This Is Just A Start


cardinal_icon.gif harmony_icon.gif lola_icon.gif

Scene Title This Is Just A Start
Synopsis While on a mission to save someone else, Cardinal and Harmony find someone new to save, and Lola does her good deed for the day.
Date November 17, 2010

Staten Island

Though the riots occurred a week ago, their effects are still being felt, especially in places like Staten Island. Though the island has been essentially sealed off, some people still manage to come and go, even though there's little really to bring people to the island. Sane people who live here have left or, those who can't, try to remain indoors and away from the destruction that others caused.

Here, just south of the Rookery, things aren't exactly pleasant. People were injured here. More than a few were killed. All in all it's not a pleasant place to be. But then, New York as a whole isn't a pleasant place to be, and hasn't really been for years now. But for a few in this part of the city, it's more of a hell than a purgatory like it is for most.

It's a few hours still until curfew, though with the season, it's already growing dark, and most streetlights have long since gone out, leaving distant lights and the moon as the only illumination for those who want to travel along this part of the island.

"I hope your friend's worth the amount of money it costs to get on and off've this island right now, Harm…" The cost of getting here wasn't the only money that had to be shelled out either. Not willing to walk along the road all the way across the island, Richard Cardinal borrowed a car from an old contact of his for a stack of bills that's probably more than the car's worth.

In other words, it's a rusted shitbucket that's held together by duct tape and a prayer.

That means that they shouldn't be surprised when the engine just— dies, sputtering and clattering into silence, the P.O.S. vehicle rolling to a halt along the side of the road. "Motherfucker." A smack to the wheel, and he exhales a sigh, "Guess we're walking the rest've the way, unless I find something to hotwire."

Still picking up the scattered pieces of her life— The ones pre and post riots— Harmony Roberts does what she can to reestablish connections she had lost somewhere in a plethora of transitions. She finally got a new place to live, so regathering her stuff has been a bit of a chore. There were people who went missing that she knew too. These are people she is rather close to, and when Harmony gets close to someone, it really means something. In this case? She spoke to a friend's mother, an elderly woman who she knew growing up in her foster home, who told her of their grandson, a boy no older than about 10 or 11 who had been separated from his parents on the island. They made it off, but their son had to stay behind with the family of his best friend, who he was staying the night with at the time.

The old woman was in tears, and Harmony's heart went out to her. She said she would do what she could to get him back safe and sound, and turned to none other than Richard Cardinal to assist her in the task.

"They are.." she offers him an apologetic smile from the driver's side of the vehicle, "I mean.. if you would have SEEN this woman's face. And then she started crying. I could not take it. I felt like I had to do something. I really appreciate this, Richard. I'll make it up to you somehow." the blonde rests her head on her hand, elbow against the window.

As the car dies, Harmony laughs and shakes her head, "Well.. honestly? I can say I sorta expected this. Look at this piece! It's on its last legs as is! Not that I'm not greatful it got us this far, but…"

It's luck that the car stops where it does, though whether it's good or bad luck remains to be seen. Richard Cardinal is very familiar with shadows, and there's one moving to the right of the vehicle, a figure hurrying away from the street and down an alley, as though trying to hide from the pair, and a moment later, there's a crash, like the person or animal ran smack into some trashcans or something similar. Whoever, or whatever, it is, isn't doing a very good job of remaining hidden.

"Yeah, yeah. Maybe I can grab another car in…" Cardinal cuts himself off as that shadow darts down the street and into the alley, his fingers tightening around the wheel briefly. "…what the hell was that?" He stares at the alley for a moment, then shoves the driver's side door open, climbing out and straightening. He reaches into his jacket, unsnapping the holster's strap from around the pistol hidden there and pulling it free, the safety clicking open.

