Matters Of Security


brian_icon.gif conrad_icon.gif helena_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Matters Of Security
Synopsis A discussion amongst some Phoenix members about matters at hand.
Date December 1, 2008

New York Public Library

Once upon a time, the New York Public Library was one of the most important libraries in America. The system, of which this branch was the center, was among the foremost lending libraries /and/ research libraries in the world.

The bomb changed that, as it changed so much else.

By virtue of distance, the library building was not demolished entirely, like so many others north of it; however, the walls on its northern side have been badly damaged, and their stability is suspect. The interior is a shambles, tattered books strewn about the chambers and halls, many shelves pulled over. Some have even been pulled apart; piles of char in some corners suggest some of their pieces, as well as some of the books, have been used to fuel fires for people who sought shelter here in the past.

In the two years since the bomb, the library — despite being one of the icons of New York City — has been left to decay. The wind whistles through shattered windows, broken by either the blast-front or subsequent vandals, carrying dust and debris in with it. Rats, cats, and stray dogs often seek shelter within its walls, especially on cold nights. Between the fear of radiation and the lack of funds, recovery of the library is on indefinite hiatus; this place, too, has been forgotten.

After the news report about a woman named Helena goes up? Yeah, people are a lot less inclined to let Hel go out for various and sundry reasons. If she didn't have the roof access, she'd probably be a little nutty already, but for right now, she's sitting at one of the reading tables, tapping away at one of the spare laptops.

Subtle like a train wreck, Con marches across the room with a staccato pop pop pop of his heels hitting the floor hard. He grabs a chair and drags it across the floor so that the feet make a disturbing wrenching groan. Then he flips the chair around and thumps it against Helena's table, jostling it when he sits down in it. Using his feet, he pushes back from the table, eliciting another ugly noise on the floor, and then puts his grimy oily shoes up on the table, leaning back in the chair.

Teo is coming in too, having awakened in time for dinner about an hour ago, and consumed a sloppily-constructed sandwich in the kitchen. He's moving rather slowly, most likely because the havoc he's been playing on his bio-clock is finally taking its toll, between Abby's late-night emergencies (she has several) and trawling the city's daylight hours for hearsay and coffee. He comes into the reading room at a lumbering gait, halfway between a bear's deceptively swift waddle and a dog's trot. There are no more chairs in immediate proximity after Conrad takes his, so he sits on the table, pulling one sneaker-shod foot up off the ground and trying to wake himself up proper before somebody sets off a sonic boom off to the right of his head.

Click. The gun is dropped on the mattress. The young man overlooks his handiwork. Several different stacks of hundred dollar bills, firearms and various other weapons. The makings of a gang's arsenal. Though this gang is only operated by one man. Those grey, emotionless eyes pop over to his door at the sounds outside. Bending down the young man picks up the sheet and drapes it over the items on his bed. A nice little collection. It will only get bigger. His clone is going to be out and about with Deckard in no time at all.. And soon his gang of dopplegangers will be well equipped.

Turning to the door, his lips tug down for a moment. Shouldn't leave the room alone.. But, he has been inside all day. Pop. Another man steps out of Brian, his complete identical twin. The new naked copy goes to take a seat on the mattress as the clothed one slips quietly out the door and into the main lobby of the library. He walks rather quietly, hands tucked into his pockets, eyes flash to Conrad, Teo, then finally Helena. "Hey." Comes the flat, depressed tone.

"Oh gosh, Conrad. I guess you want me to give you my attention." Helena's tone is wry, but she closes the laptop and gives the aforementioned attention. And then there's a Teo on the table; she reaches out and briefly squeezes his hand before withdrawing hers and noting with concern, "You look like crap." And then, "Hey, Brian." There's not a lot she can do for him, but she gives him a faint smile. "Thank you guys, for helping me the other day in Chinatown, by the way."

As soon as Helena speaks, Conrad puts a finger to his lips and goes, "SHHhhhh! It's a library, kid. Have some respect for the other readers." He takes a moment to put his hands behind his head, looking like he's completely chill here in the chair with his feet up. "Yer welcome." Big grin.

