A Hermit's Demise
Roleplaying Log: A Hermit's Demise
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

The mysterious death of a troublemaker mutant sparks an investigation.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: August 01, 2019
IC Location: The Bronx, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 02 Aug 2019 15:33
Rating & Warnings: PG
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

No warning had been given before the first text was sent to Moonstar.

Got a job for you, find me at the motorpool.

There's no explanation as to why Dani is needed or what's so urgent about the matter that Dom couldn't have -asked- for the help rather than demand it.

In Sloane's case it's a little different, partly in that Neena doesn't have her number. Instead she has to physically track the inhuman down and maybe or maybe not back her into a corner long enough to talk.

"It's time to put that investigative brain back to use, Bluegills. C'mon."

If Sloane resists Neena has a whole collection of excuses to fire back with ranging from 'You love to investigate, just look at what you found out about me' to 'You've got SHIELD training, you're perfect for the job' to 'Dani will be there' to 'Until I get my ICERs your ass is still on the hook.'

Sloane will be coming with. Domino won't take no for an answer.

Down at the garage there's a black late 90's Monte Carlo waiting for the three ladies with only a -slight- issue of there being only two doors. Someone's gonna have to chill out in the back.

Once underway Neena finally decides to share some details on what the hell's going on here.

"Been hearing some rumors about a missing mutant. Nothing new, right? Except this one is different. Something about strange noises and flashes of light, maybe some explosions, then nothing. Guy's name was 'Herm.' Kinda looked like a little gremlin, honestly he was a real pain in the ass. No one's seen him since that night, just up and vanished. We've got an approximate area to search in but nothing solid."

All of this trouble..for one missing mutant. Why couldn't she have led with that?

***

When the text arrives Moonstar frowns at it for those first few seconds.

Then the woman sends back simply Be there shortly.

Dani is nothing if not reliable. One day she's going to break out of this reliability cocoon the X-Men and SHIELD has deeply instilled in her and go wild. Then wouldn't everyone be shocked?

Surely would!

Either way, here comes Dani dressed for business. Black pants, black boots, black shirt, her hair braided tight and her weapons of choice upon her body (bow, arrows, knife and yes, even ICER).

"Calling shotgun." The Cheyenne says simply when she spies the two door car and then once everyone is settled in their perspective seats and the trio is on their way, Moonstar slides her gaze over to Domino. Thankfully as their journey starts Domino shares some intel.

"Herm?" Dani says, "That's an interesting name. What does Herm typically do? And what was he doing the night he was missing?"

There's other questions that need to be asked, but Dani says the first two that pop into her head.

***

She does resist, at least a bit, at first. It's the ol' 'I dunno,' then the 'that was just a job,' and then all the way down the chain to 'her ass is on the hook.' If Sloane's eyes could have rolled any further back in her head they would have likely done a flip in their sockets.

And then, they get to the car. They're here to find a missing mutant?

Sloane's hands lift, just over the roof of the sports car. "You could have literally just opened with that!"

Climbing into the back seat of the car, Sloane shifts to the middle. She's dressed only slightly less hard-business than Dani is; rugged jeans with a narrow split in the left knee, a pair of sturdy boots, and dark blue tanktop, fidging with the fit of a sports motorcycle jacket as she settles in.

Thumbing her phone open, she starts the process of checking the internet, brow creasing with thought. "Was there any sign he picked up by DPS?"

***

"I could have but it's -way- more fun to keep pushing your buttons," Domino calls back to Sloane with an impish grin.

Oh sure, -DANI- has an ICER. Well good for freaking her. When the Cheyenne calls shotgun Neena points out "Be careful saying that around me." Chances are there is indeed a shotgun somewhere nearby.

Meanwhile poor Sloane gets two whole seats to herself! But little legroom. And she has to wait for someone up front to get out then move the seat forward so she can crawl out of that uncomfortable space. But fish are flexible, aren't they? She'll be fine.

She'll probably be fine.

