2007-03-22: Mad World (Part Two)


Ramon_icon.gif Nima_icon.gif Desiree_icon.gif Elena_icon.gif

Armed with an illegal gun, a man with good intentions and an awful plan gets caught in the act of breaking-and-entering by the tonfa-wielding owner of the shop that is victim of aforementioned breaking-and-entering. Even though the cops come a-callin' because they've been called, it appears that the now unarmed Ramon and his cohorts may have found an unlikely ally.

Date It Happened: March 22, 2007

Mad World (Part Two)

East Village, NYC — The Secret Lair

See? That gun is /precisely/ why coats are being removed. And had Ramon decided to try a quick-draw, the intended target looks as though she would have been more than ready to issue a swift concussive smack with those hefty sticks of hers. Which she wields in tentative combat stance. At least until she's satisfied perceived threats are removed. Like the gun, which she actually reaches for, whipping into extension one of the tonfa to indicate that she's hardly prone in doing so, and more than willing defend herself. Guard still up, with one foot she opens the mini-fridge behind the counter. Truth be told, outside of whupping ass with virtual BFGs, Nima knows squat about guns. Why should she? It is nigh impossible to actually get a gun permit in any of the 5 boroughs. And, unlike some people, she's never actually broken any laws. Ergo, no permit = no guns. Ever. So, when she dips to carefully place the weapon inside the mini-fridge, she just really hopes the safety is on.

By that time, the cops have arrived. "Wait here," she says, not replying to anything anyone has said. Tonfa still held, Nima moseys over to the door to let-in the cavalry. "Hi. Thanks for coming out. Sorry that I don't have any brownies." Brightly and amiably, she smiles. Having lived her entire live in the apartment upstairs, the native has become well acquainted with so many in the neighborhood, including the peeps at the 9th Precinct, of which these officers are a part. Not many people, after all, bring homemade baked goods to the coppers and the firefighters for the major holidays of all faiths. Agnostics don't play favorites, after all.

"Everything okay, Nima?" Given Nima's got community ties with the local cops, the officer who steps inside the comic book shop before his partner seems to know her by name. Officer Johnson pulls down the hood of his own rain slicker, wrinkling his nose at the dismal weather outside. But after raking a hand through his hair, he looks at Nima again. "Precinct said you called in a break in. These your perps?" He gestures towards the group by the glass counter.

Ramon, though, is a little encouraged by the entry of gun into fridge. The woman might have simply handed it over to Officer Johnson there, not hid it, if she had wanted to cause them real trouble. Making it…armed breaking and entering? It takes everything he has not to start trying to listen in on thoughts right now. But he's already violated Nima's store, so he restrains himself, affecting a casual look. His eyes are too tight for true casual — but he does. He does mutter something way under his breath, too far to really be heard by anyone but Desi and Elena. In Spanish: "Batman never had these kinds of problems."

Desiree flashes a /completely innocent/ smile to the authorities. Nothing to see here, officer!, et cetera. Shuffling closer to Ramon after he comments in Spanish, she seems to half understand him - at the very least - because she mumbles lowly, "Well, y'ain't Batman."

As a response to her father, Elena groans softly. "Because Batman was -ninja-, Papa," she mutters back in Spanish. Ramon? Not ninja. NO ONE here was ninja. Except maybe Nima because she had Tonfa. But that's about it. She looks over at where the officers are, nervously, but she keeps her mouth shut….and sort of sinks back behind Desiree. Yes. Nothing to see here. She's just with her stepmom. Move along.

Truth be told, Nima is something of a crap liar. Oh, she can charm and has a knack for knowing what to say to get a desired response. So, pleasantly, she begins with, "Yeah. I did, Jimmy… and I'm fine." Clearly, she is unconcerned of any attention her weaponry might draw. For all anyone knows, she might chronically joke about her double 'night-stick' action to the boys in blue. Not to disregard the other officer, the shop owner adds most amiably, "Hey, Joe." Then, not dishonestly, she explains, "These peeps? Seems they thwarted an intended arson. Gas can is right outside. I haven't touched it. I think they're on-the-level but I really won't know until I review the security tape. By all means, though, feel free to earn your keep." Full-reprieve? Not quite. There's questioning to be had. For the time being, though, the gun remains unmentioned. "You boys working the holiday? If not, I'll be sure to save you some Kourabiedes." Yeah, Nima's not even remotely Greek, but these are traditional Easter cookies and popular at the precinct.

