Smoke Break


ace_icon.gif gideon_icon.gif luke_icon.gif

Scene Title Smoke Break
Synopsis Several of d'Sarthe's men including the man himself gather round to discuss the state of the fire and their plans for it during a community drive.
Date June 19, 2021

New Chinatown

Although not completely unheard of, the sight of a d'Sarthe Group emblem on the broadsides of trucks is still something of notice in the heart of the old Rookery; moreso still when there are more than one. More than a dozen vehicles driving in deliberate crosses over New Chinatown is baffling if one doesn't take notes. The sprinter vans in particular have been back and forth for days now, shuttles freely offered for anyone looking to escape the oncoming wildfires. The rest are trucks of various middling sizes, the largest of which is parked currently at one of the busiest intersections in the neighborhood, flanked itself by a small entourage of smaller trucks and visibly armed bodyguards, all as its back end sits open for antlike volunteers. Antlike only in that they pass boxes of supplies out to the line of people formed there. Masks, first aid, other wildfire related supplies for the ones who stay or can't just choose to go.

Not yet, anyway. Perhaps it is inevitable.

As for Gideon, he's put too much into this island now to be the one to drop it like a hot potato; it was easier to be uninvolved when the place devolved into civil war. He took what mattered and left. Years tend to offer some other perspectives; they have been kind to his consideration into someone he was more alike to in his own youth.

The face of the group is there at the front this time around, or at least as close as he can be when it comes to this. He won't be fighting fires himself— only the ones created by lack of goods or aid. Gideon keeps his profile rather low even as he uses a surprisingly bull-like strength to assist in the unloading of boxes and bags from the truck gate; his shock of gray hair is pushed into hiding by a billed cap, and his pants and shirt lack that usual flair in favour of rolled sleeves and utility. The sky is a haze up above, and nearly the whole team wears filtering masks as they work. A small price for getting your hands dirty.

Oh, charity. It isn't exactly Luke's idea of a fun day out, but since even the boss is out helping, he's there as well, without even a word of complaint. The mask he was given to wear, along with why he has to wear it in the first place, is enough to keep him irritated, at odds with the crude smileyface he decided to draw on it.

Combined with that and the fact that he doesn't really want to be here doing some philanthropic community service shit is enough to allow him to handle even the heaviest boxes with ease, though he's being very careful with them no matter what his feelings are on the subject, especially when handing off to others. The boss is there, after all, which means best behavior.

Not to say Luke isn't looking forward to some kind of altercation, given the area. He won't start a fight, but he can make sure they end quickly to limit the disruption. That might be the reason why his gaze keeps sweeping across the street as he works, along with the gun he has barely concealed at his waist; he is part of security, after all.

"The worse this gets, you'll really want to double this up," Ace Callahan is saying to an older woman as a package of dust masks sit on the table between them. He, too, has shed some of his usual flair, but only some. Trainers instead of dress shoes. Tieless. His pants still look suspiciously like slacks, but his sleeves are rolled up as he helps maneuver goods and people to them. "Maybe even wear it inside on days things start to seem…"

He merely glances up at the already-foul clouds in the sky. Then his green-grey eyes flit back down to the woman with a flicker of sympathy. "Worse," he summarizes for her. Passively, he moves on, "Water stations will remain open, but it would be a good idea to have some filled containers ready if you need to move quickly."

Not that she will. This woman's been here since before the war and throughout its entirety. The glowering look warning not to patronize her is received without malice, and Ace doesn't go so far as to smile, but he does let out a hmph of amusement. "Not that you'll need to," he humors her dryly, like an in-joke.

There is truly no shortage of people just like the one which Ace has dealt with; thankfully, not all of them are abrasive, but plenty with the attitude of staying until the islands break down. That do or die attitude is what seems to make efforts like this one pay off— and the efforts being made far from here as well.

Gideon is not ready to volunteer labour for that, however; he holds the line at first line firefighting. Stepping down from the rear of the open truck, the aforementioned man takes a slow step to the side, surveying as he makes the short way to where Luke hovers, dour as ever behind the layer over his face.

"I know this isn't your speed," The older man's mask is translucent, sat carefully over his beard; between this and the cap, Mr. d'Sarthe is undeterred by strangers. His voice is its usual gravelly drawl, marked only by the visible raise of both brows to Luke. "The bonus will be fair." Bright blue eyes catch sight of the tail end of another exchange with Ace. A short gesture to catch Callahan's eye doubles as a sign to check the time — wrist tap — and take a break — five fingers — because it is almost as if one can sense the need for it.

Besides, if the boss suggests a fiver — well — who is to argue?

