2007-02-26: Ferry Rides are a Gas!

Starring:

Ramon_icon.gif Eleanor_icon.gif Elena_icon.gif Namir_icon.gif

Also starring:

Russian mobsters and a rich nerd

Summary:

An everyday ferry ride becomes a ride of horror when a mustard gas hand-off goes terribly wrong.

Date It Happened: February 26th, 2007

Ferry Rides are a Gas!


Long Island Ferry

There's a nice interior cabin on the ferry across the Hudson River, where people can sit down and buy something overpriced to eat or drink on their way across the water. It's also a nice place to get out of the torrential rain that's falling today. At the moment the crowd on the ferry is fairly sparse. Most people are inside, wrapped up in their own little worlds. Ramon Gomez is over in the corner tapping on a laptop, tossing down one of those overpriced coffees with a rather grim and irritated expression on his face.

A shiver runs down Eleanor's form and she brings her legs and arms tight against one another. She hadn't anticipated the weather correctly. Though, she did at least have enough sense to protect herself against the cold. Rain just wasn't on her radar. She wears her uniform as she always would, though her shirt isn't tucked into her skirt and she wears a navy blue pair of sweat pants under it. What does she care? Even if she really were going to show up, she'd be a good four hours late give or take. Her winter coat is actually a rather expensive, fashionable piece. It clashes with her otherwise complete disregard for appearances. Brushing off a bit of blonde hair stuck to her cheek, the teenage girl turns to meet the leering eyes of the man sitting just beside her. With a tightening of her jaw and an eyeroll, she gathers up her backpack and casually moves towards the far corner of the cabin.

And sitting near Ramon is Elena, typing quietly away on her own laptop that's got a bunny with fangs and surrounded by a wreathe of flames sticker on the top. But while her father looks irritated, his daughter by contrast only looks concentrated and determined. She doesn't have any coffee with her, but she does have several books. She picks one up - Light Magic: Physics and the Visual Arts from the pile and thumbs through a page she had dog-eared earlier. It looked very much like an academic endeavor, but she's careful about people looking over her shoulder for some reason.

While he isn't petrified of boat rides, Namir Dayan still doesn't like them much. However, sometimes they are a necessary evil, and so he takes them in stride. He's dressed in civilian clothes, as always when he's off-duty. Today's set consists of neatly pressed black slacks, a dark green turtleneck sweater, and a long heavy overcoat slightly dampened from the rain outside. He's seated not too far from Ramon and Elena with his head tilted back against the wall, and he has been watching Eleanor — or, rather, the man leering at her. When the girl gets up to move closer to his end of the room, Namir smiles faintly, glad she had the presence of mind to move. Seeing she's no longer in danger, his gaze idly slips over to his opposite side, drawn there by the clacking of fingers on keys. He can't see Elena's book, but he's curious nonetheless.

This very nerdy guy comes in from the hold where are the cars are. He pushes up his glasses and adjusts his well tailored, pinstriped suit which hangs on him like a tent might hang on a scarecrow. He wrings his hands and then takes out a blackberry cellphone — only to stare at it incredulously. He hits it twice, wide brown eyes rabbit-like on a face that has not seen nearly enough sun. He tucks the blackberry away and hurries up to the first person he sees — Eleanore, in the corner. "Do you have a cell phone?" he stammers, clearly fearfully agitated. "Does it have any bars? My cell phone doesn't have any bars. How come I pay all this money to T-Mobile and it doesn't have any frickin' bars? Does your cell phone have bars?"

Unzipping her bag, Eleanor produces a small fold-up traveler's brush. Readying the hair-band around her wrist, she begins smoothing out her hair. A passing glance is offered to the book that Elena's takes up. Her brown eyes slowly trail up to the face but before she can register any familiarity, a distraction is offered. "Are you alright?" Eleanor asks in a quiet, breathy tone as she frowns. Her hands rise up behind her head as she pulls her hair into a pony tail, "I have one." Finishing up, she tosses her brush back into her bag and digs into a pocket of her coat. Wrong pocket. Other pocket. Only mildly concerned, she lets him come to where she's sitting. Otherwise he can go jump off the ferry for all she cares.

After a bit of typing, Elena leans back to rub her face with her hands, exhaling softly as she looks at the data on her screen. She seems oblivious to people looking at her, but she looks up at the little scene going on on the other side of the boat. She spies Eleanor - and rememebers her from yet another incredibly weird day at Starbucks. She can't help but overhear the agitated clamoring of the other man and furrows her brows. What's the big emergency?