"Unfortunately," James "Jimmy" Johnson groans. "Irish wife won't let up on it. Kind of glad to be out of the house. Intended arson, huh? Can outside? Yeah, we'll go check it before the rain washes all the evidence away. And thanks a lot, you know we always enjoy your food." He quirks a grin.

"Hey Nima," Joe remarks, nodding as he looks around the outside. "Yeah. We see it. C'mon, Jimmy, help me with this, you're the one with the eyes." And both officers move to check on the gas canisters, grumbling about the weather. While Jimmy collects it with a pair of gloves, Joe walks around to try and survey the area, in case there was something the rain didn't get to in order to clue them in on the runaway arsonist.

"Bastard was also rich," Ramon grunts under his breath. Then his eyes flare wider.

/Security tapes/.

He has got to get this woman on his side. She might have valuable information, all on the tapes. All there to look at. Information that could save lives. As for murder, the only thing he's murdered tonight is some glass. It looks like he's been talked out of other murder. He is fresh out of other plans, but he's been talked out of murder. He just puts on his best 'good Samaritan' smile.

"We should really get goin' if it's all the same," Desiree says to, well, it's unclear. Everyone, maybe, except for the cops. She watches them go after the gas canister before looking somewhat tensely between Ramon and Nima; in the midst of it all, she pats Elena on the shoulder. "Maybe y'all should, um, y'know, exchange business cards and meet sometime when it ain't all Dark and Stormy Night…"

Elena is patted on the shoulder, and she flits her eyes to Ms. Russo. A small, tired smile is given to the Southern woman, before glancing over at Ramon and Nima again. She props her chin on one hand. She had to agree with Desiree, really. She was exhausted. They were all exhausted. But this was Papa, and he was onto something. She'll wait for as long as it takes. "Thank you so much," she murmurs to Desiree quietly, for her ears only and gratitude in her eyes.

Even though the officers have stepped outside, Nima still remains equipped, albeit a bit more nonchalantly. After all, her boys have got her back, right? Even from outside, they can still manage to pop a cap in someone's ass. That's part of being a cop. It's mandatory, even. Ass cap popping, that it. The dark-haired woman wielding tonfa seems to think that's the case, anyway, if the somewhat more eased body language is any indication.

"Perhaps," she tells Desiree, about needing to go, "but that's not happening any time soon, except, maybe, to go down to the station." Despite the words spoken, the tone is not unpleasant. "I suspect that you don't want that, though. So… we will all stay put until my friends take down your vitals, as that simply is proper procedure, should the tapes turns up shady, on your part. And while they do that, I'm going to call for emergency window repair. And once all that is all squared, we're going to have a chat." Business cards? This isn't Wall Street or Fashion Avenue.

"Although, speaking of business cards," she adds to Ramon, since Desiree did mention them, "I would like to see the one you found."

Ramon has it. "I'm going for my wallet," he tells Nima. He pulls it out and then pulls out the card. Scorched and half burned, the logo is nevertheless plainly visible. He holds it out to Nima, his left eye twitching and lines settling deep into his forehead. He glances back at Elena, but looks away moments later. His lips thin and his shoulders square.

"S'all I could do," Desiree replies to Elena quietly - almost under her breath. "Ain't no reason I get these pictures if I don't do anythin' about 'em. Wasn't about to let it happen." When Ramon takes out the business card, she peeeers curiously to get a glimpse, although the craning of her neck might be slightly over-the-top. She's pretty tall.

"That's true…" Elena says softly to Desiree. But when Ramon takes out the card, she tries to peek too. But she's not as tall, and she doesn't have heels - and she almost collapses off the counter considering she has wet sneakers on.

