ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

This is a Non-Delta Green / Non-Mythos game that utilizes Delta Green Rules.
Agent, you have been assigned to the Joint Task Force headed by a Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. You, and your colleagues chosen from other Federal Law Enforcement agencies, have been especially selected to participate in this exercise of inter-agency cooperation so that we can pool your collective talents and skills to better serve the interests of our great nation. As we struggle to over come the challenges we face as a nation in this time of global pandemic, we're counting on you and your colleagues to work together against the many threats we face (foreign and domestic, visible and invisible, biological, human and 'other') in order to keep your countryman safe, secure and healthy. With your service, we will help make America great again. Thank you for your service. Sincerely, Your President.

ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby welsh » Fri May 29, 2020 6:24 am

OCC- Herein we will begin our first episode of JTF- Special Operations.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby welsh » Sun May 31, 2020 11:31 pm

OCC- I suspect that federal agents get an alert via a pager. I'll allow you all a chance to speak to your character's response and home life.

ICC-

As an agent, the job means you can be contacted at any time, any where for immediate duty. You break from an uneasy slumber to the sound of a text message. A glance at the clock. It isn't even 7 am, Monday, March 15, 2021.

IMMEDIATE and urgent - You have been assigned to a Joint Inter-agency Task Force headed by Assistant United States Attorney Claire McKenna. You are to proceed immediately to an active crime scene located on the corner of 77th and Dumont Avenue in Brooklyn. You will be briefed on your role and responsibilities by Asst. US Attorney McKenna upon your arrival. This is an indefinite and priority assignment and are relieved of all current responsibilities for the duration of this assignment. You are expected within the hour."


The text message indicates that the message is been sent by the US Attorney General's Office, that the message has been cc'ed to your immediate superior. You are also aware that over the past few months there have been increased deployments of agents to ad hoc basis to such joint inter-agency task forces, normally supervised by an Assistant United States Attorney.

McKenna? You don't know her personally. An A US Attorney. Some vague memories. Terrorism... organized crime... political corruption.. bad cops... cult killing... Wall Street crooks...

You look out the window, see rain drops reflected. So much shit in a city you'd think everyone would drown in it.

Many in federal law enforcement had become discontented or disenchanted. Rumor have been circulating of a massive shake-up among the federal bureaucracy due to persistent concerns raised by the President's administration of Deep State efforts to undermine his government. Legislation favoring a bureaucratic restructuring had been held up in Congress, now suffering paralysis due to political divisions. Purges of long-term federal employees had increased since the election, especially of those considered potentially disloyal to the President or to their duties. Email and other electronic communications had grown.. circumspect and cautious. "Watch your back," was the advice whispered in stairwells, in private meetings and discrete conversations as a mood of paranoia had crept into the federal bureaucracy and law enforcement.

A cold drizzle was coming down outside, a late March rain of a long winter of a city desperate for a reluctant spring to arrive. It was the kind of rain that would seep into your clothing, get under your collar, chill you to the bone. The city lights seemed captured in the early morning overcast that met the morning mist rising off the cold city streets.

The bug had come back to New York for the third time. The first had passed like a wave in November as the summer protests had given way to the election protests, and the virus had used those demonstrations to spread like a fire on a windy day. Many of those taken taken in the second wave had been those who has survived the virus during its initial sweep of the city. The third wave had come later in the winter, hiding in winter cold and flu, but this time its victims were those who had suffered the secondary effects of the virus- unemployment, homelessness, despair. On Hart Island, mass graves had been used for those COVID dead that had gone nameless or unclaimed, until there was no more room, and the government had been forced to cremate and scatter the ashes into the East River.

It had been a year for the record books if anyone kept records of bad years. New York City was starting to look like it did back in the 80s, when crime was jacked up on crack and the murder rate reached levels that, in some Third World country would suggest civil war.

Bite the Big Apple, don't mind the maggots.

The sun isn't even up. Maybe it won't rise today.

No matter. The job calls.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby welsh » Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:10 am

ICC- Claire McKenna-

The phone ring and before the ring can stop, Claire is awake and bringing it to her ear. Her eyes are still closed, but she knows from the tired in her body that it's still dark. "McKenna" she says, her voice stifling a yawn.

The woman's voice on the other side says, " This is a priority call, can you verify your security code please?"

Security call. New procedures mean greater security checks and verification, not just on-line but over the phone. She responds to the question.

The voice responds, "Please hold for Principle Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff Jonathan Barrett." She looks at the digital clock on the cable box. 6:03 am. He's calling from DC and answers to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, who in turn answers to the Attorney General.

A few minutes pass. Clare is aware that the man sleeping besides her has woken up, looks the time, and turns on the light, momentarily blinding Clare with the sudden glare.

"Clare Mckenna?" Comes the voice on the other side.

"Speaking sir." She responds

"Barrett here. Sorry to wake you up. But something has come up that has caught our attention." The man looks at her to see what's going on. She signals with her yes not to ask. He shrugs and walks over to the bathroom.

Barrett continues. "We got a situation in Brooklyn that I need you to see to pronto. Might be nothing, probably nothing.... but it might be something, we just don't know yet. We also to bring a team together to check out the details and get ahead of this thing. We got a car and a marshal to pick you, should be outside pretty soon. How soon can you be there."

"Within the hour, probably less." She responds. "It's national security?"

"Could be." Says Barrett, "or some other cluster fuck one of our foreign friends might of got themselves into. You answer to me on this and I want it kept tight for now. Don't need to stir up the press. Could be anything. Could be nothing. But if it is something, we need to keep a lid on it. The politics might be bad for us. These days, well, I don't need to tell you that we need to be sensitive on politics."

She can hear the man in the bathroom making water into the toilet.

"Understood sir." She responds. An Assistant US Attorney had been assassinated only a few weeks ago in Texas for what appeared to be political purposes. Protests in NYC had been met with violent crackdowns, but still the protests continued, and had turned violent in kind. The government deadlocked between Congress and the President, meant the Covid crisis, economic downturn, and social unrest went unaddressed. With political institutions failing to resolve social tensions, social conflict shifted to the streets.

