Black Bird Friday


devi_icon.gif rue_icon.gif seren_icon.gif

Scene Title Black Bird Friday
Synopsis Spoiler: Rue passes a very important test. … Right?
Date November 29, 2019

Located in the northern part of the Sheepshead Bay, the immortal sea offers a lapping, timid and yet relentless, resonance from somewhere nearby… until its interrupted by the banging, crashing, or booming that usually emanates from the nearby garage. Set into the crumbling brick structure that looks like one of many in this barely rehabilitated region are two large, rolling bay doors. The corrugated metal entrances are covered in vibrant colors of chaotic graffiti, the artwork framed by the copper-green patina of rust around the edges reads:

Anarchy Customs II

Just inside, the large garage is home to many vehicles with varying numbers of wheels; parts in different states of dismantling, repair, reconstruction, or destruction; and some things that are simply unidentifiable in their current state. The walls are cluttered with various tools, mobbed further with stolen street signs and more untamed, fresh graffiti. The smell of oil clings to the air as eagerly as the grease stains spattered on the concrete floor.

A small, unassuming, black-painted door with an obvious deadbolt is set off in the back corner. No graffiti here, just a pristine white plastic plaque with red letters: Employees Only.

Baird's more excited than Seren by far as they and Rue both come up on the garage site, complete with its rainbow and black mural. He's the manifestation of everything potentially going right with this meeting, a raven with an oily spatter of technicolor across his pitch wings, and the legs of a grey-and-black tabby forming the other half of his griffin self. Cat ears are wide on top of his head, not the slightest bit of apprehension in his soul as he crows the sounds of a very particular motorcycle revving, all while barreling for the garage.

In return, Seren approaches slowly, arms crossed against the chill in their black Raytech jacket with its red pinstripes running shoulder to wrist. "So Ms. Devi can come off a little strong," they suddenly feel the need to warn Rue, possibly too late to escape. "But she just cares strongly about certain things and sees the world a bit differently than most." For all their concerns, they haven't turned back, though, even with Baird loudly announcing their approaching presence with his vrooms.

They've got a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers to deliver, because they're 95% certain Devi probably forgot to treat herself for the holiday.

Cares strongly about certain things. Rue smiles. “Like you?” She nudges her partner with her elbow gently, careful not to jostle the leftovers they carry, or the pumpkin pie in her own hands. Can’t have a Thanksgiving meal without the pie. “I can relate.”

Blue eyes follow Baird’s flight. She still hasn’t quite reconciled what Baird is, but Rue’s continually delighted by the creature in all his forms. “Don’t spoil the surprise, pal!” she calls ahead, as though the griffin might tell all their secrets ahead of them. Rue chuckles quietly, slowing her pace just a touch. Not necessarily out of nervousness, but to give Seren the chance to impart any last second warnings.

Crunch. Brrrrrjjjjjjjjj. Click. Tack.

One of the garage bay doors rolls up and snaps securely into place.

Baird’s siren song has called out to something inside. A lithe figure stands in the center of the bay, adorned in skinny overalls bearing an oil-and-grease version of Pollock art. The person’s expression… rather, their whole head is disguised by a thick black welder’s mask. It’s not just a fashion statement, a welders torch held off to the side in blue polish-tipped fingers left to sputter out.

Slowly, the welding mask tips to the left. A naturally husky voice is grated through the face shield. “… Offerings?”

Seren's humor returns in an instant, a grin and an amused snort at what's either Devi's confusion or her attempt at a joke. "That would imply I want something out of you, wouldn't it?" they tease as they approach, shoulder to shoulder with Rue. They unfold their arms, waving with their free hand.

"Did you work straight through the holiday or pause to eat at any point?" Seren asks, gesturing gently with the sturdy, saran-wrapped plate. "That's what these days off were supposed to be for, Ms. Devi."

Baird abruptly swoops down from his hiding spot off to Devi's side, wingspan unfurling to make himself quite visible. Peek-a-boo! Tabby paws bat playfully at the biker's forearm as he begins to make a loop around her form, oblivious of the potential danger of the torch while it sputters out.

Seren's not, though. Their smile loses some of its sincerity out of concern for him. It'd be nice if occasionally he showed any sense of self-preservation. "I did want to introduce you to someone, though!" they add in a cheerful pip, lifting their voice to hopefully provide some distraction from Baird.

That’s her cue. “Hi,” Seren’s companion greets, shifting the pie to balance in one hand as she raises the other in a wave. “Rue Lancaster,” she offers with a genuine smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Devi.”

Placing both hands under the pie plate again, she hefts it up just a little. “No offerings, just gifts,” she beams. Something about being around Seren brings out the cheery side of Rue that she thought died during the Civil War. “Baird!” One shoulder lifts in an indication that the perch is available. “C’mere, you scamp. You’re gonna singe your wings.”

