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Animal Wrongs (IC)

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Spring 2016 

Greenbank Warehouse District


The Gaia's Liberation Front meeting was going well - the activists inside were ready to move to direct action against the corporate oppressors of the planet. All was going well, Pierre thought as he stepped out into the alley to light a cigarette. Just as his match flared to life; a hatchet appeared at his throat. "Hey, jackass," Woodsman whispered in his ear, glad that for once he'd found a criminal shorter and slighter than he was. "You say a word and you're gonna be crapping that match out your ears!" Dammit, Riley thought, embarrassed, why is it so hard when I know people are watching!? "Yeah, you heard me. Now talk. Where'd you put the goddamned dynamite? Or do I have to give you a shave first?" 

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Just a few yards away, Wander crouched on the edge of the roof and kept an eye on the proceedings below. She nodded slightly at Woodsman's target selection, and approved of his smooth and silent approach as well. When the talking started, though... She turned slightly to her partner, a second dark shadow on the rooftop. Crapping a match out his ears?  she mouthed, knowing that Midnight would pick it up even in the dark. Erin shook her head and prepared to jump down should it become necessary. 

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Midnight, predictably, said nothing but did raise the fingers of one hand to massage his right temple through his featureless black mask. It hadn't been the strongest opening line, no; it wasn't so much the biological impossibility of it he would have called out as the specificity. Blades weren't his oeuvre but Woodsman seemed much more confident with an ax in hand; better as a rule to let the target of his intimidation imagine what that blade might do than make a specific promise.


Still, he shifted his hand just enough to suggest he and Wander hold back and give the teen a chance to recover. Riley's physical skills were considerable and developing well but while he had anger and bluster in copious amounts he needed a chance to build up some real confidence for this sort of work.

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The moment dragged on  - the goateed man, wearing an expensive flannel shirt that Riley judged would never stand up to a real winter, said nothing, but stared around in wide-eyed terror. 


"Well?" He dug the blade in, earning a soft gasp of terror from his target - and leaving behind a few distinct drops of blood. Riley kept his hatchet sharp. 


"In...the...basement..red...storage locker...oh, please don't kill me," Pierre whimpered. "I swear we just were just gonna blow up the lab once everyone was gone, just so everyone would know-" 


"Save it!" Riley hissed, satisfied, his muscles beginning to ache from tension. He knew he had to move the situation along, and fast. He released Pierre, stepping back, and whipped his hatchet around. The flat of the blade cracked against the back of the man's head, sending the would-be eco-terrorist down to the ground. Knowing the man would be up in seconds, Riley knelt atop him, straddling his back, and had Pierre zip-tied and gagged faster than he could have gutted a Feral. Less messy this way too! 


He was too well-trained to look up Erin and Trevor's way - but he felt their eyes on him even so. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Erin slid off the roof, landing with only the softest thud of shoes on concrete, and made her way over to Riley. She turned over the hapless would-be terrorist and examined his neck, noting the faint line of blood there. She stuck two fingers in the gag, making sure it wasn't so tight as to cause permanent damage, and did the same with the zip ties, then gave Riley a curt nod of approval. "You may want to get a knife if you want to use it as a threat that way," she murmured to Riley, too softly for the prisoner to hear. "Keep it fairly dull, it'll still scare the hell out of them, but you're less likely to accidentally kill somebody when they panic and run themselves up on the blade. You get the information?" 

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"Hht. Props." At some point Midnight had appeared on Woodsman's other side, barely more than a pair of dimly reflective red eyes floating in a field of black. Something in his measured tone reminded Riley of the look he'd once seen the taller man give a barista during a work break when she'd asked if he wanted room for milk or cream. In the moment he exchanged a brief look with Wander for confirmation that the unconscious man was both properly secured and in no immediate risk of permanent injury before turning his attention back to the teenager. He waited to hear what Woodsman had learned before asking, voice quiet but almost preternaturally clear in the darkened alley, "How do you think you did?"

