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2046-11-20 B-L-A-Z-E

From X-Factor

B-L-A-Z-E
Date Posted 2016/11/20
Location Necro-Yonkers
Participants Kade, Ciel, Richard, Christian, Diego, Micaela, Alistair
Summary X-Factor is hot on someone's trail. No dogs or candy corns were injured in the making of this log.
Plot Necrogenesis
Scene GM Sao
 
KdKade1.jpg CiCiel XF.jpg Ririchard.JPG ChristianDark.jpg DiDiego.jpg MiMicaela.jpg AliAlistair.jpg
The afternoon sky is an almost uniform gray from horizon to horizon, and the scattered buildings and broken highways have been rendered as stark images with the occasional errant splash of color in a world that seems gray and somehow remote. The quiet is unearthly and strange. The deep grooves of the tire marks bite through mud and grass and field, staining and spitting across highway and then back across a broad swath of flat ground before fading out again once they reach the streets. It's a long walk or a short flight and a few short blips of teleportation before they reach any sign of active, living, noisy population.


But the trail leads them to a certain direction, and if it's a lot of traveling through desolate, depopulated landscape, it eventually gets them to a place that seems more or less intact. The WELCOME TO YONKERS sign by the roadside lost one of its spokes and now leans at a drunken angle, but the tire tracks run out of mud shortly past the sign and disappear into the city on "cleaner" streets.


Life really is harder without cars. Not for Richard in general, but even he starts to feel it when the group as a whole is limited. Fortunately, Ciel is better-equipped to cross some longer distances with a group, and Richard gets to stretch his legs (figuratively) with some scouting ahead now and then. But when he sees the tire tracks eventually disappear onto the cleaner streets, he exhales a slow breath just shy of a sigh. "I guess we're here." And, uh, hopefully not much farther without more clues.


Indeed, Ciel spends most of her time aloft, searching for indications of the track so she can cut walking time for the group. Holding it open for so many so often isn't exactly exhausting - not yet - but it /is/ tiring, and when she draws down to the ground in front of the sign, she looks drawn and worn.


"{People... they still exist,}" Diego observes quietly to his wife in Spanish as they reach the end of the tire tracks. The sight of a town seems to buoy some of his flagging enthusiasm after the long stretch of unearthly quiet that has hung over their journey. He has been uncharacteristically quiet through much of it, burning off some of his energy by running ahead (and behind and to the right and left) to scout.


As an experienced hunter adept at following prey over the course of vast distances, Christian is not so put out by their lack of transportation. In fact, he appears right at home at the points in which the group is predominantly just ...walking. Without so much as a drip of irony, he reaffirms the virtue of following the /super obvious/ tire tracks. He does this /multiple times/.


Kade fishes into his pocket for a hard, sugary candy. A pack of them was among his provisions. One's offered to Ciel wordlessly when she lands. "//Something// still exists here," he says, as much in response to Diego as anything else. He looks worn and tense and like he's attempting (poorly) to conceal how distraught he is. But that's pretty much how he's looked since Sterling's meeting with them at XFS not so many days ago.


"Perhaps they're a trick," Alistair notes, dryly, toward Christian re: the super obviousness of the tire tracks, but holds his tongue otherwise. He's a good walker. There's an art to it. It helps to have long legs.


Yonkers is still quiet, but there are a few more signs of life than there have been so far. Several buildings nearest seem entirely intact. The streets don't look noticeably broken. The steady blink of a traffic light, measuring some traffic that isn't there and telling it to go red, yellow, green, reflects at the intersection ahead.


A dog snuffles across the street, chasing a can and vanishing up the street to the left.


Micaela stares at the crooked welcome sign, looking dissatisfied. She's been largely silent during the walk, except for occasionally complaining about it. Diego has been made carry her bag a few times during this. "{Or we're now all delirious and seeing things,}" she answers Diego in Spanish. Okay, it was a lot of walking, but that's still a bit dramatic, Micaela. She's kidding, anyway. When she sees the dog chasing a can across a street she immediately turns to look at Christian. "Don't eat it."


