2012-04-08: The Line Between Bravery And Stupidity


Cyril_icon.jpg Echo_icon.jpg

Summary: Some people just shouldn't be heroes. These people are realists.

Date: April 8, 2012

Log Title: The Line Between Bravery and Stupidity

Rating: R

NYC - Hell's Kitchen

The rough neighborhood in Midtown West New York known as Hell's Kitchen almost has a darker tone to it. Once you step into this neighborhood the city takes on a different feel, the buildings are shorter but everything feels darker. There is real grit to this part of town where many of the New York City criminals see to make their home.

After dark in Hell's Kitchen, even on Easter Sunday, is not a safe or pleasant time. Signs have been hanging in most shop windows for hours already, if not all day, proclaiming them closed. The more paranoid, some would say realistic, shopkeepers have drawn down shutters and iron cages across their storefronts to secure them from the type of people who hang around the Kitchen after dark.

With a darkened neon 'Open' sign that hasn't worked in many years and a lighted storefront sign that has remained broken for just as long, Joe's Guns occupies a squat one-story red brick building. It is distinct from a bomb shelter in appearance only by the copious and overlapping spraypainted graffiti that decorate three of its four walls. The tags bleeding through from under the thinly and sloppily applied white paint on the streetward face show that it's not for lack of trying on the graffiti artists' part. Flyers advertising sales and special offers that have already expired are pasted to the inside of the storefront's one large window, a window covered on the inside by a solid metal rollup door. The front door is sealed by a simple metal cages and presumably the best locks the owner can afford.

Everything is dark inside, and except for the constant rumble of city noise from the rest of Manhattan, everything is quiet too.

This changes abruptly with the screeching sound of protesting metal under pressure, the scrape of it against concrete and brick, and finally the telltale tinkle and chime of breaking, falling glass and the familiar ring of a simple burglar alarm. Joe's Guns has an uninvited guest.

It's a rather clear night, with a sky so clear that the near-full moon illuminates all in the otherwise dark district of Hell's Kitchen. Brief gusts of wind move litter from one side of the street to the next and chill those who are unprepared to the bone. An unusual night for the kind of weather that had just been had mere hours previous.

Among those wandering the night would be Cyril, minus his usual feline companion. A warm red scarf is wrapped around the man's neck while a long brown coat provided the warmth required to contend with the windy night. The familiar sound of a theft alarm sends Cyril running towards the origin, all while the older gentleman attempts to stick towards the shadows.

It's been scarcely two minutes since the alarm begin its ringing and there's already activity at the burglarized shop. Though either the police force has updated their acceptable uniform police to include capes, or it's not the police at all. Crouched on the flat gravel roof just above the obvious point of forced entry, the torn away iron cage that once surrounded the front door, a dark figure looms clad in a deep maroon costume with gold accents. In the color-draining moonlight, it might as well be black. His hood is form-fitting, hiding his features save an opening around his mouth. His right arm is already cocked back, holding something to throw in a ready position, and he's apparently waiting.

As if on a dramatic cue, another darkly attired figure (actual black this time) steps from the ravaged doorway and into the street, a canvas duffel bag thrown across their back, stuffed to nearly bursting and probably not from a simple late night shopping binge. A black cap is pulled down low to hide their features, coincidentally obscuring anything that lies directly overhead, as the costumed figure is. Heavy booted feet crunch shard of glass into the concrete sidewalk, the old jaggedly breakable kind not the safe rounded pellets of safety glass.

Utilizing the tactical knowledge gained from older military days, Cyril ducks into a nearby alleyway amidst a few cans of piled refuse. Vultures wanting a piece of whatever action may appear at any moment, and it's not quite the right time for Cyril to step out into the open and become involved. After all, that crazy masked figure could be lobbing grenades at any point. Do you know how easy it is to regenerate grenade wounds? It isn't. Because you don't get grenade wounds. You die. From the refuse bins, Cyril peeks around the corner to watch the scene unfold from a mildly safe distance.

