Doomsday Preppers


delia_icon.gif jaiden_icon.gif

Scene Title Doomsday Preppers
Synopsis When two egos clash, there isn't enough prep you can do.
Date February 21, 2018

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach — also known in part as Coney Island — was completely demolished between the events of the 2011 New York riots, the civil war, and the derelict aftermath leading up to the formation of the Safe Zone. Battered in that time by two different powerful storms, Brighton Beach is almost entirely demolished, a wasteland of crumbling buildings and tangled metal. Reconstruction of Brighton Beach was not prioritized during the initial resettlement planning due to its low elevation and propensity for flooding. However, in 2017, Yamagato Industries began construction on a new facility for the US government on the peninsula. While the exact nature of the structure is unknown, it is clear that there are no plans to begin civilian resettlement in the region.

Things around this area are usually quiet. The wasted buildings and snow covered roads rarely see people passing through, not even patrols through the safe zone. Construction has all but halted on the giant structure that dominates the horizon, making the place seem even more deserted than ever. A perfect place to archive some dystopian photography. Especially in the dawning hours when the sky is a perfect blend of oranges and reds.

Also a perfect place to get shipments.

Delia isn't exactly careful in the path she treads, the canvas backpack slung over her shoulder isn't carrying anything too untoward. Nothing illegal anyway. Just hard to get. A quick glance is taken over her other shoulder as she hurries along the deserted road toward a more populated area in the safe zone.

With Coney Island's destruction, buildings and rides were left like a child's playroom with toys scattered about, piled on top of each other, with a dusting of grime for seasoning. Scavengers took whatever was easily carried or valuable and war, combined with the ever present march of time took the rest. It's nothing like it was before and it will take a massive amount of time for it to become anything like it was again.

Early morning finds a figure standing in the cool morning light, gazing out over the lower bay, dotted with wreckage from various ships that never made it where they needed to be. He's sipping coffee from a battered aluminium tumbler with a top keeping what's inside warm, and thanks to the jacket he has wrapped around himself, he's probably quite warm, too. There's a pause as he sets his cup down with an audible clink and lifts a camera from around his neck, taking a few shots of the ruins and the stillness of the ocean and the rising sun beyond, the shutter echoing softly amidst the ghosts of the past.

She almost doesn't recognize him as she skids to a halt, narrowly avoiding barreling headlong into him. Delia's probably not dressed as well as he is and certainly without a thermos of coffee. Still, she's always made due with what she has. What she has is a knapsack that needs protection. It's swung around to her front and hugged to her chest with both arms.

"Jaiden," she almost hisses, giving a quick glance around them to make sure they're alone. "What are you doing here?" She hasn't seen him in almost a decade, not since before her departure to Eltingville. Unlike Benji's memories of growing up, this Delia doesn't experience the loss of hers and Jaiden's child as keenly or as wholly.

Jaiden is in the middle of stowing his camera when the clatter of stones catches his attention, the camera quickly lowered, his right hand grabbing a cane and turning, ducking down to see Delia slide into view, nearly crashing into him. He pauses for a moment, glancing around, before he straightens a little, supporting himself on the cane.

"Just taking pictures. Kind of like before. Remembering things." His voice is soft, gruff, the australian accent lessened over the years of being exposed to the US 'yank' accent. His right hand is crossed over his left over the handle of the cane. "Came back to visit. to help. Same as always." His head inclines towards the red-haired woman and her precious cargo. "How are you doing, Delia?"

The pack is slung back over her shoulder, though she keeps two hand on it just in case. Her hair is tied into a bun at the nape of her neck, to keep it out of the way and from flying up in the wind. "I'm good," she says, her light tone betraying no untruth to the words. The war is over, is a phrase she seems to repeat to herself as a mantra. Sometimes it works. "Just picking something up— for the gardens."