"At this point my friend, I will take seeing something over more trees and nothing," Diego says, slightly uncharitably of the rural path they've followed. His eyes crinkle as he smiles at Kade from behind his mask. That expression is transferred to Micaela as he reaches out a hand to squeeze her elbow. "{I do not think...}" He pauses, caught by her address to Christian, glancing from the young man to the dog.


"Thanks," Ciel murmurs with a grateful look in Kade's direction as she takes a candy. For a moment, the crinkle of the wrapper seems loud. She pops it between her lips, letting the sugar dissolve on her tongue as she takes it in. "Well," she says eventually. "Something's better than nothing."


Kade mouths 'Eat...?' to himself in confusion, with a look between Micaela and Christian. He does not get it. And, after some thought, he does not ask. To Alistair, he shrugs. "Maybe they are, but they're the only lead we've got right now." His eyes follow the dog.


Richard watches the dog mostly because it's a sign of life. He watches the streetlight for a while. Mostly he looks around for something to indicate where the cars may have gone now that they don't have tire tracks to follow. "Let me get a look up top," he says before rising into the air to see if there's anything more useful from that vantage point.


Christian’s cold eyes settle on Alistair, only briefly pulled away by the can and the dog. “We don’t know if they are feeding the children anything. I’m open to any /other/ suggestions you might have,” he answers Micaela in his low, melodious way -- not looking away from the ginger man for a long time.


Alistair's gaze follows the dog. He ignores Christian for the moment, and seems entirely unaffected by his gaze. "I wonder where the dog is going," he says. "Stray animals generally flock towards food, after all. Sometimes this is helpful. Sometimes..." He shrugs.


Poor Kade is clearly too distraught to remember all the gossiping Micaela did about Christian trying to eat people's pets and smooch girls. Which was… exaggerated in some areas. But that's to be expected, right? Anyway... "Geez, just give them a granola bar or something," Micaela explains reasonably (okay kind of condescendingly) to Christian. "{I was kidding,}" she says to Diego, patting his back.


Diego chuckles at Christian's response. It was jest! At least in his eyes, although he pulls Micaela close briefly as she pats his back. "Si. There may be something to follow there. We have not see much else in the way of animals. Rider, do you see anything?"


"I can't see anything useful up here," Richard reports over the comms. "Nothing to indicate cars went through, at least. One of the buildings stands out for being /particularly/ beat up, but." Does that mean anything?? "It looks like somebody blew the front window." Well, might as well. He swoops in to take a look.


Kade watches the dog for as long as he can. Frowning some more, and making //no// speculation on what the kids might be eating. His Stinger is out and ready, and he tries to keep as much of a bead on Richard as possible, from their position.


"I am going to follow and cover," Diego says simply, zipping along the lines of the builds through the intersection. He moves very quickly, positioning himself within cover the best he can.


Ciel mutters something under her breath, then glances to Diego, nodding in quiet appreciation. She gives Kade a quick glance, then a silent jerk of her head. She doesn't move forward as swiftly as Diego, but she does move forward.


Christian quietly follows his sister's lead. He's the last person who wants to see Richard go down without backup.


As Richard swoops in close, hovering off the ground, there's a soft whisper of noise from inside the building, the hiss of a curse. There's a little rattling scrape like the sound of metal plinking, shaking, against tile.


Through the broken window, it's possible to see inside: what was once a black-and-white tiled 1950s' kitsch kind of place, with countertops and a soda fountain, now shows signs of being wrecked and burnt. It looks like there are letters seared and melted into the tile inside but it's hard to see from this angle. The dog -- a muttish husky-shepard cross OR MAYBE IT'S ACTUALLY A WOLF -- padding in this direction, stops snooting and kicking at the can it was chasing (a dog food can), stares at Richard, and begins to growl, hackles rising in the dark gray ruff of its heavy winter coat. The dog and Richard are at least visible from the intersection, off to the right.


