Tricky Ricky and the Ol' Switcheroo


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Scene Title Tricky Ricky and the Ol' Switcheroo
Synopsis Ricky provides Des with a promising lead.
Date June 7, 2018

Ruins of Staten Island

Staten Island has been a terrible place for over a decade now. First it was nuclear fallout that drove the residents away, then it was the formation of the Rookery and the growing cancerous presence of organized crime on the island that kept them from coming back when the geiger counter stopped ticking. The United States government tried to clean it up, slap on a fresh coat of paint, and put up some concentration camps. The locals didn’t take too kindly to it, and the fires that started in Eltingville Blocks raged into a civil war that gutted the island. What remains of Staten Island stands in staunch defiance to the Safe Zone, a ramshackle maze of the impoverished and unwell rubbing elbows with the exiled and the criminally-aligned.

The crowded open air markets of the Rookery are a different shade of greasy from the days of old, when neon lights were commonplace and the flow of urban traffic still ebbed in and out of the island. Now most traffic is done on foot, and the crumbling remnants of prefabricated concrete tenement buildings designed to hold soldiers or detainees in the months leading up to the war now give the Rookery a semblance of the walled city of Kowloon. In these grimy alleys, Desdemona Desjardins has in many ways come home, and in many more never been further from it.

“Look, Des, sweetie. Cash is only so good, you know?”

Crime has taken new forms in this decaying normal. The value of the dollar is at a historic rock bottom and there’s little use for modern currency on Staten Island and the surrounding ruins that spread from here to Albany. But bartering has become a cultural normal, an exchange of ideas, goods, and services for whatever it is the common person might want. In this case, Desdemona Desjardins is following up on a lead, and finding herself in unfamiliar orientations.

“What I’m looking for is an equitable exchange.”

Ricky Daselles — also known as Tricky Ricky — is a low-life drug peddler and snitch notorious within the rookery for his cockroach tenacity and determination to keep the fashion sense of New Jersey alive along with its accent. Today, he’s come to answer questions, and make offers. Because in the Rookery, sometimes in order to get what you want, you have to think three trades deep.

“Refrain’s easy to come by, Ghost Shadows run all up and down the east coast now, moving the shit.” Ricky jerks a thumb over his shoulder to the dark end of the alley behind him that leads out to the harbor. “They’ve got a deal cut with the MPs so they can get in and out past shipping blockades and searches. But the Shadows ain’t gonna have the shit you’re looking for, that kinda’ stuff’s high grade. But I just so happen to know a guy, who knows a guy, who raided one of those creepy coffin-carrying white vans during the war. I’m pretty sure he’s still got a vial or two of it in a freezer or something.”

Desdemona Desjardins is following up on a lead that someone on Staten Island has access to amphodynamine.

How’s keeping all your fingers for an equitable exchange is the rebuttal that crosses Des’ mind, but doesn’t reach her lips. Lips which are curved into a polite smile that comes nowhere near reaching her eyes. This has been exhausting, chasing down leads that she isn’t getting paid to chase down. At least in her brief stints as an investigator, a field agent, there’d been currency exchange.

And no one put a bullet in her head. Equitable exchange.

But she wants to get her hands on Amp. She’s wanted it for the better part of a decade now. Something extraordinary happened once before, and maybe… Well, it’s for science. Who knows what will happen if she doesn’t try?

“Alright, Ricky. What sort of something do you want in exchange for this?”

“Okay,” Ricky reaches into the pocket of his sweatpants and pulls out a half-eaten protein bar. He pulls the wrapped back a bit, then starts going to down. What Des can read of the label says Honey and Oat. “So,” Ricky adds, mouth full of sticky protein bar, “Amp’s got like a thousand dollar street value, baseline. It’s not drug-priced, it’s weapon-priced. So, I’ve got a couple of things I need that are approximately the same value — or more — and I’m willing t’make arrangements.”

Already finishes with the protein bar, Ricky throws the wrapper to the ground. “I know you know Alister Black, the crazy motherfucker set up in that big building by the water?” Ricky brushes crumbs off of his hands, then tucks them back into the pockets of his sweatpants. “If you could do me a solid and torch his— ”

“That’s enough, Mr. Daselles.” A voice from the back of the alley behind Ricky is quiet and hauntingly familiar. Ricky doesn’t seem surprised, but rather relieved as he steps aside, revealing a tall and thin man with a shock of white hair and dark-framed eyeglasses. His gunmetal gray suit is too nice for Staten Island, as are the shoes he wears and their patterned Italian leather. The thin man offers Ricky a wad of twenty dollar bills rolled up and held by an elastic, and Ricky offers an apologetic look to Des as he starts to step around the suit.