"Good. We're pulling a joint task force together now from across agencies as we want to keep it all through our offices. Remind the investigators that leaks will be prosecuted to the highest extent of the law. They'll be called within the hour. You can meet them on site. Better that way, keep it out of the office for now. Keep it ad hoc and a joint effort."

"National Security designation?" She asks.

He pauses on that question, "Let's just keep it ambiguous for now and see what happens."

"We're to take jurisdiction on this matter? It's our case?"

"Not yet. At the moment this might be nothing. If the federals take the case, it might draw the papers, who'll come at it like flies go to shit. Let the locals take the lead on this and if it gets..... complicated, we can take the case." He instructs. Claire detects a note of tiredness and impatience.

She tries to get a bit more detail. "Can you..."

But Barrett cut her off. "We are sending a file with you with the details. Keep me updated."

The phone hangs up.

The man walks back into the room, still naked, grabs for his pants.

"Make some coffee. I need to get to Brooklyn in an hour."

"At this hour?" He asks.

She doesn't answer as she gets up and walks to the shower. She showers quickly, gets dressed, with dark pants, sweater. Coldest part of the day and she can change into something more formal at the office. Grabs her laptop bag.

Downstairs, he's got a cup of coffee waiting in a ceramic Starbucks travel mug as well as a buttered croissant. She takes it from him, kisses him quickly and offers a smile, says "Grab some breakfast on the way out. I'll call you later when I get a moment."

Outsider her apartment, there is an SUV waiting, the engine on, the window tinted black, no markings on the door. As she opens the door, the Marshal steps out and opens the door for her. The Marshal is Cheryl Wade, who has driven her before. Marshal wade is a fairly new federal Marshal and has been tasked with detail providing security for the US Attorneys after the recent assassination of a Assistant US Attorney. Young, African American and a New Yorker brimming with confidence, but new to the force, it's no surprise that Wade has been tasked with the detail of being her driver and guardian.

The cold and wet doesn't seem to bother Wade, but McKenna can feel the March chill biting her cheeks, and the damp weigh down. Outside the air is misty and dark, the air grey and moist and cold. She quickens her already fast gait.

Claire offers a quick thanks as she gets in the back of the SUV and opens the laptop. Marshal Wade pulls out into the street.

"Where too Marshal?" Clare asks as she logs in to her laptop.

"Dumont Ave and 77th." She responds.

"Queens or Brooklyn?" Asks Claire.

"Brooklyn but on the border. It's a place known as The Hole." Says the Marshal. "To be blunt, Ma'am, it's kind of a shit hole of a place. I mean literally. God knows why you want to go there. We should be there with 30 minutes."

Mckenna opens the encrypted file on her laptop and begins to read through the case.

An early morning fire consumes a building. Multiple FDNY (Fire Department of New York) go to respond. A massive explosion before the fire companies arrive, causing significant area damage, with fatalities among neighboring residents. Reading it, McKenna thinks its probably a crack house, or some abandoned building that some heroin addict has been using as shelter and allowed to catch fire. Perhaps its a local meth lab that exploded...

She keeps reading, looking at the files of the members of the Task Force Team, reviewing them quickly. Outside, the city streams fast as Marshal Ward drives her through Brooklyn down Atlantic Avenue. McKenna hardly notices Brooklyn passing by outside. The city is waking slowly. A few years ago, there would be more traffic, but so much of the city has shut down due to the virus.

McKenna turns to the property records. A three story building, windows boarded up and graffiti. It's an old picture. She checks the ownership.

Property of the Government of Saudi Arabia.

Fuck.

The car descends and Clare can hear the car splashing through what sounds like an enormous puddle. "We're here." Says Marshal Wade.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby welsh » Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:57 am

ICC Tony Lapis

Tony Lapis is awake when the call comes in, exercising in the basement of his home in Jamaica Estates. His son, Michael is spotting as he benches another set of 200 lbs. Since schools shut down last year, morning exercise had become part of the ritual, with a mix of weight lifting and aerobic activity for both Michael and Cecily. Cecily is working out on mats nearby doing yoga exercises.

His son peers down on him. "Come on Dad, you can do more weight than this."

"It's not the weight, kid, it's the repetitions." Says the older Lapis.

"Nonsense, you are just getting old." Says Michael, "body breaking down with age."

"Not the age but the miles."

The alarm ends the banter. Tony racks the weight and checks the message. The kids pause watching their father, who looks at them after reading, "Duty calls."

Cecily, at 13, laughs, "That's what Brenda says when she needs to take a shit."

"Cecily. Language." Says the father, already going up the stairs.

Sorry Dad."

"Yeah, just don't let your mother hear you say that."

"Hear what?" Asks Marie, in the kitchen.

"Kids being kids." Says Tony. "Getting called in early."

"Now?" She asks as he goes past her for the stairs.

"Yep, to Brooklyn. Near East New York, Astoria, Ozone Park."

"A shit hole. Bring your rubbers, it's going rain.' She calls after him, "I'll get your coffee and something to eat for the road." she says, as he vanishes upstairs.

Twenty minutes later he's dressed and heading out the door, grabs the bag lunch she hands him and gets a kiss for her efforts. "You kids be good. Don't forget your masks."

He gets in the agency car, a blue Chevy Malibu, sets his GPS and 25 minutes is pulling into The Hole. He can smell the smoke and see the sires through the haze. The smoke seems to have settled like some vaporous sulfuric gas among the buildings, the streets the people. The police have already begun to block the streets, and he can see squad cars from the 73rd precinct are parked, their tires deep in flood water.; HIs car moves through the flooded street like some nocturnal creature and he expects at any minute that the car will sink beneath the fetid water.

One of the local cops shines his flashlight at him and he holds his ID to the window, reluctant to open the windows. "Wherre's the US Attorney?" he says loudly so the cop can here.

The cop points further down the road. "Park down on the side. Fire trucks and ambulances still moving through, and try not to sink in this shit so we don't gotta tow ya out. Attorney is near the black SUV with tha Marshal."

