2007-09-15: Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger... Snake!

Starring:

Eric_icon.gif Laurel_icon.gif Daphne_icon.gif

Summary: Laurel and Daphne find Eric taking pictures at the zoo, and they run into three people trying to run off with some valuable lizards in the reptile house.

Date It Happened: 15 SEPTEMBER 2007

Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger… Snake!


Bronx Zoo Reptile House

The sun is just sinking towards night, the people are just slowly filtering out of the Zoo, and as usual there are stragglers. Its a pleasent day for a walk at the Zoo. One specific person infact is there simply to walk and not think. To concentrate on taking a few pictures instead of work or any other problems for the day. To just enjoy the place and the animals.

That person would be Eric Walker, who even now stands by the lions (Yes. They have lions) with a tripod and camera, and waits for the sun to be at just the right angle for an excelent picture. He's taking his time, quietly concentrating on his task, so focused he is that he isn't paying any attention to just what time it is.

He nods to himself before hitting the shutter button once. Twice. Three times. A slight smile as he checks the picture, then he sweeps up the tripod with camera still attached, and starts strolling towards the reptile house. One or two more pictures. He should have enought time for that.

—-

It's getting on to the later hours. The Zoo should be closing pretty soon. But there's a certain zookeeper (or worker, really) and her best friend walking the paths, talking quietly. "So he really gave you butterfly flowers? Like a whole handful of them?" Laurel thinks that the man, with his sexy accent, is kind of romantic. Even if he talks to spiders and other gross bugs. At least he knows that butterflies are the way to go sometimes! That was really— oh hey, isn't that the penguin guy?

She's really not this distracted, but he's next to a camera, and camera draws her eyes, and then she saw the guy with the camera and— yeah— that's the guy. "Hey, that's…" Did she remember to mention him to her friend? With her birthday just a few days ago, she honestly may have forgotten. But she did mention dropping off her portfolio at a major company earlier in the week. She's hoping that she gets a job— because it could pay really well to have a steady employment— not just doing weddings and get togethers or the occassional big job, like a brochure.

And it looks as if he's taking a pretty good picture of the lions, too. Mmm… "I met him, at the penguin display— while I was waiting for you one night. I think he's met you, actually— I mentioned my friend Daphne and he seemed to recognize you," she explains, stepping closer to him. "Eric?" she calls out. As usual, she has a camera bag hanging from her shoulder.

—-

She should be actually working. Perhaps Daphne got off early for good behaviour, though. "Yeah, he did. I haven't even told you the bst part yet— " But it seems the best part is going to have to wait, because Laurel's seen someone that she knows. Daphne looks in the direction where Eric's taking pictures… He looks familiar. She swears he's seen him before, at least a couple times, in the zoo. Yeah, it was with his neice the one time. A name, though… She can't recall. Not until Laurel calls it out. "That's it," Daphne mutters to herself, then, "Yeah, I talked to him once before, he was here with some kid. It was really cute— Hey, Eric!" She calls aftr Laurel. HE'S GETTING AWAY! Stop him before he gets to the reptile house!

As they head toward the reptile house, she gets a call over the radio notifying all employees that they're going to start closing up in the next five or so minutes, so closing operations should be starting soon. She keeps the radio on, though, just turning the volume down a bit. Maybe she can afford to be lazy for a few more minutes.

—-

Yes! He is getting away! BAHAHHA—- oh. Wait. What if he doesn't want to get away? The surprise double calling of his name brings Eric up short and he blinks at the pair of ladies that seem intent on chasing him down. Now that should do wonders for his self esteam. He pauses a moment before he rests the tripod easily against his shoulder and half-turns towards the oncoming pair of Zookeeper and Photographer. He smiles towards the pair of them, its not /quite/ the same smile, a little dimmer now but no less genuine for all of that.

"Daphne and Laurel!" He calls out cheerfully as they get close enough so he's not yelling at them. "…well fancy seeing you two here," Pause. "Well I expect to see Daphne here…" He says with a soft laugh before he glances between the pair of them. Laurel warned him that they were friends. Its very true it seems. "…I'm not here past closing time am I?" He asks with a slightly sheepish smile. "I just wanted to get a few pictures of the snakes before I had to go…"

MEANWHILE! BEHIND THE REPTILE HOUSE! Three figures confer in quiet and hissed voices.

—-

"Yeah, he mentioned his sister or something when we talked too." Was it a niece? Could've been. She was paying a lot of attention to the way the picture would turn out…

Oh, who's a grumpy face. Laurel notices the eclipsed smile, but she doesn't really jump to conclusions as to why. Maybe he's being stalked by reporters again. It could happen. She glances around once. No reporters in sight. But she could be missing them. She misses the three figures crouched by the reptile house. "No, not closed yet— only almost. You got a few minutes." Reptiles. She's honestly not a big fan of snakes, and don't ever tell her that if she comes at the wrong time of the month there may be a dead bunny laying in the cage waiting to get devoured by a python. It would make her sadface. Especially now that she owns rabbit.