"Pretty sure it's short for 'Hermit' but I'm not about to speculate nor judge," Neena flatly replies to Dani's first inquiry.

Then she's snapping fingers and pointing toward the image of Sloane in the rear-view mirror. "Good guess. The guy loved to cause trouble. He did have a couple of run-ins with the DPS but I'm told he always managed to avoid capture. Made it something of a game, or whatever. This went on a couple of times then he up and went dark, if these sources can be trusted. Possible Brotherhood ties but it doesn't sound very promising. He had trouble making friends."

"This is a peculiar situation in that no one is reaching out for help because they miss the guy. They're reaching out because something has them spooked. After the whole 'psychic connection' ordeal who knows what the score might be. You two have already proven to be good at uncovering clues and at least one of you still has ties to SHIELD," passing a sidelong glance to Dani and her shiny ICER, "so here we are."

***

Dani is the polite kind of person to move her seat up as much as she can for Sloane to have some additional leg room.

Then it's down to business. No matter the worrisome question of whether Domino has a shotgun in the car or not. Though really is that in question? No. Dani knows there's probably one somewhere in here.

Sloane's mention of DPS brings a slight over the shoulder look of approval to the Inhuman and then the Cheyenne follows up with a grim question of, "And his powers? Do we know what sort of power set he is?"

Her expression turns a touch more strained at the mentions of the Brotherhood, the psychics and ties to SHIELD. No matter that the grimness is for three very different feelings on Dani's behalf.

"And what's the plan? Please tell me it's really way more than just the three of us poking our nose into everything to see what pops up?"

***

There's no gun ruining the lining of Sloane's jacket, so it's hard to say what she's actually bringing along on this excursion — she wonders if she should have brought it on this mission, but she's not supposed to be here as a SHIELD agent, either.

It's complicated.

The ginger glances up at her screen, pupils dialating in the dim back seat from their narrow slits to wider and back again as she regards Neena. "Hermit, huh… I'll keep looking while we're on the way, see if I can dredge up anything," Sloane says, tilting her head forward.

"If 'Hermit' is a name he picked for himself, I could only guess," the Inhuman murmurs in aside at Moonstar's question. She glances up after a moment. "Sounds like it, Dani," the agent says with a small grin.

Her eyes flit toward the Cheyanne woman as she very pointedly and knowingly intones, "What's the worst that could happen, right?"

***

"I don't know," Neena admits to Dani's question about the guy's powers. "Does being ugly count? I wasn't being facetious when I said he's a gremlin."

Perhaps the more pressing question from the Cheyenne has the albino seeming a little less prepared. "Okay, look. When people say 'strange lights and sounds' and everyone suddenly gets freaked out enough to avoid several city blocks then it raises some alarms with me. Maybe we'll get a lucky break out there but I've got no idea what we may or may not find. That's why you're both here. You're more than another set of eyes. If all I wanted were numbers I could have turned this into an extra credit field trip for the kids."

That would have gone over well.

While they drive to a horribly run down neighborhood out in the Bronx Sloane's digging does net some results. Hermit really is short, like a hair over four feet tall. He actually does have green tinted skin. He was also wanted for numerous targeted attacks against DPS patrols, but something may not quite add up. Any mention of the guy seems to drop off about a week ago, like the DPS had simply given up on the metahuman altogether.

As far as his powers go, not even the DPS seemed to know for certain. Considering the less than ideal image they have for him on file it's likely that he wasn't an easy one to find.

When the Chevy rolls to a stop it's in a horribly run down residential area where cookie-cutter three story buildings had at one time all been under construction. Before they were halfway completed they had all been left abandoned for whatever reason, leaving a fair chunk of the territory as 'dead' space. It seems like a great place for the homeless and with every building looking the same as the last it could be confusing for anyone giving pursuit.

Neena is at least thoughtful enough to have brought enough flashlights for everyone. Just..ignore the highly questionable -other- pieces of gear still lurking within the trunk.