The combat boots that Nima wears lack non-flat heels, so Desiree stands even taller than she does. That's ok. She has a more stable sense of gravity due to that lack of non-flat heels. Not that it looks like she is going to need to utilize it. In fact, she even rounds the counter and sets down the tonfa before asking, "May I?" And since she may, Nima takes the extended card. Examining it, she comments, "It's legit," before handing it back to Ramon. "So…" she continues, "The personnel files… How many were taken?" At this point, she's not about to mention that her twin brother works at the charred junior high in question. Should the patriarch Gomez finally crack and start to poke around her surface thoughts, he could glean that comic geek believes that the card could have easily been in that desk as emergency contact info, seeing that Lee nearly died from smoke inhalation when part of the school went up in flames.

"Half of the files were gone," Ramon replies. "The man just did a grab and go and set the place on fire." He /does/ crack and read her surface thoughts. Just enough to see an opening. "You know," he points out. "Perhaps someone else you know works there or frequented this place. Your security tapes might tell the tale, though, as I looked right at the man tonight when he came by with the gas can. And I have a witness at the school who saw him. Perhaps whoever you know down at the school saw the man as well. We can see if it matches the person in that photograph."

Faintly, Nima nods. "What section of the alphabet?" Yes, this matters to her. As for the mystery man, Lee would know. That is, he /should/ know. It's not like their dad became Steven Seagal fat within the past few years. Is it? It's all this 'heavyset' talk that, to be honest, is throwing her off from even remotely linking her vanished father to any of this. Not even when Ramon mentions the photograph of her parents that is kept on-display behind the main counter. With the talk of the tapes, though, she becomes far more guarded. "What's this guy look like?" In her mind it's all ~Duh. /Of course/ Lee will show-up both places. Why the frak does this hombre want him?~ After all, she would totally go all Vader if someone really messed with her twin, and the guy in front of her just broke into her store /with a gun/. Tread carefully: this opening leads to potentially dangerous places.

"The N section," Ramon says. "The woman he went after is a woman named Ameera Natal. He got a bit of the O section as well." He puts his wallet away, watching her, his dark eyes intent. He /is/ staying wide open to her thoughts now, unable to help himself any longer.

Desiree, meanwhile, leans against the counter and starts to look idly around the comic book shop. She's listening, just— ooo, pretty pictures.

Elena goes with Desiree's lead. She picks up a copy of 9th Wonders, given the logo looks familiar. Maybe Luis bought a few of these issues? Regardless, she starts reading. And no, what's in it isn't what's going on right now with Nima and Ramon.

That part about Nima being a crap liar? It kinda carries over to situations like this. Maybe if she were performing — playing a character with a good poker face — said non-poker face wouldn't betray her. Never mind those eyes. Might as well call them conspirators in a failed operation. Yeah, she's guarded. She also is relieved when the alphabetical section is revealed. 'N' and 'O' are not of importance. "The woman is okay, I hope." This is a sincere statement.

Then, despite the circumstances, Nima finds herself falling into her usual role of good hostess. "Would you like some water?" she asks. Who knows? Maybe this hospitality is part of a show for the cops.

It would be rude not to accept. "Yes, please," Ramon rumbles. He crosses his arms and says, "She almost wasn't. But someone did rescue her before she could die. Minister Morris' wife wasn't so lucky. Jancia was the latest victim. Two children."

Desiree frowns as she listens to Ramon, adopting a sympathetic pout, not for him this time, but for the woman who died. She folds her arms and just listens, quiet for once.

Room temperature water will have to suffice, even though there are some bottles in the mini-fridge. One, two, three, four average-sized bottles of water are retrieved from behind the counter. Nima, clearly, is a rather prepared person. After tonight, counter restocks will be in order, having now depleted the stash. At the list of casualties, the dark-haired shop owner frowns. "That's a real shame." A pause. "By the way, it would be nice to know your names." Beat. "Or I can wait for the boys to return." Which they should be, any moment now.

Ramon's left eye twitches again. "Ramon Gomez," he says, after a moment's hesitation. He ought to have planned this whole thing better beyond 'find bad guy', 'shoot bad guy' if he meant to really hide who he was. /Security cameras/. Hell.

