Given All the Givens


eileen_icon.gif lynette2_icon.gif

Scene Title Given All the Givens
Synopsis Lynette delivers a message to Eileen.
Date June 8, 2018

Ruins of Staten Island

You can find anything on Staten Island if only you know where to look.

Or who to ask.

It’s taken Lynette several days, but her dogged persistence pays off when she receives a tip that she can locate what she’s been searching for at a rundown gambling den in the Rookery’s festering heart. String lights in dark, moody reds and oranges illuminate the building’s ramshackle interior, which is decorated with paper lanterns and a patchwork of old, faded silk screens in an attempt to give it an air of old world class and excoticism.

Cigarette and cigar smoke makes the already humid air thick.

She weaves her way between seating arrangements topped with embroidered pillows where women smoke and lounge, passing the long evening hours by engaging in conversation with one another, or with their clients crowded around card tables and repurposed roulette wheels.

Along the way, she catches snippets of English interspersed with an eclectic chatter of other, more interesting languages: Spanish, German, Chinese. There are rumours that the den belongs to Wenzhuo Zhao of the Ghost Shadow triad, as resilient and as dangerous as any guerilla fighters Lynette knew during the war.

She should be careful even for the reasons that aren’t the most obvious.

The Englishwoman, as she’s called, lazes in the den’s darkest corner, steeped in smoke, sweat, and the smell of her own perfume. Lynette knows it’s her before she’s close enough for the accompanying candlelight to illuminate her face. There’s no mistaking Eileen’s small, pale hands with their long porcelain fingers, or the sharp sound of her laughter, which cuts through the dark like a knife.

She isn’t alone. Because she’s playing mahjong.

Lynette is going to come home smelling like smoke.

Which really isn't the thought that should be running through her mind obsessively at this moment, but it is. There's a familiarity to the smell, for all that she hasn't smoked in years, but it isn't a comfortable one. Cigarettes were always a way to ease anxiety, but their effectiveness was hit or miss.

The second-hand version is even less reliable. But she makes her way around the establishment, glancing at tables and their occupants long enough to check for a familiar face. Not long enough to be a bother. Indeed, she is doing her level best to go without disturbing anyone here. Until she finds herself at a mahjong table. She watches Eileen for a long moment, but now that she's seen her, she can't stop herself approaching. Interrupting.

An eyebrow raises as she comes to a stop nearby, a hand resting on a hip as she regards The Englishwoman.

"You look well for dead," she comments, dry as ever.

Lynette’s voice draws Eileen’s eyes, which are a startling shade of luminous blue and difficult for the blonde to reconcile with the other memories she has of her. She studies her face like she’s trying to remember whether or not she knows her — maybe it’s the absence of real light by which to see, or maybe the person she’s staring down isn’t the same one who died on Pollepel Island so many years ago.

Her silence leaves little room for doubt because it doesn’t last.


The tip of Eileen’s lit cigarette smolders between her fingers. She’s caught the attention of the other players at the table, too, both men and women in varying states of dress and undress. Eileen herself shows off more skin than Lynette can ever remember her flaunting in life, arms and shoulders left exposed by a sheer silk wrap dress in black that swoops down her sternum.

Such a salacious cut would show off her cleavage if she had any to speak of.

But she doesn’t. So it doesn’t.


There is a lot that's different. Lynette doesn't hide the fact that she gives Eileen a thorough looking over. Eye color, exposed skin, lack of cleavage. Her gaze eventually falls on her company as well, although it isn't any friendlier for them. Maybe less so.

"No, thank you," she says, to the offer, "I've only come for your company."

To that end, she nods toward the rest of the table. "I don't suppose you trust your friends enough to leave them alone with the tiles?" The invitation is offered, if in a roundabout fashion, but made clearer with a gesture of her hand toward the door.

Eileen taps half an inch worth of ash into a brass tray on the lip of the table. To trust her company with her mahjong tiles would be the equivalent of trusting a skulk of foxes in a henhouse.