Were Conversation not self-evidently impending, Teo would be sitting on the floor, where he commonly prefers to. This configuration probably makes more sense under these circumstances, however. Though, "I hate having hair," is what he offers by way of resigned agreement, reaching up to rake the fingers of one hand through the longer stuff growing out of his scalp. The other reciprocates the squeeze of Hel's hand with a thumb across her fingertips. Brian's arrival and melancholy are acknowledged with a sympathetic frown that is only slightly blurred and desaturated by his fading grogginess. Poor fella. "Speaking of that, the rumor mill is all over it downtown. More accurate than the news— go figure. Mandarin does your name funny, but I think the average English-speaker can tell what they're getting at. Huh-ling-na."

"Hey." He says softly, moving over immediately to Helena. He goes to take a seat next to her, placing his hand on her shoulder for just a moment. Not a hug but a greeting with touch anyway. He gives a little nod to Teo. Then looks back to Helena. "They're gonna be back." He murmurs as it as if it is a fact. "They're gonna be more prepared and more pissed. We should've.." He trails off. He doesn't want to belittle Helena. So he'll just leave it as a trail off.

"Killed them?" she finishes for Brian, and it's plain that's not an agenda she approves of. "I don't know what to do about this. We've got so many battles to fight, and this is one more front. It's not like I did something horrible to this guy. I interrupted some cockfighting and he acts like I took pictures of him wearing women's underwear." She then notes to Teo, "You could buzz it. Like Alex."

"I wouldn't have killed anybody anyway." offers Conrad, partly backing up Helena's take on things and also adding, "And I didn't see you cappin' anybody, Bri. Anyway they're gangers. To them saving face is everything. Looking powerful, in control. You made em look bad, Hel. If anything we didn't beat their asses hard enough. Not sure how that could be done without putting us in a bad spot though."

A shrug moves through Teo's shoulders, right to left, wry as the grin he puts on his face. "Maybe when it's warmer." He lets go of his scruffy hair and drops his elbow to his knee, stooping casually over it as he listens to firsthand experiences and decisions balance between the three who'd actually been there. "Moral implications aside, killing people in a noisy, public kind of way is more trouble than it's worth. I think some other fuckwit learned that lesson for us," he says, a little dryly. His nose is still purple and scabbed at the bridge from an injury still fairly easily passed off on Washington Irving's misadventure last weekend. Brian knows better, no doubt. "What do they know about us and the Ferrymen? Chang Ye and his kids?"

"I dunno." Brian answers dumbly. "If they're going to try and kill you because we stitched em up.." Maybe it's worth it. "They'll go after someone else next time." He notes, sure of it. "Maybe we should like.. Head them off before they can make that effort. I could do it." The young man offers, his voice momentarily lifting out of his depressed monotone into something that sounds like either sincerity or maybe even a bit hopeful. "I mean.. Look at Trent. They don't have much of a problem with beating the shit out of people. What's to keep them from killing next time?" He looks back to Teo and is the first to pipe up at that question. "They found Trent, they got Helena's number, and they know they somehow work together. That's enough for me."

Helena protests, "I don't want to kill anynone unless it's necessary, and even then I don't want to. They got the number from Trent, while they were torturing him. Anything they know, they know as a result of that." She looks to Conrad. "What sort of steps can we take?"

"Well…" Conrad thinks for a moment. "I need two hundred thousand bucks." It's like a non-sequitir, the way he says it. And he lets that hang. "I'm serious. I got a bead on a new base for us. Two hundred kay gets us the title. But we need to keep this one going as a decoy. Sooner or later the storm's coming for us here, so we need a better base. A real one. And I need time to make it secure."

Either because he's unimaginative, watches too many movies, Teo acknowledges, "Probably not a lot!" To stop the Triads from killing again, that is. It sort of bugs him that Brian's such a big fan of this homocide scenario. Surprises him, even though perhaps it should not. Two hundred thousand bucks, on the other hand, is a perfectly legitimate surprise. Warrants a long moment's stare, before Teo has to moisten his lenses with a blink. "I don't like staying in one place too long.

"Or knowing we don't have anywhere else to go," he admits. Inevitably, the nature of human cognition has him automatically connecting Conrad's fresh input with the question that was put to him. "So Hel lies low— I guess that's the obvious part. We probably need to ask Trent about anything else he picked up from them. What did they want? I mean, I figure now it's probably 'the blood of their humiliated foes,' but. Was it different before?"

