Utopia Starts Somewhere


jaiden_icon.gif ray_icon.gif

Scene Title Utopia Starts Somewhere
Synopsis Two old friends and comrades meet up again in a market and discuss the state of things.
Date March 1, 2018

Red Hook Market

Late Afternoon in the Red Hook Market finds Jaiden standing in front of an empty stall, an aluminum coffee cup held lightly in his left hand, propped up on a cane with the right. "So you managed to get it all to the right people?" He's asking this of a woman, fifty or so, dressed in a nun's habit and blue jeans. An interesting combination.

"Oh, yes sir. Your donation was given out to people in need. We were able to supply at least sixty families with meals for the week thanks to you."

Jaiden nods. "I'm sorry I couldn't do more but…you know how it goes." The woman nods and ducks back into the back of the stall, leaving Jaiden to pivot on his cane, starting through the market towards the coffee stall to get one last refill for the evening.

Sometimes, Richard likes to get away from the sterile hallways and corporate stylings of the office - even from the roof garden - and back on the streets of New York. It's easier to go unnoticed in the crowd when you're wearing worn BDUs and a leather jacket, strolling amidst the market checking out this stall of things here and that stall of things there…

And sometimes, you mind find something you really don't expect.

He turns from the queue where he was just getting a cup of coffee that didn't come out of something Warren designed, and sees a familiar face coming down the street. "…Jaiden?" A quieter question asked to himself, and then he's raising a hand, "Hey! Mortlock!"

Why is it that everyone, when they see him, uses his last name?

Sure, it's a unique last name, and it gets his attention, but still. Jaiden stops at the sound of his name being called, craning his neck to look around and see who it might have been who…..ah. Raised hand there. Ray sees a narrowing of the eyes as he's focused on by the slightly taller guy and then a widening of the eyes at recognition.

And for a guy with a cane, he moves rather quickly through the crowd. "Crikey….Ow' ya goin?" He stops as he draws closer, looking the man standing there over, shaking his head. "I haven't seen you in years, Richard….How are you doing?"

Jaiden is dressed for the weather, boots, khaki pants, long-sleeved shirt and jacket. Nothing really out of place here in the market.

At the look he gets back, Richard confirms the man's identity, and he approaches at a casual stroll of his own. "It's been too long," he admits, motioning with the coffee cup and trailing steam after it in the cool late-winter air, "I can't complain, things are going well at work as I'm sure Remi's told you, kids are growing up fast."

Both brows lift a little, "You?"

The pair end up next to an alleyway, out of the crush of people doing their last bits of shopping for the evening before the market closes. A perfect place to stand and talk. "It has been too long but with things going on….it's understandable." Jaiden shifts to lean against the wall a little, taking weight off of his right leg. "Remi's been so busy with you and with her company that we don't get a lot of time together. Hopefully that'll change soon, though." he takes a sip of his coffee. It's good to hear about your kids. How old are Lili and Ricky now?"

The pair end up next to an alleyway, out of the crush of people doing their last bits of shopping for the evening before the market closes. A perfect place to stand and talk. "It has been too long but with things going on….it's understandable." Jaiden shifts to lean against the wall a little, taking weight off of his right leg. "Remi's been so busy with you and with her company that we don't get a lot of time together. I guess that's one thing the war was good for - giving us time to be together on the shore of the lake. Anyway, that'll hopefully change soon." Jaiden takes a sip of his coffee, gesturing towards Ray. "It's really good to hear about your kids. How old are Lili and Ricky now?" Small talk at the end of the world.

"We did just get the Branch Office up and running, but I'll make sure to nudge her about taking some time for herself… the woman is a hurricane sometimes, I swear," Richard admits with a wry, if fond, smile as he talks about her, "We're all a bunch of workaholics, though. Always were.. and they're five, six in the fall. Which they won't let me forget."

A pause, "Peyton stopped by not too long ago with her kid too, Jonah."

"Good, good. She mentioned that on one of the phone calls back home to the girls. Something about 'a foothold in the north american market, blah blah blah.'" Jaiden chuckles, taking another sip of his coffee, the cup emptied now and tucked into the pocket of his jacket to be used later. "you'll have to come up to the lake during the summer if you can manage it. It's not frozen then, there is plenty of sunshine and warm breezes, and they can catch all the fish they can eat."