Lapis nods his understanding and he drives forward. Vision is distorted by the smokey air that mixes with morning fog. Up ahead he can see the sirens flashing but can't make out the site of the fire from behind the fire truck or the ambulances. Windows blown out everywhere by the blast concussion. He can see paramedics checking for wounded among the trucks and he notes at least one truck on its side further ahead.

He pulls next to a dark SUV and gets out. A federal Marshal steps out from the drivers seat as a passenger steps out from the rear seats. Claire McKenna is wearing a baseball cap and a coat but he recognizes her from a narcotics cases a few years ago.

"Agent Lapis." She says.

"Assistant US Attorney." He replies. "What do we got?

"Looks like a fire in the building down on the corner set off something exploded before these FDNY guys got here" She says. "The blast seems to have snuffed much of the fire out. But the fire marshals are investigating."

"So why us. Let the locals take it. I got a couple pending..." He begins, in the hope of pointing out he's important for gang-land
.
"Because the house supposedly belongs to the Saudi Government."

Lapis looks around. "Saudi's? Here. Why would they bother?"

"That's for you to figure out, Agent."

"We taking jurisdiction?"

MxKenna shrugs, "Not yet. Not till we know more."
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Philulhu » Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:13 pm

ICC - Harry Shibatu

The buzzing of his pager on the coffee table wakes Harry and he reaches out blindly, scrabbling across the surface until he finds it and hits the button to restore the silence. He yawns and lifts the pager so he can read the message, blinking myopically against the backlight, but the letters won’t focus.

Sighing, Harry reaches for his reading glasses. He sits up on the couch and scans the message. “About time!” he mutters to himself. He’s been stuck doing paperwork since his transfer from Seattle and the news of something different comes as a relief.

He stands and pads quietly over to the bedroom door. It’s shut so he knocks quietly but there’s no response. After last night’s row he doesn’t really expect anything else but there’s still a gnawing ache that won’t go away. His marriage is in trouble but he doesn’t know what he can do to fix it.

Turning away, Harry steps over to a second bedroom door. The door is ajar and from inside comes the sound of his young son, Tyler, snuffling in his sleep. Harry stands there a moment longer before reluctantly pulling himself away and heading to the bathroom to wash and get ready.

Fifteen minutes later, Harry is dressed and scrawling a quick note to his wife to tell her about the early call. He tries to think of things to say but in the end he just settles for “Sorry!” even though he doesn’t think it’s his fault or even know what the row was really about.

Harry lets himself out of the apartment, quietly closing the door behind. Down the elevator to the basement car park, he finds his Chevy Traverse parked in the corner. He checks it over before setting off - recent experience in Seattle showed he can’t be too careful - punching the address into the satnav as he emerges onto the early morning New York streets, already teaming with traffic...
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Philulhu » Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:16 pm

ICC - Jakob Kaminski

Jakob stares out of the window of his top floor, brownstone apartment, watching the city lights reflecting and refracting from the droplets of moisture that trickle down the window. Some were fast, some slow. Some accelerated and decelerated, depending upon impurities in the surface of the glass, but they all got to the bottom in the end.

He glances down as the pager rattles on the window cill. Reaching down, he picks it up and reads the message. He was briefed about his new role the previous week so the message isn’t unexpected but he is still a bit apprehensive about his new role. Agents and specialists being thrown together on some sort of inter-agency brief? None of the team in the lab had had much to say about it so their names haven’t get come out of the hat or they’re just keeping schtum about it.

Jakob is already dressed so he closes the notebook he’s been browsing and locks it in a wall safe. He heads for the door, picking up the factory fresh, FBI-stencilled, wet weather gear he’s been issued and heads out the door. Locking up carefully, he glances up and down the street as he steps out the front door, then heads over to his car - a 2017 Mini. The car fires up noisily in the still quiet street before Jakob pulls away and on his way to the crime scene.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Snapper » Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:30 am

ICC - Jackson Conroy

Conroy
crouched down by the shore of the Hudson, filling small plastic vials with samples of river water, and the odd tiny crustacean. One by one the vials were secured in a metal briefcase. Conroy had managed to badger his way into some post-grad science research at NYU, analysing the pollutants in the old river.

He stood up and admired the view, still dark except for various nighttime artificial lights. Conroy tried to get a feel for the interconnected life here at the river, small animals in and near the water, plants growing.

What Conroy certainly felt was wind and cold. And this was despite the fact he was wearing a big old military surplus jacket, scarf and a beanie, his untied hair hanging down to his shoulder blades.

Behind Conroy was Washington Heights. He liked it here. He could afford a tiny one bedroom apartment at the very top of an old tenement. And he could walk to the old river.

His plan this morning was to leave early and drop the samples at the University on the way to work. With that in mind, the Ford Fusion hybrid was parked a few feet away. His thoughts were suddenly derailed by the message. Conroy quickly took stock. He had all his equipment. Jeans, sweater and jacket would have to do. He quickly stowed his sample case and started the Ford up. As ever, his first thought was that while he admired its ecological cred, he wished it were a helo.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Snapper » Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:19 am

ICC - Javier Gonzalez

6am and Javier found a street vendor selling coffee near the Brooklyn Bridge. He grabbed a cup and settled back in his warm car to admire the bridge in the gloom.

Five years straight working South of the Border as a DEA agent. He'd been back with the FAST teams in Arlington a few short weeks, still felt like a foreigner. Opportunity had come up to follow through in NYC with a few enquiries from his South American days.

He'd stalked through the available work cars till he found a slightly battered Jeep Wrangler. Perfect. Common and anonymous but still fun. He could be a farmer, a businessman with a sense of adventure, or just a good old boy in the Jeep. Who just happened to have a padlocked pelican case chained to the trunk interior and filled with some interesting equipment.

