It'll Come Back Around, Part V


eizen2_icon.gif vf_kain3_icon.gif kay3_icon.gif ling_icon.gif ricky_icon.gif

Scene Title It'll Come Back Around, Part V
Synopsis Eizen, Kain, and Ling escape a hit-squad and hide out in the shadows of New Chinatown.
Date June 18, 2021

Staten Island was once one of the most dangerous places in proximity to the Safe Zone, a haven for drug and gun running, human trafficking and murder. Even with the end of the civil war and the establishment of the Safe Zone across the Hudson River, the rot that infected this place starting with the Rookery spread like a cancerous growth across its rambling, overgrown urban wilderness. But with the arrival of the d’Sarthe Group and the 91st Military Police Battalion, things have begun to change in Staten Island for the first time in over a decade. It is proof positive that you can, in fact, polish a turd.

New Chinatown
Staten Island

June 18th
1:44 am

The neighborhood that was once colloquially known as the Rookery now stands branded as New Chinatown, a promising example of what the ruins of America could become under the banner of the d’Sarthe Group. Though in spite of this gentrification, the green and white highway sign for New Chinatown has been defaced several times and still reads ROOKERY in vibrant orange paint. Residents of Staten Island have been slow to accept their rebranding, no matter how hard it is pushed.

The architecture of “New Chinatown” also looks at war with itself. High-rise condominiums abut vacant lots of collapsed buildings surrounded by construction fencing, which abut wild growth sprouting up from vacant cellar holes decades-old, which abut crumbling old tenement buildings that are more than a decade out of disrepair. The lingering aroma of fried food from kitchens still open at this late hour overpowers the stink of gasoline and sweat that once seemed so common here. Gone are the shanty towns demarcated by blue canvas tarps and cardboard boxes, replaced by glittering bougie street lights and shimmering outdoor string lighting in once-dark alleys.

New Chinatown is a place that even in its heyday was a tumble-down ruin of derelict apartment complexes with many from that era that still stand boarded up, with burned out husks of cars on the street side, and graffiti covering nearly every building and surface. But now that carcass is getting a fresh coast of paint. Steam rises up from sewer grates once choked in garbage, posters for niche music groups playing at manufactured bars with a faux dive aesthetic plaster every telephone pole, and military police patrol with alarming regularity.

On one street once known for its grime and grit, there lies a brick-faced building with barred windows on the ground floor and pock-marks from bullet impacts in the walls. It is surrounded by construction scaffolding and palettes of new bricks rest nearby under bright blue tarps. The old sign that once proclaimed “Tucker's Pawn Shop” is gone, replaced by a pristine sign that reads Vintage Apothecary and has flowers and little glass jars of herbs in the window right next to bottles of hand sanitizer and facial cream. Near the former pawn shop entrance, there is a stoop to a stairwell marked with a shiny new intercom system. But the woman entering off the street doesn’t need to buzz for an apartment. It just unlocks for her with a touch.

It's here where a man known on Staten Island as Tricky Ricky resides—perhaps has always resided and may continue to reside forever. Kaydence Damaris never made many trips to the Rookery in its heyday, but she’d heard stories. This faux-rich paint job it’s been given feels as disingenuous as the broker she’s going to meet.

Kay heads up the concrete steps to the second floor, where there used to be sounds of a community-in-proximity: the muffled and distant sounds of an argument; a man and woman's voice raised, something smashing, a child crying. Visitors’ shoes would crunch broken glass underfoot up the stairs, now cleaned up by the property management company that bought the building. The lights even work now thanks to the newly connected electricity grid and the old wallpaper is completely replaced by an inoffensive gray paint to match the new gray hard surface flooring.

Everything is fucking gray.

Another floor up and there used to always be a dog barking and someone who had their radio on too loud, but far enough away that only the generic bass beats can be heard through the ceiling. Kaydence experiences none of this. They've all since moved out. Rent went up 500% since the new property management company took over, and Gideon d'Sarthe's vision of New Chinatown began to take shape. To Kaydence, it’s just another cheaply constructed tenement building among many. To the people who once lived here, it was home.

Ricky's apartment is the first door on his right, same as it’s been the last ten years. The permanent marker that once numbered his apartment is covered by a fresh coat of paint, and the numbers were replaced by black iron digits that read: 2 0 1.

Inside, Kay can already hear an argument in progress.


Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!

Ricky Daselles cannot keep his apartment door shut and is forced back and onto the floor as Kain shoulders his way in. “Son of a bitch god damnit I was sleeping man!” Ricky howls from the floor in his boxers and a stained Def Leppard t-shirt. Most of the unlit apartment is packed in boxes, furniture gone. The floor is a repulsive carpet that looks like the patchwork hide of a mangy dog and smells just as bad. There’s a brown ring on the floor where the couch must have sat.

“Quit’cher bitchin’.” Kain says as he steps inside, letting Ling and Eizen in before closing the door behind them. The latter of that pair gives the apartment a judgmentally appraising stare with one brow raised, then gently tugs a handkerchief out of his pocket and covers his mouth and nose. It smells like someone took a piss in a paper factory in here.

“The fuck do you want Zarek that grenade worked when I bought it!” Ricky says defensively, hands up and pleading as if expecting this was a shakedown. Kain rolls his eyes and jerks his head to one side.

“We need a spot t’lay low, go fuck off.” Kain growls.

And you came here?!” Ricky hisses, pulling himself to his feet. “Man I don’t want you busting up this place I’d like to get my security deposit back.

There are no less then four holes in the wall.

A stain on the ceiling shaped like a gingerbread man.

Half the kitchen cabinets are just missing.

The linoleum in the kitchen is peeling up like the corners of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Kain gives Ricky a flat look.

"'What fresh hell is this' isn't strong enough to express my disdain for this place," Ling remarks as she slips into Ricky's apartment, a bag slung over her shoulder, the component pieces of her now dismantled rifle rattling around inside. She fixes her gaze on Ricky Daselles with a similar look of contempt.

She doesn't know this world's Ricky - thankfully she's only ever heard tale of two Ricky Daselles in her travels, and one of them was at least half way decent. This, however, is much closer to the slovenly existence she had imagined when she first heard Kain utter his name.

"If beggars can\not be choosers, then I would rather not be a beggar," she states obliquely as she wrinkles her nose. The smell is the hard part for her to ignore. She's certainly had to handle squalor before, but the smell. "So, I would recommend you listen to Kain before someone chooses otherwise," she remarks in a smooth tone, huffing out a sigh.

"So we are to just… stay here, then?" she asks with a glance over to Eizen. It's not her idea of a picnic, that's for sure.

“Well Ah’m not exactly brimmin’ with plans here.” Kain says with an exasperated wave of his arms. “Who the fuck was that shootin’ at us anyway?”

Oh my god.” Ricky mumbles, covering his mouth with one hand. He scrambles to the window, peeking out the blinds. “Someone was shooting at you?” He yells back at Kain.

A bunch’a people now zip it.

Pinching the bridge of his nose with forefinger and thumb, Eizen exhales a patient sigh. “We can assume it was Mr. Redd’s muscle, or something of the sort. He seemed to be expecting them.”

Suddenly, Ricky bolts up from the window. “Redd? Silas Redd?” He pivots and comes right up on Kain. “That’s who the gas was for? You gassed Silas Motherfucking Redd?

“Calm down,” Kain mutters, trying to pry Ricky off of him.

“Calm down? Calm down!? He’s like Michael Myers and the Joker had a fucking baby don’t tell me to calm down!” He grabs Kain by the front of his jacket, shaking him back and forth. “You! Gassed! R—”

Ricky’s eyes roll back in his head and he falls backwards onto the carpet with a resounding thud. Without missing a beat Eizen steps over him and into the kitchen. “I am going to see if he has any aspirin in his… cabinets.”

Kain looks down at Ricky, then over at Eizen, then over at Ling. “Bet he’s great with kids,” he says under his breath.

Watching Eizen for a moment, Ling sighs as she sets down her bag and zips open a side pocket. "He makes up for it elsewhere," she offers back nonchalantly to Kain's comment. "You could've asked him who Silas works for these days before putting him out," she notes to both of them as she fishes the phone she brought out of her bag. "With Daniel gone, does that leave…" she pauses for a moment, thinking.

"Whoever." Not as normally as eloquent as she normally is, but her job never was keeping track of Linderman's enemies. They'll have to forgive her for not being certain.

"I do not know what that gibbering fool was so scared of. Does he really believe Silas thinks he is smart enough to have put someone against him?" Flipping the phone open into its tablet form, she shakes her head and begins scrolling through her messages, clearly looking for something.

