What's Your Motivation?


gabriel_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title What's Your Motivation?
Synopsis Gabriel goes to see a man about a job, but has some questions first.
Date August 7, 2009

Near Eagle Electric

January of '09 didn't take down everything Eagle Electric had to offer, but all that remains now are broken, collapsing, hollowed-out ghosts of buildings. Nearby buildings, not all, but some of them, have become just as abandoned, the low rent (for New York) no longer outweighing the risk of being blown up by terrorists. It's somewhere in this area, in one of these empty buildings, that Jensen Raith has made his lair. One of them, at any rate, but he's likely to be there. Anyone with a little information, some time and, of course enough guts could find him. Why anyone might want to is the real question.

Raith himself is preparing to enjoy a wonderfully-prepared, late night meal consisting of a cold MRE and three-day-flat cola. No one said that being the leader of an unlicensed vigilante terrorist organization was glamorous, but at the very least he has a folding chair to take a break on. And plenty of alarms to alert him to intruders, all of them made from several feet of twine, and old cans, bottles, even a book of matches and bundles of black cats. If it works, use it. But hey, what does he have to worry about? Even Eileen hasn't been bothering him as of late, and she's about the only one with the guts to do it.

It took some doing, it always does, but never let it be said that Gabriel can't find you. Whether or not it's smart for him to do, or overly difficult, or inconvenient. It's a fine line, where determination and doggish stupidity meet.

He has his back to the stretch of blasted ruins of the place he'd never really called his home. Having traversed across it, climbing over hills of rubble and ruin, Gabriel has made his way towards the building Raith has claimed as his own. There's a moment where he becomes ghost-like, thicker shadows than true darkness, sliding in between the boards of a sealed window, before solid feet settle on the dusty ground inside.

It would be nice if he still had superhearing, to detect where Raith was ahead of time. But it's also a blessing he doesn't have it, when his ankle collides with a trip wire, and the screaming wail of an alarm is promptly set off. Well, darn. Irritation crosses Gabriel's face for just a moment, before he's incapable of expression at all as he implodes back into an inky cloud of darkness, flying to curl up and flatten itself against the darker corners of the room.

Mostly to see what happens next, when someone alerts the King of Swords of their presence.

The alarms are for more than just early warning; there is a method behind their placement and construction. Cans for one entrance, glass bottles for another, firecrackers for a third. His attention immediately caught, Raith considers what the sound of clattering metal means for a moment, and then drops his dinner to exchange it for his rifle, singling out the direction of the sound's source and letting loose a round from the under-barrel grenade launcher. An angry, smoking, spinning projectile bounces off the floor and around the corner, skipping around on the floor a short distance from Gabriel. Ordinary smoke. No tear gas, no pepper gas, just plain old ordinary white smoke. The rooms and hallways of this building-what did it used to be? Large offices? Small, connected storage rooms? Who cares?- are open enough that the smoke will obscure vision and not do much else, not even create too many breathing difficulties as long as Gabriel doesn't linger in it.

Hopping out of his chair, Raith tags the play button on a nearby boom box, further adding to the confusion as the room he was eating in, along with adjacent rooms and hallways, are filled suddenly with the soothing sounds of "La Donna E'Mobile" on repeat. The ex-spy then makes himself scarce, retreating in another direction, to another room that is fortunately unoccupied by any other intruders, to wait out of sight and watch events unfold through a small hole he'd earlier punched in the wall. Maybe once he finds a more permanent home base, he'll put more thought and effort into security, but for now, watching from the shadows and waiting suits him just fine.

Madness, apparently, is what happens next. The white smoke is a stark contrast to the black, inky substance that Gabriel's transformed into, quite suddenly snaking through it with an almost angry slither, moving with preternatural agility down the hallway that the smoke bomb had bounced from. There's a heavier thud as Gabriel, with less grace than he'd like, materialises back into his solid form, 6' worth of irritated serial killer. He's dressed in a black that's not quite as impenetrable as his ghost-form, coat settling into place with the momentum of materalising.

