Enlisted

Participants:

dong-tian_icon.gif kristen_icon.gif russo_icon.gif

Scene Title Enlisted
Synopsis A hot tip leads out of the city after curfew, turns out it's lights out for more at least one person.
Date January 16, 2011

Somewhere Outside of New York City


Out here the ground is more of a slush than anything solid. The lights off the city twinkle in the distance. Illumination of a few dim streetlights and the Texaco star across the street are the only things illuminating the storage container yard. As the car pulls in, mud and frost slicks and splashes around its large tires as it pulls in. A light fog rests against the container yard, obscuring the vision of the driver considerably.

Your questions can wait, Miss Reynolds. Storage Container number twenty-four. Tonight. It's all you need to know.

The cryptic phone call had been made earlier in the day. Promising Kristen that a huge story was waiting for her at the container yard, someone has paid the guard to leave the gate open. But besides the guard sleeping in the tiny guard house near the front of the yard. There doesn't appear to be much activity at the storage container. Outside the city limits, curfew doesn't apply way out here. As the man across the street peeing behind the gas station could attest to.

Tension in the air that can be cut with a knife, Kristen stares at the back of Russo's head rather than at the container she's supposed to be watching. She doesn't know what for but when caught in the situation, for the first time, her dedication to her career has failed her. The producer keeps trying to catch fleeting glimpses of the host of her biggest program. Twenty four hours since their unspoken incident, the incident that she failed him yet again.

Feigning a need to find something in the glove box, Kristen leans over to reach into it. When opened, there's a handgun in there, along with a mini recorder, some loose batteries and cassettes, an owner's manual, and other papers that are probably receipts for maintenance, insurance and registration… of the car variety.

Grabbing the recorder, she gives Russo a strained smile and pulls it out, closing the box. "Listen… Brad… about last night I— "

Unfortunately there are few fleeting glances to catch. Something about Brad isn't all here, even if he's terribly focused on the container. Bradley Russo's fingers curl around the handle on the door while he stares painfully silent at the crate. Painfully. When Kristen speaks, his head just shakes. No. He doesn't feel like talking about that. Not now. He said all he's had to say.

His hand moves to his jacket pocket, his own gun in tow. His lips press into a thin line as his fingers tighten over the handle. His throat finally clears, a rough sound thanks to so much time without talking, "How long do we wait?"

There's not much to see in the dark here. Though upon closer inspection Russo and Kristen might spot that storage container twenty-four has the key inserted into it already. No matter how long they wait, not much else changes beside the guy across the street eventually stops peeing, gets in his bronco and drives away.

Besides that, container twenty-four just waits. Though ifff either of them were to look closely it would seem as if there was light emanating from inside the container.

Kristen's gun is left behind. She's no marksman and it's probably more dangerous to Russo if she has one in her hand than if she just went naked. Meaning gunless. Shaking her head, Kristen lets loose a puff of air that blows some of the long bangs out of her eyes. "There's a key, so I supposed now's a good a time as any… hmm?"

Moving her hand to her own door, she silently opens it and slips out, closing the door carefully behind her. Not even a ding to warn that the door is ajar… she had those removed for just such occasions. Normally she would give a winning smile to Brad, something to bolster both of their courage. Not this time, this time she simply begins walking toward the container and the key.

With a soft click, Russo's door is opened and he slides out of the car. His black peacoat is smoothed, yet he doesn't even turn to look at her, not this time. There's something distinctly important about not looking. Not today. He slowly exhales a breath, emitting a cloud of visible breath in doing so. He actually cuts just in front of Kristen, protective despite his best intentions not to be. Especially after recent events. Recognizing his own actions and imminent hypocrisy, he makes a disgusted noise in the back of his throat. Old habits die hard.

Silent steps take him to the crate an he reaches a hand forward only to stop. He reaches into his coat and clasps his gun, holding it there in the pocket. With a deep breath, feeling adequately prepared for whatever they may find beyond the door he tugs it gently, slowly peeking in.

And they find….!

A nearly empty storage container. A portable factory light rests in the corner of the container hooked up to a tiny generator. The generator hums pumping the light with electricity. But the generator and the light are only there to shine on the centerpiece of the container.

Sitting in the middle of the container there's a small table. Two black fold up chairs resting in front of it. On top of the table is a sleek black laptop. A screensaver of Zac Effron pictures currently being displayed. But in front of the screen a small card waits for the pair. It reads, simply.

PLAY ME

Now Kristen turns to give a pointed look at Brad, then one behind her shoulder, then to the Zac Effron screen saver. "This is one hell of an audition…" Spooky.