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"Did ok," Woodsman commented, thinking about the interaction. "Got a little stupid talkin' to him. Don't do that much," he admitted, something that he was sure Wander and Com-Midnight already knew about. "Should get more things t'say. Thought about goin' in," he went on, shooting a glance up at the upper-story windows of the warehouse, "but crazy t'go in without recon. Could have who knows what in there. Got the info. And I do have a knife," he went on, patting his belt. "Could get one with a bigger handle, better for punchin'" He looked back at the warehouse and asked, "We goin' in?" He was fairly confident his escorts hadn't been seen - and supremely confident he hadn't been seen either. 

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"You don't have to bring the banter if it's not your style," Wander told Woodsman. She kept one eye on him and one eye on the building, her voice still pitched barely above a whisper. "But it doesn't hurt to keep a couple of good threats in your pocket. Bad guys aren't likely to know if you recycle the same ones over and over." She drew her bat and opened it with a flick of her wrist, making the slim baton extend to nearly five feet of silver that gleamed in spite of the darkness around them. It wasn't the world's most stealthy weapon, but Wander herself wasn't nearly as sneaky as some. "What do you think?" she returned the question to him. "Are we ready?" 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Gaia's Liberation Front meetings, from the trio's earlier investigations, tended to be relaxed affairs - the group's rotating council of leaders would talk at length about the need to liberate the Earth by any means necessary, music by hard green bands would play, someone would break out the pot brownies or the pills, and the subsequent party was the sort that wasn't really worth a superhero's time to break up as long as everyone involved was of age and consenting. 


But tonight things were different - the would-be eco-terrorists were meeting in a warehouse full of railroad shipping containers (which provided excellent sources of cover even with all the lights turned on), they were in black turtlenecks and balaclavas rather than their usual more colorful fare, and a notably smaller version of the usual crowd was listening to a speaker talk with great seriousness about the need for armed revolution against technological civilization  - this time providing a detailed list of potential targets all over Freedom City. 


From behind Wander, Woodsman, figuring they wouldn't be waiting long, took the time to turn the crank on his crossbow for a sniper's shot. Meanwhile, addressing the crowd of lotus-sitting eco-terrorists, the speaker continued to talk, his voice high and firm as he spun his web of ecological revolution. In a wheelchair, he was squarely built, torso muscular and arms big and powerful, his own brown sweater and glasses making him look like an academic instead of a man planning terrorism. Lots of labs did animal testing in Freedom City - including some in hospitals, some on college campuses, some of them working with cancer treatment and vaccinations... 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Moving with silent efficiency atop the shipping containers, Midnight's silhouette melted into the dark of the night. He adhered a pair of small cameras to the corners of two of the metal rectangles, getting a good view of the proceedings. Depending on how things shook out footage of their bespectacled ideologue's speech could come in handy later and perhaps more importantly he wanted to go over Woodsman's performance with the teen afterwards.


It was the work of moments and before long he was crouched next to the survivalist's chosen spot, letting Erin take point but waiting to hear how the younger man wanted to proceed without offering suggestions or hints.

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Erin kept one careful eye on the proceedings down below, but this particular group of violent tree huggers didn't seem like much of an immediate threat. They could always have a metahuman or two in the ranks, but that would be unusual even for Freedom City. Most likely they were just another revolutionary group who'd decided to turn words into actions, whether or not they had any idea what they were doing. "Call the play," she murmured to Riley, all but inaudibly. "Midnight and I will back you up, you take the lead." It was a good mission to let the trainee take charge of, well-supervised charge. 

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This was a hard one. It wasn't that Woodsman didn't know what to do, if anything he had an embarrassment of options. A smoke arrow would disperse the crowd - but there was no way to be sure that whoever they captured would be possible to tie to the bomb in the basement. And if anyone got away, they'd be able to plan anew, and maybe get their hands on some fresh explosives. He could certainly snipe the man who looked to be the leader from here, that was sure, but somehow a hail of arrows slicing into the crowd seemed out of proportion for what they were accused of doing. Of plotting to do, anyway. For his part, Riley had very little sympathy for anyone planning to destroy a laboratory or other area where science was done, especially in the name of helping something like animals...but he knew his world's values didn't apply here. 


"We spook 'em," he suggested. "Scare 'em and make the bad ones go for the bomb. If the others just run off, that's no trouble. They're just buncha morons. If Wheels there is in charge, we catch anybody who sticks close to him, too." 

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