott and can't; her gaze turns questioningly to Colette.

Uncertain who will be here, Brynn keeps a wary eye on the rough-looking man. If he's here with Colette, he must be trusted, but she doesn't know him. But she does glance around, relieved to see Aunt Gilly here, and Jac's red head also eases her. She's less likely to miss things now.

On her own, Jac had arrived early enough to explore. Her shoes make crunching sounds as she scuttles alone just beyond sight of the foyer. The shuffling and tappy-tap of debris traces her maneuverings in a way that draws nearer to the meeting place as more people show up. Her eyes, framed by a mop of red curls even presents themselves in time to catch a warning about rails.

A look bounces to the untrustworthy things and then back again, dismissive. For a whole second she seems more interested a more thorough investigation of the place. It's almost like the teen has forgotten the whole reason for the super secret meeting in an off limits place.

But then the minute passes. There are things to do and figure out. So Jac blows out a breath and sidles the short distance she'd wandered. No guilt in looking around, no concerns that she might've been trespassing. She's just doing like she does.

And now, just like she's been there the whole time already, Jac joins the fold. With arms folding behind her back, totally normally herself.

Back in its heyday, Gillian hadn’t actually spent much time in Gunhill. She’d heard of it, visited, and even stayed a handful of times, but it was never one of her major haunts. But she does recognize its historical value and can’t help but wonder why there haven’t been any major measures to reclaim it yet— But perhaps it would be the next project when they tried to clean up this new Staten Island in the future.

Not that she would be around to see it.

“Got it, you lot were never here. What happens in Gun Hill, and all.” Just like Vegas?

“But for the not-record, I’m glad you are here,” she nods toward Colette, sure the woman knew more than enough and would protect what she knew, or she wouldn’t be here.

A certain war-torn quality of the Bronx's buildings has Shaw equal parts on edge and equal parts nostalgic the way he's stared at the surrounding environment on their way here. Now, sitting within the faded history of the Gun Hill tenement, he's no less staring around and committing the surroundings to memory as well as the faces seen tonight. "I remember her," he whispers of Colette to Isa. "Nobody lose their bag." A quote remembered from a different time, a different dimension. Gabriella's remark about coffee and donuts stirs up a wince in regret and he fidgets in place.

"Did we lose our bags? I forget." Isa's hand curls around Shaw's and she looks into her husband's eyes. She's here because someone hurt her family. She was here because she was ready to be free. Taking notice of the others that have gathered the woman's hazel eyes study their faces before tilting her head towards Colette and Scott.

"Let's get to the point."

The sooner this all started…

“The people who went overseas with Wolfhound relayed back some intel. Vital.” Colette says with a glance to Scott, who nods solemnly. “Far as I’m aware we’re only sharing the need-to-know, because things are still ongoing there, but what they’ve already found out is… it’s important.”

“We got a name and a face for one of the people responsible for your abduction.” Scott says with a roll of his shoulders. “Rather than kick it up the chain to the feds, I wanted to get you all together and… I guess handle this a little bit like the olden days, with an out if you want.”

“Street justice.” Colette says with a tightness in her throat.

“Name we got is Cora Wenyi.” Scott says, and it runs like ice water through Isa’s veins. “She’s the head of biosciences at Yamagato Industries. Lives in Yamagato Park. Way I’ve learned it, Wenyi is a mole in Yamagato and has been for a long-ass time. Her true allegiances lie with InVerse Technologies, the company responsible for… I guess all of your problems.”

Colette starts pacing, working her jaw from side to side. “Wenyi is still in the Safe Zone, as far as we could tell. But given that she has an executive-level role in Yamagato, she’s protected from US law. We go to the feds to get her, it might take weeks, months, or years to pry her out of the hands of the Japanese government, provided she doesn’t rabbit in the interim.”