"There he goes," Micaela murmurs, hand on hip, as Richard disappears from her few behind some buildings. She's one of the last to get moving down the street, strolling more than sneaking, though she tries to be quiet, at least. Not that that's saying much.


Kade steps forth with Ciel and Christian, gaze sweeping around him to locate spots of cover in this eerie version of Yonkers. Should the need arise. It's the kind of place that makes him //really// want to know where he can find cover at a moment's notice.


Alistair is quiet. It seems to take him effort to move audibly; in this case he defaults to silent, moving toward the building in question, stinger in hand.


"Hey, it's okay, we're cool," Richard says to the dog, lifting his hands appeasingly as if it will be able to see that he's friendly from this gesture. He glances back through the window where he can hear the quiet reaction of someone -- or someone(s) -- inside. "I've got movement," he says quietly over the comms, trying to glide slowly back from out of immediate view in case that's the plink plink of bullets loading into guns. At least until he has more immediate backup.


"On it." Diego says, speeding his way towards where Richard disappeared so that he can take a peek through one of the murky windows. He gives the growling dog and Richard a wide berth, close enough to cover them if need be but hopefully far enough back to not cause the dog to a) bark or b) bite him.


"Flanking," Ciel says, again with a nod to Kade. She opens a portal in front of them, jerking her chin upward to indicate the nearby flat-roofed building it will spill them out atop.


The dog looks wary. Its hackles are still up. It has not attacked anybody or lunged. It makes a low ... "rrf," halfway between growl and bark, a warning noise. It's WATCHING YOU, Richard.


There are several buildings around the area that are more intact than the one with the exploded window and the glass and brick shards.


Christian slinks around the corner of one of the nearby buildings on the ground level in an attempt to find cover but remain close. He flourishes both hands in front of him, leaving them poised and at the ready to activate a portal of his own.


Micaela takes up a position across the street from the building Richard and Diego are checking out, though it's decidedly as much for spectating as it is covering. There's still sky above her if she needs to get airborne quickly.


"If someone could try and get a better look in there--" Richard says, keeping his eye on the dog. LOOK, he's not MESSING WITH YOU, DOG.


Alistair takes cover around the corner of a nearby building. Not the same one as Christian, though. That way lies madness.


There are indistinct signs of motion and sound from within the broken building but it's kind of hard to make anything out at this distance.


The back of the building is possessed of a.) a dumpster and b.) a back door into what is clearly a kitchen. The window beside the back door is covered with bars, but through it, it's possible to see signs of stacked crates and several refrigerator and freezer units. There may be people, but it's hard to tell through the barred window where they might be.


Of course, there's the wide open HOLE in the front of the building, with scattered brick and glass on the ground.


"There is a door in the back. Dumpster," Diego says, checking inside it briefly with a frown. That's probably gross, Diego. "We could split? Half team go through the hole in the front. Half through the back here... there are refrigeration units."


Ciel settles atop her rooftop, pressing herself down on her belly as she lifts her weapon to sight it on the gaping hole in the front of the building. "I can pop you inside," she murmurs into her coms. "Keep an eye from up here in case you need a quick retreat."


"I'll go in," Christian offers without much inflection over the comms at the mention of being 'popped in.' His gaze settles on the big hole. He's snapped the necks of dogs bigger than that.


"Rrrf. Ruf!" The dog is inching closer to the building, dancing a little in place. The tail is up, as are the ears, but so are the hackles.


"We should be able to get in without trouble, but definitely keep an eye out for us for a quick exit," Richard replies to Ciel over the comms. "Splitting sounds good. Let's get half to the back of the building." He'll apparently stick to the front. With the dog that won't leave him alone. But now his focus is more on gliding back towards the busted window/hole.


"Ready," Kade says simply, when the idea of splitting is OK'd by Richard. He'll stick with Christian. Senses pricked toward those sounds and movement within the building, even if he can make little of them right now.