And she finds it. A text message from a sender identified only as 81* is waiting for her, received some time during their getaway to this rathole.

Ms Damaris is already en route to your location, Sun Xiaolu. She should arrive shortly.

Shortly is awfully soon for someone Ling Chao would have expected to be at Yamagato Park at this hour, either home in bed or burning the midnight oil in her corner office overlooking the city lights.

“Ah’ know whose pocket Redd sits in.” Kain says with a glance to the door. “Gideon d’Sarthe.” He says with a glance back at Ling. Which means, yes, they’re sitting squarely in his back yard. “There ain’t no crime that goes on out here that ol’ Giddyup ain’t either got his mitts in or is wantin’ his mitts on.”

Which makes the part where Kain says, “He’ll probably be a little pissed that Ah’ done and offed his buddy Mines. But fuck that guy. He’s had it comin’ for years.” Kain moves to the window, peeking between the blinds out onto the street. “Seems quiet for now.”

With all the changes to the building come repair and maintenance. Squeaky wheels get the grease. Or in this case, squeaky hinges. Consequently, the door to Ricky Daselle’s apartment doesn't make a sound when it's pushed open and Kay Damaris steps inside, wearing the same tasteful black dress she had on when Ling last saw her at the office. A look is flashed in the direction of her subordinate, a short shake of her head instructing her to keep silent. She expects her to close up behind her.

If the blinds were open, he'd see the reflection of the woman crossing the shit hole apartment. He would see the look of disdain — rather than surprise — as she spots the supine man on the floor. Wouldn't mistake the sound of her sensible chelsea booted footsteps for Ling's when she steps around him. Instead, Kain hears Kay's Louisiana-inflected voice behind him without warning; tight, the emotion that would infuse it restrained. "For now," she agrees flatly, coming to a stop within arm's reach of him.

"Explain to me why I'm here."

At the unspoken instruction, Ling gives an acknowledging bow of her head mixed with a furrow of her brow. That was certainly much quicker than she had anticipated, and while she isn't one to question such things anymore it still stands out to her. With a flat expression, once Kay has finished moving, her footsteps follow in her wake, first moving to make sure the piece of wood that passes for a door is closed and stable. A moment passes to let Kay speak before she mutters something to herself in Mandarin.

Once that's done, she turns around and takes a few steps to cross the room herself - but rather than crossing to join Kain and Eizen, she stands behind Kay, hands held clasped in front of her as she stares at Kain expectantly. He's seen this behaviour before - this is what she used to do with him in the Hub, when they would need to confront someone about missing supplies or shake down someone for something valuable they were withholding after raids to the surface. The imposing visage it would provide would do more work than many of the words either of them could say when working together.

But she's not with him - she's with Kay. From this moment on, she's in charge, is what it means to say. Kain gets to be on the other end of that sight, possibly just as imposing given Kay's choice of dress - a choice that hasn't escaped Ling's notice, but goes unacknowledged for now.

It also tells him the likely reason Kay knew to find them here.

Kain looks past Kay to Ling with a “disappointed Justin Timberlake thousand yard stare” expression even though he absolutely has never seen the meme before, it’s just one of those things. He glances from Ling to Kay, sucking in a sharp breath as he steps over Ricky’s unconscious heap.

“Ah’ found yer answers.” Kain says with an uncharacteristic look of apology on his face. “Them fucks that nabbed you, Ah’ tracked down where the call came from, figured out why. It’s about Danny. About…” he glances at Ling, then back to Kay, “Inheritance.

From the kitchenette, Eizen gives up on his search for aspirin and joins the conversation. “Mr. Zarek and I have been coordinating since the incident in Niagara Falls. This goes very far, and very deep, Ms. Damaris. I did not want to return to you empty-handed. Nor, do I believe, did Mr. Zarek.”

God, she hates that.

She was ready, so ready to burn with a righteous fury and to scorch the man in front of her with it, but here he is… Apologetic. Like the last night she saw her Kain.

“Goddamnit,” Kay hisses under her breath, eyes lidding heavily, brows knit above them, mouth pursed up small with her annoyance. Her eyes roll up to the ceiling when she opens them again, breathing out heavily before she turns to EIzen. “Yeah,” she delivers flatly. “Kinda figured it was about Linderman when Lucien Crane started asking about him.” A shiver visibly runs through her frame with the recollection, coupled with Inheritance.

