(2016-06-21) Night Shift: The Recruit: Part 2
Night Shift: The Recruit: Part 2
Summary: The Shroud contacts Rebecca Valdes to discuss her recruitment into Night Shift…
Date: IC Date (2016-06-21)
Related: http://marvelreborn.wikidot.com/log:2016-06-19-night-shift:the-recruit
NPCs: Cat (member of Night Shift)
Scene Runner: N/A
Social/Plot: Social

Fade In…

This office is very, very tiny, taking up the bottom floor of a building eleven stories tall. There's room for about seven or eight customers to stand, though they'd be nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Directly across from the door is the counter, a faded orange that more or less matches the awning outside, and to the customer's right on that counter is an older model of cash register. The floor is basic grey carpet, and seating is an array of formed-plastic chairs that line the usually-closed rolling metal door, and the rather high ceiling is the same plain white as the walls.

On the other side of the counter is a series of dark-stained, wooden cubby holes, each a good foot or so, square, stacked on the far wall in rows of five. Most of the cubbies have paperwork of various types curled or folded and shoved in, though there are also a few small packages as well. The cubbies are broken up by a grey metal door dead-center, leading further into the building. Further in the office, across from the cash register, is an ancient and battered light-stained wooden desk with a semi-modern desktop computer system, the monitor usually displaying a spread sheet of one type or another.

(( External Images: http://imgur.com/a/XvXQF ))

While the employees are few at any given time, they're mostly teenagers and young adults, and otherwise varied. Many are dressed in the unofficial "Parkour uniform" of a loose T-shirt or sleeveless shirt, baggy shorts or trousers, and low-top sneakers that provide good traction. Most have backpacks or sling-packs of some kind, and some have fingerless gloves and hats. Some are obvious mutants, with skin-mottling or texturing, odd ways of speaking, or whatever other such tell-tale signs. Some are completely X-Gene-less humans, however, and they all work alongside one another well enough, though unknown customers and visitors tend to be looked at with — caution.

Fade In…

Late evening at Corredora Couriers, though the only thing the time really affects is the ambient temperature. It was a hot one, and the building being as old as it is, the air conditioning isn't exactly working properly. As such, the door is propped open by a large box fan, and oscillating fans of varying kinds have been set around the small office space. Young men and women come and go in a hurry, many out through the back, though more than a few out to the street via the front door, all taking off at a run when they leave. Others drop off paperwork or the like when they get back.

A young Caucasian man stands behind the desk, manning the telephone and interacting with the walk-in customers. Rebecca herself sits at the computer in the back, idly fanning herself with a few pieces of paper — though by the sweat trickling down herself and her young companion, neither that nor the electric fans are doing much good.

Corredora Couriers has another customer.

It is a woman — dark-haired, in a bob-cut, with deep brown eyes and olive skin, rather Mediterranean in appearance — dressed in neat casual clothes: like someone who works for a company, but in a role that doesn't require a business suit. She heads for the front desk at a reasonably brisk pace, and stops just in front of it.

"Hello," she tells the Caucasian fellow behind the counter. "Could you help me? I need to speak to Ms. Valdes about a delivery. I promise this won't take long."

She smiles.

"Just a moment, ma'am," says the young man politely, giving her a smile before he turns to step away from the desk. Stepping over to Rebecca, he leans down and murmurs something to her, and the older woman looks at him, then at the customer, then back to him. After patting his right bicep with the back of her left hand, she sets the handful of papers down and gets up, heading to the front desk.

She steps down a bit so the young man can tend to the customers, then she rests her hands on the counter and says, "What can I do for you, miss…?" She has that so-brief span of time where her attention seems to fade then snaps back to focus again — though she was, of course, simply letting her focus wander over the woman without making it supremely obvious that she was doing so.

The woman smiles at the departing young man, and gives Valdes an almost rueful expression, her mouth quirking at one side as she glances around the room to indicate the temperatures. And lack of air conditioning. Ruefulness turns to sympathy as she goes to speak.

