Serpent and the Raven


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Scene Title Serpent and the Raven
Synopsis Eileen Ruskin tries to take matters into her own hands by contacting Feng Daiyu. His ruthlessness is somewhat underestimated.
Date August 1, 2009

Red Hook

Before annexation into the 12th Ward of Brooklyn, Red Hook was a separate village. It is named for the red clay soil and the point of land projecting into the East River. The village was settled by the Dutch colonists of New Amsterdam in 1636. Red Hook is part of the area known as South Brooklyn, though it is northwest of the geographic center of the modern borough. It is a peninsula between Buttermilk Channel, Gowanus Bay and Gowanus Canal at the southern edge of Downtown Brooklyn.

Red Hook is connected to Manhattan by the vehicles-only Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, whose toll plaza and approaches separate it from Carroll Gardens to the north. Subway service in the area was cut off after the bomb de to flooding and collapse of the connecting Manhattan tunnels, and no present plans to reinstate them are yet under effect. The B61 bus, formerly a trolley line, runs as a 24-hour service from Erie Basin Red Hook through Downtown Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint, terminating at Long Island City, Queens.

Through the 1980s and 1990s Red Hook began a steady decline from an industrial complex like Long Island City, to a notorious neighborhood known for being rife with drug trade, specifically cocaine and crack. Following the bomb, the drug problem in Red Hook became progressively worse, with a recent influx of Chinese Mafia institutions in the very low income neighborhood muscling in on territory formerly belonging to the Civella crime family.

With the only full-frontal view of the Statue of Liberty, Red Hook has the dubious honor of being so close to the shadow of lady Liberty, while being a haven of criminals and crime activity. Private ferries operate out of the Red Hook ports going to and from Staten Island while operating under the Coast Guard's radar. Some residents have even gone as far as to dub Red Hook "Little Staten Island."

It's two hours before curfew and Brooklyn's Red Hook district is already shutting down for the night. Pedestrian traffic has slowed to a trickle that seeps out molasses-like from the neighborhood's many bars and dissipates into the sopping August night. Some people vanish in small groups of two or three while others brave the long walk home alone, navigating a network of scummy side-streets and poorly lit alleys with only local landmarks to guide them. There are no police cruisers patrolling the waterfront on a night like tonight — at least not yet — which is one of the reasons Eileen Ruskin has chosen it for her meeting place.

Just like the last time, their conversation over the phone had been brief. Curt, but not impolite. Unlike the last time, negotiations concluded without someone's arm being separated from their shoulder by a large caliber bullet. Whether or not things continue to proceed as smoothly is up to the man she's scheduled to meet near the wharf at approximately 9:15 PM this Saturday evening.

Eileen glances down at the pocket watch she holds in the seat of her hand to confirm the time, then snaps it shut with a deft flick of her wrist and places it back inside her leather's jacket's silk-lined interior.

9:13 PM. If he isn't here in two minutes, she'll give him another ten before finding somewhere quiet to lay low until morning. Catching a boat back to Staten Island at this time of night isn't impossible, but it is risky — and there are only so many chances she's willing to take in the span of one evening.

Ultimately those two minutes go by, then those ten, and the dark of Red Hook's district continues to loom around her beyond the jaundiced yellow light of the street lamps. The call of a sea bird is unusual after dark, but one stray gull soaring overhead is an expanse of white, black and gray with a tiny yellow bill on its way out towards a bouy floating in the murky water beyond.

The lights out on the pier flicker once, the power out here on Red Hook is spotty since Consolidated Edison was taken down, and on a hot summer night like this, every single air conditioner is a weight pressing down on an electrical grid that can barely support itself.

It's around this time she decides to pack it in. Whether or not Feng was trying to test her or not, or if he never intended on coming out to what might well be an ambush is hard to say; most members of Vanguard were inscrutable in their insanity. The blow of a tugboat horn sounds off over the water, the dark shape of a moving boat drawing further away from the grimy brick warehouses and mill buildings, lights on board twinkling like stars reflected back in the dark water.

Eileen is disappointed, but she isn't surprised. Although she chose to arrange the meeting alone and without telling any of her Remnant allies where she'd be, she could have easily arranged for one or more of them to shadow her during the excursion. Raith's wolf analogy, she decides, really is accurate; where there's one of them, the others are very rarely far behind.