Javier seized the moment to drive from Arlington to the Big Apple for fun. He'd had a nice dinner and a few drinks in Spanish Harlem, spent until the small hours in an all-night diner chatting up the Puerto Rican waitress, then slept in the car down by the water. Had to waive off an NYPD patrol with the badge but they didn't complain. Turned out, it was so damn cold he had to leave the engine running and the heater on. Better find some place to stay tonight, he thought.

Coffee gone, Javier pulled out a toothbrush, paste and bottled water and quickly brushed his teeth by the side of the Jeep. Then the message came through.

Javier considered his appearance. North Face black coat, sweater, 511 pants. And an NYC baseball cap. Hadn't shaved in a day. Oh well. He cranked up the GPS and headed off.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby welsh » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:00 am

OCC- Nice posts Phil and Snapper, glad you both are enjoying the creative writing. Couple quick thoughts for you both. Nice opening posts. Overall thoughts, the feds are frequently depicted as driving black SUVs but realistically that's not likely to happen. Most of the cars are bought on federal moneys allocated and through GSA - government service agency. One thing for sure, likely that the cars are American and not European or Asian imports. It's not the quality so much as the contracting rules- buy American.

Snapper- Javier is likely to freeze his ass off in a Jeep Cherokee in NYC in March- it gets below freezing most night. A rainy night can easily turn icey and your car becomes encased in a ice cube. IF he doesn't have a permanent place to crash yet he can probably find a cheap long-term hotel room in Queens or Brooklyn for long-term business stays. Chances are the government contracts would have some arrangements for long-term residents and permanent hotel rooms. My guess is Javier got there early and had a night out in the cold. He will want to check in or crash with a friend and not repeat that experience. Given our setting and time, things in NY have gotten dicey to remain on the streets at night.

About Conroy- remarkable things have been happening in NY harbors. The Hudson River is a mess- https://www.riverkeeper.org/water-quali ... ollutants/ with PCBs basically infecting everything that lives in the river from 50 miles above Albany. Given the other substances its amazing that people still fish that river. More on the Hudson- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_River#Pollution . The East River, a saltwater waterway that links NY harbor with the Long Island Sound, is another waterway with a history of environmental damage- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_River . Seriously, New Yorkers often thought that the only thing floating in the waters around NY were dead bodies. A few decades back we had syringes wash up on the beaches of Long Island (famously mentioned in Billy Joel's We didn't Light the Fire) and I recall a case of body parts being dumped in the river. Despite all that, wild life has been returning. Wild beaver have been identified in the Hudson and Harlem Rivers and many of the waterways around NY are cleaner than they were 30 years ago. Part of that has been improved environmental standard as well as the declining use of the Port of NY and reduction in local heavy industry. New York State environmental regulations have probably improved and the city has made inroads at improved environmental standards even as Trump's administration has rolled- back Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Philulhu- Nice posts. He can probably afford a brownstone building, probably Brooklyn. A lot of families still in NYC. In the 1980s a lot of folks moved out of the city for the suburbs, and NY is a bit remarkable in that the suburbs are not that far if you drive in. Lot of families in Staten Island (but that means a long drive or you are taking the Staten Island ferry to NYC. Surprisingly perhaps NJ isnt' too bad, but you'll need to either go through Staten Island or take the tunnel or notes on burbs- https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/se ... etro-area/ and https://www.6sqft.com/5-of-the-best-sub ... york-city/ but a lot of families are staying in NY. Some of the better parts of the Bronx, Queens - but NYC is damn expensive. Also, kids often use mass transit to get to school in the city.


ICC- Claire Mckenna checks her watch quickly. The others will be showing up soon. She had gotten there early, will give some basic instruction and then back to the office and back to work.

Marshal Wade had been playing NPR on the radio. McKenna hadn't been paying close attention, but had let the news run. So far this fire hasn't drawn attention of the local news. Instead they are talking about the latest news. Protests had turned violent in the Bronx for a third night as buildings set on fire. Tensions between the mayor and the police unions. Economic recession to last 3-4 years, could be cut in half if a low cost vaccine can be found but Center for Disease Control worries about mutations of COVID-19 hiding in yearly flu. Tensions heating up between Vietnam and China, China and India, China and Taiwan, North Korea and South Korea. In Yemen....

"Marshall put on CBS News radio and let me know if this fire is on the news radar." She asks.

Wade turns the channel to WCBS, Fires in the Bronx as protests turn violent.

McKenna turns attention back on Lapis who is seizing up the situation outside. "What do you think?"

"Hard to tell." Says Lapis. The police and fire sirens cast phantom lights everywhere but harsh lights flood through the haze from the center of activity, the center of a once fiery maelstrom that had shattered the dark with fire and power enough to knock over trucks. Now only the brilliant white light remaining like the echo of a supernova. "Whatever blew as big enough to knock trucks over. Might be lucky that the trucks around the building caught the blast or the damage might have been more extensive.

The radio buzzes a story of the mayor and police union in dispute over proposed police reforms.

"We are here to assist and observe for now." Says McKenna. "Let the local police do the heavy lifting. But we need to move fast and let's not draw attention. Let's figure out the Saudi connection on this. Could be this is a local arson so better leave it to the locals."

Lapis nods. "An arson investigation of a property payed for by Saudi Arabia."

Lapis steps in as an ambulance rolls past, its rotating lights flashing but its siren stifled. Cops are moving around the perimeter but can't be made out, black figures hidden by the smoke and haze. Less clearly, fireman are still moving about the scene of the fire, putting out any lingering flames, their activities hidden by the brilliance of the spotlights.

Wade is also watching. She's looking not towards the center, made brilliant by the spotlights in the haze, but around the perimeter, beyond the cops. Figures moving about in darkness, gathering in clusters, keeping distant from the police, for now. She is barely paying attention to the news. Covid cases on the rise again but increased numbers of homeless suffering from the "mysterious sleeping coma" are taking up hospital space.

"Cops here are not interviewing witnesses." Notes Lapis. The cops seem to be forming their own tight groups, maintaining a security perimeter to keep the fireman and marshal safe from the locals.

"They aren't from here." Says Wade, "Don't know the people, no connection, no network. This isn't their place and they know it."

