Ripping Up Trees


huruma_icon.gif richard3_icon.gif

Scene Title Ripping Up Trees
Synopsis Looking to cash in some favors, Huruma pays Richard a visit.
Date August 27, 2018

Raytech NYCSZ Branch Office

A large double-window along one wall of Richard Ray's office allows natural light to spill in throughout the office and provides an excellent view of the green roof on the lower floor of the building, the flowered garden spreading out between rows of solar panels.

The walls of the office are in slate grey, the carpeting on the floor matching, and the furniture is all in black glass, metal, and leather - but the modern starkness is offset by the tall potted plants that grow along the side of the room opposite the window. The CEO's desk is a broad affair in black glass with a video feed and touch-screen built into the surface of the desk itself, the non-interactive portions of the desk decorated sparsely with a plastic 'in' and 'out' box, a framed picture of Elisabeth Harrison, and an old onyx chess king set beside it like reminders of times long past.

It’s almost something of a habit, when Wolfhound comes back from the wild— that some of them circle back to get into Raytech’s hair. The company does facilitate the equipment, after all; what’s a better way to improve than to give live updates? But, it’s not the armor, nor the firearms that brings Huruma back. It’s not the Game, either, as much as she loves to get herself into things she shouldn’t, for the sake of entertainment- -

She is actually here for a reason, or more of one, this time. Huruma even stops at the front desk with a tame approach and gentler manner, signing in and getting a visitor’s pass and all of the fun security stuff that Richard ran her through before. As she is escorted up to the offices, even the color of her clothes seems to show the contrast of her moods, rich cobalt and denim cooler against warm brown.

There is a fatigued sort of air around her that her escort absorbs by the time they arrive at Richard’s doorstep; it makes the security officer fidget uncomfortably, even before Huruma adjusts the space around her to something less- - drained. Thumb plays against the edge of the badge at her shirt hem, idle patience.

As she’s let into the office, Richard’s rising from the high-backed chair behind his desk, his image faintly reflected in the black glass before him. A warm smile curves to his lips, his hands spreading a touch, “Huruma. Come on in, have a seat… what brings you by?” The black suit he generally wears when working, red tie only slightly out of line.

From a box lined in soft fabrics beside the desk, a small reddish kitten peeks his head up over the edge, mouth opening in a fang-baring yawn as he stirs from a sleepy little cat-nap.

The security guard, once she’s inside, quite eagerly closes the door and slips away, uncomfortable near the woman for reasons only she knows.

"You must broil in that suit…" Huruma feels the guard skirt away behind her as she enters, giving the door a last look before refocusing on Richard. She gives him a tight smile, earnest, though just a touch strained at the corners of her eyes. The visitor badge gets a flash as she pulls up a seat on the other side of his glossy desk. "Look at me, following the rules and everything." Give it time, she'll break one.

“A few things.” She answers more softly, only after settling in and crossing one knee over the other. “You have far more business connections than I do, for one. So, here I am. Not that I am completely inept at networking- I just hate doing it.” Huruma’s nose gives a small wrinkle at the thought of trying to do it again. “God knows I learned a lot from Adam, but that doesn’t mean I liked it. I want to ask you for your help.”

It’s not something she’s good at. Richard, on the other hand? He has people, and he’s not so bad at it, from observation.

“If you think I wear this monkey suit when I walk out of the air conditioning, you’ve got a rude awakening due,” Richard replies with a smile, although as he gets a closer look at her manner the warmth of that smile fades a bit. He eases himself back down in his chair, leaning back with hands folding over his chest.

“I’d ask how you’re doing, but I think it’s obvious something is wrong,” he admits, “What’s going on, and how can I help?”

The dark woman gives a listing, amused glint of eye for his retort, comfortable despite whatever else is on her mind. Huruma rests an elbow on the chair's arm, leaning her jaw against her knuckles and diverting a look to the stretching wakefulness of Richard's kitten.

"How fair are your connections to medical tech firms? Madagascar has some fingers in the field, but-" Huruma's lips press together, a firm look coming with a freshly dark edge of her voice. "I need a resource on this side of the ocean."

At the question, Richard’s whole expression softens. “Ah,” he says, one hand coming up to scratch under his chin briefly, “He finally told you, then?”