"I know this is normally the Devil's territory," announces the caped figure from atop the building, his voice resonant and projected. Theatrical, even. "But I don't think he'll mind if I wrap you up as a nice little present!" His bon mot spent, the hero (because only a hero would speak like that) whips his arm down toward the hapless burglar. A thin line of white unspools and wraps around the burglar's torso several times, pinning their arms to their sides and halting their escape with a sharp backwards tug.

Or so it seemed. Arms hampered, the burglar turns and lifts a leg like a ballet dancer, resting the heel of a heavy boot on the bowstring-taught grappling line. Twisting at the ankle, the line is wrapped around the boot and the leg thrust downward forcefully. The hero was apparently unprepared for this turn of events because he cries out, the theatricality gone from his voice. "Jesus!" The sharp tug upsets his balance on the edge of the roof and he stumbles, falls, lands roughly on the unforgiving concrete a dozen or more feet below.

"Reposez-vous bien, mon ami." murmurs Cyril in French, a bow of the head given to fallen hero. After a moment's time, a refuse bin lid is removed from a nearby bin as the hapless doctor steps out of the darkness, makeshift shield in tow. Some attempt as stealth is made, not that the ex-soldier is incredibly stealthy. Neigh, it could be said that Cyril is about a stealthy as a yak in heat, but what is admirable is his courage in approaching the thief. Or stupidity.

The hero is down but not out, as evidenced by the pained groan while he tries to collect himself. The villain, meanwhile, strains against the deceptively thin white cord encircling them, flexing arms to raise them. A low creak then a whipcrack snap sound as it's stressed beyond its tolerance and finally gives, falling away to pile loosely at the thief's feet. They are still alert, however, alert enough to twitch their head in the direction of Cyril's flanking approach. A flutter of black cloth as a hand dives under the black coat's tails to the waistband, stopping when a small, metallic black object glints in the moonlight. The great equalizer has entered the situation and it's pointed at Cyril. The burglar is not just any burglar, but a woman, revealed when her thumb flicks off the safety of the semi-automatic pistol and she commands in a firm but surprisingly dispassionate tone that brooks no argument, "Don't."

"Now, now," says Cyril in an oddly calm tone that betrays no amount of fear, "I'm unarmed. There's little I can do to you. How about lowering that pistol and talking to me for just a moment, won't you?" An eyebrow is quirked in the thief's direction. Perhaps just a bit confident that the thief has some kind of honor, Cyril begins /slowly/ moving towards the hero, with garbage lid still used as a shield against the woman.

A moment's distraction was all the hero needed, but now that moment is over. One of his hands is raised, forearm drawing an invisible line toward the would-be burglar. "Got you now," he says, teeth gritted against whatever pain he must be in. The slight bulk of his gauntlets and bracers is not merely decorative, for which a squeeze of his hand two tiny darts trailing fine wires shoot out from concealed ports. They strike the woman squarely in the chest and the telltale rhythmic clicking buzz of a taser discharge fills the air.

The burglar looks down at the metal darts stuck in her coat. Unimpressed, unphased, and certainly un-tased, she swipes them away with her free hand and calmly, precisely, shoots the hero in the center of the chest twice. The gold on maroon chest logo of bull's head inside a circle makes an appropriate, if unfortunate, target. Wheezing out a breath, the hero collapses backwards. Though amazingly still not dead, he appears to be too wounded and winded to even scream.

"Why did he have to do that?" asks Cyril to the burglar, "There's a line where stupidity just implores one to be seriously wounded." A moment's pause, "This is hilariously unironic. Just this luck.." The man continues on his way to the hero. On arrival, Cyril kneels down and begins inspecting the wounds with an ungloved hand. The garbage lid is never put down. "Now, I don't suppose you'd like to explain to me why you're stealing guns from this store. You can't use all of them at once, you know." There is somewhat more confidence with the man, now.

