Can You See The Fires Before They're Lit?


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Scene Title Can You See The Fires Before They're Lit?
Synopsis Kain Zarek is visited by a harrowing vision of the future in the middle of an important meeting.
Date June 10, 2010

Battery Park City

A gray sky spreads out above the tops of skyscrapers glistening wet from falling rain. Hundreds of feet below the crowning caps of New York City's metropolis, the grimy streets of Battery Park's harbor look as battered as the remainder of the city does. Battery Park itself has a sordid past and is a neighborhood made of scars, from the two massive footprints left behind in the ground where the World Trade Center once stood, to the buildings covered in scaffolding and surrounded by cranes that were damaged during the explosion nearly four years ago now.

The view from the harbor of this scarred section of the city is a solemn one, with drooping lamp posts looking like wilted metal flowers casting dirty yellow light amidst the fog rolling in off of the Hudson river and the drizzling rain falling from the sky. The lone black sedan parked out on the concrete pier overlooking the empty harbor cuts a sharply illuminated path through the fog by way of its headlights.

Leaning up against the side of the car, Kain Zarek is as tired as he looks. The sunglasses he wears are meant to help conceal some of the dark circles hanging heavily beneath his tired eyes, to make him look less fatigued than he really is. Arms crossed over his chest, he's regarding the glowing ember on the head of his cigarette pinched between index finger and thumb with enough scrutiny as if to divine something out of the smoke.

"You think he'll be late?" is a question coming from around the other side of the car as the passenger side door clunks closed and the tall, broad-shouldered frame of Manny Calavera exits the car. Pushing his round-lensed sunglasses up the bridge of his nose, Manny ambles around the front of the car and offers an askance look to Kain over the glasses' frames, noting the Cajun's silence.

Coming up beside Kain, Manny slaps a hand on Kain's shoulder pointedly, and the sudden contact causes Kain's attention to break away from the smoke and focus on his bodyguard with momentary shock. Furrowing his brows, Kain stares silently as he lifts the cigarette up to his lips, drawing in a slow breath as that ember glows hotter and brighter, then exhales twin jets of smoke from his nostrils. "Dunno…" is a terribly uncertain answer.

As Manny's hand falls from Kain's shoulder, the bald-headed bodyguard looks up towards a more concrete answer in the form of another car coming out to the pier. Nearly identical to Kain's in color and basic design, the contrast of BMW to Audi is the only real difference between the two. As the car rolls to a stop, Kain withdraws the cigarette from his lips and flicks it aside to land with a sizzle into a puddle at his feet. Manny tenses up as the car with Illinois plates comes rolling to a halt and the lights turn off. Tinted glass masks the presence of whoever may be inside, but ultimately only the rear passenger's-side door opens.

The person that rises up from inside is familiar to Kain in reputation only, a man as dangerous as a folded switchblade and equally prone to snapping. Square jawed, beady-eyed and with his blonde hair clipped short to his skull, Jason Mines looks the part of some leg-breaking mobster thug, and were it not that his very caricature-like countenance so spot on it might actually be insulting. Polished black shoes carry Mines along the concrete pier, his ink black suit immaculate and the white undershirt giving him a very Reservoir Dogs feel, maybe the skinny black tie is doing something for that too.

"You've come a long way from havin' Marcello's dick in your mouth, Zarek." Mines' first words are curt ones, his tongue rolling across his teeth as he delivers them. "You've got some balls going down to Chicago and stirring up the shit you did, you've got some balls asking to meet with Gideon too. Surprised nobody down home heard you dragging your sack behind you on the way home." There's a narrowing of Mines' eyes as he considers Manny for a moment, then looks back to Kain expectantly.

Cracking a lopsided smile, Kain shakes his head and looks down to the concrete at his feet. "You keep sayin' such sweet things about me Manny might go'n ask you out on a date," Kain offers in return, letting blue eyes lift up over the frames of his sunglasses to meet Mines'. There's no amusement on the other man's face as he walks in close, leans in towards Kain and squares his jaw.

"This isn't a fucking game, Zarek. Why'm I not shooting you dead?" Mines knows the answer to that question, but hearing Kain's version of the truth is another matter entirely. As Mines leans away, Manny takes a step around Kain and looks down at the out of state thug, giving him a nodded greeting that also implies please back up as much as a man of Manny's stature can subtle suggest.

Kain's posture stiffens just a touch as he considers Mines' words, then looks over to his car and his own reflection in it's exterior before focusing on the enforcer again. "Ah' tol' your little girlfriend down in Chicago that Ah' need t'have a meetin' with the big man, not you little pricks. There's some business goin' down ol New York way that Gideon wants t'get his hands wrist deep in, an' there ain't nobody up here who'll clue him in'ta what's goin' on 'cept me, y'understand?"

Lifting his brows, Kain tilts his head to the side and considers Mines with a thoughtful look. "Ain't all sunshine an' rainbows up here in the Big Apple anymore, an' there's a lotta' territory t'learn. You want a part've what Ah' mentioned on mah trip down to your home-town, then you gotta' be willin' t'play by mah rules. You know how Danny works, you know this ain't his style an' you know if he wanted you or ol' Gideon dead it woulda' happened a long time ago."