“They got what they wanted from me, didn’t they? Whatever that was, because I don’t know a goddamn thing,” she spits out angrily, but with her face turned to the wall, rather than direct it at anyone present.

The smartly dressed woman holds up a hand, calling for a silence from both Ling and Eizen when she levels her gaze on Kain again. “Did you really send me messages to warn me away? Don’t you fucking lie to me now.”

Ling would feel bad, if she felt she had any reason to be. This is a moment long overdue, and help that all three of them know they're going to need. She continues to remain silent, keeping her eyes on Kain as Kaydence speaks. Maybe at least one of her goals for the night can be accomplished by the time this shitshow is over.

“Clearly you didn’t get ‘em. Ah’ musta’ had the wrong fuckin’ number.” Kain grouses, frustrated. It’s also possible they were intercepted. After all, they didn’t waste any time in trying to execute Kain for his involvement. Maybe that was part of why.

“Jason Mines was acting as a go-between for some scary-ass folks. Ah’ might’ve put a bullet in Mines’ head, and abducted our old buddy Redd, to find all this out.” Kain glosses over the fact that Redd got away. “Redd says Mines’ contact is some lady named Azadi. That’s what Mines called her. Ah’ dunno if they got what they wanted from you or what, but Mines dug up a fuckin’ treasure chest under the old fish packing plant out here. Shit he handed off to Azadi, but kept some of for himself.”

Reaching into his jacket pocket, Kain pulls out an external hard drive. “Dunno what the fuck’s on this, but it was in Mines’ safehouse along with some other shit.”

Eizen eyes the hard drive, something he hadn’t seen yet. But he remains quiet about it. Instead, he directs Kay’s attention over to him with a subtle clear of his throat. “Lucas van de Walle,” he states flatly. “According to Mr. Zarek, that’s the man with the mechanical hand. The one that abducted you and shot him. Durandal seems like the opposite end of the spectrum from rooting around under cement floors on Staten Island. I’m of the opinion that multiple groups with similarly-aligned goals might be vying for this same information.”

“Mines is the one that hired me t’find you.” Kain reminds. “So he was playin’ both sides. Or both sides were playin’ him. Dunno.”

The answer suffices for her. Kay can’t prove if he’s telling the truth or not, short of him having the same cell phone now that he did then, which she very severely doubts — and would be disappointed in him for if he did. Her expression doesn’t soften, but it at least loses some of the sharpness.

Kaydence likewise stares at the hard drive for a moment before breaking off to turn her attention to Eizen, listening patiently. “So let me get this straight,” she says to the room at large as she looks down to the purse hanging from her arm, opening it. “You killed d’Sarthe’s right hand, who was working with Mazdak and the only PMC that can probably make Wolfhound shit its collective pants?” She doesn’t have to fish around for what she’s looking for, but finds it just as soon as she reaches in, exhaling a long-suffering sigh. “And then you decided to go and grab Silas Redd? Ya always have been ambitious, sug’,” Kay mutters under her breath more about Kain than to him.

Eizen receives a glare from the corner of her eye. “Did you help him with that?” Her eyes close and she shakes her head. It doesn’t matter. A bottle of aspirin pulled from the bag and given an underhand toss in the Eizen’s direction. “You’ve got that look,” she explains of her sagacity. “Your brow pinches.” And while she is definitely not the Mom Friend, she is a mother and still carries a small pharmacy in her purse. More than usual at the moment, actually, given where she’s just come from.

“Alright. Did y’all figure out how Kawahara factors into this yet, or…?”

"I believe it more accurate to say that Redd stumbled into a rat trap," Ling remarks simply, still looking over at Kain. Slowly, she finally breaks away from behind Kay, making her way over towards the other two of the entourage she has found herself a part of this night. "Outwitted, as it were. Not that it's that hard, once you can deal with his defenses. He is not terribly smart."

Though it wasn't her doing, there's still a smug smile of satisfaction on her face as she looks over towards Kain as a tacit recognition of his accomplishment. She raises one hand, giving a dismissive wave of her hand as smoke wafts off it and into the air in thin strands - a sign she may be more on edge than she lets on.