"Of all days for the AC to break…" she comments dryly. "I have a delivery for you — just a moment." She reaches into a jacket pocket and withdraws a single, rectangular piece of plastic-coated cardboard.

Completely black.

"My business card," she says, watching Valdes' eyes.

Really, Rebecca was half-afraid it was a gun or something similar that was going to be pulled out. This is likely not a complete surprise, given that it's Manhattan, and, well, her "side" business being what it is. She tenses a little, already planning how to deal with an attack with a firearm — and it turns out to be a business card. It actually takes her a moment for her to realize what the card means, a moment spent staring blankly at it and turning it over in her hand, like when a player draws a blank tile in Scrabble. The proverbial light bulb finally goes off over her head — for which she blames the heat — and she offers a quick smile as she says, "Oh, please, yes, of course — come right this way, would you?"

With a murmured, "Hold down the fort up here, Greg," to the young man, she goes to lead her companion to the side of the desk where people can slip around, then lead her through the inner door and to the space beyond. It was filled with youths practicing their Parkour moves, as well as a few practicing combat. A few obvious mutants could be seen amongst the youths, suggesting at there being at least a good amount more who were not obvious. Whatever else could be said for her, she was an inclusive employer.

The door one enters through faces east, and as one enters this hardwood-floored loft apartment, there's a tiny kitchenette to one's left, just big enough for one person to work in. There's a small dining bar separating it from the rest of the loft, which functions also as extra storage space. To the right is a small seating area; a white couch with a matching armchair at a forty-five degree angle, and a table between them. Blankets are usually found stacked and folded neat-ish-ly at one end of the sofa, they and a few old pillows easily suggesting people sleep on the couch frequently. The couch faces the wall, where there are thin windows that look out over Twenty-Seventh Street; they're usually left open, screens keeping bugs and the like out. Directly to the right as one enters, there's an old and scarred cherry wood entertainment center, with a large wooden desk clock, a not-terribly-ostentatious flat-screen television, and a brass table lamp, the kind with a dangling chain.

Opposite the door and across the loft is a wide armoire, serving as both closet and bit of privacy for the ancient queen bed just beyond. That bed has a navy-blue comforter on it with matching pillows, and soft cyan sheets. To the left of the bed as one faces it from the front door is the door to the tiny bathroom, and to the right of the bed is a small area that has been converted into further sleeping accommodations, with two twin-sized mattresses on the floor, a stack of folded-ish blankets next to some pillows at the near ends. Between the mattresses is a brass floor lamp that's a bigger version of the one on the entertainment center.

The bathroom has barely enough room for a small sink, toilet, and tub/shower combination. The pipes rumble a bit as one tries to draw hot water, but they usually quiet down after a few moments. Usually. The bathroom also has white tile, with a decades-old wallpaper of a white background with baby-blue rosettes on it. There's a mirrored cabinet trimmed in off-white hanging over the sink.

Over all, the apartment has definitely been made to feel more "homey", and despite the certainly-large number of technical occupants, the place is kept rather clean.

As soon as Valdes and her guest arrive in the back area where the 'real' business is conducted, the newcomer's body-language changes somewhat. Gone is the amiable, 'I just work here, running errands' demeanour to be replaced by something a tad more confident. Sultry, even. The muscles in her face tighten ever so slightly, to put her lips into an almost perpetual half-smirk.

"Quite the operation…" she murmurs approvingly to Valdes. "How do you manage to feed them all?" She turns aside to admire some of the trainees — particularly those practicing Parkour. Without really waiting for an answer, she sinks down into a nearby couch and crosses her legs.

"You may call me Cat," she tells Valdes. "We received your message. He would like a word with you."

"Uh — alright," says Rebecca with a nod as she closes the door, curling her hands and setting the backs on her hips. "What can I do for — him? Are we even allowed to say his name? And how do we meet up? I — expect he won't want to stroll in here like a regular customer." She's only vaguely tempted to make a joke out of it all, though that's more out of uncertainty. She doesn't like being uncertain, but that's what this woman does to her. Granted, it's a very good tactic, and one she'd employ, herself, if she were in the woman's place.