Though his voice is familiar, in the unusual way a voice can be familiar in a dream, Des doesn’t recognize him. “I’m sorry for the bait and switch,” he says apologetically, “but I didn’t know how else to get in touch with you without starting a manhunt. Could we talk in…” he waggles a finger in her direction, “private?” One brow raises slowly, a smile creeping up on the corner of his mouth.

“Right…” Odessa can recognize when someone is stalling for time, but she doesn’t expect Ricky to be, well… She didn’t expect him to quite live up to his monicker. A glance over her shoulder doesn’t yield anything, but when she looks back, there’s a voice and a suit.

Fuck. You are a dead man, Daselles. Do you hear me, you gutless little piece of—” Odessa’s nostrils flare as she cuts herself off and stares down the newcomer, trying to rack her brain for some memory that explains the familiarity of that voice.

She makes a show of waving her arm and plunging the world around them into silence. The movement isn’t strictly necessary, but the theatrics help others get their head around what she does, and she likes to be flashy about it, honestly. “You have ten seconds to give me your elevator pitch. Because I don’t have to give you this fucking meeting.”

“You don’t,” the man agrees, loosening the bottom button of his suit jacket to let it come open, one hand in a pocket, making everything a little more casual and relaxed. “I appreciate the candor here, because I have a feeling you’re still the woman I’ve heard stories of.” He smiles, just enough to present the idea of non-threatening posture. There’s a moment where he appreciates the stillness of the frozen time, but then attention is back on Des.

“Some years ago, you were one of the last people to see Kazimir Volken alive.” There’s a certainty in the thin man’s words, one brow raised as if in challenge of any defiance that might come out of Des’ mouth. “At Eagle Electric,” he clarifies, in case there was any confusion. “I have questions about Kazimir, and if you’d be willing to answer them, I might be able to help you clear up your unfortunate business with the United States government.” One dark brow lifts toward white hair, and the thin man adds, “I hear they execute people for treason.”

“There’s a lot of stories about me out there. Shouldn’t believe everything you hear.” Odessa slides a hand into her pocket and drums the fingers of the other against her thigh restlessly. The way he says still unsettles her some, but she can understand it. Some people try to say she’s reformed. Others know she’s still dangerous when she’s backed into a corner. Or a dark alley.

The name Volken makes her swallow hard. That’s a shadow she just can’t seem to shake. Sometimes she isn’t sure she deserves to. “That’s what I hear too,” she says about the punishment for treason. She was so certain that’s what this was all about in the first place. That Ricky had sold her off to some Fed who would haul her in and set her up for trial and a swift execution.

This offer is one she doesn’t necessarily believe, but, due to a lack of other options, she must pursue. “What do you want to know about the man?”

“Early 2009, Kazimir Volken takes the body of Gabriel Gray,” the thin man notes with an illustrative gesture, as if pointing out the idea or the man himself. “The entity that was Volken is presumably destroyed by Abigail Beauchamp. But we know that wasn’t quite as simple. Somewhere in the intervening months, Volken re-emerges inside of Peter Petrelli and turns on his former people, participates in Operation: Apollo alongside other traitors to the organization, and stop a thermonuclear detonation below Antarctica.”

With all that explained, the thin man offers a frown, spreading his hands. “After that, Volken disappears. Sometime in the intervening moments in history he switched bodies, then disappeared from the stage of history. You knew him, for a time, met him face to face. You participated in his final solution, and you also appear to have made bedfellows with Humanis First.” All of Odessa’s dirty laundry, hanging on the line.

“My question for you is twofold. One: do you know, or suspect, where Kazimir Volken may be today. Two: do you still actively harbor the beliefs of the Vanguard and Humanis First, that SLC-Expressive humans are a detriment to humanity?” Once more, the thin man raises a brow, chin up just a little, waiting for an answer.

None of this is news to her, of course, but she did spend a considerable portion of it in cornfields or prison. Bedfellows has her looking vaguely ill, though. Not, perhaps, her proudest moment, and not one she’s ever felt worthy of trying to explain. What’s the point?

“I suspect he’s out there somewhere. If I knew where, I also suspect I’d be dead.” For all that she’s claimed he can’t hurt her, circumstances have changed and Odessa knows she’s no longer invincible. “We didn’t part on the most amicable terms. Mistakes were made.” She narrows her eyes, trying to size up this stranger. Trying to surmise which side of the fence he wants her to fall on. Treason is the problem, after all.

So, to the second question, she finds herself smirking. “I don’t know what to make of us,” she says, tone dry. “Some of us can do great things. Others… We seem only to leave ruin in our wake. Whether we deserve this planet, I don’t know. That’s not for me to say anymore.” Funny enough that she was more about Evolved superiority when she was a member of the Vanguard. It took a brush with powerlessness to knock that out of her. Humanity, she calls it.