There's definitely people in there somewhere. Muttering and whispering and shifting.


Ciel leaves the backdoor people to their own, but she provides a handy short-cut for those nipping in the front. A portal opens well into the building, with quick access to the counter and whatever cover it provides. She remains in place, weapon fixed.


"I'll take point on the back," Diego says lowly, pulling on the blades out of his belt slowly. His fingers twitch towards the door handle.


"Don't get rabies," Micaela says as she leaves the boys to tangle with the dog and heads around to the back of the building with a skip and a hop of lightly propelled flight. "Gross," she says of the dumpster, because it's a dumpster, not because she's paying attention to it particularly. She looks at Diego's twitching fingers, but goes ahead and jiggles the back door handle to see if it's unlocked.


Alistair slips out of the cover he chose, and slips around to the back to make up the numbers. He waits to see what the verdict on the back door.


The back door is locked, but not impassible for people who know how to handle an old school, old style mechanical lock. Everything back here is very analog and not very digital.


Christian springs through the portal first, bending at the knees so that he lands on the other side in a slight crouch. His hands remain set out before his chest with one turnt downward with his index and middle finger pressed together and the other splayed above it in an only slightly varied position -- prepared to shift open a similar portal to /an onslaught of super subtle water rapids/ should the occasion call for it.


"Well?" Diego asks quietly, eying his wife and the door. He nods at Alistair as he approaches.


Kade isn't as quick as Christian, but he's close behind him through the portal in. His eyes sweep side-to-side once he's in, into the spaces he couldn't see from the other side of it. Ears still focused on the muttering of...whoever or whatever's in here.


"Locked," Micaela explains once prompted and starts digging around in her bag, since they're supposed to be sneaky and shooting the handle off is anything but. Alas.


Richard doesn't actually seem thrilled by Christian going through first, but that's probably no surprise. He follows through the portal quickly enough, gaze alert, muscles ready as he scans the room rapidly.


Behind the counter, there's a shriek.


Bullets release in a staccato fire of a submachine gun, but not one wielded by someone who knows what they're doing. The bullets fly wide of any target to gore plaster holes in the wall.


"Don't--" shouts someone else.


"No!" shouts a third, much younger voice.


The checked tile underneath their feet has been scorched and melted into letters: B - L - A ...


"All right," says Alistair simply, and moves forward to take a look at the lock himself. He jiggles the handle once, taking store of it. He dugs in an inside pocket, pulling out what appears to be a lockpick, and stoops to set to work on them.


As soon as the last person passes through, Ciel's portal snaps closed. She doesn't return fire just yet, trusting the advance team to manage the inexpert fire they're facing.


As soon as the bullets sound, Christian pinches at the air and pulls open a rippling, blue-green disc of his own. Unswayed by the young voices, he opens his arms wide and with them.


The disc grows wide as well. From it, a pillar of gushing river water punches out in the counter's direction, drowning out the sound of barking dogs and gunfire with a roar of its own.


"Aw," says Micaela as Alistair gets to his lockpicks first, but she doesn't get in his way. At least, until there is suddenly some machine gun fire. "Get it opeeeen," she demands of Alistair, helpfully snapping her fingers in impatience.


The sound of machine gun fire makes Diego jump. "Status!" He requests into their linked comms worriedly. His dark eyes flit to Alistair, trying not also urge him to hurry.


Kade flattens himself against a wall, Stinger primed, but it's not fired toward the sound of that (not terribly accurate) shooting. Or the young voices, which he sifts in his mind for any sign of recognition. "Hold your fire! We didn't come here to fight. We're just looking for some answers." The words are out of his mouth just as Christian's water is away, and he notices it going off with a wince. "Hold up, man. Let's see who we're dealing with here."


"Fucking hell," Ciel mutters, her eyes narrowing on the sudden flood of water gushing forward from Christian's portal. A half second later, one of her own snaps into place, redirecting the stream into the empty street. "/Control yourself/," she snaps into coms.


