Nothing Like Old Times


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Scene Title Nothing Like Old Times
Synopsis Richard Ray calls a meeting with the soon-to-be chief of the NYPD.
Date September 29, 2018

Most people pass through the reinforced glass doors of Raytech Industries and are met by the quirky receptionist (or, on some rare occasions, an animatronic velociraptor with a hat), where they have their appointment confirmed and wait around under security’s watchful eye for someone to come escort them to a conference room or other office within the facility.

This particular VIP, however, is met at the door by the CEO himself. Possibly to spare him having to deal with the previously mentioned receptionist.

“Marcus!” The greeting’s accompanied with a sweep of Richard’s arms outwards at the sight of the other man, a broad and genuine smile curving his lips and hazel eyes brightening, “It’s been far too long, far too long— glad to see you survived the last few years.”

He steps forward, offering a hand out to shake, “Sorry about all the construction on the way— I privately suspect that Yamagato is embarrassed at working with a company in the middle of ruins so they’re trying to rebuild around our turf— either that, or they’re trying to wall us in.”

That last part’s probably a joke.

“They better build that wall higher.” It's been a long, long time since Richard Ray set eyes on Marcus Donovan, but time seems to have treated the former police officer and former mayoral candidate well. He's not dressed for a corporate meeting today, in a too many years old brown leather jacket and jeans. He looks like an undercover cop and, in many ways, still carries himself like one.

They're walling us in!?” Comes an alarmed scream from the reception desk where Sera, who had only been partly paying attention, bolts up from her seat, sending the chair rolling back with a push of her legs. She stares wide-eyed out the windows and then — thinking about it for a moment — exhales a burble of laughter and points at Richard. “Oh, you.

Donovan slowly turns his attention from Sera to Richard, both brows slowly rising in silent judgment.

“I…” Richard holds up a hand, a finger raised as he tries to think up an explanation for his receptionist for a long moment. Then he gives up and with a shake of his head and a laugh, lets the matter drop, “Just don’t ask, it’s easier. Trust me on that one.”

He reaches out to clap a hand on the other man’s shoulder, turning to head towards one of the hallways out of the lobby with a chuckle, “It’s damn good to see you, Marcus. How’s the family doing?”

Marcus’ expression hardens, not at the clap to his shoulder but the question. “My ex passed away during the ah,” he motions around toward one window and the ruins being torn down outside. “Jackie’s alright, just… the war was hard on people. She lives at Benchmark, up in Red Hook. They're helping her.”

Clearing his throat, Marcus grimaces and shakes his head. “I'm sorry I didn't mean t’be such a downer. Small talk’s hard after everything. I've been a little,” he waves a hand over his head, “kind of everywhere the last few days. I wasn't planning on having the mayor drop me into the lake like that on the radio.”

Glancing at Sera, who is walking backwards back to her desk and counting her steps, Marcus looks back to Richard. “You got a… somewhere we can talk?”

“Oh.” Richard’s smile fades, and his head bobs slightly, “I’m sorry. The war was… yeah. I know the woman who runs Benchmark, they’re good people there, she couldn’t be in better hands.”

He shakes his head, then, admitting, “I was surprised too, although I can’t say I wasn’t pleased to hear the choice— and yeah, come on.”

It doesn’t take long to get to his office; an elevator ride up two floors, down the hall, and into the room with a grand view of both the ruins and one of the rooftop gardens and solar farms atop the Raytech buildings.

“So… bringing back the NYPD, eh?” As he heads for his desk, a kitten’s reddish head peeks up over the edge of his little sleeping box beside the desk, ears pricked.

“I mean, that's what they keep telling me.” Marcus says with an awkward laugh. “There's still a lot of pieces to get moving. Most of the precinct buildings were torched in the riots or looted during the war, so they've gotta refurbish what's standing. The Yamagato folks promise they'll build us new precincts, but that could take years.”

Hands tucked into his pockets, Marcus meanders over to one of the windows and looks wistfully out at the skyline. “Your name came up,” He helpfully notes, slanting a look over at Richard. “Caroline says your company produces the best nonlethal weapons and highest grade body armor. We’re looking at cultivating a new reputation, so,” he shrugs, turning to look back at the city. “We need that edge.”

“I figured it might, that’s why I reached out first… I want to do everything I can to make things a success bringing order back to the streets,” Richard admits, stepping over to stand beside the other man and look over the ruins beyond the start contrast of the Raytech facility’s clean lines, “This is my city too, after all.”

