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Scene Title Re-Hire
Synopsis Avi Epstein visits Lucille after confirming Nathalie's death.
Date February 10, 2020

A riotous cheer is funneled upward toward a starless sky. Tonight, a drizzling rain falls over New York, but within the collapsing dome of the Crucible, the chill in the air that came with this storm is lost.

The arena’s stands are packed for the night, winter jacked shed in favor of t-shirts and bare arms in the sweltering heat created not only by so many people crammed together in the ruined remnants of a prison, but also the heat generated by one of the most recent combatants. A pyrokinetic lays writhing on the ground of the arena, sand underfoot smoking as he clutches his head, body wreathed in flames. A brunette woman stands a short enough distance away to be in danger, but with the way her irises burn a bright gold she knows there is no harm.

The pyrokinetic’s nerve endings are on fire, as if the flames he is immune to are consuming him. Lucille Ryans, standing tall and in charge, creases her brows and intensifies the glow of her eyes as the pyrokinetic arches his back and slams the flat of his burning hand into the sandy floor.

A bell rings several times. The crowd cheers.

Same as it ever was.

The Crucible
Ruins of Staten Island

February 10th
8:28 pm

The winding hallways outside of the Crucible’s arena are lovingly known as the Crawl, a connection of extant cell blocks and makeshift hallways created by welding corrugated metal shipping containers together to create an enclosed series of passages to funnel competitors into the arena from outside. A few fans with connections hang out in the Crawl as Lucille makes her way from the arena floor, some of them offering high-fives, others an unwelcome whistle or two, and then there’s this piece of shit.

“Hey, hey, Lucy-baby.

Ricky Fucking Daselles.

“Lucy, honey, you fucking killed it out there tonight,” Ricky says as he hustles to catch up with Lucille as she walks. “I mean— not literally or we’d both be thrown the fuck out. But what did I tell you? Profitable partnership.” He emphasizes his point by pulling a wad of money out of his back pocket as he circles around in front of her to stop her departure. “Your cut, eight large. It was a good night.”

"How many times have I told you," Lucille's voice cuts through as she is stopped by Ricky and looks down, her hands preoccupied by fastening the snaps to her asymmetrical blazer that flairs in the wind generated by her "brisk walk." She had a bottle of Jack and a Finn to get home too.

Without the training facilities of The Bunker or the Bastion, for better or for worse The Crucible had become the next best thing. Some of the fighters weren't too happy with her more than usual attendance these days. The former Wolfhound operative had reputation for putting on a good show but lately, she had been downright ruthless.

"Just because I didn't kill you for helping with my "kidnapping" does not mean you can call me that," Still, money is good. She needed to keep making money, Lucille's father had taught her to always have more than she needed and the woman had taken to that lesson, this would help keep her nest egg going. The fights kept her going inwardly, her soul aching for some kind of release. She needed to hurt something, someone. Lu's hand goes to take the money and as she does so her eyes flicker to the bright gold she was known for.

Just to scare him a little.

Unfortunately, stupid doesn’t scare easy.

“Hey, hey,” Ricky says with a raise of his hands in surrender, “save it for the ring, right? Why give it away when you can pa-aaaay!” The squeal on the end there comes as Ricky is hauled to the side and gingerly slammed into the wall of the corrugated metal hallway as if it were a highschool locker. Holding the back of Ricky’s shirt to keep him pinned out of the way is Lucille Ryans’ next least-favorite person.

“We need to talk.”

Avi Epstein.

What was with tonight?

If it was possible the woman's facial expression falls more and becomes a familiar form of guarded, that infamous Ryans look. No bullshit, no fiery anger but a quiet, seething rage burning within. Lucille calmly takes Avi's hand (and quickly drops it) and removes it from Ricky's back as she lifts her foot to kick the criminal in the back and out of the way. "Leave," Is all she says to Ricky before slowly turning herself back around to face Avi. Blue gray eyes assess the man as a vein in her vein bulges, they hadn't seen each other since that night.

Folding her arms and staring ahead through the bit of bangs that have grown out, Luce's brow lifts., "About."

There are a very few number of reasons that Lucille can guess he might be here, news of Nathalie, or news of her father, or some unfortunate fate falling on someone else they know mutually. None are anything she wants to hear right now, not that it mattered much in this instance.

Avi releases Ricky’s collar and it takes all of one second for Ricky to scramble away from that hand and walk backwards down the hall right into a wall, followed by awkwardly turning the corner and getting out of sight as fast as possible. Avi waits until he can’t hear the skittering of Ricky behind him anymore to answer Lucille’s question.