The entrance of the rich nerd draws Namir's attention away from Elena and her book, and he keeps an eye on the man, though the Middle-Eastern man doesn't figure him to be of any real threat to anybody; he's just a flustered young man. Perhaps. He watches the scene closely, though his expression is one of vague disinterest.

Ramon's head jerks up though, and he focuses on the nerd with an expression of real alarm. "Elena," he says, a low growl of warning as he closes up his laptop. He doesn't say more than that, but the nerd does.

The nerd shoots Namir a sort of suspicious glance, and then practically hops up and down in his seat next to Eleanor as she digs and digs for that cell phone. He hisses a whisper that anyone at all could hear. "I'm pretty sure there are terrorists down by the cars." Heads all over the cabin jerk up.

Ramon's growl causes her head to jerk up, hearing her father first before she hears the guy on the other end of the room. But she knows something about her father, and considering he's looking the way he is, Elena closes her laptop quietly and stows it in her backpack. "Quienes?" she asks her father softly, zipping her backpack and tightening the strap when she slips it on her shoulder, dark eyes moving to where he's looking - towards the nerd and Eleanor. "<I know her…she stops by my Starbucks sometimes>" she informs her father.

"Wha-aaat?" Eleanor asks quietly, her brow furrowing in disbelief as she gives up in her search. Instead, she just stares at the man with real amused concern. Naturally, she doesn't believe him. She thinks he's crazy… and she patronizing him. Eyes narrowed into thin half-moon slits, she turns her head to glance around the cabin for help… or at least validation. "Well, I'm-" Her eyes bulge, her hands moving back into her back to dig through /that/. She continues to search for her cell with no luck…

Annnnd there it is. Namir's lips contort into a faint smile, the sort one wears when one is taking a stale joke in good humor. He's been called a terrorist before — a lot, actually, since the events of September 11th. It's nothing new. He lifts his head to better regard the nerd, and he is certainly not unattentive to the uneasiness of the father and daughter nearby. "Are you?" he asks of the pale young man. "Can you give me their descriptions? I work with the police." As he speaks, he studies the other man carefully. There must be a reason he's causing such a stir with the passengers next to Namir.

The man was heard by nearly everyone, and this is terrible for Ramon. He suddenly takes a moment to clutch his head. "Calm down," he says through gritted teeth, as everyone in the cabin tenses. Some are staring at Namir, some are staring at Nerd-Boi, some are just freaking out after their own cellphones and retreating to the corners. One or two are just snickering. Terrorists. What/ever/ dude.

The man immediately turns his attention to Namir. After one long pause during which his none-too-charitable thoughts are writ large on his face, he launches in. "There's two big men down by the cars. I saw them exchanging something in a book bag, that looked heavy, and some money. They were speaking in…Slavic or Russian or some kind of communist language. Don't all the communists support all the towel-heads now?"

We never said this man was a gem.

"Only they're pissed off at each other and waving guns around! I was getting my briefcase, they didn't see me." He waves his briefcase around as if this will somehow rally the troops.

Oh no. Elena looks at her father alarmed. She's seen this look before. Without thinking, her hand comes up, closing her fingers over her father's free forearm, the one that's not clutching at his head. "Easy, Papa. We need to get you out of here before this gets worse," she murmurs in Spanish. She looks around - are they THERE yet? Why the hell do ferries have to be so damned slow? While she would be inwardly offended at the man's words, she's too busy worrying about her father, her unconscious ability triggered by her momentary worry that her father might collapse at the sudden strain.

Eleanor stops her search altogether, thankful for Namir at least drawing the man's attention away from her. As she watches the hysterical man, she can't help but muse under her breath, "That is completely politically incorrect, dude," Eleanor sighs. Blinking. Humor tends to be a defense mechanism of hers. As he begins waving around his briefcase, she hugs onto her own bookbag and jumps unvoluntarilly.

All the activity stemming from the man's hysteria is not enough to cover up the fact that something is very much not right here. Namir has a bad feeling in his gut — the same sort of feeling he gets when he's about to jump into a dangerous situation. He rises to his feet, allowing his eyes to shift to the other passengers, and he raises one hand placatingly. "Everyone just stay calm," he intones, his other hand slipping into his overcoat pocket to retrieve his own cellphone. "Sir, miss? Everything is going to be all right." This last is directed at Ramon and Elena. Once he's produced the phone from his pocket, Namir looks at the nerd again, holding the cell up. "I have a phone right here. I get coverage on the ferry. Who are you trying to call?" He isn't about to hand the phone over. Something about the nerd doesn't sit right with him.