Since she has little to add on logistics or discoveries prior to her involvement, she instead makes her way over to Kain, back to Kay so she can't see her speak as she stands next to him. "I will not apologize for this," she remarks in a hushed voice. "Just remember that you asked me how, once."

Ling's thumb flicks off the strap holding the knife in place and she pulls it out, offering him the hilt. "Maybe we can still fix this." That's not a promise she's at liberty to make, but her intention is clear: A knife to help, or a knife to stab her in the back. Kain's choice.

Kain’s eyes angle to the side, looking past Ling to a distant point on the wall. When Kain finally blinks a look back up to her, there’s a knit in his brows and a familiar downward cast of his lips. He knows he isn’t going to like the answer to his next question.


"Here is your answer."

Kain clenches his jaw, then nods once. He watches as Eizen paces the room, arms crossed.

“As much as it surprises me, Kawahara doesn’t. Figure into this.” Eizen admits with some reluctance. “But when Mr. Zarek informed me of his most recent intelligence, I think the answer is far more insidious. The woman he mentioned, the one Mines was in contact with, Azadi?” Eizen glances to Kain and back to Kay. “I believe she may work for Yamagato Industries. Azadi Jahandar, assistant to the Director of Biosciences Cora Wenyi.”

“An’ if Azadi is Mazdak, that means either she’s a mole on her own in Yamagato, or y’girl Cora is too.” Kain says with a glance back at Eizen, who nods worriedly.

That fuckin’ bitch,” Kay mutters.

“Cora Wenyi has enough connections to make a potential Mazdak link not impossible.” Eizen admits. “Especially if Ms. Jahandar is her surrogate for communications. That said, it does not give us any further information on the why of this spider’s web. Why you, why the crate under the old factory, why all of this?”

This whole time Kain has acted like something else is going on. Like there’s something bigger going on that he hasn’t read everyone into. In the silence that comes after Eizen’s comment, Kain ducks down and unzips the backpack he’d brought with him.

“Whatever’s happening, there’s answers on this.” Kain says, lifting up the old hard drive. “Mines copied some data from an old laptop he dug up at that factory, put it on this drive. Ah ain’t had a chance to figure out what’s on it yet. But there were photocopies of an’ old road atlas. Had codes written on the pages from back in the old Linderman days, the kind we used to note gun shipment locations and dates.”

Kain glances at Ling, then back to Kaydence.

“Ah’ went through them all. Whole thing. All pointed t’one location.” Kain’s lips twist into a frown at he looks at Ling again. “The Corinthian, in Las Vegas.”

“Don’t suppose you’ve got anything to plug that in to?” Kay asks, nodding to the drive. She glances around to the others in the room, hiding her wariness beneath a mask of irritation and exasperation. This is a lot to take in, and it happened under her nose. She comforts herself with the fact that it happened under Eizen’s too.

Everything keeps coming back to Linderman and it makes her skin crawl. She occupies herself by looking around Ricky’s apartment, searching for a laptop she can commandeer for this data drive. “I think there’s merit to this theory about Wenyi. That woman was far too fixed on upgradin’ the hardware that was given to me.” She no longer needs to find something else to occupy her hands with to keep from self-consciously reaching to adjust the lay of her hair.

The mention of the Corinthian brings a dark expression to Ling's face, brow knit tight as she crosses her arms and looks over towards Kain, then to Kay, and then back ahead. A heavy sigh follows as she turns back to Eizen. "Do you believe it's like the Corinthian we saw?" she offers, speaking to Kain but walking her way towards Eizen instead. "Before we came here." It's an oblique statement, lacking context to both Eizen and Kay.

Ling seems to be in no hurry to elaborate.

"The basement reaches of the Corinthian are home to… something," she offers with a lazy motion of her hand to the side. "Something valuable enough to replace the expected vault. Something that required quite a bit of intense cooling measures." She looks down at her nails for a moment.

"Umbra," she adds afterwards. "The only identifying text in that room." She pauses, looking up to Eizen, then back to Kain. "Am I on the right track? I find it quite hard to forget what we saw down there."

Whatever importance the Corinthian has, it's much easier for her to grasp on to than the talk of Mazdak and Wenyi.

Kain grimaces, looking down at the floor at the memory of the vault.

“Umbra?” Eizen asks, glancing between the others to see if anyone is less clueless than he is. He is left wanting.