“That said,” Scott interjects, “right now we have no hard evidence of Wenyi’s involvement, just a trusted word of information. Which means we don’t have a lot to hang this on. Maybe Wenyi has a smoking gun somewhere, but she has the protection of the largest corporation in America behind her right now.”

“We could take what we’ve found to SESA, lay it all out, and let them handle it legitimately…” Colette offers as one point of action, “or we could try something more drastic. Either way, your resources are limited on this. Wolfhound can’t move on Yamagato openly, and I can’t risk going in there either. I can offer advice and make connections, and between Scott and I we can kick this up the chain of proper legal response. But I didn’t want to take this choice away from you if you all had some other idea of how t’handle all’f this shit.”

“Fact of the matter is Wenyi probably knows something, and maybe your friends overseas find a smoking gun that’ll trap her legally. Or she’ll slip between our fingers. Or… fuck, I don’t know.” Scott says with a shake of his head. “There’s no easy choice here, but the last thing I was gonna do, given the shit that’s been done to you all, was take that choice away. You’ve had enough of that, I’d wager.”

“I know a long pier we can drop her off with her feet in a block of cement,” Gabriella tosses out, eyes glittering with belligerence as she looks around at the rest of the assembled ‘Sundered.’ “Who’s with me? A Yamagato desk jockey? We can take her out easy.”

This is why Gabriella was not allowed to go to Europe.

Daphne reaches up a hand to still the tirade of the other woman. “We aren’t going to kill her, Gabby.” Her eyes dart around to look at the other faces, and her brows draw up.

“Right? I mean, we’re not murderers.” She gives Gabriella a skeptical look, but continues. “We absolutely should extract information from her. She might know something that could help the mission, maybe, yeah? Or at least the names of people involved so we can get this handled legally, nail these assholes to the wall. Street justice on one person isn’t going to keep this from happening again.”

She looks back to Scott and Colette. “Do we know if she’s SLC-E?”

At the not-at-all-a-joke mention of Mafia style murder, Gillian just raises an eyebrow and chooses to only share an edited version of that part of the conversation with Brynn. Mostly leaving out the specific details that made it sound even less like a joke.

Unfortunately, though, this brings up a point they will need to consider. "We are not murderers, no, and this is not currently an actual war, however, unless we have some way to subdue security or access to some non-lethal weapons, there will be casualties in any attempt to apprehend someone as high profile as her for questioning."

Killing was never her first choice in a situation, but she had memories of multiple Ferry and Phoenix raids and the war. "A place like that will be very well defended under even the best circumstances. And they just had some major security breaches as it is."

She glances toward Isa and Shaw, who were, oddly, their inside sources.

There's a faint grimace and a look of alarm on Brynn's features as Aunt Gilly fills in at least part of the conversation for her. The brunette eyes the group and then asks, Aunt Gilly, are we really talking about kidnapping this person? Are they going to give us answers even if we do have the capability? She pauses. The guys have blocked off a couple sections in the tunnels under the Lanthorn if we need an underground space to use for keeping someone but…

She does not look the least bit comfortable with any of these possibilities. I thought the whole point of you and the others working for SESA and Wolfhound was that we wouldn't do things like this anymore, she admits to Gillian. People like Lance and Em and even Colette work for those people.

“Why not…” Jac begins slowly, eyes darting to all the faces she knows have more experience than she does in things. It's nearly every face that she looks at as she continues. Two fingers come up, one from each hand, “First draw the Cora Wenyi person outside. Somewhere or anywhere. There's internet chat spaces for when you see someone but… like missed connections.”

One finger is moved outward, showing how Wenyi would be lured away. The other stays and Jac raises it to eye level. “Then we could also see if she's hiding things,” she explains. “At her office or home…”

For two seconds, Jac’s eyes focus on her fingertip. Then she looks beyond, to everyone else gathered. “She might have answers she could talk about, but she might have…” Her raised hand turns over so it's palm up and then it opens. “Papers. Pictures. Actual things, evidence, to turn over to SESA with her. Eventually. And we take the next step with everything we get.”