"Probably why the mafia liked to dump bodies here, no cops and no one gives a shit." Adds Lapis. He turns his attention back to McKenna. "Ms. McKenna, just to let you know I am involved in on-going investigations."

"I am aware that you've been assigned to a narcotics investigation in conjunction with a NYC squad. Is that correct?"

"That's correct. We've got a a potential turf war kicking up in the Bronx and the investigation is on-going."

McKenna nods, "Then hopefully this will be resolved quickly, agent, and return to your investigation." McKenna concludes. "In the meantime. Take a look around and report back in 10 what you see."

McKenna feels impatient, a need to stretch out form the car. The car feels stuffy and the air smells scorched, traces of burning embers and chemicals. But she needs to wait for the rest of the team and she knows Wade would caution against leaving the SUV given local risk factors.

Lapis nods and walks away from the SUV and towards the scene, thinking more about the Bronx investigation but making mental notes of what he sees.

Cops have already erected barricades and are directing traffic. A paramedic crew was checking the inhabitants of a truck that had rolled over. Another crew was trying to remove the shell of an automobile that had pinned a African American woman against bottom of a dump truck turned on its side. Lapis shields his eyes so he's not blinded. More ambulances, police cruisers.

A police inspector is instructing policeman. The local cops keep looking into the dark as if expecting some violence to come roaring out of the night. There are not many cops present, most from other precincts offering support but who will melt back to their own protests as soon as the fire inspector leaves. A sudden protest, sparked by local discontent, and a wave of locals armed with improvised tools could storm through. It's happened before, a few months ago in East New York.

A cop approaches him to ask for some ID, so Lapis flashes his badge before the cop speaks. "Feds taking jurisdiction here?" Asks the cops.

Lapis ignores the question. "What happened?"

"Three story buillding use to be here got blown to shit is what happened." Says the cop. "Almost took some of New York's Bravest with it."

"Gas explosion?"

"Maybe. Fuck what do I know. Got the Arson unit coming down but right now its BFI doing the investigation." says the policeman. " Big fucking blast though and right up into air. Can tell by all the bricks and mortar all over the place. See the trucks? Lucky this didn't happen elsewhere. or damage would have been really bad. But here? People think some kind of forgotten waste blows up in place no one cares about. Who gives a fuck about the Hole? Place is like some black hole or somethin'. "

Lapis looks at the blast. It looks like the building was lifted up out of the grown and then came crashing down on its foundation. Bricks and wood and mortar are scattered and still warm.

"Anyone in it?" He asks.

The cop shrugs. "If they were, they ain't walking out of that. Certainly people around it though. Sleeping in these trucks. More than used to be. This place... never good. Place was emptying out for years. Only old timers stayed. Too fucking dangerous. But then people started coming back last couple of years, before Covid for sure. Mostly homeless folks that don't want to go to the shelters. Can''t find anywhere else probably. "

Lapis eyes the cop, "You patrol down here??

"The hole, fuck no. No one comes down here unless they gotta. These days gotta be careful. And this place.. people disappear down here. Besides we got enough problems in East New York."

"So no regular patrols?" Lapis asks again. No local patrols means no Confidential Informants, no networks, no contacts, and nothing to build an investigation.

"Got to speak to the Sergeant about that." Says the cop. "That would be Sergeant David Ruffini."

"And the detective?"

"Not here yet. But likely Joey Pacesee" Lapis knows that the precinct detective is likely to be here first but if homicides are involved, it will fall to the Brooklyn Borough homicide squad to investigate. They normally have 48 hours on a case before it gets turned back over to the local detectives. That will put pressure on the homicide detective to close the case fast.

The house is rubble, collapsed. Small pockets for fire illuminate like bits of burning charcoal. Three abandoned dump trucks are turned over nearby, like dominoes that fell over in some child's game of contrived chain reaction.

Lapis considers speaking the the FDNY investigators but decides the inspector is too busy to bother as is the sergeant of patrol. He returns to the SUV.

As he does, he sees a familiar face, Detective Chris Dowd, in a NY Port Authority pass by and park. He is about to turn to speak to Dowd when he sees something else in the haze. A horse and rider emerging from the darkness, the horse gentling trotting towards the scene of the fire.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby welsh » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:23 pm

ICC-

As Lapis watches, the horseman, still hidden in the dirty mist, stops his horse and looks behind him. A swirl of blue and red lights, and the siren chirps quick. The horse jumps a step but the rider has it under control, puts a hand to its side to calm it, and then lets the horse gait to the side.

A brown four door sedan with its lights attached to the roof, pulls by, kicking up mud from the road. The rider watches the car go by as does Lapis. The car proceeds towards the crime scene until it pulls to a side before the police perimeter. The driver is in plain clothes, probably one of the detectives.

Lapis sees the horseman remain on the side of the road as something big moves through the dirty mist down the road. It moves like some slow prehistoric slug, in jerks and spasms down the muddy road.

A figure steps up next to the horseman, who bends down to exchange a word, even as he moves his horse further to the side of the road until he too disappears into the grey mist.

The large slug like vehicle emerges through. It's a police command center, finally coming down to the scene of the crime to help in the coordination. Big, wide and fat, the vehicle seems to consume the road, but it moves from one side to the next, its driver trying to find the dry earth of the road surface in a neighborhood long since abandoned by road crews. At one point the vehicle sinks to one side and then a jet of muddy earth shoots up from behind a tire as the vehicle rocks back and forth before finding solid ground.

Lapis is next to McKenna's SUV, careful to step as far away from he street as possible, not only to avoid the bus but any mud it might kick up. He can almost feel the wet earth surrounding is galoshes, and the cold winter is making it feel like he's walking through ice water.

Wade is listening to the radio and the police band, keeping updated. Her eyebrow raises as Lapis approaches. McKenna looks up from her laptop where she's been getting updates.

"It's a mess up there. Fog and smoke, can barely see and the air isn't right. The fire crews are finishing up and the FDNY investigators are there checking out the scene. Besides the police perimeter, the local precinct is just arriving." He nods at the police command bus that is passing them. "The local detective is..."

