eliot_icon.gif goodman_icon.gif zoe_icon.gif

Scene Title Arisen
Synopsis Zoe Porter and Eliot Ford discover the fourth and second to last Brill Painting, and receive a tip about the last…
Date March 13, 2009

Bronx, Warehouse Nihil

Friday, March 13th.

With the weather having taken a turn towards seasonably warm over the last week, it has afforded this auspicious evening a rather fitting meteorological accompanyment — rain. Rain hammers New York City, as it has for the last day and a half, and while the weather is warm enough to prevent this precipitation from becoming snow, it is still cold and uninviting. At the very least, though, one can appreciate the certain dramatic flair that the heavy downpour gives to the urban decay that passes through tinted windows approaching an old, red-brick warehouse situated on the East River.

Warehouse Nihil.

That is what this place is called, in most social circles. Publicly it is the Numeat Packing Plant, though the company originally owning this facility went out of business nearlt two decades ago, it still retains their avant garde signage depicting a smiling and freckled, red-haired boy holding up a sausage link on a fork. Now faded and peeling, the sign blends in to the other signs of entropy in this region of the Bronx's waterfront district.

Tonight though, as is with once every month, this abandoned packing warehouse takes on a life of its own, something pulsating, something throbbing; not the urban beat that runs through the arteries of New York City, but rather the pounding rythm of a drug-filled rave that serves as a cover for high-class stolen goods being fenced through Manhattan.

Discrete parking off of the street shadows the visitors of this five story brick building from the glow of distant street lights. Black paint thickly layered over the tall warehouse windows blocks out the flash of neon lights on the interior of the structure, save for slivers of neon colors through scratches in the enamel.

Only one man standing beneath a matte black awning above a single nondescript door give any indication that this place is anything other than abandoned to those not knowing what to look for.

On this rainy, Friday the 13th, Zoe Porter and Eliot Ford know what they're looking for.

Eliot's car, a black Bentley with tinted windows and brand new polish stops just in front of the wearhouse. He glances over at his passenger, and smiles a bit, taking the umbrella and stepping out of the car. He pops it open, and walks around the vehicle to open Zoe's door, holding the umbrella out for her.

Zoe let Eliot dress her for this, and it's not that he made her look like a fool. Far from it. The satiny purple cheomsang shirt suits her well, the mandarin collar tight at the throat, capsleeves leaving arms, and more importantly, hands, bare. He actually had little problem convincing her to wear that. The black leather pants that are just a bit…snug? Yeah, that took some convincing. But she managed to argue her way out of the come-fuck-me-stilletos, because not even Eliot's massive capabilities of persuasion are going to convince Zoe to torture her feet like that.

Zoe feels like an alien, or like she's in come kind of Halloween costume. Her coat s worn over the outfit, the only evidence that she might be out for a night on the town the fact that she's wearing makeup and has her hair pulled up, fitted with slim, lacquered chopsticks.

She does the smart thing, at this juncture. She keeps her mouth shut, and tries not to look like she's completely over her head. "Thank you." she murmurs, as she steps under the umbrella, and peers at the structure in front of them. She does not ask questions. They'll be answered soon enough.

Eliot is dressed a but more demure, but that's possibly because it looks better on him than something flashy. A pair of faded, professionally cut jeans, and nick but worn shoes, along with a white polo shirt. He wraps his arm around her waist, and ushers her towards the door, keeping the umbrella over her head.

The rain hammers down on the umbrella, rolling off in thin sheets to the glistening and dark pavement on their way to the front door. Once beneath the awning, the man at the door takes a symbolic step to the side to block the closed door, holding out his hand expectantly without an exchange of words.

All of Zoe's research into this place and this auction informs Eliot's hand, which slips a small wad of bills into the doorman's palm. He affords Eliot a friendly, perhaps too much so, knocking three times on rapid succession on the door before moving aside. The old and rusted door swings open with a creak of hinges, and the moment that old portal has opened, the booming bass of electronic music the likes of which rattle the walls of Rapture on a nightly basis pours out from inside. Beyond the door, only darkly painted walls of peeling paint flanking a concrete ramp that travels up towards the neon blue glow of blacklights, and the flickering flashes of green lasers, and somewhere in that vibrant glow, an undulating sea of dancing, sweat-slicked bodies.

…and somewhere beyond there, what they're here for.