“Our AEGIS armor’s high mobility and it’ll keep your officers alive,” he explains then, “And the X-LRAD’s — our Banshees — are top of the line at taking someone down without any real physical damage. They’re not pleasant to get hit with, but given a choice between that and a service revolver? I’ll take the sonic barrage any day. We can whip up other designs as well as needed, if the force needs something else in its arsenal.”

“Service revolvers were phased out in the nineties,” Donovan notes with a smirk. “I swear to god, Richard, one of these days you're gonna tell me you're from the 1940s with the crazy shit you say.” He laughs, turning away from the window. “And you don't need to give me a sales pitch. Caroline’s already on board. She wants to rebuild the force from the ground up. Reputation and all.”

But that has Donovan turning with a few swaggering steps back in Richard’s direction. “Which brings me to my question: why the meet and greet? If it was a personal check in I figure we’d be doing this somewhere more social, not in the Fortress of Nerdy Solitude.” He motions around to the building. “You still in the spy business?”

“I might’ve come out of retirement recently,” admits Richard, a chuckle stirring past his lips at the other man’s words, giving him a wry look, “I read a lot of detective novels in my free time, too, go sue me. I literally have a trenchcoat and fedora in the closet— literally, I do.”

He shakes his head, then, “I genuinely want to make sure the Zone’s safe, because there’re more enemies out there than most people know.” A twitch of his lips, “Always are. The Horsemen are stalking around in our backyard over on Staten Island, there’s the no-shit possibility of a goddamn robot army dropping into our laps, and then there’s— other groups.”

Hazel eyes sweep out to consider the ruins, lingering on the Yamagato logo on a crane lifting a beam into place. “Evolved supremacists, terrorists— you know the sort of crazy bullshit I deal with, Marcus. You lived through some of it yourself. I need to know that the person at the head of our police force will believe me when I tell him something bad’s about to happen, and act accordingly to keep the Zone safe.”

There's a cool, level stare that Marcus keeps trained on Richard. “Well,” is drawn out in response, and Marcus scrubs a hand over the back of his head, “there's the thing. First off, I don't even know what you're talking about when you're saying Horsemen but— and I'm being honest here— some crazy guys on the corner of Central Park used to shout about that biblical stuff and I really want to give you the benefit of the doubt there.”

Rolling a tongue against the inside of his cheek, Marcus paces back and forth slowly. “Back in yesterday, when we were running around because Big Brother was drunk and had a gun,” he waves one hand in the air as if to depict the drunken sibling as analogy for the government, “that was one thing. We traded in rumors because we couldn't trust the people in power to do the right thing.”

Marcus puts a hand to his chest. “Tables turned, those guys are six feet under, and we don't have to be cryptic and weird anymore.” There's an awkward smile there, as he implies Richard is cryptic and weird which… isn't incorrect.

“So, okay, evolved supremacist groups. That makes sense, you know? Pendulum swinging the other way. Hell, I buy the robots thing too because I think we all lived through that nightmare.” He smiles again, somewhat pleadingly.

“I don't think it's a stretch to say the world's gone a little wobbly. I'm not gonna institutionalize you for having an ear to the ground. But I am gonna ask that you tell me when there's something we could act on and…” he makes a delicate motion to Richard. “I don't want this to come off as crass but, maybe at least try to let the authorities handle it from time to time, try it out and see how that works?”

Marcus grimaces, then smiles. “I only say that because I know you, and I know what guys who have trenchcoats and fedoras in their closet are like.”

At that, Richard can’t help but laugh softly, holding up a hand. “No, no, you misunderstand,” he says with a shake of his head, “That’s literally what I want — I want to be able to give you the intel that ends up on my desk so the authorities can handle things. I don’t even have a bunch of crazy people willing to run around shooting bad guys anymore— they all work for Gitelman in Wolfhound these days.”

He glances to the window, “I’ve got— too much history with certain people to have a good working relationship with them. What I want is to be able to keep you briefed on the less-obvious and less-immediate threats to the Safe Zone— so that you can do your job and I can do mine.”

Back to Marcus, he flashes an amused grin, “And while I was raised Catholic, the Horsemen are just a bunch of assholes in stolen Horizon suits that work out of the Dead Zones and are hanging around our neck of the woods lately. I helped Wolfhound scout them out earlier this year. Which goes back to me offering to pass information your way so you know who the threats are that you won’t normally hear about without six layers of bureaucracy delaying them on their way to your desk.”

