Echoes of Hope In The Dark

June 08, 2017:

Human trafficking is not only dealing in humans Both Echo and X get different kinds of leads and converge for a similar purpose.

…Enter Gabby

NY Harbor - New York City

This is the mouth of the hudson river, where it empties into New York Bay
and the Atlantic ocean. It is one of the largest natural harbors in the
world, home to the oldest American dry dock, several major rail terminals
and, of course, the Port of New York and New Jersey which is the third
busiest port by tonnage in the Eastern US.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Genosha is on the rise, the word has spread, protests, riots, movements that force some things deeper underground or to become a part of a scheme already there, and make it mesh.

The warehouses lining the docks bore "empty" trailers, at least in appearance. A crane shifts in dark, too late for workers to be present, but a new trailer is dropped in while another is shuffled to the side with the massive magnetized plate shifting the juggle, like a giants game of 'cups', playing a gamble>

In a bar near Hell's Kitchen:
A man murmurs about his job, another drink taken in as he talks about all of the 'hot ass' he has been getting. Shocking for the fact that he is 4 hairs shy of a successful comb over and 50 pounds over having permanent 'Dun-Lap' disease. (His belly done lapped over his belt ages ago. Blame all the beer.)
Stumbling out of the bar a picture drops, a picture of a woman whose eyes look exhausted, perhaps from too many tears, standing in front of a crate that has a number and serial just to the lower left. John Does personal collection is not professional.

Docks:

As the crane shifts the cargo containers around a silhouette is perched atop one of the small structures, buckle laden boots have her lifted to toes in her perch, leather encases the figure from toe to waist where pants end, abdomen bare, the black mid-halter also of similar leather, strapped up and over shoulders and mingling with long strands of black, her face set and intent with apathy, but eyes are masked, making eyes a dim red in the backdrop and framing.
X-23: Her tracking of the Cloning Facilities has never stopped, it is her personal vendetta, and in hearing some may be involved in this next embargo she is present and waiting for her moment.

In a bar near Hell's Kitchen:

The bar's mirror was 'C-' by health code standards, needing a good wiping down, but from the corner of the room where a woman with long, dark hair was at a table, drinking alone, the mouths could be visible. The light green cocktail with tiny, red straw was stirred in silence as a chocolate brown eyeball peeked through waves of hair, angling for the glass…

Docks:

Maya Lopez knew she had to move fast. Bodies in trade tended to move quickly like illusory tricks: One night in one place, then gone the next. She dressed quickly in an alleyway, stowing her leather jacket in a backpack in a dark corner. The holster slipped on easily at the small of her back, as did the slung case of escrima sticks. Black ties from knuckle to bicep, Echo creeps towards the docks, fingers wrapping behind her head to tie her hair into a messy bun, and finally, to cinch the scarf over her face.

It only partially conceals the white palm-print painted onto her skin.

From the other side of the docks, another shadow arrives to X-23's senses. Black tabi boots make for whispered steps in a crawl onto the old, unused containers overlooking the exchange of crates.

She moves like a member of the Hand. Too thin to be most men.

Either way, she's crouched low in the shadows, waiting for the containers to open…counting the guards.

The stretch of paved road leading towards the docks has laid empty since the 'day shift' left, but now after hours of passing the concrete has time to cool a group of trucks drive down it, also bearing a van within the mid of the line.

Out along the bay a ship approaches. Not large enough to be notable as trade or cargo, but large enough to fit the cargo of containers below decks.
No blow of horn.
No tell.

Even as it approaches the lights upon deck and captain station go dark as it shifts sideways to align with coordinates and engines go silent to allow it to coast to dock.

Before the ships bow can meet the dock the trucks pull in, a the van centered as black clad figures disembark with the silent fall of boots to the ground. They look more like black-ops then that of the usual business men, down to the holstered weapons.