"Desiree," the older woman offers freely with a friendly enough smile. "Desiree Russo." She gestures lightly to the teenager with the comic book. "This here's Elena. Don't go too hard on Mr. Gomez." And back to being behaved and quiet, remarkably. She does take some of that room temperature water, though.

/Discreet/ security cameras. Why, that Death Star replica hanging from the ceiling could be housing a camera. Perhaps it's the unboxed and sizable R2-D2 model on display. Maybe the cameras are even infrared. Who knows? This place /is/ owned by a geek. And now that she's decided more strategically placed mirrors are in order, goodies can be hidden there, too. "Hi," is said, sociably enough. It appears that none of the names strike as familiar. "As you probably heard, I'm Nima. Nima Jones."

Officers Johnson and Brown are still at the squad car, finishing-up with tagging the evidence.

"So," Nima continues, "How is it that you know so much about these attacks and killings?" Straight to the point, even as she opens her own bottle of water.

"Because he killed my wife," Ramon says, his voice taking on a rougher cast. "He killed my wife. The DA isn't listening. The NYPD isn't listening. Nobody is doing anything about this. Because they think it's suicide. But it's not. I have his voice on a voicemail, if that would convince you. If you wouldn't think I just created it. Just when I thought I'd gotten the attention of the DA and the police, they stonewalled me. Dropped it. Quit returning my calls. Missed evidence that a child could find. They didn't even find the voicemail. Its low priority because of how it /looks/, and while I understand they're overloaded with dozens of cases, this man is a serial killer and he /can't be allowed to continue/."

That's not quite what Nima asked. "I understand /why/ you are investigating. I just don't quite get /how/ it is you know so much." A mild pause. "Besides, not to burst your bubble, but if the evidence was so easy to find, maybe you were meant to find it." The cast of her eyes and the quirk of her mouth naturally convey a deep-seated sympathy for Ramon's loss… and that compassion is why she's yet to mention that people can be irrational in their grief. If this was a set-up, in Ramon's state, he might be oblivious to such things, despite his best efforts to not be. "Just a moment, please," she adds, now that the boys in blue have re-entered. Hitting the speakerphone button on a desktop phone, she then presses auto-dial number one.

It rings. And rings. And rings.

Ramon sort of paces now, back and forth, without ever leaving where Nima told him to go. "You don't understand," he says. "I know so much because I've been looking. She was killed three years ago. It started making ground when I asked someone about the symbol he makes them wear." He looks ready, for a moment, to break down right /there/, so he looks up at the ceiling. His fists clench. Nobody /believes/ him. He could almost hug Desiree because she /did/ accept everything he said without reservation, in spite of how he was acting. "This man is real. These deaths are real."

Ring. Ring. Ri—

"What?" The voice on the other end is male. sleepy, and decidedly cranky because owner of said voice is no longer sleeping.

"I need you to call an emergency repair place to fix the shop's front-window. I'm fine. Nothing's been stolen. The boys from the 9th are here to represent. I just really, really, REALLY need you to get someone to get here about the window. I'll explain everything later. Promise."

There is a brief pause before the man answers. Between the somewhat serious nature of the call and the fact that he is tired, no snarky reply is forthcoming. “Fine." *click*

That all done, Nima is about to address Ramon — but the coppers have returned.

"Alright," Johnson tells Miss Jones, "We've earned our keep. What's goin' on here?" Both officers regard the potential perps.

"Thanks, guys," Nima tells the fuzz. "I think we're good on this front. Lemme know if you learn anything, and I'll be sure to call if something seems amiss." Smiling brightly, she adds, "I'll be by tomorrow with those goodies, though."

The 5-0 stare for a moment more and then Johnson nods at Nima. "Alright. We'll see you then." He quirks a smile at the thought of the almond cookies. So does Brown, who adds, "Night." Then, they depart.

FINALLY, the shopkeep can deal with the distressed man. "Hey," she gently says, "I'm not saying that he's not real. I'm just not so sure that the leads you have are legit. Someone could be playing you. Playing on your grief. And that's not cool." Nor is it Ramon's fault. When he mentions a symbol, she asks, "Can you draw it?"

