Take the Fire Escape

Carmine Outpost 

 They were the ones who built the pyres and lit the straw. They marched a wicked slew of creatures to the choking black with repetition and ease, but tonight they were the ones set to burn. Ears ringing with the threats of his betters, Nicodemus paced the length of his office, the news droning the same breaking story it had since the entire incident occurred. The internet was ablaze, uncontainable, one viral video hitting the feed after another.

 Smoke closed in on all sides, a retribution charged from one angle or the other. It would be a genocide he couldn't avoid or a termination he wouldn't survive. As small and human as it was, he thought of reaching out to someone familiar, to Alex, the loathsome little string bean. She was in a similar boat - so was Tess for that matter. The commonality they hardly talked about, brushed under and kept secure.

 His eyes flickered back up to the screen, arms crossed over his chest as he watched the foul beasts tear each other apart. Where they'd failed in preparation, they would make up for in a cruel and savage punishment.

 This was a matter that called for careful curation, a code red that meant that every move and decision needed to be mindfully weighed and settled on. The things they would say, the tone they'd be said in, the body language behind it all, the face or faces broadcasted - what they wore and the posture of their persons. It wasn't a time to flounder and shuffle paperwork, and while it was the human condition to feel like the ground had given way underfoot, the face presented to the public need to be unmoving.

 "You've never spared me your opinion before." An insult in it's own way but more so a hound rooting for information. Needing to know where his head was as she occupied her time two fold. Watching the broadcasted footage on the television screen between passes of the iron over the board, making sure the collar of the blouse in front of her was particularly crisp. Comical perhaps considering where they were, but she all but lived at work anyway - and it paid to be prepared for any professional need.

 The extraordinary times they had found thrust upon them called for a face that didn't come forth too frequently. Salt and pepper at the temples, the start of lines round her mouth and more severe wrinkles round her eyes. Hands that showed over half a century of work in all the forms it took to have a private office at a place like this.

"If this had to happen, and it did one day - then this is the best way possible."

 Then that is where you and I disagree. Not uncommon. Nicodemus didn't see the benefit of the mess being in their aisle -- a pyramid of open cans soiling the floor, toppled and rolling towards the exit. This wasn't a stray dust bunny that could be swept into a dark corner and forgotten. They were going to need a big fucking mop.

 The news loop started again, showing the same shaky cell phone footage. He pointed to the tv, remote in hand. We need that shifter found as soon as possible. And we need to get our hands on those remains before the government does. A stream they would have to swim up, a battle of resources and wills.

 "I have people on the remains already. It's an inconvenience but it shouldn't be an issue in the long run. As for that, thing ... " She gestured to the blurred figure on the freeze frame of the paused footage, turned off the iron. "I'm not going to jeopardize the anonymity of one of my girls to become a poster child - you can select who goes chasing that tail."

 In regards to his apparent dismay about their circumstance, she was less forthcoming. Taking her time to let the fabric cool before sliding it back on over her camisole. "What you're looking at is a primal animal in a man's body and a blood thirsty murderer going for one anothers throats. What you are, what we are - is human. So when we finish this press release people will be wondering who they know who they've only seen at night and if they have any friends that acted suspect around the full moon. And you will have the luxury to go home, have a drink, and sleep like a baby."

She tugged neatly on her sleeves until she was happy with where they sat at her wrists. "So again I insist, this is the best way this could have happened."

 "I'll put Grice on it then." Why have an special operatives group if they couldn't be used to do the heavy lifting? The electi's blatant self-assurance (see: arrogance) and earnest pursuit of his prey was a good mix for this particular task.

 Nicodemus nursed a brandy, taking small sips and letting the liquid smooth out over his tongue. "Expose part but not all." He cocked his head, resonating with the point she'd made. They were humans after all, simply better, more finely made. If it was a difference between top shelf and bottom, he would gladly put himself and his peers out of reach to better expose the rabble underneath.

 "Fair point. But if we are to do this then we need to act as quickly as possible. Perhaps we don't expose what we are, but I think it's time Carmine take a more public role in the selfless, noble protection of Portland's citizens."

 "Do you?" She looked up briefly from adjusting her watch to make sure that she was happy with how it sat on her wrist. "You must have thought I was just preening for your benefit, Terrazzo." Deadpan as she looked briefly to the looping footage, pointed towards the screen. "Get someone to grab and sharpen some stills from this - frightening ones." Wise it seemed to coax public opinion as much as possible, however that best came to pass.

 "I'll make sure the right people get in contact with local news outlets - we'll push to get it out before the eleven o'clock news." Checking off boxes and trying to weed through fine details as she prepared something close to a plan. "We need to find a place to do this, I wouldn't suggest our own doorstep to be on the safe side of things."

 When it came to the pictures, he immediately thought of Ezra. A brain, at least, even in its most manic form. Certainly he had the technical aptitude needed to edit a few video frames.

 Like a well-timed dinner, their plan came together nicely. All that was needed now was the setting, a way to dress the food that smelled sour so it was easier to swallow down. "I agree." There was no need to brighten the bullseye by giving Portland the key to their front door. Regardless of how they felt, they weren’t just telling the human public of their existence, but the supernatural world too. "We need to up our weapon supply and start garnering more recruits. Even if we have to make them ourselves."

 First things first, though. "Let’s do it as close to the scene as we can get. That’s where all the press will be anyway. We’ll have more eyes there." Nicodemus circled round his desk, pen poised. "Now all we have to do is draft the damn thing."

Draft it.

 As if they were sophomore school children, sweaty palmed and shaky in front of their first public speaking class. An outline on a verbal demolition project that would reface the world at large. She smiled in a sickly way that crinkled the corners of her eyes but didn't spark them, reluctantly taking to perching herself on the arm of the chair across from him - less creasing that way.

 "Well, get your little pen ready and let's get this over with." Willing to go through the motions though already committed to every intention of veering off the path if the crowd reception called for it.

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