The Smooth: Hostage Situation

Summary:
August 12, 2014: A mutant suffering fierce withdrawal from The Smooth takes some hostages in M-Town. It ends poorly. (Graphic, dark violence, language)

Mutant Town - New York City

Mutant Town isn't so much a slum or ghetto as it an enclave. Sure, it started
out as something else, but it's big enough now to have its own personality
and, frankly, subcultures within the larger… uh… subculture.

Regardless, it's as eclectic and unpredictable as its inhabitants. Which
means: Very.


Characters

NPCs

  • Devin Henry
  • Hostages
  • Charlie Adams

Mood Music:
"Start of Something Beautiful" by Porupine Tree (spotify)


After rush hour, things start to wind back in Manhattan, as far as things ever do truly wind back in Manhattan. The major avenues see traffic on a nearly round-the-clock basis, but some of the smaller neighborhoods tend to get a bit quieter, faster.

As for M-Town, it's a bit unique, the way things flow here. It's a neighborhood like any other, with law offices, real estate brokers, doctors offices and other professional services, but there is definitely a lull in activity between the end of the 9-5 working day, and the night hours.

When all the freaks come out.

Last week's gang-related shoot out has the residents of Mutant Town feeling apprehensive. More people are out and about this early evening than is usual, but they seem to be keeping to their stoops and corners, talking about recent developments with their neighbors, and trying to stay as close to their proverbial 'front doors' as possible. But, keep in mind, we're talking about the cleaner, more friendly parts of Mutant Town here. The other parts, the dirtier parts… well. That's a whole other story…

*

A blue-haired and gold-skinned guy - as in, actual gold skin - has come out of one of the older, more beaten-up and decrepitated buildings in the residential part of Mutant Town. He's apparently talking on a phone, as he's holding his left thumb to his left ear and letting the little finger stick out in front of his mouth.

"No, I think it can be done for under a thousand. Maybe two. Most of the cost is in the permits. Yeah, I just need to find the right scrap metal. You do have carpenter ants, and dry rot in the attic, and that means you'll need to replace a bunch of wood, but I can back-fill with cellulose foam — no, it's like replacement wood, just as durable. Yeah, the ants would still eat it. I'll leave a bunch of borax in all the contact spaces, that'll do the job. No, it messes 'em up. OK, I'll check out the other place tomorrow. Sure, Phillie. No, I really don't mind."

The gold guy turns left and he's now walking through one of the dirtier parts. He recognizes the area as the place where the guy tried to steal his skin a few weeks back, and when he tore it off his face the guy freaked out and ran. Still funny.

*

"No, all I know is that the drivers were mutants." Paul tells Sara. "And that something in that truck was supernatural. It seem lately like I can't walk down the fucking street without bumping into something supernatural." Ah, ignorance is bliss. "I need to find out from May what she knows about it."

*

"Fun, right?" Sara smirks at Paul, shifting uncomfortably in the drivers seat of their car as she searches for parking. She's been generally uncomfortable for the past couple days, probably thanks to however she managed to injure her shoulder, side, and thigh. But she hasn't exactly been in a sharing mood on the topic. "You sort of get used to it after a while. I mean, it still takes a while," she adds. "But, you know. A few years in, you'll just shrug it off as Tuesday. Mostly. Unless it makes you late for work and the captain chews you out for it."

*

Speaking of supernatural…

Laura was absolutely nothing of the sort. But the young woman had a certain… well, she was growing terribly fond of M-Town. So when things like kidnappings, robbings, or otherwise started happening more and more… well, she had an interest in stopping said things.

A lot of those in M-Town might know Laura by sight. Even if they couldn't quite recall her name (she so rarely gave it out). But the young woman was dressed a little more 'feminine' right now - a floral print sundress worn beneath a denim jacket, worn over sneakers. The outfit was ghastly.

But it was obvious, and Laura was putting on her best 'innocent' look that she could manage, as she chooses this time, this worst time to be out and about - to take a walk through this nasty part of M-Town.

She already had to break someone's arm, but that was an hour or so back.

*

Ralph Dibny took a cab here, since he rarely drives anymore, and is walking along, looking like the square he is. He has an earbud dangling from one ear, listening to "This American Life" on podcast, letting it just be background noise as he thinks. Ralph's always got some puzzle, some mystery on his mind, and at the moment it's no different, as he's trying to mentally refine a chemical method he's been working on for retrieving DNA from degraded samples. Probably inadmissable, still, but it might be useful for investigative purposes. He's walking along just behind Laura, his tweed jacket patched at the elbows, not really watching where he's going.

