eileen_icon.gif feng_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title Serendipitous
Synopsis Feng happens upon one of the Vanguard Remnant.
Date March 10, 2010

Red Hook

Waiting on the waterfront is Eileen's least favourite part of her commute from Staten Island to Roosevelt and back. That she choose to travel during the twilight hours twilight hours at dusk and dawn minimizes the risk of getting caught out in the open by one of her enemies — and there are many — but even concealed under a shroud of darkness, she feels ill-at-ease as she stands at the end of the dock, pocket watch in the small hollow formed by the palm of her gloved hand.

Twenty-three minutes and eighteen seconds until the boat is scheduled to arrive. That's twenty-three minutes and eighteen— sorry, seventeen— seconds too long for her liking. The pocket watch snaps abruptly shut, its silver chain tinkling as the Englishwoman slips it back to the pea coat she wears over her clothes and turns her attention back out across the dark water and the absence of the sun's reflection in it.

From here, it's an hour and a half from her rendezvous point in Red Hook to the Dispensary. She'll feel better when she's sitting in the bottom of the boat and Raith is behind the motor.

It's quiet out here, on the edges of Red Hook, unusually so and likely due to the weather. This neighborhood is typically full of cargo boats moving up and down the east river dumping shipping containers off at freight companies. The noise of trains, moving trucks, and boats plying the waters should be a considerably prominent background buzz. But with the weather being as inclement as it has been, trains schedules have been cut back, boat shipments have slowed, and factory workers have been off the floors and in their homes. It leaves the harbor of Red Hook a hauntingly quiet place.

From the tall brick smokestacks to the old brick mill buildings, this neighborhood feels like it's harkening back to that old industrial revolution era. Perhaps somewhat unsettling about this location, is it's proximity to where Eileen was nearly drugged and murdered by Feng Daiyu over the summer, just two short blocks to the northeast in that abandoned parking lot beneath the overpass. Strange how time changes the way things look, because with all this snow it's hard to see the similarities in the locations anymore.

This stillness and silence in the air lends itself to make any noise seem more pronounced. From the way the water sloshes up against the concrete pier that Eileen is currently a thin and dark silhouette on, to the sound of footsteps crunching from around the corner of one of the corrugated metal shipping containers. It's the first time Feng Daiyu has ever approached anyone without sneaking up on them, and the casual emergence of the assassin of the Vanguard is perhaps more disconcerting than a surprise attack.

Hands tucked into the pockets of his dark jeans, Feng looks more casual than he did under the CIA's employ. A black leather jacket is zipped up high, collar lifted to give him something of the presence of a hooded cobra. His hair is longer than Eileen remembers, more shaggy, and the lines of age on his face seem more pronounced.

"A shame ravens do not migrate south for the winter…" Feng projects from the far end of the pier, with water on three of Eileen's sides boxing her in. "Hello, Munin."

A cormorant with feathers like an oil slick and glittering black eyes that had been sitting with its feet curled around a moored buoy hoists itself into flight with a thunderous clap of its great sable wings. If Feng is alone or has come with allies at his back, the bird will know before the Englishwoman does — from the air, there are no shipping containers to hide behind, only inside, and most of the units this far are fastened shut with great steel padlocks too heavy for someone like Eileen to lift with her injured hand.

Injured, however, does not automatically equate to useless. She unfastens the top two buttons of her pea coat and slips it inside, bandaged fingers closing around the grip of the pistol she keeps in her shoulder holster. Her thumb slides across the release, its snap muffled by the coat's heavy woolen fabric, and a moment later the weapon's stainless steel finish is shimmering in the light, lit silver by the distant glow of street lamps bleeding white through the fog.

He's too far away for her to constrict her finger around the trigger and hit him with the bullet that's sitting in the pistol's chamber. It would be a waste of ammunition to even try.

"That's cute, is that a gun?" Feng lifts his brows up, English still not entirely clear, a bit of a heavy pause just awkward enough between words to remind Eileen how little he likes the language. "Do you think you could shoot me, before I get to you?" There's a crooked quality to Feng's smile, and as he keeps walking down the pier, it's a slow pace that scuffs at the snow, eyes alight to the bird for a moment before settling back on the dark-haired young woman. "Or maybe you get lucky, shoot me here…" he taps two fingers at the center of his chest, "or here," up to his brow, "and then no one finds where I put the little boy."