“Bureaucracy got a lot thinner lately,” is Donovan’s choice of gallows humor. “A good part of that is why they were able to get me back. Less senator’s cousins in pointless jobs getting between me and actual results.” Shrugging, Marcus starts to wander around the room some, hands tucked into his pockets.

“Now when you send something up the chain,” Marcus says with a side-long look at Richard. “There's gotta at least be some sort of evidence to go with it. I don't mean a cocktail napkin with some evil wizard’s master plan on it or something,” comes with a laugh, “but something actionable. Something I can use to cover my ass in case things figuratively or literally blow up. Worst thing about this whole civil war?” Marcus says something no one would ever say in public. “We didn't kill ‘em all.”

That much comes with a raise of Marcus’ brows and a slowly exhaled sigh. “And I'm not even talking about the fucks with guns, I'm talking about little cockweasels like Frederick Medina who’s out there right now campaigning to get a tighter registry that's in line with the fucking EUSR.” Marcus waves a hand what he believes is westward. “Fuck him.”

“If this wasn’t a war against someone who literally wanted to perform genocide, I might argue with you, but since it was…” Richard shakes his head, breathing out a sigh as he looks over, “Between Pure Earth — or whatever the Humanis survivors are calling themselves these days — and Evolved supremacists lurking in the background, sometimes I wonder if there’s ever going to be peace between these two sides. Heh.”

A twitch of his lips, “Guess I know how it feels to live in the Middle East now.”

“Yeah,” Marcus says with a resigned sigh. “Funny irony is we fucked up everything over there and then we turned right around and fucked up everything over here.” The topic seems to be enough to get Marcus turn a bit red in the face. Exhaling a sigh he seems to dismiss the topic.

“So?” Marcus looks over to Richard, knowing where this leads. “What've you got for me? And— remember. I'm NYPD, not Superman.”

“We were pretty good at fucking things up for awhile… so let’s try and turn that trend around,” says Richard dryly, “I’m tired of just tearing things down. It’s why I’ve taken up building .”

He looks out the window for a moment, over the construction sites and ruins in the distance, then lifts a hand towards the glass. “J’adoube, main window, global threat map.”

The verbal commands cause the smartglass to suddenly darken to opaque-black — the lights in the room behind them brightening to compensate in a slow rise. A globe whirls itself into existence on the screen, various windows blinking open around it with arrows leading to a variety of color-coded spots.

He closes his hand, adding the next command, “Restrict to Zone of Interest, New York City.”

The globe transitions to a map focused on the New York City area. Most of it is marked ‘EXCLUSION ZONE’ in livid red for what should be obvious reasons.

“I’m going to assume you know about the basic criminal organizations up in Staten,” he says, “We have the Arrowoods trafficking in slavery up in the Rookery — intel suggests they may be Pure Earth, but I’m not absolutely sure — and the Ghost Shadow Triad are still operating out there — where they’re getting their Refrain I’m not sure. The largest smuggling operation is the Staten Island Trade Commission, under Alister Black — a.k.a. Leonardo Maxwell, one of the major sources of funding for the Ferrymen back in the day. He’s a megalomanic asshole who really wants to take over Staten and build an empire, yadda yadda, sometimes I think the man came out of a comic book. There’s a dozen more smuggling groups, gangs, the whole place is a fucking mess, although it’d be worse if someone actually managed to unify them.”

He slants a look over, “Come winter, they’re going to come across the river looking for food and oil, so you’re lucky that you’re not taking over until after this season. That mess might change the general face of things over there— that’s just the usual suspects though.”

Presumably, next come the unusual suspects.

Donovan whistles softly at the literal bells and whistles displayed by Richard’s technological wizardry. “You know,” Donovan says with his arms crossed, “I'm gonna confess that I have some trouble with my new phone, so this?” He gestures to the map. “Kind of a little much. But with the Yamagato folks, I feel like I'm gonna have t’get used to this shit.”

The rest of this just elicits a big, deep sigh. “You know aside from being short Gideon d’Sarthe, whenever that sack of shit went, this is mostly the same bag of assholes.” He motions to the map. “Pure Earth’s just Humanis First’s more extreme cousins, Ghost Shadows have been a pain in my fucking ass since the 1990s and…” he shakes his head. “Fucking Zhao.”