*

…in those less than savory parts of M-Town, a young man walks restlessly through the alleys. He's dressed in a black leather jacket, all patched and spiked up, torn jeans, an old pair of sneakers and a RAMONES shirt. That's not really that abnormal, but his face is. Cheeks are sunken in, eyes are wild, snot drips from his nose, and the color of his face is a pale, sickly color. Malnourished, as if he hasn't eaten in days.

A glowing color, orange and red, is coming from beneath the cuffs of that old, leather jacket. Very subtle, but there.

In time, the man finds himself emerging from an alleyway, only to suddenly be thrust into one of the nicer streets. He stops, like a vampire suddenly thrust into the light, and glances from side to side with nervous gestures. He nearly comes to backing away into the alley again, but something deep inside begins to drive him out deeper. Something beyond hunger.

Something malicious.

Rapidly he walks down the sidewalk, ignoring everyone and shoulder-checking a couple who pass him by. It isn't until he comes to a street corner, populated by good citizens chatting about recent events, that he draws any real negative attention.

"Like that guy! He's probably one of them."

*

It's mostly a question of time-of-day for some of these streets. Mike (the blue haired guy) has turned up one of the alleys that comes out near the street corner, and whatever lives in that alley at this time of night is doubtless interested in him, until they notice that he has a halo. Six bright metal spheres circling his head in a sort of high-speed orbit, making a faint whistling noise.

Magneto did that once, in one of his threat, er, press conferences, and when a guard tried to stop him, he slammed one of the spheres through the guy's shoulder. Not a killing blow, because he was merciful. This blue-haired guy? Not Magneto. So the lesser predators back up into their shadows and let the robot pass. Probably nothing edible on it anyway.

*

"Turn here." Paul says, motioning to a street on the right. "One of them supposedly rents a room down there." The normal cops already went through the place but he's hoping something supernatural will have been overlooked. Easy enough to do for a normal human. "Yeah, well it would be nice if I could actually do something about it when I do run into them. Other than call you. Oh, did I mention I talked to Constantine? I got oneof his charms in case of emergency. Least I think it's in case of emergency on my end as well as his. So now we can, hopefully, summon him and Jason. Trent's friend Illyana? Smart enough not to hand out magical cell phones." He wanted to get a complete set too, damn it. "Remind me later to tell you about Elder Gods. Though I keep forgetting to ask anyone if they're really locked away under Antarctica." He's been reading Lovecraft. "Make a left."

*

"Trent's friend Illyana," Sara echoes to herself, brows rising slightly. "Ah. I think I might have visited her place. Accidentally. Some sort of thing pushed me through the wall behind a bakery and I landed somewhere else. You know. Tuesday." She pulls over not far from Mike's alley, finding a rare and coveted street parking spot. "Also, if you call me in the middle of the night because you found something supernatural and fishy, I will be very unhappy," she adds, for the record. "Like I need two of these things pinging me all the time."

*

Laura's attention was locked upon that man in the Ramones shirt. In spite of her very obvious dress, she tucks her hands into the pockets of her jacket, breathing out a long breath - when she realizes that the man that was behind her? He had no doubt been following her for some time. Laura frowns deeper, angling her step to take her across the street - to start to come up behind Ramones-shirt guy, from where she was at before, her gaze intent on the man's head.

*

Ralph Dibny had noted Laura in front of him, of course, but didn't think much about it. Young women didn't catch his attention that way, not when he had Sue at home, and he was never much of a 'playa' anyway. The man in the Ramones shirt, however, gets a closer inspection, Ralph tugging the bud from his ear and slowing his pace as he approaches. There's tension in the air, that elemental bit of human nature where the lingering prey instincts buried beneath the layer of civilization try to push their way front and get the human prairie dogs to stick their heads in their holes before the buffalo stampede.

*

The jeering continues. What we have here is a crowd of nervous citizens, human and mutant alike, and what they see is a target. Someone upon which to thrust their fears and concerns. The jeering doesn't stop, it only gets louder.

The mutant they are accosting has a name, and it's Devin Henry. White bred suburban kid from the Midwest who ran off to New York to live the life. Also, to escape the rejection of his white bred, upper middle class parents. Unfortunately, the kid has become rabidly hooked on a new narcotic that's been steadily invading M-Town called 'The Smooth', and the withdrawal symptoms are fierce.

