Lesser Royalty


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Scene Title Lesser Royalty
Synopsis The King of Pentacles dumped his current mess on the porch of Richard and Rue. Now they have to figure out what to do with it.
Date July 15, 2018

Raytech Industries NYCSZ Branch Office

“Ms. Lancaster,” greets Richard Ray as he rises from the tall-backed leather chair behind a desk topped in black glass, a crooked smile making itself known as he gives her an appraising look, “Always a pleasure to have one of Gitleman’s people stop by, of course… please, have a seat.”

One hand motions to the seats opposite the desk as he eases himself down into his chair again with a subtle creak of steel when it leans back a few degrees. The light from the broad, open window that overlooks the next building’s solar roof and all the greenery lined up in well-tended gardens spills over the room, although it doesn’t quite reach the desk. In that wedge of warm sunlight a small kitten is sleeping, a ball of floofy ginger fur curled up.

“So what can I help you with today— or does Hana need something?”

“I’m not the messenger today,” Rue offers as her greeting, taking a seat after a brief glance around the space. Habit, really, but she’s impressed with it. The Raytech offices have always been somewhat impressive to her. It all feels very modern, and untouched by the war. Even she likes to have a fantasy with her head in the sand once in a while.

Her ginger hair is worn down, curls brushing past her shoulders. A grey blazer is buttoned over a black blouse, paired with a matching pencil skirt. She looks professional today in a different way than she normally does. “I understand you’ve met with my colleague, Mister Epstein.” If that doesn’t give him some idea of her business… “He suggested I offer my assistance in locating a certain… elusive individual.” Her mouth pulls into a lopsided smile that doesn’t quite make it to her eyes. “I believe I have some good resources we could make use of.”

It was carefully made to look like this; modern, untouched, the cutting edge of civilization. If one looks out the window, though, if they look past the greenery of the roof and the solar panels turning slowly to face the sun throughout the day, the crumbling sprawl of Jackson Heights can be seen. Construction equipment visible in the distance, working to rebuild what was once a place where people lived, where children played.

‘Building a Brighter Future’ — it’s what it says on the Raytech Industries website and letterhead, at least.

At the woman’s words, Richard’s brows both raise upwards. “Did he, now…” A smile widens a bit in response as it becomes something more genuine, his tone turning wry, “Well, I’ll certainly take all the help I can get. He couldn’t’ve asked for something simple, like a million dollars, no, he needed this.”

About to say something else, suddenly he snaps his fingers and points, “Lancaster. Epstein. Are you related to Adrianne then?”

“We were family, yes.” The smile Rue wears is tight. “I aspire to do her proud.” If anything, she’s surprised she doesn’t get that question more often. She chalks it up to the notion that she doesn’t look like she lives up to the legacy her kin was forging long before the war. But that’s the problem with putting idols on a tall pedestal. “Avi too,” she adds with a little more warmth.

“Funnily enough,” she continues, “their association wasn’t how I came to know him and his people. Hell, I don’t think he realized we were related until the war.” The chuckle she gives at that is genuine enough. Even if, like most of Rue’s moods, there’s an undercurrent of something like melancholy. Her younger self would find her much too serious these days.

Resting her hands in her lap, and with the issue of lineage settled, Rue picks up the thread. “This is definitely not an easy task. But I’ve never believed for a minute that man is dead.” If only because she places him amongst legends. Legends never really die. “That said, I haven’t got a damn clue where to start looking. But I think I know someone who will.

She doesn’t leave him hanging, leaning forward with brows lifted. “You’re familiar with Eve Mas.”

Richard certainly hopes that legends die. He’s killed a few. It’d be very awkward if they didn’t stay dead. “Funny, that,” he admits with a chuckle under his breath, “I didn’t realize I was related to Kershner until after the war— and I’d been working with her for some time before it.”