She checks the pistol in the holster she wears beneath her jacket and sets out across the wet pavement, booted feet splashing through the waterfront's brackish puddles as she gravitates toward the distant rumble of traffic and begins to mentally calculate the least convoluted route between the Red Hook and the nearest Ferrymen way station.

Under the glow of yellowed street lamps, around a corner and down through a well lit and open parking lot Eileen makes her way out towards the freeway. The raised overpass some thirty feet overhead cuts off of a main artery going into Brooklyn, with a large industrial park beneath. She recalls the area from the news, a cop got killed out here somewhere, and from the signs of construction on the far side of that highway it looks like things are still being done out here. A chain-link fence surrounding a brick textile mill, all manner of vans and trucks parked outside. It's part of the scenery of Red Hook as she cuts her way along a dirt path up from the parking lot and onto the shoulder of an off-ramp.

When she gets up to the guard rail, about to sling one leg over the railing, the first shot hits her. It's so hard and so sudden she doesn't even feel the pain initially, just the jarring confusion of one leg giving out as she starts to kilter over to her side. The pain — searing and hot, like her leg is on fire — comes next as her shoulder slams to the ground in a splash into one of the shallow, muddy puddles just off the roadside.

Two more sudden, sharp pains slam into her back after she's down, but there's no hot, wet feeling of blood, just a horrible aching pain of internal bleeding and bruised muscle. The rubber bullets go tumbling down the grassy hill back to the parking lot, just before Eileen does the same, rolling down the wet hill.

The skin at the back of her knee broke from the first shot, just enough to bleed. The rubber bullet slammed behind her knee, taking her legs out from under her and leaving an immediate bruise the size of a silver dollar. Two more on her back knocked the wind out of her and sent shooting pains up and down her spine.

Halfway on her face laying on the crumbling edge of the concrete at the parking lot's north end, the figure in a black suit walking between parked cars with a silenced pistol in one hand is a familiar ghost of older times. It's been years since Eileen Ruskin last saw Feng Daiyu, disappearing into the snowy streets of Moscow following the hunt for Grigori.

Now, years later, he looks just as she remembers him. The silenced pistol stays held out towards her, aimed at the upper half of her body now with a clearly indicated threat that he will shoot her in the face with a rubber bullet if she makes another move. But the more frightening situation is the very thin syringe he is taking out of his jacket pocket.

Eileen will grudgingly admit that Sylar was right about one thing. If she'd followed his advice and asked Delphine to restore her ability, she might have detected Feng's presence before the first shot went off — there's even a chance she might have devised a method of circumventing him entirely.

Her upper lip peels back into a silent snarl, all flashing teeth and no sound as she straightens one of the arms trapped beneath her and reaches into her jacket with the other. When it comes down to it, she'd rather be shot in the face with a rubber bullet than stabbed with a syringe containing an unknown chemical. One is going to hurt. The other might but put her under, and unconscious is not something she wants to be right now.

Gritting her teeth against the pain, she frees her pistol from its holster, flicks off the safety and points the barrel of the pistol at Feng's approaching figure. As much as she wants to pull the trigger, she resists the initial urge. Corpses don't divulge information, so Daiyu's no good to her dead.


Dark shoes scrape on pavement as Feng comes to a stop as asked, each at the meeting with a gun trained on one another. "I wonder if you're faster on the draw than you were in Russia." His fingers move, deftly and anxiously twirling the thin syringe around between calloused fingertips. "I'm stopped, Munin. Now what will you do?"

His gun wavers from side to side, aiming down at her legs, then up over towards her throat. "Do you know what one of these rounds does to a windpipe at point blank range? They may as well not even be made of rubber." His eyes narrow a touch, dark brows lowering. "Is your safety off?"

Eileen does not glance down to confirm what she already knows is true. She does, however, rub her nail along the thumb switch to ensure that it's in the correct position. "You ever wonder why Volken liked Holden more than you?" she asks as she climbs back to her feet, noticably favouring one leg over the other. It's unlikely that she did anything worse than sprain her ankle in the fall, but it's also clear that she's in a considerable amount of physical pain. Wounded animals are notoriously unpredicable, and so are injured women.

"It's because he isn't a fuck-up. I just want to negotiate."