There are perhaps more pressing concerns than losing a few hundred dollars to thieves, however. Lynette notices, for the first time, the holster and handgun draped over the back of her seat, and a heavier coat, doubled in half nearby. To her left, a vibrant tattoo of a tiger in mid-spring ripples across the muscular back of a man whose fingers are adorned in gold rings. To her right, a woman with her hair shorn short rolls her own cigarette with paper fashioned from a tobacco leaf.

In spite of the way she’s dressed, Eileen is here on some sort of business.

“Whatever you have to say to me,” she tells Lynette, “you can say to everyone.”

"Oh," Lynette notes with a crooked smile, "so you don't trust them alone with your tiles. I understand. So hard to find good people to play with." Her nose wrinkles some, as if she were sharing Eileen's opinion on her compatriots. But. She's been invited. So she finds an empty chair and drags it over to the table. She does it loudly. Annoyingly. But when she sits, she sits like a proper lady.

"I'm here to talk about Vanguard," she states, mundane as old business, new business. "Specifically, fellow ex-members. Like you, right? Lately I've been told— reminded, really, about how heroic it was how you turned on your own people and ran to the other side. I had forgotten somehow. You remember our good friend Hana? She runs a paramilitary organization or some such. And Vincent, what is he? Head of… Homeland Security? They both wanted to make sure I remember how dedicated to the good fight you have been. And I thought, you know? Wow." The word is spoken in her very best Blonde Californian, which is very good, all things considered. "I better come find Eileen and apologize for ever doubting her dedication to the cause."

She looks toward the table, "I mean, right guys? I can be so uncouth sometimes. It's unforgivable."

Über was redet sie?” asks one of Eileen’s companions, in German. “Wolfhound?”

She ignores him. Leans forward instead, arms resting across her knees, and fixes Lynette with a blistering stare. If she came here to ruin whatever delicate business transaction that Eileen was carefully maneuvering into place before she breezes through the door, she might have already succeeded.

“So you’re upset about your husband,” she guesses.

She’s got this one right on the first try, she thinks.

"Wolfhound! That's what it's called," Lynette says with a snap of her fingers. "Dankeshöen."

That is the only German she knows. But she says it anyway.

But then Eileen sits forward, and Lynette meets that stare with wide-eyed innocence. But only until she jumps right to the meat of the thing. "What? No, why would I— Of course I'm upset about my husband, Eileen." The switch is quick— light to dark, bubbly to dangerous. "I dare say I might even be truly upset about it."

Her hand reaches out, taking Eileen by the arm.

The electricity is already buzzing before she moves, by the time she makes contact, it's more than enough to get someone's attention. Not quite enough for medical attention, though. Not yet.

"I'm letting you know, because we're such good friends with so much shared history together, if you come near my family again, it will be the last thing you ever do."

The shock draws a sound from the bottom of Eileen’s lungs. It’s wet, pained, and nothing Lynette hasn’t heard dozens of times before, because dozens of people have been on the receiving end of it. The gasp scissors out through her teeth, accompanied by an involuntary shudder and jerk of her narrow shoulders, which rolls forward into something else.

Eileen’s own hand, the one attached to her other arm, snaps out and seizes Lynette’s throat. Her momentum carries her forward, slamming the other woman down onto the mahjong table with enough force to smash the breath out of her and send tiles skittering. They strike the floor and bounce off it, forgotten by everyone except the person who was winning, and even then it’s low on their list of priorities.

Getting out of the way ranks much higher.

Lynette would be lying if she tried to say that the sound wasn't a little bit satisfying. Enough that she doesn't see the return fire coming until it's already there. She makes her own noise when Eileen's hand grabs her throat, part surprise part, you know, choking.

Her head hits the table. Something hurts because she groans before she tries to move. It's been some time since Lynette was in a brawl. Long enough that she doesn't much look like a person who gets into brawls anymore. But she remembers. She blinks, trying to right her vision, to reorient herself. She also spits onto the table. Blood.


She doesn't need her feet under her to fight. And Eileen's hand is on her throat.

