|Location||Aqueduct Racetrack, Queens|
|Participants||Alexandra, Huruma, Kade, Tiffany|
|Summary||Off to the races! It's the home stretch for XFS at Aqueduct.|
Raceday dawns bright and clear (I don't care what +weather says), and the track lapses into a tense silence between morning training and afternoon races. "Vet and stewards cleared him," Lou says at the barn while she personally braids purple ribbons into Twinky. Twinky, his copper coat gleaming in the sun, seems to be more interested in a passing cat. There's only a small scratch visible on his shoulder. "Looks like someone tried to inject him with something, and Twinky stopped being in love with people long enough to object."
"Well, that's good, right?" Lexie is sounding hopefully optimistic as she watches Lou braid ribbons, her head canted. "Animals usually have that sense, huh."
Kade looks more alert Sunday morning after a night's sleep that wasn't in his car, as he returned to his apartment last night after going over the camera footage (and distributing the digital image of 'Fred' to his XFS cohorts). He's gotten himself some coffee, which he's downing quickly as he waits in the stables not far from Lou for the races to begin. "Inject?" He mouth twists distastefully. "People are sick. Hope the guy bit them."
Tiffany appears, as she often does. Her expression is partially concealed beneath the wide brim of a properly huge race-day hat. While her body sprawls out luxuriously over Orianne and Moody's couch, her mind whirrs along with the rest of the small group of X-Factor contractors. "If he did, it wasn't hard enough," she rumbles, shifting her eyes this way and that for an added element of suspense, "I may have an I.D. on the man from the footage..."
With the onset of tricks and the search for reasons stretching into raceday, Huruma has kept herself busy by staking herself at the stables and hardly going anywhere. Maybe she's figured someone is ultimately less likely to try something if there's someone around to look intimidating. So far that's probably true. She turns her head over as Tiffany appears there in the vicinity, eyes bright as the young woman delivers her news. "Do you? So spill."
"Oh?" says Lou from behind Twinky's hindquarters. The colt stretches out to sniff at Tiffany--where there is nothing to sniff. How interesting.
Kade also shifts his attention to Tiffany. 'Oh?' indeed. Her suspenseful pause gets a slight frown.
Tiffany shifts her eyes a few more times as she brings up a small hand to adjust the brim of her hat. It's almost as if to keep it from being taken by the wind which, y'know, can't influence her. "Yelly Mcyellerson's totally gross nephew..." Drumroll, please. "... /Bob/."
"/Bob/," Lexie echoes, looking faintly baffled as she watches Tiffany. "I didn't know people were /actually/ called that. Like, in real life."
"It has to come from somewhere." Huruma asides, amused, to Lexie. Somewhere out there, are the Bobs of the world. Being a statistic. "Good work, Tiffany. Is he here today, the nephew?"
"Bob," repeats Lou. She pops out from behind Twinky. "God, that guy. He sometimes works for his uncle when he needs money. Got a bad reputation for smacking horses around." She sighs, and rubs her face. "I wish a horse'd smack him around. He's probably around--Gill's got a horse running in the first."
Kade mouths 'Yelly Mcyellerson' to himself. It takes him another gulp of coffee to entirely /get/ that. "You mean that asshole trainer who was screaming at his mare the other day?" He looks to Lou. "Is there somebody at the track we can report him to? I feel like trying to /inject/ somebody else's horse is the kind of thing that gets you tossed out, at the very least."
"I know, right? Like, gee, sweetie, my dream for my baby is for him to be a super boring porn-addict who hurts animals. I'm gonna name him Bob," Tiffany glances around them, as if for Bob. "I haven't seen him, but he's bound to show up where ever this horse is. Right?"... "Yeah, him," Tiffany confirms to Kade. ... "Oh. Was that? Should I?" She winds a finger casually in the air, "Search?"
"We could report him, /or/--" Lexie spreads her hands wide. "We could totally rough him up for being an abusive asshole to animals?"
"If they have a horse in the race I'm sure they'll show sooner or later." Huruma crosses her arms in front of her, watching the group. "Or wait for them to try something again. Catch them red handed."
"I didn't bring my body," Tiffany pouts over to Lexie at her mention of roughing up Bob. She stomps her high-heel in the dirt but it doesn't actually make a sound.
"I'd suggest sending what we have to the stewards," says Lou. "There's...a certain amount of bureaucracy involved. There'll be a hearing. But they can rule him off the track. In fact, I think they're dying to kick out his uncle. It's just one of those things where everyone knows he's a bad apple but no one's caught him _doing_ anything. But, hey, you want to beat him up? I won't stop you." She pets Twinky's neck, and considers. "I don't suppose any of you have five grand."