His hand drops to the arm of his chair, and he exhales a sigh, “I offered, already. He said he wanted to fade away on his own terms. Stubborn old bastard, he always has been. Even in the face of this he refuses to reach out for help.”

When Richard's expression moves, so does her mental study of him; she feels the shift before it even voices itself, a puzzled, stern look moving over her own face.

"He- - He doesn't know I'm here." Though she begins just as firmly as before, it is a quick falter into a thickening of her voice and a kneading clutch at the other arm of the chair. "…He told me before we went to Irwin. I know he won't reach out. I do not need reminding of how stubborn he is."

A breath moves through her in a readiness to continue, eyes hooded in shadow and shoulders tense. She doesn't continue. Not immediately. "That is why I am here. He might-" Huruma curls her lip and rubs her hand along her brow, sheltering another falter of her otherwise composed self. "Maybe he'll listen to me. Get another look. A better look, better equipment…"

“Sometimes our loved ones don’t know what’s good for them,” admits Richard in somewhat rueful tones, and then he leans forward, forearms resting on the desk between them. “He didn’t give me details— but I know it’s got to be bad. If he’s been concealing it for this long…”

He pauses before he continues down that line of thought, “There’s one person you can talk to. They’re probably already aware of the situation thanks to me, but — with you, they might have a lever to convince him.”

“It wasn’t so much concealment… he only found out a couple of weeks before he told me, but- - years ago it had happened a first time. After he got those years back… it was gone. It came back. Now he wants to make the most of what he has left, and yet…” Huruma offers what small details that she feels comfortable with, without getting too specific. Her jaw clenches as her hand moves down, both of them giving the chair a dig of nails against upholstery. She lets go after another moment, a brow lifting across to Richard, curious.

“How did you even find out? When he told me, he hadn’t even explained things to the girls yet. ” Huruma asks quietly this time, less apprehensive even if there’s a shine to her pale eyes, something not so common a sight. Especially outside of a small circle. “So who, then?”

“I know things,” Richard replies to the question a bit wryly, “You should know that by now. It’s kind of my thing, you know?”

The seriousness returns, then, hand sweeping over to touch a part of the desk — and beneath the black glass, a computerized display springs to life. The executive’s fingers brush over the surface, flicking through images rapidly before pausing on one — dragging it, twisting it towards her and pushing it to shine through her side of the table.

The Clocktower Building stands, a photograph taken at night to show it in all its lit-up glory in the midst of Red Hook.

“Here,” he explains, “Ask for Sabra Dalton. Say it’s in regards to Ben.”

“This is a touch above knowing things, Richard.” Huruma points this out in a mutter, watchful as he begins navigating his dashboard. She is silent as he works up the image of the clocktower, eyes tipping after it when he moves it closer. “I know the building.” No indication of if she knows what is there, but judging by the furrow of brow, she may have an inkling.

Huruma knows things, too.

“You realize this referral may not go as well as you hope, yes?” The woman shifts in her seat, dropping the cross of her knees and leaning forward to give the photo a playful spin on the display. “I do have my… colorful history. Not everyone finds it in themselves to look past it.”

“Not that I won’t go.” Even if she fully expects security to show up at the door, for whatever reason. Wolfhound or not, she is herself. “And you? I would still appreciate your help. Elmhurst does what it can with what they have.” But it isn’t worth not seeking a second opinion.

“Don’t we all?” The faintest of smiles crosses Richard’s lips, his head shaking a little, “You were with us, at the end, and you fought with us at Nazahat. That’ll be enough. So long as you aren’t the one with the grudge.”

A tip of his head, and he admits, “We don’t exactly have good medical facilities here, I’m afraid, not the sort that he’d need. I can consult my own people, but I’d need a copy of his records, of course.”

“I am not the one with the grudge, but people can shock you with what they hold onto.” Huruma only needs to remind him of that, rather than give any specific examples. He knows plenty. Her voice evens out, though it remains lower in her chest as she speaks. “If not you, surely you know people as well as things. If you could try to get me in the door with someone, it would be as much favor as I could ask. There is a healer that works with the fights outside of the zone, though I suspect they may ask much more of me.” If they could do anything at all.

Raytech isn’t a medical company, but someone is. Huruma doesn’t comment on copies of records- - she is considering the possibility of snapping copies, but it feels a bit too underhanded. For once. Trust is a heavy burden.

