Nothing But the Worst


colette_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif vincent_icon.gif

Scene Title Nothing But the Worst
Synopsis Vincent calls in a favour and obtains key evidence against the Institute, courtesy of the Ferrymen network.
Date November 3, 2010

Port Ivory

"Maybe he changed his mind?"

The small voice of Colette Nichols echoes hollow in the metal-walled confines of a freight warehouse. The large, high-ceilinged remnant of a railyard on Port Ivory's southern end lies on the same rail lines as the larger Howland Hook Facility, but unlike Howland Hook the Avante Incorporated shipping yard has not seen activity or people save for squatters in four years. Nearly all of the high warehouse windows have been shattered, creating convenient entrances and exits for the birds gone unseen and perched in the high rafters above.

Out on the open concrete floor, fissures in the cement sprout with dead grass. Empty metal shelving rests in far-spaced rows, a folding ladder is rusting by double-sided bay doors, one half of which are closed, the other half opened to reveal the pitch black night of Port Ivory's inland region.

Seated on the tailgate of the battered old pickup truck belonging more to the Remnant than the Ferrymen, Colette Nichols keeps her hands tucked beneath her arms, the combination of a denim jacket and hooded sweatshirt barely keeping out the chill of cold night air. Winter is firing warning shots at autumn, and the cold sinks in to the abandoned metal-walled building with the same piercing quality it does into flesh and bone.

Behind Colette, a large blue tarp is bound like a twinkie wrapper around an oblong parcel in the back of the truck, one untucked corner revealing a smooth length of matte plastic casing — an ACTS system belonging once to the Institute, now evidence of their actions. Head dipped forward and stocking cap pulled down over her dark hair, Colette hasn't turned to look back at Eileen Ruskin while holding a conversation with her, but both the avian telepath and the photokinetic are equally aware of where one-another is without the need of their eyes.

If this turns out to be a trap, at least they have that to fall back on.

The low diesel rumble of an engine carries further than the pop and crunch of heavy black tires over gravel and concrete on the wind, but not by much. Quickly enough, headlights wash ghostly white over warehouse walls and an ancient cargo truck creaks and rattles and bumps unsteadily inward, one tire at a time over uneven footing and bristlebrush grass.

Vincent did not change his mind.

He doesn't pull all the way in up to them, though — preferring, as ever, to unconsciuosly maintain the illusion of distance while he still has something to lose.

The engine cuts first, then the lights, bleached bulbs slow to fade while he jacks the driver's side door open and drops out, cigarette, knit cap and duskie grey hoodie under a darker peacoat. He is short and the first step was a long one. Evidently enough so that he's still harboring a ghost of a limp while he heads over, checking his watch as he walks.

"Resolve runs in the family," is Eileen's quiet reply. A trademark combination of leather and wool protects her from the same frost in the air that forms fine silver crystals on corrugated metal and makes the cement slick and slippery under their feet. While Colette has chosen to sit on the back of the truck, the Englishwoman opts to stand off to the side, her slender shape a dark, staunch silhouette that appears deceptively small in the yawning cavern of the warehouse.

There are no security cameras out here. Messiah is more likely to stumble upon this meeting than anyone, and although this might be cause for Vincent's concern if he knew, Eileen is confident that she and Colette are in no danger from the Ferrymen's sometimes-ally. "Does he know about the council?" she asks Colette gently, while he's still shy of hearing.

"No," is said softly and quickly, slipped like a letter under a table. Sliding off of the tailgate, Colette's boots strike the concrete with a sound thunk of her heels, hands moving into the pockets of her buttoned-down denim jacket, shoulders hunched forward. Given her familiarity with Vincent, comparitive to Eileen at least, it affords the young teenager a certain confidence to be the one to approach, each footfall clunking as she moves to meet him halfway to the truck.

Steam exudes from between Colette's lips with each breath, her cheeks and nose reddened against otherwise too-pale skin. She sniffles, lifting up her arm enough to rub her sleeve under her nose. Cold season is taking a chunk out of her, as is the night air, but this is both too important and too personal of a matter to have stood on the sidelines for.

Colette imparts no more greeting than her approach and a tilt of her chin up in Vincent's direction, the universal head-bob of hello.

"Hi," says Vincent, voice muffled warm around the blunt of his cigarette, cap tugged down low over his brow — the first time either of them has seen him in anything other than a suit. The first time most anyone he consorts with has seen him in anything other than a suit.

Well. Anyone other than Joanna. And his daughter.

And Lancaster.