Ramon's shoulder's relax, and he stares murmurs a thanks to Elena. He swings his attention to Namir as the nerd colors in outrage. Ramon rasps, "He's telling the truth," to Namir. "He wanted to call the police."

"Who the Hell else would I be calling you idiot?" the rich man explodes. "Jesus Christ. Did you think I would be calling /al-Queda/ for back up?"

Then, from the cargo hold, an actual shot does ring out. Moments later there's a scream of raw pain and surprise.

She isn't actually quite aware of how she's doing it - not yet. All she knows is that she tends to make her father feel better just by soothing him. Daughter's duty and all, right? Elena looks over at Namir and gives him a faint, if not somewhat worried smile. "We're alright….well, my father is just a little sick is all. Do you know when this ferry is supposed to dock? Because I thought we weren't all that far off from—" And then, the gunshot rings out. She freezes, stiffening next to her father and gripping his arm a little more tightly. Oh god. Oh god. And then, there's the screaming - the victim? It's about to get worse from where she's standing.

Eleanor's body jerks again with the gun shot and the resounding scream, but she remains quiet. Her eyes widen like that of a frightened rabbit. She had been all too content watching as Elena and her father went back and forth with the cop… But now, she's actually scared. After another long pause of frozen panic, she dives back into her bag to resume the search for her cell phone.

Damn it. When the gunshot rings out, Namir reflexively ducks slightly, and his eyes shoot toward the door leading toward the cars. His lips purse tightly, and before the scream can die away, he tosses the phone to the rich nerd. "Call 911," he growls, ignoring the man's angry words. "Everyone stay in here." His hand goes back and under his overcoat to retrieve the pistol holstered at against his lower back. Half-crouching, he moves for the exit and peers out, focusing his attention on deadening the sounds of his feet and the rustling of his clothes. However, the commotion and the excitement surrounding him makes this difficult. He's not able to mute the sounds entirely.

The rich man calls 9-1-1.

Namir makes no sound on his way down. He will reach the ramp leading down to the car area, just as the screaming man comes stumbling up and out of it. He's covered in blisters. He also is bleeding. The backpack appears to have been hit, as if he were suddenly shot /through/ the pack. The smell of horseradish fills the air. The ratty green backpack he's carrying is emitting some sort of brownish gas, which hisses up into the air, slides past Namir with its blister-incurring burning caress. The gas slinks past Namir and up into the cabin with everyone else. Thiodiglycol — mustard gas — might seem pretty prozaic to people in the United States, who have much bigger and better weapons now — but it's still big bucks in countries that would like their very own chemical weapons even if the UN says they're not allowed to, and thus smuggling it is big bucks. This is a tihodiglycol hand off gone very, very wrong. If his eyes and lungs aren't burning too horribly, Namir will spot the other man, the shooter, running across the car area in the opposite direction. Just a flash.

Elena is…going to follow the cop's orders. While part of her wants to help given her usual recklessness, her concern for her father's condition trumps it. So she remains where she is, glancing over at Eleanor.

Eleanor presses her back against her seat, doing as she's told as well. "Oh, my God," the blonde cherps as the mustard gas becomes visible, though the odor is completely lost on the teen. Feeling the eyes on her, she turns her head sharply. Eleanor manages to make fearful eye contact with Elena for a isolated moment. Before her pony tail settles from the sharp movement, she turns back to look towards the entrance to the cabin and it whips around again.

The smell, the color of the gas, and the blisters on the man in front of him all clue Namir in on what this is. As soon as he detects the smell on the air, he holds his breath and partially closes his eyes to minimize his own exposure, but his eyes and nostrils are already stinging. One arm comes up to cover his nose and mouth as he quickly assesses the situation. The shooter is spotted, but the Middle-Eastern man's priority is the safety of the people in the cabin, which is where the gas is heading. Holstering his pistol once again, Namir quickly strips off his overcoat and moves to clamp it over the leaking pack. If he manages to do this, he'll attempt to rip the pack away from the man, using the coat to contain as much of the gas as he can. He's fortunate to be wearing a sweater today. "Get down and stay down!" he snaps hoarsely to the victim.

The victim obeys, primarily by rolling over and dying. He's got a gunshot wound as well as all those blisters, and he took a deep old lungful of gas when he shouted. He rolls down, leaving the pack available to Namir's attempts to clamp down on the gas.

That does not, of course, stop what is already in the cabin upstairs. Those nearest the door stagger back and start to shout as blisters appear on /their/ skin. The horseradish smell gets rather strong, and the burning lungs factor starts up for many, even though its not full blast. Ramon himself starts to cough and rub at burning skin, even as he turns to try to shield Elena in his coat. For Eleanor, of course…the little space surrounding her is fine. Maybe she's near some good ventilation!

