A Call of Duty


wf_jaiden1_icon.gif wf_smedley1_icon.gif

Scene Title A Call of Duty
Synopsis A mission of survival and remembrance goes badly, in the dreams of two men.
Date April 5, 2011

In Dreams

The picturesque town of Kingston on this cold winter’s night could very well be a print from Currier and Ives if it weren’t for telltale signs of the 21st century. Refurbished Victorian buildings mix with more modern architecture; power lines and street lights hum; if it were earlier in the night, the freeway and roads would be alive with vehicles.

As it is, the waterfront is quiet. Once upon a time in New York City, prior to the curfews set in place in 2006 and again in 2010, the big city’s port would be a hub of activity in the wee hours like these. Here in sleepier Kingston, the river bank’s glory days have long since passed. Curfew or no curfew, the docks sleep.

Which makes it perfect for Wes Smedley’s and Jaiden Mortlock’s purposes.

The two men wait in Wes’ boat for their contact, Hutchins, a man Smedley has done business with in the past — for a very precious cargo that they will bring 45 miles south to the Ferry nestled in Bannerman Castle. It’s a dangerous undertaking, though less risky than raiding a governmental transport of the H5N10 vaccines — which the Ferry attempted and failed a couple of months ago.

Jaiden’s hand in his coat curls tightly around a silver keychain frame; the picture inside, a tiny baby, swaddled in pink cotton and lace.

It’s hard to know, for sure, at what cost.

It’s hard to know, for sure, if the vaccines would have been effective or if the virus was already spreading through the bodies that eventually succumbed to it, two months ago.

What Jaiden and Wes do know is that without the vaccines that Hutchins is selling them, more will get ill and more will die. It’s more than a mission — it’s a call of duty.

Smedley's hard-lined face stares out across the water in the general direction he believes Hutchins to be arriving in, his own hands held in front of him. He slowly rubs the rough skin together, almost wringing them in an attempt to keep warm. It's always colder out on the water, and anticipation doesn't do much to keep the blood pumping. After a moment, he turns his arm so that he can push back the cuff of his sweater and coat to peer at his watch.

"Won't be too much longer," he muses in a gruff voice, meant to reassure himself as much as Jaiden.

Losing a child, no matter what, is hard on a man, and Jaiden still thinks of her every day, every morning when he wakes up, every night when he goes to sleep and every waking moment in between. He dreams of her first steps, never to be taken, her first day of school, her first bike ride, her first boyfriend, her first kiss, her wedding…he can't think of such things for too long, lest he lose his edge and for now there are more important things. There are other children to save….

Jaiden's hands are stuffed deep into his pockets, the thick wool coat cutting the breeze off the water rather well, a hat pulled over his ears to keep the heat in. "I hope so…you know they patrol this part of the river pretty frequently now. I can handle a small boat, but if they come with a full patrol like they did that one time.." Jaiden gives a halfhearted shrug. "Hope this thing can grow wings."

As if on cue, a shape can be seen approaching, its silhouette a lighter shade of dark against the black water and sky surrounding it; its lights are off and it moves slowly and carefully. When it's within range, a loon's cry cuts through the silence, alerting Smedley that this is indeed his man. They've done business in the past — the simplest techniques are sometimes the best.

In the bitter cold of northern New York, a few moments can feel like hours; time stretches even more pliantly when waiting for such precious cargo, and knowing that what they are doing is very, very illegal. The cargo itself is promised to be legitimate, which means stolen from the government most likely — but life always outweighs the risks. Finally the small vessel docks, the dark shape belonging to Hutchins hopping out of the boat to tie it off.


"Evenin', Hutch."

If it were any other night, with any other cargo, there may be some benefit in giving the other man a little grief for being late. As it is, all Semdley does is cross the deck of his boat with a few sober steps, lifting his leg to place a boot on the bow. "You see any brass on your way up?" he asks, glancing back toward the water without turning his head before resting his gaze again on the other smuggler. "It's been a quiet night, 'n we'd like to see it stay that way."

The water on the boat stills as Hutch approaches, Jaiden's power smoothing it, making sure there is no rocking, no contact that may give their position away to anyone one the shore or on the water, but with those damn sentries around, they can't be too careful. He stands quietly behind Smedley, hands in his pockets, rolling that little bit of metal back and forth in one hand, the other hand on the gun in his pocket that he's carried almost constantly since being on the run. "Thanks for coming, too. I hope you have what we're looking for."

"It's Kingston. It's always quiet. S'why I do business here," Hutchins replies amiably with a round shouldered shrug, before nodding his head to the steps that lead down into the small cabin below. "Inside. Got three boxes full, 50 to a box. You got the cash, I presume? C'mon in and I'll show you the goods."

The man moves down into the cabin, beckoning them to follow.

"'Course." The word serves to be an answer to all of it, but Smedley waits a beat before he pushes off What Jenny Thought onto the dock and then onto Hutchins' craft. He jerks his head at Jaiden to ensure he follows. "Let's hope your business doesn't give'm reason to make noise," he muses as he steps onto the other boat, slipping a hand into the pocket of his leather jacket. He doesn't have to say how detrimental that kind of loss would be - especially if this transaction goes well.

He pulls out a smallish manilla envelope that's been packed heavily. He doesn't hand it over, but he holds it up so that Hutchins can see it. "They marked at all?" Smedley asks, one eyebrow lifting slightly. Because a harmless vial is a lot easier to get in and out of places than anything labeled so ostentatiously.

Jaiden watches that envelope with hard, green eyes. That was the last of Jaiden's emergency funds put back. On the run for so long, he had to do a lot of things to remain sane and safe, to keep his friends safe. To put food on the table. His reserves tapped, this big bundle of cash was the remnants of the sale of his precious Mustang which, somehow, he managed to keep secret long enough to get it into the hands of a collector who would pay cash no questions asked.

