From The Right Angle


colette_icon.gif richard_icon.gif

Scene Title From the Right Angle
Synopsis Years after Mount Natazhat, a shadow stretches far enough to reach an old light.
Date April 22, 2015

Rochester New York is a long drive out from New York City’s broken corpse. The distance between of freeways connecting to the state Capital become less populated and more desolate the further north anyone drives. Pine trees flood the horizon in every direction, and for hours after getting on Interstate 390 it’s practically pastoral. Rolling hills give way to wide stretches of flat, green land dappled with vibrant green trees and open farmland dotted with quaint old houses. Signs for Rochester stand crooked and derelict, though.

In spite of its great distance, or perhaps because of it, Rochester doesn’t look like a smoking fucking ruin on approach. As highway 390 spills into the Mount Hope region there’s skyscrapers still standing, though the immediate residential buildings down off the freeway look overgrown with infant forests and underbrush. The side streets past the off-ramp aren’t much better, with cracked pavement spewing forth with grass.

Summer sun hangs low in the sky, turning everything a burnished shade of gold by the time tires turn toward the west downtown area. Here it’s starting to look more like home, with abandoned factories and industrial buildings with blown out windows. Not much in the shape of wartime damage, though, just dereliction and disuse. The Ferrymen made their flight from the US here, after the fall of Pollepel, and a convoy of Endgame associates made this trek out of Rochester back then, to the state park and campground that served as exodus. They’d talked about it in documentaries,now. Lionized the Ferrymen, their allies, dragged all that pain and suffering back out into the light.

To the right, three tall smoke stacks mark the appearance of the forner BeeBee Power Plant, an old 1950s structure with a crumbling masonry facade and broken windows. It doesn’t look like much of anything through a car window, with trees and shrubs choking the perimeter fence, no signage indicating it was anything other than just another abandoned building. Turning off of the street, a new model black sedan rolls into the power plant’s driveway, buzzing in at a more modern-looking automated checkpoint. A single security camera squares down on the car, and the driver knows who’s looking back.

Hands at ten and two, Richard Ray pulls through the now open gate through the overgrowth parking lot out front of the building. Two semi trucks are parked nearby, full of boxes and plastic crates. Three more shipping containers are stacked nearby facing the river. Beyond that, a multi-billion dollar experimental fighter jet is parked in an open concrete field.


From what Richard can see, one of the people he’s come here to talk to is loitering around that very jet. He pulls up about as far as the tractor trailer trucks, parks the car and steps out into the gold afternoon sun with shades down and crow’s feet cracking at the corners of his eyes. On approach, he can see a step ladder set up beneath the parked jet, wires hanging loose and a few panels open. Boxes of tools are set all around the sleek black vehicle that cut through the skies of the civil war in distinctive fashion.

Standing atop the step ladder, sparks falling all around her, Colette Demsky looks more unlike the young woman Richard knew in another life. She has one hand raised to a damaged plate on the bottom of the aircraft, blindingly bright white lines of light extend from her fingertips to a single point, where sparks and white-hot pieces of liquid metal drop from where she performs welding without a mask. Blind eyes are focused up at the concentrated beams of light, sweat on her brow and bare tattooed arms. The jacket of her workman’s overalls is tied around her waist, and tanktop is stained with oil and grease.

In contrast, perhaps, the biggest difference about Richard Ray is his name. There are a few more lines around his eyes, a few more scars in places that usually don't show, and that old Chicago Air flight jacket that he's wearing has a few more patches to hold it together, but he's the same as he's ever been.

There was a time that just looking in Colette's direction when she was doing this work would've sent a spike of agony through his head, but that time died beneath Mount Nazahat years ago. He wasn't the only one that suffered in that place, though, and the guilt of that knowledge wells up in his throat as he watches her work for a minute or two. Then he takes a deep breath, stepping a stride closer to the jet and the woman to speak.

"Nice jet you've got there," he calls out, forcing his tone to casual-friendly, "How long do you think Hana'd laugh at me if I asked to take it for a spin?"