"I have the one he left on my wife." Ramon sighs, scrubbing a hand over his face. He seems to be willing to accept the possibility. He looks at Nima. "Do you mind if Desi and Elena go home if they want to? They've been chasing me. None of this is their fault." He takes something out which is wrapped, has crosses all over it as if he's afraid of it, and needs to be undone. He fumbles with it, shooting Desi a sort of grim grimace of apology.

"I'll take 'Lena home," Desiree says, smiling gingerly at Ramon and then to Nima. Her concerned gaze slides back to the man, though. "You be careful, alright?"

"Yeah. It's fine," is Nima's reply, not even pausing for consideration. She cleans the glass every night when she closes, and she had everyone lay their hands on it. More importantly, she can call someone from the precinct to come in to dust before they get tainted, which she'll do. Hey, she's bringing them coveted cookies that afternoon. It's no biggie for someone to take a moment to do this small favor, right? Only time will tell. "Stay safe," she tells the other women, with an amicable enough smile. And then she retrieves a small note pad and a case of drawing pencils.

"Good night, Desi," Ramon says. "I'll be careful." He almost laughs. There's a small, bitter, cynical 'chuff' that comes out of his mouth that serves for one. Then he notices the water. He was soaking wet and hadn't really thought about it once it was out. He drains it now.

Desiree plucks her coat from the counter and slips it on, even though it looks like the rain is starting to die down. Finally. "I'ma call you, to make sure you're okay. I got your number." Obviously. She points at Ramon and eyes him determinedly with faux threat - there's a hint of a grin on her lips. With that, she slips out with Elena, who she'll take home in a cab. NYC's taxis are getting a lot of use out of these people tonight.

The nice thing about removing the coats is less soakage. The bad part is the cold. Poor Nima, with her short-sleeved t-shirt, is really starting to feel the latter. Goosebumps are very apparent. "Frak, it's freezing," she semi-mutters. That's when the phone rings.

Picking it up, she answers with a, "Yeah?" After a moment, she starts listing the dimensions of the damaged window. Seems the person she asked to handle it didn't know off-hand. "Oh! And make sure it's glass block… No, it /has/ to be glass block… Yeah. And get the bulletproof kind. That's non-negotiable… No. They're energy efficient like thermals. Not as much, perhaps, but still good enough to make a dent in the electric bill… Yeah. Oh! Send Chewie down with a sweater… No, just handle the window. And the green one, please. Thanks." *click*

All the while, Nima's eyes more or less remain upon Ramon. "Is that it?" she then asks, meaning the item in the man's hand.

"Yes." Ramon gets it unwrapped. He lays it on the counter. It's a necklace, but an ugly one. It's wrought iron, and looks welded together. It’s on a leather cord. There is a circle, then a triangle, then a square inside the triangle, and then a circle. "It's pagan filth. An alchemical symbol for the search to immortality. The man thinks that if he kills enough pure women, he gets to live forever."

<OOC> Ramon says, "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Squaredcircle.svg"

Looking at the symbol, it is evident that Nima recognizes it. The reason why is entirely dorky. "A transmutation circle," she remarks, her brow furrowed ever so slightly, mainly because she's trying to determine why such a glyph is present. "This format, in particular, is circa 17th century and pertains to the Philosopher's Stone." Anyone who has ever said RPGs are a waste of time has, clearly, never dealt with an alchemical serial killer. Thank you, Ars Magica. You, too, Full Metal Alchemist. "And you're saying this symbol has been found at all the murder sites?"

"Around their neck. Here. Dial this number. 283-3417. Then press the pound key and use the password 7777. There's only one message saved. It's something I forwarded from Janica Morris' phone with the Reverend's permission. If listening to it doesn't convince you to at least check your security tapes, well. I'll give you the address to forward the rest of the bill that your insurance doesn't cover for the damage I caused, plus something more for not turning us in to the police, and I'll stay away from you and your shop, word of honor, even if I think the man is perched over your doorway like a gargoyle."