Like a viper revealing his fangs, Feng's smile is hardly a welcoming one, more like the baring of teeth of a vicious animal. "You know he called out your name when I took him from his worthless mother? He said your name, not hers. That must be heart breaking, for a mother to hear their only child cry out another's name in a time of need." Feng's eyes drift up and down Eileen, slowly, and he quirks his lips up into a less toothy smile this time. "What was it that you used to say to him, when you were pretending to be his mother?" Those cold, dark eyes narrow for just a moment before Feng ends the rhetorical pause for an answer with one of his own. "Wo ai ni?"

The arm Eileen has held out, pistol clutched in the weave of her fingers, wavers a fraction of an inch. Were it not for the dockyard's magnifying stillness, the movement is so slight that Feng might not notice it at all under different circumstances. For once, the expression on her face betrays more than her body does; her mouth grows tight, and if there had been any softness left in her eyes at all, it ices over like portions of the Hudson itself.

The cormorant alights on the top of a crane, webbed toes finding purchase in its steel lattice. It has a long, hooked bill used for dining on small eels, fish and water snakes, and although Feng is larger prey than the seabird is accustomed to, it could probably inflict a decent amount of damage to his hands and face before he dispatched it.

There are few ways for Eileen to determine whether or not Feng is bluffing. She does not believe he would have been able to wrest Bai-Chan from Mu-Qian's arms without killing her first, but this would also explain why she hasn't recently heard from the widow. "You'd be surprised," she says, "what sort of things my associates can pull from somebody's head. Whether or not it's intact."

"When did you ever grow talons, little bird?" Feng's approach continues unhindered, chin tilted up and dark eyes leering at the gun in her hand. "You weren't ever supposed to have them… you weren't ever supposed to be anything more than a pretty little eye." Looking from the gun and back up to meet Eileen's eyes, Feng stands close enough now that the avian telepath would need to close her eyes and spin in a circle to miss him. "Do you know what serendipity is, Eileen? It does not have a close meaning in other languages… it means finding something when looking for something else."

Lifting his chin up again, Feng assesses the young woman in a way he'd never been able to before. "I came here looking for something else, and I find you. Serendipity." Feng's brows lift up, one corner of his mouth raised in a smile. "But you would know something about that, would you not? About finding something while searching for something else? Fathers, truths. It is strange the things I have come to learn since Kazimir died."

Wetting his lips, Feng lifts both of his brows and looks down to the gun pointed at his chest. "If you are so sure of your victory, you would have shot me already. So here we are, you not shooting me, me not shooting you… I wonder why that is."

The hiss of gunmetal scratching against the leather of Feng's jacket and the teeth of its metal zipper is felt as much as it is heard. Eileen angles the barrel of the pistol so the muzzle presses into the soft underside of his jaw. If she were to squeeze the trigger now, the bullet would enter through his jaw, explode out through the top of his skull and send a splash of blood and brain matter jettisoning into the air behind him.

Ethan would not hesitate. Jensen would not hesitate. Neither would Teo or Gabriel, she suspects, if given the opportunity that she has right now. "Stop working for Dreyfus," she says, "set aside your grudge with Holden and go back to China. Take Kozlow with you. It's a big enough world for all of us, Daiyu. No one has to die."

"Holden does." Feng states flatly, letting his head crane to the side in subtle motion away from the gun. "Or I do. There is no difference which of us dies, save who kills who. My life served the Vanguard, I have nothing left now, no purpose. Holden is the last thing left in this world that I need to settle before I go." Brown eyes assess Eileen from the distance between arm and shoulder, and this close it's hard not to remember the last time she stared down Feng, when Ethan nearly killed himself trying to get to the assassin.

"I do not work for Kozlow," Feng adds with a sneer, "I also do not work for the old wolf. All I work for is myself, they have given me direction again, that is all. You should be thanking them, Munin, because if I had found you today, before they found me, I would have drowned you quietly in the river. Held your head under the water, until your arms stopped moving, until your legs stopped kicking, until you stopped screaming for help."

