Apostates Anonymous


eli_icon.gif jane2_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Apostates Anonymous
Synopsis The revolution neither starts nor ends here, but it certainly gains momentum.
Date July 13, 2011


The Quad Cinema went out of business sometime around a nuclear explosion wiped out the heart of Manhattan and whole blocks of the city were cordoned off to the public. By the broad light of day, the streets are empty both of people as well as robotic sentries, although every now and then you can find sear marks, bullet holes, and graffiti explicit in its message warning people away from the murderous machines that haunt New York City when the sun goes down.

The day is muggy, both inside the derelict buildings and out, with cloud cover coming down like a pot lid to set the air to a damp simmer. It doesn't quite make the shadows long, but the late afternoon is working hard at that anyway, turning things to golden light glancing off the decimated front of the independent cinema that used to be. Spiderweb cracks shimmer along the windows that are still intact, and the doors yawn wide to anyone and anything that wants to pass through them, including looters over the past few years, stray cats, and in this case, DoEA agents. At least two of them, although this can multiply at a moment's notice just by virtue of the power that Eli has, let alone should anyone be.


There's a movie screening here for the first time since it was closed by virtue of disaster. It's a silent film, kind of arty, with a Bourne-style steady camera of elusive night vision, heat vision, whatever vision permits people to see the dark of night. Two Elis prowl around the room, kept dim but not completely dark thanks to doors thrown open and torchlights, while the one doing the talking— only sometimes the Prime clone— has found a seat for himself, legs kicked up. He took the time out of his day to provide the digital projector currently spilling over stained screen — he should be able to enjoy himself.

"My favourite part is coming up," he tells his movie-going partner, Jane. The New York street projected upon the screen shifts in the lurching yet smooth motion of something walking, bringing into frame the figure of someone up ahead running as if the devil were chasing him. Or whatever happens to be holding the camera, as it smoothly picks up pace with the gradual lurch of machinery. "It probably clocks in around thirty, forty miles an hour. The hunterbots, anyway." It's certainly gaining on the frightened figure coming up in its steady race, not looking to overtake.

The view shifts as the machine leaps, crumpling human body beneath it like paper in blurry close up.

And Jane without her popcorn, a shame. But she sits next to the more talkative of the clones, far less disturbed by him this time around. After all, she got an invitation this time, instead of an ambush. Her feet are up on the seat in front of her, her head tilted slightly as she watches the screen.

"This would be your favorite part," she says with a hint of a tease there. Only a hint because this is not exactly her favorite part, as she seems to be watching with a rather blank look. "Fast enough for most people. I would say this is a great horror flick, if only it were, huh?"


Though it's difficult to tell exactly what is happening, with the lens up this close and the victim reduced to a blur and moving parts, something does. Because it goes still and grainy, after a while, the shape of an arm splayed against the road, unconscious or worse. It cuts away, resumes back to a different street, a different block, a different victim being mowed down. "This was pieced together for identification purposes, as far as I can make out," Eli explains. "I found it in the Institute records, although they've been cut off for the last few months. Before that, the Institute let Mayes use the arcology as a place for dirty laundry until it could get mandated.

"This got distributed to some of the agents in your Department, some of the agents that dealt with these guys left alive, but I have logs of Mayes getting copies for herself. Could be something you want to look— ooh," is a self-interruption when a victim is made into a jerking, collapsing puppet under fire of machine guns from behind the camera.

Jane listens, nodding here and there and taking mental notes, although times being what they are, keeping secrets in your head is hardly as safe as it once was. But as he cuts himself off, she looks away from the screen and toward him, leaning away a little as if trying to take all of him in.

"You're a very strange man, Eli. All of you. You must throw the most interesting parties." And with a smirk and a shake of her head, she looks back to the screen. "I want copies. This, the logs, the dirty laundry. If we can arrange that?" But then, she looks back to him again, "What changed in the last few months?"

He only nods, once. Logistics and drops off can be nutted out later, maybe when the movie is over and the credits roll — that's the easy part. Eli glances to Jane in a more fleeting version of her observation of him, beefy arms folded relaxed across his chest as the other two of him continue their casual prowl, extra sets of eyes around the room. "The Institute started calling some weird shots — they stopped cooperating. Sending out their FRONTLINE unit on errands that never went written down, taking people in detainment without notice— I read somewhere that you're familiar with that experience.

"They don't know who's in charge anymore, is what it comes down to, and I guess the Department is trying to decide whether it wants to cut it loose or keep milking its resources. So it's been in stale mate, and both places have been more precious about keeping their shit under lock from one another. I can get you the stuff, probably as soon as tomorrow morning."