"I'm not complaining about it." Luke is quick to point out when he's approached by Gideon, setting the box down. "I know where I'm most needed." Which is, apparently, offloading the larger bulk containers from the van for unloading even as he's keeping an eye out. His gaze shifts over to the small altercation between Ace and the lady, but it seems he might be able to handle that himself.

Maybe. The lady might very well be able to handle him in a fight, if maybe just from sheer force of will. Ace is on his own though.

It doesn't take much for Ace to weasel his way away, actually. Just a pointed 'take over for me' indicator to one of the others, and a polite disengage from the friendly advice he was attempting to offer. He leaves the table behind and runs two fingers under the rubber band around the back of his head and neck from the thicker-quality mask he's wearing.

Past tense now, as he approaches. Was wearing. He was told to take a break, after all. "If you don't mind, I'll take my smoke break letting my face air," he informs with dry humor. He glances to Gideon briefly enough to nod thanks for the rescue, then casts his eyes upward again to the ominous clouds. "I'm booking a flight, by the way," Ace says abruptly. "For the evening everything is expected to hit. I dealt enough with all this back in the war, I don't want to be here when the flames waltz in to the SZ. Manhattan being the tinderbox it is, that risk is too high for my liking."

"Getting O out of harm's way is my number one priority in all… this." His fingers twitch by his side, tone curling. He aches for a cigarette after all. It's a better dopamine and nicotine fix than breathing in smog, for sure— a better smoothing stone against some unspoken annoyance gritting on him.

There is something bitterly humorous about the idea of taking a smoke break now; just adding to the stacks in the atmosphere miles away from them. Luke's words earn him a dry laugh from Gideon as the older man watches the distant smog for a moment more. When he looks back it is to Ace doing the same. They both know the danger, but this time one of them isn't so ready to flee. Gideon did that the last time the city was threatened, so he is reluctant to do so again. Too much work done.

"Good luck." Brows raise to Ace, jaw set. He means it. "They'll be hard to get. But fortune would be the same should you try to go on land. The roads are just as troubled."

"I've heard rumors to the effect of another effort to turn the crawl of the fire, so I suppose we will see if it results in… something. If not, well, " Gideon hesitates, mulling on something which sours his expression. "This will all have been a waste."

"Heh. I found an… 'unoccupied' bunker some rich conspiracy nut built during the war." Judging by Luke's tone, it wasn't unoccupied when he found it. Luke shrugs lightly, regarding Ace with an amused expression. "Highly doubtful a fire would bother me much down there. Pretty nicely set up, too. But if you want to run away, that's an option too."

The skies are glowered at again like they personally offended him. "With all the powers available now you would think someone would be able to do something about all this shit." Really, like no one has thought about that by now? "As usual, the government is useless."

"They've been trying, as far as I understand," Ace answers Luke, glancing at him out of the corner of his eye. "Been seeking those who can move heaven and earth, offering prizes to those who step forward to help turn the tide in the air or shift the ground to stop the spread… but the pickings are slim, there, and the willing even fewer it'd seem." He tsses out a sigh between teeth, stopping just short of tutting.

"Funny, isn't it?" he asks without humor, because it's not funny. "They have a force working for them. Who knows if it'll be large or strong enough to quell it."

"After all, who's to say something unnatural isn't what's still driving it now?" Ace presses his tongue against the back of a canine at that thought. He decides he's had enough 'fresh' air and pulls back up his thick medical-grade mask, muffled slightly through it when he speaks again. "Hellbent on seeing fine work go up in smoke for one reason for another. There are deadlands out West from where people have tried their best in the past. That's what all this reminds me of, honestly. The… unrelentingness of it, at least."

The exchange between Luke and Ace is taken in with a meager raise of brow, Gideon's hands busied a moment with removing his cap and smoothing silver hair back before replacing it. Otherwise still an immaculate sort underneath everything. No doubt similar to what composure he appears to keep.

"Prison labor comes cheap and costly at the same time. Conscription breeds dissent, after all." Spoken from a man who is just as likely to end it with 'in my experience'. "If there is a miracle to be sprung, we can't help but hope for it soon, can we?" The low tones of his voice momentarily take on an even further sobriety.

"It would be a shame to lose this to the determination of cowards."

At the perceived criticism, Luke spreads his hands out defensively. "Hey, nothing I can do about this. The most I can do is throw rocks at it." His gaze narrows as he crosses his arms, not liking to admit limitations. "Though you might be on to something with how bad it is. Wasn't there some crazy person about ten years ago that tried to freeze-" Luke breaks off, suddenly looking puzzled about something, staring down at his hands. "What was…" hm.

"Eh, whatever."

Luke's dismissal of a poorly-retrieved memory is written off as being just that, and Ace looks to Gideon instead with a small nod of agreement regarding the sad state of affairs here should the fire sweep everything away.