That doesn't inspire much confidence in Mines, and his expression contorts into a frown as his brows furrow and he looks at Kain with a contemptuous stare. "He's interested in what you gotta' say, Zarek, but Gideon sets the terms of the meeting, sets the terms of the participants, he sets everything or you ain't got shit, you understand me?"

Squaring his jaw and taking a step towards Mines, Kain's dark brows furrow and his advance comes as a surprise to the man whose reputation in Chicago often precludes intimidation threats like this. For the barest of moments there's hesitation and confusion in Mines' expression as Kain lifts one brow and gives his response. "Ah' ain't takin' any shit, son. If it ain't Gideon Ah'm talkin' to Ah' ain't— " Suddenly, and without warning, Kain's world turns inside out and upside down.

Were the Devil to reign in Hell, this may be his vista.

Standing at the edge of a window larger than his field of vision, Kain Zarek is afforded a muted reflection of his own, tired face in the glass lit by the orange glow on the horizon. Staring out from the window, he can see lower Manhattan sprawling before him, thin tendrils of smoke rising up from the streets.

Beyond, across the East river, there lies a conflagration on the horizon, a swallowing storm of cinder and smoke choking black up into the cloudy skies. A fire rages uncontrollable through the great borough, gutting it like a knife guts flesh, letting it bleed dry where smoke should be blood.

Turning to look over his shoulder, Kain sees another man reflected in the glass of the window, half shadowed by Kain's silhouette, half lit by the fiery glow. "Ya'll got'cher wish…" the Cajun breathes out in solemn quality, turning his back to the window and settling his eyes on Richard Cardinal, "but it ain't much of a world left t'rule, now is it?"

The gun in Kain's hand is heavy, a weighty thing that clunks against his thigh before leveling up towards the shadow-morph. Swallowing tightly, his brows furrow and lips downturn into a frown, and the hammer of the revolver is clicked back and the cylinder spins; he can see the brassy finish of each .45 shell rotating to a clicked stop.

"This is all your fault," Kain mumbles, eyes welling up with tears. Behind Kain, the sound of helicopters roar as US Air Force troop deployment helicopters roar past on the nearby horizon, floodlights shining down to the streets, cinders and embers kicked up to the window of the Linderman Building's head office.

"Congratulations, Dicky…" Kain offers in a growl, the heavy Colt .45 trembling in his hand, "You murdered yourself a future."

By the time Kain Zarek comes back to consciousness, there's a dull, throbbing ache against the side of his head where blood trickles down from his brow and pools on the rainy concrete. "— ain! Kain!" Knelt down over Kain's side, Manny Calavera's panicked expression is unlike anything Kain's seen before, though the blinding pain in his head deadens any reaction he may have had from the episode he just suffered.

There's only one car on the pier now, just Kain's, and Manny's abrupt cursing is directed at his cell phone more so than Kain. "Fuck, fuckin' goddamned shit!" The cell phone is dropped down to the ground as Manny's pawlike hands try and lift Kain up off of the watery ground, brows furrowed and beads of rain rolling down from his bald head. A sharp, hissing sound of pain slithers out between Kain's parted lips as he tries to sit up with Manny's aid.

"Kain what the hell happened, are you alright?" Manny turns to look over his shoulder, then back down to Kain as he hears a confused groan come from the Cajun, followed by a hand coming up to his head and coming away damp with blood. Kain's eyes blink open and closed slowly, and as he looks blearily around himself, he notices the missing rear-view mirror broken off the side of the car, then finds it laying on the ground nearby. That explains why his head hurts so bad.

"What— what happened?" is Kain's nearly breathless answer, eyes wide and one hand shakily moving to where his sunglasses rest on the pavement nearby. Manny's back stiffens and his attention turns from over his shoulder and back to Kain. There's no response, not right away, just a worried look t Kain and a pawing at the split on his temple.

"I dunno, you— you just blacked out. You were talking and then you just sort'a fell over. Mines got spooked and took off, thought somethin' might've been goin' down. You wanged yer head pretty good on the car, Kain." Manny motions to the broken mirror, "been out like a light for almost ten minutes… I can't get a call out on the phones, says all the lines are busy. I think I heard some sirens too, we gotta' get you off'a the street Kain, c'mon you gotta' get in the car I don't wanna' carry your ass."

Swallowing noisily, Kain exhales an exasperated breath as he wipes one hand down his rain-slicked face, then looks to where Mines' car was. Just sitting there on the damp ground, Kain shakily reaches inside of his jacket and pulls out his chromed cigarette case, sliding it open with a press of his thumb and unsteadily withdrawing a single cigarette and his lighter. Kain's eyes track over to Manny, watching the bodyguard's nervous and confused expression.

"It works…" is the first real stable thing out of Kain's mouth as he tucks the cigarette between his lips, eyes falling shut as he thumbs the zippo open and spins the flint a few times to create a spark. Manny's wordless question to what Kain offered there finds a delayed answer, only after the cigarette is lit and Kain's drawn in one ashy breath.

"The plan," he states flatly, eyes slowly opening as he exhales that carcinogenic breath. Manny's eyes widen some as he stares down at Kain, then looks up to the sky as he hears the chopping sound of a news helicopter roaring through the air headed towards Manhattan. Kain's coarse, dry laugh seems as unsettled as Kain's demeanor at the moment, but he reiterates his last words before pulling himself up to his feet, just in case he wasn't clear the first time.

"Manny, the plan works."

They just need to smooth out one wrinkle.

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