“Three minutes, sixty seconds,” Colette very precisely notes as she finishes welding the corner of a plate together. It’s only then that the voice hits her, and she looks down from the Rook with wide eyes. “Holy ghosts!” She exclaims, hopping backwards down off the step-ladder. One bare hand sweeps back through her hair, slicking it out of her face, but leaving a smudge of grease on her forehead.

Colette ducks out from under the Rook and looks around the makeshift airfield. Someone is off in the hanger, banging loudly, there’s a couple people moving boxes into the old power station. Those blind eyes flick back to Richard with a look of disbelief. “Cardinal?” She mistakes. “I thought you… I… “ her brows furrow. “Fuck I don’t know what I thought.” Looking back at the Rook, she keeps Richard in her periphery, then turns her attention back.

“What— the fuck’re you doing all the way up here?” Alive? In broad daylight? Colette chooses not to append any of those. The shock of seeing Richard after nearly a decade is more than enough to emphasize her point.

"Maybe she'd shave a minute off the laughter, you know, for old time's sake?" The reaction is encouraging - not what, perhaps, Richard'd feared - and finally a smile crooks up at the corner of his lips. "Maybe not, though. You know how she is."

A clearing of his throat, and he steps forward, hands tucking into the pockets of his flight jacket. "Don't go by that name anymore, but— yeah, it's me. Just like a cockroach,” he quips, "Always showing up just when you think he's been stepped on. And, uh— honestly, came to see you, kiddo. You're looking good."

Better than he'd last seen her, certainly, years in the past.

The kiddo earns Richard a look, but only just. Tugging a dingy rag out from a pocket, Colette wipes the grease off of her hands and looks around the lot. “Been a while,” she admits, a brief look over to the hangar where a grizzled looking man with shaggy brown hair too far away to make out the identity of is watching the exchange while smoking a cigarette. Colette looks back to Richard. “If you’re here to see if I’ve developed a passion for science, that’s a hard pass.”

As she says that, Colette walks pas Richard with a jerk of her head in a follow me motion, and she starts heading for the nearby river, continuing to talk as she does. “Somehow I figure you know better’n that though. So,” she looks back, making sure he’s following. “I’d wager it’s about two other things. Nicole, or someone that needs a bullet in them.” She can’t fathom a reason other than family or business.

“If it’s the latter,” Colette begins as she steps off of the asphalt and onto the overgrown grass beyond, “you gotta go through the Major.” Major Gitelman. “If it’s the former, then yeah you’ve gotta go through me I suppose.” Colette leads Cardinal out behind the hangar where a ten foot wide, crumbling concrete block may have once connected to a rail line that spanned the river. Now, there’s a picnic table there with a cooler on top, sitting in the hangar’s shade.

It's the same thing he called her back then, although she's far from a kid these days. Some habits die hard, even when they haven't been practiced in nearly a decade.

She starts walking, and Richard falls into step after her, head turning to look out across the blacktop to the other vehicles and workers, his gaze lingering for a moment on that grizzled figure before drifting back to the woman that he's come to see.

"Three shots and a miss," he observes casually, "Thanks for playing, though, I'll send you a copy of our home game as a consolation prize…" Does anyone even watch game shows anymore? The reference might go over her head entirely.

The grass rustles under his feet as he walks along out of the hangar, admitting, "I… well. hah." Fingers rub at the nape of his neck, head ducking a bit, "I'm late, really. I meant to come see you a long time ago, but there was this little war and…"

A sigh, "I just— I wanted to make sure you were alright. I know that sounds stupid, probably."

Colette stops halfway to the picnic table, doesn’t turn around. There’s a moment that goes by where she’s still and silent, and then just keeps walking. The top of the cooler is pulled open and Colette grabs two bottles of beer by the neck and draws them out, melting ice sliding down their sides. “Don’t,” she says firmly enough and in a very Gitelmanly way. But then she’s turning around, walking back over and offering one of the bottles out to Richard.