Kade side-eyes Lexie. Not that he really objects to her threat of violence. He nods to Lou. "Maybe that groom of yours will be able to ID him better off the picture, and seeing him again in person. We'll send up what we've got. Just wish there was time to do it before the race." As it's currently looming, he sounds doubtful. He shakes his head about the five grand, with a chuckle. He most definitely does not.
Not to throw around. Huruma watches them past her shoulder for a moment. "So there should be a way to get them out of the picture-- but perhaps not immediately. If the groom identifies him, that would likely lay down a nice start."
Alexandra shrugs at Kade. What! Perfectly reasonable. "Okay, well -- can we keep him from racing /today/?"
"We could seduce his little jockey or whatever? Trick 'im. Lock him in-- I don't know-- some sort of chest?" Tiffany's just spit-balling, here. "Or we could intimidate the shit out of Bob until he confesses." Her eyes roam over towards Huruma, "Something tells me we have all the tools for that."
"Probably not," says Lou. "I mean...it's not impossible, if we find grounds for the stewards to block him, or for the track vet to scratch the horse. But it's the mare who went into the pond yesterday, and pretty sure the vet's already looked at her. It's not Twinky's race; it's an earlier one. He doesn't deal in stakes horses." She considers the ground for a moment. "However. We can take the mare after the race. If I can find someone with money." She laughs out loud at Tiffany's suggestions.
Kade shrugs back at Alexandra. "Hey, if you want to get him alone in a dark alley, I'm not going to stop you. Do what you feel, Lexie Brady." Even if her feelings are sometimes scary. "Would his jockey still race for him if they knew what he'd tried to pull?" He has no idea about the ethics of horse-racers. Or how this sport works. The intimidation idea gets a little shrug, and he follows Tiffany's gaze to Huruma. Making a "Mmm" sound. She is very tall.
Huruma is already watching Tiffany at 'stuff the jockey in the chest', and she meets the look at her when her second idea comes. Her response is a quick issuing of a smile, small and sharp. Tools. Sure. "Given he cannot even assault a horse correctly..." It probably wouldn't be trouble.
"If we're not going to rough him up, can we at least put the fear of God into him?" Lexie suggests. They're super scary!
"What if we put the fear of God into him, convince him that we won't turn him in unless he gets his uncle to sign the horse over?" Tiffany asks after a pregnant silence, in which she is being Evil. "And then, we do it, anyway." She crosses her ethereal arms, "I'm ready to go locate him when one of you says the word."
"In my experience," says Lou, "most people who are cruel to animals are cowards." She is totally helping here.
"We better do it anyway, because I'm not actually covering for a guy who tries to inject stuff into his competitor's," is Kade's response to Tiffany. He seems generally onboard with intimidation. "Maybe if we lean on him, we can get him to turn in his uncle."
"Alright." Huruma's eyes rove to Tiffany first. "If there is a concensus, I will see to him."
"I hope you like being scary," Lexie tells Huruma solemnly. "Because you're really good at it."
"Let's do it." Kade nods to Huruma. "We can go with. Follow your lead. It'll be a party." He then looks to Lexie and, entirely randomly, asks, "I don't suppose I could bum a cigarette?" Since when is he a tobacco guy? It seems like a legit request, though.
Lowering her hat over one eye like Carmen Sandiego, Tiffany blinks out of sight. She sweeps her way through the area, using the senses of anyone within the vicinity of herself to search for signs of the infamous Bob. The psionic traveler heads in the direction which she'd last encountered him.
"Aw, going with me? At least I'll have to behave myself..." Huruma lifts her brows at Kade, white eyes darting over to Alexandra with a smile. "Ah, I know. It is such a gift." It just comes so naturally! She watches Tiffany vanish out of sight, slipping her hands into her pockets and watching for her to return as soon as she can.
Bob is behind his uncle's barn, along with a familiar-looking grey mare and a thin stick. "And you are not leaping any fences today," he tells her, giving a firm slash across the shoulder. The mare just looks confused.
Lexie's brows ticked up, but she digs in the pocket of her coat for a pack and shuffles out a cigarette to offer to Kade. She lets Huruma take the lead on the whole 'putting the fear of God' thing once they find Bob.
Kade tucks the cigarette behind his ear. Maybe he just wants a prop. Huruma gets an easy grin. "Do what you feel. We'll follow your lead."
