A Stone Unturned


benji_icon.gif lucille_icon.gif

Scene Title A Stone Unturned
Synopsis The kind of family reunion when your niece from a forgotten future meets up at your cage fighting gig and then you get Chinese take-out in Crimesville and discuss potential threats to national security and whether it sounds fun to look into.
Date April 28, 2018

The Crucible

The Crucible used to be the Great Kills Holding Facility while Eltingville Blocks was still running before the war began, and before wide-spread riots reclaimed that portion of Staten Island. It was both a prison and execution grounds, newly constructed until it was ravaged by both corrupted DoEA robots and time.

Now, the corpse of the facility is known as the Crucible, and hosts illegal fights between SLC-Expressive individuals who either choose to live off the grid, or visit the ruins of Staten Island to blow off a little steam. There is always a cash prize for the victors, unless you accidentally (or on purpose) kill someone, in which case you win nothing, and are black listed. Consistent winners may find themselves invited to take part in the Full Moon events, which take place during the literal full moon every month. These events see the best of the best fighters square off, and attracts a rowdy audience, with high stakes betting. For regular fighters, its a much coveted opportunity.

It's run by several unsavoury individuals, but is primarily overseen by John Logan, who has some experience at this sort of thing..

The Crucible is not as crowded as it sometimes is; the cold is rolling back in for, perhaps, one last wintry hurrah, which means the mainlanders who might come this way are less inclined to brave the elements for the sake of bloodsport. More oil drums full of bonfire are set out through the space, filling the air with smoke and heat, weighed down heavy with rocks and bricks to keep accidents at bay. Two of the cages are empty of fights and so the crowd makes concentrated rings around those remaining. Bets are shouted and taken, as are rowdy words of encouragement, abuse, and in Lucille's case, the occasional proposition.

Not that she has that to focus on. She's gone a few rounds with her current opponent, a young man with dark skin who doesn't seem to speak too much English, but gets by with an easy smile, and the occasional, highly articulate gesture. He is also very fast, feet trapped at a normal dancing speed around the sand-strewn fighting pit floor, but when he swings a punch, it seems to cut the air with sheer swiftness, a slight blur to the movement that throws Lucille's sense of judgment and distance.

But she is also good at what she does, and several men and women in the audience have money riding on her victory.

Benji Ryans does not, ever conservative with what money she does have — and, of course, had she been compelled to gamble, she would have done so in Lucille's favour. She's taken one of the empty cell blocks up above the fighting floor for the sake of a vantage point, as well as to shy back from the crowd milling around below. A little too aggressive and close quarters for her sensibilities. Seated with her back against concrete, she watches Lucille fight from on high — at first waiting for the fight to be over, before succumbing, a little, to the excitement of watching the sport itself as she narrows her eyes when the young man battling her aunt manages to land a swipe of his fist.

The cold has been kept at bay by the constant movement since the beginning of the fight, blood pumping there’s a roar in her ears and she isn’t sure if it’s the people assembled or just the blood rushing in her head. This place though is a place of peace oddly enough, where she can really focus. Where she can let out her anger and though she was recently headled of the scar that she wore for the past years and with it the affliction that was her being unable to touch people, there were residual emotions. Memories and nightmares she was running from or with depending on your view of things.

Pale arms and shoulders are bare, a white tank top drenched in sweat and loose pants also starting to cling to her body because of the moisture. Over her face she wears a white felt anti pollution mask, coming off as some kind of quasi ninja a stripe of white cloth tied around her forehead to keep the sweat from out of her eyes as well as her strands of Lucille’s auburn hair, the rest was tied back into a tight ponytail. It was time for a trim, she absently thought about and that was when the man landed his strike to which she lean forward with a grunt, absorbing the shock with a fierce look upwards. Okay, attention returned to the man she launched a leg out at his midsection to use a stepping stone, trying to propel herself backwards to regain her composure. An easily blocked jab to his neck is a fleeting touch.

Her pale blue eyes were still that, not yet glowing that hot amber color it took when she was actively using her ability the rounds before had been a great show, she sported an bruise already blooming on her right shoulder. Lucille was okay with that though, her breath was even as she bowed her head and circled opposite the man. Without another glance she is running in the opposite direction with a light grin on her face, covered by the mask. She doesn’t notice her favorite niece watching, her focus is now fully on the match at hand.

