Sing Sweetly Little Red Bird


cardinal_icon.gif nalani_icon.gif

Scene Title Sing Sweetly Little Red Bird
Synopsis Nalani and Cardinal meet up, for a nice payday for some information.
Date March 7, 2009

Staten Island - Sheung Wan Kitchen

It's not just the large selection that makes Sheung Wan Kitchen special - it's the quality, the sights, the atmosphere, and the friendly service. This is a very small restaurant with only a handful of seats in front of a large, flat counter where meals are prepared in full-view by some of the Rookery's more knowledgeable chefs. Stacked high against the far wall are wicker baskets full of dried sea creatures, mystery animal parts, deer antlers, wine with whole king cobras, heaps of herbs and twigs and tree barks. Although these are meant to go into the dishes that are served here, it is not impossible to haggle for them.

A large chalkboard behind the counter advertises the kitchen's special menu, though some items are more difficult to read than others. Most popular is the Tree Lizard Soup - cooked with yams, Chinese dates, ginseng, medlar, and something called tragacanth, which is reported to be good for asthma, colds, lungs and the heart.

A phonecall came through on Cardinal's phone, that for once had nothing to do with terrorism, rescue operations, or money owed to someone. Given that he may well end up dead next week, he leapt at the chance to actually have dinner out - not that there's a whole lot of choice here on Staten Island. Also, he's considering the odds about two to one that she'll be raped, murdered, or kidnapped before the still-unnamed woman actually makes it to the Sheung Wan Kitchen. Still, it's worth a try.

So Cardinal's currently perched on one of the few seats lined up along the counter, a styrofoam-sided cup of something held in hand and his back against the counter as he watches the door patiently. He takes a sip through the straw, free hand drumming fingertips over the counter top.

She hasn't been raped, killed, maimed, kidnapped, or anything of the sort on her way in. Nalani's stayed remarkably untouched. She's also been headache free since she's been making her trips to Staten Island. More to do with the necessity of using her ability instead of working to suppress it all the time, in order to remain not killed, maimed, kidnapped or worse. SO it is that the woman from the bar meanders in through the door to the Chinese place, with two burly men behind her. Goomba's of the decidedly deadly sort. She advances forward towards Cardinal when she spots him while they all back to take up seating somewhere else.

Hey, Cardinal owes himself five bucks. As the door opens up, he brings his cup up in a casual salute to the woman, his eyes hidden by the darkness of wrap-around shades as they flicker between the two goombas. Then he quirks a smile back to Nalani, offering in a casual drawl of voice, "Evenin' there, Butterfly. Have a seat." Pause. "Don't think we've got room for your boys, they might have to stand and loom over there."

"Standing and looming is what they do best. They'll be fine, unless you do something stupid like try to kidnap me" Nalani's muddled accent purr's out. "You sounded surprised on the phone". She easily slides into the empty seat beside him as she plucks up the menu to have a glance at it. "Hows Rims doing. Making a killing on pool?"

"Oh, no, I leave kidnapping to the professionals," Cardinal replies without missing a beat, "I wouldn't want to get in trouble with the union." The cup's set down, and he exhales a low chuckle, glancing up to the menu, "Oh, he's doin' just fine. Runs the pawn shop down the street, if you were lookin' for him."

"Pawn shop, nah, not interested in that. But it's good to know. Have you ordered yet? Dinners on me, and I'll tell you why in a moment. No strings attached" This spoken as someone approaches from the business end of the counter to take her order.

"You'll forgive me if I mistrust a combination of 'I'll tell you why' and 'No strings attached'," Cardinal drawls, "Even if you do have an absolutely magnificent ass." The Asian waitress smiles to the pair hopefully, though the goons get a wary eye, and he orders easily, "I'll have the Tree Lizard Soup."

The ass comment produces a preen from the magazine owner. Yes, she knows she's a hot piece of ass, that doesn't mean that she doesn't like hearing it. Especially when it's from the lips of someone who is likely not paid to say that. Her attention turns to the person behind the counter, her voice dropping a decibel or two. "Might there be a room in the back that you wouldn't mind my using for a few minutes. I'll make it worth your while" She glances down to the menu with a raised brow. Tree lizard soup. "One of those, a thirty two and warmed Sake please as well" The glamazon beams at the Asian fellow who nods then points to a door marked staff only, saying "You go. Two door down, two door down" "Thank you" an indeterminate number of bills discreetly slid to the chinaman before she stands. "Coming? They'll stay" A gesture to the goomba's.