The screaming behind the counter grows simultaneously more muffled and more hysterical. Then the water cuts off.


The wavering muzzle of the gun peeks out from behind the counter with a hint of wide dark eyes and short buzzed hair. "You've already taken everything! Why are you back? Leave us alone!" There's a hiccupy crying sound, followed by a frantic, "Shh, baby, shh, baby--"


Outside, the dog's barking suddenly cuts off as it is distracted by the sudden fountain of water in front of it. It goes to investigate. "Rrf?"


In the back -- it's the work of the moment to pick the lock and get the back door to the kitchen open. Once done, it creaks a little on its hinges but still definitely opens, revealing numerous scattered, apparently empty crates as well as refrigerators and freezers, and a surprising number of ice cream scoops.


"We've never been here before," Richard says, trying to speak in as clear and open a voice as he can. "We're newcomers. We're not here to take anything or hurt you. Can we just talk?"


As soon as the door is open, Diego is through it and heading towards the area of disturbance. Gunshots! He will remove that gun from the conversation, unless he runs into something on the way.


Christian let's the floodgate take its course for a heartbeat before clapping his hands closed and with them, the portal. As the water drains away in whatever abandoned lane Ciel redirected it to, fish flop about with wide eyes and gaping mouths. Christian glares over at the counter, paying his sister's chastisement little to no heed. He is controlling himself ...and looks ready to open another at any wrong moves.


"We aren't here to take anything. I'm looking for my daughter," Kade says. Tone still controlled, but only just. "We think she might've been brought this way, along with some other kids. Please."


Alistair carefully replaces his lockpicks in their elegant case. Stinger in hand, he slips quietly through the door, and heads toward the sound of shoots, although he hangs back further than Diego.


From the kitchen, Diego and the rest of the backdoor team get a good look at the figures huddled behind the counter. There are four of them. The youngest is probably 8. The one holding the gun is probably 20, kneeling at the far end of the counter and peeking out behind it towards the others, but there's also one in her mid fifties and then a 14 year old, currently clutching the eight year old and trying to keep him from crying. They are packed in close and tight behind the counter, huddling there; the oldest looks bandaged in a number of places.


"You bastard," the one with the gun says. It lifts, pointing at Kade and shaking visibly in her hands. "I know you. You killed my brother. /Yesterday/. We didn't /move fast enough/ and now you're not here to take--"


Micaela is second through the back door, about as impatient as Diego in this moment, but not as fast. At least, not on the ground. She moves through the room, around and over crates, trying not to knock into anything. She also finally unholsters her stinger while she moves.


Ciel's portal disappears as Christian's does, but she's keeping a close eye on him now, watching him as carefully as she watches the general situation. She's gone tense all over, and the situation isn't helped by the words that float over the distance. "Shit," she says quietly.


Glancing through the doorway, Diego takes a quick summary of the scene as he scans the figures clustered behind the counter. Moving in a burst of speed, he angles to jerk the gun /forward/ out of the shooter's hands where the angle is most awkward to keep a hold on it as they lean around the counter. He, himself, will keep to the /side/ of the gun because he does remember /something/ of their training.


The other two letters melted into the floor, visible now, are indeed Z - E.


Richard mutters something under his breath when the people recognize -- or think they recognize -- Kade. "I'm so sorry," he says. "That wasn't -- I'm sorry, I don't know how to explain it, but it wasn't him. It wasn't /us/."


"I do not know what you're talking about. I haven't killed anyone here and I'm not..." Kade's eyes widen as //something// pokes at the back of his mind, beyond the confusion. "...OK. This is not going to make any sense, but I'm not who you think I am." He exchanges a look with Richard. It mostly conveys, 'Oh fuck.' "I swear to God. I'm not the man who killed your brother. I'm just trying to find my own family."


<FS3> Diego rolls Speedster: Great Success. (7 3 1 8 7 3 6 3 4 3 5 7 2 7)


Christian remains steady and alert, ready to fire again. He settles his wide, pale eyes on the young man with the automatic weapon. "You are wrong."