“Dunno. Danny kept a vault under the Corinthian, special access from the Penthouse suite. When Ling an’ me were…” he glances at Eizen, then down to the floor. “Ah’ dunno. It looked like a lab or someshit.”

Meanwhile, Kay’s search for anything post-dating 1996 in Ricky’s apartment comes up empty-handed. To say he lives off the grid implies he was ever on it to begin with. The closest thing he has to modern accouterments is his cell phone which was cutting edge in 2010.

“Figure you might be able to spy up somethin’ with the drive.” Kain says to Kay. “But whatever’s on it’s connected to the people who kidnapped you. All this circles straight the fuck back t’Danny.”

Eizen shifts his weight to one foot and looks from Kain to Ling to Kay. “It would seem the ghost of Daniel Linderman casts a very long shadow.”

“It doesn’t make any goddamn sense,” Kay grouses as she all but snatches the hard drive from Kain. It isn’t him he’s upset with, but she’s lacking a proper outlet for it. “I’ll… Yeah, I’ll get something out of this.” She gives it a cursory lookover for no real reason at all before tucking it away in her purse.

She doesn’t need too much further context to pick up on what Ling and Kain aren’t saying about when they were at the Corinthian. Or maybe it’s more of a how. Either way, she can surmise. “So. You all need a place to hole up for the night… Or better.” She purses her lips. “Because you sure as hell aren’t staying here.” She looks down at Ricky with disdain. “Where the fuck is Redd now?”

Ling is silent as she watches Kain, then Eizen. "Very little makes sense these days," Ling offers in a droll tone, arms crossed. She doesn't just mean in oblique references to some asinine origin story between her and Kain; it's everything. Kay's abduction, Kimiko seemingly knowing the truth of who she and Kain are, Kimiko's death, the Yamagato takeover… nothing feels like it makes much sense at all.

What's one more thing.

Finally turning to look back at Kay, Ling resumes her pacing about. "Likely picked up by whomever decided to come at us with snipers and assault weapons for… accosting our old friend. Much, I might add, to my intense annoyance." It's not like they had much time to do anything about it, though.

“What she said.” Is Kain’s answer, nodding to Ling. “He fucked off into the ether, but yer right Ah’ sure as shit don’t wanna die on Ricky’s nasty-ass rug. So Ah’m in agreement that we roll on up outta’ here and lay low for a bit.”

“I have a safehouse you can use,” Eizen says with a glance over to the trio before crouching down over Ricky. “It is just outside Yamagato Park on the north side of the fence. Discreet, small.”

Eizen presses his fingers to Ricky’s forehead, then looks up at the room. “When we are ready to leave, tell me, and I will let Mr. Daselles wake up.”

“Y’all got room in the car for one more, I hope.” Kay’s already pulling out a set of keys from her purse. They aren’t hers. Ling and Eizen both have seen her walking with them in her hand either to or from her office, her apartment, or car. There isn’t a fob or a card hanging from the ring at all. Instead, there’s a royal blue Tamagotchi dangling cheerfully. “I didn’t expect to be leavin’ the island before daybreak and I didn’t drive myself out here.”

She obscures whatever embarrassment she may be feeling with annoyance. “I’m figurin’ if y’all were followed, the windows would be shot out by now. So,” her gaze falls on Eizen, knowing who’s playing the role of chaperone in this group, “I’ll drop off the bike I borrowed, then ride the rest of the way with y’all.”

She’s already moving for the door. She would prefer not to make any clarifying statements.

There's a brief moment where Ling gives Kay a look, the sort she would give Kain when she knows there's more going on than he's willing to come forth with. Withering, annoyed, stoic, all the things that embody who she tries to be. It's not something she ever does to this Kaydence, and yet here they are.

If nothing else, it hasn't escaped her notice how quickly her boss got here. A matter to be discussed later, or not at all.

Instead, she looks over to Ricky's prone form, then back up to Eizen. "I would rather leave him be, I… don't think any amount of beauty sleep will help him so you may as well rouse him," she remarks flatly, matter of factly. A joke is a rare thing from her, and even she can't help but crack just the slightest smile, one touched with amusement and just the barest hint of malice as she picks up her bag.

Eizen presses a finger to Ricky’s temple, then slowly stands up straight. Seeing Eizen move away from Ricky, Kain flashes a quick glance out the window, then nods to the door.