Colette does her best to maintain a neutral expression while some semblance of plans are offered and others remain silent to consider what’s been laid out before them. It’s Scott who chooses to speak up, though.

“Whatever you’re gonna plan…” Scott says, raising two hands, “plan it among yourselves. The less Demsky and I know the better, given that we can’t get involved. But offering up some advice? You’re right to go for documentation, but someone like this probably isn’t going to keep it at their home or place of work, and possibly not even online. Especially in an age of technopaths. It’s, ironically, a lot harder to find a paper trail than anything else. So if you’re looking for documents, keep that in mind.”

Colette makes a soft noise in the back of her throat, looking at Gillian and harkening back to the day they all gathered around a table to discuss Sibyl and matters of business in Staten Island. “Given the scope of this, your best bet to look for help might not come from higher up, either. But from the kind of people who do this sort of stuff on the regular.” She hates to even make the suggestion, but it tumbles out of her mouth anyway. “All my usual contacts are gone, but there’s still a den of vipers out on Staten Island who might be able to help with this. They’re legitimized now, but you can’t take the stripes off a tiger.”

“As for info about Wenyi,” Scott chimes in, “we don’t have much. Wenyi isn’t registered with the Chesterfield Act as far as we could tell, which means she doesn’t do any official work for Yamagato outside of their little fiefdom.”

“Yamagato registers all of its employees with the Chesterfield Act as a show of good faith should they work outside of Yamagato Park within the United States.” Colette clarifies. “This means Wenyi likely doesn’t leave the park. Or, if she does, it’s unofficially. The good news is that there’s only two checkpoints in and out of Yamagato Park on the northwest and southeast sides, so if you wanted to surveil for her, that’s possible.”

At that note, Scott removes a crumpled envelope from his jacket and holds it out to Gabriella. “Some pictures of Wenyi we scraped off the internet. Should help you identify her. Not much to go on outside of a few references to her doctorate at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Everything else looks scrubbed. No idea if she has family, nothing.”

Worse, neither Isa nor Shaw have ever even heard her name her at Yamagato Park, let alone seen her.

“I know it isn’t much to work with,” Scott says, “and we don’t know if Yamagato was aware of her involvement or not, which makes bringing this to them… harder. Demsky and I don’t really know anyone on the inside these days.”

Daphne reaches up to grab the photos before Gabriella can open the envelope – there’s nothing slow about her hands. “Maybe don’t give the identifying information to the one who wants to jump straight to murder,” she admonishes, as she opens it and looks through them, before passing them to whoever is next to her.

Not to Gabby, who crosses her arms again and rolls her eyes.

“I assume you mean the sharks playing dress up over in the D’Sarthe corner of the cesspool,” she says to Colette, lifting brows up for confirmation. Her glittering green eyes narrow and her gaze moves from Shaw and Isa, the Yamagato insiders, over to Jac and Brynn. She nods once slowly, then looks down at Daphne.

“I promise not to murder anyone without permission,” she says almost primly, who reaches up to pat the woman’s hand in appreciation.

“Maybe you could plug your ears,” Jac points out, as she turns a puzzled look to Colette and Scott. Even though her words are probably a little blunt, maybe even rude, the teen’s tone isn't. She's honestly wondering and curious if that could be an option. They need to be able to talk and ask questions and bounce ideas out in the open. And she recognizes the help that's already being given even though it's risky.

But anything more she might want to say gets swallowed. Or at least allowed to stay as inside thoughts while she distracts herself with the picture. Jac doesn't try to take it, but she does lean into Gabriella’s space so she can see it in Daphne’s hands.

Nothing that is relayed seems to resolve into a reaction from Shaw. Not even murder gets more than a second non-judgmental glance to Gabriella first, then over to Daphne. Oh yeah. Murder is still illegal.