"There isn't actually any lizard in it," she's reassured, though Cardinal pauses for a moment after saying that. "I think." Okay, so perhaps not completely reassuring.

The exchange between the man behind the counter and the glamazon-in-disguise draws a rather bemused look between the pair, especially once there's agreement regarding the use of one've the back rooms of the kitchen. "Huh," he grunts, planting a hand to the counter and levering himself up to his feet, chuckling, "Well, far be it for me to refuse a private moment with a lady."

"Oh, I don't think you'll mind refusing at all" Nalani murmurs, as she sways away from their seats, around the counter to place her palm on the back door. Two doors down is an empty room, table, folding chairs. Looks like where one might play Mahjong, or even have something of the more not so legal nature go down. Nalani doesn't opt to even chack their backs, nor let Cardinal go first, just enters herself, picks a seat and parks her 'hot ass' down in it.

A tilt of the thief's head allows him to admire that sway, before with humor exhaled upon his breath he moves to follow along through the back hall—past the kitchen, a bathroom door, and into that little empty room. The door's pulled closed behind Cardinal, fingers sliding to check for a lock (there isn't one) before he steps along over to the other chair, dropping himself into it and leaning forward, hands clasping on the table and a grin crooking to his lips, "So. What can I do you for, Butterfly?"

"Butterfly" One carefully manicured brow rises as the nickname he gave. "Call me Sara. Sarah Jasmine hmmm? I need someone, who's been here a bit, to tell me about the island. How it's been since the bridge went down, what happens. I want the dirty disgusting details, not the glossed over stuff that the cops tell, or the poeple who are trying to insist that the island hasn't been forgotten since the bridge broke. Think you could do that?"

Cardinal quirks a single brow upwards at her question, his expression rather amused. "You want all the dirty, disgusting details, hm…?" He watches her for a moment, then brings a hand up to scratch under his chin, "Why? An' what do I get out've it?"

"Cash. in any denomination that you want. Since I don't expect that you'd do it out of the sheer kindness of your heart" Nalani's contact lens disguised eyes, green instead of brown, latch onto his, smiling like she's just lapped up a whole bowl of cream. "My employers wants to know whats going on in the island, to write an article. I can't figure it out all on my own, so I could use some help. What do you say?"

"An article… you're a reporter?" The look upon the criminal's face is one of amusement as he pushes himself back from the table, leaning back in his seat with a creak of metal-jointed chair legs, arms folding behind his head one at a time. "So you really want to know _all_ the truth about what's goin' on, on this island? You'll never be allowed to print half've it."

"My employer will let me print just about anything I want to. Don't you worry about that" Nalani assures him. "So hit me, with your best there. Bloody, hell, what IS your name?"

"I'm not stupid enough to answer that question honestly," Cardinal replies rather dryly, "You can call me Noman, though, if you need to call me anything."

"Well Noman. You willing? If not, then feel free to walk out that door, but my employer wants to know, and so I want to know" There's a knock on the door, quickly followed by a tray with the soups and sake, and whatever else that Nalani ordered. Chopsticks, spoon, bowls, the whole deal. "Thank you" Uttered to the Chinaman before she shoo's him out, only to look back at Cardinal. Waiting.

"I'll tell you what you want to know, Butterfly," Cardinal offers with a careless shrug of one shoulder, leaning forward and reaching out to draw one of the bowls to him; peeling the chopsticks' paper off, snapping them apart from one another and trying to position them amongst his fingers. Damn chopsticks. He never can manage them just right. A glance up, one brow lifting, "So tell me, what _do_ the authorities say is going on here?"

"From what I've heard? That it's gone to hell, haven for the criminal class, and that the foothold they had before doesn't compare at all to the lockdown they have here now. That they don't dare touch it while they have to deal with the curfew and the mainland issues that are sucking up their manpower. I heard about the pirates too that attack and board boats that go to and fro" Nalani answers, fingertip tapping on the table.