Something about being around Seren brings the cheery side out of everyone. It’s their secondary ability. Or contagion…

Devi flips up the face shield, revealing a pale visage done up in equal measures makeup, smudging, and tattoos. She spares enough time for a wink at the bipedal creatures but turns her attention to the most important visitor in prompt order. “Well, get a load of you, ya Handsome Devil!” The biker bitch’s face might good and truly break for the bright nature of her smile. She holds up a hand, curling in tatted fingers, and presents the flat of her knuckles up towards one of Baird’s tiny tabby paws. Fist bump!

The dark femme swivels her shield-shaded countenance back onto the young food-bearers. “Everybody wants somethin’, Little Bird. Some people are just greedier than others.” The devilish tilt of her grin lightens the statement into more a tease than a life lesson, and yet… her gaze turns over the exuberantly announced, one Rue Lancaster, just so. With a bob of her brows and a nudge of her head, she invites the group inside.

“Oh shit, hey - is that why the building was empty yesterday? I think I broke the ‘smart’ coffee pot…” As always with Devi, it’s a mystery as to what day of the week she’s even firing on. “Anyway, it’s not work if you love it.” The torch is discarded, along with the mask, tangled dark locks shaken out as the garage door closes behind them.

The garage is orderly aside from the occasional empty beer bottle, a blanket on the sofa, and a large egg-shaped something under a blue cover on the work bench. A small gesture welcomes the visitors to make themselves at home as Devi makes for a small cooler. “What brings ya and whatdja bring?”

"Food, and food," Seren chides Devi knowingly, wandering closer to the workbench to set down the plate on it. "No turkey, but we did make some bird. It might taste like chicken." They snicker at their own joke, reveling in their terrible sense of humor. "Potatoes, corn, greens… Rue made sure to bring pie, though." Their attention catches on the covering on the workbench for a moment before they turn away.

Baird's paws bat at Devi's knuckles, the fantastic beast trilling happily before pushing away to sweep through the air back in Rue's direction. With a tilt, he circles around to alight almost weightlessly on her shoulder, beak clicking at Devi. Biker Mom, this one's good, okay?

Seren turns back, brow knitting. "Wait," they laugh, the kind someone makes when they're not sure what they've heard but hopefully it's a lighthearted topic. "What happened with the coffee maker?"

If it's the one at work, there might be blood spilled.

The pie is settled down on the bench next to the plate of food. Rue slips her hands into the pockets of her long navy trenchcoat as she meanders her way deeper into the garage, admiring the space. She tips her head affectionately toward Baird on her shoulder. Her brain supplies a sensation of weight where there isn’t one, because it’s what she expects. Maybe her belief makes him more real?

“Oh, please film Mister Ray’s reaction for me,” the redhead grins, then reconsiders. “No, wait, scratch that. I want Mrs. Lang’s reaction. That woman will probably screech like a pterodactyl.” And it will be hi-larious. This is how they will all bond.

“I’m not above eating pigeon.” Devi pops up from the cooler with a beer and opener in hand. The top tick-tacks as it falls back into the ice chest before Devi’s boot sliiiides the cooler out a hair in wordless offering. Dark eyes follow Rue, pupils dilating once but the effect is gone with a quick thickly lashed blink. “Hm? Oh… Well, clearly a design flaw - programming and water. Or, it could’ve been my trying to disarm it. That little button looked suspiciously like a bomb.” The timer button. It was the timer button. This is what happens to those that have worked too closely with Warren…

Her gaze darts back to Rue. “You know Too-… the people ‘round the office then? Enough to keep with the dino-theme, even. What’s that ‘bout?”

Seren's concern for whatever tragic fate has clearly befallen the office coffee maker is muted by the rest of the conversation continuing on, even though images of neatly and not-so-neatly disassembled machines dance behind their eyes. A distressed tone passes from them, but nothing else. When it comes back around to how Rue knows Raytech…

"Rue works with Wolfhound. They're … partners?—" Seren looks back to Rue for confirmation about use of that particular term. "Of Raytech's. They use a number of Raytech inventions, if I'm remembering right." Baird leans his head back into Rue's, just a brush of his birdlike head before he's peering off, almost back behind Rue.

Right at the egglike object on the workshop table.

“That’s right,” Rue confirms of the relationship between Raytech and Wolfhound. “I stop by the office every now and again to give Mister Ray a hard time. I mean, usually I’m providing feedback on a prototype or suggesting tweaks for our new run of equipment, but really, I’m there to give him shit.”

With a grin, the redhead takes the unspoken invitation to dig a beer out of the cooler, popping it open and then holding it out to Seren with brows raised in question. Want it?