"'Strange noises' and 'explosions' are likely to have left some scars behind. The more we find, the more we know."

***

Moonstar offers a faint grin of her own to Sloane, up until Sloane says that very last line of hers.

"Sloane." The Cheyenne says in a mixture of amusement and vague horror, "That's precisely the thing we don't say on missions like these. You've jinxed us."

As to the mission, when Domino does indeed say the plan is just how she described it, the black-haired woman groans another quiet noise, but that doesn't mean she's out for the count. On the contrary, once the trio is out of the car, Moonstar takes one of the proffered flashlights. The more questionable items in the trunk are willingly ignored for now.

While Moonstar doesn't click the flashlight on just yet, she does fiddle with it even as her gaze tracks around the area. When nothing particularly gruesome jumps out at them the woman frowns lightly, then that frown deepens as her eyes unfocus for just a few seconds.

"There." She says as her hand rises and she points the off flashlight in a particular direction, "There - I'd say let's try over that way first. The rats are most disturbed in that general direction and it takes a lot to scare rats."

When her eyes refocus Moonstar turns a look toward her battle-mates.

***

"It looks like he went dark about a week ago. There's no mention of his arrest that I can see, 'cause they'd be slapping his name up all over the place if he was grabbed. He's definitely small and green, though," she says, holding up her phone. The case is definitely one of those clunky government issue affairs that could probably survive going underwater with her.

Taking it back and sliding the phone into her jacket, Sloane waits for chance to get out of the car. When she's on her feet and stretching her legs, it's a little more obvious that she doesn't have any gun — but what she does end up having on her is a pair of canteens in holsters on her belt.

Taking the flashlight— and is she checking the weight?— Sloane fits it into her back pocket rather than holding it at the ready, fiery orange eyes twitching as they start to acclimate to the light, and lack thereof.

Her eyes squint at the trunk. "Is that—"

No, don't ask. Don't dig into Domino's business. Her hands lift, and then she turns away, instead grinning at Dani as though she fully knows what she just did. "I'm here to make it more interesting."

That way, eh? "All right. Let's get movin'."

***

Lights equipped, a dismissive "Yes, it is" spoken to Sloane, trunk closed, and—Dani knows exactly where to start looking. Domino flashes the other woman a toothy smile and claps her on the back of the shoulder. "And now you know why I called you both." Though to Sloane being here to make it more interesting? "Also you're cute."

Well, cute can be interesting…

But seriously, that direction from Dani cuts down a search of like three city blocks down to about three hundred feet! It's efficient! It's accurate! It's a little disturbing that Dani was speaking to -New York Rats!-

…Yeesh…

Sloane might soon notice something which seems just..a little bit off about some of the shadows of the building in question. Straight angles which are no longer straight but looking as if they had somehow been melted, more like how the current of a river can bore through rock. Which might be even more odd given that this is around a vacant windowframe.

There's a bit of a stench in the air around it, too. Definitely not the rats. Kind of a 'melted plastic on a hot sidewalk' sort of deal. It's faint but time has made it no more pleasant to experience.

The Rat Whisperer that is Dani will find something unusual inside as well. One of the cement walls seems to have a new basketball-sized hole bored clean through it. The material which had previously come fromt he wall had been turned into a very fine greyish white powder which left the rats all sorts of confused. No animal leaves debris like that behind…

The small patch of blood on the floor, that is something which they are more familiar with.

The melted section, the disintegrated section, the spot of dried blood, it seems to all be leading further into the building…

The next place it leads looks like a porcupine had turned inside out then exploded. There are twisted spikes of dark metal embedded into every available surface like someone had driven several dozen drill bits into the concrete. A small scorch mark in the middle of the room almost neatly rings the rounded bottom half of a non-existent canister.

Neena gives this an experimental nudge with the toe of a boot and sends it rocking back and forth, gradually righting itself again. "Haven't seen anything like that before… Watch your step."

***

He went dark a week ago. That causes Moonstar to frown again, no matter that the trio is definitely on the move again.