“I can’t not try…something. I know what he thinks he wants, but I am stubborn too.” Huruma’s mouth purses in a moment of faint humor. “Maybe that says all anyone needs to know about us.”

“Dalton is neck deep in her own sins,” is Richard’s response to that, his tone dry, “If she holds yours against you, she’s a bigger hypocrite than she thought. We need Ben healthy and with his head in the game, and she knows that. If that’s not enough to get her decrepit ass moving on getting him healed…”

She’s watched for a moment, and then he nods slightly, “I don’t think the fight’s healer would suffice for— this. But if there’s anyone who still has that sort of ability, Dalton’d know. Some days I wish we still had the White Conduit around somewhere.”

“I'm not here just because people need ‘his head in the game’.” Huruma's breath huffs, though at nobody in particular. “Of course, I wouldn't say no to that. I wanted the help because he is my best friend and he does not deserve this fate he is being handed. But, I know you, at least, know that too… Retired or not, the universe owes him that much.” As she speaks her voice moves from familiar drawl and into a breathy sort of reverence, eyes roaming to the windows.

“I know, I know— “ Richard holds up a hand, “I know, but that’ll be the impetus for her to cooperate.” His hand drops back down, and he smiles faintly, “It does. He’s a good man, and a good friend, and I’d rather he not go through what he’s resigning himself to go through.”

“I told him he always struck me as a ‘go out with a bang rather than a whimper’ type,” he allows dryly, “Let’s remind him of that fighting spirit if we have to.”

“The ‘bang’ is why he came out of retirement the first time around.” Saying it out loud has Huruma smirking, despite herself. “I said something like that, the evening he told me, but he insisted on making the most of what he had left, so… I didn't press. It wasn't… the time for that.” She runs her tongue over the edge of her teeth, wetting her mouth with a small swallow.

When Huruma looks back to Richard and away from his view, there is a flicker of intensity behind her eyes joined by a contraction of pupils, subtle.

“Where was it last…? Mexico…?” The dark woman's head tilts just so. Richard has eyes- - and he's seen that aura on others. People determined to seek what they probably shouldn't. Even if it might prove a danger. Zeke, Edward, even Eve of late.

“You mean the…?” Richard hesitates, regarding her for a long moment as he sees that look in her eyes. A faint smile tugs at the corner of his lips, then, and he observes, “I won’t be able to talk you out of that idea, I see.”

A deep breath’s drawn in, “Ask Francois. He’d know, if anyone does, after how long it was bonded to him. I don’t know who else might know what happened to it, in the end.”

“I have an emotional investment.” Huruma replies on the matter of getting talked out of it, brows lifting when she answers. “Right. At least he's accessible to me. I refuse to drag Abigail into that again, so…” It's better than having nothing.

“I have done stranger and more dangerous things than try to seek out an entity made of …life force?” Whatever the conduit is.

“I have no bloody idea what they are, or where they came from,” Richard admits with a grimace, “Although Eileen is running around with the Black Conduit, so, that’s just fucking great. Especially since she seems to want me dead.”

He shakes his head, “French is your best bet there.”

“So what I am hearing is that we ought to have been searching for it anyway.” Tch. Huruma sucks once on her teeth, disapproving, generally speaking. It's not you, Richard. She sighs through her nose, leaning back in her seat with a weight lolling about her shoulders. Her eyes crease at the edges in thought at the ceiling, the lines of her face stern.

“I will speak to him. Hopefully, he knows more than either of us. It had some significant… jumps, years ago. Didn't Flint have it for a time?” Her eyes narrow, but she doesn't dwell on it for long. “As for Dalton… no harm in a visit. I suppose I should be courteous and call to schedule something, hm?”

“Yes, Deckard did,” Richard muses, one hand coming up to rub at his jaw, “Come to think of, I haven’t seen him in a long time… hope the old man’s not dead. Don’t tell him, but I was actually rather fond of the guy.”

Then his hand falls, and he offers her a faint smile, “Maybe we should’ve. I’ve got my hands full, though, so if you’d like to pick up that burden— by all means, and let me know if you find it. Or if you need any help.”

“I doubt it. He was as tough as a chunk of hide.” Huruma’s mouth firms a line, her eyes holding more of the amusement than the rest of her. “And if I ever see him again I will absolutely tell him.” Sorry, Richie. You said it, and she can’t unhear it. It’s as close to teasing as she’s gotten during the visit, so maybe it’s worth the sacrifice.

