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Scene Title Yesterday
Synopsis Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh I believe, in yesterday.
Date January 29, 2009

Staten Island

There's something about the fringes of Staten Island that will always inspire sentiments of unease. After the bomb, much of Staten Island has fallen into glorious disrepair, so much so that places that were already in stages of decay look more like monuments to entropy than once urban settlements in decline. While much of the island was suburban residential areas before the bomb, there were two crowning moments that drove this borough of New York into an early grave. The first was the mass exodus of survivors and panicked people fleeing Manhattan. They came by foot, bicycle and car across the bridges to Staten Island, all manner of desperate and frightened people flooding into a crowded place. While some fled through to New Jersey, others simply couldn't — or wouldn't — go further. This, like in Queens, led to an eventual chaos that would in time eclipse the pandemonium in the eastern edge of New York after the bomb.

Staten Island was in the direct path of the fallout from the explosion, and after thousands fled to the island, the entire populace was forcibly evacuated. Those few that managed to stay, clung to their homes desperately, and those few who did would suffer from radiation sickness and the ever-escalating crime rate. By the time Staten Island got the "all clear" from the government, the damage had already been done.

What was one suburban neighborhoods and parklands is now a monument to decay. Houses lie in various states of disuse and ruin, and like much of New York has seen property values nosedive. Few want to move out to a formerly irradiated zone, and even fewer want to return to a place so rife to violent crime. Now, much of Staten Island lies in various states of decay. Houses abandoned by families that fled the city, were forced into forclosure and were never resold, or simply places where entire families went missing and are now squatted in by any number of transients line the once peaceful streets. Staten Island is a home to crumbling infrastructure, spotty electricity, and people who wish to remain undiscovered by law enforcement. Few police will willingly go into this now infamous island.

Smoke rises in a thin and wispy trail from a single cigarette burning between thick and dirty fingers. Slouched against a cold sheet-rock wall, Rico Velasquez stares up listlessly at a yellow-brown water stain on the ceiling. Out the window, the muddy brown light of some distant fire viewed through dirty glass provides some measure of light to the otherwise darkened building, even if it means somewhere else, someone else's shelter is ablaze.

His eyes drift shut, hand resting at the wrist on one bent knee, his other leg stretched out in front of him. How did he get here, to this place? Licking his lips, his thoughts drift back to the sound of whirring helicopter blades, to the scream of voices, to a woman diving off of a ship to save a dead man. His eyes close tighter, lips pressing together as his jaw gives a faint tremor.

The world hasn't ended yet. The sky hasn't fallen, the apocalypse hasn't come. It's cold, he's hungry, and this is his last cigarette. Thse are the facts, bitter and impersonal, simply truths of life that bite and sting; the ones that remind Rico that he is still alive, that he's made it this far. Even if everyone else he knows may not be, or hell, maybe they are. He'll never find out.

It's been the one thought constantly plaguing him since his escape, that he can't go home. Home is back to the Vanguard, back to Mexico, back to the people he once led. Back to questions he cannot provide answers to, back to bloodshed, violence, and senseless, pointless killing — for what? A madman who may not even be alive anymore.

How did it comes to this?


Brazil — August 16th, 1994

Running wild, a group of young children rush down a wooden boardwalk, weaving in and out of sweaty and tired dock workers at a warf market. Vendors call out, craving attention to sun-battered fruit in stacked crates, to canvas blankets laid out with AK-47s and stacks of boxed ammunition. Young, rugged men in olive colored jackets and camouflage pants stand around, smoking, guns slung over their shoulders.

Much of the attention is drawn to a ship far off from the busy port, a brand new cargo transport, her red and black hull popping out against the deep sapphire blue of the ocean's calm waters. "«Ricardo! Ricardo!»" Stepping out from a crowd of soldiers, a young woman in a black tanktop in camouflage pants comes charging down the pier from a black raft, carrying a duffle bag over her shoulder, "«Ricardo it was amazing!»" She practically leaps into the arms of one of the young men, smoking by the arms dealers, throwing her bag down to the ground as heer arms wrap around the back of his neck, and a single kiss is pressed to the scuffy cheek of a much unshaven man.

"«Dalia,»" Ricardo leans back, reaching up with one hand to hold her chin, regarding her like how a man at the market would inspect an animal. He turns her head from one side to another, eyes shadowed by the brim of his green military cap, "You've gotten some sun," he remarks with a croaking laugh, patting her cheek as she slides her arms down to her side, cracking a smile to the bearded soldier.

"«You've gotten…»" Her chocolate brown eyes drift up and down, and then a smirk crosses her lips, "«Soft in the middle?»" One hand lunges out, jabbing at Ricardo's midsection with an extended finger. There's a laugh, and the soldier shakes his head, a broad smile creasing his sweaty cheeks. "«It's so much hotter here, I can't believe it.»

Ricardo's focus is drawn beyond Dalia, to a man only a few years his senior, with wavy black hair and a more trimmed beard, cigar hanging out of his mouth, and a black Captain's hat adorning his head. "«Who's he?»" Guarded suspiscion comes over Ricardo as he leans in to Dalia, voice lowered. But she just raises a hand, settling on Ricardo's chest before pushing away slowly.

