Power Is In The Mind


alister_icon.gif etienne_icon.gif

Scene Title Power Is In The Mind
Synopsis Alister talks a long game, and Etienne is willing to play along.
Date April 19, 2018

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach is a work in progress, and that progress sounds like construction in the far distance, funneled through empty roads in the absence of things like traffic to hinder it. Civilisation encroaching, but not for a long time yet. For now, it's still a wholly undeveloped ruin, many buildings reduced to rubble — broken concrete, tangles of bent rebar like wild bramble — or otherwise empty shells that will take Yamagato Industries a long time to clear away. Convenient as it is is dangerous, it's a regular section of mainland coast that Etienne Saint James prefers to dock.

No one asks questions, out here.

He is on dry land, currently, several blocks inland from where he's tied off the Salve Regina. While he rarely accompanies Alister Black for what appointments he has on the mainland, better suited for shadowing him during Staten Island-side dealings, he considers it among his duties to see his employer safely through the wreckage of places like Brighton Beach, to ferry him over the narrows, and to see him land on the shores of the Great Kills Harbor in one piece. While he waits, he's been on and off eyeing a prowling group of youths who are clearly weighing up whether to jump him. No courage yet.

Alister will find him nearby where they agreed to meet; seated on the hood of an abandoned, stripped down sedan, one heel braced against the edge as he reads, again, the tattered flyer held in both hands. Etienne has yet to bring up the subject of a $5000 reward for the missing cat, but it must be amusing.

Alister suddenly fires his gun into the air as he arrives, wearing his sharp grey suit. He looks to the youths, rather disinterested. "Youths, please, I don't feel like shooting the future today, but my nerves are also on edge due to my missing ocelot. Go make yourselves useful and find my ocelot, then you'll get $5000 instead of shot in the butt."

"Etienne, sometimes when young people reach a certain age and have partaken in enough delinquency, they only understand a particular language." he explains as he continues to hold his gun up, in case the youths want to try anything.

The youths of the future have no interest: in getting shot, or in ocelots. They skitter backwards at the sound of a gunshot, equally wary of it as well as any kind of attention it might attract. One pushes another backwards, and they follow suit, the pack of them trickling into and disappearing down some well-trodden alleyway.

Etienne watches them go, as concerned for their departure as he was for their possible approach, which is to say, not very. Alister's explanation gets the slow return of the pirate's attention, and he lazily climbs down off the hood of the car. The stripped down, rust bucket vehicle creaks beneath the shift in weight.

"Money and guns?" he asks, speculatively.

"It's about discipline. This is how you discipline them, how you teach them. I can discipline and teach Sibyl with ice cream, because she's a young intellectual. She isn't a common street rat, regardless of what she may think about herself." Alister tucks his gun away into a side holster that is tastefully hidden under his blazer, then he's immediately heading for the boat.

"I never thought I would want a child." he admits, arms behind his back now. "I feel genuine love for so few things in this world. I used to be the kind of person who could buy anything, I value nearly nothing to any real degree. But Sibyl, to me she is truly the most valuable thing in this world. Her potential, her investment, it gives me… joy, a joy that I don't understand."

He places a hand over his heart, as if to try to understand. "Perhaps this is what they call… a father's love."

Etienne is content to sink a few steps back. Alister knows where they're going and he's easier to keep track of when he's pacing just a little ways behind, ever conscious of sharp corners, or blind spots. The emerge onto open street, water in view, the Salve Regina visible where she is tied off like a loyal dog at partially collapsed piers.

"Got her little claws in you," he says. "Don't think she don't know it."

There's more he could say, but doesn't. Not truly for fear of his job, but what Etienne reckons is that Alister is better off with the boxes he puts people into. The transgressions that Sibyl has made beyond those definitions is enough already to send him into a tailspin. "Thing about rats," he says, instead, "is they live room to room. Day to day. You get in while the feeding's good and get out."

"A child should be spoiled, she should have whatever she wants. It gives her a taste for entitlement. Entitlement is important for developing a lust for power, and a lust for power is important for a proper education in what power truly is." Alister taps the side of his forehead without looking back.

"Power is in the mind, someone with true power can rebuild no matter how much they lose. I will give Sibyl that, she will be a scourge to be reckoned with." he says in a tone that sounds like a ridiculously proud parent. "I only intend to become more powerful, she will never want for anything except for the things that I feel will teach her a valuable lesson to achieve on her own. That is how I was raised, and that is how I will raise her."

Etienne takes out a cigarette and lights it, as he follows. Alister's talk washes over like rain.

Part of the gig is being talked at rather than to, even as thoughts and opinions glimmer beneath the surface of his apathy. That his current employer is probably caught up in a long con run by a thirteen-year-old is somewhat his business, but nothing he can root out now.

"You gonna be doing more business mainland, then?"

A change of subject, directly relevant. On the topic of: more powerful.

"I'm only on the mainland to talk rich people into donations. We need donations to fix the water at a low risk. I can't risk the trade company on this endeavour, it's simply not economically sustainable while still actually turning an immediate profit." Alister explains, far more rational about business than a thirteen-year-old-girl he's claimed as a daughter. "Hey, do you think you could punch or shake down some rich criminals, or subtly intimidate them? John Logan has money, or Zain. Can't you do some… I don't know… however people like that talk to each other."

"Hrm. John Logan's been missing for a week."

Word gets around.

"Zain Syan," Etienne says, like he's about to give his assessment on his viability as a money pinata, but pauses between breaths of smoke. Thinks. Scratches the bristle growing down his jaw with blunt, dirty fingernails. "Dragon's hoard with a small dragon." He taps ash away, lets his lax stride broaden as he starts to pick up pace as the lobster boat awaiting them is approached. "I can see."

As he passes Alister, he goes to slap the well-crumpled missing ocelot poster into his hands. "Maybe I find the ghost lady cat for you," he adds, "save you some pennies."

"I would be grateful if you found my cat, yes. And remember, when it comes to money, at first we only need enough to repair the water infrastructure in the neighborhood where the Staten Island Trade Commission is located. Beyond that, we have time, but if we can make our little area of Staten into a utopia, we will have power beyond measure." Alister helpfully explains, holding his hands out flamboyantly as they get closer to the boat.

"Imagine, our own Yamagato. That is what I'm building. A safe zone, on Staten, with a task force, water, reliable electricity." He turns around to face Etienne, now. "If you help me, with your street savvy, you can be far more than simple muscle. You can be the muscle that controls other muscle, with a hot tub, and women with large fake breasts."

Cigarette between his fangs and trailing smoke, Etienne climbs up onto his boat, an easy stride that takes him from solid ground to the deck, over a foot of space through which dark water glimmers. Unconcerned with Alister's ability to follow suit — because for a rich lunatic, he certainly doesn't need his hand held — he moves to unwind rope, and pierce a look over towards his employer as abstract reward for his efforts is produced.

How much he is lured by the promise of power and hot tubs and tits is— hard to say. Maybe Alister has endured enough of his company by now to absorb this silence as the thinking about it kind, so. Maybe a little.

He coils rope, work rough hands decorated with a silver ring, a black stone set into it.

"Empire," he says, that word drifting to the surface of immediate memory. "Make me a place in it, and I'll get you one."

"No problem!" Alister promises, taking the leap over the water like someone who just doesn't give a damn about falling in, but he sticks regardless, and follows after Etienne. "If you stick with me, one day you'll have a fief."

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