Meet James Stutzman


deckard_icon.gif edward_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Meet James Stutzman
Synopsis Didn't you know? Edward has a plan.
Date January 23, 2009

Ruins of Midtown, Broadway — Abandoned Theater

Edward is moving like a man possessed, hurriedly coming down off of the stage after deferentially dismissing the laptop into Catherine's possession. When he hits the molded carpet of the theater aisles, his gaze once more shoots through the crowd of parting members of Phoenix to seek out Teorodo and Deckard.

Anxiously, Edward moves to one of the worn wooden doors that lead out from the main floor of the theater to the back rooms, quietly tapping his foot as he pulls out a cell phone from his pocket, flipping it open to silently review something, then hastily snap it closed and return it to where it had come from.

All around the theater is a mix of noise from conversation and moving equipment. Several Brian Fulk's working to remove generator cabling and pull down the projection screen, Abigail kneeling down on the floor beside where Elvis has sprawled out, legs still trembling from her seisure-like fit. Gillian moving up onto the stage, arms wrapped around herself, head down as she approaches Helena. Edward, mostly, is going unnoticed in the turmoil.

Deckard still has some cigarette left when he slaps a hand down over the brace of Brian's knee and pushes to his feet. He's slower, loafier, 100% the sixteen year old kid playing tough guy while procrastinating on his way to the principal's office. It seems like nobody ever really has any good news to give him when he gets called into secret meetings, and he has not been on his best behavior lately.

But it's not like he can skiv off now. Not after seeing the whole presentation and knowing there's still something else left to know. He makes his way down the aisle and for the door Edward is hovering around soon enough, feeling more conspicuously out of place in a suit and tie than he might like now that everyone is up and moving. When he gets there, he hangs back a few feet, not quite entering conversational range. At least Edward's old too.

Despite that Teo was closer to the stage, he's slower to arrive, choosing — for some reason or other — to sling himself between Deckard and the scattering crowd. As a teenager, he played truant too frequently to give the institutional analogy much acknowledgment; he comes stumping up with hands in his pockets and his head hanging low, exchanging a faint nod of salutation with Helena as she proceeds to herd the rest of the cats out. Doesn't look up Edward until he's practically walking up the back of Deckard's legs and back, his features too studiously neutral for the expression to be anything less than studied.

He doesn't understand what the fuck the big secrecy about: Deckard's name had been on the roster every Phoenix operative has access too. "What the fuck was up with the mugshots?" he inquires, by way of greeting. Despite the curse, the question manifests in the same tone as all of Teo's other practical curiosity. Give or take a shade of brusque that could be attributed to… you know.

"Nice of you two to join me," Edward stammers out, only to pause and stare up at Teo when he considers his question. "Half of this group doesn't know who the other half is, Teo. I figured it might be useful if they knew who to look for when the end of the world comes." The answer is delivered flatly, head tilted to the side in a doesn't that make sense gesture. He doesn't wait for, or even permit a response, hastily opening the door with a creak of the knob as he pushes into a crumbling and old hall, "If you two would kindly walk with me, we're going to have this conversation on the move." The moment he gets into the hallway, Edward unzips his jacket and unshoulders it, shoving it into Teodoro's arms — it's heavy, something weighted in one pocket. "Hold that would you?" Just a brief pause as he stares at Teo over the top of his glasses, then breaks out into a hustle down the hall.

This place looks like th eback was gutted by fire and then was exposed to the elements. Portions of the wall are burned through enough to see the darkened city of Midtown out through cracked and spaces in the shattered brick and crumbling sheetrock. The floor underfoot is warper and sloping down towards where Edward is headed, another door at the end of the hall.

"You may have noticed that someone was conspicuously missing from the meeting roster earlier," Edward shoulders through the door, moving out into a dressing room. A shattered and grime-stained mirror just beyond the entrance dirtily reflects the three as they come in, and heat-browned costumes hand of warped metal racks. However on one of the dressing tables, a plastic drycleaner's bag is laid out along with a pair of dress shoes. Edward quickly moves over, picking up the bag and unzippering one side, peeling it like a banana until it reveals a clean and pressed black tuxedo. "Mister Deckard's involvement in the plan is something I did not want being spread around. There's a high probability that we may have been eavesdropped on during that meeting, and I wanted to have at least one ace in the hole."