A little frown at Conrad. "That's it? If they found Trent.." He trails off. "Well, what if they find Trent again and just call Helena up? A new base isn't going to solve that, is it?" He's not trying to start a fuss, just trying to think. "We can do the same thing to them that they did to us. We quietly take one of theirs, we show them that we shouldn't be dealt with, don't let anyone know about it though. They don't get publically humiliated again, but they know not to fuck with us and ours." He suggests with his hands out. Then looks to Helena. "I'll do it for free." He folds his arms over his chest. "I'm not saying we kill them.. We just teach them a lesson."

Helena shakes her head. "It started because I interrupted a stupid cockfight, and they came after me. And then they tried again when we did some tagging in Chinatown. The hydrokinetic said something about losing face, so I guess that's why he's into it." She looks to Conrad. "We've got access to about 40K or so, but that was supposed to be in small bits. We could use some of it to invest in something smaller, like a diamond, and then duplicate those?"

Parting his hands, Conrad says, "Hey, doll, I don't care how you raise it. I'm just saying that's the move-in on a new, safe, very good potential base. We're gonna need it real soon. Or else do like Army of One here," he points at Brian, "and start kickin' gangland ass." This is where Con makes a face like something tastes nasty. "…and I hate kicking peoples' asses with my ability. It's really hard not to hurt em too much."

The foot Teo's dangling off the table gives a wiggle, to check that there's still blood circulating. There is. "I'd give them to the fucking PD to deal with if I could. This should be their tip to clean up, not ours. I seriously doubt there are any lessons we can teach them. If they couldn't take a Hell of a beating, they wouldn't still be in business, and I think it would be fucked up if we took time out of our closely-cluttered schedule to put the entire Ye family in the ground." None of that is helpful, he realizes— but then, neither were the Triads in question. He pulls his other leg up, finally, teetering cross-legged on the far side of Helena's raised laptop lid. He looks at Conrad, curiously, switching topics back without segue. "Who owns it right now?"

Raising up his lip, Brian gives a little puff. "I'm sure they would take a hint, if we prove to them that if they do engage in a fight they would be on the losing end. No one goes into a war they can't win. If we just show them, preemptively that everything they throw will fail.. Then they won't play with us." Brian murmurs. What does he know about gang politics? Nothing. He's a good guesser though. Most of the time.

Helena looks to Conrad. "Do you know anything about dealing with that sort of thing? Fences, I guess? I'd be in over my head. I'll talk to Jennifer, she might have ideas. You're supposed to be crime-y for me, Conrad." Now back to Brian and Teo. "Do you think - if they knew what we knew, about the government and what they do to the Evolved - that they'd give a shit? Maybe see if we can point them in the direction of more important things, and away from us?"

To Teo, Con says, "This guy I've met a few times. Real scumbag. The property's in Staten Island. He wants outta there because he's got this property and the taxes are killing him, and it's doing him no good. The values have hit the floor in that area and the cops won't even go there anymore. Sounds like our kinda place if you ask me." He lolls his head over toward Helena and says to her, "The best fence I know is Flint Deckard. Who now owes us all favors." Grin.

"And he could use some starting capital for setting up new shop under a new name. Face. Beard. Or whatever it is I need him eventually to do to become somebody else, so we don't wind up with murders," Teo says, in a flat tone of voice that reestablishes his position on the whole killing people thing. Just in case somebody had missed the memo on that one. "Speaking of Deckard, we need to figure out who to disseminate his intel to. Hana says 'everyone.' Corollary to that, 'except the Company.'" His gaze strays back to Helena and he winces behind it. "I seriously doubt it, bello. I think the only way they'd take the time out of profiteering to stick it to HomeSec is if they posed a direct threat. Assuming the Sicilian Mafia and the Triads have anything in common, they don't take operational directives from universal moral principle."

Glancing to Conrad then to Teo, Brian gives a shrug to Helena. "We don't know unless we ask them. I say." Brian suggests. "They're Evolved. Not every Sicilian Mafia and Triad is Evolved Teo, maybe these ones will act differently. Maybe with a little convincing." The young man gives another shrug. "If we did it right, it couldn't hurt."

