Not All Ends


the_haitian_icon.gif veronica3_icon.gif

Scene Title Not All Ends
Synopsis …are dead. Veronica Sawyer investigates some leads on Luke Campbell, but receives a surprising phone call.
Date March 24, 2010

Staten Island

Agent Veronica Sawyer has been many places in her life, many dangerous third-world localles while hunting the Vanguard, in the presence of many dangerous men. But out here on Staten Island's coast, there is a sense of visceral and primal danger that still hangs so readily in the air. It's a thinner sense of danger, these days, since the emergence of the government to reclaim the island and the falling of nearly six feet of snow on to the abandoned land, but still, there is a sense of palpable dread that hangs over some places here still.

The former residence of one Norman White, is one of them.

From the outside, the Slice of Heaven meat processing plant is an abandoned hulk of once bustling industry here on the island. Derelict cars stripped for parts fill an entire abandoned parking lot now laden heavily with snow, cleared only in narrow twisting paths where repeated foot traffic has worn down natural causeways. Rust has taken hold of the metallic roof of the large and boxy building where icicles and snow do not dominate, windows smashed out in Tetris-like patterns of the square-paned rectangular glass.

On the front of the building, over a pair of enromous loading bay doors is the billboard sign featuring a retro 50's style depicting of the "good housewife" with fading, peeling paint showing her holding up a plate of browned and peeling sausage links and sliced ham. One of her eyes has faded away entirely, revealing the rusted metal of the billboard behind it, and the caligraphed writing on the billboard doesn't quite spell out the name of the factory any longer.

Like the refugees from some third-world natural disaster, some hundred homeless live now in this area inside the factory. Burning steel drums produce large tongues of flame that leap up into the air, blue plastic tarps make makeshift shelters and cardboard boxes suffice for others. The people here dress in thick layers of clothing, huddled for warmth around the fires.

On approach to the facility, Agent Sawyer is not alone. At her side, the taller and lankier counterpart of a darkly dressed Haitian man seems almost comically juxtaposed against the bitter winter chill. Rene hates the cold, hates this weather and most importantly hates Staten Island's dangerous environment. His long-limbed frame climbs thorugh the snow, scarf wound around his face and knit cap pulled down low on his head, a silent backup for Veronica Sawyer.

One of the things that Veronica likes about Rene is that his silence is an easy one — at least, it has been in her past. She has never felt the need to fill the quiet with chatter. It's the sort of quiet that in her past was reassuring in its way — though of course that was before she felt she might be a target for his very special gifts. Now his reticence is not so reassuring — knowing he may turn his dark eyes on her and drain her of all that is beloved in her memory.

Scaling the snow drifts is not so easy for her, a foot or so shorter than his lanky form — she did think today to wear thicker pants and long underwear. Her teeth still chatter; the two agents have few things other than the Company in common, but coming from much warmer climates is one of them.

One hand in her coat holds her firearm — with Rene close by, she doesn't need to worry about tranquilizing an Evolved to keep their power at bay. Her eyes flicker here and there, and she nods to a group of the vagrants near one of the fires. "May as well start asking, hm?" she murmurs, though her eyes scan the scene for anyone of Asian descent. Not much of a description to go off of — a homeless Chinese guy.

Rene nods his head, sticking behind Veronica as he surveys the crowds of people inside the mostly open factory. Dark eyes sweep the structure, and the Haitian is careful not to apply liberal use of his ability here, given that he has no idea what negating some of these people — provided they have abilities — would do. Turning tog lance over to Veronica, the Haitian's chin tilts up, brows furrow and eyes narrow a subtle touch as he watches her work on her approach towards one of the burning steel drums surrounded by people.

There's quiet conversation inside the factory floor, where the tent city of homeless has been erected. It wasn't long ago that meals on wheels trucks once offered them a place ot eat, and Norman White offered them so much more. They have no idea he died, to them he was just another false savior that spoke big and made them come out empty handed. There's a lot of disaffected, angry people here, and it shows in the suspicious way they regard Veronica and rene.

The agent moves slowly, her eyes not alighting on anyone for too long, knowing that doing so might anger someone she would rather not anger. She finally chooses one of the makeshift fire drums, approaching slowly and cautiously, looking at the dirty and gaunt faces of some of those who use it for warmth, searching for the one that would seem the least malevolent, the one that seems the most likely to respond.

Settling on one of the homeless, Veronica gives a slight nod of greeting. "I'm not here to bother any of you — I'm looking for someone who might be here among you — someone who had an interest in a guy out at the Rookery, name of Christian Robinson. Guy's dead, and we're trying to figure out what happened to him. This fellow I'm looking for — I'm just looking for information, no more, no less. Know anyone who's got dealings with Robinson?" she asks, voice low and cautious. Her eyes watch for any sudden motions — and for once she's glad to know Rene is lurking nearby.