And Benji has no interest in being noticed, unwilling to be a distraction. Once the fight is over, she'll find her way down. For now, she leans her shoulder against the rusted over bars that divide her perch from the open air, soaking up the warmth from an oil drum positioned nearby and below.

These fights have an expiry to them. Unless both fighters are somehow gifted with super endurance of any kind — which has happened — then most fights terminate within a few minutes. The very skilled will go for longer, strategic about the blows they throw, athletic and built for extended battle rather than just quick and fiery brawls. Already, the second fight already playing is over with a clang of a near-unconscious body hitting the chain link fencing of the fighting pit cage, and a cheer lifts from that end of the floor.

Lucille's opponent isn't distracted, launching himself after her in pursuit with boundless enthusiasm. Sand kicks up underfoot as he closes in with the intent to hit her again — two to the body, a third for the face.

The crowd appears to be on the regular's side, however, and a chant of White Rose begins to rise from one section of the crowd. Benji looks from the fight itself to observe that phenomenon, expression impassive, idly worrying her bottom lip with the edge of blunt thumbnail. Firelight drains that icy blue colour from her eyes, replacing it with orange and grey.

One kick to the side, second kick to the side and the woman is thrown off balance before using the man’s third kick as leverage snapping both hands to hold on at the same time that her eyes flare that hot amber color, she expands her perception to encompass the man’s body to the side of her and her grin is deadly beneath the mask. Lucille jabs and pricks at multiple organs and parts of his body simultaneously to trigger an extreme bout of nausea, the type that usually results in projectile vomiting.

There had been many a time in the past when she had done this and wound up with a face full of sick so to remedy that situation before it’s even a thing she pivots her body and throws her legs out from under to allow them both to fall to the ground, her hands holding onto his thigh and foot rising to clock him in the head from behind, her ass is gonna hurt after this.

There’s a grunt as she lands and she reverses over while holding on, hopefully to pin him on his stomach towards the floor.

The two lithe bodies of the fighters slam into the dirt, dust kicked up as Lucille twists around and bears down on him. At the same moment, the young man abruptly expels the contents of his guts in a nauseating spray, and the cheering of the crowd is peppered with a multitude of reactions from the crowd — laughter, from some, sympathy groans from others, louder cheers from those who won something tonight. Lucille's opponent doesn't even try to right himself, the combination of her pin and the roiling of his guts both draining every bit of wind from his sails as he slumps in defeat.

There's a rattle of a chain, and the cage of chainlink fence is opened. There's a last swell of a cheer as Lucille gets to his feet, before that wall of sound disperses into so many men and women doing business.

Benji gets to her feet, then, lingering at the bars in case Lucille thinks to look up, but withdrawing all the same into the concrete corridors of the old prison. Graffiti marks the walls, and figures lurk in twos and threes together, paying her no mind as she moves to find a route to intercept. In no hurry, though, her boots making prints in the grimy concrete floor, an ambiguous figure herself in her heavy black coat, hands in leather gloves, a scarf bundled beneath her chin.

A rush comes with victory and Lucille whoops inside but outwardly her eyes crinkle allowing everyone to know she is pleased with the outcome, who wouldn't be? Her eyes scan the crowd in that moment of catching her breath, chest heaving up and down heavily as she slides off of the man's back with a gentle shove. Lucille's eyes were still glowing that golden color when she rises to her feet and throws a fist in the air to the cheers of the crowd. There's bit of a bow and it's mocking in nature, she has the persona of being a sarcastic opponent, evident in the face she works her eyes and eyebrows, body going along with. She had learned overtime had to put on a show here, it was a rush.

Something to temporarily satiate the hunger she felt for the next hunt with her fellow Hounds.

Her eyes catch her niece's and her head dips slightly before she's walking off to deal with certain people and change. The crowd has moved onto the next spectacle by the time Lucille walks out, dressed in a asymmetrical blazer that covers a black pouch she has hanging on the inside that contains her mask and dirty clothes. There is a hood pulled up and over her hair to hide her face from a passing view and she makes her way over to Benji with a wide smile that shows all teeth, "I've been looking for you," Reaching out to embrace her, something Benji would note is weird also the fact that her aunt wasn't wearing gloves. "How are you?" is whispered as she closes blue eyes breathing in Benji's scent. It wasn't everyday you got to hang with your time displaced vigilante niece.