"Oh, that's pretty much true…" Cardinal gestures with the chopsticks to the other woman, slender wooden sticks clacking once in her direction as his eyes search her face, her expression, sharp and thoughtful in contrast to the casual smirk upon his features. "They've utterly abandoned Staten Island. They've left its people to rot."

"They says it's not abandoned. That they're just gathering resources, the manpower to deal with it. what will they have tod eal with, if they ever decide to retake the island?" Nalani's profecient with chopsticks, and easily she's dipping them into the soup, plucking out questionable ingredient after questionable ingredient only tp consume it.

A bark of laughter from Cardinal, his head shaking just a bit; lips curling into an unkind smirk at her words, the chopsticks carefully picking out a bit of root or something from the soup and bringing it up to his lips. Once he's devoured the tidbit, he looks back up to her from over the edge of his shades - still worn, even indoors - and observes darkly, "They'll need to bring in the National Guard. If they'd moved when the bridge went, that'd be one thing. It's too late now. This place is a fuckin' cesspool. It's even past what _I'm_ comfortable with."

"What's swimming in the cesspool. I have access to the fight ring. I'll find out about that. But the rest of it. What exactly is the national guard and the cops going to be dealing with when they decide to get off their ass and fight for the people on the island who aren't the criminals. There anyone in particular that needs some pointing out?

"It's your funeral, Butterfly…" Cardinal's head shakes ever so slightly, "…and if I'm namin' names, I'm a dead man. You have no idea; people jus' get picked up off the street, here, tossed into the fighting ring as fodder, forced into prostitution. More'n more, slavery's the economy here, particularly Evolved slavery." One hand lifts, pulling off his shades and setting them to one side finally — hazel eyes raising to meet hers steadily, darkly, "You think the feds even give a shit about what happens to some 'freaks'?"

'Maybe, maybe not" Nalani answers. Slavery, trafficking of humans, evolved humans to boot. Her altered green eyes look back at him. "But everyone else might. And maybe that'll bring a bit of notice and pressure on them to at least get a foot on the island and do like they're doing on the mainland. bring some order to the chaos. So yeah, it's my head. But this pretty head has a few tricks it's sleeve"

"Let me tell you what the feds care about, Butterfly…" The chopsticks drop into the bowl, and Cardinal's spine straightens as he leans back, both hands sliding to fold together on the table's edge as he looks back at her, hazel-green eyes steady, "…you've heard of Felix Ivanov, the Big Damn Hero that the papers make him out to be?"

'Keys to the city, fended off terrorists at one of the places that was hit on the 28th of January, I saw his face all over the news" annnnd was present at his little ceremony, that's unspoken, though Nalani juts her chin out at him to carry on.

"…spends his nights in the slave brothel fucking men," Cardinal drawls out to finish off her words, his gaze somewhat flat on her, "The feds don't care what's going on here, Butterfly. They're enjoying it just like the rest of the fuckin' gutter-scum." Suck on that one, Ivanov. That's for Deckard.

"They won't care that he's gay Noman. Got anything to back that up? Boss lady isn't going to want to print that without fact checking. That's like sending a blow across the bow of a supposed whaler, and possibly finding out that they're Greenpeace instead"

"Of course not," a shrug of one shoulder, "I'm not a reporter, and I'm definitely not a fuckin' PI. I don't have pictures and records and shit, that's not how life _works_ out here." He smirks back at her, "I don't have 'back up information' for any of this shit. I just know what I know, and what I know is that that guy, and the other feds on the Island, are some of the biggest scum here."

"Your still not telling me a lot Noman. your just pointing a finger at one fed and telling me that there's slavery happening on the island. Human trafficking, evolved human trafficking. I wasn't kidding when I said I'd pay for the information. Give me names, I give you money, I can do the rest of the looking if your too afraid to do it. Or I can go talk to your little friend Rims over in the pawn shop" Nalani's finished her soup, pushing it to the side so she can tap her fingers gently on the rims of the Sake cup and sip from it.