"Maybe we should join you," she says, motioning towards zootending friend. They have a bit longer— and the Zoo is one of her favorite places to walk. Even if she'd rather go to the penguin house, or the aviary. "Did you get my portfolio? I dropped it off at your office. I would've stayed to see if I could give it to you personally, but I was having a busy day on Friday."

—-

"I'm here almost every day," Daphne confirms. She doesn't mind that, though. She likes the animals, likes their stories. They have so many things to tell her, and besides, she can practice while she's here, given the sheer variety of animals around them. "Get any good pictures?" she asks, noting the tripod, glancing toward Laurel since it's pretty obvious she knows this guy, too. Unless Eric can randomly pull the name 'Laurel' out of thin air, that is, which is hardly likely.

"You have a little while," is the answer. S'long as you get in there before they lock the doors…" She glances at her watch. They'd better hurry. Thankfully, they're not too far away.

The voices of the reptiles are detached, filtering through randomly as they approach their enclosure. Often, Daphne can't understand what they say; their language is difficult to pick up, though it's not for lack of trying. It's kind of like talking to a wall, or a jar of mayonnaise, and it's only rarely that she can make a connection. Therefore: "Yeah, I'm all for that." A glance over her shoulder, and she turns back to the other two, missing the suspicious people behind the building. "Just a little while, though. I know I'd hate it if I had to stay late."

—-

You never know when you might meet a telepath…so don't count that out.

However, Eric isn't a telepath. He is just someone with a good memory. A shrug answers the pair of them. "…I have no idea…though…" He ponders a moment before reaching up and with a practiced twist he removes the camera from the tripod. Its magnaticly attached. SLR of course. Expensive, but not top top of the line. Though the lense is at least a 800mm or more. "…here, you can check." He says with a smile towards Laurel, offering over the camera. "If you like."

His gaze turns back towards Daphne and he nods. "…excellent," He says with a smile before he turns and continues to walk. "…and I'll do my best to make everything quick then." He says with a nod. "I just got the sudden urge to take pictures today really."

He has no idea why, but he did. The ones in the camera are better than a total amature, but not quite professional quality. Above average at least. He has a good eye for lines and colors at the very least.

"…and yes, I did get your portfolio. Dad liked it quite a bit…" Glancing over his shoulder towards the photographer he grins ever so slightly. "…I think we might indeed have a bit of work for you. Just have to work on a good lineup. If you're free that is."

—-

Oh yay, camera! Laurel actually brightens when she's handed it, looking it over for a few moments. "This is a really nice camera," she muses, looking it over quite a few times more. Anything going on in the background? There's absolutely no way she'd notice it now. She has camera in hand and it's a shiny camera at that. She follows absently watching her feet as well as the camera so she doesn't trip and break it, only glancing up once they're close to the door, so she doesn't smack into the building.

"It's a really nice camera," she admits, giving the pictures a once over. He's a pretty good amateur! Helps that he has a much better camera than most too, but… it's not all about the camera. "You chose some really good times to take pictures— you have a good understanding of light and shadows." It's a compliment! "I have a friend," Read: The one standing next to me. "Who's not very good at taking pictures. Every time I let her hold one of my cameras, the subject is either missing it's head, or in the far corner or something." She loves you, best friend, really. And— she's really glad, also pleased that Daphne decided to let them join him. At least this way if he gets locked in he'll have someone with a key, right? You'd think so— unless she turned her keys in already, she's not sure.

"I'm glad you got it— I still need to get your picture to you. It turned out good." And she's not just being biased, either. There's a glance towards her friend, as if there's something more she could add, but— she's not sure how to say that one of his pictures got put into the special photo album of suprise alien images.

But, job. "I'm not busy busy, but I usually have a few jobs here and there. I'm glad he liked them, though. I'm sure we can work something out once you have something for me to do." More jobs equals more money and more money is always good. It means shinier cameras. Like the one she just handed back.

—-

Daphne's a telepath! She just has a connection with anything that's not human. Really, one would think that she'd be able to telepathically communicate with people, too, considering that people are animals, but either she hasn't developed that ability yet, or humans are as closed off to her as insects are.

Daphne, not being an artist, thinks just about everything is neat-looking. She enjoys Laurel's drawings, likes looking at pictures in books, but she has absolutely no eye for determining if things are 'good' or 'bad' in the art world. "Liked your portfolio?" she asks with a chuckle, raising an eyebrow at Laurel. Oh, this is a euphamism for something, she's sure. Only… Probably not, because it's Laurel. At any rate, Daphne knows less about this than Laurel knows about Rudyard, though the kiss is still a secret. For now. In any case, and despite her lack of artistic ability, she looks over Laurel's shoulder at the photos Eric has taken today as they head toward the reptile house. As well, she reptly listens to the story of this friend who— Hey.