The security guard (who looks like a younger version of the man at the bar near Hell's Gate), comes forward then from his tiny booth with keys in hand. "The client has the payment on board, your price met for the addition you sent the information and images of." A pause before keys meet the cargo lock and he looks towards the men that now form a line of six while two more wait on either side of the large cargo van where within vibrations are had: Rapid, heavy, rocking the vehicle on its wheels.

X is now at attention, the van cargo container opening as words are exchanged, and once the darkness seems to shed to the security lights of the Dock, many bodies are within. Gagged, bound - Men, Women - Adult, Youth…

And then the van's doors open, something akin to a massive dog crate is withdrawn.
"That better be safe, if we lose this cargo there will be no peace for our people." The guard mutters.

X's nostrils flare and eyes are darting, the hands resting in poise curling, biting nails into the metal beneath, cracking to cuticle in one part…

A glance towards shadows, a moment of breath, and then back towards the targets, her position shifting now towards a ledge.

Maya keeps her head down, eyes intent on the mouths as their words are formed; reading them from a distance. Her fingers, bare from the final knuckle to fingertip, curl against the edge of the container as she leans forward, pupils widening to let in precious light as she looks from mouth to mouth, those that she can see.

Moving in a sideways crawl, Maya takes her time. Selecting her footholds, she moves from container to container, above the line of lights, until she's crawled her way to within throwing distance of the van and the soldier-types that are mid-process of human trafficking.

She reaches behind her back. Wood hisses over wood as one long, lacquered fighting stick is drawn free.

Hoka-Hey.

The shadow, across from X-23, one that has not sensed the other woman yet, pushes up with catlike muscles to her knees and she starts forward at a run. She reaches the edge of the container and leaps doing a cartwheel mid-air that comes with a loud '*POP!*'

She fires at the tires of the van, mid-flight, announcing her attack.

"The containment is secure. We have more to lose than you do." The voice of the guard standing at point is flat and matter-of-fact, unmoving as the others carrying the rattling crate have to move around him to carry the rattling crate towards the cargo container.

"Move your cargo to the side."

The security officer, bearing the nametag of 'Brandt' pulls a taser wand from his belt (aside from cuffs, the rent -a- cops only weapon!), extending it to let the charge sound in a low whine.

Unheard by one, but to X it is a sound that draws her eyes back up in a snap just as she impacts the ground. That the opening to Echo's arrival, the other scent that did not fit with knock-off tide, starch, metal, and sweat. The charge is one she knows well of many, making hairs stand on end, and the rest of her bristle as her stature reforms to one of battle, a single fisted hand bearing fingerless gloves dripping in the slow expulsion of twin claws.

The *POP!* has the van shifting upon it's frame, the tires of target immediately hissing out the compressed air and lowering the vehicle on half.

The security guard brandishes his other weapon boldly! A large Mag… Flashlight to catch only the tail end of Echo's shadow, now making this a Blair Twit project as he is backing into the container with breathes rising in draw and rapidity, with his heartbeat.

The resounding clicks come now, safeties are switched and the 6 guarding the carriage of the container aim high and low, one already firing to have the bullet ricochet off the path and hit the side of a truck…

X moves when Echo starts the fray with her arrival, but instead of stealth she is opting for the open, to draw attention and eyes.

Counting all the assholes in the room,
I'm definitely not alone!

Or so X will hope later, but right now?

The rake of claws come down to draw over the roof of a truck in razing of paint and the peeling of metal to bring her to a landing before the grill of the vehicle, facing them where the red eyes cast a glow now.

Three men branch out, now surrounding the caravan of parked vehicles, the pistols held in gloved grips, masked faces unreadable as one gestures for a 'fan-out' in the hunt for Echo.

Like Freddy Krueger and his fingers, the sound of metal being ripped through is a loud squeal, nails on a chalkboard, a foreboding sound that, truly, no one ever wants to hear. It's a welcome sound after a pair of spent rounds and the squeal-hiss of air flowing out of a van's tire. All unfriendly sounds for an unfriendly moment.