“Don’t do that to yourself.” Colette twists the cap off of hers, pitches it into the river. “It’s been almost eight fucking years, whether it’s been eating you up or not, it’s not— the time passed.” Taking a swig from the bottle she motions over to the looming old power plant. “That’s me, now.” Then the bottle motions around vaguely. “All of this too. The kid you knew? Not all of her made it back from that fucking place, but enough did.” More than she would have imagined.

Taking another swig from the bottle, Colette looks out to the river and loses her focus in it. “The people who matter t’me lived. I nearly drowned in the fucking basement of Pollepel, Tasha took a slug to the head and— ” Colette’s eyes close, brows furrow, and her grip on the bottle tightens.

“I appreciate the sentiment, Ca — Richard.” Sliding her tongue across her teeth, Colette keeps her focus on the flowing water. “But it’s behind us both. I’ve got a new family, I’ve got the people who matter. It’s more than most people can say after the shit we all went through.” Those blind eyes turns back to focus on Richard.

“S’like Avi says, whatever happened, happened.” The bottle is tipped up and Colette takes another swig. “Or, like I say: no takebacksies.”

The beer's accepted, Richard's dark-stained fingers curling around cold glass and drawing it back, his other hand coming up to twist off the cap. Leather twists round that wrist, an odd touch of adornment in black and red. He looks back out to the river, bringing the bottle up to his lips and back in a swig.

"Whatever happened, happened… ain't that the truth," he mutters, watching the current flow by for a moment. Then he looks back to her, crooking a half-smile, "Yeah. You aren't a kid anymore, true enough. We all left a part of ourselves up there in Alaska, I think, but— I'm glad that you came out of it alright in the end." The guilt's there, but eased to see that she seems to be doing well for herself, whatever demons lurk in the past.

They've all got a lot of those, after all.

He turns fully to look out and over the power plant, nodding just a little to himself. "It's not a bad place to end up," he admits after a moment, "Hana's a good woman. Don't tell her that I said that. And the rest of the team, well— " A sidelong glance, "Let's just say most of them are on the short list of people I'd trust to have my back. That includes you, Demsky."

Blind eyes track over to Richard, and Colette considers him in quiet contemplation as she takes a few more sips from her beer. “When the flash happened, back when I went to you and…” Liz is too hard for her to say. She knows well enough. But it's an awkward mis-step to make. “I went t’you because I knew I could trust you with stuff.”

Colette’s eyes avert to the ground, then track back to the river. “Still do, all things considered. Somebody, during the war, tried to explain to me everything that was going on. Adel,” there's a look at Richard to see his recognition before she looks back to the water. “I only understood about half of it. But, for what it's worth, I don't blame you for what he did.”

Taking another swig of her beer, she finishes it as then hurls the bottle in an underhanded toss into the river where it lands with a sploosh. “If I'd lost everything, I'd probably be in a dark place too.” Brushing off her hands on her pants, Colette looks back to Richard with a weary smile.

“You should go up, pay your respects to the Major while you're here. Devon’s been talking you up to us, and I think she's in a good mood today.” Blind eyes motion to the building, and Colette starts walking back to the landing strip. “I've gotta get back to work anyway. The old bird took a few good hits last time we took her out and Scott runs a tight ship.”

"Adel." A smile curves honest to Richard's lips at the mention of the woman, his gaze lifting to the skies as if remembering when she could be in them, "Yeah, she— she was there. Both times." Whatever that means. "She'd understand more than most. Good woman. I'm glad you know her."

He takes another swig of the beer, not finishing it just yet, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Turning back to her, he shakes his head, "I don't— blame myself for what he did, but I could've moved faster to stop him. Still. Like you said… whatever happened, happened."

She starts walking, and so does he, "I will. I've got some paperwork for her to go over anyway, honestly. Now's as good a time as any. Good seeing you again, Demsky. You ever need anything the 'hound can't provide, give me a ring, eh?"

“Gonna hold you to that,” Colette offers as she turns around, walking backwards a few paces so she's facing Richard. “Best be ready for that.” Cracking a smile, Colette turns around again and waves over her shoulder, treading back off toward the hangar with long, booted strides.

It looks like, from the right angle, some things in the future turned out better than they had anywhere else.

In that, Richard finds peace.

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