Benji hangs back near the exit of the Crucible, by the time Lucille finds her, waiting patiently near a burning fire and doing her level best not to make any eye contact with people. As Lucille emerges, she offers the other woman a slightly unpracticed smile, one that doesn't take away from that moment of surprise as she goes in for an ungloved hug. No flinch or question, though — Benji just hugs back, gloved hands splayed across Lucille's shoulder blades. She is, as ever, all awkward angles about these things.

"I know," she says, softly. "Sorry."

No explanation for why she hasn't sought her out, until this moment. There never usually is.

"I'm alright." She pulls back, and clear blue eyes track down to Lucille's bared hands, and then back to her face, her own grip still lingering on her aunt's arms. "And you?"

It’s not that Lucille has forgotten what use to happen when she touches people, not this fast but she is so eager to touch and feel again. She notices the stiffening of Benji and she looks in her eyes with her own blue eyes. “I’m not sure what happened.” There’s a tiny smile as she takes a step back and grabs one of Benji’s hands. “It just happened out of nowhere, all gone. I’ve been trying to figure it out..” to not much success on her end. Maybe the Major would have some ideas.

“I have all these damn gloves now though,” she jokes with a light snort and roll of her eyes. She had discovered that there weren’t any clothes left that had showed any skin. Buying new clothes had been fun and transported her back to the time where what she wore for the evening was her most important decision. She would agonize over it.

“Maybe you can help me pick out some new stuff?” Another chance to hang with her niece.

"I could." Amusement crinkles the corners of Benji's eyes, squeezing Lucille's hand in return. She keeps it as she pulls them both away from lingering within the Crucible, stepping out into the colder air of Staten Island beyond its curving, concrete walls. "I need to fill out my own wardrobe, a little." Most of what she wears forever looks like its been worn to death, from the greying scuffs on her boots to the faded edges of her black winter coat.

The idea of having a wardrobe puts a trace of irony in her tone as she agrees. She's rather certain that Delia would do a better job. Ingrid, perhaps. She shakes her head as if to stop thinking of the various women she considers, in some way, her responsibility.

"Maybe it doesn't have to be figured out. Maybe it's just to be enjoyed."

“So young, yet so wise,” is said in a teasing tone because they aren’t far off from each other in age. A bizarre fact but their family was one of the most bizarre in terms of origin. Lucille follows after Benji as they wander out into the frigid air. She stands close to Benji, huddling in for more warmth and just to be close. Her mind on the other women of their family and the men. It provokes her to bring up a subject she doesn’t often. “I asked Adel about.. Milan.”

Benji’s aunt had rarely if at all mentioned the daughter that she wouldn’t have. Or at least not the Milan that Benji knew. “She told me what she knew, not that much. She said that she wasn’t around that much.. Because I wasn’t.” A sheepish look is thrown the other woman’s way, it’s a trait that Lucille has been ironically trying to run from. She’s not sure that she’s done that good of a job.

Mention of the name Milan steers Benji's attention to her, watching Lucille instead of where they are going — but the path down from the Crucible is trampled well, at least, and she keeps a hold of Lucille's hand as they go. Curiousity and concern are both expressed there, in her expression, as well as something else — a familiar shadow behind her eyes that comes and goes when mention of the lost future enters the conversation. She takes a breath and holds it for a moment, walking in silence.

Sigh it out again. "You weren't— a part of the village, as it were. It's not about, you know, being around, I think."

And Delia Ryans, at the time, was particular about who she wanted around, but Benji doesn't dig that topic up immediately. "I never met Milan," she confesses, and then further confession, "in person."

Because she always had her ways of staying in touch. Making sure people she cared about were happy.

Understanding that things were a little not the same in Benji’s timeline compared to hers was something she had grown use too. Different reasons, different motives, same faces was her motto when thinking about it and she grips her hand with a tight smile as she nods her head. “Any talk of her is fine. We talked about Kincaid, been thinking about him. But ah, just an update besides the whole body wanting to heal itself and what have you.” Lucille looks up towards the sky as they walk before leaning in closer, she would hope she comes off as the cool aunt. The one that takes you to blow up a tank or something, “What have you been up to?”

Never was there any judgement from Luce on how Benji led her life. Lucille knew she herself dealt in the darker side of things, the more violent. Benji’s approach never offended her. If anything, she was proud.

