Mutually Beneficial


eileen4_icon.gif helena_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title Mutually Beneficial
Synopsis Magnes, Helena and Eileen do business. The chosen currency is favours.
Date August 24, 2009

The Surly Wench

A punk rock pub through and through, The Surly Wench is dim, cramped, and incredibly popular. It's a small, rectangular venue with a bar bordering one entire wall. Despite this, ordering a drink on a weekend can be an exercise in line-waiting and rib-elbowing. There are a few small tables ringed with high stools for seating, but these are prime real estate. The majority of the patrons are forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on any given night. Almost half of the cramped interior is devoted to a low stage for live music. There's no dance floor. If you feel the need, you'll have to thrash in place.

Late in the evening, after finding a suitable place to meet, Magnes contacted Eileen, wanting to talk about their offer. He enters the Surly Wench, wearing a long dark-brown trenchcoat with a white scarf tucked into it around his neck, some dark-brown leather gloves, a pair of dark-brown slacks, and some dark-brown loafers. Essentially he's wearing his Rorschach costume, but no one has to know that since he left the hat and mask at home.

Sitting way in the back of the bar with a glass of beer in his hand (that he's not even drinking), he simply waits for Eileen's arrival, bags under his eyes and exhaustion filling his face. The one major change in his look she'll notice (Since he has the coat to cover everything else), are the faded nail puncture wounds in his face, as if someone grabbed tightly.

There is a woman in a red dress seated at the bar with a curly tangle of short black hair that teases at the nape of her neck and gives her profile an almost boyish appearance when viewed from the side. In the mirror, however, a pair of pale eyes smudged with kohl and swept out with a liberal application of mascara study Magnes' reflection when he enters and, catlike in their intensity, track his movement across the room. It isn't until he's sitting down with his beer that Eileen Ruskin picks up her purse and her glass of Jim Beam on ice, and makes her way toward the table he's chosen, the spike heels of her stiletto shoes drumming staccato against the floor as she moves.

"You're looking handsome tonight," she says, pulling out a chair from the table and helping herself to it. The ice clinks merrily in her glass, but her tone is dry, mirthless, and although she's wearing more make-up on her face than she has in many years, no amount of foundation can conceal the tired circles under her eyes. Either she hasn't been getting much sleep or she's been under an inordinate amount of stress. Probably both. "What can I do for you, Varlane?"

"And you're prettier every time I see you." Though Magnes has noted the circles under her eyes, he doesn't have much room to talk with his own. He smiles and leans forward, sighing in relaxation. "I've been thinking of that offer you and that man gave me. I've been trying to set something up, an information network so we can more efficiently stop criminals, rogue evolved, and anyone else the police can't control. I'm sure this isn't what your group is about, but I know you're more experienced than me, and all I'm asking is for your support. I'm not out to blow anyone up or be a vigilante, I just want to make a network of information so that the people who need it can have it far easier and faster."

Eileen regards Magnes quietly from across the table, saying nothing as he speaks, and continuing to sit in silence for several long moments after. Her glass finds a home on a coaster, half-empty, and drips beads of iridescent moisture onto its perforated cork surface. "I don't think my people would be averse," she says finally, producing a package of Camels from her purse, "but I obviously can't speak for everyone." Thumbing the package open, she uses two slim fingers to single out a cigarette from the selection and tug it deftly free. She's striking a match in the seconds that follow. "Who's we?"

"Well, I'm still in the beginning stages, so uh, right now we is me and a speedster I hired. I'm looking for trustworthy people to get involved, I already have her tracking down a list of places known to sell Refrain, and I've already tracked one place down myself, I'm just waiting for a call. I'm looking for the source." Magnes stands up, unbuttoning his coat just enough so he can open the top, then lifts his shirt, showing his stomach. On one side, just under the left side of his chest, are some pretty bad but almost healed stitches. And on the other side, seemingly right over the middle of his right lung, are similar but far fresher stiches. "One is from a Humanis First sniper I got to come from a roof a few weeks ago, the other is from this morning, another Humanis First person who killed an Evolved in a courthouse, then shot me when I went to save my friend. Needless to say, I wanna know everything I can about them."

Of course he's whispering pretty lowly when he speaks of Humanis First, so as far as anyone else knows, he's just showing a pretty girl his stitches. Quickly pulling his shirt down and buttoning his coat back up, he takes a seat again.