"Hey," she vocalises, elbowing Laurel in the ribs.

Daphne catches the glance, eyes narrowed as she tries to determine what it means. She'll find out later, likely, given the fact that she's seen most of Laurel's pictures. In any case, she holds open the door to the reptile house - they make it in just in time, as the keeper seems like he's just about to lock the door. Daphne waves sheepishly to him as they pass; he just rolls his eyes. KIDS. Honestly!

—-

"Thanks…I thought about not going quite that good a model," Eric replies with an almost sheepish smile. "…see…I had a less advanced model…and then I met this girl taking pictures of Penguins and was inspired to get a nicer one." A smirk towards Laurel before he blinks at the compliment. The smirk goes on to grow to a smile that sets his eyes to dancing with repressed laughter and ironic humor. Oh she said something that amused him she did. "…oh…I guess you could say I have a special understanding with shadows." He murmurs as he waves a hand slightly. Though its obvious that he is thankful for the compliment no matter how amused he is by it.

"Its good to have friends," Eric says with a wry smile towards the pair of them as he continues to walk. "Espicially good ones." He adds before he is blinking at the guy at the door to the house. Then Daphne is holding the door open. "Thanks!" He says in some suprise before a smile crosses his features and he slips inside the building.

"…she sent my business a portfolio of her work. Its really good." He explians towards Daphne, not even seeing any euphamism there. Oblivious he is sometimes. Most times really. "…and I'm glad even my picture turned out good, and we defintially can work something out."

The three shadowy figures behind the reptile house talk quietly. The lead one glaces around, making sure no one is around before expertly picking the lock on the back door. He opens it and waves his fellows inside. "Remember guys," He says quietly. "Just pick up the target and get out. There shouldn't even be anyone in here to bother us."

—-

"Oooh, I thought that looked brand new," Laurel says, smiling at the mention of the girl photographing penguins. That's sweet. She's actually called him the penguin guy in her head a few times. So all is fair. Still, she smiles, "I hope she was a very nice girl taking pictures of penguins." Okay— maybe Laurel's a little jealous of her best friend's surprise boyfriend. Part of her knows she's probably just a little bit too old for him— and probably taken anyway. Or gay. He does have good taste in cameras and clothes both, she's noticed. She had a good eye for visual herself. Photographers have to.

"She's a great friend," she adds, while getting elbowed and passing through the door. She even links arms with the slightly younger woman so she can hug her arm gently. HUG. Best friends are nice.

"Yeah— I wanted to see if I could get something bigger— company's pretty well known, apparently." After taking the card she googled. Very well known. Good stock margin too. Or at least she thinks that's what it's called.

They'll work something out. And she'll have work. She keeps her arm linked with her friend's and continues inside the reptile area. …Eeek. Snakes.

—-

What the hell is going on inside Daphne's zoo! A smile crosses the zookeeper's lips as she looks between Laurel and Eric, and she briefly - briefly, mind - ponders playing matchmaker. But it's not in her nature, and she finds it all rather boring, anyway. So how is she the one who's caught someone's eye? Blame it on the bees. Really. Blame it on the bees.

So, no, she won't shove them together with crazy hijinks and elaborate plans involving Rube Goldburg devices, but she will tease Laurel about it later. Mercilessly. A secret rendezvous in the penguin house! How romantic!

There's a brief '!' that Daphne can sense from one of the lizards, though it gives no clue as to why it's so surprised. Normally, no one comes in through the back door except keepers, and the guys who enter are not familiar. Of course, none of this is conveyed to Daphne, and while her eyebrows lower in confusion, she brushes the surprise off. Lizards aren't reliable - yet. She can't understand them. "Anything you want to photograph specifically? I can see if I can get some of them down near the glass." Whether or not she can talk to them or not, they're familiar with their keepers. Someone in a green shirt nearby means food.

—-

Eric will indeed blame it on the bees.

"Who knows," Eric says casually as he shrugs his shoulders in a graceful enough motion. "I've only met you twice now." He says with a grin before he turns his attention back to the snakes and the lizards in the hothouse. He thinks a moment before he laughs. "Honestly? You'll laugh. I like moss toads…and I heard there was a rare earless lizard from Borneo around here somewhere. Oh! And the eyelash viper. That thing just looks neat." He seems to like reptiles he does. Though he only named one snake type. Thats not all that many.

"…well yeah, and now that it merged with EvoSoft its even bigger," He gives a sour look. "Which is why I was hiding in the penguin house in the first place." He replies with a slight laugh. "…but now…lets see who is first."

