Workshop, War Room

Participants:

cardinal_icon.gif elvis_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Workshop, War Room
Synopsis "Logan took her tongue. So she couldn't pray."
Date February 28, 2009

Staten Island — Inland


If you didn't know better you'd almost mistake it for a nicer part of town at first. There is no graffiti here, no drug dealers or meth heads. Hell there arent even abandoned cars, or beggars here. Its a quiet side of the island, well save for motors that is. Two bars resided here, Jake's and Jacks which were set approximately right beside each other and across the street lay a massive fenced in motorcycle bone yard and a large glass storefront that was entirely devoid of those security gates because frankly they weren't needed. The Neon sign above buzzed far more than it glowed these days, but it was clear "Bootstrap parts and service" was home here. The whole street in front of Jack's and jake's was crammed with choppers, bobbers, even the original cafe bike but they were all clean. Even if the scruffy looking toughs who stood around, looked half starved and half destitute. Bootstrap's in comparison was home to just an old beat up F-100 with a faded coat of orange paint that carried his store's lettering in delicate hand painting and just six or seven bikes parked out front. Elvis's Triumph, was of course the only bike that wasnt american made on the entire block.

Inside Bootstraps the place is nearly claustrophobic, theres leather jackets, leather gloves, whole engines, transmissions, frames hung from the ceiling and every other part of a harley down to countless little bins of little screws and washers. There were a few guys smoking, and trading around a 5th of wild turkey but the only man behind the counter was bootstrap himself. Six foot five inches of scar tissue, muscle and beard. His long white beard was delicately braided down its front, and for the moment he seemed half torn between a glossy new parts catalog and a mason jar full of moonshine he clutched in his other hand, save for his mangled ring finger that is. The repair bays were accessed through a heavy submarine like door behind him, partially hidden under a massive nazi flag hung on the wall behind him.

Since Teo more or less fits in against the backdrop of weather-beaten buildings, derelicts and gang stationery aerosol paint outside, he doesn't fit in in here. Not enough leather, probably.

Just his shoes, rubber soled. Canvas jacket, cotton weave in two layers, jeans, long sleeves and legs; Teodoro manages to cover all of his stitches — scars — whatever that Constantine and Eileen had left him, except for the single curving line of irregular tissue that peeks out over the back of his right wrist. His color is even underneath the green and yellow of bruises fading off his cheeks, brow, and the point of his chin.

And he can walk. Always a plus.

Apparently he also thinks he can do more than merely walk this afternoon, or he probably wouldn't be here. Wouldn't have called Elvis ahead, got the address, wouldn't be shuffling in here, inhaling the scent of tannic acid and grease. He sees Bootstrap. "Signor?" Finds his eyes automatically, gravitationally drawn toward the knots and lines of keloids that so easily overshadow his own, but he manages to stop himself from gawking, if not from staring. "Excuse me. I'm Teo. Have you seen Elvis today?"

You'd think that it'd be easier to find a single man on an island full of criminals, scum, innocents hiding from the aforementioned, and people with secrets to hide..

Actually, scratch that, it's bloody near impossible.

At last, blind luck catches sight of the man out of the corner of Cardinal's eye, and he's brought up short in his walk to wherever he was heading. A jerk of motion brings steel-toed boots to a grinding halt, his head turning to double-check his identification. That's him. As the man walks into the service store, he swears under his breath, shifting the duffle bag slung over one shoulder into a more comfortable position before heading after him at a brisk step. The miasma of the works garnering a cough to give him away, grimacing briefly beneath the shadow of his wrap-around shades.

Bootstrap narrows his gaze a touch, before lifting a hand to his throat. "Yeah, shop down at the end. "His voice is grainy and electronic, because he doesn't have a voice anymore. He turns some, lifting up a partition in the desk before reaching yonder to jerk the door open. The hallway that's beyond is barely lit, extremely loud and filled with all manner of pornographic images stuck, stapled and screwed(literally perhaps) to the wall. The bays are little doors that lead off one way or the other. Most are those little halfdoor affairs, but down at the very end is a single far larger affair made from a similarly hardcore submarine looking door. Above it, in beautiful hand painted script is "Its motherfucking Elvis!" Always classy that one.

Bootstrap swivels his gaze to meet Cardinal, he doesnt say a word but bootstrap hardly needs to. His gaze oozes dirty language that could make Elvis blush, as he waits expectantly for some explanation of what the fuck Cardinal wants. Careful of course, to nudge the partition back down with the barrel of a sawed off shotgun as soon as Teo passes.

Something about cooperation is inculcated so deeply into Teo's consciousness that he tends to follow a person's line of sight when he's around them, showing interest, tacitly taking an interest, even if nine times out of ten nothing comes of it.

However, just as blind luck has found Cardinal today, Teo trips on that one-over-ten probability as he ducks his head around Bootstrap's huge shoulder to see what's grabbed the old man's attention. He almost ends up walking into the corner of the wall that separates the hallway to motherfucking Elvis' lair from the front room, a word of gratitude shorting out in his jaws.