The older woman stands, behind the counter. She sets her bandaged hands down on the surface of the counter that was once her family's livelihood and she stares toward them. Her voice is heavy and thick with emotion. "You are murderers and tyrants who take what you want because you /can/," she sneers. "You took all of our food. Now you are taking our last line of defense. You said you didn't need any more slaves. I will take you at your word. Take nothing else. Get out." Her breath fills her shaking voice and then she screams at them with a throat gone raw, "/Get out/."


"Maybe Kade should give them some distance," Ciel suggests quietly from her perch. "Or... most of us." There's a pause before she asks, "Feeling diplomatic, Rider?"


Once she can see them behind the counter, Micaela positions herself so that she could get a shot at someone with her stinger, if need be. Though once Diego takes the gun away, it seems unlikely to be necessary. She winces slightly when the old woman yells. "They don't seem particularly reasonable, guys," she...maybe understates over the comms. Not that anyone is going to put her in charge of /diplomacy/, anyway.


Richard snorts quietly at Ciel's suggestion, but can't exactly argue. "Right. Okay." He steps forward, hands in the air. "We're not going to take your gun," he tells the woman quietly. "We just don't want to you to end up shooting us." He hesitates a moment before saying, "The people who came through. Can you tell us where they went?"


Alistair sneaks in behind Micaela, and, too, takes a position where he can shoot someone--if necessary. "Keep in mind," he notes over the comms, "that a judicious retreat is sometimes the wisest decision." Briefly, while watching the others, he...winces.


"Slaves?" Kade repeats the word like it makes him vaguely ill. //All// of this does, more than likely. Into the comms he says, "I'm sure as hell not doing much good here. Give me a door, Ciel. I'll move back to cover them with you." He slides his Stinger back into his belt and edges away from the wall, hands up. No sudden moves, no blazing.


"I will be giving it back," Diego protests to the older woman, glancing over to Richard in confusion. He nods emphatically and intently at the other man's questions as he holds position. The weapon is pointed at the floor rather than anywhere intimidating.


"Don't be stupid!" shouts the teenager from beneath the counter. "They all fly and spit fire and blow things up by snapping their fingers and one of them has a robot arm! Get down!"


At Kade's request, Ciel pops open a portal behind him. "Christian," she says, her gaze still fixed on the people in the shop through the scope of her rifle.


"Give it back when she helps us," Christian suggests, eyeing the woman daringly. He does not relax from his previous position, nor does he go through the door. "Ciel." He thinks he's doing plenty good here. The robot arm thing makes Christian's eyes bulge. He turns to acknowledge Richard. What the fuck?


There's a moment where Richard just looks horrified. He opens his mouth, trying to find the words, and finally he manages to say, "No. We don't know where they -- take them. Please."


Kade falls back through Ciel's portal, going to kneel next to her. His Stinger's eased by into his hand, but his fingers of the other no longer have that 'priming for action' look about them. He puts his off-hand at his side with a shudder.


"Slavery is sort of frowned on where we come from. Unless you count factory workers." Maybe not the time, Micaela. "If you want to stick it to those assholes, you should tells us where they went." If 'please' doesn't work, there's always revenge.


"What I want to know is why you need that much ice cream and caramel corn if what you're doing is taking slaves," says the 14-year-old voice of reason in an aggrieved tone.


"Si," Diego agrees with Christian's suggestion. His eyes widen as they scared huddle speaks of horrors. He glances towards the team and does his best to look somewhat non-threatening. He looks towards buzzcut and nods amiably. "Once you answer our questions, of course." The 14-year old earns a curious look. "Ice cream?"


"We leave," Richard confirms. "We don't hurt anyone. We give you back your gun. All of that. We just need to find them."


Ciel's gaze leaves the crowd in the shop briefly, just long enough to look toward Kade. She doesn't say anything, but she stretches a hand toward him.