"Familiar is one way to put it. They grabbed a suspect of mine in the middle of questioning him. Not to mention they tazed me, can you believe that? They're lucky they did, though. I always carry a gun." Jane can't help but chuckle a little as he explains. "Well, that is a pickle, isn't it? Hard to run anything without a chain of command somewhere. I think it's probably a good start to get the secrets passed over. Might make the choice between cut and run or take responsibility for a little easier."

There's a bit of a pause there, as she glances back to the screen. "Or harder, come to think of it." His last words get s grin, though, and she nudges him with a shoulder. "You have a way with gifts."

"Well jeeze, Pak, I'm just tryin' to help the revolution and maybe get into your pants, not be shown to your parents," is countered once Eli allows himself to rock a little exaggerated beneath shoulder nudge. "And yeah, I can believe they tazed you. They dragged Gibbs all the way to Alaska. But before you start throwing stones, you need to look at the people who give you orders every day," another nod to the moving images, playing out beyond his feet remaining criss-crossed atop the chair back in front of him, "which is why I'm here and talking to you in the first place."

"Ah, but wouldn't the other ones get jealous?" Jane gestures around to where the other two are patrolling. But there's a blink before she looks back to the screen again. "Alaska? Jesus. Overkill, much? And hey," she says with a point toward the screen, "That's what I've been doing! I mean, you expect a little government corruption now and then, a batch of crooked politicians getting busted with hookers and blow. But this?" She whistles there, a long, sharp sound with a hint of ironic wryness.

One of the clones shoots a smirk her away over his shoulder, having heard that despite distance. It isn't a pleasant smile, particularly, but pleasant and affable expressions don't sit well on Eli's face as a general rule.

"You could probably use your sources to find anyone they've brought in with these things," Eli the Spokesperson adds, settled back into his seat and tilting his attention back to the screen, the violence playing out on it, dust whorling through the projecting light of the image. "And you won't have to look too hard. There's your Evo village in your backyard, on Staten Island, and there's Delaware penitentiary. Probably a few people in arcology custody, but you probably won't have a shot at them these days.

"Although, you should know that not all contact is cut off. When I was browsing through her logs, I saw she took a trip up to Boston some few months ago, around when the non-Evo virus was getting some press. A couple of others did the same thing — including Vice-President Mitchell, under a code name, but mostly a few government agents New York-side, all of 'em non-Evo. Though not Raymond, obviously." He doesn't state plainly where he's going with that. He wants to see if she can connect the dots.

Cleanly out of Primary Eli's line of sight and in the periphery of Jane's, Vincent flushes quietly into a murky existence two rows back and one aside. His feet are up, like hers, sooty black suit and unforgiving expression cast tell-tale in shadows blocked in familiar around his face. There is a handgun poised flush alongside his near knee, polite enough not to be conspicuous.

Whether or not he's noticed by other marauding Elis doesn't seem to concern him greatly, in that dickish way people with intangible-like abilities can have.

"You mean the new relocation center?" Jane asks with just a little too much sincerity. She's not fooled. Not these days. But as he goes on, she stares for just a moment before shaking her head again. "A little group trip for some Vitamin C, huh? That is cold, using a guy's wife to get yourself immune, but not him. A little like shooting him with his own gun. Not to mention they left me out, which means no Christmas presents for them this year."

She trails off a bit with that bit of unexpected movement and she turns her head just a little that way, enough that Vincent can see the smirk before she turns back to Eli. "Uh oh," she says in a jovial enough tone to allay suspicion, should it come up, "My husband's found us."

"They did taze your ass," is what Eli says, the last thing to say before his clones are moving into action, before Jane is drawing attention. One gets out a pistol with a thuggish sort of efficiency, the other simply going still like a hound waiting for its orders and squinting in curiousity. Eli Prime twists in his chair enough to see, his legs coming down off the chair and tension twisting up his spine.

It does come up. Suspicion, that is. Joviality or not.

In the flickering light of silent movie and the vague knifing in of daylight through the swung open doors, Eli won't immediately recognise Vincent even if he could — he simply gets to his feet, just as a fourth Eli simply appears into being just a few feet behind Vincent.

"Oh," says Vincent, in the intervening awkward pause after Eli's stood up and clones are on him like — drones. He doesn't get up, outwardly unruffled despite a roll of his wrist and associate gun that's more of a question or invitation than a threat. His brows hood: exaggerated apology. And/or bafflement. "Don't slow down on my account."

"Or isn't this the Apostates Anonymous meeting?" And then, kindly(?) to Jane: "I wasn't that drunk."