He blinks. Finds two memories to go with that face, as familiar now as the shades perched in front of the man's chiseled features. Though that puts him at a loss for a few clumsily-proportioned moments, curiosity and a certain familiarity with clandestine business promptly wins out over casual indifference. "Sorry—" a pointing hand jogs out in Cardinal's direction, roughly, falls away again. "His name's Cardinal. May he come in too, please?"

At the look, Cardinal's boots stop in their steps; his hidden gaze leveling on the proprietor, hands safely where they can be seen. The tip of his tongue moistens his lips to speak, and then he's rescued by the words of the philanthropic gentleman who introduces him—that smile quirking up at one corner in the faintest of smirks.

"Thanks, Laudani," he drawls, "I've got a severe allergy t'buckshot."

For a long moment or two, bootstrap turns to fix his gaze sternly upon teo. He isnt reluctant, he just isnt motivated. He doesnt know who the fuck cardinal is, he was told Elvis's little friend needed the knucklehead he'd built and so he spared it. The idea of having a ton of, well lets be frank both of the kids looked like fucking civilians and he wasnt apt to permitting many in his shop. Smart assery of course, doesnt help things along. These are Elvis's friends though, so he's far more tolerant than he would be. He reaches cross oncemore and up comes the partition oncemore.

"I really am sorry." Teo's face still hurts whenever he tries anything exciting with it, so Cardinal is spared a theatrical glare or even a frown. Fortunately for Cardinal's civilized invitation, his smart-assery is counter-balanced by nearly enough Italian grace to come off obsequious; fortunately for Teo's wellbeing, he doesn't actually come off obsequious, or that would probably cost him more and worse than a half stranger's companionship or even an arm snapped off by a brusquely shut door.

Teo would be the first to admit that he and Elvis aren't exactly friends.

He tosses his hand up again, once, beckoning the other man to follow. His shoulders drop into a hangdog slouch, and he ducks back into shadow, his footfalls ringing down the hallway. When he comes up against the layered metal of the vault Phoenix's young hellion keeps herself in, he bangs on it with a closed fist. "Signorina," he says. "'S me. There's another guy here too. He knows your sister."

"Do I?" The question's ever so casual, almost a drawled comment as Cardinal's steps carry him deeper into this gasoline-and-piston driven nightmare of a building, his head ducking under some dangling chains meant to hold an engine before he's past, coming up just behind Teo. One hand curls to the strap of the duffle bag that's slung over his shoulder, his other hand sliding into the pocket of his jacket as he looks about the place, ever so casually.

Glimpses into other shops would reveal how dirty, and how loud the mechanics there kept them. Theres like ten different heavy metal bands playing at once, angle grinders, cursing, bandsaws and air hammers to ensure its almost unbearable. The door to Elvis's shop opens on cue, to expose her own shop. Its white, not like light but like fresh paper. The walls, the floor, even the work tables were seemless bright white. There are three tables inside, work stations if you want to be technical. A nearly finished Super X, an old BSA and a fully faired Laverda that looks like it burned to the ground.

"Take your shoes off."comes her only command, as she wanders through the work stations towards the backwall. It was easily the largest shop here, bigger than any four of them combined and the massive vaulted ceilings above were home to massive skylights. The walls were barren of course, where they didnt have pegboard and smaller workbenches to cover them. Everything was of course, almost clinical down to a lack of any tossed shoptowels. Even the dirty ones were folded neatly and set in a "dirty" hamper. Wrenches and screwdrivers sat beautifully polished and arranged neatly, and the guts of the bikes were layed out on large sheets of cardboard. Every screw, every nut, every bit of wire had been outlined with a pen and then notated as to what it was, where it came from and what was its part number.

Nobody came here to marvel at the super X though, the Harley is the item of interest. The 46' Knucklehead is set beyond the workstations, leaned over onto its kickstand beside roger. "Have a seat, and explain to me why you brought some fucking stranger to my shop."No malice, thats just how she talked. Glancing between Teo, and the entirely flat black Harley. Roger at least, would be relieved to get rid of the american ingrate.

Five long fingers go to the zipper at the base of Teo's throat, yank it down to allow himself a little more freedom of movement than he actually needs to get himself into her shop, raising one boot over the bottom of the doorframe. It's quite a fucking shop, too. He is — was — continues to be, more used to Christian's style of accomodation, smaller spaces, less fastidiously cleaned, if no less well-organized. He's surprised Elvis keeps her shit like this. Maybe he shouldn't be.

"Don't you?" he glances back at Cardinal for a moment, pallid eyes flat and colorless as shale for a moment, before they sharpen around some wry approximation of a smile. "Felix has a short memory. Me, I tend to remember the ones who melt into living shadow right in front of my fuckin' eyes. Even if I'm drunk of my ass.

