Black's Gambit


alister_icon.gif chess_icon.gif

Scene Title Black's Gambit
Synopsis Alister tracks Chess down to ask for two things; he gets one of those, but with a caveat.
Date March 13, 2018

14th Regiment Armory, Park Slope

The tower that Chess is currently sitting in is only accessible from a long, winding stairwell — giving her plenty of time to hear anyone coming up the steps. The downside is she's basically got her back to the wall — there's only one way out. Even the windows here are too narrow to climb out — if she was willing to risk the five-story drop to the street below.

It's time to lay low for a few days, which means she's got a couple of bags worth of groceries and a jug of water sitting next to the bedroll she's currently lying on, using the light of a battery-powered lantern to read by. A small radio sits in front of the bedroll, playing quietly, at, tuned, of course, to WSRZ radio.

It could be said that Alister is surprisingly into getting his hands dirty these days, but tracking down Chess has been a step too far. He had a driver park not far from the Armory, and while in the car, changed from a suit to… ugh… a black hoodie… and jeans of all things, with a pair of… sneakers.

Nike sneakers.

But either way, he has a new gun that he keeps concealed, just in case. No more revolvers.

He had people who were familiar with this place explain how to get around, but that doesn't make him any happier about it.

Finally arriving at the room she's holed up in, he lowers his hood and clears his throat. "For someone with as distinctive a face as yours, you're surprisingly difficult to find. Please, excuse this…" he motions around to his outfit. "This."

He sounds as if the clothes have gravely insulted him.

The sound of feet coming up the stairwell has Chess up on her own feet before Alister's head comes into view when he reaches the top. She stands several feet away from the stairs but with a little room behind her so she isn't quite pinned in as she feels. One hand clutches a knife; the other, a tennis ball. It's an unlikely weapon, but then so was a barstool.

Her eyes narrow at him and she huffs a short laugh, though there's no amusement in her expression. "You should apologize, but not for what you're wearing. What the hell does that mean, as distinctive a face? And why are you stalking me?" Those questions are maybe not in order of importance.

"I bought an ocelot because I it is a shockingly lonely and dull experience when everyone under you fears you, and everyone that surrounds you wants something from you. The ocelot is an asshole, but it doesn't put up with me. I just wish it wouldn't destroy my furniture." Alister shrugs, and then quickly adds, "I should also apologize for creating a situation that forced you into hiding. But, here I am, to fix your problems."

And, to a particular question, he smiles. "What do I mean, indeed."

Chess' eyes widen slightly with that 'oh shit, this might be actually a deranged sociopath' sort of look, but she crooks her brow at the explanation for the ocelot purchase she didn't ask for. Alister's response at least eventually gets to the point. Sort of.

"Way to bury the lead, Jeeves," she says, relaxing a very little bit, though she doesn't release her grip on the blade or the ball. "You didn't force me into hiding. And I don't have a problem to fix, but that's super sweet of you to offer, and all. It's shocking that the ocelot doesn't put up with you."

"Well, all that aside, I'm here for two reasons. The first is that I want to hire you. I have people for muscle, that's not what I want you for. I want to hire you to be Sibyl's body guard. She's the adorable girl I'm educating." Alister slides his hands behind his back, starting to slowly walk around the room, looking at cracks in the wall, admiring the passage of time. "I've considered numerous people, but trust… that's difficult. You don't seem like the human trafficking type, so, trust seems like something I might be able to place in you."

Then, looking back at her. "The other reason is that I'd like to treat you to dinner. No rations, nothing like that. My chef will prepare a real meal for you."

Brows drawing together, Chess tips her head and keeps her distance from him; as he walks around the room, she turns with him, though when it means her back is to the stairwell, she glances down it for a moment to be sure there's still no one else with them. Not that she can be entirely sure.

"Yeah, I'm not the human trafficking sort," she says wryly. "That's really kind of you, but I'm not a babysitter. And I have work. I'm not here because I'm homeless."

Well, she is homeless but that's because she never put her name in for one and refuses to live at the Settler's Park.