Her eyes fall to the cane and she arches a brow in question as she looks back up at Jaiden's face. "Getting old or injured?" she asks, hedging her own bet on the latter. She is no worse for wear, though there are two circles under her eyes due to lack of sleep, something only those really close to her know about. "Honestly, here is the last place I figured I would see Mister Davignon." Yes, she heard, their circles aren't that far apart. Delia has a talkative sister.

Even after all these years, Jaiden still can read the woman almost as well as he can read himself. She's hiding something - that much is obvious - and he makes no effort to find out exactly what it is she's transporting. Being out here means that it's something that probably would not be very acceptable in this day and age. Drugs. Guns. He's smuggled before, so he knows how things happen.

It's not that innocent of a world anymore.

"Mostly column b." he taps the ground with his cane, reaching over to take the cup of coffee, taking a sip and tucking it into the right pocket of his jacket. "Got hit by an evolved in Alaska - lightning went down my right arm, blew my right shoe off and melted some of the wire holding the joint together. Nearly broke it during the retaking of Cleveland. I can walk without this but…" he trails off, shrugging slightly. "Easier to not get hurt than to tempt fate."

"Mortlock still." Jaiden explains with a smirk. "Remi actually hyphenated her last name. Soleil Remi Davignon-Mortlock.It was a discusson on whether or not to even do that but I wouldn't say yes unless it happened." The discussions were long and varied, but apparently it all happened and then marriage and a family in the middle of a war.

Just like poor beth from the darkest timeline.

"Didn't you hear?" Jaiden shifts a little to look out over the water, toward the reconstruction zone. "New York is a happening place again. Nice little coffee shop in Red Hook. Nice apartments with Yamagato, if you're lucky enough to have those connections. Nothing like it was, but then, is anything?"

No, nothing is like it was. No matter how hard Delia tries to make it so.

"New York doesn't change much," she says, looking around the wasted scenery around them. "Buildings come and go but places…" She shrugs. "I miss McDonalds." That is offered as almost an afterthought, it's been years. Nothing to be done about it, so she starts walking. It's a slow pace, in case Jaiden wants to join her.

"Yamagato apartments are for Yamagato employees, luck has nothing to do with it if you have a job with them." Delia eyes the man carefully, just in case he is there as a surveyor and not just a photographer. "The rest of us live in Elmhurst, Williamsburg or if you're really swank, Bay Ridge." By the way Delia is dressed, it can be safe to assume that she doesn't live in Bay Ridge.

When Delia starts to walk, Jaiden starts to walk with her. He's not as spry as he used to be, his right leg a little stiff, supported by the cane in his right hand, but he makes due fairly well, getting down the street without any problems.

"As a kept man, in the case of Remi, she'd frown on word getting to her of me doing anything resembling honest work. Did enough of that during the war. And after." The man blows out a breath and looks over the city surrounding them, the ocean to their left as they move. "I sneak to New York every little while to gather stories, go to places, and just look at the world. This is my first time here since leaving, if you believe that. And now I'm doing the same thing I did while I was a reporter." The loss of McDonalds does bring a soft chuckle, the man nodding. "Yeah. Before I wouldn't touch the stuff. Now? What I wouldn't give for a packet of hot chips with salt, right out of the fryer."

He pauses at the mention of the neighborhoods, nodding. "Before, those weren't the best of places to live. Now…they're pretty much it, right, unless you want to brave the wonders of the exclusion zone." He's asking for clarification - the new guy in town. "Me…once things get a little better settled, I'll probably head back to the Skinny Brickfront. It's not the swankiest of areas, sure, but its still standing and for the longest time while I was here, it was home."

Home is a lucky word. Delia has hers and is fortunate that it's the one she grew up in. It's slowly being restored and reminded of that, she tightens her grip on her pack. "That's an apartment building, right?" The name suggests it, though it could be almost anything: A hotel, a shop, a tenement building.

"So what sort of story are you gathering way out here," she asks, genuinely curious. "Not much here but us ne'er-do-wells and sea gulls." There's a slushy splash as she steps right into a puddle, but she doesn't seem to mind and the cold of it doesn't seem to bother her in the slightest. People who live in New York, afterall, are used to discomfort these days.