Pressing his chin gently against the gun, Feng's brows furrow. "They wanted me to deliver a message. That is why I am here, maybe that is why I kidnapped the boy, maybe not." One of Feng's brows lift slowly. "The old wolf told me a secret… about you… about your father… about your whore mother." His eyes wander to her arm again, and Feng's lips purse together once more before crawling back into a viper's smile. "Have you ever heard of a place called Dachau?"

Eileen dropped out of school at fifteen. Her knowledge of European history is largely limited to what Kazimir imparted on her, but this does not mean that her education was in any way insufficient. Dachau, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau — they are all names as familiar to her as the capitals he drilled into her head during her geography lessons. There is no one better to learn about war from than someone who lived through two of the very worst.

The corners of her mouth twitch around a frown, but before it can take shape on her lips she flattens them into hard line and uses the muzzle of the pistol to further lift Feng's chin as he speaks. She has him and gunpoint and he's smiling; if she possessed any hope he might be convinced to change sides and come work for Raith like she has, it withers and dies under the points of his fangs.

She really should pull that trigger. "I know what Dachau is."

"You were made." Feng seems to have some enjoyment out of letting those words spill off of his lips, even as his smile spreads while Eileen wrenches that gun up further beneath his chin. "Arranged like flowers, picked for the best color, the best scent, whatever." Reaching up one gloved hand from his pocket, Feng ever so slowly moves to rest his fingers atop the gun, urging Eileen to bring it down and away from his chin as he speaks. "Nothing so aesthetic was in mind for you, though, Munin. You were just an experiment."

Psychological warfare is a considerably effective tool, and perhaps that has always been Dreyfus' goal with this arranged encounter. "Carlisle Dreyfus was made to have a prophet for the Vanguard born, your mother and Holden were led to find each other for that specific reason, because of Holden's heritage. You were just a step on the way, trying to build the perfect fortune teller for Kazimir's crystal ball."

Dark eyes never move from Eileen's far more fair ones. "He knew, all the time he watched you, waited to see what would spring from your head. You were never anything more than a tool for his organization like we all were. He made you, he broke you, and now you are pieces of a person trying to cling back together."

Eileen's eyebrows tick upward much the same way she'd dithered when Feng made his claim about Bai-Chan. As his fingers press down on the barrel of her gun, she shoves back with what starts out as an equal amount of force, then gradually increases in intensity until she's shoving the muzzle of the pistol into his throat as though she might be able, with a twist of her wrist, shear off his voice and cow him back into silence.

If hadn't been for what Kazimir said to her when the Washington was stationed off Marion Island, there would be more doubt etched in the fine lines of her face and incredulity lighting up her eyes. The grim set of her mouth and a tight jaw betray her reluctance to dismiss what Feng is saying as a lie.

She has suspected for a long time that the man who spent the first six years of her life acting as her father was in fact not. Faithful isn't a word she would ever use to describe her mother, and believing that Gregory York walked out on his family because at least one of his children was fathered by another man certainly made it easier for Eileen to eventually accept—

"They found me," she contends, her own voice taking on an ophidian quality under stress. "I was sixteen. Serendipity. Kazimir would have said something."

Feng's lips creep up into a smile, throat working up and down as he feels the press of the muzzle against his throat. That snap of her voice is all it takes for Feng to realize that his job is done and the message has taken root like an infected seed behind her eyes, burrowing and crawling. Daiyu Feng is no manipulator, no man to bend human will the way Kazimir did, but Carlisle Dreyfus… he is another matter entirely. This whole scenario could not have been devised by any other, on any other.

"They were looking for an oracle…" Feng breathes out the words, "and got a girl who speaks to birds." There a sudden snap of motion as Eileen feels pressure on her wrist, fingers moving, the gun is out of her hand before she even can react to the fact that he's hitting her with it across the cheek, sending her down to the frozen concrete beneath them. In that same fluid motion Feng is using the momentum from the swing to turn, pistol held out and a single crack of gunfire and an eruption of feathers clipping the wing of that great bird keeping watch.