“Work.” Avi says flatly. “Unfinished business.” His tongue slides across his teeth, like trying to get a bad taste out of his mouth. “You were right,” is the unwanted vindication that Lucille gets, growled through Avi’s clenched teeth. “I’m not having this conversation here.”

Lucille stiffens and slowly looks back at Avi with a hard stare. No. She thinks but in truth she would be lying if she said she hadn't already begun mourning the loss of her best friend, her sister. Being right in this instance has got to be the worst feeling in the world for the Ryans woman. She would rather be wrong right now, would kill to have been wrong. Something else shatters inside of Lucille, the last bit of hope she had left.

Instead she finally leans back a little and closes her eyes, bowing her head and nodding. "Let's go." Voice shaky though she does not cry yet. There's anger there, bubbling up to the surface and while she could misdirect her anger towards Avi… it's not his fault. It had already been too late when she told him.

She wouldn't have this conversation here either, she wouldn't have this conversation at all if she had a choice but just like when she felt compelled to alert Emily and Avi her findings on Nathalie, it's now Avi's turn to do the same. Luckily for both of them, there's not a bottle of liquor in sight for Lucille to throw at any wall.

Outside doesn’t feel all that much different from inside. The smell — sweat and a faint hint of sewage — are still there, but the humidity of the indoor spaces are gone, replaced by the bitter cold of mid-february weather. The hinges of the steel side door creak as Avi roughly makes his way outside ahead of Lucille, boots crunching through a weeks-old crust of brown snow. He leaves an obvious trail out to a dirt lot beside the Crucible, where his familiar truck is parked along with other vehicles.

Avi doesn’t make it to the truck before he turns around to face Lucille.

“It was Monroe’s people,” Avi says in a growl. “That whole fucking tangle of terrorists. Mazdak, Praxis, apparently Shedda fucking Dinu. The whole fucking thing.” His throat works up and down in a dry, awkward swallow. “They got Richard too. Same people. The fucking killed him, Luce.” Avi looks away, down to the ground, then back up to Lucille. “She saved him.”

And that’s why she’s gone. Nathalie herself had voiced her concerns over that very issue when it came to healing Francois. She could only do so much before it would take all of her to fix him. She had warned everyone of the possibility.

“I need you back,” Avi adds, pushing through the explanation. “We need t’make this right.”

Now you want my help.

Is a petty thing to think in this moment, not unearned from Avi but frivolous with the weight of Nathalie being gone. So she doesn't say it aloud. Lucille stands there with a strained expression on her face, willing herself to keep it together. There will be proper time to mourn after this is settled. Hearing that it was Adam's people makes her insides burn and she narrows her eyes, "Dad would never." That she must make clear, Nathalie saved his life and gave his daughter back hers, the Ryans family owed Nathalie Leroux a debt eternally. He must not have known…

Knowing that Nathalie died saving someone, her own flesh and blood is tragic but there's a very tiny glimmer of hope. She knows how those conduits work to a certain extent. Nathalie was in there somewhere. That is tucked away for later but she looks at Avi dead in the face and nods her agreement, she would come back. For this, for Nathalie, for the promise she made and failed to keep.

"No telling me I'm going too far, no holding back. I will kill every single one of them Avi, every last one." There is literal murder in her eyes as they flash gold yet again due to the emotional hurricane currently raging within the woman.

"What do we know so far?" Direct, "I may know someone who can help. Get us close to him and his people."

“Don’t say that,” is what Avi focuses on. “Because you won’t kill every one of them.” His jaw clenches. “If it comes down to you and your old man, who pulls the trigger first then?” He lifts a hand, scratching at the side of his face before hunching his shoulders against the cold. “We don’t know shit right now. We don’t need to get close, we need to fucking nuke them from orbit.”

Avi starts to calm, exhaling a deep sigh. “We go off half-cocked we’re gonna wind up— ” he almost says like Nat but instead chooses, “dead.” Even that feels too soon. “I’m reaching out to every single fucking contact I have in the government. I know SESA’s been up Monroe’s ass sideways for over a year, they’ve gotta have something. You get someone, a lead? I want to vet them. We don’t do any of this halfass.”

Then, quieter. “And if your lead works for them?” His brows rise. “We kill them after we’re done. Scorched earth.”