Smoothing his hand over his head, Donovan approaches the map and taps it and then sort of looks at his finger and clears his throat. “Alright. So,” he tilts his head to the side, “Arrowoods is a new name to me. I mean maybe they're just two-bit fucks I've never heard of but if they're on your bulletin board I'm gonna assume that's not the case.”

Marcus crosses his arms and shifts his weight to one foot. “What else you got?”

“I’ll have a dossier on the Arrowoods’ operation sent over to you,” Richard says with a tip of his head over, “I have some people keeping an eye on them; I suspect they’re working with the Ghost Shadows, personally, although I don’t have any evidence there. The Shadows might just be one of their buyers…”

He grins a little, then, admitting as he looks back to the screen, “If it makes you feel better, I broke three computers before Alia set everything up for voice command so I’d stop touching them. This actually isn’t half as impressive as it looks, but damn— “ His hands spread a bit, “It’s cool as hell, you’ve got to admit.”

Clearing his throat, he returns to business, “Anyway. As far as less— conventional groups go, we have the Horsemen. I mentioned them earlier. They set up a settlement up in the northwestern Dead Zone— they’re the ones who hit Yamagato’s shipment a few months back. For some reason they’ve decided to come visit our neck of the woods and crawl up my ass; they’re the ones who assassinated Remi, I’m pretty sure.”

“The names might be familiar. Eileen Ruskin, Emile Danko, Iago Ramirez, and Joshua Lang. The four of them are outfitted in modified Horizon armor. Also, Eileen’s possessed of the life-draining ability that used to belong to Kazimir Volken, and by the way, they’re all from an alternate timeline.”

Deadpan, “I really wish I was kidding about all that. Fortunately, you don’t need to care where they came from in the long run.”

“I’m not sure what their overarching goals are, and I’m not sure if they do either,” he admits, “But they’re trouble, anywhere they go. I don’t know if they’ve crossed the river lately - some of them were operating on Staten Island last I knew.”

He waits, since he’s pretty sure that he’s going to get some objections on the grounds of realism shortly.

That's where Donovan starts to go a little glassy-eyed. “Okay, pretend I recognized… two of those names, and understood about half of everything you said there.” Marcus offers an incredulous look over at Richard. “Crazy power shit? I mean, good knowing? But that's SESA’s territory or… fuck, the literal Army? You want me to bust up triad or human traffickers? That's my speed.” He points up to the screen and then waggles his hand around like he doesn't even know what to point at first. “This shit? I told you, I'm not Superman. This is rogues gallery stuff.”

That's Batman, but the analogy’s spirit stands.

“Try and scale it back a bit and recognize that I'm going to have about half the department's old operational budget.” That tidbit comes with a sidelong look to Richard. “Which means basic ballistic vests and standard sidearms and whatever we can get our hands on for squad cars. Shoestrings come to mind.”

It isn't that Donovan is asking for a donation of hardware, but he's also not declining charity either. “Like I said earlier,” Marcus reminds, “we need whatever edge we can get.”

“I’m not asking you to do anything, Marcus,” says Richard with a shake of his head, giving him a wry look, “But if you get a report that the Horsemen are involved in some sort of disturbance, I don’t want you thinking they’re talking about some street gang and send in some cops to a meat grinder. You need to know what’s out there to keep your boys safe and call in those bigger guns when you need to.”

A nod, then, one hand swept out, “Budgets— shit, that I understand. Before we made some deals with Yamagato we were spread a little thin building the hydroponics and aeroponics facility a few blocks from here. We’re still a bit thin, but…” A tip of his head, “I’ll see what we can do about getting the boys in blue some gear for summer. I want you to succeed here, Marcus. I know you’re used to quid pro quo and all, but seriously, I’m not actually asking you for anything.” Yet, anyway.

“I seriously, honestly just called you here to offer you access to my information resources and to say I’ll do what I can to make sure your people succeed. I want our city standing again.”

Nodding, Marcus rubs a hand at his chin, looking at the screen and then back to Richard. “Some of this feels like— I mean if it isn't already— needs to be kicked up on a federal level. SESA, FBI, Homeland. I mean if you haven't, I can. They've made that sort of stuff easy for me. I think they expect to get a lot of calls about this city.” There's a rueful laugh there, as if to say the more things change

“But there is one other thing,” Marcus says as he crosses his arms. “The Department’s obviously running on shoestrings. We're only going to have a handful of precincts for the whole Safe Zone, one building for SCOUT — which we’re still trying to pick — and literally zero SWAT response teams.” Marcus makes steady eye contact at that, one brow up, as if to say here?