The three figures spread out. Two guys one girl it looks like. They are searching though cages and habitats for specific things. Picking and choosing just who is going to be going and staying. Disturbing animals all over the place. "…go make sure the place is locked down." The leader type commands of the second guy, who nods once and moves towards the interior of the building to make sure the door is locked.

The other two, well one heads towards the snakes and the other towards the lizards, both still in the back room.

—-

Well, Laurel doesn't need help trying to date— or maybe she does. How long have they known each other and neither had been on a single real date with anyone until she started going out with the bug guy? Quite some time… quite some time. While they're in the reptile house, she moves to pull her camera out, to get everything set up, adjust the flash for less glare (since there's glass all around) and get ready for picture taking. She's definitely going to be joining in on this— pictures together. In a matchmakers eye that might be date material. But she won't be asking Daphne to take their picture. Not if they both want to be in it, anyway.

"The frogs are cute— I always liked the tree frogs." But she honestly tries to avoid this house more than not. Reptile house as it may be, it also has amphibians, too. And those are cuter. The gecko's also pretty cute.

…Hey Daphne. Does the gecko know it's used to sell car insurance? She'd love to ask.

—-

There are more uncomfortable - though disconnected - thoughts coming from the reptiles. Her initial thought is that one of the snakes got out, thanks to a careless handler leaving an enclosure open. She can't see anything amiss, though, not right away. She does seem kind of distracted, though, eyes narrowed as she takes a peek into the enclosures. "Something's bothering them, Laur," she says quietly. Eric can't really pick up her ability from that, can he? Daphne presses a hand to the glass where the eyelash viper is curled around a branch, looking toward the back of its tank.

Hm.

There are questions that need answering. What's got them all riled? Did she just hear something? And most importantly, when will Laurel stop calling Rudyard 'Bug Guy'?

"Uh, you should be able to get a good shot of this one right now," she says, using her sleeve to wipe her handprint off the glass in front of the snake that Eric mentioned. It's turned toward the main area as soon as Daphne stood up, the movement drawing its eye. It won't stay that way for long, though, considering the distraction.

—-

Does Eric have /any/ idea all of whats going on in Laurel's mind? Oh hell no he dosen't. He would prolly stutter and blush if he did. However he does laugh and shake his head slightly. "…tree frogs are neat, and I always thought the poison arrow frogs took good pictures. Half the fun with the moss frog though is finding him." He says cheerfully as he half loses himself in chattering with someone he hardly knows and taking pictures. He adjusts his camera, takes a picture…and gets too much flash. "…dammit…still not quite used to it." He mutters.

Oh yes. They are getting a little bit disturbed. Sleepy thoughts from snakes and lizards. Thoughts of food…but no food people. Then nearly a dozen very young minds all at once. !!!!!!!!!!!!!?.

The leader of the little team? He just stopped in front of a cage full of tiny, adoreable, baby Komodo Dragons. That are now crowding around the window. Plastering themselves there to see just who it is. "…bingo. Casey. Lets get out of here." He calls over his shoulder as he starts to pick up the cage.

Annnnd about that moment a black clad figure steps from the backroom of the Reptile House to the public area by way of the staff only door.

Only…he dosen't look like staff.

—-

Aww, that's cute. When he fails to take a picture in a way that minimizes the glare from the flash, Laurel drops her camera into a bag. It's time to help him! She knew she should have adjusted his settings before they went inside. She's moving up beside him— he's much taller than her, and reaching towards the camera. But wait, the animals are bothered? She frowns, looking towards her friend. "Maybe they're nervous because we're in here later than we should be? Or— it didn't look like it was about to rain." But the weather has been weird lately, and animals respond to weather, right? Anyway—

She reaches over to camera and moves things around, "You need to change the settings on the lense for this— and the flash." She also gives a quick advice on angling the shot into the glass, so it bounces back outside the frame without distorting the picture he wants. But this requires getting very close, and actually touching his hands for a moment. Yeah—

And you know, despite all this, she blinks at something in the corner of her eye and turns to look, actually maybe moving Eric's camera with her when she does. Someone else shouldn't be in here! And definitely not wearing black. She lets out a soft yelp. People in black kinda worry her, okay? She was mugged once.

—-

Yeah, something's definitely up. She's paying no attention to the photographers now, instead moving off and away from them while Laurel helps Eric adjust his camera. Her fingers trail along the space between the enclosures - sometimes she feels that when she touches the animals, she has better communication with them, and this is as close as she can get.