"Sorry, ragazza." The latter is undoubtedly for Elvis, even as he stoops over to yank the boots off his feet. his socks are fuzzy and gray, and utterly soundless when he ditches his footwear to sit himself in the space alotted to him. His knees bend stiffly, his shoulders harden against the beginning of a flinch as he sets himself down on top of the bench, the herky-jerky motions of a puppet. "He followed me in. The only mutual acquaintances we have are mutual between you and me, too. I thought it would work out. I apologize if I was wrong."

"It depends on who her sister happens t'be," comes the response from the man who followed the invited guest within, pausing briefly at the bark of demand to crouch himself down near the entrance — fingers weaving and tugging against the knots to get them undone, one at a time set to one side, his own socks black and thread-bare in spots as he steps along within. The ivory workspace is taken in with a sweep of his gaze, the brightness of it actually causing him to wince, a subtle grimace crossing his expression as a headache starts to pound behind one eye.

Then there's the comment, and he can't help but grin, just a bit, a crook'd line of his lips as he looks sidelong over to Teo. "Clever boy," he murmurs, "Worth more'n I thought you were, maybe. Good. You'll need it to get the nun out've there." The seats offered, he drops himself down to settle there, at the bench's edge, arms falling to rest atop his knees as he sizes up the woman that's clearly the queen of this particular place. "Cardinal."

There's a big and totally fucking awesome brown leather couch there to sit upon, which incidentally where she's slept for the past like week. She decides, to ignore Cardinal for the moment. This was her shop, she wasnt going to pollute it with negative vibes. "if he misbehaves, I will murder him by feeding him into a garbage disposal very very slowly."No malice, nothing personal. She was just stating the truth.

The harley is as she advertised, pretty awesome to look at. She wheels it out into the open so Teo can get a better look. New white wall tires, disk brakes, and of course theres the paint. Every single bolt and screw had been stripped off and powdercoated flat black, save only for the spokes(which were bright white like the tires), and then of course there was the headlight bezel and the guage cluster. Both of which were untouched, and still in sort've a dingy chrome. "Its not perfect, but it looks pretty sharp. Needs about another forty hours of work to be perfect paint wise. TOo much black."Now this is followed by a little futzing with the choke, a jerk of the jockeyshift then a turn of the key. Then there's a climb over, and a firm stab of her boot against the kickstart. First kick, it snaps to live with that low rumble. Rumble-umble-rumble-umble. It didnt have much of a muffler, but atleast it wasnt obnoxious.

Her gaze finally lifts from the bike, to address cardinal finally. "Don't talk yet, the adults are conducting business. Talk out of turn, and I assure you it will be the very last thing you ever fucking do. Ask teo if you think those are hollow words, cuz I'll make it happen."

An itch takes up residence on the inner of Teo's eye. He curls one hand into a fist, scrubs it with a knuckle, smiles ruefully around the bend of his fingers — first at the other man, then at the woman.

"Boy," he repeats. "What'm I, like a year younger than you?" Not even, but that has no bearing on this conversation, really; just as the fact that Elvis is three years their junior does not weigh against the otherwise complete and comprehensive truth in her statement. He's about to say something else. Maybe apologize again, or to verify the identity of Elvis' so-called sister, or to remark on this or that clusterfuck of the last few weeks.

In the end, the rumble of the bike and the courtesy he owes his sharp-tongued hostess wins out; he swivels his head toward the big black bike and the girl astride it, quirking a sheepish grin that's every curve and color to contrast against the scowl of her Working Face. "It's fucking beautiful," he replies, tilting an ear into the invisible circles the engine's voice makes, dissolving concentric into the air. "That's sounds weak?"

Ah. This is going to be one of _those_ conversations. The duffle bag's shrugged off of Cardinal's shoulder and dropped down into his lap, apparently uncaring of the threats — although, one must note, he's certainly not saying anything to risk them — as both arms fold atop it, and he settles in with a lean back in the bench. In contrast to that working face, and that smile, he simply looks tired, worn, the edges fraying with irritation that's been building for weeks. He waits his turn politely enough, eyes closing behind his shades to give them a rest from all the white.

The bike doesnt sound weak really, but Elvis nods all the same. "Yeah I can hear it, theres some blowby going on. I checked the valves and they're square so I'm not sure but your leaking air somewhere. Its nothing super hardcore, I ran it for like six hours lastnight on the dyno and didnt register any drain but its certainly eating up fuel and not making full power. So I'd say change the oil every two grand, use royal purple only. The oldskool dinosaur blood will just make shit worse, and get your rebuild kit before five thousand miles."She steps back, motioning towards the bike before killing it right there. "Clutch is the left footpeg, jockeyshift. Get used to it now, and ask me questions before we get it outside."

With that taken care of, Elvis softens just a hint. Lifting her gaze oncemore towards Cardinal"He's talking about Abigail, Abby. She's not blood, but she may as well be. She's very important."she states the last bit pretty flat, but who knows maybe deep down she's just a hint of jealous.