Lucille grimaces and looks away, "You're right," She can admit that at least, could she kill her own father? Would it come to that? Her father felt lost, disconnected from the rest of them. His history with Adam with so far back and was so twisted in false memories and lost true ones.

But there are other matters to address and Lucille nods at Avi's assessment. "Her name is Yi-Min, she's a doctor working for Praxis. She can get us in. I'll contact her.." The two had spoken already about this, the possibility, the need for help to take a tyrant down. "All signs point west," the last time Wolfhound went West they had seemingly lost one of their own. "You're right though, we're gonna need all the help we can get. People who have something at stake in getting rid of Adam and his… people." Rubbing the back of her neck, "Finn can help. I know he'll want too." Avi knows which man she's speaking about it's not like him to forget that man due to the circumstances surrounding their meeting and how he's somehow became a more permanent thing in Lucille's life as of the last year.

She nods though, "Scorched earth. Got it," She could do this the right way, no rushing off to God knows where.

"Avi…" Lucille looks over at the man and steps closer, she doesn't care how ridge he can be or his attitude. This loss was a heavy one, way too much to bear, she lays her hand on his shoulder and draws closer. "I am so sorry, I didn't want to be right. I told her I would watch out, be there whenever nobody else could. She was my sister. She gave me my life back. I'm sorry I failed. I'm sorry I-. This-" She stops and does what probably neither of them would have expected in this moment but grief makes people weird. She grabs Avi for a hug and holds onto him.

The young woman who Avi had begun to know all those years ago during the war was a wreck but determined, over time she had become more centered. More grounded and though she was a soldier that led with her heart in times of confusion, this open display of emotion or vulnerability wasn't totally like her. Not now. "We will get them, I promise you." This promise she knows she will and can keep, nothing could keep her from it. "She would have wanted you to know she loved you, flaws and fucking all. She just wanted you to be proud, to want her to be your daughter."

Avi looks away, rubbing a hand at the back of his neck and shaking his head. “Yeah,” is the only response he gives to it, sliding his tongue across the inside of his cheek to try and pull the bitter taste of bile out of his mouth. It doesn’t help much. Instead, he fishes in his pocket for a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, using the time to think about how to respond to anything, but also to buy himself time and distance from the emotional content of Lucille’s words, to make it less awkward when he ignores most of them.

Tucking his lighter back into his pocket, Avi hesitates, then withdraws the pack of cigarettes and offers one out to Lucille. “Hold up maybe on telling the Praxis mole we’re doing anything. Don’t care how clean or— dirty— whatever. I don’t care if she seems friendly, she could be a security leak. If…”

Avi shakes his head. “Your weirdass criminal boyfriend can stay in the sticks with his hillbilly interloper friends. Thanks but no thanks. Last thing I need is Emile Danko’s second cousin or whatever the fuck he is putting a bullet in the back of my head for old time’s sake.”

For the sake of not re-losing her job and also not hurting Avi's face, Lucille ignores that last bit as she steps away and takes the cigarette from the older man. Lightning it with a spare lighter from her pocket and holding it up after she takes a drag.

"I'm not gonna jeopardize our chance here, I can wait on contacting her." It's a simple request and one that Luce feels no grief about honoring. She'll do more work on Avi about Finn later. If Lucille had Huruma's gift she would feel the emotion within the lead of Wolfhound but instead knowing what she knows about the body and it's language she assess what you really didn't need any ability to tell you, Avi was hurting and she knew all too well how he handed that sort of pain, they could both be volatile in their emotional states.

"Have you… told any of the others?" An important question to make, Luce's kept in contact with everyone from a distance since her firing but she didn't want to get into why exactly it went down or what she had suspected. "They'll want blood as much as we do." The Hounds weren't known for taking things lightly like when one of their own was hurt or kidnapped. She honestly didn't want to be the one to carry the news to the others.

“Huruma was with me when we picked up Richard. He’s… pretty fucked up from it.” Avi resists giving too many more details of that to Lucille. “He might appreciate a visit.” It’s Richard’s story to tell. “Once I know what the fuck to say or… do, I’ll tell everyone. But it’s not going to be in a conference room. It’ll be… fuck, I don’t know.” Then, quieter. “I just don’t know.”

“Finish up your shit here,” Avi says with a jerk of his thumb to the crucible, “and come back to the Bastion tonight. I never threw your shit out of the room there. You’ll be off-duty until we hit this, so just… relax. Do whatever you’ve gotta to get ready. Because when we know how to roll…”

“We’re gonna roll fucking hard.

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