"I can afford food," she says, glancing at the bags of groceries sitting on the ground. It might not qualify as a real meal, but there's some fresh fruit and bread poking out of the bags.

"I don't think you quite understood my intent." Alister stands still, perhaps interpreting the way her eyes follow him as nerves. This place is rather… this. "I want to treat you to dinner because I'd like to get to know you. Sometimes tells me that you aren't the sort to simply tell me what I want to hear, so that interests me as a starting point to treating you."

She stops when he stops; another glance is made toward the stairwell, then back to him. "Oh, I promise I won't tell you what you want to hear. I don't think I have yet," she says, turning the ball in her hand, perhaps for something to do. "Answer some questions first, and maybe I'll consider it." She's not above a free meal, but she's also not above making connections if she needs to. "First, who's that Sibyl kid and why are you taking care of her? She's not your daughter, I'm pretty sure of that. Two, why were those men trying to kill you?" She slips the ball into the pocket of her leather jacket. "Three, what's your name?" She's not a regular on Staten, after all.

"Sibyl is, I suppose, a troubled youth. I'd like to educate her to survive in this world. She has the drive. And I'd rather an intelligent girl like that not get herself killed. Though I'm rather new to all of this, and I admit that I put her in danger…" Alister sounds sincerely bothered by that, if nothing else, but then shakes his head. "Those men were probably trying to kill me to rob me. I am one of the richest people on Staten Island, after all. And my name is Alister Black."

Chess moves to lean against the wall just left of the top step, as she studies him and listens. "Yeah, it's probably not a good idea to bring a kid to the Crooked Point. Or an ocelot for that matter. Did the ocelot make it out?" She doesn't really know, having fled the scene to get Luther and herself somewhere safe. "And what is it you do on Staten? Half the people there aren't exactly friendly to my sort, you know? Or friendly to anyone, come to think of it. What's your business?"

"The ocelot is fine, so is Sibyl. Lesson learned, thankfully with little damage involved." Alister finally bites the bullet, and moves to take a seat on the floor, crossing his legs.

He does not enjoy it.

"I run a smuggling business. We trade some illegal goods, not drugs or people, and we also provide access to food for the Staten Island Market. We import from the mainland. I try my best at least." he admits, knowing that his business isn't as perfect as it could be. "I'm not typically very friendly, but I like people with a mind of their own, someone who doesn't simply see my money and the bit of power that I have, and roll over. I'm also not a fan of human trafficking, so I felt like you would be a person to trust on that level."

Her brows lift when he deigns to sit on the dusty ground, one corner of her lip tipping into a crooked smirk. "Just guns and what else, then?" she asks, when he mentions illegal goods, but it's when he mentions human trafficking for the second time that makes the smirk slip away. She straightens from her lean.

"It's pretty fucking sad when you have to add like an asterisk that you're 'not a fan of human trafficking,'" she says, a little flatly. "I mean, aside from the fact I'm not a Staten Island crime lord, why do you think you can trust me on that?"

"It really is primarily that, guns, food, sometimes random things here and there. I run a business, I'm not one to spread myself thin. If I could survive by simply trading food, I would. But, we're getting there. I'm far from where I'd like to be, even though it must seem like I have a lot." Alister shakes his head, then stares at her. It's a rather piercing stare, one that betrays the mildly bewitched nature of his visit. "You went out of your way to help Sibyl, most people on Staten wouldn't bother, especially when it involves outing themselves. You're a good person, and rarely do people give me a reason to trust that. I'm certainly not a good person, nor do I particularly care to be, but I have no qualms about naturing that in orders."

There is, if nothing else, a certain level of sincerity in his tone, including when he says he isn't a good person. "I don't keep a wide close circle. Those I choose to let in, I show loyalty to."

"She's a kid," says Chess, looking down at away when he stares at her. "A lot of people deserve the shit that happens to them, but not a kid. Not until she's had a chance to live longer and make her own decisions, you know?" There's a world weariness to Chess' tone, as if she wasn't a kid not too many years ago her self.