"Kind of. Basically a building near the river in Elmhurst. Something like 50 feet long and 14 feet deep. Not a lot of space but…like I said. It was home during the start of it all." Jaiden points with is cane in the direction of, across the entire zone to with a view of Manhattan. "Probably won't bring the girls to visit until the wind stops coming from the north and, even if I do…no broadway, no Coney Island….just people living."

Jaiden stops for a moment, looking over the city again, shaking his head. "It's like downtown Mosul here. Sure, less burquas, but just as much pain and misery, if you know where to look." He starts walking again, shuffling to catch up if she's too far ahead. "The stories I'm looking for are the ones that aren't dark. The lady in Red Hook who runs a coffee shop. The school opening up to teach the people who came back. The clinic that's helping. I'm doing what Mr. Rogers said - in times of trouble, be sure to look for the helpers. I'm doing that and…well…helping. When I can. As for why I'm here? Historical context." He points back to where he was for a moment, deftly pivoting on his cane to avoid the puddle. "Took a picture from there before it all started…going to superimpose it on top of one from now, and one from when the place is under construction again. A time lapse on canvas, I guess. Trying to make a little art with pictures, since I can't paint to save my life."

Art, something she doesn't know much about, except for stick figures scribbled in crayon as a youngster. Tania is much more knowledgeable, it's her field of expertise after all. "That sounds like it would be really nice," Jaiden knows her well enough to know that she has no idea whether it does or not. Way back when, Delia's appreciation for art wasn't the best, it's unlikely to have improved.

"Too bad it isn't spring or summer, the gardens could use a little publicity," she adds idly. "If you're living in New York when things start getting really green, you should come by. I'm sure plenty of people would be willing to show off their plants."

Jaiden doesn't claim to know anything about art, either. He just takes pictures and smashes them together in photoshop. Sometimes they look cool. More often they don't and those don't get shown to people. "Just a way to show the passage of time in one picture. It's the kind of thing that sells really well to newspapers, looking for a feel good story about urban renewal."

"Garden?" Jaiden pauses, tilting his head. "Like a community garden, for food, or something with flowers and the like?"

"For vegetables mostly, some people grow herbs but there aren't many people who waste the space on flowers." It's possible that the redhead's sister does, but she doesn't particularly mention it. "Food is… well it's better homegrown." She doesn't say scarce or valuable or rare commodity. Everyone in the Safe Zone knows food shortage.

Almost everyone.

Delia doesn't look like she's suffering much, even though she's as thin as she ever was. She hasn't lost weight, which says something. "I'm trying to expand for the new season, so the help there would be appreciated."

The one thing Jaiden did notice was the hunger. Things like skin rashes, hair loss, and bulging bellies were common here, and seeing someone fat was…well…it just didn't happen. Jaiden is still as broad shouldered as he was when Delia knew him, perhaps a little thinner, but not as worse off as some others that she might have seen. He nods his head. "Back home, during the war, we built greenhouses and grew and canned as much as we could. Ended up keeping people fed for a good portion. Even folks who came out of the battles, we fed. It wasn't a lot of food but you'd be surprised at how far a truckload of rice and beans will get you." She probably wouldn't, but still…

"Is there anything I can do to help you out?" Jaiden asks after a few moments of walking in silence. "I mean…I've got a few resources, here and there, I can still bring to bear."

Actually, she would.

"No, I know exactly how far a truck of rice and beans will get me," she says, eyeing Jaiden carefully. Not unlike a hungry dog would a meaty bone. "Question is, how did you manage to grow rice and beans in that quantity in a greenhouse or greenhouses?" She knows growing and that's a shitton of rice.

Industrial farms just aren't that common these days and Delia knows all of them. She deals with as many as she can. "Unless you mean home in Australia, but I'm pretty sure I would have heard if you went there." Which, she didn't.