Jane lets out a sort of long suffering sigh as Eli reacts, but she just turns in her chair to cross her arms on the back of her row. "You sure about that? You were pretty loopy." But there's a glance up to the Eli behind Vincent and she points toward the newcomer. "Thing One, meet Thing Two." Eli gets to be Thing One because… there's more of him. "And please no fighting. I can't stand it when men fight with their shirts still on. You're a little late for the movie," she notes to Vincent, "You missed all the build up and intrigue. How'd you know we were here?"

"You were followed," is both irritation and accusation from Eli — it comes from the one who got to his feet, while four sets of eyes remain on Vincent, allowing him to look sidelong at Jane to signify that yes he's talking to her, and not one of himselves. Impossible that he'd be followed, maybe, and also he doesn't know this guy. Or he doesn't, for a good two more seconds before the one with the gun trained on Vincent reports, "Looks like it could be. Lazzaro, right? How many days since you last committed treason?"

Eli Prime seems to have skipped a sense of humour for the moment, suspicion and aggression both folding into each other and replaced with a benign wariness.

"You were followed," Vincent echoes and acknowledges with a put-upon glance, tolerance for Eli's circling accusation forced at best. Meanwhile his, "Sorry." is as concretely unapologetic as she might have predicted and he's still holding fast to his firearm, ears laid back flat in the look he levels back at her leading Eli.

"I got a little on me listening to you two. Back to zero."

"Yeah, well, it seems to be the thing to do lately," Jane says with a glance up to the spokesman, "I haven't felt this popular since I discovered short shorts when I was sixteen." She stands up there, too, taking a moment to straighten her crisp suit vest. Pin stripes. She must have come from work. "He's got a point there, Eli, I'm not sure 'treason' is a particularly rare trait in this room at the moment."

Eli is under the illusion he is in control of things. It's an attractive place to be, perhaps why he is even here. He gives The Nod to the himself holding the gun towards Vincent, and the gun lowers under the command of the greater of the Elis. The other leans against the wall. The one that materialised most recently also offers some space, creaking steps down the chair aisle to find a place to sit with a rise of dust from disused furniture. The speaker of the little group of clones moves to lean against the seat that had been in front of him prior, arms back to folding, and the movie playing out behind him, a door butted in with steel feline-robot head, the glimpse of a sentry robot blurring by before the interior of desolate building consumes the view.

It gets repetitive, after a while. "Anything catch your interest, chief?"

Having had plenty of time to atrophy from the idea or illusion that he is in control of anything, Vincent "Chief" Lazzaro stays where he is and stews. It is very hard not to have an attitude. Which is probably why he doesn't quite manage it. Or put his gun away.

"Boston," he says, at length.

Then he looks at Jane's vest. He agrees that it is a nice vest. Also there are boobs in it.

"If he gets to be chief, then I get to be Master Chief, just putting that out there." Jane lifts an eyebrow at that one word answer, unsurprised but a bit amused, maybe. "A fan of the clam chowder or the cream pie?"

She doesn't seem to notice, or maybe doesn't mind, the look to her vest. After all, she knows there are boobs in there and she's aware of the fact that she's the only one in the room with a pair. And given the talents of her cohorts, she'll take what advantages she can get. "How long have you been listening? You could have just asked to come along, you know."

"Cambridge. Home of the Commonwealth Institute. And the Arcology underneath it."

Deciding he is, perhaps, in good company, Eli's guard is lowered less symbolically than simply angling his gun away. "It's the Institute's mega-facility. Could probably survive a holocaust if it wanted to. A lot of research goes on, and though I haven't seen her for myself, it's where they keep— " He hesitates, on that one, not all the way trusting to state things as plain as the daylight outside.

The clone off to the left fills in for him. "Miss Vitamin C."

Vincent is in a relationship. Or something. Maybe. Kind of. He looks and that's about it, distraction lasting for as long as it takes Eli to start sketching in details. "How am I supposed to know whether or not your other contacts are reputable? I mean." Lazzaro knits his brows, looking at Eli without actually. Looking. Like. Have you actually looked at this guy?

It's not very subtle.

Not that he looks as slick as he'd like to himself, shadowed eyes on their way into a sink and carefully tended stubble field overgrown. Terrorists spend less time checking themselves out in reflective surfaces.

"Okay." He rubs at his eye, passive aggression temporarily abandoned in favor of responsibility. Better late than never. "Is that the most specific information you have?"

"You should just assume they're all as reputable as you are," Jane says, not in an insulting way, but she calls it like she sees it. "He likes sneaking around, too." But, she doesn't seem to mind the look either of them are sporting at the moment, but she's used to roughing it. Military men. Deserts. Sweat. Dirt. Etc. She turns to Eli Prime at Vincent's question, though, because she'd like an answer herself. And maybe a little more. "And are you in a position to be able to find out more?"