Veronica knows these silent stares she's getting, the fleeting glimpses from some how just try to pretend they didn't hear, and the dejected looks of ignorance from others. She's seen the same thing in Argentina, the people either too afraid or too selfish to answer her questions about the Vanguard. In a way this shanty town reminds her much of that place, the same scrabbling people trying to eke out a living under the shadow of some oppressive force — here, that just happens to be mother nature, not Iago Rameirez.

Rene moves awya from Veronica, brows furrowed and head tilted to one side as he peers intoa cardboard box, then into one of the tents, inspecting the living quarters of these people. To Rene, there's a whole other world of memories here for him, memories about his homeland and the poverty faced by the people living there. Where this is seen as an aberration in the United States, it was far more common in Haiti, making this particular trip feel all the more personal to him.

If there's one thing, though, that Veronica Sawyer learned from Argentina, it's that there's always something that can get people to talk. Not that she gets paid enough to keep doing things like this.

The agent reaches into her pocket, slipping out a twenty dollar bill, holding it in her fingers so that the person she speaks to, a young Asian man that doesn't fit the description Tricky Ricky gave her — there's no way this scraggly kid could be an under-cover cop, but he might know one.

"Do you know anyone around here who's been looking into a drug dealer, someone dealing out bad blue fairy?" she asks in her husky, quiet voice, holding on to the bill in her gloved fingers so he can't just grab it and run — not that she'd begrudge him the cash, but she only has so many of those, and might need to ask more than one person before making a hit. "Got someone saying someone from around here was asking around about it. All I need to know is who — not your name, nothing else. Promise."

Fifteen and looking like he's been on the streets almost as many years, the kid narrows his eyes and looks down to the twenty dollar bill. "I don't talk t'cops…" he states in a coarse tone of voice, making the nod of his head up towards Veronica a silent indication to fuck off, though he amends his statement with a quirk of one dark brow and a tongue pressing on the inside of his cheek. "Make it forty." At that, he glances over to the burning barrel, then Veronica's tall, dark and silent partner, before moving out of earshot of the others.

"I know the guy you're talking about, but it ain't cheap. Gonna get my ass stabbed if anyone sees me talkin' to a fuckin' cop." Dark eyes flick over to a few scrutinizing people by the burning barrel, then back up to Veronica. "Fork it over or get out, I don't care how big and scary your black friend there is, there's scarier people here."

Another bill is added to the first, and Veronica follows the teenager away. "I'm not a cop, if that helps at all. Cops don't care about Staten anymore, do they?" she says lightly.

She then hands him the first of the two bills, holding the other. "Show of good faith, right?" she says, her eyes flitting over to Rene, to make sure he's watching to make sure no one surprises the two in hushed whispers. "Tell me what you know, and you'll get the rest. Who's the guy, and why was he interested in Robinson? You know if he had any sort of power?"

"Dunno who the dead guy is," the kid admits with a shrug of his shoulder, "but the guy you're looking for? He goes by the name Batsu," there's a nod of his head at the word, "pretty fake, you know? But he's an intense guy. He's a little taller than you, not much. Long dark hair," the kid makes a motion of one hand near his chin, "about that long, wears it in a ponytail most of the time. Last time i saw him he had a short beard. Definately Japanese," the teen adds, looking down at the money in his hand, folding the bills and putting them in his pocket as he starts walking in a manner so that Veronica can keep up.

Rene watches the pair move, but doesn't directly follow, he just tucks his hands into his pockets and looms in the middle of the open space within the tent city, shoulders squared and brows lowered, keeping an eye on everyone else here. "This guy, he's pretty tough you know? Doesn't hang around here much though, comes to buy information, pays in cash." Like you, he implies. "Almost got mugged the first time he came out here, but the guy that were mugging him got into an argument, ended up shooting each other. Pretty scary shit, Batsu didn't even react, just walked past their bodies and asked the next person whatever it was he wanted."

Stopping near the large bay door to the factory, the kid turns around and offers a look up to Veronica, dark eyes searching hers quietly. "Last time he was here was about… maybe a month ago? He was asking about Fairy dealers, I think he wanted to score some. He was talking to Ben about it," the teen's eyes drift down to his feet quietly. "Ben warned Batsu about the bad drugs, and the guy got all upset. He asked where to find the dealer that was selling bad Fairy, and— " there's a shrug of one shoulder, "I guess he got it, if your dude's dead."