She has an advantage over the other two, given that she can hear the thoughts from the reptiles. Mere pictures, really… Jumbles of syllables that sound frantic at times, lazy at others. She's slowly - very slowly - learning the patterns, but their words are so slow in coming that she can't quite grab them out of the air…

<GOING!> is the sudden, frantic word that springs into her mind, which causes her to startle just as the guy in black comes out of the back room. With infant reptiles. Her first reaction is one of surprise and alarm, and while she wants to say a lot as she looks down at the little dragons, all that comes out is "HEY!"

—-

Cute? CUTE?! ERIC IS NOT CUTE! Or at least he dosen't think of himself as such. In fact he thinks of himself as rather plain. Compared to his more forward brothers one would suppose that this is true. He glances up quickly and with some suprise as Laurel steps closer, and then shakes his head with a quiet chuckle. "…I think I could use the expert advice on all this…" He adds when she starts to give him some. He actually listens. I know. Amazing.

Not noticing or at least not reacting when she touches his hands he concentrates on adding all this to his memory. Its useful information. Then he finds his camera twisted away from him as Laurel turns towards the newcomer. As Eric follows her gaze he frowns as well. That…doesn't quite look kosher to him. Add to the fact that he's rather paranoid naturally and the girl that actually /works/ here is reacting with just as much suprise as anyone all adds up to a very bad day. "…what are you doing with those?" He asks suspiciously.

"Er…me?" The guy pauses, eyes zipping between the three of them. "…just…taking them to another building…is all," He replies glibly as he takes one step to one side to allow his partner through. The second man through is taller and broader and he just glares at the three 'little' people there.

"…yeah," The second one rumbles. "…why don'cha jus' let us on through and no one gets hurt…" Theres sign of a third person behind the first two, and maybe even a little gasp of suprise from said third person, but as of yet nothing else from them.

—-

No, that doesn't look kosher at all. Laurel's eyes dart to Daphne in a worried way. What are they doing? Are those animals they're kidnapping? Didn't— didn't she say that someone stole a rhino right out of it's rhino— whatever it's in— and set it loose in the middle of a crowd on a Zoo special event? Yeah, she thinks so! She remembers that kind of stuff really well. She worries about it every time she walks by the rhino area. But little lizards being ferreted away isn't good either. Especially when they make the implication that someone will get hurt. For a moment she panics, wanting to hide behind something. There's that squeak again.

This would be one of those moments where her shields would sometimes come up to protect her, right? Not this time— she doesn't have much control over it when she feels threatened, but it seems like it won't be happening right this instant. Instead… she lets go of Eric's camera and actually hides behind him.

He's big. He looks strong. And he's someone not her.

—-

Daphne inhales a shakey breath. She really isn't as brave as she tries to be sometimes, and the fact that she's staring at three people who are stealing animals - quite obviously and brazenly, in fact - makes her blood run a little cold. She feels that dizzying fight-or-flight response bubbling in the back of her brain… This isn't right. At all. But she still stands there, mostly because she's too afraid to move.

Blue eyes fixed on the guy with the cage, she states, "You don't work here." Thanks, Captain Obvious. You win. "I work here. I've never…"

Trailing off now as the big guy appears, Daphne actually does take a step back. She glances backward at the other two, licks her lips, and tries to decide whether or not to run off and leave these guys to steal the lizards. Would anyone blame her? But…

She takes another half step back, but she's not backing down. "Just… put the cage down and go, and I won't tell anyone you were here," is her own ultimatum, annoyance surfacing as she hears that second squeak from Laurel. Come on, someone back her up here! She can't just let these guys steal the lizards. "Or you can leave with the cage, and I'll have security after you in seconds." Security being something extremely large and pachydermy, most likely, but Eric doesn't know that, so Shhh.

—-

Well isn't this just a spot. Eric blinks a moment at the man-mountain as he appears. He would have even stepped forwards, but suddenly he finds himself being used as a shield. He blinks in suprise and looks back over his shoulder at Laurel. Er. Damn. She's kicking in all of his protective instincts when she's squeeking and hiding like that. He dosen't move forwards, but there is a tension in his body as he eyes the pair of figures.

He can take em.

The thought runs through his head and he almost smiles for a moment. He dosen't seem afraid of them in the least. Wary yes, but not afraid. "…I think it would be better if you left the cage here, just like my friend here says…" He says with a deceptive smile.

He dosen't notice the snakes in the displays around becoming agitated, his world is narrowed down to the three infront of him. "…and we don't want anyone to get hurt. Really…I'm sure we can work this all out…"

The big man growls and reaches behind him, pulling out a large bore pistol that he waves threateningly in the Trio's direction. "…what youse can do is gimme that radio and back the hell off while we walk out of here…and I don't want no funny business. Else someone /will/ get hurt…" The man's eyes narrow. "…and just to make sure…" And one big meaty paw starts to reach around Eric for the cowering Laurel.