His chin lifts once attention is squared back on Prime-self, the Eli that had materialised near Vincent now all the way out into the aisle and headed for the doors, to see what there is to see. As if maybe Lazzaro had brought with him a squad of cop cars and a black van lurking quietly outside, or maybe just checking to see if smoggy weather had given in to rain yet.

"I haven't had the honour of meeting her in person, but I've been in the same building. Overseen some security. I know the systems. So yeah," and Eli swings gaze back to Jane just beside him, body language still open to the unexpected third party in the conversation. "I can find out more. But the more I dig, the sooner I'm going to split and go my own way. People don't dance this line for real long and live through it."

"'Reputable,' was probably the wrong word," Vincent concedes lowly and mainly to himself. To Jane if she's listening for it. He is relaxing in shades and degrees, wear and tear in the stiffness about him when he stretches at the prop of his legs. His gun is still there, but he isn't pointing it at anybody.

He manages to look only slightly skeptical at the idea of anyone allowing 'Eli' to 'oversee' some 'security.'

He doesn't make a specific request, though. He slides his eyes back over onto Jane instead.

"I guess the next question would be if you're willing to risk it," Jane says as she leans against the seatbacks behind her, her arms folding loosely. "I think there's a general desire to get Miss Vitamin C somewhere less… there." She glances over to Vincent, a crooked smile telling as to whether or not she heard, since she opts not to comment. "But to pull that off, you'd have to find out what's going on there," she says, continuing on to Eli. "What any potential rescuer would be getting themselves into."

It's good for the conversation that Eli's people-reading capabilities have a minimal vocabulary to work with, and the ridges and definitions of skepticism and to what drift on by, what with more regard turned to Pak's profile in the first place. "Three underground tiers," he says, after a moment's hesitation. "Multiple sub-basement railroad accessways. Ongoing construction on the lowest tier, and the one just up from that is where they keep the warm bodies like the lady. The next up are dormitories, recreation and social facilities. It's easier to break in than it is to break out.

"In theory. No one's tried. If I'm willing to risk it depends on whether you people will act on that," and he points again for the digital reel of robot destruction.

That is at least three underground tiers too many for ease of mind. Vincent exhales slowly, dark eyes scanning elsewhere. Aside. Up. Cobwebs suspendend in dusty swaths from the ceiling, like curtains.

"We're all working for the same side," he says, once his mind has settled again. "I'm not pursuing this as a personal favor for Raymond."

"Neither am I. Although, I am pursuing it to get his attention. I think being able to convince him will be the thing that tips the scales. So that," Jane says with a wave back to the screen, "doesn't get ignored. That's why I need the dirty laundry. And to be able to prove that Mayes knows about his wife. Uses her."

She turns then, which gives them both a view of the gun she has at her back, the shape unmistakable even under her vest, but her attention goes to the screen. "This isn't what I signed up for," she mutters, almost to herself there. For her, this is personal.

Like lights shorting out one by one, the clones cease to exist. The one at the door turns back one last time before vanishing, just as the moving pictures playing out and reflecting off Jane's corneas cuts out into grey-stained blankness, throwing the cinema into further dimness. Then, the clone off thataway vanishes. The one off that other way—

Does not, gun still in hand, lowered though it may be, hooding his eyes a little as the spokesperson Eli vanishes as well from Jane's side without so much as a rustle of wind or bamfy sound effect. Eli Prime actual opens his jacket to put the weapon away, before scratching the stubbled underside of his chin with blunt nails and canine laziness.

Done, then. "I'll have the stuff for you tomorrow," he tells Jane, and then a glance to Vincent implies that more has been stacked onto that order, above and beyond dirty laundry.

When Elis begin to vanish and the film cuts short, Vincent tucks himself out of tangible existence as well, charcoal smudge and shadow left in the stead of his person.

When he reappears smokily at Jane's side, it's with at least a modicum of enhanced respect (or wariness) transparent in his unwillingness to resolve again just yet. Also in the look on his hazily holographic mug.

"We'll be okay."

Jane throws the leftover Eli a lazy, two-fingered salute, "You know where to find me. Apparently." She just can't resist one last bit of teasing.

Her attention turns to the intangible being as he reappears next to her, and gives that comment a wry smile and a brief, quiet laugh. Perhaps she's less convinced? But then, she is the one who's supposed to die sometime during all this. She looks back to the empty screen for a moment, hands resting on her hips.

"I need a drink."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License