Zoe looks at his clothes, looks at herself. Can't help but grimace. "You made me go through all this trouble so you could dress like that?" she hisses indignantly. She blinks several times - god, she hates her contact lenses. Still, she keeps a pleasant enough expression on her face and - oh god, so many people. She tenses faintly as keeps her hand on Eliot's arm and does her best not to look overwhelmed. Try and pretend it's a benefit, Zoe. There's always a few hundred people at those. But it's tuxes and evening gowns, not D-ringed leather pants and halter tops. What is she doing here?

"It's half style, half attitude, baby," Eliot tells Zoe with a smirk. He drops his hand and wraps it around her waist tightly, tugging her close. "I've got enough of the latter to slack on the former." She? Needs all of the former she can muster. It's not an insult; just fact. He kisses the top of her head and says, "Relax. Just a bunch of people dry-humping each other to oblivion. C'mon." He starts heading to where they need to go.

Down the hallway and into the dance floor, it becomes evident that the decour of the meat packing plant that once resided here was not all taken out. Large plastic curtains hang from steel runners on the ceiling, serving as semi-opaque walls blocking off sections of dance floor, giving grimy silhouettes of writhing bodies pressed back to front amidst the flickering and seizure-enducing flash of strobe, lasers and pulsing house lights.

…and you were there, and you were there, and you, and you…

Amidst the electronic beats, a sampled clip of Dorthy's speech from the end of The Wizard of Oz reverberates through the enormous warehouse floor. Zoe and Eliot's path takes them along what was once a shipping walkway leading them past closed bay doors and past several large crowds of dancers all glowing with blacklight reactive jewelry and light-sticks.

…and you were there, and you were there, and you, and you…

The line repeats, just as Eliot and Zoe part one of the slatted plastic curtains to step towards the far end of the warehouse floor, down a short flight of steps and towards the glowing Exit sign in the back, where a pair of men in buttoned leather coats stand with their hands folded behind their backs. Beyond that door, in the soundproofed back rooms, lies the auction where one of Daniel Linderman's stolen paintings lies in wait.

Auctions. These are things Zoe understands, and understands with considerable savvy. The problem? Getting past those doors. There is a faint pressure on Eliot's hand - she's fairly sure he's savvy to what needs to happen, they need to get past Cerebrus in the form of two thick-necked guards at the door. They could try strolling through - it may be that anyone who thinks they have the money can get in. But maybe not.

Eliot doesn't break stride, he heads down the stairs and walks right up to the two men, Zoe in tow. He looks up at them and tips his head, raising a brow. Well? Are they gonna open the door or not? He ain't got all day. "Here for the auction?" he asks, a bit exasperately, after a moment's pause. He's used to people wanting to please him; sounding disappointed usually works.

The two men at the door look Eliot and Zoe up and down, and while they didn't look entirely thrilled to be here when the two were on their approach, their attitudes seemed to lighten considerably once Eliot and Zoe arrived. One of the two doormen steps forward, managing a half smile, "Yeah sure, of course," his tone amiable and casual, as if he and Eliot had been friends for a few years. Who knows just how many connections he has around the city, maybe they are for all Zoe knows. Eliot, on the other hand, is well aware of why the man is all smiles and sunshine.

Beyond the doors is a small corridor designed to help filter out the sound, and another pair of doormen who wait until Zoe and Eliot are inside and the exterior doors closed, before opening the interior doors. The change of sound is almost immediate, while the blaring music beyond is but dull thumping in the corridor, it is all but faint tapping inside of the auction room.

"…sold to the gentleman in the bowler hat for one-hundred and seventy thousand!" The voice of the man handling the auction chimes out the moment Zoe and Eliot are allowed inside, past velvet ropes and into what looks like an attempt to legitimize black-market dealings. The auction floor is in another storage facility in the packing plant. While the Rave floor tried to look industrial, this room tries to look opulent. The floor is covered with worn red carpeting trimmed with white, and rows of folding seats are cordoned off by velvet ropes.

A stage at the far end of the room, beyond tall and paint-blackened windows currently contains a crumbling old statue some nine feet tall on a palette. The statue resembles a muscled man with broad shoulders and a sarong around his waist, however the head of this limestone statue is clearly that of a jackal — a free-standing statue of Anubis, the Egyptian God of Death.

"Our next piece up for auction…" As the well-dressed man at the podium next to the statue speaks, a tall and gaunt black man wearing a boler hat strides out from the rows of seating, shaking hands with one of the auction attendants. He looks up at the statue he just purchased, a thin smile coming over dark lips. "…is a rare painting done by a little-known artist named Thomas Brill. A painting of this man's work recently sold for sixty-seven thousand dollars to a private collector." The auctioneer motions to a cloth-covered painting behind him with one hand.