Edward takes the suit by the hangar, and walks behind a crooked folding screen that served as a dressing curtain. "Flint, you're going to be doing a little more than going for a boat ride. In about six hours, give or take, there's going to be a man down at the Staten Island ferry. He's about my height," That is to say short, "Wavy black hair kept tucked up under a black beret, he'll be wearing a green army jacket and be with several other armed men. They will be getting on a tugboat that will be heading off shore. I need you to be on that tugboat before they are, and I need you to get captured by them…"

Deckard falls into step with the other two men with little more than a hazy nod of greeting. Yeah, hey, hi. He can kindly walk along. He's good at walking, and good at giving the exchange between Edward and Teo re: mugshots weird looks. Aren't we like, all supposed to be friends?

Hands swinging lax at his sides, he cranes his neck back to squint out at the sky peeking through the rafters and sheetrock overhead, somewhat attention deficit until a jacket is thrust into Teo's arms and he looks down just in time to be sure of his step where he would've probably broken an ankle or something otherwise. Fuck.

Then they're in through the door, reflected in the mirror, which Deckard rankles his nose at. Fortunately, his name is called before he can spend too much time frowning at himself. His profile swings back around to Edward and his tuxedo-bearing banana bag, the likes of which he takes in with deep, deep, deep-seated and black suspicion.

Which is apparently warranted, as the story goes on. Scuffy the tugboat, a short guy in a beret, and intentional capture. For a moment he says nothing, glacial eyes boring into Edward without blinking for some seconds. Then he looks at Teo.

It's been said. Teo is around for mopping up vomit, plumbing, and carrying heavy objects. Thwarted from pointing out alternative logic, he thus— carries the heavy object once it's summarily lumped into his arms, looking mildly disconcerted if not exactly put upon. It isn't in him to refuse a burden of physical weight, however manageable it should be, from a man who is half his size and older besides. No offense. Surprised at the density of the object in the pocket, he skims a hand down, checking the general shape of the thing without curiosity of genuinely intrusive character.

Nice tux. Apparently Edward is going to go on a date. Which makes sense, in light of that whole say good-bye thing, but it would be nice if he wouldn't rub their collective face in it while talking about getting Flint fucking… His eyes start to rotate toward the older man to answer that look, but Edward's pull on his attention has the gravitational force of a black hole. 'Captured' implies character indicates Vanguard.

"They'll kill him," he points out, irrelevantly. It sounds suspiciously like a complaint.

Behind the screen, it's clear that Edward is changing his clothing. A pair of old and worn khakis are slung over the top of the screen, and the black dress slacks come down from where he had hung them. Next is thrown a button-down powder blue shirt, and a white undershirt, replaced by the dress shirt and tuxedo jacket. "If you look on the table by the mirror, you'll find a wallet. Your name is James Stutzman and you're a tugboat captain in service of the New York Harbormaster." A rustling scuff of some piece of furniture moving is heard, and Edward's winter boots are laid out on the floor. "The man with the beret works for Kazimir Volken, and they are going to be moving heavy cargo on the tugboat — ammunition and explosives. They're going to commandeer the boat, and you're going to pilot it to the Invierno."

Coming out from behind the screen, Edward adjusts the collar of his tuxedo jacket, looking like he's dressed for a gala dinner rather than trudging through the back alleys of Midtown. He motions with his nose, directing attention to a walkie-talkie, "You're going to have that with you, and when you see the men approaching the boat, I want you to press down on the reciever and say incoming." Edward's eyes upturn to Deckard, "That's all you'll need to do."

Looking over to Teo, Edward gives him a rather blank expression, finally affording his question with an answer. "If they were going to kill him, Mister Laudani, it wouldn't make much sense for me to put him on the boat, now would it?" Edward holds out one hand with a warm smile that seems so remarkably unbecoming of him from what Teodoro has learned of the man's mannerisms in the short time he's known him. "Can I have my jacket back, please?"