Devi tips her head to one side - pop - and then the other - snap. She raises a brow as her gaze flits from Seren to Rue. “Shit flows downhill. Someone’s gotta make your tweaks.” Ahem. Yet, Devi’s grin brightens just a hair further. Maybe a hair too far. “So then, how was your, uh-…” The biker leans over a plate of food, beer half-raised to her lips. Bird, right. “…-Thanksgiving?” She didn’t miss Christmas. A quick glance is spared to the shrouded egg-shaped mystery on the bench. Good.

Catching the nosey, albeit curious, little leaning of Baird’s attention, Devi make a little clicking of her tongue on the roof of her mouth. She raises a hand and tick-tock wags a finger at the mischievous little critter before turning her attention back on the others.

Baird's head whips back around at the clicking in his direction, a rumbling animal noise sounding in his chest. But he's curious, dammit.

Seren smiles to Rue, shaking their head at the offer for the beer. They'll give it a minute, or maybe wait until much later. They're trying to make a good impression! Well, help make Rue make a good impression? Potential rampant ability use not ideal for that.

"It was good!" Seren says with a smile. "Bella and Baird and Orchid and me had a good time. I brought some cranberry sauce and fresh bread, we figured out the bird between all of us… good, wholesome American experience."

Wiggling their nose, they fix Devi with a more mischievous look. "Bet I could have convinced you it was Easter dinner instead, though." Seren tips their head up curiously. "What're you working on that has you forgetting the day of the week again?"

“Or the month or the year?” Rue smirks faintly and takes a sip of her beer. She affectionately ruffles Baird’s feathers, following the little creature’s gaze toward the egg shape. She’d be lying if she said she hadn’t noticed it sooner, and further still to say she wasn’t curious about what it might be.

“You look like you know how to keep busy.” Which is something Rue can definitely appreciate. “Hope it’s something fun Ray’s got you working on.” Her understanding of science and science-related projects is that it’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.

“Wholesome American experience,” Devi echoes in a husky tone. Her lips purse off to one side in a failed attempt to smother a more sincere, perhaps even nostalgic, smile. Dark eyes slide from Seren back to Rue, a quick lift of her chin banishing a few sharp lines of black hair from her tattooed temple. “Time is relative.” Slowly her features work up into a squint. And then a full on scrunch. “I think?” With a sudden bob of her shoulders, her features spring back to smooth contours of ink and snow.

“Raytech? Oh, naw. Nothing as fancy as all that.” It can’t be helped - now they’re all eyeing the mysterious egg-shroud now. “A passion project. Don’t get me wrong, chicky - money’s a good motivator. But, doin’ somethin’ to protect someone you care ‘bout - well, that can make any project fun.” Rue once more is the focus of those onyx eyes as a twitch tucks up one corner of the biker bitch’s painted lips. After a slight pause, it’s just as easy to make the slight adjustment where her gaze takes in Baird on the other woman’s shoulder. “That’s right. It’s for you and Little Bird. So no peekin’.”

“Baird would never,” Seren says all too severely. So seriously, in fact, it might be a dare, because Baird’s response is to immediately leap from his perch in a scramble that feels like it tousles Rue’s hair as he leaps off of her shoulder. Tabby paws slide on the countertop where the draped egg object lies, a futile attempt immediately made to bat its cover away.

The human responsible for said imaginary creature stills for a moment in shock at him. “Baird would never,” they repeat, a little more sternly. The raven-cat stills, one paw held up midbat with a challenging stare leveled in Seren’s direction. Their brow arches just a little bit higher at him in return.


Baird viciously raises his paw a little bit higher. He holds it there.


Seren blinks and looks over to Devi apologetically. There’s no words for her at the moment, only bewilderment in their gaze. Baird swipes down explosively at the seemingly-immutable cover over the egglike object, paw phasing right through without a care in the world for how it showcases his own object impermanence.

“I can get behind that,” Rue says if Devi’s passion project, regardless of her ignorance as to what it actually is. If it’s meant to help people, then it’s noble enough in her eyes.

When Baird makes his leap, Rue instinctively smooths a hand over her hair to brush it back into place, even if it wasn’t actually ruffled physically. “Buddy,” she chides with a breath of laughter. “You gotta listen to the boss,” she tells him, stepping forward and holding out her arm toward the chimera again. “C’mon. No Devi’s eggs for you. Not until she’s willing to share.”

“Feisty!” This with the UTMOST approval!

Devi prowls across the garage, her husky chortle reverberating off the various angles and curves of metal scattered throughout. “Dat’ah boy.” She gives Seren a supportive pat on the back in passing as she sliiides up to the workbench in question. “What’s that then? No patience?” She takes a sip from her beer with one hand, the other pinching the corner of the blue cover. A dark side-eye shoots over to Seren and company again.

“Me neither.”