Zoe takes a look at some of the items for auction, some of which catch her interest. Her breathing becomes carefully measured - some of these items are so old that even with the control she's learned, an accidental brush will send her spinning into a trance. The Brill painting has only just been announced, and suddenly Zoe straightens, if anything she guides Eliot to a pair of seats, her expression vague and disinterested. It's like suddenly she's on comfortable ground. The change between meek and mild hide in the archive Zoe and Zoe Porter, curator and hisorian is pretty significant.

Eliot follows Zoe with a smirk, one hand around her waist and the other in his pocket. Once she led them to their seats, he takes it, and leans back, sliding his hand over the back of her chair. "So do we want this thing bought, or does Daniel just want it back, period?"

Reaching up to grab the sheet covering the four foot tall painting, the auctioneer yanks back the sheet, revealing what at first looks like a blot of black on a white canvas, though Zoe's eyes immediately recognize the painting. All but the edges of the unframed canvas are smothered with varying shades of gray and black, revealing in blurred detail the silhouette of a figure shrouded in what might be fog of smoke. The silhouette is backlit amidst the gray haze, one hand reaching out as if to grasp right off of the canvas itself. Snaking through the voluminous layers of gray are diaphanous black tendrils that seem to slither on the canvas. Zoe recognizes this one, indeed, as Thomas Brill's painting entitled, "Arisen."

"Painted in 1999, this oil on canvas painting by Thomas Brill will start with an opening bid at twenty thousand." Pale eyes scan out over the crowd, "Do I hear twenty thousand?" There's only a brief pause, and the auctioneer motions somewhere beyond where Zoe and Eliot sit, "Twenty thousand — I see twenty-five thousand — thirty thousand to the gentleman up front…"

People will buy anything, if given the right incentive.

The only betrayal of Zoe's confirmation that it is the painting they want is a soft intake of breath. "That's 'Arisen'." she murmurs. "He wants it back, and I'm authorized to bid on it if that'll get us what we want." Frowning a moment, a thought occurs to her. "Stay put." she orders(!) Eliot, rising from her seat to walk down the aisle. With surprising authority, she gestures in the direction of the auctions' handlers, who seem to know what to do. Two security men flank the piece and the bidding is paused, a woman hands Zoe a monocle. She bends to inspect it through the glass. A few long moments of silence pass. Zoe straightens, hands the monocle back. She turns her attention to the auctioneer.


And Zoe walks back to resume her seat next to Eliot, expression mild, thoughtful.

Eliot doesn't look put off that she ordered him to stay put. He just makes a note to get her back for it. Maybe a smack on the ass when she least expects it, or something. He grins at her when she comes back, and leans over to inform her that, "That was hot."

Beside Eliot where Eliot sits, a gentleman in a navy blue suit raises one hand quietly, and the auctioneer gestures towards him, "Forty-five thousand," it seems Zoe's bid has competition, but the other bidders for the painting have grown silent, leaving the auctioneer to question quietly, "Forty-five thousand going once…"

Every time her eyes fall on that painting, all Zoe can remember are the hazy recollections of a similar blackness in the back of her mind, a familiar darkness that — once she recognized it — never truly left the back of her thoughts, never left her memories of an ashen hand in a box delivered to her one cold autumn evening.

To her credit, her cheeks take on a pink tinge, but no more than that, and soon returns to normal as she turns her head to gaze at the competition, give him a bit of a size up. "Fifty thousand." she says as she considers the man, her mind rolling over that darkness.

Eliot tips over to Zoe and smiles. "Relax." He brushes his sleeves and looks over at the man who's fighting Zoe's bidding, leaning against the armrest of his seat. "Hi. My wife and I, we really love this painting. I'm not… I mean, I know it's wrong and a little unorthodox to ask something like this in the middle of an auction but I would be so. very. appreciative if you'd just let this one go?" He grins at the man. His charm doesn't just work on women, after all. Even if the old guy isn't gay, he'd still do anything for a long time beer buddy, which is what Eliot must be seeming like right now.

Cracking a smile, the old man beside Eliot adjusts his carnation red tie and gives the younger man a sidelong stare, "I— " he leans forward, looking to Zoe, offering her an amiable smile as the auctioneer calls a second time on Zoe's bid. His gray brows furrow together, "Quite a charmer isn't she?" The irony is completely lost on the old gent.

But "Fifty thousand going three times…" rouses the old man from his focus on Eliot, teeth worrying on his lower lip as he considers raising his hand, looking back and forth between Eliot and Zoe, his hand partially rising up as he breathes in a hissing breath through his teeth.