"Raith," is his vocal demand, cutting above the music suddenly playing through the building. "Shut it down." Of course, he doesn't know where the man is, so allows his voice to bellow down the immediate area, consonants sharp and edged with growl.

There's a familiar sort of face. Maybe not one that Raith was eager to see, but at least a face he's reasonably certain won't try to rip his off. Right away.

He makes his exit from his hiding place, and just as Gabriel moved into the open, so too does Raith, although he keeps his weapon trained on the other man, if only haphazardly one-handed. "What, you never had your own ghetto box?" he asks, having to shout over the music himself. Perhaps wisely, he doesn't use his weapon to force Gabriel to turn it off himself, but casually moves towards the device and, one hand holding his rifle, one hand working the buttons and both eyes on his guest, kills the music. "Better?" With a hint of sarcasm and a half-shrug, he indicates that they're still not yet enemies.

"What can I do for you, Eyebrows?"

One of those eyebrows raises up at not only the nickname, but— well. Mostly the nickname. For a man with a rifle pointed at him, even as one-handedly as Raith has it held, he seems reasonably calm if not inclined to make sudden movements. He takes a step back, heel dragging, a look up and down the other man in vague assessment, before Gabriel is taking something out of his pocket.

The movements are slow, deliberate, as if to demonstrate that he's not about to pull a pistol on the off-chance he required one, fingers disappearing into the folds of black wool. "I'm here about a job offer." Not exactly an unfamiliar object to the other man, a Tarot card is withdrawn, a flash of its plan backing before he angles the front to see it.

Horse. Armor. A sword held aloft. Gabriel tilts his head inquisitively.

It certainly isn't unfamiliar to Raith, and it takes only a moment of analysis to figure out what it is. "Knight of Swords," he says, "Logical, intellectual, cunning, stubborn, tactless, and absolutely full of himself. I'll buy that for a dollar." The good news, perhaps, is that Raith stops pointing his gun at Gabriel and sees fit to return to his folding chair to try and salvage his cold MRE from the floor. "I see you've already got a business card, so next step is to tell me what she told you, and we'll go from there. Sound like a plan, yes, no?"

Gabriel's eyes hood a little as Raith runs that list off, angling the card to peer at himself when it gets to the end. To his credit, amusement seems to eclipse offense, written into subtle quirks of expression, before he's disappearing the card away into his pocket once more. Remains standing, as well, rather than finding himself a place to sit. "Oh, not much more than you've already told me," he says, dark eyes glimmering in the half-light as he watches Raith. "Picking up on the same sentiment you all joined Vanguard to achieve. Kazimir's lie.

"You might not remember it." He moves across the room, towards where a window is sealed with wooden boards making ghostly shadows through taped plastic, coming to lean against the wall just next to it. "It was a few months ago. Taser, sedative, it was fun. We should do it again some time."

Caustic humour is more of a purr than any real sharpness. Gabriel rests his head back against the wall. "She said you were a Vanguard leader, and instead of turn around and stab him in the back, you took everything and disappeared. She also said you were dangerous."

"Well, she got it half-right, sure," Raith replies. The MRE is a lost cause, but at least he still has his three-day-flat cola. "Had a lot of people working under me. Shit hit the fan, and I made sure all of them disappeared, and then reappeared as other people. Presto chango. Abracadabra. What they did after that, up to them. I just helped them do it.

"Now, the dangerous part? Yeah, I'm dangerous. So're you. We're all dangerous, even little Eily. We have to be. It's how we survive. Here, be a pal, there's a couple more MREs in that box there." Raith points his finger to indicate which box and where. "On the note of survival, let's talk business. What are you not willing to do in this line of work?"