"If he really went missing a week ago the trail is probably going to be pretty cold." Not that anything like that would stop the trio from searching, but Dani can't quite stop herself from voicing that particular thought in her head. "We need a fourth for our group." Murmurs the woman as her gaze tracks around the area as they walk, "A bloodhound of some sort."

That feeling definitely intensifies as the group starts to get into ground zero, "Though rats have good noses -" And here Moonstar's frown turns to something of concentration and from the shadows a small grayish white body appears. It has a wormy tail and pitter-patters as it scampers toward the group; that's right it's totally a rat.

Though really it's kind of cute! Especially as it trundles right on over to Dani and squeaks at her.

Moonstar looks down and says, "Lead us to what you smell."

And just like that the rat moves!

It's a zig-zag sort of course that leads over to the building with that warped window and odd smell. The rat itself eventually ends up near the small patch of blood and Dani too finds her way over to it.

She crouches down, though she doesn't touch the blood. "Someone was definitely injured."

Upon entry into the last room the Cheyenne glances at all the bits of twisted that now dot the walls, floors and ceilings. When Domino nudges the canister, Moonstar murmurs, "Almost makes me think of a homemade fragment grenade."

***

As Sloane's eyes adjust to the light, the slits of her pupils again widen out, almost aggressively soaking up as much light as possible. Of course, her eyes look a little silly like this; pupils large and not quite rounded at the same time. Being called cute draws a small 'aheheh' and a slight turn away. "I have my moments," the Inhuman replies with amusement.

For all her ability to see with little light works in her favor, she still can't tell what's going on here. "… Weird," she says, moving further on to check the windowsill. Now she fishes the flashlight out of her pocket, clicking it on to add the direct glare of light to see what's going on there.

Sloane lets the bloodhound comment linger for a moment without saying anything; instead, she clicks the flashlight back off and rejoins the others as Dani finds the way forward — at least with the help of Randy the Rat, there. There's no jokes or raised eyebrows here!

Squatting down, she sniffs the air and looks closely at the canister being toed at — as well as looking to see how dried out or coagulated the blood is. "It's in the middle of the room, though. If it was trapped it would be just inside the doors, right? Or at least better hidden," the Inhuman says, scanning around for any signs of traps.

***

'We need a fourth.' "Got any suggestions?" Domino asks Moonstar with the passing thought.

"Nevermind" is soon to follow, spoken from the albino in a lifeless tone. Dani found them a tracker… Another rat. Really, it's a cool trick and all but at the same time it suddenly feels like the success of their mission now lies within the tiny tiny paws of the city vermin.

The idea that the explosive had been homemade leaves the pale woman frowning slightly. "I don't know about that. Check out the dispersion pattern of these fragments. Pretty even spacing. Lots of coverage. Average depth of penetration seems about the same, that's better than you're gonna do from scrapping something together at Home Depot."

Sloane's observation about the placement of the device is met with a slow nod from Neena. While she's busy carefully bending one of those jagged shards of metal back and forth to break a piece of it off, Sloane's acute eyesight will notice a mark upon another one of those open cement windows. It seems likely that the canister had been launched into the room with a respectable amount of force, ricocheted off of the corner of the sill then bounced off of the far wall on its way inside of the building.

Once more the peculiar destruction leads onward to what is clearly the final resting place of something which had been capable of bleeding. Out into the next hall there's a heavy dark mist which completely covers part of the floor and wall. In the center of this gore spatter is a smaller but much more ragged hole cut through the building. This one can be traced backward, coming from an angle which would have placed its source on the rooftop of a nearby complex.

It doesn't need to be said but Dom goes ahead and says it anyway: "Sniper. This was a coordinated attack, flushed the guy right into the kill zone."

Another look of concern crosses her features as she follows the path of the shot before looking to the other two. "This doesn't strike me as the DPS's M.O. The force, the tactics, and none of their gear that I'm aware of is capable of what we've been seeing."