"The United States Government does not negotiate with terrorists," Feng notes with a crooked smile, twirling the syringe around again before sliding it up his sleeve, tucked beneath the gold wristband of his watch. He reaches inside of his jacket, withdrawing a black leather folio, then folds it open with a slap to show a laminated badge with Feng's face displayed clearly on it, save that instead of saying Vanguard it says CIA.

Brows raise in a so there look, before it's folded back inside of his hand and tucked into his jacket. "The only negotiation I have to ask of you involves Volken's lap dog, and the man I dismembered on Staten Island. Answer my questions, and I might be able to put in a good word for you with the Director. If not," he waggles the silenced head of his gun around from side to side in a flippant gesture.

"Exactly what did you think you were going to negotiate," Feng's dark eyes narrow, "anyway?"

"Why stop at Holden and Sylar?" Eileen eyes the badge from where she's standing, too far away to scrutinize the details. That Feng might be working with the CIA to hunt down former members of the Vanguard doesn't require a suspension of disbelief. Many of Kazimir's recruits, including Raith, were on the government's payroll before they joined up; it makes sense that these things might go the other way, too.

"Amato Salucci, Lucrezia Bennati, Jensen Raith." Eileen spits out a mouthful of pink-tinged saliva. "How much are they paying you per head, Daiyu? Don't tell me you couldn't use the bonus."

There's a crooked smile on Feng's lips at the question. "I guess you didn't notice Velasquez went missing?" His brows rise in an amused expression. "So the one I shot is Sylar?" There's a nod of his head, dark eyes fixed on Eileen as he considers the name. "Holden is personal. The others are business. Do you actually think any of the Vanguard are going to be left behind? There are government agencies around the world looking for the rest of you after the old man failed and the organization was blown wide open."

Snarling for a moment, Feng's dark eyes narrow. "Ramirez, Rasoul, Grigori— they're all going to die. There's a task-force being put together right now to round them all up and finish the job that started here. But you know, and I know, that I don't give a damn about the world. The governments. Money."

He takes a step forward, testing her, muscles tense and taut like wound-up rubber bands as he does. "All I want, pretty bird, is Holden. The rest are just chaff."

Eileen flinches when Feng steps forward but does not fire. Instead, she takes a step back to maintain the distance between them, her booted feet squelching through mud. "I can get you Holden," she says, and her pistol's aim does not waver. There will be plenty of time for trembling later. "Lure him out into the open for you. Whatever you want."

Her other hand comes up to steady the one closed around the weapon's grip now that she's sure she has her footing. "You said you'd put in a good word for me, but how do I know you won't just turn around and pop me between the eyes, too? I'm not a criminal, Daiyu. I was fifteen when Volken picked me up and nineteen when he put me down. I'm not even old enough to drink in this bloody country, never mind be held accountable for my actions. You ever heard of Patty Hearst? What about the Norrmalmstorg robbery of seventy-three?"

There's a coy look on Feng's face, brows rising and a roll of his shoulders. "You're a lot more book smart than you used to be, fucking everything that had legs. I guess old dogs can learn new tricks," he doesn't push the distance more when she backs off. "The government doesn't care about accountability, I think they just want to eradicate some mistakes. And please, like you'd really sell your father up the river just like that. The old man told me all about you, Ruskin. He could hardly stop talking about you most of the time."

There's a narrowing of his eyes, just a touch, "Why do you think I've been trying to use you to lure him out into the open. I know how sentimental he is, I've read his papers, Kazimir told me what happened to his family." There's a dry snort, "Most of it."

Feng's finger twirls around the trigger, whimsically, a kind of whimsy Jensen Raith might've been able to get behind if it wasn't aimed at Eileen. "You… don't know, do you?" Teeth are bared in a predatory smile, and he takes another step forward again. "Volken never told you did he? That sentimental old shit wanted you for himself."

The tip of Eileen's pistol dips momentarily downward a fraction of an inch. It's the difference between hitting Feng in the chest and planting a bullet in his belly — or it would be, if she were to open fire. She doesn't. "Never fucked you," she says instead, her trigger finger loosening just enough for the tendons in her wrist to noticeably relax, "and you have legs."