"I'd love to say Staten would be safe. But there's not enough water between us and the fire for anyone to be certain of that. Not enough clean water, for sure." He shakes his head once. "Might be room and time enough to find a contractor to set up ice or some other kind of deterrent around Howland and some of our other holdings." His expression twinges as he realizes he'd be the one who should be doing that, and he adds, "I can look into it, if you think there's worth. Not sure who would nibble, but some of the Evos shirking government work might leap at a private opportunity."

"I've got a few leads on just that, actually. To assist in shoring up what we can." Gideon seems curious, for what it is worth, as Luke pries at his own recall for something. "There was that monstrous arctic wave, although…" He pauses a moment, shakes his head once before turning his silently troubled and stressed gaze to Ace.

"You are welcome to contribute to the outsourcing, if that is what you want. But I won't blame you if you would rather…. Not." Normally one may expect this addition to carry the weight of a warning— but this time, it lacks in its fortitude. It's not the usual passive threat— it's a mutual understanding that stems from Gideon's own escape from the Civil War years ago. He needed to go to lengths to protect what was precious to him.

"I doubt ice would last very long against fire anyway." Luke points out, shaking his head as he watches people continue unloading without them. "After a while, it would just-" He lifts up a hand, an unseen smirk behind his mask, "-melt." Granted, it's been a decade since he lost that ability, and doubtful anyone here would even know about it, but there is still that niggling feeling in the back of his mind regarding something he'd forgotten about that.

Scowling at his inability to pull what he needs from his clearly faulty memory, he crosses his arms. "And then all we'd be left with is a puddle. Even an Evo with ice powers pulling out all the stops can't do much about this. A hydrokinetic would probably do better against it, but the fact that no one has so far means they're either too weak to do anything, they ran away, or there isn't one."

"I've got time before next week," Ace promises Gideon, giving him a small nod. "I can at least spin up a few conversations…"

Luke's suggestion brings him to look vaguely in the direction of the river before turning back to him. "I'm sure there's someone out there who'd… love the excuse to douse the land with a giant tidal wave from the river. I'm sure all the shit in the water would love the chance to burn, too." He looks sympathetic for what it's worth, cringing at the thought of a well-meaning idea bursting into greater flames. Literally.

"I don't know, though. I won't pretend to be the one with all the answers." Ace flips over his left wrist to check the watch worn on the inside of it, looking first at the watch face and then at the band of gold, wood, and crushed opal worn on his ring finger. "Just the man who's looking to point others to safety, this time."

There is a stillness to D'Sarthe again, his attention divided.

"Do what you think is adequate." Blue eyes find the others before he turns to them fully. He extends a hand to each one in turn, a sobered brow under the shade of his cap. "Whatever does come of this, I hope to see you both after it ends." Again, something about this doesn't lay a warning down. It has become too practical for that.

"Oh, so you do know someone?" Luke might've misinterpreted what Ace said and he turns to look in his direction consideringly. "Well drowning doesn't sound appealing either. All the same, maybe you should try ringing up this buddy of yours, just have 'em drench the whole area or something. Shouldn't take much, if a line of tryhards can put a house fire out with a bucket brigade, should be child's play to dump a river on it. If people don't know how to swim that's their problem."

When Gideon offers his hand out, Luke hesitates, with a quick look to the side to see what Ace does. He steps forward to carefully shake Gideon's hand, flexing his fingers after the brief handshake. "I don't plan on dying any time soon. If I have to stay holed up for a month, so be it, although with the way things are looking, we might have to just let it all burn. Can always rebuild afterwards." He hesitates again like he wanted to say something, then shakes his head.

A handshake with Gideon d'Sarthe was always a momentous thing to be approached with a certain level of caution and respect, given what the man could do with a touch. But Luke goes first and Ace goes after, firm and strong with a like nod to accompany it. "I'll be back, once the danger's past. Trust me, I never expected to end up where I am now, having something precious to protect, but…"

"I'll be back once that's done," he promises.

A look back to Luke leads Ace to reassure, "I wasn't joking about the dangers of using that polluted-as-fuck river to douse the flames. And besides, the hydrokinetic I know isn't on the market anymore." Which sounds like a regrettable thing, all told. "But… we'll see what it comes down to, won't we."

A blink through the sting in the air leads Ace to look back at the work they've still volunteered for this afternoon. "Back to it?" he wonders.

Adjusting his own protective pieces over his face, Gideon steadily moves on from the moments of physical gratitude to the more pressing matters directly in front of them; he steps back from the two men with a nod of his head and one hand habitually smoothing the front of his clothing.

"Back to it, lads." A still rather gentle approach to coaxing them back to the tasks ahead, though through posture and set of jaw, d'Sarthe naturally brings a certain magnitude along with his words.

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