***

One can definitely say Moonstar isn't fond of the idea that the rooms may be booby-trapped.

It brings a sharpness to her gaze, however, as she considers the rooms around the trio.

Mr. Randy the Rat continues to scuttle and scurry about, up until Moonstar steps into that blood splattered room. It's enough to cause the Cheyenne to pause as she takes in the tableau of death. Domino's obvious statement of fact pulls Moonstar's attention off of the walls and over to the monochrome woman and at that question, about DPS' M.O, Moonstar glances over to Sloane.

"I would like to say no." Begins the woman, "But if a mutant is considered high risk, or extremely dangerous, then I imagine they'd be given the go ahead to use any and all measures and means to ensure their safety and the safety of the area as well."

Yeah, it doesn't feel great saying that, but Dani says it either way. "But my gut says no, this doesn't strike me as their particular M.O. Not with that shrapnel room. What's your opinion, Sloane?"

***

Standing up from where she's squatting, Sloane follows as they move on — now to the kill room, as it were, and all the horrors within. Mouth pulling into a flat line, this isn't the first time she's seen a scenario like this, but … it never gets easier.

Opting to pace the room, careful of where she steps and easing her weight around to not disturb the scene, she feels like she's seeing something, but all the details aren't there just yet. "Sometimes I wish I had Warren's dumb bird eyes," Sloane says, looking left and right.

It doesn't click at first, opting to stand with her arms folded. "Well, if you want my honest opinion, DPS is a bunch of giddy riot cops I wouldn't trust to babysit a lemonade stand let alone do a strike op this … precise. This feels too professional. Besides, what's this Hermit guy's powers even supposed to be?" — this question is directed at Domino, complete with a turn of her head. "I didn't see that when I was looking him up."

A scale-backed hand gestures to the more visceral parts of the scene, though she chooses to not look back at it again. "Something got … someone. Or something. But there's no body. So either they got away, or someone carried off the body without leaving a trail, or … I dunno."

"This doesn't look good, either way."

***

Domino turns back to Moonstar when she starts to voice her thoughts on the matter. "Do you really think that someone like -Hermit- was dangerous enough to merit this degree of retaliation?"

Sloane hits the nail on the head, earning a sweep of Neena's hand to the local inhuman. "Bingo. Hey, I don't know everything about Hermit. What I do know is that there isn't a lot here suggesting that these jokers had tried to catch him before punching him with an AP round. If this somehow is the DPS's doing then we've got a whole new can of problems on our hands. At least with the Sentinels we can see 'em coming. But if it's someone else…"

"We need to know what did this," Domino's quietly muttering before an idea comes to mind. "Kind of in a tech dead zone here but maybe there'll be a camera in the area that caught -something.- Can either of you run a signal sweep or whatnot for that sort of thing?"

Because SHIELD connections! This should be a pretty simple task. ..Hopefully.

The rest of the discovered evidence is shifted onto mental back burners while she works out the final hit from the sniper. Something isn't adding up for her, either. It isn't long before she pulls out a twenty dollar bill and holds it up to the separate holes to take pictures of the damage.

"Make sure that we grab that canister part in the spiky room of doom on our way out and anything else that seems unusual. What I'm making of it is that it was a professional operation using some pretty intense gear..and there may be a person or two I can tap on the shoulder for some more rumors."

Another glance is passed between the two before she asks "Who wants to take a roadtrip to Gotham this week?"

***

For her part, when asked the question about scanning tech, Sloane can only shrug helplessly with a shake of her head. "Outta my pay grade, there."

Domino starts documenting the scene; Sloane does similarly — snapping a few photographs of the scene, sorting them off into a local 'work' folder for the time being before tucking it back into her jacket. "Sounds like a plan."

At least — until Domino asks about their plans.

Sucking in a breath between her teeth, Sloane gives a double thumbs-up, but it's pretty plain to see that she isn't too horribly excited by the idea. "I'm looking forward to being mugged in broad daylight."

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