Obediently again now just as he'd been obliging before, Teo hauls himself up off the couch with a creak of leather, walks himself over to the motorcycle. He tilts his head this way then that, marking the footpeg, jockeyshift, lifts his gaze long enough to nod, before he straddles the Harley with a thump of boots. Its skin is so black he can recognize himself in it. Footpeg, jockeyshift. Footpeg, jockeyshift.

His skin still hurts, off-and-on, which is more annoying than always-on; that, he's tricked himself into believing he could get used to. He glances up, abruptly, at the tone of those last three words that exit Elvis' liberally proportioned lips.

"You're in rough shape, Cardinal," he observes, presently. Though that is inherently unflattering to say, Teo fails entirely to manifest any kind of malice in saying that. Deckard, of course, would make a bitchy face at him anyway. "The kind of tired that starts in the brain before the body, eh? If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing with all these people? I figure you aren't one of Abby's regulars. Izzy didn't know you."

"Then you're not gonna like what I have to say," Cardinal says in rather bleak tones to Elvis's explaination of her relationship with Abigail, those eyes that see dark as light opening again beneath the polarized opacity of his shades. The weight of the man's shoulders hunch forward a bit as he rests an arm on the dufflebag, gaze flickering between the pair — to one, to the other — before he answers in rather bone-dry tones, "It's been a long few weeks."

A breath's drawn in, then exhaled in a sigh, head shaking tightly, "Doesn't matter, the whys. Hypotheticals, excuses. I'm dealin' in reality here, Laudani, an' in reality things are gettin' pretty fuckin' bad here on Staten. This Pancratium bullshit — tossing their own kind into pits to fight and die — and worse, and I'm tired of it. This isn't business as usual, this is…"

Cardinal's silent for a long moment, then he shakes his head. Save Abby. The thought ricocheting through his skull, over and again, echoing through grey matter. He regards Teo for a moment, and then states, flatly, "Logan took her tongue. So she couldn't pray."

For a moment, all the planets in Elvis's world just stop. She doesnt know, how to put it into words. How to describe, so she doesnt even try. "Who is Logan, and where is he?"she doesnt need to make threats at this point, because frankly anything she'd say would just fall short of silence. "I thought, you were ontop of this Teo."

There's another creak when Teo sits back on the Harley, neither of leather nor bone. He started out looking at Cardinal, while Cardinal was talking, but by the time Cardinal's finished talking he isn't looking at anybody or anything in particular. His eyes hang empty, glittering blue on the blank pane of his face. Boys lose their tempers, sometimes. This isn't one of those times. Not just yet.

"You thought wrong," he answers, dropping his foot off the footpeg, curling his fingers against the keening urge to break them on something. "John Logan is the pimp at the Happy Dagger. He does a lot of human trafficking, Evolved and non-Evolved. He's one of the most powerful men on Staten Island, little bit of a monster, and he's friends at least a few of the other fucks who qualify for that distinction. Some of Linderman's. Other guys.

"I've already fucked this up." The admission does not come without rancor, a thick and sour note to his voice, a sickly hue underneath the pollution of lingering subdermal haemorrhages, but it's said at a swift clip, practical, clinical, factual. "I know a teleporter, and I have another friend in the cages I owe a few people to get free. Who else do you have? Do you know what else you need?" His gaze pans back, stares at Cardinal hollowly.

"You're not dealing with Logan anymore, not per se…" Cardinal's head swings back and forth in a slow shake, "…you and this… Eileen? Your questions tipped him off, according t'Abigail, so he handed her over to Muldoon, and Muldoon's a harder card to trump. Deckard's little stunt prob'ly didn't help much either." One hand lifts, and he pulls the shades off, resting them on his knee and rubbing his thumb and fore-finger knuckle to the bridge of his nose, eyes closed tightly.

"I know where she is. She's with the other unwilling fighters. Sergei. Magnes. There's more, but I wasn't going to risk discovery finding out their names," he allows, quietly, against his hand, "I've got plenty—Ivanov an' Brian, like you already know, I'm sure, Laudani. Isabelle and her attack bitch. A few others, I don't know if you know them. I'm not sure if it's enough."

"I can fight, I'm the best fighter Phoenix has."Pride, overconfidence? Sure why not, but Elvis has seen very little to suggest she isnt thusfar. "Just tell me where, and lets hit them hard and lets hit them fast. No fucking around, no talking, no fucking math nerds. We hit them, and we kill them and we go home. Shit, I'll go take the fuckers out myself. I just need to know where, just tell me where and I'll take care of it."

The line of Teo's jaw snaps hard, white, rigid with plain, visceral shock. He jerks his head around to stare at Elvis, his eyebrows hiked in something like warning. Not one he particularly expects her to heed. "Signorina," he says, after the tick-tock of three seconds that have ten hammering heartbeats assigned to each, "you need to learn to keep your fucking mouth shut, if you are the terrorists' finest. You're not fucking bulletproof, Elvis.