There is a definite pause, but it's followed by even more definite footfalls when Deckard winds his way across the ruined dressing room to the mirror. Right hand padded lightly over the wallet, he flips it open with his thumb, scruffy chin tipped to chest while he squints at the identification held therein. He is indeed James Stutzman. An automatic pry of paired fingers tugs the bit for holding cash open next. You know. Just to see.

Tuxedo Edward is given another flat look when he emerges. Or, well. A 'why the fuck are you wearing a tuxedo,' look. He reaches for the walkie-talkie anyway, both props weighed dumbly in his hands while Edward fails to be reassuring. "Why?"

Drive a tiny boat toward a cargo ship full of trigger-happy nutcases, fine. Make sure the boat is big enough to take a lot of holes, fine. Handing Deckard over to the bad guys in a stupid hat seems profoundly retarded, and this makes Teo's face dark. Either that, or he noticed Flint checking the scrap of leather for money. "If all you want him to do is say they're coming and drive the boat to the Invierno, you're leaving out the part that comes after they're done. So, what? He winds up with those assholes on the ship because they don't mind? Or they don't know how to drive a boat themselves?

"They aren't going to let him keep that, or weapons." As thoughts go, Teodoro's are evidently fairly scattered, but at least the disparate parts sort of have a directional slant to them. A directional slant that Deckard covered pretty good in that monosylalbe. Why? Realizing that he's still gripping the coat as if it actually qualifies as a reasonable hotage, he grudgingly extends his arm toward the little professor promptly enough to send the draping panels of cloth bangging into each other.

"No, Teo. They're going to confiscate the walkie." Edward's brows lower, "I've got this under control." There's a dubious tone to his voice, not even answering why the men need the tugboat captain alive, why they wouldn't just shoot him dead and toss him overboard. But Edward's focus shifts to Deckard, expression changing smoothly as he does.

"Excellent question," Edward notes with a nod of his head, walking over to the table that the walkie-talkie is resting on, picking up from that something that is wholly incongruent with a tuxedo — a telescoping baton. Pressing his palm on the top, Edward collapses it down to a small black length of metal and tucks it into the pocket of his slacks, finally lifting his jacket up from over his arm as he begins to put it on again, zippering it up the whole way. "You're going to be brought on to their ship," He seems so absolutely certain about it, "and imprisoned there. But you have what they aren't aware of Mister Deckard, and that is a unique ability to percieve things. I need you to scan the Invierno from top to bottom on your way in and after you're in holding, you're going to be looking for a RF-67 mortar launcher made by Titan Enterprises, it will look like a five foot long and eight inch wide cylinder of metal. There will likely be mortar shells them it," He makes an approximation of size witha motion of his hands.

"You also need to do a headcount of the ship's crew, their armaments, and the outboard defenses — See if they have any mounted artillery on the ship, and most importantly, see if they have a helicopter or any other means of transportation off of the vessel should it… sink."

Moving across the room, Edward walks towards a steel door with a pushbar latch on the front, an unilluminated Exit sign overhead. Settling his hip against it, Edward pushes the door open, letting in the cold air from outside as the sound of an approaching car rolls up, tired crunching gravel and light debris as it rolls into the alleyway. The black sedan stop a few feet from the door, and Edward steps out onto the stoop by the back entrance. "I have someone on the Invierno, they'll be meeting you there, and they'll be able to relay the information about what you find to the others." A faint crook of dward's lips into a smile, "You'll be staying on the freighter until Teodoro and his crew arrives. My man on the boat will ensure that you remain alive, I'm relatively certain of that."

Under optimal conditions, a person might fail to constantly consider the fact that they're being kept alive by the circulation of blood through a biomechanical pump in their chest. Under current conditions, it seems like that pump is all Deckard can hear. The rack of it against the back of his sternum is thick with dread, and there's a decidedly unbecoming little quaver at the tail end of the long-drawn breath he drags in to steady himself. Secret meetings. Bad news. Never fails.

Fingers flexed around the wallet's rectangle, his next breath is a little steadier. He nods, anyway, kind of pointedly not looking at Teo now that Edward's plan is hanging heavy in the room. He'll have a man on board to probably keep him alive. What could possibly go wrong?