Suddenly and without warning, something snaps.

Devin cries out in anguish and pain. He throws his hands out, and the orange-red glow erupts from his wrists, shredding the arms of his jacket and lashing out. Circles resembling halos of pure energy lash about and begin ensnaring those who were accosting him, one by one, until each and every one of them is entrapped in their own prison of three to four energy circles, each of them snared to Devin's wrists by tendrils of energy. It has the appearance of some cross between Western and Sci-Fi flick.

Standing there, Devin holds his hands out, seemingly controlling the lassos with his mind. And as he snarls, they begin to tighten upon their victims.

*

Mike is not one who was accosting the young man. He's kind of appalled that it's happening, that mutants are attacking another mutant, but he's only heard the faintest rumors about this 'smooth' — whether because he's a machine, and thus can't be sold the stuff, or because he's clearly in control of his powers. But the tightening rings, that's going way beyond self-defense.

"Hey!" Mike yells, "Stop that! What're you doing, man, you don't need to hurt anyone!"

He spins the metal spheres out into fine wire, trying to ground the energy off into an nearby fireplug. If only it were electricity, right?

*

"Seeing as we're partners and work the same shift, I'm going to be asleep at the same times as you." Paul points out. Then adds "More or less." Pause. "You know, if you hadn't run that yellow light a half mile back, we wouldn't be here for that." he says, motioning to the mutant incident going on down the street. He gets out of the car and checks his gun before running toward the trouble. "Police!" he shouts.

*

"It's a gift," Sara sighs to Paul, moving a little more stiffly out of the car as he does. "Easy, folks!" she calls toward the crowd, holding up both hands as she moves in a stilted jog toward the confrontation. "Everybody take it easy, yeah? Nobody needs to get hurt here." The jog doesn't last long, but she keeps her hands up, doing her best to keep cool.

*

The Smooth.

Laura Kinney had not heard about that yet.

Eyes flickering from the young man towards the others, Laura's lips turn down into a frown as she approaches the young man from behind. The whole thing was not adding up - she doubted that such a power would hold M-Town in fear's grasp as she had sensed lately. Perhaps he was a part of a gang?

What assists her is the sound of 'Police' lashing her way, her eyes flickering Paul and Sara's way. And perhaps it would distract the mutant as well.

Laura had a choice.

If she could get close enough, she would angle her fist up with a punch, those blades of hers exploding from her fist as her fist draws near. No where instantly fatal or powerfully vital, but her intent was to give the mutant a gut wound and a half. Of course, if he saw her or tried to blast her for any reason - that would save him.

*

Ralph Dibny finds himself approaching as well, although he isn't as swift as Pauland Sara to declare his law enforcement allegiances. People often distrust the police as figure of authority (and, in certain cases, rightfully so). Ralph's refusal to abide by the Bureau's dress code, an eccentricity permitted in exchange for his genius, makes him look more like a scruffy college professor than one of the world's greatest detectives. He holds up his hands as he approaches, taking a quick moment to button his jacket so his sidearm doesn't show. "Hold on now, son, just calm down. We can talk this out, nobody needs to get hurt here."

*

Whatever type of energy it is, it doesn't seem to be electrical in nature. Devin's victims aren't being electrocuted; now that the initial shock has passed, a general silence from the lot of therm are turning into cries of fear and anger. Mike's wires bounce off the rings harmlessly.

Sara's effort to calm the crowd works, and soon enough, the more stalwart of the hostages are working to verbally calm the more fearful. The arrival of police officers are certainly helping, giving the hostages some assurance that law enforcement is at least here and willing to look out for them.

Paul's announcement has the already twitchy Devin turning his attention outward, glancing around with enticed, nervous eyes. When he spies Laura moving closer, he lets out a ferocious demand. "STOP!" His hands, stretched out toward his hostages, begin to clench. As they do, the rings tighten further still, a suggestion that the clenching of his fingers may directly influence that which is now starting to injure and seriously threaten some of the smaller hostages.

Like the little boy who squeaks out, "Mommy, I can't breathe!"

Ralph quickly gets Devin's attention. "Nobody move, nobody motherfucking move!" Spit flying from his mouth, he keeps his eyes bouncing around between those who seem to be cornering him. "Swear to God, one more step and I'll fucking kill 'em all! One more FUCKING step, Goddammit!" His fingers curl closer together, andthe boy who's crying out suddenly goes silent, his face losing color.