The name of Cora Wenyi is unfamiliar to the man, who looks first to Isa for context, and he picks at his thin beard in thought. He perks up slightly at the mention of Staten Island, but for a different reason. Shaw turns to look at Isa again, expression tinted with worry. There had been some events that had transpired in that direction she'd participated in, he recalls with a grimace.

Still Shaw presses on gamely, "Yamagato is a strong oyster. Not easy to see the pearl inside. But we can listen, watch. Put our eyes and ears on her. She is not alone." He continues, "If she never leaves the nest, someone must bring food from outside. InVerse? Or she must meet with them somewhere."

Colette nods, arms crossed over her chest. She glances at Jac, but it’s brief. Her attention is mainly focused on Shaw. “Finding out where she lives — if it isn’t at Cresting Wave — would be a good way to find out who she associates with. I can’t imagine someone in her position sleeps under her desk.”

Scott directs his attention over to Daphne and Gabriella. “Not to put too fine a point on it, but it might come to getting your hands dirty if the legal support structures are rotten. You all know who we are,” he says, motioning to Colette. She, who was at one point a person of interest in a federal murder trial with what happened on Liberty Island, and them both Ferrymen from the worst of the worst times. “I’m not saying go straight to it, but…” Scott shakes his head. “Maybe don’t discount it either.”

And therein lies their hesitance. They can’t afford to get their hands dirty, but neither Scott nor Colette are willing to deny that it may be the only recourse. Murder, the word they don’t want to say.

“For what it’s worth if you need anything documentation-related that the NYPD might have access to, I’m willing to go out on a limb and get it. But I don’t know how much that’ll help with the insulation of Yamagato Park.” Colette says, fatigue in her voice. Not from a physical tiredness, but from having to fight this same battle however many times its been now.

“And if you can find something actionable,” Scott adds, “something you want kicked up the chain to the feds, I can do that. But Wolfhound can’t go guns blazing unless Uncle Sam lets us off our leash.”

The only indication that Daphne might be willing to accept the fact that they’re considering murder as an option is to hand the photos up to Gabrielle. She glances over at Shaw, then back to Scott and Colette. Her expression is grim and unhappy. For once she doesn’t have a quip to throw at anyone.

Gabby flips through the images, but passes them on. The woman in the photos doesn’t look familiar to her, but that’s not a surprise.

“So we have two points of contact for this… surprise party,” she says, deciding on that as a euphemism to the potential kidnapping/torture/murder. “Our own Yamagato insiders and D’Sarthe’s people,” she sums up. “I am sure they can throw an excellent party. Who wants to, uh, contact the caterers? I’ve been there but I’m not sure they’re very fond of me.”

Her lips curve up into a smirk. “Can’t think of why.”

It's here finally that Brynn waves a hand to gain the attention of the others, making sure her interpreters know it's meant for everyone so that they'll pass it on. I'm not usually someone that anyone pays a lot of attention to. I'd be willing to sit near the apartments and act as lookout to see if she lives there. If I see her and she's with anyone, I should be able to get a halfway decent sketch of them to the rest of you as well, she offers. She slants a glance at Gillian and one side of her lips quirks upward in a rueful smile. Brian always said it's more effective to come at someone from the side instead of head-on… so if we know who she's hanging with, we might be able to flank her. It's not very often that the deaf young woman is actually useful in the grand scheme of such shenanigans, but it seems like in this case maybe her very unobtrusiveness is of benefit.

She's watching the older man while he talks, and when he comments about getting people's hands dirty, her jaw tightens. Her eyes flicker briefly, and she wishes the mere thought of what may come didn't make her nauseous. Her brother is the only one of the LHK who has had to face making that decision and she's sat with him more nights than she can count because of his nightmares. Brynn is not sure she will ever be able to actually go as far as killing someone unless it's her or them.

"For what they have done,"

Isa has been mostly silent until now. Listening to some bicker, information flies around. Hazel eyes narrow more and more but if there's one thing the former pyrokinetic is here to do, it's not to show grace. "They will die."

