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Scene Title Rendezvous
Synopsis Gillian Childs is approached by Roger Goodman, warning her of risks and rewards.
Date March 2, 2009

Staten Island

There's something about the fringes of Staten Island that will always inspire sentiments of unease. After the bomb, much of Staten Island has fallen into glorious disrepair, so much so that places that were already in stages of decay look more like monuments to entropy than once urban settlements in decline. While much of the island was suburban residential areas before the bomb, there were two crowning moments that drove this borough of New York into an early grave. The first was the mass exodus of survivors and panicked people fleeing Manhattan. They came by foot, bicycle and car across the bridges to Staten Island, all manner of desperate and frightened people flooding into a crowded place. While some fled through to New Jersey, others simply couldn't — or wouldn't — go further. This, like in Queens, led to an eventual chaos that would in time eclipse the pandemonium in the eastern edge of New York after the bomb.

Staten Island was in the direct path of the fallout from the explosion, and after thousands fled to the island, the entire populace was forcibly evacuated. Those few that managed to stay, clung to their homes desperately, and those few who did would suffer from radiation sickness and the ever-escalating crime rate. By the time Staten Island got the "all clear" from the government, the damage had already been done.

What was one suburban neighborhoods and parklands is now a monument to decay. Houses lie in various states of disuse and ruin, and like much of New York has seen property values nosedive. Few want to move out to a formerly irradiated zone, and even fewer want to return to a place so rife to violent crime. Now, much of Staten Island lies in various states of decay. Houses abandoned by families that fled the city, were forced into forclosure and were never resold, or simply places where entire families went missing and are now squatted in by any number of transients line the once peaceful streets. Staten Island is a home to crumbling infrastructure, spotty electricity, and people who wish to remain undiscovered by law enforcement. Few police will willingly go into this now infamous island.

One thing to be missed about Manhattan Island… Or Queens. Or Brooklyn. Or the Bronx… it had been a lot easier to find public transportation, even after the city got wrecked in various ways.

The sun's nearly set, casting a hazy hue to the sky, enough wind to make the bite of the cold remind the people in the streets that spring hasn't quite come yet. One of those people walking along the broken streets of Staten Island's suburban neighbors is Gillian Childs. Wrapped in a coat too big for her, with a new identity in her pocket to go along with the one she recently left behind her in Chinatown. Dark hair hangs around her face, bangs nearly in her eyes, except when caught in the wind and blown out of the way.

Each step shows signs of tiredness. The walk might be too much for her, and there's not very many vehicles on these roads that she'd want to flag down. There's no easy way to get from point A to point B. All the teleporters she knows… she envies them for their ease of movement. Far more than she'd probably ever admit.

There's a bag at her side, strap hanging across her chest and back. Decent sized, but not heavily weighted. She is not likely to be carrying too much of value. But who would in this place?

Teleportation, it is a convenient form of locomotion, for most people who have the ability. "Gillian?" For others, it's slightly more taxing and problematic. The voice comes not from ahead of where she walks through the abandoned streets and vacant houses with shattered windows and snow-covered lawns. It's close enough,loud enough, and unfamiliar enough to give her a startle, sending the young woman skittering around with eyes wide, looking to a man standing behind her that simply wasn't there when she walked across that icy patch of sidewalk.

Tall, dark, slim. He looks like a spot of ink against the white of ice and snow clinging to the cold ground, waves of steam rising up off of his shoulders and the top of his clearly shaved head. "I hope this isn't a bad time, but you're a difficult woman to reach," his weight shifts to one foot, the snow and around where his feet are having melted in those moments from when Gillian walked over them, as if he melted it bare to the pavement.

The use of her name, her real name, by an unfamiliar person in an unfamiliar setting is enough to make Gillian stare. Leaving her staggered for a moment. The panic button that all members of Phoenix are supposed to carry has been forgotten. As have the various forms of self-defense she carries in her bag to go along with it. "Where did you— " she starts. Her voice is raspy, thanks possibly to the cold. Her voice would have been raspy without the chilled air, but that makes it pitched a certain way.