"I want bugs on him. If he can smuggle in a piece of telecommunications equipment the size of a sawed-off tot's arm—" delightful image, Teo knows. He's rambling along in the wake of the old men with big, boy-sized footfalls. Chagrin suits him. "Then he can take a fucking tracker and wire. Wireless will watch. If something happens…" Then what? What could he do? What would he do? Send a teleporter to flash in in front of a half-dozen enemy sailors to retrieve an anonymous tugboat captain from certain death, expect that to be passed off as a fluke? Annoyance weights Teo's brow in almost low enough to wrinkle his nose. He doesn't finish that sentence.

Is glad that Deckard isn't looking at him. Instinctively, he hangs back at the glimpse of approaching headlights, eyes darting pointlessly into the windshield; so much more the rat than the lion. "Where are you going?" he finally asks.

"No, I'm sorry Teo, a wire is out of the question. If they find a bug on him — and they will — he's dead. The radio, they'll take that, and that's fine." He turns, going down to steps to the car before stopping and turning, opening the back door to reveal a plush leather upholstry, hesitating before getting in when he's asked — quite sensible — where the hell he is going.

"I'm going to Washington, Teo. I have a dinner to attend." Said with all of the conviction of a man who expect Teo to know what he's thinking. Turning around, Edward's brow lowers as he stares at the young man from by the car. "This is the end, my role in this is over and I have my own part to play Mister Laudani. Good luck saving the world, I'm pretty sure I'll know if you get it done right. But from here on out, you're flying on your own." He pauses, head canted to the side slightly, "Everything will turn out fine, trust me. It's been a pleasure knowing you, Mister Laudani." Blue eyes track over to Deckard through the door, "Mister Deckard." A brief, curt nod, and Edward slips down into the rear driver's-side seat, and the last Teodoro Laudani and Flint Deckard see of Edward Ray, are the doctor's eyes peering up at them as he slams the door shut, moments before the sedan drives out of the alleyway, trailing a flickering exhaust plume behind it in the bitter cold.

Taillights receed out of sight in the alley, and… he's gone.

"He has a dinner," Deckard reiterates helpfully, just in case somebody might have missed it. Edward has a tuxedo and a fancy dinner date in Washington. He has a tugboat full of terrorists. He should really fire his receptionist upstairs and hire one who fills his schedule with hookers and cocaine as opposed to promises of virulent disease and violent death.

The departing Edward gets a distracted chin jerk of farewell. Then he looks back down at the wallet. And the walkie talkie. He's quiet for longer than he should be, then: "I should change clothes." Do tugboat captains wear suits? It seems unlikely.

Fuck, fuck, fuckety-fuck, Teo can't believe this and he has no idea what is going on, which means technically there's nothing he should be cognitively grappling with, but there is. Why was there — in his coat, there—

Jesus fucking Christ.

He stills the mayhem of pointless words in his head by creating some outside himself: "I'm going to kill myself," announced for no particular or useful reason. He's stamping back in through the doorway, his head jerking to and fro between the sight of the theater's dusty bowels and Deckard, who's about to go to sea with a stupid hat and a crappy phone and do something terribly brave alone. "There's enough time for clothes and food and anything else you want. Look, when you get the walkie-talkie back, I'll have someone listening in on that," he reassures, conveniently forgetting that there isn't a hacker on earth who could— "I—"

I'm sorry, he would have finished, inanely, parked in front of the changing stall curtain and breathing in the scent of dust and stone instead of the mild perfume of cosmetics and more pungent sweat that should have wafted down here. He may not be much of an actor, but Teo is well aware that it is too early to deliver that line. He opens and closes his eyes. "Do you want me to go with you?"

Deckard is pale, blue eyes focused ahead at what's going to happen when his six hours are up and he is supposed to be the captain of a tugboat. Which is to say, he's staring at nothing, and not hearing Teo very well. Something about clothes and food, but no hookers, which means he must have been paying attention the other night when he promised to shoot the next person that offered. With care, the wallet is tucked snug into the back of his slacks.

That done, he's left with the walkie talkie and the blanched straight and narrow of his own reflection. It doesn't take much more than a glance at that for him to turn his back on it. Does he want Teo to go with him?

A slight shake of his head says no.

January 23rd: Prelude to Armageddon, Part IV
January 23rd: I Don't Expect To Die
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