"Sold to the redhead in the fifth row." His breath hitches in his throat, looking back to the painting with wide eyes. Opening his mouth to say something, the man beside Eliot looks stunned, then slouches in his seat, turning focus back to the man beside him. "Well played," he notes with a faint smile, "well played. You deserve it."

Zoe is still considering the man. "Do I know you?" she asks curiously. "Have we met?" But then one of the security guards is coming up to inquire whether they want to pay now, or at end of auction. "Let's take care of it, shall we?" she looks at her husband with a smile. Yes, Zoe's very pleased, despite the fact that something about the painting really disturbs her.

Eliot tips his imaginary hat at the old guy and winks. "Maybe next time you'll dazzle me with your wife." Ha. Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahah. Eliot slides his arm around Zoe's waist and follows her.

There's a very faint shift of the old man's expression from amused to confused as Eliot rises up from his seat to follow Zoe. While the Linderman archivist is led towards the side of the platform, and another covered object for bidding is rolled out on stage, one of the previous auctioneers steps away from the statue he purchased, stepping partially in front of Zoe, one dark hand offered out towards her.

"Miss Porter, if I'm not mistaken?" He reaches up with his other hand, withdrawing his black hat to press against his chest, "it's a pleasure to see you here." It takes her a moment to recognize the face, but both she and Eliot seem to have the same dawning conclusion after a few moments — a man from the cover of Time Magazine just a year and a half back, a man featured in Pause magazine this month, a man who would have no business in an illegal auction of stolen property — Roger Goodman, public relations director of Biomere Incorporated.

"Might I have a moment of your time?"

Zoe is about to settle into dealing with account numbers and routing codes and transfers when - she and Eliot are approached. Turning her attention to the man, her eyes narrow faintly, and then she calmly slides her hand into his and shakes it. "Mr. Goodman? Biomere Incorporated. I attended one of your charity functions last season." Her expression is polite, and visibly curious. She gestures briefly, "Roger Goodman, Eliot Ford."

Eliot raises a brow as he spots Goodman and then offers his hand for a shake. "Nice to meet you. What can we do for you, Mr. Goodman?" Eliot tightens his area of influence, just in case.

"Mister Ford, I've heard many good things about you," has he? "I'm glad to see they're all true." There's an inclination of the tall man's cleanly shaven head, dark eyes lifting up to regard Zoe carefully. "That's a very peculiar and macabre piece you purchased tonight," he manages a crooked smile, "not that I'm much to talk," he adds, nodding his head towards the statue that is being slowly wheeled out of the room. "I just thought I'd pass along my best wishes to Daniel, he and I are old acquaintences, and it's good to see he hasn't changed after all these years."

It's hard to say whether that is a backhanded compliment, given the current surroundings, "…and," Roger quietly reaches into his jacket, withdrawing a folded piece of paper that he holds out towards Zoe, "if you're interested in this painting, you might be interested in that information as well. It's a time and date for a private auction on Staten Island for a painting by the same artist, entitled, "A Sound of Thunder."

Roger's brows rise as his lips creep up into the ghost of a smile, "I'm interested in something entirely separate there, but I figured if you're going after a collection," his head inclines, and he turns away from Zoe, smile turning into a grin, "you might as well get as many as you can."

Zoe accepts the card. "I…see." she says. "Thank you, Mr. Goodman. Your assistance is so kind. I'll be sure to pass on your greetings to my uncle." There's something sinister here of course, and Zoe can't see it, but she's not going to stand around all night scratching her head. She neither confirms nor denies their efforts to get all the paintings back, and instead murmurs, "Excuse me a moment." And thus abandoning Goodman to Eliot's tender mercies until the transaction is completed and delivery arranged.

Eliot's smile is wide and charming. He's just the kind of person you can trust, don't you know? Eliot wouldn't tell a soul. "So, Mr. Goodman: strange place to find you."

Roger's gaze lifts up to Eliot, a smile corssing his lips as he looks momentarially past the charming gentleman to the statue of Anubis being rolled out through a wide pair of double-doors towards the back lot. When his focus shifts back to Eliot, there's a lopsided quality to his smile. "Why yes," he notes with a nod of his head, beginning to walk in the direction the statue went, "it is…"

"Isn't it?"

Eliot dips his head in a nod at the man, and licks the inside of his bottom lip just a bit. That one's sinister. Like 'Dark City' sinister, not X-Men Sinister. Eliot watches him go, and then moves to join Zoe. One down, a whole bunch more to go. He pats Zoe on the butt stealthily. "G'job, baby." Dick.

March 13th: John vs John

Previously in this storyline…
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Next in this storyline…

March 13th: How Could We Not
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