"And 'little Christian blond walks free, angry biker brunette dies' isn't how this fucking works." He shuts up, suddenly, twists up the corners of his mouth; laughs once, a sharp, strange bark of laughter. "Jesus. I guess we fucking scared them."

His eye swivels up to Cardinal's face, his own brow wrinkled with frustration. Partly at himself. There's no distance to any of this; it's gotten too personal, too fast, for too many, and still they have too few. It's sweetly ironic how it always works out, you need to take a step back most when you can least afford to, and he isn't Hana Gitelman, for whom vengeance is business and nor is he anything like Helena Dean, whose passion translates directly, barometrically, to power. He lacks Hana's purity and has none of Helena's grace.

"I guess we bluff," Teo says, his face draining empty. "Flex a little. You — we have enough people for that. Rough up a few trogs they have standing on the bottom rungs of the ladder, remind Muldoon and Logan they aren't the only fish with teeth in this metaphorical pond. They're businessmen. Supposed to be pretty fucking good at it. Any war we bring them is going to put Abigail right in the fucking middle."

A sliver of an eye is visible between Cardinal's fingers, darting to the woman who speaks, and lingering there for a long moment as she continues to speak, and as Teodoro's own voice lashes out like a whhip to try and silence her. Whatever his reaction to either are, however, he conceals them well. Maybe he's just too damn tired to think about it for the moment, too driven by the command hammering against the inside of his skull.

"I agree with the lady… to an extent," he suggests then, sliding the shades onto his face once more and pushing both hands back through short, dark hair, "If we just hound them, they'll get scared. They're used to being in power — they'll panic, and they'll do something messy that you don't want. If you want to do this, you hit them hard, quick, and get your people out. Then vanish. That's far fuckin' scarier to these people than anything else."

Elvis nods "Exactly, this is life not politics."she doesnt lash out, hell she doesnt even seem to acknowladge Teo's words. Its because he's finally being honest, non shifty for the first time in his life. She may not agree with him, but his honesty is just as rewarding. "Hard and fast, and in the dark. If we ratchet shit up, they dangle abby out there. If they know we want her, they'll send security through the roof. We need to be violent, not reasonable. They arent businessmen, they cut out Abby's fucking tongue so she couldnt pray. Thats not good business."

"Don't know if you noticed," Teo replies in a voice that sounds like desiccated parchment, "somebody did hit them hard, quick, got Deckard out, and fucking vanished. And it probably cost Abigail an inch of her fucking tongue. I said I already fucked it up. That's what I meant. We got Deckard out, sure, minus one fucking eye an—" At that, he stands up, so sudden there's an audible pop of the bone in his knee.

He hauls himself off the Harley, looks for something to kick but there's nothing here, nothing that is his. Whatever Elvis interprets as honesty, he finds himself glaring at in the existential mirror, loathing like bile on his tongue; he's angry enough to spit, but he can't do that either. Elvis' workshop is white. He drags blunt fingertips down his jaw, closes his eyes. Squeezes.

Opens them again. "Fine. Maybe you're fucking right. Maybe. Teleporter, GPS, other eyes in the sky and on the ground, it could work. But first — there's a guy infiltrating Pancratium. He hasn't called anybody yet, but he's going to soon. I'd say forty-eight hours, at most. We wait on that, see what else we have to go on?"

"You hit them quick," Cardinal gives his head a brief, curt shake, "You didn't hit them hard. You need a show of force as well as showing them that they can't find you. Not just rats in the walls, but wolves in the night." Hey, that was almost poetic. Shit, he's got to start hanging out with these people and their dramatic pronouncements, it's catching. One hand rubs against the side of his neck, head canting to one side, then the other — pop, goes the vertebrae.

"There's only one language these motherfuckers speak. Blood."

"I hear alot of this business from peeps in Phoenix, yaknow like we're not gonna play their game. Well yaknow, theres a fundemental issue with that. When we yield the moral highground at the price of life and liberty, it doesnt really matter how more or immoral we are because we've failed to achieve our goals."Elvis paused, peering curiously at Cardinal for a moment. "How long you been on this side of the law, since you were a fucking kid right?" It's a guess, but yaknow high society types and civilians didnt talk about hitting people with molotovs.

Teo's eyes go dark. Bright again. Dark, as his gaze rotates up and through the room, following the other two conversationalists through the thoughtful panes of irises so pale they at times seem to have no real color of their own. "I sure as shit hope you aren't talking about just shooting up the fucking Happy Dagger. Mass-murdering hookers and bouncers to send a message doesn't accomplish a single fucking thing.

"Starting a war with the sociopaths at the top of Staten Island's criminal food chain with a few beautifully executed assassinations doesn't fucking interest me, either. Revenge doesn't fucking interest me. At this point, your wank-and-death metal justice and 'save the Island' mission don't, either. If we could figure out who abducted one little Abigail Beauchamp because we were pissed off enough, they could figure out who did what to them and bury this whole fucking bike shop in chopped up viscera, never mind all your friends in Phoenix, Felix Ivanov, Old Lucy's girls, and everyone else you've been braiding friendship bracelets with.