In the next breath, she's leveling the weapon with the much smaller target that is Feng's head. Her chances of hitting him are significantly reduced this way, but so are the chances of him misinterpreting her intent. If striking a bargain with her former ally in order to survive this encounter is no longer an option, then she doesn't have much of a choice except to shoot to kill. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm — " Feng is faster than he looks, faster than most men his age, maybe not faster than a speeding bullet, but faster than Eileen's trigger finger. He sidesteps the gun now that it's trained on a smaller target. The gun discharges a split second after Feng starts to lunge at her, muzzle flash and powder burn flashing at the side of his face and deafening him in one ear, leaving a hollow tinnitus ringing there. But it's a small price to pay for not staring down the barrel any longer.

Feng's gun is dropped unceremoniously between the steps, and his free hand moves up to grip the top of Eileen's pistol, the other grabbing it from the underside. Fast hands move with a clicking sound as he disassembles the gun and throws the slide aside, then shifts his grip to Eileen's wrist instead of the gun.

Her arm bends, shoulder is forced forward, and a hand slams down on her shoulderblade as her bird-like body twists, dropping her to the ground with a knee squarely planted at the small of her back. "I'm not going to explain myself to you."

Rage fills Feng's expression, wrenching her arm forward to put pressure on her wrist and elbow, inciting that terror that dawns on the human mind in the moments before a limb breaks. For Eileen, the limb is only brought to that stressing point, but not snapped at the elbow. Instead, Feng forces her hand behind her back, lifting his knee just long enough to kneel on her forearm as he fishes that syringe out from his wristband.

"I've put up with enough of your shit." He bites down on the plastic cap of the syringe, pulling it off and spitting it out before giving it a few quick taps, bringing the needle down to her bicep, pressing the plunger down with his inged finger. "Here, let me reintroduce you to an old friend so you calm the fuck down." The pain of the needle tearing a hole, the burning sensation in her veins, not like this.

A hand starts patting down Eileen's side, palming around inside of her jacket, scrambling for something, but a second gun isn't found. Feng keeps her face down on the ground, leaning in with his knee still pinning her arm as he throws the empty syringe aside, reaching into his jacket to produce a cell phone and opens it. "What is Holden's number?"

The noise Eileen makes when she feels the needle sink into her skin sounds more feral than it does human. Short, shrill and cut abruptly short, other people in the vicinity might mistake it for the panicked yowl of a tom with another cat's teeth caught in its scruff — and anyone with enough fondness for stray animals to risk investigating its source will have to combat darkness before finding anything. Even then Feng has some minutes left until this could become a problem; the worst he has to worry about right now is the young woman trapped beneath him, and all she has left to defend herself with are her nails and her teeth.

Eileen is not quite so fortunate. What time she has left to act is limited to seconds. The number she bites off does not belong to Ethan Holden, but it's one she knows just as well and can repeat without hesitation or fear of faltering.

"That's a good girl," Feng murmurs, starting to dial the number into the phone one digit at a time. As the ringing begins he lifts the phone up to the ear he isn't deaf in with a confident smile. "I promise I won't make you suffer long when I'm done with you." Between the struggle to keep a tiny, wild girl restrained beneath his weight, the ringing in his deafened ear and the demands he's barking out, Feng never hears the sound of someone who heard the gunshots. He never hears the sound of shoes slamming down on concrete, or the sound of someone vaulting the guard rail and charging down that wet, grassy hill. He only realizes someone has seen this happen when another body comes charging into his, knocking him clear off of Eileen and onto the ground with a howling, "Get off of her!"

The phone clatters to the ground, open, while Feng is tackled, struggling to keep his attacker off of him. The former Vanguard assassin strangles out a sound as he reaches down to his ankle holster and removes a small sidearm while his attacker is removing gloves, pulling out the pistol as he opens fire on the black-clad man bearing down atop of him. Six gunshots ring out unsilenced in the night, ripping through Eileen's rescuer's chest and out his back in sprays of blood.

Feng rolls him off and onto his side, but as Daiyu takes a knee, the man he shot six times reaches up and grabs him by the face with one hand. A horrible, howling scream erupts from Feng as black veins begin to course thorugh the skin on the side of his face, flesh withers and grays and Eileen sees the sharp blue eyes of Feng's attacker.