It cut off, and she reaches a gloved hand up to push her bangs out of her eyes. This man knows her name. And he's been trying to reach her. Considering recent activities… "What do you want?" she says, voice tensing up, taking a step back from the area where he's melted far more snow than her footsteps have taken away. She's acutely aware of the knot in the back of her head. It's been tied off almost permanently for the last month since the bridge incident. Surprises always make it unravel a little.

"I'm sorry if I startled you, but I figured you would prefer a face-to-face meeting somewhere outside of your work or residence," The tall, dark man withdraws a hand from the pocket of his slacks, extending it towards Gillian. "My name is Roger Goodman, and I've been looking for you for a very long time, Miss Childs. I'm sorry it took me this long to find you," his head tilts to the side, watching her with the serenity of a stalking cat, "All I want to do is talk."

"Right. Talk," Gillian says, glancing around for a dark car and other people in suits. The extended hand also gets a glance. "If you were looking for me, I don't know if I want to touch your hand." Bad things happen to people whose hands she touches sometimes. A man found out a lot about her. Another man tossed her across the room. A woman got knocked unconscious after a vision that she had… A dozen reasons not to take the offered hand. To demonstrate her reluctance, she shoves her hands deep into her pockets. "What do you want to talk about… Roger."

Looking down at his own hand, Roger's lips creep up into a smile, head bowing into a nod as he places his hand back into the pocket it came from. "I want to talk about the people who are trying to track you down, and tie you to a lab table and discover what makes you tick." Dark eyes settle on Gillian, "Your performance at the Verrazano-Narrows bridge was captured by traffic surveillance cameras and was shared with an organization you may be familiar with, call the Company."

There's just a breath, a single beat, allowed to let this notion sink in. "There are representatives of Primatech that would like to see your power explored, understood, and manipulated to their ends, just like the other person who shares an ability similar to your own." Pursing his lips, Roger looks down to his feet, "They have agents here, on Staten Island, but they're not looking for you…" well, that's a relief, "…but if they find you, others will come to bring you in."

The people who are. Implying that they are not him. Lips that are still reddened by lipstick part as if she's tempted to say something in response to that. From the lowering of Gillian's eyebrows, they might have been words of defiance. That never get said. Cause he keeps going. The lips press back together. Eyebrows stay lowered, this time in thought, but she does take a half step back, to put some additional distance between them. There's one thing she has to respond to first… "They have someone like me already?" There's an angry tone to her voice, shaking her head a little. He doesn't even need to answer it, honestly.

"I'm doing my best to stay under the radar. The last people who offered me help with this situation…" The ones who in fact told her that it had been a situation, and she's convinced had staged the whole thing in the first place… "They had their own fucking agenda. I'm so delusional or gullible to believe you're any different."

"Everyone has an agenda, Gillian." Roger's eyes close partway, diverting his gaze down to her feet, "I'm no different, thi sisn't a purely altruistic visit." When he looks back up, there's a tension in the corner of Roger's eyes, a tightness that gives some sign of how tense he is. "The man that has a power like you, is on the run from the Company. I have put agents loyal to me on his…" he smirks, "case," irony known only to Roger, "to ensure that if he is found, he can be kept safe."

Clearing his throat, Roger's lips press into a thin line. "I suppose I should have been clear about that detail… I am the assistant-director of the Company's New York division, Gillian." There's no joking tone to his voice, "and I want to ensure that you are protected from the people I work for, you and the people you associate yourself with. But you have to be willing to trust me."

"You're from the Company?" Gillian's hand moves out of her coat pocket now, obviously finding this surprising, and possibly even threatening. Even with all his words. The people she associates herself with. Sadly, she doesn't have a perfect memory like some people she associates with, but she can't think of any report of a particular person within that Company that might be helping them in some way.

Or wanting to keep them safe. There's a distance in her eyes, though, a distrust. "People involved in your Company… The only one I really knew…" Didn't even seem to trust his own people. And got shot by the government. Not too far away from her, but far enough they didn't shoot her too. There's a pause.

This is a fucking pickle if she ever saw one.