"I'm not saying we do nothing. But if you guys want to do something that fucking stupid, you're on your own." Coincidentally, that's an irritable, bald-faced lie because Teo could no sooner abandon Elvis than he could his boy and girl rotting behind Moab's bars or the idiot rich kid he keeps on Manhattan Island, but he's annoyed enough to look like he means it when he says it. "I want to get them back. That's it."

The hand that rested at the side of Cardinal's neck lifts up, thumb protruding upwards in agreement with Elvis's words. "Grew up in th'system," he admits, "It's a pretty one-way path down here."

A snort of breath, then, his head turning ever so slightly to regard Teodoro where he stands. "She's not at the Dagger anymore, Laudani," he replies roughly and with a hint of irritation raking through his tone, one hand lifting in a splay of his fingers through the air, "She's at a fuckin' warehouse/ with posted guards, an' I guarantee you every fuckin' one of //them isn't even close to innocent. They know full well what they're doing and who they've condemned to hell on Earth. That is what needs to be hit. Not a bunch of fuckin' whores who're addicted to Logan's… whatever it is he does. Pay attention."

He turns his head back to Elvis, then, head jerking towards Teo, "He always like this?"

Elvis nods softly "I grew up in it too."she admits to Cardinal but she isnt here to trade rap sheets. "He is, but I dont know many civilian who get it anyway so theres that for you."she shrugs softly, temporarily focusing her entire attention on Cardinal to cut Teo out. "We need something simple and easy to recognize, no cloak and dagger shit. We get out people back, and we make it too expensive for them to want to try this bullshit again. I think maybe we take our people and burn the dagger down at the same time, to make sure they realize we're not pleased with the way they do business?"

It was partially to spite Teo, yeah ok sure but mostly she was being practical for the moment. Cardinal had a clue what she was talking about, Teo didnt. "Blood for blood, and of course interest."

"I am paying attention, you fucking asshole," Teo replies, a rough gesture of his hand prelude to him hauling himself up off the bike. "You want to raid the warehouse Abby's in, that sounds halfway reasonable. Your goddamn 'wolves in the night' rhetoric and bipolar —" Oh, there she fucking goes. Blood. Interest. Burn it down. Exasperated, he rolls his eyes up toward the ceiling. "How the fuck is it I'm the only one in this room who realizes these roaches have been around since before your fucking system and th— okay.

"Fuck it." Frustration is louder on his features, in his posture, than in the actual volume of his voice. "Top of the class, both of you. Great. You know how it's done. Try it.

"Get yourselves, Bootstrap, and everybody else fucking killed, see if I give a rat's ass. Scerni maledetti." Shaking his head, he yanks his jacket straight and stumps toward the door, pawing the left panel of his garment in search of cigarettes and lighter. He tosses a rough-fingered hand up without turning back, fractionally apologetic, mostly by salutation. "Nice shop, El. I'll call again if I want to come back."

"Idealists." Those eyes may be rolling behind the darkness of the shades that Cardinal's wearing at the rant that splits the workshop's air, his head shaking, "Psalms, fifty-eight, ten. This way's been around a lot longer'n anything else. Livin' any other way is lying to yourself about what the fuckin' world is like."

A hand drops to the bench to one side, the other, and he drops his head down and forward in a slow shake, "See you 'round Laudani." A pause, "I don't think we should hit the Dagger, though, babe. We push 'em too far and they'll have to retaliate, it's the way the game works. Logan—" He smirks, and it's not pleasant, looking back up to her, "—Logan'll get his. Oh yes. No need for open warfare for that, either."

Elvis grunts, and snags at Teo's wrist as he passes. "Jesus christ Teo, will you quit throwing a fucking hissyfit? We aint set on doin nothin, we're just talkin. It just aint cool if we get our shit stomped on everytime we say a word ok, we're all in this together ok? If my mind was made up, I wouldnt be here right now ok? Now sit back down, please. If I didnt value your opinion, I would have left."

Left Phoenix, well totally. She wasnt wearing phoenix ink, she was wearing outlaw ink. "ok, so we dont firebomb them, so how do we make it expensive? Assuming we dont just fucking gut their people, set their shit on fire or cut the jaw bones of their wives and girlfriends off?"All of which are perfectly legitimate in Elvis's mind of course.

Getting dragged around like a ragdoll isn't generally Teo's preferred mode of conduct during a tactical discussion, but he has a few bruised ribs, twelve sets of stitches healing under his clothes, and enough pain medication to go with it. Also, Elvis is stronger than he looks. He ends up tilting slightly in her grasp, cancer sticks hanging out of his hand, a look of profound irritation scrawled across his brow. "This fuck isn't just talking," he points out, eyeing the arm that Elvis has in her terrier grip for a moment, as if had betrayed him.

After a moment spent grinding his teeth, he subsides. "'M sorry. Rough week, you know?" Visibly. "Mind if I smoke?" Asking to be polite, despite that he's seen the answer burning at Elvis' lips every other time he's ever met her. He walks back down to the pile of leather, drops himself on it, stiffly, reaches to scratch the cut scabbed under his chin.