She lifts a shoulder. "I'm not a good person. I'm just a person and I choose, when I can, to do good. Some people might argue with you — the owners of the bar, for one." She nods to where he sits. "You look like you're miserable, sitting there. And without your Armani or whatever. This," she glances around the tower, and then down at her own clothes — they waren't threadworn or even dirty, but simple — jeans, jacket, boots, t-shirt, "is who I am, so I'm not sure you'll like it, other than, I donno. A novelty."

"Oh, I absolutely loathe what I'm wearing right now, these aren't even fitted for me. And this place," Alister motions around the room. "Is absolutely awful." he says without any particular hesitation. "However, while the place that you live, and the things that you wear, can either paint who you become, or be a projection of who you are, the awfulness of the place that you live, and the simplicity of the things that you wear, are not a reflection of the complexity or merit of you as a person."

He shrugs, smiling. "I may be an awful human being, but I have a certain perspective on life. I never become romantically involved with the rich. I will certainly fuck the rich. Have you ever fucked another human being as a financial power play? It's absolutely fascinating."

Shaking his head with a dismissive smile, he talks about these things as if they're a common aspect of everyday life. "But I digress. I only become romantically involved with those who weren't raised to view every aspect of life as a climb for power, I only become involved with those who don't inspire me to only view their resources and the things that I can acquire from them. Your ability is certainly impressive, so was mine, but a gun is just as good. I don't need you for your ability, even though that would be nice."

"Surely, you could become involved with me for the purposes of gold digging. I've lost millions that way. A woman I was absolutely enthralled by, I wanted to give her the world, so she took the world, from me." He places a hand to his chest, sounding as if he's absolutely genuinely wounded, one of those moments where he isn't putting on his snobbishly charismatic show. "I want genuine emotion, a thing that so often escapes my grasp. I want that more than money itself. But I can only have that with someone of integrity and force of will, things you will rarely find amongst the wealthy."

While he speaks, Chess opens her mouth and then closes it again, not once or twice, but a few times. She tilts her head and looks at Alister through the corners of her eyes as she plays with that tennis ball in her hand.

"Do I look like I fuck people for financial power plays?" she finally says wryly. "I'm not a gold digger. Or a prostitute. So, you know, while I guess you're handsome, that's not really enough to motivate my, what, integrity and will to become romantically involved with you, Jeeves."

Still, she hasn't fled down those stairs just yet. Chess juts her chin in his direction. "You said your ability was impressive? What happened to it?" she asks, curiously.

"I'm not expecting you to fall into my lap, or even necessarily like me all that much at the moment. Your first impression of me was me trying to kill a man. But, in my defense, he did try to intimidate me with a gun, so, there was a certain principle involved." Alister explains, again, one for blunt honesty at times. "Before the war, well, without getting into details that you wouldn't want telepaths prying from your mind, scientists kidnapped me and took my ability. This is why I currently live in squalor… at least compared to my old life. I would have been a god compared to the life I live now."

"Jesus, you talk like a book," Chess says, shoving her hair back from her face. "You know saying you live in squalor when you see how I choose to live isn't the most flattering. I guess you get points for not giving a shit what people think." She toss the ball in her hand lightly, before catching it again. "I'm sorry. About the ability, being kidnapped, probably tortured. I'm sure that sucked. Institute or one of the other asshole agencies that try to fuck us over?" The question is punctuated by a raise of her brows.

"Institute." Alister agrees. "My entire old life was taken from me. My current life isn't anything horrible, which isn't what I meant to imply, but my old life… it was something I earned, something I dedicated my entire life to achieving, and they took it from me. Them and, well, her. But mostly them."

His gaze lingers on her for a few long moments, the deep sadness returning to his eyes. "I want to build the level of trust with someone, where I can tell them who I really am. What I want from you… is a single dinner. If you want to turn your back after and never see me again, then I won't climb through a window and dodge Refrain needles to get here again."