"Detective Joseph Pacesee." Says McKenna, "A ten year veteran of the force, twice decorated but suspended on 5 different occasions for wrongful conduct, twice for excessive violence. The command Is Terrence Robinson, who's been on the job for only 2 years."

Behind the van other units approach. The first is a two door Honda Accord with another individual dressed in a plain clothing. A second unit is a van from the Arson and Explosion Squad followed by another from Forensic Investigations. Both units pull over near the SUV.

Wade shakes here head. "In this mess, those folks are going to have a hell of a time."

"They are still pulling out people from the wrecks." Says Lapis, "When the house blew up, seems the concussion from the blast knocked a number of local trucks. Paramedics are moving some a car from a woman. Blast knocked over dump trucks. Lucky that the FDNY hadn't gotten to scene or we'd have lost a few."

"Bad enough. We got at least 9 locals killed because it seems one of the trucks caught fire and no one could get out. And then we got some 30 in the hospital, 11 in critical." Says McKenna.

She doesn't have to say that this makes it a homicide investigation. McKenna continues. "Most of the injured were living in nearby trucks or other housing units nearby. As for the fire, no witnesses if it started inside the house or outside. People aren't talking. Brooklyn Homicide has assigned William Moreland on the case, but he seems the only investigator so far... no redball on this one. Interesting. "

The Arson and Explosive follow the Forensic Unit towards the site of the fire.

Lapis says "Mooreland is good people. I've worked with him before. But he'll be worried that we take the case out from under him."

Wade nods. "Local police don't like it when they think the feds will sweep in."

McKenna is putting on her rubber galoshes. "Well hopefully it won't come to that, but could be that house had something inside that blew it to up, and if the Saudi's were storing explosives, than we need to make sure this stays quiet." She takes a drink from her coffee. "The others should be here soon."

OC- Snapper and Phil, good time to be arriving. Your agents would converge on McKenna's SUV and you should be able to make out the vehicle not only because of its appearance but because of the government license plates. Handy, can you take your character from call to the scene? I'll be posting some pics for our NPCs.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Philulhu » Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:36 pm

IIC - Jakob Kaminski

Kaminski makes good time and is soon flashing his ID through the car window to one of the perimeter beat cops, who moves a barrier to one side to let him through. He takes in the PCC and spots the black SUV with two people in conversation, one of them busy pulling on her boots. He guesses that’s Attorney McKenna, though he’s never met her before.

He finds a space to park and pulls over. Like McKenna, he pulls on a pair of boots and picks up his weatherproof jacket with the FBI patches from the back seat of his car. Locking his car, he checks the road and crosses over. ”Attorney McKenna?” he checks. “Jakob Kaminski, Criminal Investigation. I’ve been assigned to you.”
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Snapper » Tue Jun 23, 2020 4:33 am

ICC - Javier

A dark colored Jeep Wrangler sped through the outer perimeter of the crime scene, driven hard. Occasionally, it came to a splashing halt by a uniformed officer and Javier flashed the badge hanging around his neck. This is why God invented 4WD, he thought.

Spying the black SUV, and continuing to drive like it was WWII and he was a marine on a Pacific island, Javier splash landed close by. He ducked around to the trunk, threw the DEA raid jacket on over his North Face - it was seriously cold compared to Latin America - swapped the NYC for a DEA baseball cap, changed shoes for waterproof boots. A black face mask was left around his neck.

Wardrobe sorted, Javier headed over to the SUV, politely rapping the "shave and a haircut" knock on a rear window. He held up the gold badge around his neck. "Gonzalez, DEA, I was paged." He gave Kaminski a friendly nod then pulled a battered packet of cigarettes out and lit up, apparently oblivious to the background smoke. He offered a cigarette to Kaminski.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Mr. Handy » Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:17 am

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Lee Shaftoe is already wide awake when the call comes, having just finished breakfast. He had gotten into the habit of waking up at 0500 every morning in the Marine Corps, and he had kept it up afterwards. He tends to go to sleep early too, so that he is still well rested in spite of getting up at what most people thought of as an ungodly hour. Once he gets the call, he quickly writes a note for Lisa, who is still asleep. He's not about to wake her up prematurely, as she normally won't be up for another hour or two. Then he gears up, gets in his black Ford F-150, and drives to the scene.

* * *

When Lee arrives, he shows his badge at the perimeter and pulls up near the SUV. He emerges from the vehicle and walks up to the growing group. "Shaftoe reporting for duty, Ma'am," he says to McKenna.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Mr. Handy » Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:22 am

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The call wakes Miranda Waterhouse out of a sound sleep. She hastily throws on some clothes and her winter coat, grabs her laptop, makes a coffee for the road, and heads outside. She gets behind the wheel of her green Dodge Charger and drives into New York. Living in an apartment in North Jersey as she does, it takes her a little while to get into New York, and she's the last one to arrive. She puts on her mask, gets out of the car, and joins the rest of the team. "Hi, I'm Miranda Waterhouse," she says.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Snapper » Tue Jun 23, 2020 6:37 am

ICC - Conroy

Conroy drove cautiously through the weirdly unbusy city, keeping half a lookout for urban incursions by wild animals. He wasn't expecting miracles but in other cities, deer, wildcats, and even bears had been seen downtown.

Even more cautiously, he navigated past check points, uniformed NYPD, and other emergency workers in the disaster zone. This was not the sort of crime scene he was used to. Spying the SUV and other vehicles, he parked the Ford Fusion hybrid with a distinctly electric whine.

Conroy wandered over to the others. With long dark hair, a short manicured beard, a beanie, scarf, a green West German army surplus jacket, jeans, galoshes, he looked more like he should be protesting the war in Vietnam or reading poetry in Greenwich Village.