Harmony has no gun. She really doesn't need one. Though.. she might wanna learn to use one as a lesser form of defense and attack than she can do. A particle beam can be a bit overkill when you're just trying to graze someone. As she gets out of the car, she stuffs her hands into her jacket pockets, "Hotwiring cars.. I totally feel like a teenager again, doing bad things like, stealing the neighbor's Camero and driving to like.. California for a road trip." the girl grins, which is promptly wiped from her face as she hears the crash in the alley. She didn't quite see the shadow. "A cat?" she reasons, and watches as Cardinal unholsters his gun, "Orrrrr not. Okay. Do you think we were followed?" she arches a brow, peering in the direction of the noise.

It was definitely larger than a cat, whatever it was. And whatever it was, it's not running back out of the alley, but hiding in it. Fortunately, perhaps, there's no getting out of the alley, the far end blocked off by chain link and barbed wire. Sure a person could get through, but not easily, not without the right ability.

"No." The pad of Cardinal's thumb skims over the side of his pistol anxiously for a moment, barrel kept low to avoid any mistakes as he steps slowly along to the edge of the building to keep out of direct site of the alley's mouth just yet. He knows better than this, should be avoiding the alley entirely and moving on.

But he's trying to pay attention to the little things, lately.

"Nobody followed us, but… someone could be in trouble." Or it could be an ambush, meant to lure suckers in. He steps along to the edge of the alley, calling in, "Who's back there?"

"Right. I'll take 'Someone in trouble' for 200 Alex? Not some zombie rioter that was left over, or anything." Harmony frowns her blond brows into a tight knit, pulling her hands out of her pockets to get ready, just in case it is indeed an ambush. The anticipation of the moment makes her fingers itch, the power inside agitating, wanting to leap out and pounce all over anything it can touch on a moment's notice. She has to push back the nervous emotions, swallowing thickly as things grow quiet, flicking her fingertips back and forth against each other. "I'll keep the light to a minimum." she whispers over to Cardinal.

From behind them, there is a small whisper of a sound. Just a quick sigh really. Is it a trap? Are they surrounded? Are they all about to die? But then there's teh smell of sulfur. Explosives, perhaps? Oh god! But behind them stands a woman in black, with a poofy, expensive jacket and black cargo pants with military style boots. Her hair is up in a high, albiet fashionable ponytail. The whisper was the swipe of a match across a strike strip, and the sulfer was the burning little stick as it was used to light a cigarette.

As they live and breathe, it's Lola Mayeux. "Ya don' look like ya come bearin' hot tub," Lola drawls in Cardinal's direction, though it's said with a relaxed smile. End of the world really does suit her. "Still - Ah suppose a howdy-doo is better'n nothin'. Ya here ta see yer girlfriend, sugar?"

Right now it seems like the only person likely to ambush them is Lola with her matches and cigarette. The alley, now that the sound of the crash has quieted, is silent. Or at least any sound made in the dark little space between buildings is hidden by the sounds of people talking. But there's no obvious signs of a gang hiding with automatic rifles, or soldiers, and luckily, there's no one down there calling for braaaaaains.

Cardinal may have just imagined seeing anything at all, if it weren't for the soft sound that comes next. Not a crash, or a gun cocking, but a quiet little sob, quickly muffled. Okay, so it isn't a cat or dog.

"Lola." Cardinal doesn't need to turn around; maybe he'd seen her, or maybe he identified her by voice. Only the briefest of tension draw together in his shoulders at her sudden appearance. Get too jumpy and you get dead, after all, especially this close to his old stomping grounds. Life may not be as cheap as it once was on Staten Island… but it's still not all that expensive outside the Zone. "I'd ask what the hell you were doing here," he observes dryly, "But I probably don't want to know…"

A pause, and then he hears that sound, and the gun drops down further towards the ground. Well, shit. He steps along into the alley, slowly pacing towards the back, voice softer but still audible through the alleyway, "…hey. Nobody's going to hurt you. Come on out."