The shock was a warning before. This time, it is not that. Lynette's eyes go white and she disappears out from under Eileen's grip. In the space of a blink, in a flash of light, she reappears at Eileen's side. Electricity wraps around her fingers as she puts a hand on the back of Eileen's head and slams her down where Lynette had just been. Maybe a few inches over. In a small pool of blood. Holding her there, she looks up across the table. In case anyone had stuck around long enough to be watching this and needed a reason to get out. But her ability dials up and she tilts her head a little as she looks back down at Eileen. Fingertips touch the delicate skin of her face, like she wants to make sure it hurts. Then she lifts her up and slams her back down again.

Eileen’s face rebounds off the table with a sickening crack. She comes away with a broken nose pouring blood and a split lip parted around a snarl— or a scream. The sound of Lynette’s own heartbeat jackhammering in her ears makes it difficult for her to be certain.

So does the electricity singing shrill in the air. The bump and scrape of chairs grinding across the floor, overturning in a haphazard, uncoordinated attempt to put distance between their occupants and the brawl that erupted at the mahjong table.

It isn’t far enough.

Eileen’s feet jerk out from under her. Tiles spin across sagging hardwood floors. Someone is shouting something in Mandarin, low and guttural, like the bellow of an approaching train.

Her knuckles go white, fingers cinched around the edges of the table Lynette has her pinned to. There’s enough voltage traveling in a straight current through body to stop her heart, and that’s exactly what happens.

The Englishwoman’s body goes slack, and then—

Roiling black energy mushrooms out of her broken form, prone and bent on the table. It rises into the air in thin, corkscrewing tendrils that dive and snake through the air, hungrily seeking out still-beating hearts.

Lynette’s happens to be the closest, but she isn’t the first affected. It’s the man with the tiger tattoo and the gold rings winking on his fingers, a hand held up to his face in an attempt to shield himself from the dark aura, only to watch as his skin bruises, blisters, blackens, flesh peeling away like newly stripped paint.

Something similar is happening to the hand Lynette has on the back of Eileen’s head, if at a much slower rate. Searing pain travels up her arm, a sort of inky venom thickening in her blood.

There's a certain amount of addiction in this, too. Feeling electricity burning its way through someone. Just another thing she gave up. Sort of. She hadn't really meant for it to go that far, but also, she doesn't have much time to dwell on how she feels about that.

Given all the givens.

Her power dwindles in the surprise as she watches tendrils form and stab through the air, as she watches what happens to the man across from her. That, too, doesn't get lingered on as she feels the pain traveling up her arm. She quite literally bolts away from Eileen, reforming several feet away.

And really, it would be a good time to run. She should run.

Pops of electricity follow her path toward the door, weaving in and out of the crowd— what's left of it. But she doesn't leave. She's just ready to. But she lingers.

To watch.

One of Eileen’s arms stiffens beneath her, levering her up off the table as the man with the tiger tattoo is reduced to a dessicated husk where he stands, arm outstretched like a Victorian mummy behind glass.

The same thing is happening to the others around the table. Limbs shrivel. Mouths freeze while they’re still open as lips crack and peel around rows of uneven, imperfect teeth. Eileen shoulders past one withered statue and it crumbles into a fine, cakey dust that clings to her clothes and exposed skin.


Eileen’s voice is a thin, inhuman keen.

Lynette has seen what she is. If she had any intention of letting the other woman live, it’s as impossible now as the deal she’d been brokering with her business associates.

Correction: Former business associates.

Well. That's terrifying.

Lynette moves at the sound of her own name, or at the way that it sounds. It's very motivating, in it's own way. The electrokinetic disappears in a streak of lightning, shocking people as she flashes by to get out the door. Then she lands. Then she disappears again. It's easy to follow, of course, because it is bright and obvious. But she only needs to make it to her car, really.


That's where she's headed anyway. To the driver's seat of a car old enough to have survived EMPs and wars and Lynette's driving. Worse than this, she tells herself. It's okay to lie when it's to yourself.

Once she makes it there, she's hauling ass in any direction that Eileen is not.

The last thing Lynette sees as her car’s engine is surging to life is Eileen’s shadow appear in the gambling den’s doorway, reflected in her rear view mirror. Ash and churning black smoke billows out from the empty space behind her.

Twin pinpricks of blue light gleam furiously in the dark.

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