He nodded but didn't introduce himself, just gazed at the devastation and sniffed the air suspiciously. "Wow. I didn't think this part of New York could become any more of an ecological disaster but I was wrong. What is that smell?" Prompted, he pulled a colorful, Fibonacci patterned face mask out of a pocket and put it on.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Philulhu » Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:19 pm

IIC - Harry Shibatu

Harry hasn’t the easiest journey over but at least it has taken his mind of his issues with his wife. As he pulled up to the barriers, he’s already looking around, taking in the surroundings and the hubbub of activity.

Pulling in behind another government issue vehicle, he quickly pulls on his waterproof and flicks up an umbrella for good measure. Checking for traffic, he looks both ways before crossing over and joining the rest of group waiting for instructions. ”Harry Shibatu,” he says, by way of introductions and waits for the briefing to start.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Philulhu » Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:30 pm

IIC - Jakob Kaminski

Kaminski thanks Javier but declines the offer of a smoke. Lifting the corner of his own mask, he pops in a couple of Altoids instead.

He glances around at everyone in their face masks. Adopting a John Wayne voice with a barest hint of an Eastern European accent, he says,”What time is the stage coach coming through?”
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby welsh » Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:01 pm

ICC- Her rubber boots on, McKenna steps into the muddy street. It's been raining for days now and the road feels it weight of accumulated waters with no-where to go. The water offers a chill she can feel throughout her feet.

Wade moves a bit away to keep an eye on the people. She glances down the road at the other cars and police now moving towards the suspected arson. Still few people out, but she can almost feel them, all around, hidden behind the doors and windows of dilapidated houses, sheltering in nearby trucks.

McKenna eyes the arriving agents and welcomes each as they come through. She offers' them a firm handshake and meets each in the eye. This maybe a temporary assignment or a long-one, but these agents have been called together because the country feels it needs them and the matter is one of significance, even if that may yet be mysterious. There has been an explosion, involving foreign actors, which hints at some terrorism or worse. There a strong hint of potential violence involved and more violence to expect, and these investigators may bear the brunt of it.

"Welcome agents. Glad you all could make it and join us in such lovely environs." She nods. "We've got a situation here that will probably require your combined skill set to solve, thus a joint task force has been called. The building that went up in flames and then blew up was bought by Saudi Arabia about 7 years ago. Why would they buy in such an up and coming area? Don't know. This morning FDNY responded to a call that the building was on fire, and shortly before they arrived, the building exploded causing considerable collateral damage and loss of life to this neighborhood. Happily no fireman were killed in the explosion although several locals were. Nine dead, 30 hurt and 11 critical. The house got lifted up and basically dropped but not before it knocked the hell out of just about everything around it."

"So far, it looks like an arson. We've had a lot of arson of late, mostly protest related and a lot of it in the South Bronx, Co-Op City. Some in Brooklyn, mostly East New York, the projects, Rockaways. Except, you'll notice that there aren't any protesters. In fact this is a community that has seen any protest at all. Probably because the place is usually flooded. So if it was arson, we can probably discount that this was some BLM action or any antifa struggle."

Wade is also aware of the relative silence from any crowd. No one is out there calling out "Defund the Police" or "Fuck the Police" or "Kill the Pigs." The relative silence from the local community is, in its own way, unsettling.

"Excuse me Ma'm" Lapis interrupts to offer something, nods to the others and re-introduces himself, "Tony Lapis, DEA." Then he continues, "According to the local patrolman I talked to this place doesn't get much police presence at all, no regular patrols or community outposts. The local police, 73rd precinct, avoids this place."

McKenna pauses, considers it, "We''ll need to investigate that a bit more before we can dismiss a connection to police corruption or violence, but if so, it's a strange choice of targets. At this point we can't rule out anything. End of the day, we wouldn't probably be here if it weren't for the fact that it's an arson on property owned by the Saudis. So additionally, it's a case of potential national security so maximum discretion is required. A US ally may or may not have gotten themselves in a bit of trouble on this one, but the consequences can be global and it may impact our foreign policy in the Persian Gulf. The government has enough to concern itself with Saudi Arabia and Iran escalating without bad news with a Saudi connection coming from NY."

She pauses but doesn't have to remind them that the 9/11 attacks were hardly forgotten but rather, are memorialized in the memories of New Yorkers. Hard to pass the area without seeing the museum and memorial only a few blocks away from the federal offices.

She continues. "We need to figure out what happened, who did it and we need to do so with maximum discretion. For the moment, at least, we are here to assist local law enforcement. If the matter is one of a local crime, fine, we'll let the locals sort it. Could be this was just a local arson and the more our hands are on this, the more likely the press will catch wind of a story and, next thing we know, we got 'fake news' to clean up and we'll have to answer to for something that didn't happen. So, we need to maintain a soft presence. We're here to help and our interest is limited. It is a priority that this remains out of the news.
We need to remind the local police that as well."

Lapis asks. "And what if its more than an arson, ma'm."

McKenna nods. "Then we close the local investigation, take jurisdiction and proceed, because chances are it would fall to us anyway. Right now, that's not been authorized."

McKenna pauses before continuing, but she's been given explicit orders from the chain of command to impose maximum secrecy. "Discretion has been mandated. Let me also remind all of you that you are, by oath of your position and by the law of the US not to allow any leaks of any kind to the press on this. We need to maintain highest protocols of secrecy and discretion. No leaks. Washington has been very explicit. We are to control the information here. Failure to control the narrative will be met with punishment. It will be personal: your career and jobs would be the start. Washington has been explicit in their warnings. They will prosecute to the extent they can any violation of your obligations to maintain secrecy in this matter. Let's be clear, people, the President has been wanting to plug the leaks with extreme prejudice so let's not give him excuses to royally fuck our lives."

It's clear from those watching that McKenna isn't too happy to be passing on the threat from Washington. But since the election, they've all heard the stories of former civil servants being convicted on revealing secrets to the press and now doing time in federal prison. Only a month before the President had been threatening to send "leaders to Gitmo." One former National Security Advisor had been found in a cell handing from a rope.