Around them attention begins to drift toward the two women in a nearly-palpable wave, young men and women not quite stopping what they're doing, but certainly giving Rebecca and her — guest — more attention. It's not often they see new people back there, after all, and they already heard about the Shroud—well, some of them heard about it. And the ones who did, naturally, are likely wondering if this has anything to do with that.

In answer to all of Valdes' questions — or perhaps in 'impish defiance', rather — the woman calling herself Cat merely smiles… and withdraws a cigarette and lighter from her jacket pocket. Without bothering to ask if smoking is allowed, she lights up the cigarette and leans back into the couch.

Drawing on the cigarette, she blows out a cloud of…


The inky substance moves exactly as one would expect a cloud of cigarette-smoke as it leaves a person's lips. Then it dissipates. Cat's smile broadens visibly, and she bobs her slender eyebrows at Valdes — clearly enjoying the moment. The second cloud of blackness to form in the air twists and reshapes itself into words:

<~ Hello, Ms. Valdes. ~>


<~ It is good to see you again. ~>

That isn't going to fly. Rebecca runs a cleaner place than that, and Shroud or not, certain things aren't going to be allowed in her building. Whatever foes on in other buildings, it isn't her business. "Look, I don't know what you're no thinking — ," she says as she follows the woman, already reaching out to pluck the cigarette right away from her, then she stops when the Darkforce — well — happens. She's — entirely unsure how she's supposed to response, since she isn't about to talk to cigarette-slash-Darkforce smoke, but she isn't sure she shouldn't, either.

"Ay," she murmurs, arching her left eyebrow and looking at "Cat". "That's a nice trick — now put out the cigarette, please. I do appreciate the need for discretion — and theatrics — but after that introduction, there's no need. He can appear here — everyone here knows about this new — association." Her voice stays pleasant; confident, not ceding authority in her own building, but not trying to make "demands", either. Simply a request from — hopefully — one colleague to another, and through her their — employer? Leader? One of the many things to clarify, really.

The others begin to gather around, more in brazen curiosity than anything else, and Rebecca sets her hands on her hips in a casual and relaxed pose.

Cat looks… miffed.

Glancing off to the side at something — an area of the room in shadow — she looks back at Valdes and douses the cigarette in a little metal capsule, which then goes back in her pocket. "You weren't kidding," she tells whomever is hiding in the room (obviously Shroud himself), and slowly stands up.

"This one has back-bone. I like it." Smiling, the woman walks away from the couch, from Valdes, while the shadows in that corner of the room recede… leaving only the cloaked form of Shroud behind.

<~ As I said, ~> he tells Rebecca in that same, sibilant whisper of his. <~ It is good to see you again. ~> Walking forward, he stops near the couch, but remains standing. <~ To answer your questions: you may speak my name. Be aware: to be associated with me will put a target on your back. Use your discretion as you see fit. I have no concerns there. Understand also, that only you will be permitted to see more of my organisation; this liberty does not extend to your people. We will… consider their deeper involvement on a case-by-case basis. ~>

He goes silent, awaiting Valdes' response to what he has said. A motion of his left hand gives Valdes freedom to say or ask whatever she wants.

To the departing woman, Rebecca gives a small but sincere nod of respect; it's nice to start a business relationship one something approaching equal footing. Hopefully that boded well for future endeavours together. As the Shroud himself appeared and made his way to them, she drops her hands as some measure of respect, though glances to her right and flexes her right-hand fingers, a small gesture to keep the others back. It — isn't exactly an immediate reaction, but it works, or at least starts to.

"Alright, then — perhaps we should meet somewhere… quieter. Somewhere we won't have to worry about being overheard. I certainly understand the need for discretion, and if we're to talk more freely, beginning to — to approach that deeper involvement…" She wasn't used to not being the top-dog, the one ultimately in control, and it was — odd. She wasn't going to complain, but it was definitely something to have to get used to again. Still, if he was concerned with others of her people being intimately involved without being properly vetted, then a slight change of venue seemed to be in order.