“C’mon then, let’s all get nice’n friendly in Ling’s new ride.” The Cajun says with a tired sigh. Moving to step out of the apartment first, checking up and down the hall as he does. “Probably gonna need t’lay low for a bit after this, make sure the fire’s not lickin’ our buttholes no more.”

Eizen momentarily wrinkles his nose. It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it reaction.

“Then, after that, we got a few phone calls t’make.” Kain looks back at Ling and Kay. “Cause we gotta get the band back together.”

Eizen slowly makes his way out of the door last, quietly shutting it. As he does, Ricky’s eyes flutter open with a shout of, “—edd! Are you fucking n…” He realizes he’s prone, staring up at the ceiling. Ricky looks left, then right. Then, in a confused whisper, finishes the sentence he started before blacking out.



The Divide
Ruins of the Bronx

An electric beat pulses through the concrete walls two stories below the ruined streets of the Bronx. Sweaty bodies are pressed together in crumbling catacombs decorated with vibrant graffiti and lit by blacklight and neon. The silhouette of bodies look like a sea of darkness with arms raised in the air, backlit by strobes flashing from a soundstage.

In an arched brick alcove, three people share a single kiss that swaps a square tab of acid between them. Their faces are lit in flashing red and purple colors, their shadows languid and dancing on the walls. Nearby, a bearded man with sunken cheeks sits on the floor, blue light dancing in his pupils, bringing back memories of a time long since lost.

A man who cannot be seen leaves a visible trail of blood through the flashing illumination, drizzling a desperate trail through the wandering halls of The Divide. He comes to a door guarded by two men in dark suits visibly armed with assault rifles, slipping between them without being noticed. Only the droplets of blood on the concrete steps heralds his passing.

Beyond the doorway, a claustrophobic chamber of indiscernible original purpose is now draped in velvet curtains with a chaise lounge chair and a glass-topped table, atop which are several lines of cocaine. A woman covered in tattoos with neon green hair snorts one of the lines off the table, then slouches back into an armchair, laughing. She looks over at the chaise lounge where a white-haired man in a sleek suit sits, eyes closed as if asleep.

Get the fuck out!” Redd howls over the music, appearing next to the green-haired woman as if out of nowhere. She jolts, startled, and Redd grabs her by the shoulder and hauls her up and out of the chair, then shoves her out the door. The two security guards, hearing the altercation, turn to look in and intercede, but the white-haired man raises a hand. That won’t be necessary.


Redd winces, clutching his side before collapsing down into the now unoccupied chair. He eyes the cocaine. Later.

The white-haired man opens his eyes, blinking a look over at Redd. “Mr. Mackenzie?” He asks.


“I’sat you? Or am I just speakin’ to the fuckin’ answering machine?” Redd hisses, pulling bloody fingers away from his side.

The white-haired man frowns disapprovingly. “I’ll call. He's expecting you.” Kyle says, then closes his eyes. A moment later they flutter back open, and a different man’s voice comes out of his mouth when he speaks.

“I’m glad to hear you’re alive. After that rescue we had to pull I thought they might’ve finally put you out of my misery. What the fuck happened?”

Redd lurches forward, grimacing. “Zarek and Chao are alive.”

“I don’t give two shits about that.”

"Oh yeah?" Redd clenches his jaw. "Well they're putting the fucking pieces together. Whatever Mines was after, they are too. I dunno how much they know or what they got—"

"Mines is dead, yes?"

"I mean, yeah, but—"

"Then do your fucking job." The voice speaking through Kyle Renautas says. "I don't care if Jesus Christ himself kidnapped you. I want everyone involved in this dead. Do I make myself clear?"

Redd flares his nostrils, wincing again as he touches his side. "Yeah."

"Good." The man on the other end of a psychic telephone says flatly. "Otherwise I'd have to put you on that list."

Redd snorts derisively. "Not to shit where I eat, but if I didn't want you t'find me, you wouldn't. This isn't a—"

Click goes the hammer of a gun pressed to Redd's temple from a man who wasn't there a moment ago. Redd doesn't look, but he can see the corner of the barrel in his periphery.

"I think you're under a mistaken assumption, Mr. Mackenzie," the man speaking through Kyle says, "that you're the only person who can do what it is you do."

Redd finally glances up at the man holding the gun at the side of his head, and his hands start to tremble.

"Now. Do your fucking job. Or the next time you see my associate…"


"…will be the last."

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