Three on three. From the height of the cargo containers above, Echo blinks furiously down from the shadows at the sudden arrival of the woman with knives attached to her hands. An unexpected variable, but one that isn't fighting her. Maya Lopez grits her teeth behind the scarf that covers her mouth and balls her fingers into a white-knuckled fist. Damn.

The shadow dives into the center of the three who have fanned out to search for her. The tac-vested guard turns a second too late, firing off a round into the sky as Maya lands just inside his right thigh. In a flurry of moves, the laquered sticks spin, locking his wrist and elbow with one arm, while her free stick cracks against his throat.

The two guards yell and turn, pointing their guns towards Echo.

Maya turns quickly, wrapping her sticks around the guard from behind, and when the bullets come in, the front of the guard's vest explodes in puffs of fabric, a human shield for Maya Lopez.

The guard is pushing a path through the captive cargo, boot heels kicking limbs aside to make room for the massive 'kennel' that now, when rattled by the person inside casts a faint blue/green glow over the casing, and within the sound is almost animalistic, followed by battering blows and jostling that only makes the two carrying the crate at a fast-paced shuffle grunt, but despite the awkward keep moving as fast as they can under pitched weight.

The three on Echo are focused, but beneath it all, rattled, unexpectant of the assault and it shows as when Maya descends and one is pitched blow-by-blow into a dance that has his body puppeted by the impact of her weapons into his form, a fist seeking to rise and bring the back of knuckles upon his assailant that comes in behind…. But there is a sudden prey to predator pause as the stick presses solidly across his throat and his spun!
A rise of hands, a choked back sound!
And within her grip his body is jolted by every impact of the rounds fired by the other two.

His breathe is a wheeze, a wracked exhale beneath the compression of flak vest that saved him from… some… Blood trickles from one corner of his lips, his weight becoming something slackening in her grip as the other two advance upon Echo and her 'hostage'.

No… They do not care. Hide as she may behind him, one of the men lowers his pistol to cranial level of his 'partner' held captive and pulls the trigger, seeking aim for both dead in one blow!

The three on X, spin, a blockade between her and the transport, the ship behind them finally meeting aft to dock-side beside the crate, the crane moving jerkily as the driver sees all going on below and is in a panic, the magnetized end swinging chaotically through the air above them all to seek the carriage.

The firing of pistols starts slow, one…
Another…
Another!!

Flashes like lightning!

X does not stop once her goal is acquired, that crate. What is in the cargo trailer is not her business, totally… Maybe in a bit. One man is hamstrung, his body lifting from feet, caught at the back in a sweep of arm under and up! An unintended somersault landing him on shoulders and neck while red eyes tracer across the darkness in an animalistic whirl of trained brutality…

Where Echo's own capture and motion is ease, trained, effective in deliberate. The one man aiming for the head(s) is the distraction as the second is moving to the side, attempting to gain a second site upon her!

As the weight of the body in Echo's hands goes slack, her body lowers, falling with the gradual slump of weight as the two men approach her. She narrows her eyes as the flashes around her, gunshots she cannot hear, threaten to make her blink in the desperate seconds between the pull of the trigger to her human shield's head…and the gun turning her way.

CRACK

Four inches to the left, the round shears through a strand of hair as Echo comes up with her escrima sticks. Two to the knee, one to the ribs, and three to the neck, her arms fly fast, the rattling thuds of the sticks finding their pressure points in the precious seconds before the second gunman rushes in.

Shots ring out from each of the men as Echo hits one at a time, sticks cracking against elbows, against wrists, keeping their pistols at bay in a dance of life and death until one of them falls and his gun flies up into the air.

Echo swings her arm around to her last remaining guard, throwing the stick at close range into his jaw. When he bends over, holding his face and shattered teeth together, she rolls across his back and grabs the flying gun as it falls.

Echo fires on the cabin of the crane, shooting to terrify.

