Easy Answers


cardinal_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title Easy Answers
Synopsis Cardinal and Veronica search an Argentinean town for answers from those that live under the shadow of the Vanguard's stronghold.
Date November 26, 2009

Argentina: El Palenque: Street Market

It's a good hour of day to find people, while the sun is recently risen and casting long shadows upon the village as people move through buildings, among each other, winding through. The open street market is both beginning to sell wares as well as prepare for the rest of the day, not as loud as it could be but not abandoned either. Every now and then, there's the sight of American fatigues among the people, moving this way and that on some indefinable errand, but the people of El Palenque and its neighbouring places don't deign to give them attention.

Veronica looks almost as if she could be one of the locals, though she wears a pricy pair of sunglasses that none of the locals would ever wear, the locals opting to squint into the sun or find shade under a market awning. She walks slowly, as if shopping, smiling and answering politely to those calling out to the senorita to try this or that. Behind the dark shades, however, her dark eyes are scouring the crowds, looking for any of the Vanguard's victims, easily identifiable by the V branded into their face.

On the other hand, Cardinal's wearing his own pair of shades, he's in at least semi-military looking clothing, and probably has a gun somewhere. He doesn't fit in as well, although probably by the end of the hike he'll be dirty enough to fit in better. He's just tagging along, keeping an eye on the area and getting to know it, playing the whole 'bodyguard' role in case someone thinks she looks valuable.

Among the soldiers, there are other things that stand out, too. There's a young man, almost fifteen, with bushy, glossy dark hair and skin of a lighter shade of olive bickering with what could be an older relative or a friend at a stall filled with farming produce, prices written in marker on cardboard. He's a regular teenager, with a bright red T-shirt tucked into blue jeans, sneakers dusty and dirty.

The nature of the argument becomes clear when the older companion hands over a pack of cigarettes with a lighter slipped inside the plastic. The boy grins, brightly, and turns aside enough that when Veronica happens to slant a glance his way, she'll see it upon his turn. Marring a handsome face, the track of a V, gone to the trouble of being vaguely stylised, brands blackness into his otherwise unscarred skin. It's not so uncommon that he gets many stares.

He moves adjacent to them, drawing out a cigarette with his teeth, lighting up with cupped hands.

The agent nods with a faint jut of her chin to the boy, so Cardinal will take note; she continues to walk a bit, so that they won't be too close to the stall with the older man, in case they don't like the two strangers speaking to his friend or relative or whatever the boy may be to him. "Hola," Vee says after a few moments, to the boy. "«Would you like to earn some money? We have some questions for you. Could buy you quite a few packs of cigarettes.»" Her husky voice is directed toward him; it would be hard for anyone else to catch it in the chattering, bustling marketplace.

The boy turns, bright eyes guarded for a moment particularly when he glances towards Cardinal behind her, an appraising look up and down before he focuses on Veronica. Shoving the pack of cigarettes into the pockets of his loose jeans, he takes a long drag of smoke, blowing it out into still slightly crisp morning air before he tilts his chin at her. His jaw shows patchy traces of stubble growing in, and at this range, both Veronica and Cardinal will be able to see the trace of damage in the eye above the V, making twisted his iris.

"«Money?»" he questions, with a cynical raise of an eyebrow, glancing back to the stall he'd wandered from. No attention is paid to them, but that doesn't seem to scare him off any. "«What kind of questions», senorita?"

The woman pulls out a bills — probably the equivalent to one hundred US dollars, though she sure as hell would barter for something more than money if she were the boy who stands in front of her. "«The people who did that to you — and to others like you — do they live here in the village?»" she asks softly, starting slow. She murmurs the question in English to Cardinal, so he knows what she's saying as well, and can chime in with any questions he'd like to know the answers to as well.

It might as well be Greek to Cardinal, who unfortunately just has a phrasebook's worth of Spanish memorized, and a few particular insults he remembers from his prison days. As the question's repeated in English, though, he glances to Veronica, and then towards the boy, a brow arching up mildly.

Holy cash. To a boy of fifteen, it'll certainly loosen his tongue. Even then, however, he pauses, a hand up to rub around the pebbled ridge of the scarification before, grudgingly, he holds out a hand. "«No.»" A beat, before acknowledging that maybe that's not worth the whole hundred US dollars, and he tilts his head. "«I don't know where they stay, but it was before the soldiers came. I am not like anyone»," he adds, with sudden fervor, before more subdued, he explains, "«It was my mother. They scarred all of us, in our home.»"

There's a murmur in English as she repeats the answer. "«All of you?»" Veronica repeats, peeling off one of the bills and handing it to the boy, before nodding to a little alley of sorts, created by the stalls in the market place, indicating he should follow her there to talk more discreetly. "«Your mother, she's got a … power? But you don't?»" She's not sure she understands what he's saying. "«And, are they still here, the people who did this to you? Close by?»"

"Ethnic cleansing," Cardinal mutters in dark tones once Veronica translates for him, turning to look back across the street before moving to follow Veronica if she starts heading towards that alley, "They figure, kill anyone who might carry the genetic marker. Same shit that they've always done."

"«My mother has a power, and I don't,»" the boy confirms, taking a drag of smoke and blowing it away. "«They didn't care. We are all guilty, to them.»" His teeth show in a sneer, eyeing the cash and— keeping that hand out, even as he stuffs the one given into a pocket. Licking his hips, he studies Veronica before he quietly begins to speak again, "«There's one who comes into town. Less, now with the soldiers, but he doesn't care and sometimes they don't either. He pretends like he's a fucking cowboy on a horse, claims that those he punishes did something to deserve it.»"