Eric just glares and backs up, still infront of the cowering photographer. "…lay off big guy." He states flatly.

—-

As soon as a gun is waved about, Laurel squeaks again, actually reaching up to grab Eric's shirt. Congratulations, Penguin Man, he's earned the position as her bodyguard for the day. It's so good she put her camera away into her bag. She probably would have dropped it this time around. And when he reaches for her, around her shield, despite his instinct to protect and his words to back off… her hands tighten on his shirt, and she closes her eyes—

And an invisible barrier springs up a few inches off of them. Flat and solid, like touching a wall. It's not all the way around, not totally encasing them both, but definitely around them on the side that the man mountain happens to be reaching from.

Um… sorry. She knows she's not supposed to do these things in front of people, but people shouldn't attack her and she wouldn't do them!

—-

Daphne's own fear and trepidation does have an affect on the reptiles. She can't consciously control it, but she notices one of the snakes strike out at the glass enclosure. But… no. No help there, they're all trapped. The dull thud on the glass causes the serpent to recoil, hissing threateningly as the rattle on the end of its tail shakes.

Oh. God. He's got a gun.

Most of Daphne's courage is lost at that point, but the thought still sticks in her mind - all she has to do is get to her radio and call for help, and someone will come running before he can fire off a shot. Unfortunately, Daphne's brain is working in slow motion, and she isn't thinking clearly. It's when he reaches for Laurel that she acts - probably stupidly - pulling the radio out of her belt and seeking to beat the big guy's arm with it! Oh, if she could rewind that moment in time, she would have called for help with the radio! As it is, the second time it strikes his arm causes it to shatter uselessly to the floor, so they won't be using that any time soon.

So in this case, fight won over. There's another dull thud or two against the glass as more of the snakes lunge forward against it, but Daphne doesn't notice them anymore. She's too busy backing toward Laurel, and running right into her shield. If Eric didn't know it was there before, he certainly will now.

—-

Well there are worse positions to be in there are. Eric though just glances back towards Laurel a moment with what he hopes is a comforting expression. His eyes snap forwards again as he backs them both off a second step. He raises his hand to fend of the big man's hands…and notices the look of confusion on his face. His hand is pushing against thin air it looks like. Like a mime in a box reversed.

"…wha' tha' hell…" He huge guy grumbles before looking over his shoulder at his boss for instructions. Big Guy does not improvise well. "GET THEM YOU IDIOT!" The other man snarls as he starts backing towards the door he came out of a moment ago.

Then in comes Daphne.

The radio cracks as it bounces off the big man's arm. He snarls as she backs up /against/ thin air. Eric has a very good view of her flattening herself there before the big man snarls. Up comes the gun, he's intending to just crack it into Daphne's skull to knock her away before shooting once at the shield, a second very poorly aimed shot at Daphne.

…thats when the intresting things start to happen.

The first bullet springs off of the shield and crashes into the display window for a group of kanburian pit vipers. Very nasty things those are. Very ANGRY things at the moment as well. Laurel and Eric are the closest to them too, and thats not usually good.

The lights just go out for one. Its not how /normal/ lights go out either. No flickers. No power outtages. It just seems that the lights…don't work as well anymore. Laurel might notice the thing starting at Eric's feet actually before rushing outwards to envelop the whole room in darkness. Then a pair of strong arms wrap around Laurel in the darkness. His only hope was that the sudden darkness spooked the big guy enough that his shot went wide of the zookeeper.

"Hold on," Its Eric's voice of course, softly. A odd feeling of dislocation may come over Laurel…and then the lights snap back on.

…with the pair on the other side of the room from where they were, and the pit vipers now closer to Big Man than anything else.

—-

WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? That's the radio that brings the police! The secutity! The MILITARY. D: Laurel hears the sound from the man, and peeks around Eric's arm to see… the radio shatter into a gazillion pieces. DAPHNE. On one point that's really sweet, that she would try to defend her, but on the other hand… Oh no. Her shields went up. She makes a panicked sound when Daphne's squished against them, trying desperately to get the consentration to pull it down. In fact, she's so scared of getting hurt that her ability won't let her take it down. It needs to stay up— she needs to be safe. Defense instinct. That's what her ability acts on.

She even tries to force a second one up to protect her friend, who's trapped against her shield. But it doesn't work. The bullet that bounces off her shield actually makes her grunt, as if in a mild amount of pain, but she's still holding on to Eric, as he wants. The lights go out— and then they're suddenly somewhere else. She blinks, still holding on to his shirt, before she tries to figure out where she is. A glance around in the returned lights, and her first though… "DAPHNE!?" Where is she? Is she okay.

—-

"Dammit, Laurel," Daphne mutters to no one in particular as she tries to find her way around the shield so she, too, can have some sort of barrier against the guy she just smacked with the radio. She can't seem to find a way, though, and then? Blunt force against her head, knocking her to the ground, but not knocking her out.