Harmony on the other hand is a little more jumpy than Cardinal. She isn't used to people sneaking up on her in dark alleys, so when Lola does just that, Harmony whirls around, stroking a pretty laughable kung fu stance. "Whoa! Hey.." she blinks her bright blue eyes a second, getting a good look at the woman with the cigarette. Obviously, she knows Cardinal, so that is good enough for her to pull herself out of the pose and relax. "So not cool to sneak up on folks in a dark alley." she sighs in relief. "That's a good way to get shot, or worse.. Although, I'm not exactly sure how you'd announce yourself safely, coming from where you did, so.. dilemma I guess." Harm shrugs her shoulders, turning back to the source of the sound.

"Is someone.. crying? Oh.. I hope they aren't hurt."

Lola slips the cigarette from her lips, exhaling her cancer-smoke. "Mmm, dilema," she agrees, absently, watching Cardinal and the alley. Curious! "If ya really wanna know, Mr. Cranky pants, Ah'm here keepin' tabs on your bottle blonde lover, makin' sure her fine figure stays so fine, if ya get my drift. Real question is what're you doin' here." She reaches down into her left boot and withdraws a military-flashlight from the military boot. She hands it over to Cardinal. "Here ya go, darlin. Chance are most folks around here are cryin - if they ain', it's caure they're dead or drunk or too dumb ta be. Ain' exactly a family-friendly location."

Whoever it is in the alley doesn't come out at Cardinal's words. Chances are that they've heard something similar since the riots, with soldiers roaming around the island. And chances are, they haven't received a very good welcome if and when they listened. Something is done to keep them from making more sound, biting a lip or something pressed against their mouth. Whoever it is, the trio will have to go in if they want to put a face to the cry.

"Trying to stay away from all of you," Cardinal mutters under his breath in distracted tones, making a decision finally and holstering his pistol. A breath's taken, and then he slowly starts walking along down the length of the alley, his voice kept steady and quiet, "…hey. I'm coming back. Don't stab me or shoot me or anything, I'm a friend…"

"Yeah.. I guess it was hit pretty hard over here." Harmony replies to Lola's comment, "Hopefully, our mysterious person isn't drunk.. dead, I think we can rule out." She watches the flashlight being passed from Lola to Cardinal, and she smirks knowingly, the urge to snicker at the device is pushed back down into her stomach. She goes off of the defensive herself, and she starts walking after Cardinal, her boots clomping against the pavement. "Richard? Be careful.." she warns him. They could be Evolved, and something bad could happen. Or maybe it's still an ambush, and they're walking right into it.

Lola lets Cardinal taek the flashlight, and take it he does. While the other two seem to be all proactive about this, Lola hangs back. She's just standing there, smoking her cigarette. No doubt she's armed to the teeth, particularly in that jacket and those cargo pants. Particularly during these New York City riots, the type not seen since the Civil War, really.

"Whatever floats yer boat, sugar," Lola tells Cardinal. Nope, no 'We miss you, Dicky' or 'You can't blame yourself' from Lola. Just a very simple 'You do what you gotta.' Although it appears like Lola is just lazing out on this one, she looks around, glancing around the street, the buildings, the rooftops, the sewers, and all the rest. Keeping her eyes open to make sure they aren't actually taken from behind.

The reassuring words don't have any effect. The person remains hidden right up until Cardinal moves deep enough in the alley to spot the person. It's a small form, huddled against the side of a dumpster, curled in on itself. By the size it has to be a child, a small one, wearing a coat that's been torn and is filthy, just like the trembling figure, one who's hiding their face against their arms. If they can't see the people, the people can't see them. Perfect child logic, the logic that causes children to hide under the covers from the monster in the closet.

The flashlight's beam briefly spills over the young, huddled form of the girl, and Cardinal's expression softens at the sight of her. He steps slowly over, crouching down and setting the flashlight on its end to the pavement. "Hey." Soft, his voice, reaching out to touch the child's shoulder, "Hey, kid. It's okay… we're not gonna hurt you. Where're your parents at?"