"Might be wiser if someone other than myself deals with your Deckard friend." Helena says. "Since I shouldn't be flashing my face too much. So if one of you could find out how we might fence diamonds or gold to raise the capital we'd need, I can talk to Jennifer." There's a pause. "I could ask Wireless if she'd be willing to get us some money, but it's not the sort of thing I'm comfortable with asking her for if we can do it ourselves. That's one problem we can address, and we can still use the library for contacts." That's issue one. "I don't understand how the Triad works. If I ask to meet with Ye, he may just try to screw me over."

"I'll handle Deckard. We're cool enough that I think he'd appreciate the business anyway. He'll want a percentage of course…can't avoid that." Con shifts where he's sitting and finally takes his feet off the table, rubbing his legs. They were going to sleep on him.

Resentment characterizes Teo's attitude toward the mafia and he's well aware there's spillover onto other entities that occupy the same… rung of the ladder. Thus, it's probably more because he likes seeing Brian off that whole 'let's kill everybody with my thousand fists of fury' than because he thinks the criminals in question will actually go for it that he says: "Could be worth a try. You might do well to phrase it in terms of a trade. They leave us alone if we give some intel, and offer an ambiguous threat to discourage reneging. Bluffing never killed anybody. I think," he tacks a disclaimer on, wryly. "Bring a good liar, maybe." He stares at Conrad baldly for a moment, then swivels his head most of the way back with a small smile. "I'm considering hooking Deckard up with whoever they have doing underground liaisons for the Ferrymen. Maybe you three could be friends."

"Then you don't go." Brian says to Helena, then nodding to Teo. "Let me do it. Let me take care of these Chinese guys. Let me to prove to you all that I can do something besides dying and moping around because of it. I can do this." Brian insists, leaning back in his chair.

"No" Helena's refusal is flat and absolute when she addresses Brian. "I realize you've got a lot of rage with no place to go, but the answer to this problem doesn't necessarily have to end in bloodshed." She nods to the others. "Find out what we'd have to do, and I'll talk to the person who can hopefully do it for us."

Kicking to his feet, Conrad grins at those seated and says, "I'm so glad we're all friends." He adjusts his collar and says, "I'm gonna go see what Deckard's up to. Talk to you all later." He tosses off a departing wave and turns to leave, whistling to himself.

Compelled by the telltale buzz of an incoming text in his cellphone, Teo also begins to clamber down from his perch. He doesn't beeline out of here as quick as the audiokinetic does, though. Tosses a wave at Conrad's back. "Ciao, uomo. I hope he likes the books." He slips his hand into his pocket, curls fingers around cell and glances between Helena and Brian. "Doesn't seem intelligent to give the Triads any more faces than they have. I think you and Conrad should be there if or when Hel talks to them, but really, the idea is to just talk. As it is, it looks like the best case scenario is that the Triads manage to nail Homeland Security agents to a wall instead of ours, so. I wouldn't get too excited about getting to hold the hammer." On the other hand, he hasn't died. Teo swats dust off his pant leg and asks, "Are you out with Deckard yet?"

A frown sits deep on Brian's features. "But.." He starts with his rebuttal, though stops with only air leaving his mouth instead of more words. A little grin. "Deckard's busy." The young man calls after Conrad. Then his grin disappears again. Looking flatly at Teo, then Helena. He decides to say nothing else. He won't be trusted with this, then he'll have to prove himself on his own. He just happens to have a few leads on where to start.. A couple of drivers licenses belonging to Han Bao and Guo Shen. Then he glances back to Teo. "Yeah. I am."

Teo would really have preferred some kind of verbal concession to their points. The trailing 'but' does not inspire much in the way of confidence. Still, he doesn't pursue the point right now: there are plans in motion, and until he has to break his foot off up somebody's ass, he'll concentrate on keeping them balanced on the ground. More for his own benefit than anybody else's, he summarizes: "So we find a neutral location, some way to carry word to the Chinese, feed HomeSec and a few grisly bluffs to them, try not to die. Best job ever. I'll need to talk to you about Wireless' mailing list, Hel. When you have a moment." He looks at Brian momentarily, stepping sideways toward the doorway. "Call me when he gets back into the safehouse. And whenever you're ready to talk, eh, bambino?" Questions. They've been rainchecked.

Another shrug as Brian goes to stand. "I'll carry word to the Chinese." He volunteers, before going off back to his room. "Yeah, I'll let you know man. He's an asshole. Called me a dipshit. I'm sensitive. I just died." He mutters with a deep frown.

December 1st: Pity
December 1st: The Other Fed
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