Probably a good thing, considering the fact that she's riled the snakes enough so that she has to be conscious in order to keep them from attacking her. Not that she knows that… Because she can't actually hear them. She's just broadcasting some sense of urgency, which the snakes are picking up on, and… No. They're not happy about this, not at all.

Thankfully, pit vipers can see perfectly fine in the dark - those little pits on the sides of their faces allow them to see in a different way. Finding the gorilla-like guy in the total darkness is nothing for them, and so they close in as Daphne tries to get her eyes to adjust - while she raises a hand to rub at her aching head. What is it with her getting hit on the head at work?

Propped up on her elbow, she blinks as the lights come on, and that's when the snake nearest to the big guy strikes, driving fangs threateningly through his pantleg, delivering a good dose of venom while another of the scaly things remains protectively near Daphne's elbow. Needless to say, Daphne's not going to move. She doesn't want to get bitten!

—-

See. No harm no foul, no bullet for Daphne.

The leader of this little disaster just stares in shock as the pit vipers, three of them, swarm over his heavy and then towards him. "What the…this isn't worth it!" Not fighting deadly snakes and wierd power fluxes. He continues to back up and runs into his third partner, who is trying to back up herself and letting forth very Laurel-like sounds of distress.

As well she should, because someone mamma Komodo Dragon is sitting in the middle of the corridor behind them glaring. As only an angry several hundred pound lizard can glare. The leader of the little group freezes, looks down at the baby lizards, and then sloooowly puts the cage on the ground.

The Big Guy was looking around wildly in the dark, so wildly he didn't notice the viper next to him when the lights come back on. The thing strikes his leg and he curses before looking down in slowly growing horror at it.

…anti-venom is going to be needed here very soon.

Eric just takes it all in as his eyes fade from the silver-sheen they were a moment ago when the darkness enveloped the room, to a more normal color. He coughs once, an arm shaking. He feels like he just ran a mile. A single little drop of blood escapes his nose before he looks down towards Laurel. "She's fine, she's fine see…the bullet missed her." Pause. "…I…wouldn't go over there right now though…"

Pause. "…and…I think you three better…um…surrender?"

—-

"How did we— what— ?" See. This is where Laurel's confused. For one, she's disoriented. One moment she was over there and now she's over here. And she's far too perceptive to not notice this change of perspective. She's an artist. She knows they just moved from one place to another in like a second and— Daphne is okay. She lets out a relieved sound, looking towards the snakes that are near her. She's no where near as panicked about that as she should be. She knows the snakes won't actually attack her. But there's still a big wall up. Invisible as it may be. It would be really nice if that thing would shimmer or something— but then it wouldn't be fun to use for pranks, would it?

She looks back towards her protector and… he's bleeding. "You're— you're bleeding," she says. Obvious as it may be. She's more concerned about that than her friend, because… vipers won't hurt her, right? She knows this. Mean mommy dragon thing won't hurt her either. And there's bad guys, and broken radio and… She reaches into her camera bag and pulls out a lense cleaning tissue for Eric, and then… HER CELLPHONE.

"If— if you don't run off— if you stay here— I'll call an ambulance for him." So— stay and get arrested, okay?

—-

Her head hurts. But at least she's not being bitten by snakes. There's one coiled near her elbow, though; Daphne notes that - curiously - it doesn't seem to mind that she's so close to it, shaking, breathing heavily… Taking the opportunity, she slides away from it, and while this movement does annoy the reptile, it hisses, but doesn't strike. Thank god she didn't decide to try picking it up.

Vague annoyances filter into her head, though they have no words, no actual meaning attached. It's just something she can feel.

Daphne looks up just as that silver fades from Eric's eyes, and is strangely comforted by the fact that he's one of them, and no one will have to attempt to explain Laurel's shields. It's the same feeling she had when she found out Cass wasn't Evolved, in fact. Different situation.

Daphne pushes herself to her feet. There are closets with snake sticks, which she's hardly qualified to use, but she's going to anyway, while the venomous serpents are still in her view. She doesn't give a rat's ass about the guy who just got himself bitten - he can die. She cares more for the creatures who probably just saved her from getting shot. She's kind of seeing double in one eye, and that's disturbing, but that'll catch up with her later. For now, Daphne gestures at the female intruder. "You? Get me one of the buckets in the back. Now." Might as well put her to use while she's here. With the snake stick, she gently pins one of the vipers' heads to the floor, and then picks it up by the tail. She's seen Steve Irwin do this lots of times! How hard could it be?

The snake, for its part, is strangely calm.