Right about the same time that Cardinal sends out his sympathy, Harmony's heart melts when she sees the child cowering in fear. A small tilt of her head to once side, and as silent 'awww' passing her lips. This child immediately triggering Harmony's maternal instinct to care for others in need. Her voice drops from casual to cooing, singing out to the child in dulcet tones. "Hey.. It's gonna be okay, sweetie. You're safe now, alright? What are you doing out here by yourself, hm? It's dangerous.." she straightens up, looking around for anyone else that could possibly be near. Maybe their parents are looking for them. "Are.. there a lot of children like this over here?" she asks Lola, who apparently has been hanging around.

"Naw, sugar," Lola responds, turning and leaning back against the wall, facing away from the alley. They seem to have that area covered, so she'll cover the rest of it. She continues to smoke, propping one foot up against the wall as she looks around. Against the cooler are, she tightens her jacket. "Not as young as all that. Social Services usually gets on top a that within a couple a days. This ain' Taiwan or nothin'. Still, lotta low-income in this area, an they'll probably find a couple like that as they start cleanin' up the streets. Ones that lost parents or got seperated in the riots an whatnot."

The closer Cardinal's voice gets, the more the kid huddles in on himself, as if trying to disappear. The touch has him jumping and looking up, eyes wild with fear, a whimper caught in his throat. It's definitely a boy, though his face is filthy, as is his hair. "T-they're…The men…went bang. M-m-mama wouldn't wake up," he whispers, tears filling his eyes and spilling down cheeks, leaving faint marks in the dirt and grime. "Why didn't mama wake up?"

He still very obviously doesn't trust any of the trio, no matter how soothing their voices are. He remains pressed into the corner made by dumpster and wall, shying away when Cardinal crouches down and Harmony approaches. "You're not…gonna make a bang too, are you? I don't wanna not wake up," he says, glancing between them.

At the boy's words, Richard's lips draw into a tight grimace… pain behind his eyes hidden by the shades that he's wearing. "I'm sorry, kiddo," he says softly, his head shaking slowly from side to side, "No, we're… not gonna make a bang. You're gonna be alright, okay?" He reaches out a hand, though he doesn't try and touch him again, "What's your name?"

Lola's explanation put's Harmony's mind at ease, about more than just this child as well. There is still hope, but still.. this child. It is enough to make Harmony frown. "Things really are a mess down here, huh.." she remarks quietly, thinking on what people must be going through, being caged into their homes, or worse, somewhere that isn't their home. The kid's words bring about an expression from Harmony. The kid would have been better off jamming a knife into her heart and twisting it around. "Aw, man.. c'mon.." she comments with a sympathetic shake of her head. That's just.. too depressing and sad. Could the kid get any more tragic? "No, we're.." Harmony purses her lips a bit, "We're here to make the bang go away.." is the first thing out of her mouth. There wasn't much thought out into that statement, she just.. said it.

The only one seemingly not bleeding their heart out for the child is Lola, who has yet to do so much as glance at it to make sure it wasn't armed. She remains with her back to the alley, eyes sweeping the place, keeping a look-out down in the general direction of the textile factory as well as around the near-vacinity. Kids have been bait before, god knows.

The boy looks from Harmony to Cardinal, then to Lola, whispering, "She's not gonna make a b-bang, is she?" He hesitates at the other questions, but since he's not being shot at, yelled at or otherwise terrorized, he seems to be loosening up. Just a little. "I'm J-johnny. I'm this many," he says, holding up four fingers, as though it were something he's done more than once before. Give name and age altogether, get it all out there.

"Her? Naw…" Not unless they ask her to. Cardinal flashes a quick, reassuring smile to the boy, "Hi, Johnny. I'm Richard, this is Harmony, and that's Lola over there…" Rocking back a bit in his crouch, he asks, "What's your last name, Johnny? Do you know it?"