"One wonders who might be eating that ice cream," says Alistair, quietly. He leans against the wall, stinger still at ready, the lines of his tall figure loose, ready for action.


"They took /a child/ from us," Christian flattens his mouth. Cold.


"Ha," says the old woman bitterly. "Eating their own, are they?" She looks away.


The 14-year-old stands up, scrubbing his hand back through the mop of his overlong shaggy curls. He frowns. "It's an ice cream shop," he says. "They came here, took all our food, which was mostly different ice creams. And caramel corn. And all the pretzels and, you know, those hot dog in pastry things--" He points up at the old school white board menu, which advertises 'piggies in blankets'.


The 20-year-old folds her arms across her chest. "Manhattan. Financial District. It's a big building with freakin' gargoyles on it. Everyone knows they're there."


With a heavy sigh, Micaela puts her weapon away in a show of good faith. (Of course she can still fly and set things on fire, so it's almost entirely for show). "Man. Now I'm hungry," she murmurs as the 14-year old lists all the foods taken.


"It rather sounds," says Alistair, putting his own weapon away, "like someone was trying to appease a gaggle of teenagers." A pause. "Or eats really unhealthily."


"Woolworth Building, maybe," Richard says, glancing back at the others before returning his attention to the strangers. "Can you tell us how long ago they came through?"


Kade makes a low noise that doesn't actually translate into words over the comm, and lets out a shuddering breath, at all the talk of ice cream.


"Yesterday," the 20-year-old says crisply. "Last night." She jerks her chin to the letters scarred into the floor. "They left their mark."


Christian remains fixed on the old woman. One eye gives a faint twitch. "Eating their own." His words are toned as a statement, but they linger like a question might. He lets his arms drop back to his sides, flexing out his fingers after having held in the same position for so long. He regards Alistair, sweeping his gaze over Micaela, "Or fattening them up."


"Oh my God," Micaela says with a roll of her eyes following Christian's words, "Can you not be creepy for even a few minutes?"


"/Christian/." Richard's voice comes in a sharp snap, gaze snapping to the younger man in fierce censure. He lets it linger there a moment so that he can feel its weight before returning. "Thank you," he says. "I know that you may not believe me, or believe that we're not with the people who hurt your family, but I'm sorry for what happened to you. We might -- be able to leave you some of our supplies. If it would help."


The older woman is the first to respond to this. Leaning forward on the brace of her hands against the counter, she stares at Richard with a hint of glisten in her dark eyes. She says, "Please. I don't know what your game is, but we're in no condition to refuse any help."


The younger one is bristling, but she backs off immediately as she hears this, and runs her hand back over the buzzed shear of her black curls. "Hell," she says. "We need--" and then she breaks off.


"I'm guessing you don't have any caramel corn," says the teenage pragmatist.


Christian meets Richard's display of dominance without looking away. It ignites a tiny thrill behind all that that ice. It lingers before ultimately passing, after which the white haired man behaves.


"Caramel corn," says Alistair mildly, "tends not to be the most practical foodstuff to pack on missions. It takes up a lot of space."


Kade has retreated into his own thoughts, though he won't argue with any division of the supplies, even if they include his own. He mutters to himself, off-comm, "Blaze… my fucking God..."


"Every time someone says 'caramel corn' I wants some even more," Micaela mutters with a huff. So that's a 'no' then.


Alistair murmurs, in a soft Scottish accent, "Caramel corn."


"There is no game?" Diego says softly, his dark eyes taking in the family. He nods at Richard's offering, willing to do as needed. "We only seek to find the children that were taken. Just as he said." He'll follow the Richard's directions as to distribution of supplies.


"No, we -- don't." Richard does try to look apologetic, at least. "Our supplies are probably less tasty, but they'll help you survive. We'll -- give you what we can spare. I'm sorry we can't do more, but we have to move quickly."


"Thank you," the eldest of them says gravely, giving Richard a slow nod.

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