The mention of Peyton gives Jaiden a bit of pause, shifting his cane from hand to hand, the tip twisting on the ground. "How is she? And her son? I've not heard much about her since Mt. Natazhat…and even then, only second-hand stories about what went on outside my little group."

"I'll have to," Richard admits with a sip of coffee, tilting the cup a bit towards the other man, "Assuming I can find the time, I'd love to, actually." The second question has him pausing, gaze cutting away to consider the crowd for a moment.

"We've kept… in touch, on and off. It's awkward, I'm sure you know," he says quietly, "She's doing well. Got a little school up in Canada for Evolved kids."

"The trick I've found is to make the time. Schedule it, like you would a meeting with a shareholder. It's far enough out to where you should be able to carve out a week or so without too much difficulty. It's how I managed to get myself to take vacations while I was doing photography, after all." A vacation is something Jaiden hasn't taken in a while. Not since the war, not since the trials, not since anything. Work Work Work. Just like before. He can't stop for very long.

"I can imagine it is a little….difficult…but it can't be helped. It is what it is, after all." Jaiden nods to Ray, chuckling after a moment. "It's so hard to call you Ray. It's been something else for so long…." he trails off, lifting a hand, shifting his stance again to the strong leg, off of the wall. "Sorry about that, mate. Nevermind that."

"A school for evolved in Canada. Who could have pictured Peyton as a doddering old school matron." He chuckles softly. "I'm glad it seems to be working out well for them both. Not much around here, though. It's rough."

"No, no, it's alright…" Richard offers a wry smile back, his head shaking, "It's still weird for me and you haven't known me as long. Still getting used to it, especially reconnecting with everyone coming back to the Zone…"

Then he laughs, "Don't tell her you said she was doddering or old, she'd slap the hell out of you." He sobers quickly, though, "It's getting better. At least it was, until that theft…"

"It's strange, being back, seeing old streets and places, but them not being what we left behind. War has a way of changing things." And then, there's the old Cardinal Jaiden remembers. The Australian can't help but smile at the laugh he's elicited, nodding in agreement. "I think I would deserve to get slapped for that. It's one of the cardinal sins, isn't it? Asking a woman about her age or weight." And then serious Ray again. "I've broken into my stores to see if I can help. It's not much….a single bucket against a forest fire. A couple of truckloads of boxed meals coming here. One truck only fed sixty families…and here's hoping it doesn't end up in the markets, although it probably will."

Jaiden frowns a little. "Any clue on where it went? Who stole it or anything? With that amount of food taken and ruined…I mean, it's not a small amount. Some of it's got to be somewhere for some reason."

"I don't know," Richard admits with a vague motion of his hand, "Opportunists, I imagine, although I don't know where they're hoping to sell it… anyone around here would notice it, and moving it from here doesn't seem cost-effective."

Wryly, "If there's a secret underground bunker of survivors hiding out from the war still, I'm going to be super annoyed."

He leans back a little against the opposite alley wall then, admitting, "We're looking into the idea of setting up a hydroponics project here in the Zone. Maybe bring it closer to self-sufficiency."

Opportunists are the bane of Jaiden's existence in Minnesota. Stores that he had hoped to make use of were taken and looted within days of the war starting, people panicking. Thankfully, with his closeness to the border and ability to make water behave, getting across to get supplies was a little easier than it would be with most others. Still, it's frustrating. "I don't have any contacts anywhere here, otherwise I'd offer. Most of them generally leave me alone after my stint testifying, but I might be able to pull a few favors in with a couple of russians I know. If you're interested."

Jaiden smirks. "I think we would have heard about a bunker by now. This place has been blown up and gone over so many times, with Evolved and non, I'd bet that someone would have at least poked their heads up by now. In the event that there is….I'll join you on the annoyed bit."

Hydroponics does get Jaiden's attention, though. "Let me know if you decide to go forward. I'm sure Remi'll throw some money at you, but I can be a little more hands on. If you need purified water by the truckload, just give me access to your tanks and a day or so and you'll have a surplus." He points down the street to the little coffee shop. "I fill her tanks up every time I come by, just to keep the coffee flowing without the heavy metals or radioactive fallout that might be in the drinking water around here."