Heeding no heebie jeebie or other internal warning, she steps forward toward the chairs and table. Before taking a seat, she ducks down to inspect the underside of the table and then the chairs to make sure there's no bombs attached. Not that she'd recognize one if there was one there, unless there's a wire, she'd definitely know if there's a wire.

Before sitting, she pulls her chair a little closer to the table and presses play on the computer. At least if she sets off the bomb, she's too close to know the difference.

"If they were going to blow us up wouldn't it have just been easier to put a bomb on the car?" After the words are out, Brad makes a mental note to check the car after. With a quiet sigh, he releases the gun from his grasp, leaving it alone to his pocket.

He looks askance at Kristen— for one of the few times of the evening— before sliding onto his own chair. His arms cross over his chest somewhat defiantly as he swallows hard. "Hey— " he stares at the screensaver, "Wasn't that kid on Firefly?"

The video cued up on the laptop starts to play.

The video is a grainy picture. Obviously a home video, from a higher vantage point. An alleyway displayed down below. A man in a brown leather coat and a hat obscuring his identity stands in the alleyway folding his arms over his chest.

Approaching him, is someone who does not fit in with the whole alleyway scene. Tracy Strauss, in a bright red dress and heels. As stunning as ever walks through the alley. Pausing and looking up, it is unmistakable that the woman is in fact Tracy Strauss.

"Tracy." The man calls out, "We had a deal." Approaching her rapidly, Tracy reaches out, one hand touching the shady man's face. The man instantly turns to ice and a few moment laters crumbles into melty slush. Tracy then hurriedly rushes from the alleyway.

The video ends.

"Maybe…" Kristen answers quietly, not looking over at him at all. Instead, she twists the chair so that she's able to watch the screen while not sitting too close to him. Crossing her legs at theknee, she bobs one foot restlessly as she waits for the computer to start whatever it's supposed to be playing.

"High School Musical… One, two, and three." The video cuts her off and her eyes widen a little as she recognizes who the woman is. Then her eyes dart to Russo and back to the screen as she witnesses the act that can only be called murder. "Holy… shiiiiiit" the last word is drawn out with a breath.

Instinctively, she reaches for Russo's hand, whether he relents or not and laces her fingers through his. She squeezes in fear, it can only be fear with the expression frozen on her face. Catching her lower lip between her teeth, she stares at the black screen long enough for Zac to come back, shining his happy smile and bouncing around the screen for the two of them. "Brad…?"

Brad's eyes widen considerably at the picture while his breath gets caught in his throat. His fingers comply with Kristen's touch, a reaction rather than a thought or calculated moment. The recognition of Strauss is mildly unsettling enough. His lips part as Tracy murders some random in cold blood (pun intended).

Even as the screen changes, Brad stares blankly at the screen watching Efron's face bounce across it. Not finding any kind of comfort within it. It's only the sound of his name that actually draws him out of the trance. He swallows hard and then turns to look at her, his natural state of being returning, "We need to validate this. If it goes public we need to make this real. But she— she can't…" his tongue rolls over his lips as he turns his head, seeking for the eye contact he'd so purposely avoided.

"What do you need?"

The lightly accented voice filters into their ears from behind them. And it is followed by that old familiar sound. Of hammers pulling back. Once Kristen and Russo turn around they will find themselves faced with a member of the Flying Dragons. Dressed to perfection, meddling with his sunglasses in front of him Dong-tian displays a rather bored expression when he looks up at the pair of them.

"Drop your weapon, please." He murmurs quietly, the two men dressed in all black with masks holding automatic rifles should encourage Russo to acquiesce his request. Bringing the aviators up they are placed on the brim of his nose, taking a few careful steps forward. Frowning down at the mud and ice that gets on his loafers, he shakes his foot around for the mud and ice to be flung off.

"The video is two years old. Or a little less. It has been kept as.. insurance." The man murmurs with a light smile. "Since hearing Tracy's comments on your show… Wonderful show by the way. And knowing the history you two have with leakage. Who else should I trust this with?" His smile almost reaches his.. glasses.

Russo doesn't need to search for long, the producer's large brown eyes find his readily as she nods along readily with all of his statements. "Yes… validate… we… get away with this." Broken sentences and half jumbled words don't even make sense alone but mixed in with what he's saying, it's like she's filling in some of his thoughts.

Then there's the stranger's voice and the sound that makes her heart freeze.

Kristen's olive skin turns a sickly shade of pale when faced with the gang members and, of course, their automatic rifles. Her fingers tighten around Russo's and she flinches when some of the slush hits her on the cheek. She doesn't breathe at all, she simply stares wide eyed at the trio.