Eileen cups one hand around her cigarette as she lights it and inspects Magnes' stitches from behind her knuckles. "Human is first," she murmurs around the filter, her small mouth leaving a dark crimson-coloured stain where her lipstick has already begun to rub off on the paper. "If you're not careful, you'll bite off more'n you can chew and end up choking. Paramilitary organizations like Humanis First aren't something to fuck around with, lovely." She shakes out the match with a brisk flick of her wrist and discards it in the ashtray at the center of the table after snapping it cleanly in half between her fingers. "You familiar with the Vanguard?"

"No, I think I heard the name before, but… most people keep me out of the loop, then ironically wonder why I get into so much trouble." Magnes shakes his head, annoyed, but watches her intently, figuring she'll surely tell him. "And at the rate I get shot, I think I should be more worried about getting as much done as possible, because I don't think I'll have much longer."

"Similar mission statement," Eileen explains, "different goals. The New York branch fell when the Narrows did, but there are sects still active in other parts of the world. Russia, China, Madagascar, and they aren't the only ones. Humanis First has competition. Will always have competition." Not the point she's trying to make, though, and with a vague gesture as if to brush this aside, she takes a drag from her cigarette and blows out twin streams of acrid smoke through her nostrils. "If you want to know how Humanis First thinks, you want to talk to a man named Ethan Holden. Former Vanguard, spent the last couple of years systematically exterminating people like you and me, recently decided to turn over a new leaf. You need help? Tell him Munin sent you. He'll provide."

"Huh, you know, I had a cell mate while I was captured with Abby, said he was originally supposed to assassinate me, but he decided not to or something." Magnes shrugs, then nods in agreement with her suggestion. "I'll find the guy. So far you've been the most helpful person with this, everyone else is too afraid I'm gonna kill myself or blow something up. I'm glad there's one person willing to give me the benefit of a doubt."

Then, idly staring at her cigarette, he asks, "You hear that song about Munin yet? It made me think of you, mostly because of the name. I couldn't imagine you being like the woman in the song, you seem so…" He swirls his hand around, trying to think of a word. "Serene, I guess, like a pond with flowers around it or something. Kind've funny, since when we first met I was terrified of you."

Eileen offers Magnes a tight smile that curls at the corners of her mouth but doesn't quite extend its reach to her eyes. "Shores of the Empire State, I think it's called." She rotates the cigarette between her fingers in contemplation and idly traces her thumbnail around the stain encircling its filter. "Else Kjelstrom is the writer. I have contacts with who think it's prophetic, that Kjelstrom is some sort of Cassandra." The caustic tone of her voice rivals the bitterness in the air, the smoke from her cigarette forming a silvery haze that blankets their table in pea-soup fog and stings at eyes, burns nostrils. It's clear that Eileen doesn't agree with this assessment. "She's nothing to be afraid of," she says at length, "and neither am I."

"I'm not afraid of you anymore, if anything, I'm grateful. I don't think anyone's ever been so honest and open about things. I mean, I know my friends have their reasons, and I respect that, but it just…" Magnes stares down into the drink that he's not drinking, then raises his gaze up to her. "It just means a lot, to get the truth and not be in the dark."

Sappy moment over, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out an iPhone, holding it up to show her. "I'm planning to meet Else Kjelstrom, though not for anything serious, I'll tell you my thoughts on her when I do. But I wanna ask you something." He nods once to the phone. "I've been trying to find a technopath, I need someone who can secure my computers and phones better than any normal technician. I'm not sure if they even exist, but so far I've seen nearly every comic power I've ever heard of, and some that I haven't. So, any ideas on who might wanna help me out, if anyone?"

"There's someone I can speak with on your behalf," Eileen says with a slight tip of her head that might be a nod. "She's particular about who she works with, so I can't promise anything." The iPhone's glow reflects off her face, bathing her austere features in white light and washing the colour from her complexion. "If she decides your crusade against Humanis is worth her time, then she'll get in touch. If not, Raith might have a trick or two left up his sleeve that he'd be willing to pull out for the occasion. You made quite an impression."

"I'm trying to find the source of Refrain too, in case that's more her style of a crusade." Magnes adds, then suddenly moves to bump his foot against her's, not intending to shift her gravity, but instead shift her vertical horizon so it feels as if the world is upside down, and they're on the ceiling. A harmless show of control, if not disorienting. "I have much more control since that Tokyo thing. What I just did to you, controlling that is the only way I can fly properly. I wasn't out to impress anyone, I just wanted to save my friend's sister, but if leaving an impression gets results, then I'm glad something good came out of it."