"Everyone just… just fucking calm down so I can think!" he shouts.

*

"Let go of them, please, now," Mike says in a calm voice. "I won't let them hurt you, you don't want to hurt kids, you need to let them go."

The wires, not connecting with the energy, are now directed to thin out further, to move near-invisibly into a braid moving silently around the guy's throat, but not touching, just close. Mike's intention, to apply a sleeper-hold to the guy using the metal to shut down his carotid arteries, for just long enough for the guy to black out. If he doesn't let them go immediately.

*

Paul stops, holding his hands out untreateningly. He has yet to draw his gun. "Look, kid. I don't know what started this but so far you haven't done anything you can't get out of yet. You start hurting them? That's a line you can't cross back over. Anyone dies? Things start to get really ugly and that's something new one wants, right? So let's do this one step at a time. Loosen up on those things so they can breath, okay? That'll give us all the time to talk things out."

*

Sara eyes those ropes of energy for a long moment, but there's no way of knowing if the Witchblade will be able to cut through that. That…is unusual. And nothing she's ever tried. And now seems like a really bad time to experiment. "Okay, people," she says quietly, taking a step back from Devin toward the inevitable gawkers. "Let's everybody go inside, all right? Let's give the man some space so we can all work this out." It's her turn to be the good cop, apparently.

*

Laura Kinney pauses abruptly as she was singled out - her plan aborted as she takes a handful of steps backwards, her eyes narrowing further into thin green slits. Another handful of beats, and her nostrils flare, her eyes turning away from the situation to the others.

*

Ralph Dibny has at least glimpsed Sara and Paul before, during a strange Wal-Mart shoot out on which he showed his credentials. He hopes they remember him, but can't count on it. He keeps his focus on Devin, his voice soothing, trying to use his training in psychology to figure out the best way to defuse the situation, "It's all gonna be all right, okay? Let's just…interact with each other as people first? Can we do that? My name's Ralph. What's your name, son?" he says, keeping his hands open and up.

*

"Devin," he answers, looking at Ralph. "My… my name's Devin Henry." Mike is next to receive Devin's attention, for he spoke about hurting. Pain. Something Devin has been feeling immense amounts of ever since his dealers in the Brighton Beach Gang disappeared. Arrested, by those fucking cops. "They -can't- hurt me," he answers, "not like this! Not like this." He mellows just so, fingers loosening enough to let the little boy breathe.

The boy begins to weep, andtears well up in Devin's eyes.

"None of you understand. You don't know what it's like, needing something. You just…" He eyes the cops next. "You just clean up the streets, and you don't think about what that means for people like me!"

Devin has no concept of the snare now surrounding his neck, waiting to strike. What he does know is that the shredded arms of his jacket reveal, for all to see, the wounds on his arms. The places where he took an empty needle, stabbing at his skin in the hopes that a mere drop of what was once inside might give him some relief from the withdrawal symptoms that torment him. Up and down his arm they run, fresh tracks. The obvious sign of a narcotics abuser.

Under Sara's instructions, the gathered crowds start to back away. Obedient citizens, save for one man, a fellow in his early thirties with a nasty look upon his ridged face. A mutant, like Devin. "He's not gonna back down, you shit heads!" he calls out. "He's a junkie! He's on The Smooth, and he needs a fix! He's a worthless piece of -"

"SHUT UP!" Devin cries.

And clenches his fingers.

It all happens so fast. The little boy is cut in half, both pieces falling to the ground. Another teenage girl buckles under the squeezing, her torso crushed beyond repair to the point of mutilation. The adults scream in agony as the bands cut into them, squeezing in tandem with the whitening of Devin's knuckles. There's no telling if the bands will eventually do to them what they did to the younger two.

*

"Devin. All right then, Devin. My name's Paul. I'd like to understand." he tells the young man. "Can you help me do that? What is it you need? Maybe we can get you some help." As the older mutant starts in on the junkie, Paul says "You sir, be QUIET and leave! Devin! No!" He starts forward but there's no way he can get there in time.

*

The metal closes down gently on the junkie mutant's carotid. Unless his mutation prevents it, he'll be unconscious in five seconds at most. Then it will loosen, enough to keep him from dying, but the robot is going to monitor him closely.