Daiyu's howl of agony comes only a split second before he knocks his attacker's arm aside and plants a firm punch to the side of his head, jerking him down to the pavement, brow slamming into the ground from the force of the blow. Daiyu stumbles and staggers back, dark shoes slipping and sliding on the wet earth as he tries to make his escape, reaching for another gun inside of his jacket, firing blindly behind him as he darts across the parking lot, ducking between cars, holding one withered side of his face with one hand as he runs.

Eileen feels a tug, a pull, a grab at her sleeve, "Get up, come on you have to get up," her rescuer stares off towards the cars where Feng is running, bullets whizzing past. But when he turns to look down at the woman he rescued, the expression of disbelief on Peter Petrelli's face is one mirrored on Eileen Ruskin's. She can almost see the look mirrored in his pale blue eyes.

"Eileen?" Peter's brows drop down into a furrow as he looks back towards where Feng has disappeared, for a moment about to bolt up and run after him, before looking back down to her with a tightness in his expression, about to reach down to help her up, before realizing his hands are no longer gloved. "Get— get up. Get up we have to go."

"Petrelli." Relief rushes from Eileen's lungs in the form of a rickety sigh that catches a few times in her throat on the way out. Coughing, she rolls over onto her side and spits out another mouthful of blood and saliva into the dirt. The arm that wasn't wrenched behind her back reaches out in an attempt to right herself, but when she shifts her forward it collapses beneath her weight and sends her right back down again. Too disoriented to stand, she squeezes her eyes shut and turns her head away from Peter, long strands of inky black hair acting as a veil between his face and hers.

The only way this situation could be any more humiliating is if it had been Felix Ivanov who came to her rescue. Gabriel's foil is only half a step down. "I— I can't," Eileen insists, and it sounds like admitting this to someone she considers an enemy hurts her more than the injuries Feng inflicted. The same arm that she tried to use to push herself back to her feet gestures vaguely in the syringe's direction, though it might be difficult for Peter to make out anything except its faint outline, illuminated by what little ambient light is provided by Manhattan's distant cityscape.

"It won't… hnngh—" When she opens her eyes again, they're filled with tears of frustration. "It won't hurt me if you don't touch my skin."

Teeth clenched tightly, Peter turns his eyes down to the ground as Eileen struggles up to try and give her some semblance of dignity. But it's there his eyes lock on Feng's discarded phone. One dark brow rises, and Peter flips it shut without questioning who was on the other end. The phone is palmed, then tucked into a pocket as he collects his gloves from the mud, tugging them on before looking back up to Eileen, uncertain for a moment. He swallows, tensely, looking back in Feng's direction before grapping her arm and hooking it around his shoulders, then begins lifting her up to her feet.

"We've gotta' get out of here, fast. I passed a cop two blocks ago…" Looking at her nervously, he reaches up with a gloved finger to carefully brush her tangled hair from her face, tucking it behind one ear. The proximity to his finger even through the black glove causes her skin to prickle in its traced path.

Peter's brows tense, eyes avert and he starts to walk, slowly at first, heading in the direction of the East River. "There's a ferry not far from here, goes out to the island. Come on."

Eileen leans against Peter, dragging one of her booted feet as she staggers alongside him and clutches at the material of his jacket with her fingers. Just a few days ago, she told Gabriel that he should have left him with Phoenix, that all he ever does is hurt people — and in a sense, it's true. Feng Daiyu won't ever be able to look in a mirror again without being reminded of this encounter.

She should thank him. She should apologize. She should probably do a lot of things, but right now she opts to make the conservative decision and limp in relative silence, her haggard breathing interrupted by the occasional whimper when she puts too much weight on her injured foot. Soon that dies down, too.

Neither in the end does Peter have anything to say to her. His side of the fence is just as brown as hers, from the way they snarled at each other just a few days ago. He didn't need to come to her aid, most of him didn't want to, didn't even know who was being attacked or why. But now as he helps her across one corner of the parking lot, noticing the languid look in her eyes that grows with every moment, he's forced to stay on alert, watching the shadows for signs of a snake in them.

By the time they've limped across two blocks together, down towards the cold sea-salt air of the inner harbor, Peter can't help but think of what might have happened if he wasn't already out here, if he hadn't fled from Tracy into that hauntingly familiar structure. And in a way, that same sense of familiarity is what makes him the first one to speak up as he spots the lights of a boat at a distant pier as he notices her grip becoming somewhat slack on him as what Feng injected her with ravages her body.

"Don't worry… I'm right here."

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