Helena's text had been very brief, a request to talk to Eileen, and then a request for a location, once she finished her interaction with Cat and Peyton. On receiving word of the Surly Wench, Helena opts to doff her black wig, fitting in amongst the crowd as just another girl in cargo pants and a tank top. It takes her a few moments to orient and find Eileen and Magnes.

Eileen makes a low sound in her throat, accompanied by an abrupt and visible tightening in her jaw. The look she gives Magnes is sour, reproachful, but lacks any verbal reprimand. Swallowing hard, she reaches out, lifts her glass from its coaster and removes the cigarette from her mouth long enough for the time it takes to pull down a mouthful of bourbon. There are teeth marks of the cigarette's filter from where she bit down on it, errant flakes of tobacco poking out from a break in the paper. "Varlane," she croaks, snubbing the remains of the cigarette out in the ashtray alongside the previously discarded match. "I'd like something in return, if you'd kindly remove your foot from my leg."

"Sorry." Magnes smiles, slowly moving his foot back. "I was just trying to show, I'm not the kind've guy who'll accidentally destroy a landmark anymore." Her vertical horizon is quite quickly shifted back to normal even before the removal of his foot, taking note of the cigarette. "I can pay for that, I hear those are expensive now. And, what is it you want in return?" Helena is indeed not noticed, she's not even blonde right now!

And then there's a Helena, standing next to their table. "Evening." she says, although her casual greeting has an underlying tension. "Shall I wait until you're finished?" This to Eileen, with an added, "Hi, Magnes." No mention of the fact that she talked to his girlfriend today.

"It's fine," Eileen assures Magnes, letting out a slow breath past pursed lips as her body becomes reaccustomed to itself. Rather than return to her purse and go fishing for a replacement cigarette, she angles her attention up at Helena, rests her arm on the edge of the table and places her glass back on its coaster. "If neither of you have any objections to sharing what you've got to say with the other, I don't mind. We're all friends here." As for what she wants in return from Magnes, that does wait.

"H-Helena?" Magnes is surprised to suddenly see Helena here, then looks over at Eileen, completely confused. "I, well, she can sit here, but when we met, I thought you said you weren't with them?" he asks Eileen, distinctly remembering asking if she was Phoenix.

From underneath the raven haired pageboy cut, Helena grins. "Evelyn Wozniak's my name, actually. Or so the state of New York understands." She takes a seat. "I need a favor Eileen, but you're not the only one I'm asking, and I think it may potentially yield information that all of us will be interested in having." She watches Magnes warily a moment, like she thinks the moment she opens her mouth, he's going to go bolting off.

Eileen rasps out a hoarse laugh, voice crackling at the edges with the scratchy beginnings of a smoker's cough. "You said you wanted to network," she tells Magnes, "let's network. Miss Wozniak and I work together when circumstances are permitting and mutually beneficial. If you want to butt heads with Humanis First, you shoulder consider doing the same." To Helena, she gives a curt nod. "Depends on the favour and the information you expect it to yield. There's a lot on the table."

Magnes takes note of Helena's look, then sighs as if it's something he just expects. "You don't have to worry about me, if you trust Eileen at all. You don't know my plans, but she does, and since she's still sitting here, you can assume my plans aren't that insane."

Then, grabbing his beer that hasn't had one sip taken from it, he watches the two of them, being as relaxed as an exhausted looking guy can be. "So, go ahead, if I think there's a way I can help, I'll say."

"We got some assistance from someone with a…remote viewing ability." Helena says. "My…" she falters a moment and then continues, "My father was taking a meeting with one of his fellow HF people, one of the ones who kidnapped Peyton Whitney. They were on the carousel at Coney Island." She darts an uncertain look between the two of them and then presses on. "She mentioned being in a freight container at one point. I put that together with a comment he'd made about doing something similar to me during a um, conversation we had, along with the sound of a boat horn." She frowns thoughtfully. "Cat and I think that there might be a cell located in the shipping yard on the Brooklyn side of the water, but possibly and/or Staten, too. You're not the only person I plan to ask, but I was wondering if you could send scouts." This last to Eileen. "Maybe see if we can spot any of their people we've identified."