The approaching man stops, looking up from Dalia to Ricardo, then back to her. As she presumes to speak, he nudges her aside and offers a hand out, "«Mattias,»" there's an eager smile, "«Captain Mattias St.Croix of the Invierno.»" Ricardo stares down at the offered hand, switching his cigarette from one side of his mouth to the other with a slip of his tongue. Glancing up to Dalia, then back to the hand, he reluctantly takes a hold of it — but the hesitation only lingers in the motion, not the grip.

"«I hope my sister did not treat you too unkindly, Captain.»" Professional, if not a bit tense, it's hard not to see the uncertainty and anxiety in his sister's eyes. Clearly there's something between the two of them, but it has to go unsaid, because the man walking down the pier behind them on a slow and casual approach earns every last ounce of Ricardo's attention. "«If you will e'scuse me.»" He pats Mattias on the shoulder, slipping past to quickly approach a man dressed in a night black suit in the middle of summer in Brazil.

Hands tucked in his pockets, the weathered old man looks like he has spent his fair share of time under the sun, even if his skin is several shades too pale to reflect it. Gray hair talls in long waves down to his chin, all swept back away from his face. "«Rico.»" There's warmth in his tone of voice, "«My boy.»"

Kazimir.»" It's a relief to see him, and as Rico approaches, there are no pretenses of military structure, it is like a father and son meeting after a long time apart. Kazimir holds his arms open, accepting the younger man towards him, giving a few quick pats on his back with leather-gloved hands, just long enough to show the gesture of affection, but Rico is quick to depart as the prickling tingle of something else creeps up in his skin. "«How did Russia treat you, I hope my idiot sister was not too much of a burden.»"

Kazimir's lips crack into a smile, his head shaking as he keeps walking, motioning Rico to fall in at his side as he rests a gloved hand on his shoulder. "«No, no. Dalia is an enchantress, a wonderful young woman. She and Captain St.Croix hit it off rather quickly," there's a shift of blue eyes to Rico, giving a reassuring smile. "«Don't worry, he's a good man. Trustworthy, loyal, smart. She'd do good to have someone like him.»"

Kazimir Volken's assessment of people falls into two categories — family and function. To Rico, to a man who has known Volken all of his life, he knows nothing but family would ever be in his assessment. He trust Kazimir, believes in him, considers him his second father. "«That is an awfully big boat for such a small port," Rico nods, nodding his head back towards the Invierno.

"«Yes, yes…»" Kazimir pauses, looking back to the ship, "«I needed to put together a more reliable means of getting cargo across the ocean, I think I'm going to be spending a prolonged time in Russia I'm afraid. There's some old business I still need to tend to up there.»" Rico's eyes search Kazimir's expression, guarded and unreadable as always. "«It's nothing you need to worry about, nothing. But…»"

Waving Mattias and Dalia over, Kazimir keeps his words to himself until they arrive, quelling their idle conversation, smiles broad on both of their faces. "«The Invierno, that is more your concern, Rico.»" Kazimir motions to Mattias, gesturing with his hand flat, "«I'm giving you the Invierno, Rico. A gift, for you and yours…»" There's a bit of a smile from Mattias as he removes his hat, cracking an awkward grin.

"«Consider it a peace offering.»" The man notes, offering the hat towards Rico, "«Kazimir, he is a shrewd businessman, and I needed the money. I will still pilot her — she wouldn't take any other — but this vessel, she is yours to Captain.»" Taken aback, Rico just stares at the hat, then looks up to Kazimir with a puzzled expression.

"«Sir— Kazimir.»" He's not sure how to address the man at the moment, "«Why? What use do I have for — »" He waves wildly at the ship, "«For that?»" Kazimir's lips press together, thinning into a more careful smile as he turns his blue eyes back out to the vessel anchored offshore.

"«Because, my dear Rico, business is expanding.»" His gray brows raise, slapping that hand on Rico's shoulder again. "«I have plans, Rico. Big plans, and I want you to be a part of them.»" There's a swallow, tense and nervous as Rico looks to Dalia, then Mattias, then finally back to Kazimir after working up the courage to stare the grandfatherly old man in the eyes.

"«Doing… what?»" It's not often Rico would question Kazimir, but this just seems too good to be true. Looking back from the ship at the question, Kazimir looks to Dalia and Mattias, exchanging a knowing glance with them before squeezing Rico's shoulder lightly.

"«Come with me, Rico.»" Kazimir motions towards buildings in the distance, "«We have much to discuss.»"

With a soft thump of his head against the wall behind him, Rico looks down at the half-devoured cigarette, to the faintly glowing ember and long, crooked finger of ash hanging from it. "Dalia…" The name turns bitter at the end, jaws working his teeth against one another in a way his mother always told him not to.

There's another loud, hard thump of his head against the wall of the abandoned building, and Rico's eyes open, staring at that brown stain on the ceiling again. "How the fuck did it come to this?"

January 29th: A Favor Between Friends
January 29th: Giving Back A Cat One Life
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