Feng turns before he can tell how badly it's injured, leveling the gun back at the wounded girl laying prone in the snow, staring down the iron sights of the pistol at her, voice cold in its mocking qualities.


Eileen doesn't have the opportunity to let out the shrill cry that the cormorant does, and although the gunshot does not kill it, the fall from the top of the crane finishes the job. Wings splayed, long neck bent like the crook of the Englishwoman's elbow, its glossy black feathers quiver in the breeze but its body is otherwise still.

Hers is too if Feng chooses not to count the rise and fall of her chest beneath her pea coat or the trickle of blood carving a path down her jaw and throat where his blow to her face split open her lip and appears to have had a similar effect on her nose.

There is a reason snake charmers stitch shut the mouths of their performers so only their tongues can flicker in and out through a narrow opening. She'd forgotten how quickly this one could strike.

One booted foot shifts and leaves a messy trail in the snow, her legs spread to evenly distribute her weight between them when she moves her arm into a position that she can use to lever her body upright. It's when she sees the pistol being leveled with her that she hesitates, the pause punctuated by a very distinct hitch in her shallow breathing.

Gun trained squarely on Eileen's brow, Feng squeezes the trigger once — that's really all it takes to send his message.

The flick of his wrist at the last moment that sends the bullet grazing past her head to impact on the concrete behind her is just as much of a message — I should have. He watches her in quiet silence, and then like a snake slithers backwards with dark eyes trained on her prone form, gun held out and steps creeping away from her. He knows better than to leave a wounded animal at his back, but where normally he would not have left Eileen living there, Dreyfus' plan requires something of a more personal touch.

Besides, it's not Ruskin he wants anyway, but her father. Creeping to the edge of the shipping container, Feng trains his stare on Eileen one final time, before slipping sideways out of sight behind its corner. This time she doesn't hear his movement, save for a few distant metal clunks from one of the shipping containers and his route of travel across it.

Cutting through the fog coming off the water, Eileen can see the three-beat pulse of a boat light, perhaps what scared Feng away to begin with; Raith's on time, as always. Today's one of the days he could have been served better by being early.

On time is still better than late, and even if early would have been better, Raith is likely still a wonderful sight to see as the Remnant's sleek (if aging) cigarette boat comes coasting up to the docks, the twin motors spooling down to idle as the vessel's pilot, perhaps recognizing the comic value of it, throws a pair of true-to-life lassos as if he were wrangling cattle instead of docking a boat. Spotting Eileen on the ground, or who is presumably Eileen, clearly does not sit well with him, because when he comes springing out onto the dock properly, he immediately drops to one knee, shouldering a loaded MP5. When nothing adverse happens, he hurries over to Eileen as if it were an emergency and kneels down next to her. "Can you walk?" he asks. Apparently, 'Are you okay?' or 'What happened?' can wait until after they're out in the water.

Eileen is up on her elbows by the time Raith is crouching beside her. She makes an affirmative sound at the back of her throat, drapes one arm around his shoulders and makes a tight fist that clutches at the front of his coat. A short snort clears her nose of some of the blood that has accumulated in her nostrils, followed by the rougher, scratchier sound of her scrubbing her sleeve across her face to wipe it away.

A swelling mouth makes it difficult for her lips to form the shapes that make words when she adds her voice to them. She doesn't bother with a verbal response. Gives a sharp nod of her head instead.

With Eileen's arm 'round his shoulders, Raith helps her up to her feet, although he does little more to help her along than to steady her as necessary: The height difference means either she must constantly hop or he must strain his back if he is to support her weight. Fortunately, the boat is not far, and climbing down into it is not difficult. Mind the machine gun, Eily. It's there in case of Coast Guard, really thick fog, and Aquaman.

"Get the back rope, please," Raith says as he takes care of the one mooring the boat's nose more or less in place, "And one, two, three, push." Away from the dock, Raith throws the engines into reverse until they are clear of the structure and turned around right, and then they are speeding off into the night at a neck breaking twenty miles per hour.

Because even when you're a badass vigilante terrorist, safety always comes first.

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