POP
P-
POP

Sparks fly around the crane's operating housing, glass shattering and cracking with the impact of bullets.

They were not expecting opposition, not of the caliber they got, they were ready for the 'Export Elite' to possibly try and make off on a deal, even a small fight that would have blades, small arms fire… Low military grade. Not sheer brutality and acute training granted by years from two women who move….

Echo is a flow within the shadows, and just as silent. Her shield crumples and Echo is missed but that does not stop the second pull of trigger. There was no -known- pause in his assault and pull to lay their assailant out, but he missed and once he turns it is in time to hear the hollow impact of sticks upon his partners body, the sudden change of weapons hands after two fires that only chip up concrete and fire into the empty darkness.

Of course the moment it took for him to gather the change in 'upper hand' the blows impacting his body rock him, a balance lost as his upper body cranes back with blow to jaw, forward when it comes to abdomen, then used as a pillar for a clear shot to the cranes driver within the cabin. His body falls, a cheek pillowed upon his teeth and a puddle of blood.

X is moving in a fashion that is more animalistic, rage fueled, and any tact only comes in muscle memory and training, while the forefront of brain is only acting like a mother bear pitting herself against a cubs danger. Skin is rent, a fist meets the side of kevlar, no fatality… Until 7 hours from now if no one finds him, but he is hoisted off his feet as X races forward with a feral cry and then spins, his body sliding off the blades and rolling towards the ship that sought to dock…
.. and is now changing its mind. Too much, too fast. No risk.

The crane is still aside from the swinging anchor, the driver fleeing the cabi that has the spatter of blood across the wall behind him, taking a shoulder wound and..
".. not paid enough for this shit.."

Silent. Through it all, there is no yell, no roar, no sound from Echo, even after she scatters the crane's operator from the cabin and brings the butt of the pistol down on the temple of the last man she has to worry about. Momentarily without danger, Echo spins her head around to read the fight around her, and steps back to pry the edge of her boot against the fallen escrima stick. With a lift of her knee, it flies upwards, and she catches it, two sticks in one hand.

Echo moves after Laura, quickly pulling a cloth out of her pocket and rubbing down the pistol before throwing it aside. It clatters to the dirt. On her rushing path forward, she pulls a burner cell phone from her pocket with the cloth in hand, presses a button on speed dial, and slides the phone under a nearby crate.
…."911, please state the nature of your emerg-"

"Two minutes." Echo spins her sticks back into her hands and races towards Laura, past the gunfire, to slide across the concrete on one knee and press her back into the other woman's, diving into the fight that she's in the middle of. "Don't be here in two minutes."

The security guard is in the cargo trailer deep, deeper then he should be and one of the people within hooks a chained ankle around his, the chaos outside easily feeding inside as a fire-fight of hope!

The crate bearing the other is dropped by the two other men in black Flak, their weapons drawn as they place themselves between the "cargo" and the assailant… Assailants…

X can smell the blood, the single death, and the fatality she caused by impaling the intestines of another, as well as the sweat and stink of fear… or anticipation. But over it all, the other's scent can be inhaled now in her approach, a straightening of spine as Echo aligns her own against X's and earns the dimpling of dual blades from one hand along her side, just between the articulated space of rib-cage beneath the black garments she wears.

The collision of bodies comes with the obvious feel of wet and heat. X is bleeding in enough areas to put swiss cheese to shame… Or was. Hot, sticky, but no more.

The words from the woman at her back bring a sudden pause, the claws dropped away. "Fine. But she comes with me."

A point to the crate and as gunfire from the final two guards erupts towards them, X spins to put herself in front, a loop of arm into Echo's and she is attempted to be pitched into an acrobatic pin-roll towards one as X heads for the other.

The only thing left of her target is a boot to the left (foot still in it), and his gun cast into the cargo trailer to allow the intended 'slaves' within their choice.

BANG! BOOMCRAK!
Electricity flares and chains rattle.