Tiffany rounds the corner of the barn. The hem of the dress she'd been wearing moments ago appears to be just a few inches shorter. Come to think of it, the neckline might be lower as well. She smiles brightly when she finds Bob, her savior. "I'm so glad I found someone! I'm all turned around and I lost my girlfriends," Tiffany scoffs at herself. So stupid. "My Eyes are all messed up. Hey- If I like, gave you my friend Lexie's info? Could like? Tell her where I am? Wow- is that your horse?" She isn't look at the horse, she's looking at his arms. So strong.
Bob drops his stick in a hurry. The mare snorts and throws her head up. "How'd you get back here?" he asks. Still, with a slightly suspicious air, he consents to contact Lexie, which will SUMMON THEM ALL. Tiffany does her best to dodge answering any questions with a lot of stupid ones of her own, mainly in an attempt to keep the man occupied while she waits for the cavalry to arrive.
Huruma and the others are simply waiting to be summoned when Lexie gets that message from an Eye she doesn't know; could only be one person, though-- and one 'friend' to come and get. An interesting way to gather people back together, but it works. Huruma is the first one around the side of the barn, towering and clad in dark clothes that do not especially speak of a name like 'Lexie'. You never know, though, right? She approaches the two of them at a stride, zeroing in on Bob like a single-minded shark.
"Wow," Lexie says, watching Kade solemnly as he tucks the cigarette behind his ear. When was the last time that was cool, Kade. Oh well. She trails in Huruma's wake, but give her plenty of space to do her thing. Which is terrifying people.
Long before Kade was born, and probably not even then, is the answer to Lexie's unspoken question. /Kade's/ answer to her 'Wow' is a cheeky grin, though. Which he smooths off his face by the time they've reached Bob. He eyes the guy, and takes a lurking position behind Huruma.
Bob eyes them all suspiciously, yanking at the lead rope to haul the mare slightly closer to him. "You're not supposed to be back here," he informs them. "It's not open to the public."
Tiffany smiles to Bob as she vanishes, resurfacing a few moments later a few feet behind him. The position is to mean to block any attempted escape, or appear to. Her arms are crossed and her high-heeled shoes are planted beneath her, shoulder's width apart.
Huruma glances to the mare before she looks down to Bob, her own scent newly familiar to the animal but still a stranger. "No? Our mistake." Huruma answers, not going anywhere except nearly to the man's face, her voice low and her posturing a clear and practiced set of mannerisms. "We have a problem. Or, I should say, you have a problem. We've got an especially eager to please witness that can identify you from the stunt you pulled yesterday..."
"I don't know what you're talking about," says Bob, defensively, his shoulders stiffening. The mare pins her ears back, the man's tension echoing in her frame.
Alexandra actually snorts a laugh into her hand, like Bob's protest is really just kind of funny in context. Oh, honey.
Kade's eyes flit to the horse, and he leans back against a handy beam. Arms crossing along his chest. He does not snort, but his brows do arch in a 'Yeah, right' sort of way.
Tiffany remains silent and allows the smile to fade from her expression.
Huruma offers a passive hand to the mare, palm up, a wafting calm coming from her attempting to console the animal while she threatens her 'trainer'. "Your mouth says one thing-- and everything else about you says another." Pale eyes bore down into Bob's features, an inhuman shade of nothing around pinpricks of black.
"You have two options..." Huruma's chin lifts, her shoulders back and gaze lingering and hard. "Turn in your dear uncle, or take the fall for what he put you to. I will give you... sixty-seconds to decide, before I force you to the latter."
"But," blusters Bob. He tightens his grip on the lead rope. The mare's a defensive wall, right? After all, she's bigger than Huruma. The mare twitches her ears and snorts. "But," he repeats. His train of thought is still boarding at the station.
"We got pictures of you pulling your little stunt yesterday," Kade says mildly. The implication heavily exaggerates what /kind/ of pictures they have, but it's not /untrue/, and he tries to subtly sell the implication. "Your uncle does not strike me as the sort of man who's going to go terribly far to protect you."
"It was all his idea," splutters Bob. "I didn't really want anything to do with it. But he hates that uppity bitch--she's a dirty cheating mutant and if one of her horses won..."
"You don't really get how animal empathy works, huh," Lexie comments from the back of the peanut gallery.
Tiffany brings up a hand to check her nails, eyes narrowing into thin, angry lines as she stares into the back of Bob's head.
Huruma's mouth pulls in something of a sneer, edging into a laugh deep in her chest. "She's right-- you really have no idea. It's about seeing into people's souls." The tall woman shifts forward, lifting her brows in silent taunting. "And I see right into yours. So-- which option is it? Time is ticking, darling."
"I told you, it was his idea!" babbles Bob. "All right, all right, I'll tell the stewards." He takes a step back. "Could you just be...shorter?" he asks Huruma. "Just for a little bit?"