Not for what they've done to her or anyone else in this room except Shahid. For what they have put him through, she will make them wish she could burn them alive. Eyes on Shahid and she laces her fingers between his and squeezes. "We," Eyeing Shahid and then the photos even though they've been on the outs of insider information where they live and she works, "Can handle the Yamagato logistics."

The proposed surprise party from Gabriella sets Shaw's gears turning, though the man misses the euphemism and quirks a smile at the thought. "A party could be good cover." With Isa backing up that notion of them handling logistics in the park, he nods slowly in agreement with the conditions. Shaw rubs a hand over his beard, dark eyes full of pondering. He lifts a hand again. "Can we get a rifle scope?" inquires Shaw for not the gun, but the mounted lens. "Or a really nice camera… for watching the bird in the nest. See when she flies." A beat passes. “Can we get a sniper rifle?” Closed mouths, and all.

As the pictures are passed on, Jac sinks and slinks out of Gabby and Daphne’s space. In quiet steps, she wanders back to her previous place in the gathered group, a side eyeing look given to Scott and Collette before she turns her attention to Isa and Shaw.

“There's probably something like that,” Jac offers after a second. The scope she means, and maybe the camera. The fire house? Her question gets directed to Brynn in offhand, sure that something exists there, but not sure of what.

With her adopted daughter sitting right beside her, and another of the young women that she watched grow into adulthood— even if all three of them just happened to be synthetic versions of themselves — Gillian clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth rather than speak too much on this surprise-party/murder. They would do what needed to be done. “Not everyone inside this place is responsible for our current dilemma,” she does remind quietly, but that is all. Those who were directly involved, though?

She didn’t really care what happened to those who were behind such a thing. And those who tried to keep them from getting to those responsible— well—

This was another kind of war.

How could she help, exactly? “I can get us some guns. Maybe not a sniper rifle, but I have some still.”

She continues to sign to keep Brynn up to date on the conversation, even if it may be difficult to get all of the various sides of it in the right context.

Colette offers the smallest of (legally-acceptable) approving smiles at Gillian, then glances at Scott who might be smiling internally but is his usual stoic and unreadable self at present.

“This could be a lot of footwork, it could be infiltration. Whatever this winds up shaking out as, that’s for you all to decide as a group.” Colette says, tucking her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket. “Whatever the case is, we’ve done as much as we can here, and the less we hear you plan the better.”

Scott nods, leaning away from the wall. “Recommend chatting elsewhere, just in case anyone saw us all get together up here.” He starts to move to the door, and Colette follows a few paces behind.

“Toodle-loo,” Gabriella says, waggling fingers at Colette and Scott as they leave.

The advice from Scott is nodded at, and she sighs, standing up straight and offering a hand to Daphne to help her get to her feet as well.

“I’ve got a suite at The George where we can chat, those who want to continue the conversation. I’d suggest heading there but staggering arrivals if we’re going to be paranoid about this. Reconvene in a couple hours?” she suggests, glancing around to get a read of the room. “I’d suggest anyone who’s not willing to at least consider the worst case scenarios shouldn’t come, that way you keep a clear conscience.”

Shaw quirks a smile as the potential of supplies starts to coalesce with the suggestions from Jac and Gillian. "They'll probably check," he surmises, "for guns. So, a different kind of shooting is needed." He gestures the mock lift of a camera and a click of a photo taken.

Seeing the gathering start to splinter away, he pushes up to his feet and wipes his hands on his thighs. "A couple hours, perfect," he says, nodding in agreement. "And if anybody's hungry, you can eat at Brenda's. Tell the cashier the code: 'Only on the CW.' Get free chicken and waffles." Get it? CW. He likes it, anyway. It's spoken loudly enough that even Scott and Colette should catch it before they exit.

With that offered, Shaw slides his hand into Isa's and gives it a light squeeze indicating he's good to go.

They all needed to be.

There was only so much time to act.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License