"That sucks," says Chess bluntly, sliding the tennis ball back into her leather jacket's pocket, her hands sliding in her pockets as well. She studies him for a moment. "I'm not sure why you think I'm worthy of your trust. You've been honest, so I should be too: I don't give a shit about other people for the most part. I mean, yeah, I'll help someone if they're in trouble, because it's the right thing to do, but not because I care about them on some deep level. Because I don't."

She brings her boot heel to lean against the brick of the wall, tipping her head as she studies him. "I don't want to go to Staten any time soon. People saw what I can do there, and I need to lay low. But maybe. Will you do me a favor first?" The corner of her mouth tips up in a crooked half smile.

"You think I wouldn't have you protected on Staten? But I understand, maybe I could take you somewhere on the mainland, perhaps somewhere in Yamagato." Alister offers, but then slowly stands, trying his best not to touch the floor with his bare hands. "It's fine if you don't care all that much, but you do have integrity. And I don't know if you're worthy of my trust yet, that's what getting to know each other is for. Those eyes will only get you so far." he adds with a slight grin.

"And what favor is that?"

"I think I can protect myself on Staten, yeah?" Chess says, a little defensively, chin lifting, but it's with a smirk. She raises a brow at the comment about her eyes, clearly skeptical about whatever he means by that.

"You're rich, right? If not as insanely rich as you were before all the bad shit happened? Get some food, like a week's supply to the Veteran's Hospital, the one over in Sheepshead. There's a fucking food shortage in the Safe Zone, and they can't just hop over to Yamagato for some sushi."

"I don't doubt your ability to protect yourself, but I meant, if you don't feel like laying low." Alister shrugs, though, and crosses his arms, considering her request. "I get food importants from a few places, in order to provide for the Staten Island Market. However, and I know this will make me sound like something of a opportunist, which I am. But it will cut into my profit margins, so, I will agree to this if I can have the media there. It'll aid me in my endeavour to create a Staten Island government."

Chess huffs a small laugh. "I am pretty sure you are an opportunist; you're a rich jackass living in Staten Island. One sort of implies the other, yeah?" she says, but she shrugs one shoulder. "I don't care if you get media coverage out of it. The important thing is that the people in that hospital get food because that's one thing they shouldn't have to worry about, after what they've been through."

She nods to him. "You do that, and once it's done, then we'll meet. Yamagato'll do."

"We have a deal. I won't even do that thing where I pretend I'm actually doing you a favor, it's more like you gave me an incredible idea." Alister holds his hand out to her. "Normally I wouldn't touch any human being who can make someone explode by touching them, but, well, I'm a gambling man, and I'm one who likes to throw all of his chips in for the thrill."

Chess shakes her head. "Glad I could help, I guess," she says wryly, before glancing at his hand — there's a wariness there, despite the fact hers is most certainly the one carrying more germs. Still, she takes it.

"Trust me, if I wanted to, you would already be exploded." It's a white lie — she can't make someone explode, but he doesn't have to know that. "Chess," she says, though given the talk of gambling, it might not be clear that's her name.

"I certainly look forward to any games you decide to play with me." Alister chuckles at that, releasing her hand to turn around and start walking. "We'll go where ever you want. I won't presume that you'll be impressed by wealth and me taking you to the most fancy place in Yamagato, but I will be wearing my suit."

"My name. Chess," Chess says with a roll of her eyes, before moving to where her bag sits, crouching down to grab a card from it — it's actually a business card, though her own name isn't on it. Just Demolitions Expert and a phone number. This she hands to him. "There, so you don't have to crawl through a window next time," she says. "I'll have you know this is only one of my residences." That's said in a faux-haughty voice, perhaps mimicking the cadence of his speech, a little.

Of course, her other residences are a derelict, vine covered van in Red Hook and an abandoned ticket booth in Ferrymen's Bay.

Alister takes the card, then slides it into his pocket. "If you ever get tired of not being able to sleep without looking over your shoulder, you know where I live. I have more than one room. And Sibyl needs a role model who distinctly isn't my sister." he rolls his eyes at the mention of his sister. "But, baby steps. I'll see you."

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