"Although my Research Coordinator keeps harping at me 'Evolved come and go, but technology is forever'," Richard chuckles lowly, "I certainly wouldn't turn down the help if the project goes forward…" A grin edges up at the corner of his mouth, "Then I'd just need an Agrokinetic and we'd be gold, I guess."

There's a smirk from the Australian, followed by a nod. "While that is true, we can give a nice kick to get things started." The mention of an agrokinetic gets a laugh. "Oh, don't get me started. One of those and we could green the whole city. Sit them down with an amplifier like Gillian and watch the place just go crazy with growth. That said, if I happen to randomly run into one, I'll be sure to let them know that you're interested."

Ray's hands spread a little as he's called out on what may in fact be his plan and he grins, "Look, nobody's living on Roosevelt Island these days, that's all I'm saying…" A wink, and then he takes a sip of his coffee, admitting, "I think we have one in the city, but they're hiding. Park Slope's got way too much overgrowth to be natural."

You don't live as long as Jaiden does without being able to see patterns, here and there. Or he just got lucky in this case. He chuckles at the wink. "Of course, of course. Off the record, too, for old times sake." Then, looking out over the market, Jaiden gets thoughtful. "I don't blame anyone for hiding. They could be a powerful asset to just about anyone." Kind of like he could be, too.

Ray brings the coffee back up to his lips, taking a careful sip. "They could," he admits, "And I wish them the best if they stay in hiding, but… sooner or late someone else is going to look for them, and they'll be a hell of a lot less benevolent that me and my people. Planning on sending in a few scouts but I doubt they'll come up with anything. Still, gotta try."

"I know…I know. I'll do what I can to see if anyone knows anything about anyone and, if it's promising, I'll run it up the chain." Jaiden fishes around in his pocket for a notepad, scrawling his phone number - one Ray's not seen before - on it and passing it over. "I live at Remi's place in one of the nicer places in the Safe Zone while I'm here. Give me a call if you need me for anything."

Ray reaches over to accept it with a smile, "Will do. You got the kids over there? Maybe I can bring over Ricky and Lili sometime when they're with me to meet 'em…"

Jaiden nods, leaning back, tucking his hands into his pockets. "Not this week. We were kind of making sure things were okay before bringing them in. Probably closer to the spring when the wind isn't blowing from Manhattan is their first trip here. It's…different from anythign they've ever experienced. Something they need to see. All this?" he gestures. "May not look like much, but it's fought for."

"Fair enough," Richard allows, tucking the number into a pocket, "And yeah." He looks over it, a wistful smile, "It's not the utopia we hoped for, but maybe it's a little more realistic."

"Utopia's got to start somewhere, Ray." Jaiden straightens, offering a hand to shake. "Might as well be right here, right now. For the betterment of all, and not just some."

Ray reaches out to clasp the offered hand, and he grins, "That's what we're fighting for, even now. A brighter future for everyone."

Leaving his cane leaning against his leg, Jaiden clasps Cardinal's hand with both of his, giving it a firm shake. "Well said, sir. Well said." He releases Ra's hand and straightens, re-takign his cane. "I trust you'll call if you need me?"

"Same with you," Richard replies with a an easy tip of his head, "Anything you need, Jaiden, just get in touch. For once I've got more money than shadowy connections."

Jaiden almost certainly has Ray's number somewhere and, if not, Remi definitely has it available. "I shall. I've got a decent amount of money myself, thanks to marrying into wealth, but if I need anything else, I'll certainly let you know."

Ray brings his cup up in an easy salute, taking a sip of it before stepping back from the alley. "Alright, I'll let you go about your day - but we should all have lunch sometime, yeah."

That gets a chuckle from Jaiden. "Well, as soon as Katz's Deli is open, I'll be sure to buy the first go 'round for both of us." A bit of teasing before he nods. "I'd like that, Ray." One can almost see the air quotes around it when he says the man's name. "It's good seeing you again, man. Tell your family I said hello."

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