"Thanks for coming," is a laggard addition, not quite enough to smooth over the way he sizes Eileen up at a distance, or the visual sweep he performs of the warehouse in its entirety once that's done. Does Tasha know we're doing this? Doesn't get asked. Formally.

He just kind of looks at her sideways before stepping past her to start for the other truck and its blue tarp.

Eileen does not move aside and make room for Vincent at the truck. For one thing, she isn't blocking his path with her body. For another, it's so slight that he'd have no difficulty navigating around her if he chose. A barn owl watching from a shattered skylight scrutinizes his movements and notes the limp, not because it's looking for it, but because it's a predator — these sorts of details couldn't escape its notice even if Eileen tried willing it to.

The majority of the evidence that the Ferry has against the Institute are stories. Experiments performed in a hospital here on Staten Island before it was razed to the ground by terrorists. A settlement north of the border now a ghost town with dead bodies hanging from nooses in dusty old attics and canisters of negation gas left to rust in the tall grass. Understandably, the shape her mouth takes is stern. Agreeing to part with what little physical proof the network has against its enemies does not mean Eileen is completely satisfied with the decision she chose to make.

"That's the whole thing, it's the one you saw on the video," Colette explains as she pivots in place to track Vincent's progress towards the truck. "Some sort've fucked up powder inside've it, I think it came off'a Maeve. We haven't been able to find her since you warned me, she's just— I don't even know, vanished without a goddamned trace?"

There's no easy way to convey that Tasha has no idea about this, and the topic of Vincent's daughter is left by the wayside as Colette finally starts moving, following on a belated path behind Vincent. "I've got some still photos on a memory card, stuff we took in Braintree Massachusetts at another Institute facility there, it's another one'a them boxes, but it was open."

Looking over her shoulder to the warehouse doors and the truck Vincent came here in, Colette's nostrils rankle as she turns back towards Vincent, then sniffles again. "How're you gonna' get it out past the checkpoint?"

"Alright," confirmed a little blandly for the context, Vincent shakes all but the subtlest linger of soreness as he walks. Gloved wrist to cold nose, he skips his cigarette down and aside across cracked pavement, looking slightly less out've place in an abandoned warehouse than he would in the usual government getup.

"Her ability allows her to produce paralytic in powder form. They may have been farming her in some capacity." Uncharacteristically unfiltered, pleasant thoughts along those lines as disaffected as his initial greeting, Lazzaro stops short of the truck and Eileen, whose stigma entails more than the odd underground railroad. "Hi," he says again, this time for Eileen, the same flat way people who don't like cats say hi to animals that they aren't all that interested in endearing themselves to anyway.

"I'm sleeping with the lead on duty," is probably a lie while he hesitates, boot black eyes ticked from girl to tarp.


"I'm more interested in what he intends to do with it," says Eileen. Hi. "Our network doesn't have very many allies inside the government. It would be a shame, Mr. Lazzaro, if I folded open my Sunday paper and found snapshots of the NYPD dredging your body out of the Hudson," which isn't a threat, necessarily, even in spite of her terse voice and its complete absence of mirth, but rather a warning.

One, she imagines, that a man who used to work Internal Affairs doesn't actually need. She issues it instead for someone else's sake; if something happens to Vincent, she wants to be able to tell his daughter that he knew the risks.

The noise Colette makes is somewhere between a whine and a snort, her eyes closing and one gloved hand lifting up to rub the heel of her palm against her forehead. "Hey, c'mon, we're all on the same side here…" is her response to a somewhat misconstrued interpretation of Eileen's warning. "Look, whatever he does with it, it's not doing us any good. It was sitting up in the damn barn collecting dust, an' I don't think we ever had the intentions of puttin' nobody in it."

Stepping around to meet the end of the tailgate, Colette looks back and forth between Vincent and Eileen. It's only then that she sort've gets the intentions of the warning. It dawns on Colette slowly, and the sigh she huffs out is a bit frustrated.

"Okay maybe she— has a point," is Colette backpedaling a little. "I mean— okay. Me letting you know shit was fucked up is like— that's one thing. But you already know. What— what are you gonna' do with this?" It isn't so much Vincent she's worried about, as it is what would happen to Tasha if something happened to him. He can't erase his daughter's feelings for him just by changing a surname.

"I'm touched, really, but I hardly think my waterlogged corpse would be front page news, Ms. Ruskin." Especially on a Sunday. Goodness!! Eileen must think highly of him. Brows lifted in more silent acknowledgement and (skeptical) gratefulness for their worry, he's forced to show his teeth in an impatient (and brief) grin when Colette joins in.