—-

"…I'll explain later," Eric replies towards Laurel, watching her out of the corner of one eye for a moment. He is still standing between her and the interlopers. Taking his bodyguard duty fairly serious tonight. Of course he always does once that mode is kicked on. He has no idea even /if/ there is a wall somewhere around, but he now has a good enough idea /who/ did it. That grunt gave her away. He continues to glare at the trio, even as the Big Guy starts twitching and falls over.

However as Laurel addresses him again he blinks. "I am?" He didn't even realise it, taking the lense tissue from her to try to daub off some of the blood. "…tried too hard." He mutters quietly, under his breath as he stares. The Big Guy is the only one that really could have seen anything. He's in no position to talk.

The leader glances back and forth, trying to find a way to escape. He's failing. To do so. "…fine," He finally snarls angrily towards Laurel. "Just hurry!"

The female in the back blinks once, then twice. Her eyes are wide in shock, and she looks terrified out of her wits. She blinks out of her shock, and almost mechanically runs to find the requested buckets. She's back in a moment…and just slides the bucket to her.

Not wanting to get too close.

—-

"Okay— explain later— but— really— you better," Laurel says, though— he probably saw Daphne get squished against her shield— and the whole bullet flying away, thing. But… Daphne's safe and she's manning the snake stick thingies like the Irwin of the Bronx that she is, and— there. Her shield's gone down. Not that anyone can see it, but she can feel that it's disappeared now. More or less. The danger is over, and she speed dials the the Zoo emergency number. The gates haven't closed just yet— they always have someone on duty while it's opened, and usually a half hour after— and they're the ones who'd probably have the anti-venom, just in case.

She gives as much information as she can think of. Break in in the reptile house. Someone bit by a— snake thing. What snake was it again? She looks towards Eric for the answer, before she gives the viper's type so they have a better idea of what to bring.

"I'm calling the police next, but if you want to call too that's fine! Just get here— and oh yeah! Send security too." Security is important. She looks towards Eric, wanting to ask him again if he's okay— but… then she calls the emergency number next. 911. It's on speed dial.

But Laurel, it's only three numbers? SO? One's faster. :(

—-

There's a nice bruise spreading down the side of Daphne's face by now. This isn't the best time to be handling dangerous reptiles, though they calmly do what she wants them to do, and allow her to put them into the bucket, one by one. She'll be okay. At least this one didn't knock her out. Either the guy didn't have very good aim, or Daphne just got lucky… And somehow, without realising it, she communicated with the snakes. As for Momma Komodo…

"Please just stay there," she mumbles to it, as it flicks its tongue at her.

With the snakes in the bucket, Daphne glares at the others - the ones who broke in - before backing up toward Laurel and Eric. She's hurting, she'll probably need to go to the hospital just to make sure she's not really in trouble, and she's grumpy. Probably not the normal reaction from a person who's almost been shot, but then again… She turns that glare on Laurel, only for a moment.

She won't voice her anger right now, but she could have helped instead of hiding behind someone else, as far as Daphne's concerned. Maybe the temper will boil over once everyone's out of harm's way. "You two okay?" she asks - because first and foremost, Laurel's her best friend. It's just that all best friends drive each other crazy sometimes.

—-

The calls go through. Security, a medic , and extra Zookeepers all arrive at a dead run less than a minuite after Laurel gets off the phone. They all look very suprised to find thease three twenty-somethings there…and having put down three older guys. One that was obviously armed. Its just lucky the snakes didn't attack any of /them/. Pure dumb luck saved the day.

Waving off the medic, Eric stands there watching it all. The younger man insisting that the Big Guy get treated. Well. This was more of a distraction than he thought it was. It was enjoyable. It netted him some nice new info on people and they foiled the bad guys. Not a bad days work.

He opens his mouth to say something towards Laurel. Then he frowns and presses his camera into her hand. The frown turns into a smile.

Then his eyes roll back in his head and he just collapses, quietly passing out. He goes sliding bonelessly down the wall. Power extension + 2 hours sleep a night + adrenlinene crash = Passed Out Millionaire.

At least it was a good night though!

—-

"I'm okay," Laurel says immediately, not wanting to make her friend all worried about her— and she really is fine. "It's just… why is 911 always busy?" Stupid cops. Maybe she should offer her services once a week as a 911 phone operator so one less person will sit on hold. Isn't the snake bite guy totally lucky? When she does get through, leaves the address, the circumstances, her name and all that, she hangs up the phone and looks back towards the young man. Interesting night! She looks between the two, and— success! Or at least not FAIL. Sort of.

But they have a lot to talk about later looks like. Then Eric hands her the camera. "What?" She asks outloud, hold it for all of a second when… down he goes. She doesn't drop the camera, but she does jump a little, before she kneels down and… "Eric?" Um…

"Looks like we're going to need a stretcher…"

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