"I don't have any evidence, Butterfly," Cardinal observes rather dryly, leaning back forward with an arm resting to the table's edge, both brows lifting as he meets her gaze steadily, "I give you names, you can't print them. The Island isn't some…" A frustrated gesture of his hand, "…black hole where people don't exist outside of. You think they don't have -lawyers-? They'd eat you alive."

"My employer has lawyers, that eat other lawyers Mr. Noman. I'm not afraid of them. But fine, I'll stick with what you gave me already. The evolved fight ring, it's got people who are fighting, against their wills? Same goes for the happy hooker over there across the street. Both owners, they're purchasing people? Getting them from somewhere? Making them do stuff against their wills?"

"Oh, I'll give you names if you really want them. I just don't think they'd do any good other'n getting you killed — and there's a shortage of perfect breasts in the world, it'd be a shame to see you dead." Cardinal's fingers curl to the chopsticks once more, his head shaking, "They both have… legitimate employees. Enough that people don't pay attention to th'others, though, the slaves. Kept in fuckin' cages, drugged, abused. Raped. Thrown into the meat-grinder, again, an' again. Talk too much, your tongue gets cut out." Flatly spoken.

Okay, Nalani, not so much a tough girl. The last line alternates her between upset and green around the gills. A glance down to the soup and it's being pushed away. This is not a reporter who's been in the thick of things before. "And he gets away with it because… "

"Because…?" Cardinal raises a brow, ever so slightly as he looks back up at her, "…because who'd stop them? People like them—they've got the guns, they've got people with abilities on their side, they've got the money, the electricity, the supplies. The feds won't do shit either."

"How do the people who aren't in that particular bucket of piss feel about it? The ones who aren't the criminal element. Who don't live in the rookery here?" She's sorting through the things in her head, comparing it to what she'd seen so far.

"They're doin' what they can to survive, same's the rest of us," he replies with a shrug of one shoulder, "It's not as bad, but it's still pretty fuckin' bad. I suppose there's those lunatics that opened an -orphanage- over on the other side of th' island, but optimism's a social disease."

"Such a bloody fucking disease" Nalani wrinkles her nose up. The Sake is finished by her, small cup pushed in and she stands. "You gave me something, which is better than nothing. Guess I'll have to see these fights for myself hmm?" She reached in between her breasts again, pulling out a small handful of bills and tossing them down. A thousand dollars, for the trouble of sitting down and telling her what he did.

A single brow lifts as the money's drawn from that cleavage, and Cardinal reaches out to take hold of the roll of bills; thumb rifling through them, he allows casually, "If you really want a name're two, Butterfly, I could give 'em to you. They're dangerous names, though, and don't blame me if I see you over at the whorehouse before too long if you try'n use them."

"Honey, if they try to touch me, they got a surprise coming. I'm not like those other woman they have, willing or not" There's a pointed look. "Give me the names, or not. I'll find them out. Can't be that hard to find out who's the owner of the happy dagger. But more for the evolved pit. But I'll find it"

"The Dagger's easy," Cardinal observes, even as he tucks the bills into the inside of his jacket, "John Logan. A particularly unpleasant sort've sleaze that I don't recommend talkin' to for any length of time. The fights, though? Muldoon." He slants a look back over, expression serious, "…but I'm warnin' you, girl, neither've them are people with whom t'fuck."

"Won't catch me in the same room with them knowingly Mr. Noman. Thanks for the information. If you come up with anything more" There's a gesture towards him. "You have the number to get a hold of me" With that, her chair's pushed in, heading for the door.

"I'd be off the island within the next few days, if I were you, Butterfly," he adds after a moment of watching her head for the door, "Just some friendly advice."

"I sure as hell don't sleep on this Island Noman. Don't you worry about me" That said, out the door she disappears, off to mingle with the crowd and look around.

Cardinal gives his head a slow shake, the chopsticks sliding back into the depths of the soup to pick out a juicy-looking bit of something within. "One've these days," he drawls out, "An attractive woman'll actually ask me somewhere because she's interested in me. Ah well. Not bad for an evening's work."

March 7th: She Had It Coming
March 7th: Middle Ground?
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