“I know you are a busy man. I do not expect you to crumple under my burdens.” Huruma scrubs a hand across the shear of her head, a smile lingering. “I’ve been needing a hobby anyway.” Conduit Hunting is a hobby now, it counts.

“I had something else on my mind,” She pauses to draw out her phone from her pocket, thumb flipping through photos. “What is the age minimum on interns?” It’s an innocent enough change of pace, and Richard can see parts of the photos flipping past her hand. Look close enough and there are a couple that Nicole sent as emotional blackmail. Huruma does not fit in Pippa’s bed, but she has tried.

When Huruma stops, she slides her phone over the desk. The central thing is the robotics on display; it seems to be a fish shape, same structure showing through a translucent silicone. The boy holding it up for the picture has Huruma’s cheekbones. “He is a touch young, but smarter than me or you.” She sounds quite sure of it.

“I may need to ask you to help out with some of my… hobbies at some point,” admits Richard in somewhat wry tones, motioning with one hand in a sweep of his fingers above the table, “I’m holding a meeting soon to explain some things, I’ll let you know.”

Oh so innocent, that change of pace, eyebrows lifting ever so slightly in amused suspicion of the woman’s motivations. The appearance of the phone has him catching it in its slide, raising it up to consider the young man upon it. “Dajan’s?” A probing inquiry, one brow lifting higher as he looks across the desk to her.

“Fourteen, technically, with parental consent, although we normally don’t hire until sixteen…” His lips twitch a bit in a wider smile, “Of course, I’m quite willing to engage in nepotism for a friend.”

“Mhm.” Huruma sounds an affirmative to the probing, though there are so few people it could be. She fights a larger smile in the face of Richard’s, pride peeking through despite the mood lingering from before. “He has been learning with a student group on Madagascar, they work mainly with localized companies… but I can tell that he needs more. So… maybe his growth lies outside of the island. It does not help that his family name carries a weight there. Too much favoritism, not enough opportunity to learn.” Huruma knows that it wouldn’t be the same here, without that reputation. She’d like to mention it to Dajan and have a contact for him at the same time, so here she is.

“Considering that Badrani’s father aged out of a state education and I never got through middle school— I am not ashamed to say that I want him to have anything he wants, when it comes to this…” And it is something good to get her mind off of other things, for a time.

“That makes sense,” Richard admits, “There’s always a certain amount of… favoritism, like you said, when your family’s so prominent. If he’s at least legal for me to take on as an intern, and Dajan’s willing to sign off on it— “

He flashes her a grin, “Well, we should all make sure our kids and grandkids grow up well. You never know when they might need to come back in time to save us.”

“Lord,” Huruma tips her head back with a groan. “Don’t even joke about that.” She’s had quite enough of those shenanigans for one lifetime. Somehow she’s not certain she won’t have more at some point.

“He is turning fourteen soon. Sometimes I lose track of time. I missed years, so maybe my subconscious refuses to keep up…” She smiles, a little unsure in her expression as she takes the phone back to tuck it away. “I will let Dajan know. Maybe he will bite. Thank you.”

It might be nice to have a teenage boy around to embarass.

“Don’t mention it,” replies Richard with a shake of his head, “And…”

He pauses, “Like I said, I’ll be holding a meeting soon. Important things to discuss, with everyone.” Just who he means by everyone might be a thing she understands, where few others might. “Pieces are moving on the board again, and we need to be prepared.”

‘Everyone’ she understands without an issue. It’s not as if they’ve all completely split apart over the years anyway. Huruma inclines her head, lips twitching into a smile as she rises. “I’ve never been much for chess. Not enough chaos.”

Because of course.

“Richard,” Huruma uses his name this time to draw him in, leaving one last word in. “If you think of anything or find anyone who can help him, let me know.” She likely doesn’t need to say it at all, but there it is- - not one to ask for help, asking for it. “I suppose I have an appointment with one of Eve’s ‘witches’, don’t I.” Her teeth grind for a brief moment. Grin and bear it. “I will see you soon. Take care not to get into too much trouble until then, mm?”

“I will,” Richard promises, “But as for the other…”

He leans back with a chuckle, hands spreading, “No promises.”

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