Four. He's four years old! Harmony bends forward, resting her hands on her knees in order to remove some of her height to the child, to keep a non-threatning posture. "Aww, sweetie. You're so dirty.. You poor thing." Harmony wants to A) smother him to death with hugs, and B) cry over the boy's plight and assure him a thousand times over that everything is going to be okay. She remembers something, as they had stopped for gas before earlier, she still has something she bought from the counter. Reaching into her pocket, she pulls out half of a Snicker's bar, the wrapper folded up over it, intending to have saved it for later. "Are you hungry? You like chocolate?" the blond holds it out to him.

Lola continues to stare out into the night. Still, she's not doing it idly. She's not letting her mind drift back to the night of the 3rd, when she was grinning and happy and swinging in the arms of a man who seemed way too much like her to be real. No, she's not doing that. She's living in the here and the now and watching for someone who might be taking advantage of stationary targets. Her cigarette done, she drops it to the ground and snuffs it with the toe of her shoe.

Cardinal's question is forgotten as Johnny snatches the candy from Harmony and starts shoving it in his mouth as though he were starving. It means that there's no response for a moment, but in the way of kids before they learn manners, Johnny has no problem talking with his mouth full. "Fank ooo Harm-y," he manages to get out, proving that he's at least learned that. Cardinal's question gets a twitch of the boy's shoulders. "Dunno?" He swallows his mouthful of chocolate. "Name's Johnny," he says again.

That's what Cardinal was afraid of, and it shows on his face as he grimaces a little bit. "Hopefully he'll remember later," he mutters to Harmony, fingers raking back through his hair before offering a quick smile, "Do you know the way home, Johnny?"

"You're welcome." Harmony smiles, lifting herself to stand straight up again, "Yeah.. hopefully. Or hopefully there is someone who can help him on this side." For the moment, she looks back at Lola at the end of the alley, "Hey, is there a place to take people who might be lost, or separated from their families here? Or maybe.." she shifts her eyes back to Johnny a second, "That don't have them anymore?" she then is struck with a horrible thought, "Oh god.. Richard, if he doesn't have anyone else.." she frowns. There goes the bleeding again, "I totally want like.. 10 of him right now.. Not this tragic, but.. yeah. He needs help."

Lola turns her head a moment, glancing down the alley at the child. Her eyes meet it's for a moment, and she recognizes him. How strange, that, but she does. Leaning back, she starts to watch the city again, taking out a second cigarette and lighting up. "He's from the area, but that's all Ah kin say. Like Ah said, this ain' really a child-friendly location."

The candy is polished off in no time flat and Johnny looks at Cardinal for a long moment before he shakes his head, looking a bit like a dog that just got kicked. "Nuh uh. Mama knew. But she wouldn't wake up, and the bang-bang men took her away. I ran and hid." He looks back up, at Harmony. "Got anymore food?" he asks, just as his stomach growls audibly. Likely he's been on the streets alone since the eighth, so there's no telling when he last ate anything.

"Of course not. That'd be too easy…" Cardinal closes his eyes, drawing in a slow breath and then exhaling a sigh against his fingers, hand pressing to his mouth for a moment, "…okay. We'll have to get the kid to 'services… which means we're probably gonna need to get him off the island with us."

"Hang on, you.. know him?" Harmony blinks and peers back at Lola as she offers up information. Odd, she didn't originally recognize him. "Umm.." Harmony blinks with the child's question, reaching into her back pocket to pull out a pack of gum, "Well.. this is all I have left. But you don't wanna swallow it. You can have it if you want. It's better than nothing?" Not the best thing to be giving a kid, but he looks like he could use a little happy right now. "Take him off with us? Think so? Do you think it'd be difficult to slip him past? I mean, we were easy enough, I suppose.. but now we have him. I'm all for trying, just.. what's the plan?"