<~ This will do, for now, ~> Shroud replies, gesturing to the room with a hand. <~ You continue to impress. I trust your people have benefited… from the contents of the case I gave you. ~>

It sort of comes across as a question… but could just as easily be a statement. Either way, the man appears content to move forward. <~ As for a new venue, I can help with that. Do you still have my card? ~>

"You know they have," says Rebecca, though with a hint of a smile teasing at the right corner of her mouth. She knows better than to think he had no way of keeping track of what happened after their last meeting. Given everything she'd heard — she definitely believed he knew what was going on.

As for the card, that's brought out with her left hand, twirled between her fingers before being offered to him. "Let me guess, it had micro-circuitry designed to short out if I gave it to the wrong person or something, or if 'Cat' there didn't like what I had to say, I got a bit of 'correction'?" That's said with more amusement in her voice than anything else, since she really didn't expect the Shroud to take such — extreme — measures.

Now it is Shroud's turn to smile.

The expression is just visible underneath his hood — and the symbol of Kali branded over his face. <~ It is just a card, ~> he tells her, before waving a gloved hand over it while she holds it. Traces of Darkforce like tiny wisps of smoke leave his fingertips and coil around the card itself and Rebecca's hand.

The wisps have no substance to them — no more than real smoke — but when they fall away, letters of a luminescent violet hue appear on the card. It is an address, and a cellphone number; the address is a building in the district known as Mutant Town. The letters gleam in an almost 3D effect, like a holographic projection.

Shroud lowers his hand.

<~ I research my recruits thoroughly, ~> he assures Valdes in a light tone of voice. <~ And treat my people well. Come to that address when you are ready — and keep the card. No one but you will be able to read the writing upon it. Memorise the number; do not put it in your cellphone. ~>

For a brief flash, Rebecca's attention is turned inward. She's in her childhood apartment, where her family grew up. The name of the street is emblazoned in the intricate pattern of the vase that's on the table, the table itself the same number of steps into the room as the number of the building, the phone number found on the magnets strewn around the refrigerator. So many magnets — including one for Alphabet City, what had become colloquially known as Mutant Town.

The card is extended back to him, and she smiles at him, there, saying, "Done. Photographic memory. You can keep the card, so it isn't traced back to you." A measure of respect, and trust, there. She could have kept the card, held it as some sort of "insurance"; in case he turned on her, hand it over to any of the people who deal with investigating in "paranormal" fashions, since any whatever-the-inky-stuff is that would "power" the thing to make it only readable to her would, then, be at least possibly found by someone else. She could have done that, but — she doesn't. Trust does have to be earned, on both sides, and that's a small extension of it, and perhaps a small earning of it, for her.

Nearby, Cat (who has been admiring a pair of trainees — a guy and a girl — with open… appreciation on her face) glances back at Valdes and smirks. Clearly, she approves.

And then goes back to 'enjoying the scenery'.

Shroud takes the card back, and it vanishes inside a cloud of blackness — with a bit of sleight of hand. The hooded man gives a slow, deliberate nod of his head and places his hands, fingertip to fingertip, in front of his chest.

<~ Very good, ~> he tells her in his usual whisper. <~ Come to the address when you are ready. The real challenge awaits. Furthermore: I mean it when I say I look after my people. Whomever should come after you and yours, will be treated as an attack upon me. For now… shadows keep you, and farewell. ~>

"I'll be there," says Rebecca with a small nod, smiling still. That smile widens as her gaze flicks over to Cat, and her own eyes narrow a touch. She isn't blind; she knows what she knows. And the look on the other woman's face is more amusing than anything else. Looking back to Shroud, then, she gives another nod. "See you there — and Cat, if you want to start training, let me know. #5079ocker room's upstairs." She can't help but make that comment — and the offer is sincere. After all, if he's going to take some measure of responsibility for, and protection of, her people, she can only do the same for him and his. Not that she can offer very much, but what the hell.


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