"…..gas…" Elena whispers, seeing the traces of strange color waft up from the cabin. And then, when people burst in with blisters on their skin, her eyes widen, and she tries to move from her father's side in an unconscious attempt to go help them out -however, her throat starts to constrict. She coughs, though her throat at present is saved by Ramon's coat. She pulls her bandanna from her pocket. "Papa, tie this around your nose and mouth," she says, pushing it towards him. Her eyes start to tear, just a bit. But she keeps close to the coat. What's going on? What IS this?

Eleanor looks from face to face, watching as each contorting in reaction to the thick, ugly fog that surrounds them. Does she dare? Is she even capable? Her chest heaves with a few quick breathes. Still, she hesitates. A familiar tune rises up lightly into the cabin amongst the moans and cries. It's a sharp, robotic melody. Her cell phone. Her mother's ringtone. Her backpack slides out from her grasp and falls to the ground as the ringing phone continues. It urges her on. Nostrils flaring and muscles tightening, Eleanor pushes up from her seat. A snarl rumbles up from her throat. Her coat slides off of her exposed arms. The snarl grows as she pushes her own limits. A burst of pure, clean air billows through to toxic gas, expanding out around the cabin.

There's no time to check for a pulse on the fallen man. Namir has to get this pack /off/ the boat — /now/. His coat is wrapped firmly around the pack and he ties the arms and sash to secure it. His hands are already starting to blister and he coughs softly. He can only hold his breath for so long. Still squinting, he sets off for the main deck at as fast a pace as he can manage. Once he reaches the railing, he hurls the makeshift package over the edge and into the water below. Freed from the horrific gas, the man drops to his knees and gasps in clean air, his damaged hands gripping the railing hard. A short rest, and then he'll go back to the cabin and start damage control.

Down the package goes, the fateful backpack with its nasty contents slipping beneath the already polluted waters. Yet another reason, ladies and gentlemen, why we do not _swim_ in such rivers. The cabin gets cleansed by Eleanor's much more intense burst. As it stands, Ramon is tying that thing around his face when it happens. He sort of shakes himself like a large, mangy, startled old hound dog, and then grimaces, rubbing at his eyes. The top half of his face is now a strange pale color, and the remains of his hair — the top half, rather than the beard, have gone — well, bleach white.

Elena? Is the same - she looks rather pale from the top of her head, but since her face is buried in her father's coat, that is saved at least. Her hands look a chalky white, from where she was exposed to Eleanor's cleansing abilities, but she looks unharmed.

Eleanor ducks down, pulling her now whitened coat up and around herself. Desperately, she pulls her backpack close, withdrawing into the small nook between the seat she'd been perched on and the next. Her eyes dart around nervously from face to face, a deep sinking feeling in her stomach. For fear of going snow-blind, she closes her eyes.

After taking a moment to breathe, Namir pulls himself to his feet and stumbles back toward the cabin. This time, he has time to check for a pulse on the man on the ramp and, finding none, he hisses out a soft curse and continues on into the cabin. What he finds there is … well, shocking. It's like a bomb full of powdered sugar exploded in here. He only hesitates a moment before he locates the nerd to whom he handed his cellphone earlier. (The nerd, at least, is not much paler than he was before!) Namir steps forward to grab the phone, coughing softly into his hand before he puts it to his ear. "This is Namir Dayan with ESU. We need a hazmat team equipped to deal with mustard gas exposure and — " he glances around at the whitened cabin " — unknown chemicals. There is a man down. An armed suspect is still at large on the ferry."

"Roger that," comes the response. "We'll meet you at the harbor." Which is still coming into view, because the captain, not knowing what else to do, had continued in his course, rather wide-eyed. A look out the window will show an ETA of about 2 minutes or so. The guy on the other end says, "Make sure nobody leaves that ferry." For if there's an armed suspect loose and lots of fun chemicals, they can't just let people wander off. Ramon, for his part, sits down and mutters in Spanish, rubbing at his forehead. He looks cranky — but he looked cranky /before/ it started. He keeps a close arm around his daughter's shoulder, just in case more trouble shows up.

The armed suspect will actually be found and taken into custody when its all said and done — a known Russian mobster. Interrogating him should provide fun facts for everyone. The Hazmat team arrives, cleans everyone and everything up, professes themselves baffled at the bleach, and goes on with life after taking multitudes of samples. Finally, about 6 hours late for wherever anyone was going, people will be released to continue their lives.

Nobody whines about this six hour delay longer or harder than the Nerd With The Blackberry.

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