There's a pause, then a start as he pushes back off from the wall, light foot falls leading Gabriel on over towards the box. "You're getting ahead of yourself," Gabriel notes, with hardly a glance his way as he moves to open the box, pulling out one of the packaged meals and observing it with a look of vague disaste. "I have some questions, first, before we entertain the idea of my falling into line."

He extends an arm, holding out the MRE. "I didn't have many questions the first go around, and that was my error. There are some things I want to know aside from the salespitch."

"Alright," Raith replies, taking and opening up his new MRE. And just to show Gabriel what a good sport he is, he offers the younger man the included chocolate bar. "Shoot. What do you want to know?"

There's a flick of a gaze towards the contents of the MRE from what he can see from his vantage point, then towards Raith. "Keep it," Gabriel states, with a tone that suggests he'll need it. Wrapping his arms about himself in a casual kind of stance, he rocks back on his heels restlessly, thinking out his words before putting them to voice. "There's panic amongst the resident heroes of New York City about some kind of Vanguard resurgence," he explains. "Precogs, prophetic paintings, dreams about nuclear fire and Norse symbolism. The final solution."

A beat of a pause, before Gabriel's chin tips down, focusing on Raith. "You wouldn't know anything about that, would you? I don't mean your agenda. I get it, what you want to do. But people who might be interested in picking up where the lie left off."

Tilting his head back, Raith ponders this for a moment. "Sounds like a 2012 scam to me," he says when he finishes thinking, "Seriously, that's some pretty vague information there. Maybe they got it backwards, and the nuclear fire is the symbolism for the destruction of New York at the hands of undead Viking raiders. Don't know a thing, but you know what? If there's panic, I'll look into it. Maybe something'll turn up, put their minds at ease." Maybe something to put his mind at ease, too. Raith can't build a picture from the disjointed puzzle pieces Gabriel provided, but the possible pictures are pretty bleak ones.

"What else?"

"I know," Gabriel says, with a brisk shake of his head, a casual look thrown to the boarded over window. "I haven't decided if they're just saying that the sky is falling, or if it really is. And I don't think there's such a thing as a specific prophecy, for the record. Fate likes to leave a margin of error."

He takes up his lean against the wall, fingers joining together loosely. A beat, and then, asked wryly; "What's the pay like?" Facetiousness is lost a moment later, Gabriel raising a shoulder in a shrug. "I like being on the winning side and I'm tired of not. I'm curious as to whether the benefits outweigh the risks, but I suppose I'll figure that out in my own time.

"But I'd like to know more about you."

Raith offers a shrug. "Well, ask some questions then, clear up exactly what it is you want to know. All I ask is that you be cool, because joking or not, the pay is shit. Don't join up if you want to get rich, you sonuvabitch, because you'll never get there. You might need a second job, even. There's a reason I'm eating cold MREs that I'm pretty sure I was two days from eating before we left Mogadishu, but I ramble." He also opens his chocolate bar, finally getting around to the rest of his dinner. "So ask away, and if I like the question, I'll answer it. What's the scope? Background? Training? Hobbies?"

"Why." Another shrug, joined fingers splaying a little in their grasp, Gabriel's head tilting on its axis. "That's my question. The pay is shit, you're sitting in an abandoned building eating cold MREs that you're pretty sure are two days old and— what for? Did an Evo bite you as a child? Or are you just another nutcase hero? If I'm going to be taking orders from you, I want your motive. If I had've known Kazimir's, that might have saved a lot of heartbreak."

"New York doesn't may have a lot of heroes in it, Eyebrows, but it doesn't need heroes. What it needs are people who can get things done." Could Raith possibly be some sort of 'breath of fresh air'? "There's a lot of shit in this world, and right now, a lot of that shit is fucked up. Heroes can't deal with fucked up shit, and there's more and more fucked up shit every day.