"And they are H5N10 vaccine though, right? Not bottles of saline, refilled just to make a few bucks, or sample bottles used for training. This is the honest-to-god-real stuff, right?" Bad vaccine is not a good thing, and it will be worse for the man if they are cheated.

Hutchins takes the envelope, a quick peek inside to make sure it does contain the green stuff, though he isn't crass enough to count it. After all, he and Smedley have done business before. That would be rude.

"It's marked however the government transports them; I didn't swap it into blanks 'cause who the fuck knows what that'd do to the potency, right?" he says to Smedley, with a shrug as they move into the cabin. "It's the real stuff," he says over his shoulder to Jaiden, as he opens one of the styrofoam containers packed with dry ice to show the two men the vaccines.

Unfortunately, at the same moment he does that, to assuage any fears or doubts they might have, a helmeted and uniformed man steps out of what looks to be the loo, aiming and shooting a tranq gun at Jaiden, even as another figure steps out from behind another door throwing a canister that immediately hisses out its yellow gas.

It's a trap.

Hutchins pulls a gun on Wes that was stowed behind the container. "Sorry, friend," is offered blandly. "A man's gotta eat."

To his credit, Smedley's reaction is relatively calm. His eyes widen initially, but pulling his own gun on an armored officer of the law, or even Hutchins in the presence of one, is far from a good idea. So it's with a hardened, stone-like glare that he lifts his hands in the classic display of surrender. "After all we've been through, Hutch?" he asks in a tone bordering on reproach. He glances from Hutch to the lawman behind him before a smile curls onto his face. "You'll write me and let me know how good it tastes."

His fingers tense for a moment before those on his left hand curl toward his palm. In the next second, Smedley's throwing his fist across in an attempt to connect it with Hutchins' jaw. But he won't stick around to find out how badly or how well the punch lands - the stairs up and out of the cabin and the dark water the boat rests in are suddenly his only goal.

A tranqulizer gun. Wonderful. Jaiden tries to dodge, throwing himself to the floor. If he's hit, Jaiden has probably at most a minute or so of activity before his muscles start shutting down thanks to the tranquilizer, so he'd better make this count. Assuming it doesn't hit the bulletproof vest beneath, of course. Right now, the most important thing is the vaccine. Getting it to the people who need it. Getting out. The yellow gas swirls around him, his ability stripped from him if it's negation, choking him, causing him to cough. Insanely, when Smedley's fist is thrown at Hutchins' jaw, Jaiden launches himself toward the canisters of Vaccine, trying to grab them, trying to throw one sealed container up the staircase where Smedley can grab it. He'll take them down if he can…he'll escape if he can. He just needs that vaccine to get to the people who need them..

The negation gas does strip away Jaiden's power; any attempt to pull at the waves outside and beneath goes unanswered, but his physical power is still one to be reckoned with.

Kicks and punches earn Jaiden some grunts of pain from the two officers, before one clobbers the man with the butt of that tranq gun — it's not as satisfactory of a conk as a real gun would have, but they seem to want him alive.

That and the tranquilizer from the dart in his neck have Jaiden collapsing, but not before he does some good. The styrofoam container bounces as it hits the top step, splitting on one side, but hopefully the padding will keep the contents safe.

They seem to actually be authentic; hopefully someone will be able to tell before they administer it.

Hutchins has a loose grip on the pistol he didn't expect to need to use — it slips out of his hand when Smedley hauls off and he stumbles into the corner. He doesn't move too quickly, and the smallest of smirks curves his lips upward as Smedley makes for the stairs, stumbling as he hits the top over the container, grabbing it as he leaps off the boat to the dock.

Outside is as peaceful and as quiet as it was when they first arrived — there seems to be no back up for this mousetrap.

The boat would draw them - too easy to follow. For once, the quiet of the night works against Smedley and his traditional means of transportation. So rather than leap about What Jenny Thought, he tears off into Kingston, tearing off his coat to wrap the styrofoam in once he hits Kingston Point Park and some cover. It's also a good chance for him to catch his breath.

He's got to keep running.

Let no one say that Jaiden didn't get a few good punches and kicks in. Before being bashed over the back of the head with a tranqulizer gun, the two soldiers were pretty much in an even fight. It's amazing what desperation will do for a man when the only choice he has to save the ones he loves is face his own mortality or let those he cares for go into that good night. It's with a man's throat in his hands that he goes down, the world dwindling into a pinprick of light like an old television being turned off. His keychain, the one with the picture of his daughter skids out of his pocket, glimmering in the light just as a soldier steps on it, crushing it beneath his boot. Thankfully, Jaiden goes unconscious then, but not before he murmurs a name. "Beth…"

Somewhere in Queens

The Endgame safehouse is normally quiet this time of night, Jaiden not on watch for this once, able to lay down and catch some merciful sleep for the first time in far, far too long. Wrapped in a sleeping bag, he awakes with a start, jerking up, his heart pounding in his chest, his clothes soaked through with sweat, breaths coming quickly, the man almost hyperventilating. "Holy God…" Jaiden's hand moves to his pocket where that keychain was tucked with the…his daughter….a daughter. "I'm going to have a daughter…"

The strong man, who rarely breaks, draws his knees to his chest and weeps.

What Jenny Thought, Somewhere in Jamaica Bay

It's the fear that jerks Smedley to his senses, snapping him awake. Carson lifts his head and turns to look back at his master before grunting and laying back down again, turning to lean his back against the smuggler's leg. The gentle undulations of the water rock the small yacht, but despite their efforts and Carson's wheezy snore, Smedley won't drift off again for several hours.

It's not the nature of the dream that scares him.

It's the fact that he was afraid of something bigger than getting caught.

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