Working in the same direction of Baird’s swipey little gesture, a tug pulls the covering away as if the little inspiration had done it himself. Beneath is a small egg shaped vessel. About the size of a small backpack, two-thirds of the container is made up over overlaying plates like metal scales, but painstakingly detailed with the subtlest etches of feathering texture. The top is some sort of clear safety glass with a tinted pearlescent quality. The contours of the bottom of the vessel would be very familiar to one of the Mantis’s most crucial designers - surely Seren can see how the magnetic underside would afix just so to one of their four-wheeled motorbikes.

“It’s a Baird Basket,” Devi comments matter of factly with a low whistle across the lip of her beer bottle.

It's a Baird Basket.

An intake of breath brings Seren's whole form to lift, shoulders arching, hands clasping before them. "Oh my god, it's a—" they whisper, in complete wonder at the sweet gesture.

Baird had fallen back on all fours when Devin approached, paws splayed while he peered intently at the cover … and now that it's gone he just can't believe it. His wings flare away from his side, iridescence catching in rainbow streaks while they spread to their full width. He jumps to the side, paws still splayed in his excitement. His head lifts just so while he gives off the sound of an engine purring, very pleased by these developments.

Yes, he'll take a throne just for himself, thank you very much.

"You're gonna spoil him, letting him act that awful and still get what he wants!— but oh my god, this is amazing." Seren enthuses, their voice soft and whisperlike. Their gaze sweeps to Devi instantly, a small smile visible above their clasped fingers. "We'll pretend to not have seen it and act just as surprised at Christmas, promise."

There’s a low whistle from Rue as the project is revealed. “Look at that,” she murmurs approvingly. She steps back rather than toward it, however, giving Seren and Baird the space to admire their present to their little hearts’ content.

“I have got to get me a Mantis,” she muses, crossing one arm over her midsection and resting her elbow against the opposite wrist, taking a sip from her beer as she appreciates from afar. “Do you think I can get a sidecar for my idiot partner?” Rue grins and tosses an aside to Seren. “He’s great. You’ll love him.”

Were she not so hardcore through and through, Baird and Seren’s reactions might well and truly melt Devi into a puddle of floaty hearts and coos. Thankfully she doesn’t - this garage couldn’t handle any more cute without setting off some self destruct function… As it is, her grin is unbridled. “It’s collapsable, sizeable, and makes a damn cool backpack. Dent-proof. Scratch resistant. Bulletproof.” So, maybe there’s a bit of guilt here about that time she nearly killed Baird, but it’s still a gift from the heart. “I look forward to gettin’ to see this reaction all over again-” SNAP. A twitch sails the cover back into place and she bobs her brows at Baird before turning a wink on Seren. “…-When it’s properly finished.”

With that, Devi settles her rear against the bench, sets down her beer, and pulls up the plate of food. She peels back the foil wrap and picks out a few cold green-beans with her fingers as she settles in now to watch Rue and Seren’s interaction with a subtle interest.

As Devi goes down through the laundry list of qualities the Baird Basket possesses, Seren can't help but grin, albeit reservedly. "Very practical," they remark ever-so-seriously, but how happy they are still twinkles in their eye. Their arms come to a fold again before them, almost like a hug. They sway, swiveling on one heel to look back at Rue. Baird's curiosity sufficiently satisfied for the moment, he pads to the edge of the table and leaps —

Reclaiming his perch on Rue rather than Seren. The tabby-raven lets out a more birdlike purr as he clings to the back of Rue's shoulder, quite content as he rubs his face against the side of her neck. He's getting just absolutely everything he wants today, the scoundrel.

Seren can't even tsk at him at the moment. The reveal had been worth it. Now on to other things: "Are you sure?" they ask with a dubious arch of an eyebrow. "I think my track record with idiots is a little iffy. But if you have to put up with him every day, I can do my best. When do I meet him?"

“That is really cool,” Rue makes sure she compliments Devi’s work as Baird takes up in his perch on her shoulder again. She reaches up to ruffle his feathers affectionately, turning her cheek against his nuzzling head for a moment.

The redhead grins toothily at her partner, pleased with their commentary. “The Christmas party, I expect. I don’t think he’d pass up a chance to get some free beer.” Her grin fades a bit, but not the mischief that came with it. “He took a bullet for me once. I think you’ll get along fine.” Rue’s daily life, it seems, differs quite a bit from most other people’s.

Devi grins around a few droopy green bean sticks sticking out at awkward angles. Chomp chomp. The biker continues to pick under the little foil dome, pinching up samples of this and that till one cheek is swollen like a greedy chipmunk’s. Gulp. She swallows hungrily, grabbing her beer and making a swift gesture at Rue. But stops… Her gaze narrows. “Well shit.” She takes a deep breath that turns into a resigned sigh, letting her dark eyes slide towards Seren. “Somebody took a bullet for her. Is there really a better measure of a person’s worth?” The biker tips her beer towards Rue in salute and drinks deeply. A seal of approval. For now.

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