Mike says, in a monotone, robotic voice, to the man who screamed the abuse, "YOU have just killed these people. I hope you are proud of yourself." Blood and spray from the dead people splashes over him; he doesn't seem to notice.

*

"Okay, Devin," Sara says, starting to turn back toward the young man. "We're just going to-" She cries out as the mutant lashes out, and this time, she doesn't hesitate. It's too late. There's blood on the ground, and in short order, there could all too easily be more. With a swift gesture, she flings out her right hand, and with it comes a razor sharp whip as the Witchblade sheathes her hand, slicing down through those ropes of energy.

*

Ralph Dibny cries out in horror at the sudden carnage in front of him, although his mind also begins to go into business mode. This just went from a hostage negotiation to a crime scene really fast. When he sees the Witchblade extend from Sara's arm, he does his own bit of stretching, his arm extending from his sleeve and across the distance between them until he hits Devin in the face with a rather firm left cross even as Mike tries to choke him out.

*

The Witchblade strikes, severing the ropes of energy with a sound resembling a loud crack of thunder. At the same time, Devin's eyes roll back as his brain is suffocated of blood, causing his fingers to slacken. The ropes fall, the lassos loosen, and when he's struck across the face by Ralph, it sends him to the cement. The energy bands flicker and fade, freeing the hostages at last.

A second or two passes, but for many, it feels like an eternity. The silence is deafening, but the cries of mourning and shock fill the air in a manner that seems almost relieving, in its own sick way. Such is the way of grief, especially in the face of such sudden, unexpected tragedy.

The hostages band together almost at once, holding each other, applying first aid, and holding the dead. Two young people who'd not done anything wrong. And somewhere, at the edge of the crowd, a man with ridges on his face stands by himself in shock while Mike's words echo in his memory.

*

Paul needs to turn his back on everything for just a moment while he takes a few deep breaths. One. Two. When he turns back, he's nice and dispassionate again as he surveys the scene. He does remember the incredible stretching Dibny from the upstate Walmart. What's the FBI agent doing here? And how did he do that? His gaze just passes over Mike since he really didn't seem to do anything. He briefly contemplates shooting the guy who set Devlin off but that would get him fired. Oh yeah. And prison. Instead, he looks at Sara a moment before walking back to the car. "I'll call it in."

*

As the immediate danger fades, Sara looks sorrowfully over the scene, the Witchblade retracting quietly. "Yeah," she says quietly to Paul, stepping over to where Devin lies on the ground to get him cuffed first. "FBI, right?" she looks over her shoulder toward Ralph. "If you could check in on people here, make sure things don't get any uglier." As if they could. Well. There could be riots.

*

As soon as Devin is cuffed, the metal spins off his neck and into the palm of the robot's hand, and he simply stands, waiting. Someone will have questions, and he has it all, and can project it for them.

*

Ralph Dibny nods, "I'll also call the Bureau, see if they can contact any community leaders here. They're going to want to listen to one of their own more than an outsider." He says. He'll want to talk to Sarah about that strangeweapon of hers. And he's sure they'll want to talk to him about his elongation. But that can wait for another day. For now - ruined lives here must be attended. And he decides he'll want to get a sample of this 'Smooth', if it's creating this kind of behavior.

*

"Wait… Kwa, something's happening outside." Charlie Adams walks over to her window, cell phone pressed against her ear. Shds been getting better; she was able to hold down some soup and water without vomiting tonight. It's progress. Withdrawal is hell. "I think it's… OH MY GOD!"

Somewhere in the Bronx, a Ghanain mutant on the other end of the line sits forward. "What? What is it, Chahlie?"

"It's… it's Devin. We were using together when it dried up… oh God, something horrible has happened!"

- - - - -

Gotham City

10:41 pm

Richard Dackleman stands at the brink of a peninsula on the city's East End, looking out over the lights of Midtown and Old Gotham beyond. At his side is Meadows, a short, scarred Army vet who is his trusted right hand. "Look at it, Jackie." Dackleman sweeps his hand across the city. "The new horizon."

Meadows' voice is gruff from years of shouting orders, his hackles rough from years of busting heads in the mob. He grumbles an answer through teeth clenched around a cigar. "Falzoni's it chin' to get his hand on the shit."

"It'll be here by morning."

"Scales?"

"We'll get 'im. One way or the other. You're looking at our new empire, Meadows." Dackleman turned to his right hand, sneering.

"-Our- recipe is gonna tear this town apart."


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