Around their neck? Surely, in all her years of role-playing geekery, Nima encountered such a premise either as a storyline or as something supposedly historical, because every hardcore gamer actually researches stuff beyond what is listed in the sourcebooks. For a moment, she considers Ramon's proposition. The decision making process is halted, however, when a large, shaggy mutt of brown arrives from what is presumably is a stairwell in the back. Tied around the animal's neck is a jade green sweater.

"Hey, you." The woman beams at the animal, ruffling him behind the ears with both hands. "Thank you." What she says next may or may not be recognized as Klingon. The dog, however, has just been given a command to watch Ramon. It's evident. And although Chewbacca looks like a sweet pooch, who knows what he's willing and able to do? For her part, Nima removes the sweater from around his neck and puts it on. Oh, that is so much better. Take that, frackin' cold! "What's that number, again?" she asks, picking up the receiver.

Ramon gives it, and the password. He glances at the dog, but his attention is on Nima.

This is what she will hear:

"Hello, Jancia. Happy Belated Valentine's Day." The voice is deep, and gravelly, the whispery quality giving it a smoky, but sinister quality. The voice is definitely a man's.

"Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all of those religions come from that hope," the voice continues. "I am calling you today because you and I are to embark upon our Grail Quest together for after all, those whosoever believe in Him would achieve eternal life. We will help each other to that end by a fruitful exchange of favors. I will provide you with the means to achieve your own immortality, while in the methodology of you doing so, you will help me achieve mine."

"I am ever so grateful for the assistance you have bestowed upon my associate," continues the voice. "You are indeed, a spiritually beautiful woman and your altruistic nature would have been, perhaps, the key to saving this world. I am afraid I am a selfish creature after all, and your sacrifice today would not be saving the world, but me. There is a box in your husband's office I want you to have. It contains within it a token of my appreciation, and I would very much like you to wear it."

"You will sit in front of your husband's desk, and with the knife I have provided, you will insert it into your beating, gracious heart. As you feel your life slipping away from your lips like gossamer wings, I would like for you to think about your soul, the time that you could have had remained upon this cursed Earth, and find joy and relishment in the idea that in your death, you are saving a life."

"Goodbye, Jancia."

Nima intently listens. The entendres of the phrasing will need to be further analyzed, as will the activities of the woman in question. For now, no real judgment is made, but her expression conveys a level of displeasure. The source of that, however, can't readily be known. Except, perhaps, by a mind reader. At the end of the message, however, she does not hang-up. Oh, no. Miss Jones, strangely well-suited for such strangeness, might as well be in the following situation:

GM: You've just listened to the cryptic and ominous message. What are you doing?

Nima: Since I'm in the voicemail account with the password, I'm going to forward the message to my voicemail. Then, later, when I have the time, I'll use the Bluetooth to transfer it to my laptop, where I will poke around with it in Logic 7. See what I can analyze background noise-wise, or if he's using some sort of vocal distortion device.

GM: Okay. You forward the voicemail.

And then she hangs-up. "Well, if that guy is legit," she notes, "he's a total loon. On the upside, chances are that he'll stick to his shtick. Determine his process and he's pretty much busted. Well, likely, anyway." Some consistent serial killers were never caught, after all. Then again, did those detectives use comic book logic?

Ramon nods his head. He noticed her pressing the extra buttons, but doesn't seem to mind in the cultivation of this ally. He jots down his address on the back of a business card, the front of which reads, "Ramon Gomez, IT Specialist, RTS."

"All I'm asking is for you to look at the tapes," he says quietly. "See if anything jumps out at you. Call me if something does." He waves a hand around. "I think, given your interests, you have something in you that respects and admires heroism and despises those who would harm other people. Innocents. And you have enough imagination to be able to step out of the box and recognize that high-level hypnosis is possible. This is a chance for you to not tell a story about a hero, or enjoy stories about them, but to be one. This has grown beyond my wife. This is about the other women as well. Good women, who this man is stalking, hunting. Please consider it, but I will wait for you to contact me. You have my sincere apologies for tonight." His face looks haggard, drawn. "Seeing that kid laying in the hospital like that. Knowing he took bullets for my daughter over this." He shakes his head. And then he stands up. He's about to collapse, and if he's going to make it home he's going to have to leave now, or end up sleeping on Nima's countertop.

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