Symbols

Participants:

cameron_icon.gif eve_icon.gif helena_icon.gif peter_icon.giftrask2_icon.gif

Scene Title Symbols
Synopsis PARIAH ventures into the bowels of what was once New York City's subway system where they stumble upon none other than Peter Petrelli.
Date August 31, 2008

Empty Tunnel

Without electricity in this portion of the subway tunnels, there's no ambient light to help people along. The tracks are empty and dirty. Some patches of the walls and ceiling have fallen away, leaving behind chunks of rock intermittently. The tracks curve a little in places, but stay mostly straight for long areas. A large pile of rubble blocks the way to one of the stations, somewhat conspicuous because the ceiling seems stable around it. Almost as if this blockage had been intentionally made somehow.


Once upon a time, the New York City Subway was one of the most extensive public transport systems in the world. Today, it exists as a lightless labyrinth of broken glass and twisted metal, flooded in some places and completely collapsed in others. Luckily for PARIAH, this stretch of tunnel is under only a mere foot of water, and while this makes exploration difficult — it isn't impossible. Cameron, dressed from head-to-toe in black, slogs through the mire with his arm outstretched and a fat pillar of flame dancing in the seat of his palm. Who needs torches when you have a pyrokinetic to light the way?

Apart from the sleek, rat-like shapes swiftly making their way through the water up ahead, he and his group are alone with the subway's dour scenery. The stone walls on either side of them aren't much to look at, and neither is the desolate distance of darkness ahead of them. Indeed, the most exciting thing down here is the occasional corpse that floats by — sometimes animal, sometimes human, always in an advanced stage of decomposition. Even with the chill in the air, it's been two years since the Bomb; bodies, no matter how well they might have been preserved by the subway's elements, do not keep forever.

So you know how Emma Goldman said, 'If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution'?

Helena would really, really, REALLY rather be dancing, as opposed to slogging through the rat infested, flooded subway tunnels underneath New York.

"We're all gonna get hepatitis." she mutters under her breath, but other than that, she hasn't issued a word of complaint. As usual, she's been regulated to the rear of the party (god, this is right out of that dorky game some of the nerds at Sleepy Hollow used to play during lunch in the library with the figures and the polyhedric dice), and is simmering with resentment for it. Small gusts of wind help keep the reek she has to suffer to a minimum, but otherwise, she's more or less here in case of emergency. Helena has no problem creating weather systems in contained areas such as this, but some of the effects may be far more dramatic due to the limited space. Can you say wind tunnel, boys and girls? I thought you could.

Walking beside Cameron is Eve, who is dressed in a red tee with a leather jacket over and a pair of black pants. Her hair sways as she moves and she looks back to Helena, "I hope we don't" she smiles softly up at Cameron, "What are you thinking" she inquires and then she blinks as she sees a rat run by near the wall. Eeek! Good thing Eve is not afraid of rats. "It is pretty cold down here" She should have brought a heavier jacket! She puts her hair into a messy bun so that it doesn't drag in the water and she shivers a little. At least she is close to the flame that Cameron is producing.

Trask has somehow been regulated toward the middle of the party, making sure to keep out of arms reach of any of his fellow resistance members, "Sergei" is wrapped in his scarf, not just for stealth’s sake, but to keep the smells away as well. He keeps his eyes alert scanning the area, refusing to make comment on the environment.

Cameron wears a vaguely bemused expression on his unshaven face, though it isn't clear whether the smile creasing the corners of his mouth is because of Eve's question or the breeze ruffling through the hair on the top of his head. "I'm thinking," he says, careful to keep his voice low, "that Helena is probably right." He pauses to glance down at his reflection in the water's murky surface, knowing that he can't see what dangers lie beneath. Rusty nails are the least of their worries, but that's a risk he accepted the moment he set foot in here. "On the bright side— " Because, with Cameron, there's -always- a bright side. " —if anyone ever tried to follow us down here, they'd get hepatitis too. How's it going back there, Sergei? You see anything?"

He might. Up ahead, reaching out from the darkness is a gnarled hand. Not a real one — an artist's rendition, crudely laid out on the wall in black paint. Maybe it's attached to something and maybe it isn't; with Cameron idling in the water, the glow from his own hand only permeates so much.

"I'll be in the shower for a week." Helena declares firmly, but as they approach the artist's rendering. "That's not creepy at all." says Miss Teenage Stormwitch. "You ever see anything like that before, guys?" It gives her the creeps, and her shiver is not just because it's cold down here.

Smiling at Cameron, "Well that gives us comfort" she then looks back at Helena again. "Just don't use up all the hot water?" Eve says and then she tilts her head at the hand, "Strange. What do you think it is for? A sign or symbol?" the question is asked to anyone who can answer. She studies it and moves a strand of her hair out of her light-colored eyes. "Can we get more light on it Cam?" Eve leans forward, curiosity drawing her in.

Trask actually lets out a little sound as he sees the hand, a little splashing from the startled police officer gives away his position in the darkness, "Wha…" he catches himself though before screaming out like a little girl, because he never would have lived that down. He steps forward closer to the leaders, but as he gets too close the lights begin to dim slightly, and he backs up again, "Sorry boss."