If Benji were really a telepath, as her falsified DoEA information had stated when she first fell into the past, then she'd reassure Lucille that she is, in fact, the coolest aunt, but please don't tell the rest. Instead, she's casting her mind back to the Lucille she barely knew, the family she had, a little late to realise that Lucille had already ushered the topic along as she says, "If you never dreamed of them before, I could— "

She lifts a shoulder, shyly. It's been a very long time since she dug through her well of collected memories. They feel like the remnants of ghosts, buried deep, more harm than good, now.

"I could share with you dreams of that Lucille. If you wanted. You can say no."

The question of what she's been up to, she sets aside but doesn't discard.

“No I..” Lucille stops herself. It hurt to see that other her. But.. “Maybe.. Just one.” It’s embarrassing to feel so unsure about this topic. “Only if you were fine with it, I’m not pressed. It must be painful, looking back then.” She couldn’t imagine how Benji does it. There was a time where answers.. Was all Lucille was dying for but she had found a lot of answers within herself.

“Now, onto you. Tell me,” She is eager to know more of her life in that aspect she is very much still true, Ingrid and Benji are not safe from this, she’s genuinely interested.

“Calvin seems as lively as ever.” It’s a compliment.

Benji nods to this first part, more or less fine with a wishy-washy, uncertain kind of answer, sympathetic to the inner conflict that this sort of thing encourages. It means it will be up to her, what she judges to be best, or necessary, or less painful, and that tends to be how she prefers to roll. The path they travel is getting darker, especially without any moon in the sky to help, but flaming torches sporadically delineate the path to the docks, occasionally washing them in flickering golden light.

She gives a small laugh. "Calvin is," she agrees. "He's probably restless — we've been on the east coast for a while, now, and we have to be quieter when we are. For the most part." Which is less of a problem for her, but she can imagine what it might be like for someone who is loud. "I don't know if you've been west, lately."

There seems like there's an angle to that question, an unsubtle lean to of the conversation.

“I know the feeling,” she was restless enough as it is at the Bunker waiting for the next big hunt. Lucille uses her free hand to ruffle the back of her hair. Itching was the right word for it. Operation High Road had been a wicked success but a part of Lucille wished at times she had stayed as rogue as her niece and best friend. The structure or Wolfhound coupled with the mediation and training had a grounding effect on her though and that wasn’t something that she was going to give up very easily.

“West? No..” she almost throws in a ‘I Wish’. It was like the wild west that way. “Haven’t gotten the chance in a long while.. Not since we ran around. Then me and Colette..” A time she remembered well. The time with Benji and Calvin had happier memories if you could call memories of war and carnage such things. The trek from the west to New York after the EMP.. was cemented in her mind.

“Have you? Heard anything,” she finds herself curious and interested in the time hopper’s words.


Benji glances behind them, as if any denizen of Staten Island has particular interest in what's going on across the sprawling American landscape, as opposed to where their next meal might come from, but it pays to be careful. "I've heard some things. Seen them, anyway, through the eyes of others. Storms, and empty desert towns. The hunter bots they used to have, too, gathering desert dust. There's something happening, but I don't understand what it is." If there's more, she stops there, indecisive.

She shakes her head. "At that distance, it's hard to sift through memories. Like trying to create order from a swarm of butterflies. You don't know if they're coming and going. Some of it didn't even seem real."

The cautious act is mirrored by Lucille, Benji looking one way while she looks the other. Careful people live longer, that wasn't necessarily true but nonetheless after seeing that there is nobody around she continues to walk with her family, head tilted inwards towards Benji and those eyes that the family share narrow at the mention of hunter bots.

"Functioning?" Her tone is low and her eyes widen at the notion, she didn't trust the government no but she didn't really think they would start program up again. "Colette and Avi have dealt with some weird shit.. she didn't talk too much about it."

Now it was something that Lucille would need to pursue, the Lucille of old would say they should go fuck it and investigate themselves. She had a job now and valued it but the "Maybe we need a closer look." Is offered innocently enough. That look in her eyes says her undertone is otherwise.

"Functioning, in the dream."

The qualifier seems like a reluctant addition, as if she knows this information doesn't seem real, or plausible, or likely, but her gut tells her saw knows what she saw. "It might have been interference. My own memories intruding. Over that kind of distance, I'm not sure how reliable my intelligence is, but…" But, and she lets the sentence trail off. There's enough. "I want to bring it to the Major. Whatever it is, it's not a stone I feel comfortable with leaving unturned."