Fingers rake back through his hair, then, and he nods slightly, “I’ve never doubted he was alive, somewhere. Maybe he’s on an island drinking mojitos with— well.” A fainter smile, “Someone else who’s been missing.”

Then he’s actually wincing, hand sliding back forward to rub at his eyes, “Mhm. Cute girl, precog, used to bring pizzas in the back window of the apartment, keeps trying to murder my friends and occasionally succeeds. Yes, I know Eve.”

Rue snaps her fingers in a mirror of Richard’s earlier move of recognition and points across the desk. “That’s the one.” There was never a question as to whether he would know the precognitive woman, but watching his reaction was worth the price of admission.

“Look, I don’t know how, but she’s got some kind of connection to him. How much of that is in her mind, and how much of it is real? That I can’t say. But Eve’s mind is a powerful thing,” if a bit fragile, “and she’s the first person I’d contact about trying to find Gabriel fucking Gray.”

The Wolfhound operative still isn’t sure how the hell it’s all come to this moment, but here she is, and here he is. They’re in this together now as far as she’s concerned. “You can try other methods, but against all odds, I’d put her down as my safest bet.” And she means safest in more ways than one.

“It’s certainly safer than my first thought, which is pretty much my last resort since it might literally be the last thing I ever do,” Richard deadpans, his hand dropping from his face and waving slightly through the air, “I’ll… figure out how to talk to her. There’s a lot of bad blood between us.” Literally. “Pretty sure that she’d help just to smirk at me and give me an ‘I told you so’, admittedly, but…”

He shakes his head, “It’s hard working with someone like her, knowing what she’s done. Heh, I suppose I’m a bit of a hypocrite there, but so be it.”

Hazel eyes return to her, “You have any other bets, thoughts, ideas?”

Rue raises one eyebrow. She has sympathy for Richard’s position and understands that Eve Mas isn’t always the easiest person to liaise with, but that doesn’t stop her from standing firm in her suggestion. “No, beyond perhaps enlisting your sister.”

Then she grins and leans forward again, conspiratorial. “But I love a great bad idea. What’cha got, Ray?”

“I wouldn’t have a telepath I cared about dig into the brain of a precognitive, I can only imagine it’s like walking drunk into a hall of mirrors…” Richard looks back across the desk to her as she leans in, then, a hint of that smile from earlier twitching to life, “Oh, you’re trouble. No wonder Epstein likes you.”

He shakes his head, “But— no. Last resort, literally. I am not hunting down Samson Grey unless there’s literally no other choice.”

There’s a waggle of her eyebrows at the notion of her mischievous attitude to accompany the grin.

And it all fades in an instant. Rue all but reels back from the desk when Richard lays out his absolute last ditch effort. She lets out a low whistle and shakes her head. “That is a fucking terrible idea. Even I won’t touch that one.” This time, her grin’s a bit more nervous. “I hear I’m not his type anyway.”

“As I said…” Richard’s hands spread, “…last chance. He’s killed me once already, and I don’t have anything he wants— we could gamble on him wanting to help his son— but really, I don’t want to risk it. Unless every other path has grown cold…”

Apparently he’s been killed before. He looks awfully good for a dead guy.

“Anyway. We’ve got Eve— any other thoughts? We could take out a personal ad in the new— “ He pauses, “What the hell, I’ll take out an ad in the newspaper too.”

“No shit. Heh…” Eyes downcast, Rue runs her tongue over her teeth and thinks about how large that particular bullet is and how hard it would be to dodge if they actually attempted to use it. Thankfully, they have better avenues.

“Eve’s my best lead,” she admits apologetically. “She’ll know where to start. Or… maybe she’ll know where it all ends up and we’ll just have to figure out how to get there. It’s hard to tell with her.” She’s a bit more receptive to Eve’s particular brand of irreverence than most, admittedly.

“Do you really think he’d respond to an ad in the paper?” Rue considers this for a moment and then shrugs. “I suppose it wouldn’t be the craziest thing anybody’s done. I’d be prepared for some crackpot responses, though.”