"Now, I won't lie." For a moment, Raith loses interest in his meal and instead focuses on some dirt trapped underneath his finger nail. He quickly loses interest in that as well, and returns to his ready-made peanut butter sandwich. "I want to make the world a better place. Everyone does. But me? I'm willing to get my hands dirty to do it. I will lie, cheat, steal, extort, kill, maim and torture to protect people from the Arthur Petrellis and Kazimir Volkens of the world, and I would expect anyone working with me to do the same, because this isn't about saving the world. It about clearing away the garbage so other people don't have to."

Gabriel grants him a nod, shadows deepening within his eyesockets as his gaze slants downwards, thoughtful. "And what about me?" His hands part, raise, in a way to indicate himself, his body lanky and casual in its lean against the wall, a leg braced with his weight and an ankle crossing over the other. "According to the government, I'm the most dangerous Evolved in America. Maybe the world. Kazimir even told me that I was exactly what the Vanguard was built to take down. But I guess— "

His hand moves, curling his fingers to scratch one side of his unshaven jaw. "I guess this is another cost versus the benefit, right? More point in keeping me alive and running your errands, than vanquishing the big bad. To answer your question— there isn't a lot I wouldn't do."

"And what, exactly, was the Vanguard built to take down?" Raith asks, shifting his attention from dinner to Gabriel, "Sure, it was built to bring about the end of the world, but also to take down Evolved. Dangerous Evolved, we both will say. But the key is the fact that Vanguard, meaning Volken, defined 'dangerous' as 'a potential threat to his plans' and nothing else.

"Now, me? I define 'dangerous' as 'a potential threat to society.'" That point made, Raith goes back to his dinner, determined to finish his sandwich no matter how dry it makes his mouth. The flat cola takes the edge off. "That includes you and me, sure, but until we actually start to threaten society, we're doing fine. As long as you stay focused, I don't see there being a problem. Do you?"

"No," Gabriel states, with simple honesty in his voice. "I have a long track record for staying focused. Which segues into the last question I have for you." Drollness, dry, crackling humour has mostly vanished from his voice, sapped out of his posture as he looks across at Raith. "The targets we choose, or you choose— " a shimmer of a shrug to indicate he doesn't much care about that, not yet anyway— "that I take down… they're mine. I'm free to take their power if I want it."

He takes his weight off the wall again, paces a couple of feet. "If you want me to stay focused, and all, then you won't have a problem with it. You talk about what made us join Vanguard in the first place— this was mine, my motive."

Once more, Raith's focus moves from his dinner to Gabriel. This time, however, it's not simply to regard him, but apparently to carefully scrutinize and size him up. After several seconds, Raith reaches a conclusion. "Anyone I pick, fair deal," he says, "Anyone you pick goes through my review, first. Don't want humanitarians getting picked off just because you look at them and see a seven-course dinner. And while we're on that note, I want to make absolutely certain you're clear on something. Anyone I point you at, is not guaranteed to be a seven-course dinner. They might just be empty calories, because 'Evolved' is not a criterion for 'dangerous.' Capice?"

"If they're Evolved, and you're pointing me at them as a threat to be taken down, they're all mine," Gabriel clarifies, chin up. "No doubt there are other things to do in the meantime, but that as far as that goes, I hope we're clear. How you choose them is up to you and if the work is steady, then I won't need to be making my own choices, now will I? I don't intend to step out of bounds, I just want to remain… focused."

"If you start having focus problems, take up a hobby," Raith replies almost dismissively, once again turning his own focus back to his stick-in-the-throat sandwich. "Rebuild engines, sculpt stone into recognizable forms, something like that. What kind of kid were you that didn't have any hobbies?"

Or whittling malformed birds and soldiers from wood, such as another Vanguard leader in their midst. Amusement almost has Gabriel smirking, before he says, "I had a hobby." And that, apparently, is the conclusion of the meeting, looking Raith over once more before he's headed for the door, boots falling heavy against the ground. "You'll know where to find me. You've done it before."

"Watch out for the Meat Man," Raith calls after Gabriel. Maybe someday, he'll actually explain what the hell that even means.

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