That innocent suggestion and the glint in Lucille's eyes haven't gone missed, and Benji casts a tolerantly amused sideways look to her. "It has been a while since we worked together," she says, with a sway in her step to bump Lucille's shoulder on the emphasis.

Though many may not trust the information in dreams and visions, Lucille knew that dreams held power and she had witnessed it through her sister and niece and so if Lucille has any misgivings to the fact that Benji dreamt this she shows none of that. The notion that Benji’s own memories could be clouding her sight is a smart one and Lucille can’t help but wonder what Benji would see if she got closer to the situation. Conspiracy. The thought sends a shiver up Lucille’s spine, flashbacks of the war and also when the robots were first introduced to the city are on the forefront of her mind. “The Major would be glad to have your insight, I’ll get us a meeting.” Just like that. Lucille would go to bat for family at any moment and on any front, backing Benji on this is the obvious answer.

“Well perhaps that will change, very soon.” Leaning into that bump with a faint grin. Lucille looks ahead of them as the sky darkens more, they pass a torch that gives them more light and Lucille looks like she’s reliving old memories, she’s like this often. War had scarred her mind.

Her time with Benji and Calvin had been lively and fun, the bond strong from those adventures. “My fellow Hounds for what they are,” she takes a moment to consider, “They are a little more restrained in the approach.” War criminals had to be kept alive to face their crimes. Lucille didn’t see the difference on getting them dead or alive. As long as they were taken care of.

"Restrained," Benji says, a smile playing out across her face. "Which makes me unrestrained. Unfettered." Or uncontrolled. The connotative differences are meditated on as they walk. "I wouldn't say that about the wolfhounds personally. Some people need rules." She doesn't know very much about all of them, but she knows her friends. She knows Colette. Even Hana, perhaps. Lucille. And she knows herself, and what she does or does not need. "Personally," she adds, her gentle tone listing facetiously conspiratorial, "I've never been one for a uniform."

Folding her arms around herself as the cold of the wind cuts cleaner off the ocean, Benji's sights shift to where the light of the Rookery is just feasible. She tips her head towards it, in invitation; "The Crooked Point will be crowded, tonight. We could get something to eat before we head back." It's a given, to her, that Lucille is headed to the mainland after this.

“It makes you a little bit more fun, I’m not bias or nothing.” A wink given to Benji, she is bias and also maybe someone that needs rules. But needing something isn’t always indicative of people’s actions. Sometimes you don’t want what you need and the variety of situations she could have found herself in if she had never linked up with Wolfhound blossom in her mind. “I never thought myself good in one either.” How boring.

Her stomach growls at that precise moment and if Lucille didn’t know better she would say Benji was a precog, or just someone that used their brain. Fighting = Hungry.

“That is something we can do.” Moving in closer to provide more warmth, she walks in time with the younger woman. “You can give me some gossip, how are the boys?” Let’s get to the juicy stuff. “Any?”

There is a sideways look at Lucille — and it's not that Benji really thinks she would make fun of her, certainly not maliciously, but she does check that her aunt isn't only making a joke at her expense, there, automatic doubt overriding logic. Her smile is half-cocked and tolerant, and she just shakes her head.

"Many. A queue around the Bronx," she says, as she steers them down the path towards the Rookery. "I think I was only permitted one whirlwind romance in my life time. If you want, we can walk with chow mein back to the docks while I regale you with the story about how I long-distance seduced my own federal agent."

It may or may not be made up. But the best stories have some truth to them.

Lucille only makes fun of her favorite niece never and if she were a telepath and got a whiff of that thought she would make it go away cuz no way honey, in Lucille’s eyes. Benji is like that child that can do no wrong. Even when they shoot someone in the face. True royalty and Luce would roll in the mud with anyone who disagrees.

“That is scandalous, I’m so proud.” she quips with a laugh as they continue moving towards food and something normal like gossip. In Benji’s time, Lucille was off running around with her Milan and husband. Not much for sticking around, not really even wanted around but in this life. There’s a new chance for something deeper, something tangible they can both hold onto.

Besides just the blood that runs in their veins that has bonded them through time and space.

The night grows stronger as they walk speaking of the men in their lives, tales of federal agents and silver tongued talk show hosts litter the air with frequent snorts for Lucille. For the aunt, the path ahead seemed uncertain and filled with danger and necessary and hard truths that would need unveiling. But walking with Benji, her path seemed bright as day. Family could have that effect on ya.

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