McKenna continues with the instructions. "Let me be clear. If this is terrorism, than the case is ours, and we take point. If it's just narcotics, then we assist with the international connection. If that's the case, than this is probably going to go DEA anyway. If we are seeing serious political corruption or organized crime, than it will likely go FBI, and if what we are seeing is human trafficking in any kind of systemic way, or gun smuggling, than it's ours. But if this is just teenagers lighting up a house, or some business owner torching a house, or an insurance fraud gone bad, or someone lighting a fire for payback for some infidelity, leave it to the locals. Here's the test, if you're seeing this thing blow up so that the matter is one of national security or regime security, for example corruption at the highest government levels, it's our case. If there's doubt, let me know. Ok, so a sitrep? Lapis, what do we know?"

Lapis speaks up. "Alright, what we know so far. Unclear what time the fire was set or who lit it. All we know that is the house exploded before FDNY could put it out. The fire is basically out now and most of the fireman are gone, but paramedics are still treating wounded and pulling out bodies. This is territory of the 73rd precinct, Fire Inspectors are already poking through the rubble and NYPD's Arson and Forensic units have recently shown up. But the site is a mess and there is a good chance most of the evidence either got blown up, burned up or got washed away. Unclear if there are any bodies in the rubble of the house yet, but they'll figure that out soon. Brooklyn Homicide unit has been called in but only one detective, William "the Bunk" Mooreland. As per procedure, Brooklyn homicide has the case for 48 hours before it gets returned to the 73rd precinct detective, a fellow named Joseph Pacesee, a ten year veteran with some disciplinary issues. Command of the 73rd is Terrance Robinson. Sgt David Ruffini is the sergeant who has been coordinating police until the command bus came in just a few minutes before you all arrived. The fire inspectors are still investigating. The crime scene is probably a mess and evidence has been lost, but its about as fresh as its' going to be. "

McKenna looks at the assembled group of investigators and nods to the African American marshal. "This is Cheryl Wade, US Marshal, who is currently my appointed guardian due to the recent security changes. I'll ask for Wade to remain my personal security for the duration of this investigation, but she's not been assigned to this case."

Wade smiles at the others but stays quiet.

McKenna turns her attention back to the others. "Let me be clear, investigators. You've been assigned to this task because of your varied skill set. While the Joint Task Force is presided by an Assistant US Attorney, I'm just the attorney overseeing the investigation in order to resolve any possible jurisdictional issues. While you may answer to me, this investigation is yours. My job is primarily to see that the investigation is carried out and that any legal issues that might arise are efficiently and effectively resolved in compliance US law. I imagine most of you have work you'd rather be doing, so let's wrap this up as quickly as we can and get back to our normal work. As far as the federal government is concerned, our interest here is simply the Saudi connection. But we want to know "Why are the Saudi's here? Why were they targeted? Who lit them up? Why the building exploded? We'll proceed from that point on. Hopefully we'll have this resolved by the end of the day or tomorrow and you can get back to your normal duties."

"Any questions?" She asks.
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby Philulhu » Tue Jun 23, 2020 11:39 pm

IIC - Harry Shibatu

Harry puts up a hand and when McKenna looks his way, he asks, ”Do we have any witnesses, ma’am?”
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Re: ICC- Episode 1 - The Fire in the Hole

Postby welsh » Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:51 am

IC -

The air tastes burnt, the flavor of soot and ash, incendiary, captured in wet mist. The mist coats everything, wet droplets forming on just about any service that offers the slightest purchase. As the mist collects and condenses, it deposits the grey ash and soot that leaves behind a lingering wet stain.

McKenna smiles at Harry, "Agent Shibatu,. I swear, every time I hear 'ma'm' I think I am turning into my mom. Ms. McKenna is fine, Agent. And to answer your question, so far I don't believe any potential witnesses have been identified. It is possible that there were eye-witnesses. Certainly there are many at the hospital who were injured in the blast so ts possible that someone saw something. But whether anyone will be willing to talk or share with the police, I don't know. If they don't, it could be because they don't trust the police or their are afraid of something that will punish them if they do. I believe policemen are probably taking statements from the injured at the hospital now just as I expect they will be trying to collect statements from just about everyone in this community. The local detectives will review and follow-up. But it's uncertain that anyone will have anything to say."

Wade says "People around here look like they believe in extreme social distancing. Especially from the police." Her eyes are still looking out, watching and waiting, as if expecting something wicked to come out of the grey, ashy mists.

Lapis adds. "East New York has been a problematic area for a long time, lots of crime, drugs, homicide. Most of it is policed by the 75th precinct, but this community is 73rd. East New York was once murder capital of city and local efforts at redevelopment that worked elsewhere never really took here. There's been trouble here since last year's protests with the cops getting more paranoid and defensive as the local community getting more aggressive. It might not look it here but the police are on the defensive. Murder is on the rise all over Brooklyn. Still..."

"No crowds." Says Wade, "No belligerent crowds, no flying bottles, no Molotov cocktails. Its unusual, not like other places. Weird. People are staying back, out of sight. But they are out there, alright, you can catch a glimpse of them, can almost feel them watching you."

Lack of real police penetration or presence of the community probably means that chances are the local detectives have few if any confidential informants, but there might be other cops who have connections in the community. People will be reluctant to speak to outsiders, distrustful and paranoid, not only of the consequences from the police but from others in the community. In such a community the police are not seen as protectors or public servants but an occupying army and the children that get in trouble are likely to be dragged away to serve in some caged jailed in a distant prison upstate New York,their meager means keeping those they love outside their ability to visit.

Finding witnesses will perhaps be easier than getting them to talk. Getting witnesses to provide useful information will require gaining the trust of those who have a long history of reasons not to trust the police or outsiders. Maybe they can find someone's Confidential Informant who might offer some info in exchange for money to feed their addiction. Or perhaps some kind of intermediary who might serve as a bridge, or perhaps a resident so entrenched in the community that they aren't afraid to speak. or someone with an agenda.

Meanwhile, forensic evidence might offer additional revelations.

A hidden sun is greying the skies overhead and may yet burn away the mist which seems to be lifting out of the neighborhood.

McKenna looks at the group, "Other questions?"
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