"Yeah, 'cause you really know me so well, Laudani…" A slightly tired weave to that dismissing tone, Cardinal's head canting slightly towards the other man, "You prefer I should've let your friend down at th'Lighthouse go into th'Dagger with an army and guns blazing, like he wanted to? Or maybe let a few more people smash the front doors in with their face to break legs? You've got some fuckin'…"

A grimace, his head shaking curtly, "Whatever. You want my opinion, we hit th'warehouse, hard. Don't leave a guard standing, don't leave their security shit operatin' — take out cameras first, balaclavas to hide faces. Get your friends out of the fucking electrified boxes they're in, and get out again. They won't know who hit them, necessarily, but they'll know they're not to be fucked with lightly."

Elvis shakes her head"not in my shop, but why dont we all just take a moment and we'll go outside. You two head outside, wait by the boneyard and I'll push the Harley out the loading bay and meet you over there. We're all very wound up, and we cant afford to be wound up right now. We will have plenty of time to get pissed when we're there, doin whatever we decide on doin. Right now, lets be cool and chill and smart for once. Does this sound like a smart idea to everyone?"

The look Teo casts the other man over his shoulder could probably transmute magma to meth, it's that cold. "I'd prefer you didn't give suggestions that end up with everybody I fucking care about dead. I know you're not the only one that fucking stu—" his teeth meet with an audible click when the woman speaks up. When Elvis Shepherd is the diplomatic one in the room, you know there's something wrong; worse, when Teo's making a perfect stranger talk around injured feelings. She's right. It's tense. Outside was a good idea. Suddenly, Teo doesn't want to get up again.

It's probably coming into his next round of pain medication or something, but he can't remember what time he did that last. Without verbal complaint, he pulls himself up again, offering the woman a straightforward nod of his head and a low word of gratitude. He pulls a cigarette out into his teeth and lopes off, back toward the door.

"Why th'fuck am I even botherin' with this shit, that's what I want t'know…" A weary, irritated muttering beneath Cardinal's breath as the mechanic decides that it's all time for people to step outside and get some fresh air. The duffle in his lap's dragged back over one shoulder, resting there as he pushes himself up to his feet with a slight grunt, though he lingers a few moments to let Teo precede him by a bit before taking his first few steps towards the exit as well.

It doesnt take long, for Elvis to move the harley outside because she just rides the fucker yonder. Slipping it smoothily to rest just past Cardinal and Teo, before she parks and climbs off. "Your botherin, cuz you aint a peice of shit."comes Elvis's only response, eying cardinal up with no small threat. "We have to be in this together, crooks and civilians alike. This isnt about us, not any of us or even Abby. Your putting up with this shit because some very important shit, needs dealing with and you've been in lock up long enough to know just how much you can bite off before they toss you back in the klink."

Theres a pause, as she lights up a cigarette and gives a happy little sigh. "I like the bird's plan, we hammer where they have our people and leave the rest. Be heavy handed, but narrow in our focus. No arson, no bombs, no gutting, no abductions. We just get our people, none of this crazy shit with holding the badguys hostage again."

By now, Teo has huffed a considerable fraction of his own cigarette down. The smoke curls against his cheek, his features tilted downward to study the chapped and worn tips of his own boots. Despite the acrid prickle and heat of the particle cloud, his expression stays cold, quiescent. It's a minor miracle of diplomatic effort already, that he doesn't point out that wasn't the bird's plan.

Reaching up, he clears his mouth long enough to hiss a plume of white against the sky. "I'll find out what the guy inside knows about the warehouse fortifications and see who else is up, then," Teo replies, his tone almost flat enough to invert the soundwaves of his voice into silence. "You talked to Izzy, right?" he glances at Cardinal. "Huruma 's well? Fel. Now you have Elvis. I'll see who else is up to play."

As the cool of the evening spills over them, Cardinal reaches into his own jacket to pull out a pack of marlboro's; beating the still-cellophaned pack against the heel of his hand a few times before peeling off the thin red line. He's pulling out a cigarette with his teeth when she emerges with the Harley, her words garnering a slight shake of his head and an almost belligerent expression — but no actual argument. A lighter's wheel rasps to his thumb, flame flickers to life, and he inhales a long drag of it.

"What she said," he affirms, tucking away the lighter and gesturing with the cigarette through the air, exhaling a sigh of breath as smoke stirs up past his lips. "Brian," he adds, "Jessica."

Elvis waves a hand dismissively "Fuck Brian, quantity over quality. The absolute last thing we need, is to have another Brian die and for his body to get left behind. He tried to get me to murder Cat, told me she was a fucking turncoat and sent me her way. If he isnt an outright traitor, then he's too fucking stupid to be in on this job."She sniffles some, pulling her jacket's zipper upwards. "Teo, do you have a helmet and a jacket and shit?" change of subject anyone?