"I can do," Eileen agrees. "Gulls are good for that. Cormorants. Give me physical descriptions of the people you're after and I'll take a look around soon as I've got daylight to work with again. Soonest I can start is tomorrow morning. Abigail's looking after Teodoro for me so I can run a few errands, but I need to be getting back to him, too." She leans back a fraction in her seat, wooden chair creaking beneath her weight as she pauses to glance sideways over her shoulder, perusing the bar with her eyes. "Here's what I need from both of you. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting a gala ball in honour of FRONTLINE this Thursday. It's in my interest to attend, and while we've got a way in, my escort and I don't know what security looks like. Can you help us out?"

Magnes doesn't interrupt, he has apparently learned to listen, at least when it seems important. There's a moment where he raises an eyebrow, right around the time he notices the various tones she has when mentioning her father. That's odd. "I'd send my speedster, but she's busy looking into Refrain. And, as far as the ball goes, I'm going with Tracy Strauss. I wanted to be there in case something notable happened. How can I help?"

Helena admits, "I kind of wanted to go to that, even though there's no way in hell I'd get in." There is equal parts frustration and envy in her tone toward Magnes. "A little bird," A wry look toward Eileen, "Told me Michael Spalding wants to talk to me." She leans back. "I may try to convince Cat to go. I could ask her to see what she can dig up?"

Eileen rubs the heel of her hand along her jaw too relax some of the tension there and makes a non-committal sound under her breath. "Mm." The hand at her jaw falls back to the table, taps a finger twice against its wooden surface and points a nail at Magnes. "Being there is enough on your end. If Catherine can make an appearance, then all the better. I don't feel good about sticking my whiskers in Autumn's chicken coop."

"Works for me, the last thing I wanna do is something that'll piss off Tracy. She's a friend and a really important resource." Magnes gives Helena a more sympathetic look, taking a few breaths as he makes a decision. "Me and you, we should talk again. If you work with Eileen, maybe you deserve a little more honesty."

Helena murmurs wryly, "Because Miracle Day, fighting the Vanguard, and going to Primatech just aren't good enough." She looks between the two of them. "If I can't convince her, I'll let you know. If she can't help you, maybe Wireless can. Maybe it's best I don't go, even if I got done over to look completely unlike myself, I'm as subtle as a mallet and Spalding would probably toss me in a cell just on suspiscion." Awww. No going to the ball for Helena.

As Eileen rises from her seat, she drops a five and three two dollar bills onto the table next to her unfinished drink — enough to cover her tab and a modest tip. "Either that," she says, a tic of genuine amusement twitching spasmodic at the corner of her mouth, "or he'll track you down using a glass slipper." She clips her purse shut. "It was good seeing you both. Keep in touch?"

"Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of people keeping me in the dark all the time." Magnes' gaze shifts to Eileen with a friendly smile. "She's just told me more about what's been going on than anyone has this entire year, so if I don't know how important you are, it's not on purpose." Lost Company memories need not apply. "Later, Eileen, thanks for tonight."

Helena nods. "Sure thing, Eileen." To Magnes, eyes narrowed. "So what you're saying is you were going to try to establish a relationship with Phoenix without actually bothering to try and find out what it is we've been doing? Besides from, you know, making sure everyone knows how important we are." She shakes her head and pushes to her feet. "Because that's what we live for. Fame, fortune, and the opportunity to have one of our own being tortured by Humanis First…like there happens to be right now." She's on the verge of very calmly saying some very bad words, but instead manages a tight, "Have a good evening."

"Now wait a minute, that's not what I said at all." Magnes stands, moving to try and gently stop her by the wrist, though not at all forceful. "Neither of us are gonna get anywhere like this. Can we just start over and talk, and both be honest?"

Helena reacts without thinking, she twists her hand so it snakes out of Magnes' light grip, only to reverse and be holding his tightly. Almost instantly, she lets go and offers an embarrassed, "Sorry." Then, "I don't know. I question your judgement." She's being up front about it, at least. She doesn't mention the Company. It's not as if people she cared about didn't do a stint in a suit.

Eileen lingers long enough for the situation to diffuse, then takes her leave of the Wench while Helena and Magnes are distracted with one another. The clock on the wall above the door tells her that she's fifteen minutes behind schedule, and if she's to make her final date of the evening with one John Logan, then she needs to slip out onto the curb and hail a cab before Manhattan traffic gets any worse than it already is.