"The rice and beans were storage. When things started going south before the war started, I had stores." Jaiden keeps walking, pausing to take a picture of a half-destroyed child's ride of a rocketship, now nose-down in the dirt. "You remember my place underground? I had storage lockers packed full all over the country and a big one up near the Canadian border." That last one may be news to her. Or not, depending on how much she followed the news.

Putting his camera down again, he looks to Delia, seriously. "After Alaska and a few days of rest, I ended up hitting every major store for a hundred miles around, buying up as much bulk stuff as I could. Rice. Beans. Canned goods. Charcoal. Matches. Toilet Paper. Cleaning supplies. I must have spent at least ten…probably twenty grand in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, just on stuff to survive." This isn't bragging at all, more of an outline of what he did in anticipation of things going horribly, horribly wrong. "Thankfully I had the space in my barn for it all. The greenhouses were used for things like green beans, corn, potatoes. Stuff I could can and store for as long as I needed to."

Home in Australia. That gives Jaiden a soft chuckle and a shake of his head. "No…I'm here. Have been here the duration of the war. Supporting. Fighting. Helping convict those bastards at the tribunal with my testimony and the evidence I gathered. Sure, when it started, I just stayed up north. Elisabeth….dying…" He coughs softly, clearing his throat. "Took the wind out of me pretty bad, but when the missles launched…no more mister nice guy."

No, that's news. The twitch of Delia's eyebrows says as much. "Sorry about Elisabeth," she says in a low tone, she is, the woman was nice. "It's good that she wasn't around to see everything fall apart though. I mean, I don't even know where their units stood during the war. For us or against us." She pauses there after a moment's consideration and shrugs, "Maybe both."

The old remains of Nathan's comes into view and she stops there, letting the strap of her pack loose in order to place her hands in the pockets of her jacket. The cold has redenned them, enough that white patches have started to form. Thus, time to warm them. "I'm.. not sad I missed Alaska," she says in that same low tone. "Eltingville was bad enough." Except, now, she's gotten used to the sensation of negation.

"Thank you." Jaiden is quiet, his eyes closing for a moment, his lips moving quietly before he straightens, shaking off the reverie that he had fallen into for a few seconds unbidden. "If you want, I can probably tell you. Should take a few hours in my archive, but I could probably give you a good idea of where each one ended up or, at least, a snapshot in time. Lizzie, though….she would have been on the right side."

Jaiden's gloves are keeping his hands warm, the wooden cane holding a little bit of heat in the padded handle. He nods after she speaks. "It was…bad. Lots of people lost. Lots of deaths. They say we won, though, so that's something. A hollow victory. I mean, we stopped the Mallett device and got our people out. Kept the future from happening in the way it shouldn't and…."

Jaiden blows out a puff of condensation in the cold air. "Fucking time travel. Always going to wonder if all that caused this, or us preventing something from happening caused this. Still makes my head hurt." He looks to her, tall and skinny, bundled up in warm clothes scavenged from wherever they got scavenged from. "It was bad all over. No reason to get into a pissing contest about who had it worse. "Eltingville, Pollepel Island, Grand Central. Detroit, Boston. The pincer in Atlanta. The Dallas Breakout. The seige of Denver. Not to mention all the sh….stuff in California." He catches himself, not liking to curse even now. "They still negate around here?"

Delia nods as an answer to the question, "Some people, yeah. If they feel it's necessary, and some people volunteer for it." Some people can negate themselves with their own abilities by overusing them. "Sometimes, it's a punishment." She motions toward a nebulous area that isn't in the direction of the better parts of the Safe Zone. "Anyone that lives out there, though, they're free to do whatever they want." She sounds a bit envious of it but not entirely confident. "The rest of us live under the government nose."

It's plain to see that she still doesn't trust the government, no matter who is running it. "I imagine money gets you out of everything though," she utters, there's a distinct flavor of venom in the words. "Always the haves versus the have nots."