Unfortunately, the gesture only serves to further define the exhaustion written in terse around his mouth and eyes, astutely maintained bristle probably in need of some sanding down. "Have I given your people any reason not to trust that I know what I am doing." Is not a question. You can tell because it doesn't have a question mark. They can tell because his voice doesn't lilt up at the end.

"No." There's no guilt in the admission. No apology, either. "If you end up on the front page, it will be because whoever signs your execution warrant understands the value of making martyrs. The murder of someone working with the Department of Evolved Affairs is a newsworthy story, regardless of the amount of credit you're willing to give yourself, and the men pulling the strings behind the Institute can only benefit from it if they point the media's finger in our general direction."

She spreads her hands in front of her in an understated gesture rather than hold them up to pantomime the headline she envisions. "Evolved Sympathizer Slain By Pro-Evolved Activists, Reward Offered."

Breathing in deeply and exhaling a slow sigh, Colette sweeps both of her hands over the top of her knit cap, pacing away from the truck slowly. "S'his choice," Colette mumbles, coming to a halt a few feet away from the truck and turning back around to look at Eileen. "Guy knew the risk when he fucked up the Institute's shit and rescued Tien an' Jonas when the Armory got raided." Mismatched eyes angle up to Vincent, brows furrowed. "He knows the risks now," and in a way that affirmation helps Colette confirm — in her own mind — why Vincent did what he did with Tasha and her Lazzaro name. At least, in theory.

"Fuckin' thing's heavy, but it's got wheels that fold out from the underside like one've them ambulance bed things." A gurney is the word she's looking for, but fails to find. "I can help you get it outta' there n'wheel it over t'your truck."


is the only (pointed) correction Vincent sees fit to make to Eileen's projection of possible outcomes. Not activists.

The way he's looking at her makes it more of a personal smudge of his thumb than anything meant to carry over onto Colette, who — conveniently — is already making moves to assist him. He doesn't reach to hook his hand up into the tailgate latch until he's satisfied with the amount of time he's spent staring at Ruskin.

"That would be perfect. Thank you."

Eileen's silence serves as her concession. Her ability to stand unflinching under Vincent's stare has absolutely nothing to do with strength of will — her eyes never quite meet his, and the glassy quality that defines her gaze implies that this isn't a choice. She can't see him, and the owl that does is limited to its view of the top of his head and the shape of his shoulders from its perch on the warehouse roof.

His thank you is not addressed to her; she does not tell him he's welcome.

It isn't as though this is terribly awkward, but it is. It's the first time that Colette and Eileen have sat on largely opposite sides of an agreement, and it isn't settling right entirely with Colette. But that also isn't stopping her from climbing up into the back of the truck and unwrapping the tarp-covered case. It's more intimidating up close and in person than the brief video of it made it look. All sharp angles, thick, heavy reinforced plastics, seams and splits in the surface that make it look like it could open up any number of odd ways.

As Colette yanks the tarp off, she balls it up somewhat and tosses it down to Vincent — he'll probably need that later. "Alright, I'm gonna push it out to you. Just drag it out, the legs with the wheels n'shit should just unfold from the bottom once it clears the tailgate." Climbing behind the coffin-shaped container, Colette crouches down and braces both hands on the back of the case, putting her feet at the head of the truck's bed and pushes with largely her whole, tiny body.

The whole thing has a weight to it that is visible as it slides across the bed of the truck with a scraping sound, edging closer to the end. "Oh," Colette stops pushing not even a fourth of the way off the tailgate, rummaging around in her jacket pocket and offering up that memory card between gloved fingers, leaning over to hold it out to Vincent.

"Whatever you do with all've this shit," Colette curls her fingers around the card to conceal it as she starts that thought. "Make sure you leave 'em swingin' in the wind when you're done. These assholes don't deserve nothin' but the worst." She offers out the card again, this time with her peace said.

Tarp caught and dropped just as easily aside, Vincent has managed to light up again in the scant series of seconds it took Colette to get up there to start making progress, the silky stink of smoke mingling with the usual cologne once more. He's watching Eileen every now and again while the youngest among them assumes the position and pushes, dark eyes prying after her lack of focus until he's forced to brace a hand against the coffin's butt. Just in case.

It feels heavy. The way death should. Fortunately, Colette distracts him from anything hazarding a resemblance to romanticism with the offer of the memory card.

To which he says nothing. Even when she hides it temporarily away to make her wishes known. He tucks it into a pocket in his coat at a grim remove, back straight and shoulders coolly confident as ever. "Duly noted."

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