"I spent this year making mistake after mistake. That thing in Tokyo, not having enough control of my ability at the time to keep Abby from getting kidnapped, wanting to run off and be a superhero so many times until it finally registered that the world doesn't work that way. You know what I'm doing now, Evelyn?" Magnes asks, tone as sincere as it can possibly ever get, looking down into her eyes. "I'm trying to keep my friends' safety in mind, I'm trying to keep my safety in mind even though I got shot again today. I'm working on my investigation degree so I can be an asset beyond my abilities, and learn things like not spilling secrets to any stranger I meet. Evelyn, I'm trying to be a better person, I'm trying to earn everyone's trust, but it's hard, really hard.

His sincere gaze quickly shifts into a deep look of regret. "You should have seen me the other day, at this concert thing. I asked my friend to make me a drink I thought I'd like, not even thinking of how she can be with her tricks and stuff. Then I ended up making an ass of myself, and I can barely remember any of it. Even after all this time, all this studying and training, I'm still making stupid mistakes, but I'm learning, I've learned a lot, and all I want from you is to at least keep me in the loop so I can try to do whatever I can, treat me like more than a pizza boy who used to chase after Abby all the time."

Helena considers his words for a few moments. "Here's the thing that people don't get." she offers. "This sort of stuff, it's like a domino effect. Any time you take a risk, there's a chance you're not just endangering yourself, but all the people you know, all the people who are connected to everything. I'm not going to tell you everything, but I will give you what I can. It works both ways, though." She regards him thoughtfully. "You're not really working for anyone, are you? This is all on your own."

Magnes sits down again, holding his forehead in exhaustion. "Yeah, it's all me, and the speedster I'm paying a salary with money I'm not quite sure why I have." He looks up at her, barely able to keep up his facade of not being completely pushed to his limit. "All that stuff I told you about my plans on the roof? That was all true. Lately I've been looking into Refrain, I actually have a lead, I'm just waiting for it to produce a result. And I've been trying to learn everything possible on Humanis First, and, it's not really working out. They've already shot me twice and I wasn't even their target. I'm just so exhausted, doing all this on my own, I can barely sleep lately because I feel like if I waste too much time, people could be dying."

Helena cocks her head a moment. "Refrain was a drug developed by Pinehearst. When it was raided, Adam Monroe and his crew found it, and have since found some way to duplicate it and get it circulates. You want to stay away from Humanis First…at least for now." Then, "They recently made a raid against one of the local organizations, a safehouse. They have a hostage, and it's being handled. But please - now's not the time to try and intercede with them, they may hurt the hostage in retribution. Okay?"

"I understand, I won't do anything unless you say it's alright." Magnes touches his stomach and winces for a moment, definitely not in a hurry to meet Humanis First again. "I didn't know the drug was connected to Adam. I wonder how this fits into his 'kill a thousand to save a million' philosophy." He practically scoffs at the idea of Adam's philosophy, shaking his head. "So far all I know is that this place on Staten that I think has a Chinatown branch called The Lucky Monkey has something to do with Refrain. The woman has a number and a name, a number I use for 'business', and a fake name. I didn't, uh, go as myself, but don't worry about that. Someone's supposed to give me a call, and if they do, well, I'll tell you how it goes."

Helena frowns a little bit. "Chinatown…it's probably Triad. He might have brokered with them to distribute, so be careful. Some of them are Evolved." She makes a face. "Liu Ye of the Flying Dragons? Really does not like me. At all."

"I can't say I know much about the Triad, but I'll keep it in mind, and maybe ask my speedster and see if she's familiar." Magnes groans lightly and stands up again, offering her a friendly hand. "I think it's time I finally got a full night's sleep. Knowing other people are out there doing something, well, I guess it makes things a little less stressful. And I really wanna see Claire…"

"Oh, yeah." Helena lifts a finger. "Take this with a grain of salt, but as her bee eff eff, I'm morally obligated to inform you that if you hurt her I will rend you limb from limb with me teeth." She smiles at him. "Cool?"

That earns a bright smile from Magnes, and he nods in agreement. "Don't worry, I'd fly into the atmosphere before I ever hurt Claire. She's the most amazing girl I ever met, and she encourages me to be myself…" Smiling wider as if he can barely contain it. "She got me a Batman shirt."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License