Veronica listens, mentally filing away the information as she reaches into her pocket; this time her gloved hand comes out with a laminated photograph of Luke Campbell. "I was upset when I heard about that shit too," she says with a narrowing of her eyes and a shake of her head. She glances to where Rene stands, and then back to the kid, handing him the photograph, nodding to it with a little tilt of her chin.

"Who's Ben? And you ever seen this guy?" she asks, eyes now focused on his face to watch for any reaction as the looks at the photo.

"Ben's dead." The kid states flatly, before looking down at the photograph, nodding once. "Yeah, yeah I've seen this kid before. He came through here 'bout a month ago, maybe more? Stayed here for a while too, probably homeless like the rest've us. He just up and disappeared one night, dunno what ever happened to him." There's a furrow of the teen's brows, head angled in a crooked fashion and eyes sizing Veronica up and down.

"You his mom or something?" Oh he did not just—

Veronica gives a soft huff of a laugh at that. "No, not his mom. I'm not that old, just tired." She's old enough to be a big sister, not that she and Luke Campbell look like they're related in any way, but maybe all Caucasians look alike to the homeless teenager.

She pockets the photograph and glances at Rene again, finding him very comforting at a distance. She gives a little half shrug, as if to say not much here. "You know anyone who might know him better, someone who might have an idea where he went to? He has some information that we need," the agent says, trying to sound as innocuous as possible.

By now Rene is slowly making his way over, giving a cautious look to a few of the men by the burning steel drum with a furrow of his brows. The kid, watching Rene approach, offers a look back to Veronica before shaking his head slowly. "Sorry, lady. I don't get involved in other people's shit unless I have to. You wanna' know if somebody's seen him?" Both of his dark brows lift and he nods his head towards the horizon beyond the packing factory. "You head east far enough, you'll find soldiers putting up fence. They know everything going on 'round here I think. They're down by the old Miller Field and the hospital."

Sensible advice, for someone living in a cardboard box. "That's all I got." The kid notes, reaching out to offer an open hand for the other bills he was promised. At that exact same moment, there's a chirp and a bizz as Veronica's cell phone vibrates in her jacket pocket.

"Thanks," Veronica says, knowing that the fat lady has sung and she's out a few bills with really no new information. She hands over the rest of the money, giving the boy another nod. "I appreciate your help." Her eyes move to Rene as he approaches, and her free hand slips into her pocket to pull out the phone. Never did her right hand, still wrapped in plaster with a broken wrist, leave the reassuring cool steel of her firearm.

The phone's speak button is pushed, and she brings her device to her ear. "Sawyer," she murmurs softly.

"Agent Sawyer?" The woman's voice on the other end of the phone isn't familiar at first. "Agent Sawyer, it's Mary Campbell." Luke's Mother. "I— I was thinking about what you said, when you came down to my trailer and… and something came to mind that— " she seems hesitant, "I don't know if it matters at all, but there was this man my son used to spend time with when we lived in Newark?" The noise of traffic is barely discernable on the other end of the line on Veronica's phone.

"He was a taxidermist. You know like, with animals?" The tone of Mary's voice seems hushed, as if she isn't sure this is even the right thing to be discussing. "That man used to take my son hunting, they'd go out to upstate New York, come back with a bunch of dead animals. It— he never struck me as right. Luke always smelled of cigarettes when he came back from being with him, I just— " there's a pause in Mary's words. "He lived across the street from us, big taxidermy shop."

"His name was Samson Gray." She adds in a forgetful tone. "I just— I thought it might be of some help to you."

Gray? Veronica's mind goes to the file on Gabriel Gray, remembering the name Samson as the biological father for the man.

"Mary," Veronica says, and nods again to the kid, then moves toward Rene, her eyebrows rising at him, as if he could hear what was on the other side of the phone. "Thanks for thinking to call me. This was in Newark? What made you think this might be important?" For her, it's certainly a strange coincidence of the two cases she's working on. "It could be really important, but I'd like to hear what made you think to call me on it?" Mary Campbell thinks her son is still in Moab — or wherever Mary thinks he went — why would she think to call and tell Veronica about a strange man so many days later?

"They were close, Luke and Mr.Gray. I figure— I figure if anyone knows where Luke is, he might. You— you seemed like you wanted to get in touch with him, you know? Find him?" Mary's voice cracks a bit there, followed by a sniffled back snort "I should— go, Agent Sawyer. I— I hope that's been a little helpful for you to find Luke, okay?" Her voice cracks at the end there, and there's a soft beep from Veronica's phone as the call is terminated.

Footsteps crunch up alongside Veronica, and the Haitian angles a dark-eyed look towards the agent. The boy's gone, already slipped away while Veronica was on the phone, and now the look Rene is giving her, and the nod of his head towards the snow away from the hangar seems to indicate that they should be going.

This was a dead end.

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