The answer is simple, matter-of-fact. "I need them." The woman's head tilts slightly to one side, moonlight peeking under the brim of her cap to show one steel-grey eye and a mouth that is perfectly neutral, showing neither pleasure nor displeasure. "Body armor. Kevlar. Ceramic insert plate," she says in the tone of someone who has found something of only mild interest but who feels like making a comment anyway. "You should be dead," she adds, not as if remarking on the amazing luck of someone who's had a close call, but of someone about to correct a mistake.

It would appear that Cyril just stuck his fingers into one of the gunshot wounds. At least, it would appear so after the medic flicks the tip of a bullet onto the street. Some limit of his power has been applied to the hero. Not quite enough to fully recover him, but enough that he won't /immediately/ go into shock. Cyril stands up, looking at the woman with a tilted head, "I don't suppose you were going to try and kill him, were you?" Cyril begins to slowly approach, "Are you trying to stock a small army, hmm?"

The alarm from the burglarized store is still ringing shrilly in the background and the would-be hero is on his back, breathing shallowly in hissing breaths through his teeth, though he doesn't appear to have any immediate, life-threatening injuries thanks to Cyril's attentions. He won't be getting up in the next few minutes, anyway. The woman, whose pistol is lowered slightly but not put away completely, looks back at the white-haired man, her eyes obscured in the shadow of her cap's brim. "Well, yes. That's usually what you intend to happen when you shoot someone in the chest. Twice." She stoops, the bulging duffel bag on her back not seeming to inconvenience or unbalance her any, and picks up the two spent brass casings. "And I hate to leave a job half-finished."

"You're not going to kill him, though." replies Cyril, still approaching the woman, almost approaching conversational distance. "So let's do some background analytic work, shall we? You're hauling a duffle bag of weapons away from a small store in Hell's Kitchen, where you assume these weapons won't have any paper trail. You probably don't have any affiliation with any crime group or gang, considering you're here alone. What are you attempting to do with all these munitions? What purpose or objective are you trying to complete? Are you a mercenary? A soldier? A dealer?" Cyril never quite lowers the garbage can lid, but his face is quite readily illuminated by the bright moonlight above.

The woman stares back at Cyril, or possibly does as her eyes are still in shadow. The barrage of questions simply wash over her without any visible reaction and certainly without any forthcoming answers. "Be quiet," she says sharply. Quickly and without any warning, she leans in and steps up to close the distance, pivoting on one heel and lifting her other leg, curled up close to her body. The leg extends, intent on driving itself into Cyril's midsection.

Perhaps not so gracefully, Cyril tries to back away from the kick. This fails, inevitably, and the blow lands against the refuse bin lid, neatly bending it around the point of impact. The residual energy from the blow causes Cyril to stagger backwards, as well as drop the lid. The man can only do his best to shake his fingers rapidly, as that impact hurt his hands quite a bit! Quickly Cyril says, "Ouch! Okay, okay, you can keep the weapons." The tone quickly turns commanding, however, "But you will not hurt that wannabe hero, do you hear me? You will /not/! Now go walk away with your weapons."

The woman in black slowly relaxes from the side kick posture, setting both feet back on the concrete, crunching broken glass underfoot. She's silent for a moment before making her apparent reply: to flick the safety of the pistol with her thumb and stow it again in the waistband of her pants. "Fine." She turns, walking at first but transitioning to a run, the weight of the duffel bag on her back bouncing ponderously yet without affecting her stride. In a moment she's gone, leaving behind a broken storefront, the shrill monotonous ringing of the alarm bell, and a wheezing would-be superhero laboring to draw agonizing lungfuls of air while sprawled on his back on the sidewalk.

Cyril just stands there for a moment, watching Echo leave the scene. Once that's complete, Cyril looks towards the hero, "Get up, you big baby. You only took two bullets to the chest." The medic then begins leaving the scene with the discarded bin lid in the middle of the street.

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