“Now Caroline wants me to keep the 91st on for that. Says Olson is a straight-shooter, but…” Marcus makes a sour face, “I'm kind of a Constitutional traditionalist here. I feel like the police are for policing the people and the army is for fighting enemies. You turn the army on the people…” he doesn't bother to finish the analogy, Richard gets it.

“I've got my own alternative suggestion, but I don't know them. But you,” Marcus nods to Richard and points a finger at him, “are their supplier. Off the record, exactly what's your take on Wolfhound?

“I see where you’re going here…” Richard brings a hand up to rub against his chin and jawline, looking thoughtful, “…there’re only so many remnants of the Institute and Humanis out there, after all, Wolfhound’ll need something else to do or they’ll fall apart. You’re thinking of bringing them in to fill the role FRONTLINE was supposed to?”

He doesn’t wait for an answer before continuing with his analysis, “About half of Wolfhound used to be my people; they’re a solid unit and organization, with excellent training and experience, and they’re good at having to improvise and dealing with unusual technology and abilities. What’s more, I consider most of them to be trustworthy and extremely resistant to corruption or outside influence. If they’re convinced a cause is right, they’re not going to bend.”

Pausing, he admits, “Hana’s— a bulldog. If you can convince her to do something, she’ll do it through to the end. She lives for her work, and doesn’t have a lot of patience for anything else, in my experience. She’s a damn good woman to have on your side, if you can win her over.”

Donovan nods, rubbing his chin and pacing around the office. His attention has moved to the windows, to the cranes looking high in the distance, then to the curious kitten peeking out from behind the conference table.


Donovan stares vacantly at Richleau for a moment, then looks at Richard in complete ignorance of the presence of office cat. “I don't know if I'd go as far as FRONTLINE, but somewhere in between. I think as a PMC they offer a good and well-rounded experience. Not to mention the good PR that most of them being war heroes brings.”

“One of them actually is transferring out. We started putting out feelers about academy openings for prospective trainees and one of the first names in the hat was one I knew.” Donovan raises his brows. “Apparently one of our old homicide detectives, Judah Demsky, had a kid. Which— I never would've pegged him for a dad. But his daughter’s looking to join SCOUT when it forms, it looks like. Having good relations between SCOUT and Wolfhound is another reason I'm pursuing this. So, if you say they aren't going to be bought out by fucksticks like Zhao… I'll take your word on it. You've never done me dirty.”

Bobbing his head into a nod, Donovan seems pleased with the overall shape the meeting has taken, even if it means he had to stare down some existential threats in the form of undead Vanguard members and Emile fucking Danko.

Colette Demsky?” Richard’s brows both raise a little, “Huh. Maybe she’s gotten tired of the quasi-military life there; she’s a good kid, been through— shit.” There’s a flicker of guilt there as he looks back at the window-screen, grimacing, “Been through too much. More than anyone should have. She never broke, though.”

He looks back over, “SCOUT’d be a good place for her, I think. You can toss my personal recommendation on that particular inquiry.”

“I don’t know everyone in Wolfhound,” he admits, “Every basket’s gonna have a few bad apples probably, but the leadership and the ones I do know? Rock solid. I’ll stand behind that, too.”

“Gotta take the good with the bad, Donovan notes with a wave of one hand in the air, “few decades in the force taught me that the number of cops on the NYPD payroll that were pieces of shit far outnumbered the ones that weren't. Here's to hoping a decade of kicking their teeth in might've changed things for the better.” Donovan doesn't sound convinced yet.

“Alright, Richard. I've got a 2 o’clock with Major Olson about transition of authority schedules.” Donovan offers out a hand toward his old co-conspirator. “We’ll talk hardware soon. Maybe over drinks. Preferably over drinks.”

“Sounds good to me,” Richard says with a smile, reaching out to clasp the offered hand firmly for a shake, “I’ll give the tech boys a few kicks and see if anything that’s cheap enough for more mass production numbers falls out of them. I’ll find a good bar and we can go sit down and talk hardware soon.”

Wryly, “God knows I spend too much time in here for my liking, lately. I miss the street.”

Donovan flashes a smile and takes one last look around the conference room. “You say that now… but if the CEO life ever let's you down let me know.” His smile turns more threatening, by way of a joke.

“We always need more beat cops.”

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