Viewers Like You


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Scene Title Viewers Like You
Synopsis Hugh decides to throw in with Humanis First. Danko sends Mr. B to make nice with the guy with the security clearance so they can all hold hands and blow people up together once they find out who they are.
Date July 01, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

Midtown. In the earliest haze of pre-dawn blue, the skyline torn from the ground in black shapes and jagged edges, it's scary. It's dark. It's dark and scary. Little taloned feet scrabble and scuffle amidst ash soft and damp with morning dew, scuttling their way under an ancient McDonalds bag. In the rent open husk of half a city bus all moldering, bloated cushions and rusting springs, a single man in a buzz cut and dark fatigues sits across the row from a jumbled skeleton stained brown and orange in the faded rags of a t-shirt and jeans. Distinguishable from the landscape mainly by the idle swing of one leg, black against lighter metal, he's carving his way carefully through an apple with a knife that looks like it could take his entire hand off if he were to slip.

Scary, perhaps, to the uninitiated. Hugh, on the other hand, has made his bones long ago, in the little brushwars that Her Majesty disdains to notice publically, but dispatches Tommy Atkins and his brothers to deal with, nonetheless. He's entirely casual, making his way through the ruined and overgrown alleys with that bouncing, piratical swagger. He's armed, pistol and knife under a plain workshirt open over his faded t-shirt. "Well, hello," he says, affably, sticking his head in the bus's open door - tone dialed down from its usual parade ground bark into something almost soft enough not to bruise the hungover.

"Heeey," says Butch, apparently played by The Fonz this fine morning. He doesn't look up from his apple immediately, probably because his knife is sliding crisply down towards his thumb. Confident in the way alone people tend to be confident when they are not actually alone. "Hugh, right?" Better be. A flash of eye white breaks up the shadow of Crew Cut's face when he pushes the apple piece into his mouth, molars sinking into spongy off-white with an audible crunch.

"Aye," says the Scot, not bothering to modify that brogue to make it easier on the American. "That's me." He settles insouciantly on the seat available roughly across from Butch, having scooted the corpse aside gently, lest it fall apart on him, and drapes an arm across the back of the bench. Doesn't ask for abite of the apple.

Ronch ronch ronch. Butch makes short work of the apple slice before he offers the remaining 3/8 over for Hugh, should he be so interested, request or no. "I'm Mr. B, I'm with Humanis First. You're with Homeland Security, used to be in with the Limeys, blah blah blah." The knife is poked into the apple as an afterthought. In the off chance the older man needs one. "You have somethin' to offer with the position you're in or are you mainly hoping to kill people?"

"I'm extremely good at killing people. Moreoever, I can train ordinary people to use ordinary weapons in such a way that being Evolved is not necessarily the vast advantage that the mass of normal mortals seem to think," Hugh offers mildly, like he's applying for a job selling vacuums. Our Man In Havana, indeed. "I can get into and out of secure facilities. You've looked up my record, and I know at least a few of you know that Special Air Service is not merely some British variant of the UPS." He waves away the apple, delicately. "What I want is to see that threat stopped, and I'm hardly the sort of eloquent type to be doing the press releases and painting pretty graffitti."

"Any dumb fuck can pull a trigger, and we aren't looking to build an army. What we have is an informational deficiency." Butch's mouth has a hard time getting itself around so many syllables all stacked together. As if his gums are at fault, he tugs the knife loose from his withdrawn apple to poke it in after a bit of papery skin stuck between his teeth. "So far as surveillance goes, we can only do so much without contributions from viewers like you, who get to see a bigger picture. You wanna pick up a big stick and help on the front lines, we can put you there, but first we gotta know where your loyalties lie."

Hugh inclines his head regally, as if all this were just a matter of course. "Certainly," he agrees, lazily, pulling a packet of cigarettes out of his pocket. "Mind if I- ?" He hesitates, politely. "What exactly were you thinking of, in terms of contributions?" There is no ironic curl to his lip at the euphemism.

"Nah." Smoke away, says the dismissive shake at Butch's head when he reaches to take out a pack of his own, skinny butt adjusted on the sodden squash of his seat. Tap tap tap, and out goes a smoke for him, rather as if he'd been waiting for some kind of okay on Hugh's end before going for them. "Names with abilities are the big ones. The gangbangers tend to get their dicks frozen off and that kind've thing if we only get the names."

One ruddy brow climbs towards his hairline. "What d'you mean?" he says, sliding the words along the cigarette, as it's gripped tightly between his teeth. He touches a butane torch lighter gently to the tip, the flame hissing loud for a moment.

"I mean if we leak a name out to the people wavin' pitchforks around on the street and don't know what that name can do, we're signing our own kind up for pain and suffering when they get there and the son of a bitch shoots molten lava out've his asshole when we thought he just farted poisonous gas." As far as examples go, Butch doesn't seem to think this one is extreme. His own lighter is a cheap plastic Bic, neon plastic dulled by poor lighting and heavy lidded eyes until flame fizzles out into the end of his cigarette. "We try to dig shit up on them as best we can ourselves, but only so many've us have the skills, y'know? Easier to just comb it out of a file cabinet somewhere."

Having lit his cigarette to his satisfaction, Hugh nods sagely, steeples his fingers. "Of course. Accurate info, then."

"Yeah. That's what I said." In about a hundred words more. A steep puff on the end of his smoke stick sees that it actually takes the spark the second time he fires the lighter up, and everything's tucked away in turn. "If everything checks out, we can move on from there in a more togetherly direction."

"Are we looking for anyone in particular, then?" Hugh wonders, letting smoke leak between his teeth. "Just a grab bag, maybe?"

"The bigger a dent public exposure might make, the better. Famous, infamous, political. Making an impression's the big thing. Send the cowards scrambling back into hiding, bring the ones with balls chargin' out into the light so we can take them out next. Like fireants." Back to carving at his apple, Butch works his way around the core with excessive care taken for the gloom. "Ones that are straight dangerous are fine too. Get them before they get some of us, accidentally or on purpose."

There's the rhythymic ebb and flare of tghe cigarette as Hugh muses on this. "Right," he agrees, lazily, blowing a stream of smoke out of the corner of his mouth. "That I can do, easy, considering I hobnob with the politcians. All the freaks from all over the globe." He sounds sour about this.

"Sounds like a pain in the ass," is all Mr. B has to say about that, brows lifted in vague sympathy while he fails at pushing his lighter back down into the right pocket of the too many that are patched across his chest. "That's it, if we're clear. You can get our attention the way you've been getting it. Otherwise, don't fuck with us and we won't fuck with you."

Hugh snorts. "It is. And I will," he says, simply. "No desire to fuck with you. Scout's honor," he says, lifting a hand.

"They have scouts over there in Sheepsville?" Earnest curiosity mingles with dickishness to create the apple gnawing entity that is Butch stretching his way up onto his feet. "Nice meeting you, Wickham."

"Boy scouts came from Britain," Hugh says, condescendingly. "Baden-Powell and all that."

"Oh yeah?" Mr. B can't quite make himself sound like he cares as he saunters his way towards the open rear of the bus. He stops to turn and toss his apple at the dead guy in Hugh's seat before he drops off the end and temporarily out of sight, not lingering to watch it clonk satisfyingly off the bird-flayed skull.

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