Kade does not laugh at Bob when he asks Huruma to be shorter. That takes most of his self-control right there.
"What do you think she is, a fucking shrinkydink?" Lexie scoffs impatiently at the kid. (Is he even younger than her? WHO CARES. Kid.)
"No." Huruma's answer is stony, her jaw set. She doesn't stalk after him when he takes a step away, so there is that. Take what you can get.
"I don't know what you people can do," mutters Bob. He takes another step back. He's trembling.
Kade side-eyes Bob. Steadily. That's all he does for the moment, though.
"Well, we don't shrinkydink, /Bob/," Tiffany rumbles from behind Bob. Keep taking steps backwards, /Bob/.
Bob squeaks. Loudly. Distinctly. He drops the mare's leadrope, and takes another step backward, right through Tiffany. "I--I will go turn him in right now!"
"We'll be watching the clock." Huruma states, as Bob drops the lead rope and Huruma eases forward to gently take it up again, her manner at ease, emanating self-assuredness. "Get moving."
Bob squeaks again, and runs. Ruuuuuuuns to blab his guts.
"One of us should go hang by the stewards - or whoever - and make sure he actually does it," Kade says. Not that he sounds doubtful. Bob was very frightened.
"Tiffany, can you haunt /just/ him and spook him if he tries to split?" Lexie wonders.
"Or at least keep him in sight." Huruma finally offers to Tiffany, looking at the mare near her and lifting a hand to pat her mane. "I have to figure out where this one belongs, it seems. I can trust the rest to all of you?"
Tiffany looks back towards Huruma and flaps her hand, "Can't we just hide the horse?" She pouts over to Lexie, "Nno. I project to everyone whose eyes I'm seeing through, pretty much." TMI? Is she seeing through your eyes right now? What is happening?
Tiffany's hand goes to her hip, "But I'll go, anyway. Watch." Blink.
Tiffany can follow Bob right to the stewards' offices, where he blabs, and the immediate result is his uncle is suspended from the track--including today's races--until a hearing in the future. The day's races begin, until the call to post is sounded for the Gotham Stakes, and Twinky (or Eternal Flame, as the program has him), prances his way to the starting gate, purple ribbons in his mane.
"Well, at least he got there," says Lou in the grandstand, visibly nervous.
Kade's blue eyes blink, at Tiffany's pronouncement. /Is/ she? He pops his Eyes - which he wears generally, and pockets them. He wasn't checking any /terribly/ personal messages during the job, but he suddenly does not want the temptation to optical-text.
Huruma finds the stable where the gray mare belongs just in time to hear that Bob has indeed gone through with it. She leaves the horse looking smug, and the feeling lingers all the way to when she is able to rejoin the XFS crew. She doesn't say much more-- just settles in to watch the races with the others. Job is done, or at least-- an ongoing effort. Good enough of a win.
The bell rings, and a herd of three year olds thunder out onto the track. Twinky prances out at the back, jogging along behind everyone else, looking perfectly happy. He is still last as they round the final turn. Lou swears.
The wire seems disturbingly close when Twinky decides it's time to run. His ears prick forward and he shifts it another gear, close to the dirt like a copper streak. He starts picking off horses, one, two, three, moving forward with an effortless stride. And, as the finish line looms ahead, he darts beside the leader, thrusting his head in front just as the wire flashes overhead.
Tiffany watches the race but not from the stands. Disembodied, she hitches along with Twinky's rider and experiences the race through the little jockey's senses. As the horse sprints forward, she experiences the rush of air with a great, unseen smile.
The 'PHOTO' sign flashes on the tote board, blinking at the crowd. Lou lets out a long breath. "Did he get it?" she asks, not of anyone in particular. "I thought he got it? Maybe? Maybe he was too late." She pushes forward, heading to the track as everyone waits, an expectant hush as they wait on the results of the photo finish.
Blink. Blink. Blink. The 'PHOTO' sign taunts the crowd--and then fades. The numbers of the winning horses flash up, with Twinky's on top. The announcer informs the crowd that the results are final, and Eternal Flame has won by a nose, but he is nearly drowned out by the crowd. Too many horses shipped in from other parts of the country for this prep; a local win is popular. And XFS are all invited down to the winner's circle to join in for the winning photos.
Huruma does find herself on the edge of her seat as the race comes to a head; when the excitement becomes a hushed murmur, she cannot help but amble up after Louisa, curious.Kade may know nothing about horse-racing, but he can appreciate the drama of a photo finish. He lets out a loud, "Woo!" as Twinky triumphs. He'll head briefly down to the winner's circle, though he doesn't linger long. He hides it well enough, but he's too distracted today to do much post-race partying.