“I used to arrange meetings through the personals,” admits Richard, one hand turning over palm to the ceiling, “It’s an old spycraft trick, which I… I’d like to say I learned in the CIA or something, but actually I just read a bunch of spy novels when Endgame was based out of the library. I had a lot of free time on my hands.”

He flashes a grin back to her, “Anything’s possible if you’re willing to try the unorthodox route. I found that out a long time ago.”

“Ain’t that the truth?” Rue scratches at the back of her neck with manicured fingernails. “I’ll be curious to see how it turns out, but I suppose I’ll be missing all the fun.” There’s a note of disappointment to her voice, but no apology this time. “I’ve got to head out of town for a while. Won’t be able to help out much until I get back, but that’s why I’m putting you in touch with Mas.”

That skirt is hiked up just enough to allow her the freedom to cross one leg over the other. Business attire is not Rue’s thing, generally speaking. She wears it well all the same. “I know you’ve got bad blood with her. I get it. But I know she’s the way to go to start. If she’s a total bust, I’ll be the first to apologize. All I’m saying is play nice, okay?”

“I can play nice,” Richard says, holding both hands up palm forward, “I can, honestly, I can. If I can work side by side with the people we brought with us down south…” He wrinkles his nose a bit, “I can work with Eve. Hell, I didn’t— wait, no, I did try and kill Kershner.” A tip of his head, looking at the ceiling, “Wow. That’s awkward now that I know we were related.”

His life isn’t normal. Also he’s more Sarisa than Avi these days, although he’d hate to admit it.

He leans forward, then, resting folded arms on the desk’s edge and offering her a wry smile, “I’ll play nice, though. And I’ll let you know what I’ve got when you get back— I believe you’re all heading out on a mission soon?”

“I know you can,” Rue murmurs with a small smile, a hand held up placatingly. “Family’s tough. I get it.” She’s all but abandoned what’s left of her blood now. Not that there’s anything driving that decision beyond a strong desire to avoid domestication. She doesn’t think too hard about it, or she’d drink more than she already does.

A small chuckle punctuates a shake of the head. “That would be telling.” Whether he knows or not, Rue doesn’t talk about pending missions outside of Rochester. “I’ll get in touch with you when I get back from my little vacation.”

“I’ll hopefully have news when you do,” Richard nods, “God willing, anyway.” He’s not sure if he believes in God anymore, but old habits die hard.

He draws in a breath, leaning back a little as if to end the conversation, then pauses. “One thing,” he says quietly, seriously as he looks to her, “If you see anything— a machine, with an aperture in the shape of a triangle? Or if you see any references to a Looking Glass… please let Hana know that I would really appreciate if she’d contact me about them.”

A twitch of his lips, “Not that you’re going anywhere, of course. But watch out for robots.”

“I’ll keep my eyes peeled,” Rue promises with a small quirk upward of one corner of her mouth. She has a fair idea of what he’s looking for, if not what that thing really is, but she’s not about to be the one to reveal it - that’s the boss’ job. And she appreciates his well-wishing.

Rue climbs to her feet and smooths out her skirt. “Well. On that note, I should probably start heading out. I’ve got a few more meetings while I’m in the city. I’ll give Eve a heads up about what we need tonight, so she won’t be shocked when you make contact.” Her head nods as she seems to size Richard up for a moment, approving. “Take care of yourself, Mister Ray. I’ll catch up with you soon.”

Richard’s hands brace on the desk’s edge, and he pushes himself up to his feet. “I have a… lot on my plate as well,” he admits ruefully, “I’ll try and go talk to her soon and— see if we can actually get some headway on this. Christ— Gabriel, Caspar, how many missing people am I going to end up looking for?”

He flashes a smile back over, “See you soon, Ms. Lancaster. Give my best to Pentacles.”

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