There's a set to her jaw, a tightness to her lips. "What do you want? Why me? Why us? When there's probably a fuck-ton of people hiding from your Company."

"Not me," Roger admits, withdrawing his hand from his pocket to hold out a business card to Gillian, one marked with a green and blue DNA double-helix, "The people that I trust, and the people I answer to, the ones who are going to destroy the Company, and everything they represent." He liefts his hand, card pinched between his index and middle fingers.

"They want to make sure you and Phoenix are kept safe, protected, and not exploited like a natural resource despite your wishes." Dark eyes narrow slowly, "I know you have no reason to trust me, Gillian, but I want you to have faith. Faith that not everyone is going to try and turn on you when it is convenient for them, trust that there are people out there who will do whatever they can to help you, because of what you are, not in spite of it."

The card is turned around, revealing the name Pinehearst Company printed in serif font below the helix. "If you have time, take a drive out to New Jersey, and visit their offices. Ask for me, and you'll be directed to people who will be able to explain things more passionately than I." His lips crook into a rueful smile, "We all have our motivations, Gillian."

"Freedom of thought is a rare thing these days," Roger notes quietly, letting his hand come back into his pocket, "your friends are treading dangerous waters, Gillian. They don't know the scope of the situation they are dealing with, and I am taking a significant personal risk coming here to confide in you. If my position within the Company was questioned, if scrutiny was placed on the people I associate with, many good people would be killed."

Looking over his shoulder, Roger stares into one of the darkened windows of a nearby abandoned building. "This is the safest place for you to be right now, if you do not go to New Jersey." When he looks back, there is an urgency in his expression, "Be careful, Gillian. The world is a much more dangerous and complicated place than they might think."

"If I didn't know better, I'd think I had some kind of fucking cat-like luck at avoiding death," Gillian says softly, as she shakes her head. The world isn't a safe place. It never had been. But it's even less safe now. Especially for people like her. The last few months showed her that far more than she'd like to believe. Every time she thought she would die. Every time she lived to tell about it. Or not tell about it. This may be one of the things she'll keep close to the chest. For a time.

"Sounds like you need to be even more careful than me, though." She's already been careful, and paranoid. And this may not be helping her too much, either. But… "Sure you'll know if I end up heading to New Jersey." He's probably got more connections than she does. She starts to move as if to walk away, rebuttoning her coat the rest of the way.

Only when he finishes does she reach out and take the card, frowning down at it. The whole situation has confused her, but she's getting the picture now. A twisted web of a pickle. A Company working against the Company and people who are… Gillian shakes her head, but she takes the card and looks at it a little longer than someone not intrigued by the situation should.

Hazel eyes dart up, leaving the printed helix and the name. The address in New Jersey. It isn't even handed back. A button of her coat is undone so she can slip her hand inside and stick it into an interior pocket. That one's safest. It won't be likely to get lost or fall under anything there. It had been where she kept her gun, in fact. No gun this time. She doesn't think she even needs to pull it.

"I can't speak for anyone in Phoenix," she says when she does speak again. "We barely even associate right now. I do what I want to." And she gets something out of it. But it isn't a full alliance. She would never admit to anything but what is. "I'll think about it."

"Be safe, Gillian…" Goodman murmurs under his breath, before tilting his head back, his body discorporating in a haze of violet light and a rolling wave of heat. The tall, gaunt man disappears in a crackling flash of smoky violet energy that melts the snow around him, sending a gust of warm air blowing past Gillian, causing the trail of her coat to billow from the change in air pressure.

"…huh," Gillian can't help but say as she follows the trail of light. "He's purple too," she can't help but say with a hint of a laugh in her voice. It's rather funny. She's not seen many people who give off purple light, even in her limited experience. If he hadn't been kind of creepy— and still technically Company if working against them— she might have made a comment about asking him for a ride. "Come on feet. Gotta do this the old fashioned way," she says, looking down at her shoes. They aren't platforms. With all the walking she's had to do, they may never be again.

March 2nd: Old Blue

Previously in this storyline…
In the Shadow of Angels

Next in this storyline…
Not Without My Husband

March 2nd: Growing Up Is Such Barbarous Business
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