For once, Teo's inward wince actually is inward. Bad week; he hadn't been kidding. Hard to say whether he agrees with the woman's assessment of Xerox's tactical utility — or lack thereof, or whether he finds the prospective scenario just as unattractive. His face doesn't change when he hears either name, but in the end, words betray the fact that he recognizes both.

"Jessica's a nutcase — clinical sociopath among other things, but good in a fight. She's strong. Other than that, I'd rather do without her unless we have to. Brian's good if you already have a plan, and he's better at relaying messages than any wire. There's another woman — the only family Sergei has. I can talk to her. She manipulates sound. Blasts and shit. We should talk again in a few days. Phone or in person?" Again, he offers Cardinal eye-contact, before surrendering the previous topic to study Elvis, sidelong, with a ghost of a smile.

"At home." Somewhere. Unfortunately, his understanding of that noun is about as wobbly as his memory regarding motorcycle equipment right now, but give him a few hours, he'll retrace.

Cardinal's lips purse in a brief grimace at the woman's run-down of Brian's recent behavior. "I thought he seemed a bit fuckin' off," he mutters under his breath, taking another drag on the cigarette in his hand. In. Out. A turn of his head towards Teo, the other man's gaze reflected in the near-opacity of those sunglasses for a moment, allowing, "I can give you a number. Can meet in person too if you want."

A wall's leaned against, then, one foot lifting up to rest flat against it, his head tilting back to fall as well as he lets the pair discuss motorcycles. Don't mind him, he'll just savour his narcotic of choice for a few minutes.

Elvis hmmms "well ride like your age, and wear your shit from now on. I dont associate with squids, you'll note I dont hang out with any of those yahoos wearing vests and jeans."She turns to spit, before getting back on topic. "We can do either, but we need to be pretty quick about this. My shop is a safe place, and its open all the time so theres no time for the feds to sneak in. So we can chill in my shop, whenever we need to finalize our plan. Is this sensible?"

"I don't know," Teo replies, his brows at a rueful tilt. "I don't know if you want that many strangers in your shop, and one of Abby's friends — or two — is a fucking Fed. Could bring trouble you don't want to deal with, someday. You keep a nice place there, ragazza. I'd hate to see people fuck it up for you." For that matter, he'd hate to see what she did to //them/ afterward, but that goes without saying.

He squints up at the skeletal reach of a nearby trio of trees, just beyond a jumble of dismembered auto parts. "Figure out the place later. Time is… three days? To get people together, and for you," he looks at Cardinal in the shades again, "to check out Muldoon and take a closer look at the warehouse. Specifics preferable. I'll pass your number to the guy who's snooping around inside Pancratium. Between the two of you, you should be able to figure out what's really going on."

"I'll do what I can. There's a hell of a lot of us around there, if I push my luck I might run into someone who can see me," admits Cardinal with a slight grimace, pushing away from the wall once more and tapping off some ash to swirl away on the wind in fading embers, "And I can't find a single soul who knows what Muldoon does. Get me in touch with the guy, though, yeah, I'll see what I can do."

Elvis just frowns now, ok well now she's acting a little more typical. "Good point, forgot about that. We'll find someplace else then, let me take care of that problem. Theres not much else I can contribute right now."That wasnt the curious bit here of course, Teo's snoop is the curious bit. Aside from Conrad and Diego she couldnt imagine anyone sharp enough on the inside to do that sort've work, well who wasnt locked up anyway. "Who's your guy, why havent I met him?"

Whatever Teo needs to get this toxic tension out of his system, it probably isn't in the cancerous cocktail that he's pulling into his lungs. Long before the stick is spent, he ditches the ciagrette on the pavement, grinds it out with a shoe, a rasp of ridged rubber on the heavy grain of concrete.

He yanks his cellphone out of his pocket with the final kick of his heel, tosses it at Cardinal. "You'll have his number when I do," he promises, neatly, before turning his head to look at Elvis. "Old, ex-government spy from overseas. You haven't met him 'cause he's working. Or so I fucking hope." When he smiles, it's small enough to be truly sincere. It isn't exactly the time of year for belly laughter and great sweet hugs.

A cigarette's switched from one hand to the other, and Cardinal's newly-freed hand reaches out to catch the airborne phone against his palm with a smack of impact. A thumb slides up to open the contacts list, entering his number with soft taps of pressure against the keypad. Once it's set up, he gives it a slight under-hand toss back over.

Another drag on the cigarette's taken, then, the duffle bag's shifted upon his shoulder, and he turns to step away. "A'ight. Be in touch, then."

Elvis nods simply at that, eagerly finishing her smoke before she slips right back inside without another word said. What else was there to say? She leaves Teo's keys, in the Harley's ignition of course. Its not her place to hang onto a spare or whatever, its Teo's.


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February 28th: Escaping Reality
Previously in this storyline…
Lassie Rides Again

Next in this storyline…
The Only Hero...

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February 28th: What Is
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