“Current government seems to think we’re okay. The next one may disagree.”

The milquetoast answer elicits a frustrated look from the thin man, and he takes off his glasses and folds them, then tucks them into the pocket of his suit jacket. “Let’s start this interaction over again, I realize you may have misinterpreted my agenda here.” Hands clasped together in front of himself, the white-haired man brings them to his mouth, thinking for a moment, then spreads his hands.

“My name is Freyr,” and the invocation of a Norse monicker implies all it needs to. He then motions with one hand toward Odessa. “Nightingale.” Then, with both hands, he gestures around the pocket of frozen time. “I reiterate my second question, but I urge you to answer honestly, rather than what you think I may want to hear. You have my word no harm will come to you regardless of how you answer.”


There’s something needlingly diplomatic about Freyr, something measured and practiced, something rehearsed. It isn’t that he feels disingenuous, he absolutely reeks of the polite theatrics of the Vanguard of old, but there’s something about his demeanor and his voice that feel uniformly familiar, but it’s difficult for Des to pin down exactly how.

He receives a flat look, until he introduces himself. “Jesus fuck,” Odessa mutters under her breath. “I—” Her posture changes, and she finds herself nodding respectfully. Yes, this interaction is definitely starting anew.

“I think there’s balance to be had. Killing us all isn’t the answer. It’ll just be something else. Or maybe we’ll never die out at all. They call it an evolution, after all. Maybe all this is is growing pains.” Odessa shakes her head and frowns. “I doubt very much the master would like my answer, but there it is. I won’t be making any world ending viruses for anyone anymore.”

That’s part of the reason she’s in this mess in the first place.

“We’ve met before, haven’t we?”

“Not in person,” Freyr admits with a reluctant shrug of his shoulders. “You may also be mistaken about Kazimir. Don’t forget, he turned on his own teachings and killed a man he considered a son to stop his own plans from coming to fruition. But he also spared those closest to him, the ones he considered family.” Freyr inclines his head toward Odessa, then slides his hands back into his pockets.

“Third question, and then we can discuss your current predicament.” Freyr promises, looking down the time-stilled alley for a moment, then back again. “Where is Eileen Ruskin?”

Why can’t she remember? It’s frustrating, something else to add to the list of many other things she can’t remember. “I never claimed to understand him. I don’t think he was ever very fond of me. All I needed to do was follow orders.” She was good at that, for a time.

The third question gets her attention and she grins. “That I can help you with. Hang around long enough and she’s liable to wander back into my life. I can’t tell you where she rests her head at night, but I can tell you that she wants something from my current employer.” It might be his life, but that’s still something. “She was supposed to be dead. I guess no one’s impressed by miracles anymore.”

“I follow the teachings of a man more than a hundred years old, who lives by leaping from body to body,” Freyr admits with a lopsided smile. “Everything loses its luster eventually, doesn’t it?” But the answer that Odessa has given seems answer enough for Freyr. He nods, an expression that plainly reads well enough crosses his face.

“If you can deliver her to me, unharmed obviously, or arrange for her to be in a private place where I can approach her, I have an opportunity to protect you from the government and allow you to live your life free. We can discuss what shape that takes on receipt of Ms. Ruskin.” With that, it feels as though the exchange has been made, well enough to Freyr’s liking at least.

“You must be getting tired holding that clenched muscle,” Freyr adds with a polite enough smile.

This feels like a recurring dream. Maybe a nightmare. How many times did she cook up some fantasy where she gets to do things right by Eileen? And how many times did she imagine herself ruining it?

Well, perhaps if she wasn’t out to kill her friends, Des would be telling Freyr that she’d take her chances. “I think I can make that happen. I’ll need some way to contact you to arrange the meeting.”

As if on cue, a bead of sweat rolls down the back of Odessa’s neck and she has to resist the urge to shudder. Her fingers are starting to ache too, where they’re wrapped around the handle of the knife in her pocket. She loosens that grip first and slides her hand out so she can rub at the back of her neck instead. “If you can help me, that’ll be a miracle I can really appreciate.”

“Mr. Daselles has a way to contact me, let’s continue to use him as an intermediary. That leaves us both with a layer of protection, should one or the other become compromised.” Freyr reaches into his jacket and pulls out his eyeglasses, sliding them back on and pushing the heavy frames up the bridge of his nose.

“I like to think I’m something of a miracle-worker,” Freyr admits. “I may not be like you, but I’m able to make things happen. Hopefully,” Freyr notes with a motion of one hand to Odessa. “You are too. You could have a bright future ahead of yourself…”

“…if you could just get out from under the weight of your past.”

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