"Having money helps. Foresight helped a lot more. Experience was the best teacher of all." Jaiden looks out in the direction Delia indicated, the territories, as Mark Twain puts it, before turning his attention back to her, brow wrinkled slightly. "That last part was the reason I did as well as I did. Being one of the haves in the middle of a war zone shows you just how much having is, even if it's a bag of rice. Why do you think I gave most of it right back? Why do you think I went out and fought? Put my life on the line in combat a hundred times or more? Wrecked my body? Someone had to do something, and I was in a position to do it. So I did."

His breathing never increases, the man's prodigious willpower keeping his temper in check. "I wake up a lot of nights sweating. Breathing hard. Nightmares, Delia." Something she knows a lot about. "Sometimes they're simple, of the future that might have been, or that was before people came back. Sometimes they're of the battles. Or after, cleaning up the messes." He straightens, tucking his camera back into his bag. "If you're unhappy with where you live, go somewhere else. Get out of the city. You're not trapped here." Jaiden takes a breath, calming himself. "I don't know why I told you that. Justification, mabye. I still feel guilty for surviving as well as I did. Now….I asked if you needed anything." He pauses. "Do you need anything?"

"Everyone I know fought," Delia replied, her tone unsympathetic to the plight of one compared to the many. "Everyone here has nightmares, I see them, I feel them." She taps the side of her head quickly in an agitated manner. "I know what everyone went through and I can't turn it off." No mention of what she's been through, what she's trying to escape.

"We live here because we have to, because there's nowhere else to go that's protected." Her head twists toward Staten Island, a place she used to call home and share with a man everyone else considers a monster. "Out there isn't pretty, it's full of people who hunt us and kill us. For people in here, there is no option. Moving is a luxury, not a choice." And most people in the Safe Zone can't afford that type of luxury.

This is exactly what Jaiden didn't want to get into - metaphorical dick measuring about who has it worse, about who did what, about who's seen what and who's haunted by the nightmares. They all are. "Good. It seems we're both on the same page, regarding the whole war thing being bad." Jaiden's voice is cool, the iron in his spine no less after all of these years.

HE turns to look out over the water, towards Staten island where she gestures, towards her monster that she lives with, if she lives with him still. Or not, It really doesn't matter to Jaiden that much anymore. Not as much as it did ten years ago. "You live here because you choose safety over freedom. I live outside these walls. Have for the past decade. I'm known, Delia, did you know that?" He turns to fix her with that cool gaze, eyes hard. "I'm on pretty much every kill list from here to california. I'm a war hero. A member of the Ferry. A known evolved. I testified for three weeks at the war crimes trial to put those bastards on the block with nooses around their necks. I did my job. And do I live here, in New York? Because I have to? Because it's the only safe place for an Evo to be? No. And do you know why?" Rhetorical question, there. "Because my kids. My family matters more than my safety. I could hide, sure. I could disappear like that." HE sniaps his fingers. "But I don't. It wouldn't be fair to the world. It wouldn't be fair to the city. Or ENDGAME. Or the Ferry. OR all the people who died if I ran and hid."

Jaiden takesa deep breath and a step back, his camera swiveling up, three quick photos taken of Delia in succession, no flash needed thanks to the rising sun. "Out there isn't pretty. In here isn't pretty. The world is an ugly, ugly place that can grind you under its heel without a care in the world. It'll go on long after we're gone without a care in the world, but the life we live now. The choices we make now…that's what makes all the difference." HE gives Delia a small salute with his right hand, the cane held lightly there. "Goddamn, I loved you like grass loves the sun." Lowering his hand he tips his hat. "Good seein' you, Delia. Take care of yourself. My offer of assistance is still open." And he moves to make his way down the boardwalk away from her.

Her hand raises to cover her face as he points the camera in her direction and she turns away in time for the second picture. This is something she doesn't need, evidence that she was here at all. When he turns to leave, she pivots and darts off in the opposite direction. She doesn't make threats, she doesn't need to. If she sees the pictures anywhere, she knows just where to look.

Once she's out of sight, she pulls a phone from her pocket and presses a button to dial a number. After a short pause, she says, "It's me…. No I got hung up. We have to move delivery locations."

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