The words are repeated in English once more, and then Veronica shakes her head in sympathy and anger at the "cowboy" at once. She peels off another couple of bills and puts them in the boy's hand. "«Do you know his name? Or where he goes, when he's not in town?»"

"Arrogant." Cardinal turns to keep an eye on the road as Veronica speaks to the boy, although he's already looking thoughtful, fingertips rapping against his hip in a considering manner.

"«Rosco. That's all I know. But you didn't hear it from me, okay?»" The bills are crumpled, pocketed, and he doesn't hold out his hand expectantly anymore now that she's paying him and everything. "«I don't know where he goes, I stay away from him. Soulless,» senorita. «Why»?" He spares a glance to Cardinal, back to Veronica. "«You going to take care of these people? Save Argentina?»" His smile is crooked.

"«Of course,»" the agent assures the boy, after his first question. "«When is the last time you saw this Rosco? Does he seem to come with any sort of regularity?»" She presses another bill into the boy's hand. She'll give him the rest of the wad, even if he has no more useful information. She glances at Cardinal, as if to ask if he has any other questions to add.

"Ask him what direction the guy comes from," Cardinal says, without looking back over, squinting a little against his shades as the morning sun grows brighter.

"«I guess so. He comes to town when he wants to, but doesn't live anywhere I know. Saw him come out of the motel once.»" The boy looks to Cardinal, smokes his cigarette as Veronica translates, before he cocks his head towards where the mountain casts its shadow during certain points of the day. "Cerro de Hierro Negro." Or, to translate, the Mountain of Black Iron. He shrugs a shoulder. "«Sometimes. We keep hoping the jaguars will eat him. You heard of them yet?»" He cracks a grin, now, mildly facetious. "«We have monsters too. Big cats with eyes that glow. Rosco doesn't get a scratch on them but none of us go up there anymore. Not that your,"» a flick of a glance to Cardinal, "«soldiers would let us.»"

"«Rosco goes to the mountain?»" Veronica says, with a tilt of her head, feeding the boy another pair of bills while murmuring the words in English to Cardinal. "«Does he other seem to come from and go in any other direction? East, west, north, south?»" she repeats. "«We'll be careful of the jaguars. We have rats in New York that are probably as big.»" The last is a joke, of course, a reward for his helpfulness.

At the explaination, Cardinal turns his gaze towards the mountain's shadow; scratching one hand against the stubble shadowing his jaw, he smiles ever so faintly. "Well. Sounds like we're got somewhere to start, at least."

The boy shakes his head, briskly, either unwilling to share or unknowing of what direction the town's self-appointed sheriff rides in. His smile is wry in response to Veronica's jest back, and he shrugs his shoulders, only taking another drag of smoke and letting it unfurl in white curls from his nose as he regards them silently, having answered with that mute shake and waiting to see what comes next - more questions, or more money.

Veronica glances at Cardinal, and then pushes her sunglasses off her face to look directly in the boy's eyes, disfigured as the one may be. Her eyes are sympathetic and solemn. "«One more question, unless my friend here has any others. Do you know the names Iago Ramirez or Hector Steel?»" She asks softly.

Those names - as they're the same in any language - get Cardinal to glance over, a brow arching a bit at Veronica's words. He seems a little surprised that she'd ask specifically, but he looks to the boy, then, curious to see any reaction.

And there is a reaction, pinching around eyes and mouth, in the angle of the boy's head. More disgust than fear or spite. "Si." And with that— well. If the hand jutting out for the rest of the money is to be of indication, the boy is taking to heart what Veronica says about it being one more question.

Veronica puts two more bills into the boys hand, then fans out the rest, to show him there's quite a bit left. "«All of the rest is yours after you answer. Are they up there? Is one of them Rosco? And did they do this to you?»" So it's three more questions, but they're all linked to the first. "«We are going to try to stop them. I'm sorry they did this to you. Thank you for helping us.»"

The reaction's noticed, and Cardinal's gaze focuses on the kid's face; watching his reactions quietly, even as more questions fall rapid-fire from Veronica's lips.

It's that last couple of statements that have the boy refraining from spitting at her feet and taking off. He wrinkles his nose, and responds. "«I don't know,»" is an honest, or at least, earnest answer. "«And no, they're not Rosco, he's a different motherfucker. And yes. Iago did. I don't know the other one. I should really go,»" is maybe a lie, but he glances back to the stall.

There's a nod of understanding and the agent reaches out to give the rest of the money — a promise is a promise, even if there's not much information gleaned from the last string of answers. "«Thank you»." She bows her head slightly, in both apology and respect — the boy was brave, if mercenary in motivation.

"It's more than I expected," Cardinal says quietly, his head tilting even as the boy's paid off, "We should get back and report what we've learned. That much money'll end up with more people coming up to 'volunteer' information that's probably a pack of lies, if word gets around…"

He juts his chin in acknowledgment and, with a narrowed look to Cardinal, he takes the money maybe after a moment of guilty hesitation, before he's moving off at a brisk pace back towards the stall, where his older companion has taken to noticing what he's been up to. Veronica may catch snatches of Spanish through the chattering crowd, "« — was that about?»" before voices tune down too quiet for them to hear.

The boy glances back towards Veronica and Cardinal, watching them depart, and after he pitches his cigarette onto the ground and grinds it out with his heel, he seems to flicker-flick like a poorly tuned TV channel, before disappearing entirely.

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