When X gets to the crate those claws flash along its surface, her body set into a momentary convulsion as she lurches the lock free and reaches within, pulling out a smaller girl, clutching the bound form to her and holding claws out defensively.

Those red eyes are rage, but somewhere in there she is seeking the other woman as well with just as much feral protectiveness.

Echo's steady, warm breath is the only response Laura gets to her demand of the girl in the crate. Feet locked in a stance and arms at the ready, Echo isn't so prepared for the way Laura pivots around Echo's body into the gunfire. Echo fights Laura, elbow hooked and trying to shove the shorter woman out of the way, but Laura is stronger and heavier than Echo could have predicted.

Echo is wheeled about, and in a rolling throw, Echo sails through the air with an acrobatic drop of her heel in an axe-kick to the junction of the gunman's shoulder and neck.

The collarbone separates like a board, broken in a karate tournament.

Echo spins about, looking to Laura, eyes confused. How could she not be dead?

There is no time.

Echo turns and slides her escrima sticks back into their sheath on a run for the cargo container.

"The police are coming; you're going to be okay." Echo calls into the crate, taking a quick peek within, before turning her back on it to read the docks and find an exit point.

X may not be dead, but she looks like she had been chicky-fried, and laid to the side. Abdomen bares the markings of entry and exit wounds, but no holes, the spatters of blood, all glistening with each breath as the smaller girl is held in her grip, those green eyes peering between the clutch of clawed hands, her face marked and scarred, innocent… and yet… There's something the same shared between the two.

The girl speaks then. "Are you, lady? You helped us. She's not good at talking right now." The girl tugs at X's claw, not even a flinch as it is used to guide her away. A sniff to the air and X looks from the chaos to Echo and Gabby, a similarity is the way the red glow of masked gaze fades lightly.

"Gabby needs to go…" A light shove to the girl, a shush involved in the gesture.

Gabby huffs and glares upward, a single finger pressed on her lips.

X scans Echo for injury, the surprise masked as she is appearing unscathed, a lean forward and a light draw of breath.

"Are you?" And then ina blink X and Gabby are gone, perched back upon where X had come from like twins, but one smaller. Waiting… Watching.

Echo has the water, the grate in the middle as an aqueduct, or the drainage beside the roads. Or the shadows with the two unknowns.

Within the crate chains clatter, the keys stripped from the body of the guard, people emerging…

Messy, sweaty hair spinning about when Echo gets her bearings, she can hardly believe she's avoided injury as it is, but the sight of Laura brings a shrill gasp from the masked woman. The scarf conceals her gaping mouth where the surprise in her eyes cannot be hidden, framed by white paint and beads of sweat. Eyes widen at the caked blood, the burnt skin, the torn clothing…yet still, the woman walks.

And the girl, Gabby, looks so much like her.

With the sirens approaching in the distance, Echo looks to the west, where lights are forming. She looks back for Laura to find her gone, which sends Echo springing into action for the aqueduct's grate. She races over to it and pulls up hard on the grate, then drops herself in with a loud bang.

Trapped in the darkness, Echo pulls out a flashlight and tugs her scarf off of her lips, and begins to spiderwalk through the tunnels for her planned exit, two blocks over.

X watched as Echo disappeared with Gabby at her side in the same crouch, but smaller. A moment passing and the cherries and berries of NYPD cast the docks in a flickering glow, the people filtering out met with care and question as the police fan out, guns drawn and those living are put in their own chains.

The exit of the aqueduct is landed before, a draw of finger along the old concrete arching walls as her chin tilts upward and casts towards the city lights just beyond, trailing the scent of the other woman. "Who is she? From one of those old movies you watch? Their lips move faster then the sub—-" Gabby interrupted by a placement of finger as the claws slowly retract in shadows ovr her scarred face.

"It is different here."

No further words, a lowering of stance and they are off into the shadows to trail the anonymous woman marked by a pale hand.

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