"Cute lower-middle-class family tryin' ta get away from the riots?" Lola suggests. She reaches into one of her cargo pants and pulls out a granola bar. "Heads up, blonde," Lola suggests, tossing the granola bar to Harmony. Then she's looking back over the city, inhaling and exhaling with her cigarettes again.

The kid may be young, but he knows that gum won't fill the empty hole in his stomach. The granola bar, on the other hand, is eyed like a cat eyes a particularly yummy looking mouse. But with him only being four, most of the conversation the others are having goes right over his head, and so he dismisses it as boring in the way that children tend to do.

"We paid for three bodies going back across the river," Cardinal says with a slow shake of his head, "You, me, your friend — the kid can take my seat, I can get back across on my own." He doesn't even need a boat, technically, if he doesn't feel like using one. A quick smile at Lola's provision of a granola bar, "Maybe the city can find his family."

The gum is tucked back into her pants pocket, "Well.. I guess that is probably the best solution." Harmony wondering how she'll fair with two kids traveling with her. "You sure you'll be alright though? I mean.. You probably will, because yeah, you're the Shadowman." she smirks at Cardinal a second, "But still, you should probably be careful too. If you turn up missing, I can only imagine the cosmic backlash that will cause." And then there is a granola bar flying at her, Harmony quickly reaching to catch it, fumbling a few times before finally getting a hold of it. "Hey.. how about that?" she smiles and hands it over.

Lola glances over her shoulder, to call to Cardinal. "Ah ain' got a room-mate no more sug, ya kin at least shower an regroup yer thinkin' in my place afore ya get goin," It's a suggestion, or not even that. An offer, a barest offer. She almost seems nonchalant about his answer as she turns her eyes back, watching for trouble.

The kid takes the granola bar and starts struggling with the wrapper to get it opened, his tongue sticking out one corner of his mouth in concentration. It seems that he's relaxed though, at least around these three and at least temporarily. But he does look up, frowning a little. "You're gonna take me away from here? Away from the bang-bang men?"

The offer is refused with a slow shake of Richard's head, as he says quietly, "Thanks, but we still need to rendezvous with another kid to bring back, and that smuggler's not gonna just sit around forever waiting for us to get back. I don't think you need to tell Liz that you saw me out here, either." Yeah, 'cause he's sure she'll listen to him on that one. A quick, reassuring smile for the kid, "Yeah. We're gonna take you away from the bang-bang men… you like books, kiddo?"

"I could take him back to my place until tomorrow, or till you get back across the boarders." Harmony's shoulders lift in a shrug, trying to be helpful at least. "They're really nice apartments, and I don't think Jason will mind too much. Well.." she wrinkles her nose, "I can handle him. Whatever we do, we need to do it fast though.." the girl turns to look down at Johnny, her blue eyes softening, "Before he starves to death.. Aww.." Harmony looks like she just might start sobbing for him. Kids are so cute! "See, Richard? I told you.. we'll find other ways. This is just a start."

Lola shrugs. "Sure thing, sugar. Ah ain' gettin' between yer little lover's spat." Yeah, Lola's smart enough not to touch that one with a 10-foot pole. "Though if yer meetin' a smuggler, ya mind if Ah tag along? Ah ain' seen my supplier since the 8th an Ah girl can' last too long without her shoppin' outlet." She keeps her back to the kids and everything, just watching the night.

Johnny brightens and nods. "I like books with animals! Got any with bears? Or wizards?" he asks before trying to tear into the granola bar wrapper with his teeth. He gives up a moment later and pushes himself to his feet and slips his hand into Cardinal's, looking up at him trustingly. "Can we go get the book now please, 'Chard?" he asks before looking at Harmony and daring to smile, just a little, and very shyly.

He goes easily with them after that, so desperate to be away from the bang-bang men that he'd go with just about anyone who was the least bit nice to him, and they've been more than just a bit nice. It's just a good thing that they have a way off the island, so that the orphan's family doesn't die out entirely, with him.

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