If Tracy's murdering ways were unsettling, being confronted by several very armed members of The Flying Dragons. Russo twists around, standing to his feet and, to demonstrate his unarmed nature he releases Kristen's hand, shooting her a small smirk that to most would seem smug. Kristen should recognize it as something else entirely— the first time she'd seen it was when they'd decided to produce their radio show back in college. With a single expression, a single motion, he tells her to have courage. Carefully, holding both hands in the air, gun flat against is palm, not clasped in a remotely threatening way, Brad bends forward, dropping it to the ground before straightening and reaching for Kristen's hand again, locking his fingers with hers and actually tugging her close, a little behind him— just a little.

His eyebrows raise higher on his forehead, and he manages a charming flash of teeth which he hisses through, "Always good to meet fans."

His eyes move between each of the men, finally resting on Dong-Tian, remaining there, "Are you suggesting you want this leaked? Or do you want it all legitimated?" There's a short pause as he swallows. "YouTube— ha. YouTube anyone can fake. Can't they?" He swallows and issues them another flash of teeth, "If you have this on camera, that would be helpful… I realize in the digital age these things aren't always doable— " There's a short pause before he's following with the question really on his mind, "Who was he? Who did she kill?"

"A young man in over his head." Dong-tian states crisply. It's not a lie. A little smirk flits up his lips. "Bradley Russo.. I take care of the murdering, you take care of the television." The enforcer gestures with a flat hand tothe computer. "I don't care how you do it. You have a week to get this out." Dong-tian gestures towards the gun, one of the masked thugs going to retrieve it rather quickly. Once the gun is retrieved, Dong-tian takes a step forward.

"I apologize."

His hand comes forward. "You may call me Dong-tian. I run a few restaurants in Chinatown." He smiles lightly. Just a businessman.. who just happens to be accompanied by two Ak-47 wielding businessmen. He then moves his hand over to Kristen. "Have it on camera? The original copy? That is what you want. How does that make any difference?" Dong-tian spouts out with some confusion. "I have the original copy.. of course." Glancing to Kristen, he flashes an apologetic smile. "I do apologize miss Reynolds. I wish we could conduct this meeting a little more… gun-less. But you know. You can never be too careful these days."

Kristen's chair is kicked out from under her as she scrambles up to take a place at Russo's side. She all but stumbles behind him when he attempts to guide him but relentlessly peeks out from behind him, taking his glance of courage to heart. Hey, if he dies, she will too… maybe.

"The original isn't necessary, but we need to know that it can be accessed if needed." Her voice cracks a little as her bravado staggers, even with the recognition of the businessman's voice. As the hand is offered, she lets her finger brush limp against his palm and gives a light shake. "What do you get out of this?" Her question, perhaps foolish, is a pressing one in her own mind. "I mean… what do you hope to accomplish? You don't exactly seem like the type of man that's just out to do the right thing. If you don't mind my saying."

Gang members aren't exactly known for their works of charity.

Brad firmly shakes Dong-Tian's hand, flashing another somewhat uneasy smile. It's all a show. It's always a show. The hand is released just as quickly. "The closer we are to the original the less it looks like it's.." he tilts his hand, "forged. And if the original can come out— " but Kristen explains it. "In a world with technopaths and illusionists, the closer we get to the original, the easier a case. And Strauss— she's a powerful woman." As evidenced by the way she handed his panel's asses to them.

He looks over his shoulder at Kristen following her question, giving her another flicker of a smile, this one comforting. He twists back to Dong-Tian, "We can get it out. If you genuinely don't care about the legitimacy though, then why now? If the footage is so old, why now? You could've released it on YouTube ages ago— "

"Ah. I understand. Then you will be supplied with the camera. I will have it sent to your offices." Dong-tian smiles lightly down at Kristen. "I will be keeping my own copies, of course. To ensure that it eventually gets out." Watching Brad, he tilts his head to the side. "If it can be made legitimate. Perfect. I guarantee you will never find the identity of the murdered victim. And I advise you not to go looking. I didn't release it because I didn't have to. It was for insurance.. And now that she has made this.. ill-advised public move." A cold smile is given. "It's time."

"I don't mind you saying so." Dong-tian's hand climbs up and settles on Kristen's shoulder gently. "Whether you know it or not, miss Reynolds. There's a war going on. If you can't guess, Tracy and I aren't on the same side. You have just been enlisted." Bringing his hand up, his fingers brush her cheek lightly before he turns making his way out of the container. "One week. After that we are no longer on the same side." Brad's gun has the clip emptied out of it. Tossed to the side the gun is then dropped as the thugs make their way after Dong-tian into the blackness.

"Oh I wouldn't try getting back into the City tonight. There's a motel down the street. Very nice cockroaches."


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