Wordlessly, Cameron brings his hand close to his face and then — acquiescing to Eve's request — blows on the fire, creating a tongue of flame that leaps out to illuminate the rest of the painting. The hand is indeed attached to an arm that ends about where the elbow should be, but this isn't nearly as interesting as what lies further beyond it…

Up ahead in the tunnel there is a remarkable oddity that abruptly stands out in the gloom — light. This deep underground and this far away from the city center, there shouldn't be anything so much as a candle flickering in the dark, but there it is in all its incandescent glory. The light is uneven, coming from the overhead fluorescent bulbs that were installed decades ago when the subway system was renovated. They crackle and pop, flickering unevenly as they cast their washed out blue-gray illumination down on the watery tunnel, draining the color out of the scenery as fluorescent lights tend to.

Eventually, it's clear that the tunnel's gradual upwards slope underfoot is a turn for the better, as with light soon comes moderate dryness as well. While the concrete and tracks look damp, it's clear that most of the water has receded out of here recently. The stench of mold still hangs heavy in the air though, dispersed in the intermittent gusts of wind created by Helena, only to return shortly thereafter. This isn't a station coming up, it looks more like a maintenance area, but up on the rail is a mostly intact subway car; its windows have all but a handful been smashed out, the glass still littering the ground around it. Old and faded graffiti covers the damp walls here in splotches of once vibrant color, ever-fading memories of a city that died before it knew what hit it.

The lighting down here — wherever it was generated from — isn't stable. This is something the team investigating the tunnels soon learns as the overhead bulbs flicker, sputter, and then black out entirely. A section of the tunnels fifty feet long is thrown into darkness, with flickering lightning illuminating either distant end. The main lights crackle, fading in and out, and then finally come back on again with a humming sound. The electrical infrastructure of this region had to have been badly damaged when the bomb hit, and it's a miracle any of it has managed to stay on. Not far from the abandoned rail car, a large pile of rubble blocks the way to one of the stations beyond, somewhat conspicuous because the ceiling seems stable around it. Almost as if this blockage had been intentionally made somehow.

Further ahead there's a few more signs of habitation; empty spray-paint cans standing up on a red milk crate. A few discarded cans are scattered on the ground nearby along with pages from newspapers and a few empty plastic bags. This deep into the subway system, the air has a distinct musty smell to it, from not only the standing water that partially fills the earlier tunnels, but also from the water seeping in from cracks in the concrete overhead, gradually weakening the integrity of the thousands of pounds of earth and rock above. Untold miles of water manes were demolished, and while most of them are turned off now, the damage has already been done.

By the spray-paint cans there's graffiti covering the walls, mostly abstract colors and shapes; a long series of numbers that repeats itself down near the ground, a stylized profile of someone's face with closed eyes, a stormcloud with childishly painted lightning, and a wavy red line with three protruding bars from it, resembling the combination of an S and an F after a fashion. The red paint used in that symbol isn't clean, and it spatters around the edges, running in long-dried rivulets down the wall to flaking pools of it on the ground.

All of the graffiti looks to be in the same style, the same that painted the hand…

Helena decides to forego her position once they come upon the series of graffiti art. It's not that she's an artist, but something about the paintings strike a chord, even for being somewhat primitive slashwork. She nudges her way up close, staring at the paintings, trying to take in details. A hand reaches up and out, tracing the symbol, with a solemn expression, and then looks over her shoulders at the others. "It's like a modern equivalent of a cave painting like the ones in Europe." she says. "It's a message. Isn't it?"

"Strange," Eve states and goes to touch one of the walls with graffiti, tracing one of the images with her finger lightly. "Whoever has been living down here is obviously having a ball with arts and crafts," she says quietly but loud enough so that everyone can hear. "Could be?" Eve's wheels are obviously turning in her head as she is thinking. "They do seem to have significant meaning" she shakes her head as if to clear it and then she continues to trace the paintings with her paintings, the feeling she gets from these are like when she sketches out her visions but she can't be sure now can she?

Trask stays back from the others, moving to the opposite side of the tunnel, he keeps eyes open for anyone coming up on them. Clinging to the wall like another shadow, his voice has just the hint of a eastern European accent to it. "I don't like this, someone has been down here, and recently."

Cameron is speechless. Clearly, he wasn't expecting to find any signs of life down here except for the rats. He balls his hand into a fist and the flame goes out like a candle in the wind. With the florescent bulbs lighting up their surroundings (however intermittently), he doesn't need to expend energy that he might need later. Judging by the solemn expression on his face, he's just as surprised as the others — but unlike Helena and Eve, he holds himself in a way that suggests the paintings are more than just a message. They're a warning — a warning that whoever this artist is, he or she may not be friendly. "I don't like it either," he tells Sergei.

The lights flicker again, this time it seems more severe. There's something like a rolling blackout, multiple rows of artificial lightning popping loudly before going dark section by section. The blackout approaches first from up ahead in the hall, and then moves quickly overhead as the lighting above begins to flicker in an out rapidly. Finally, they all give way to darkness. The blackout lingers for a bit longer than before, just a few seconds longer, leaving much of the tunnel shrouded in black and flickering orange glow.

When the lights finally kick back on, after a series of loud snaps and protesting pops, there is someone standing in the middle of the corridor that wasn't there when the lights went out., yet there he is, as abrupt in appearance as the lights were. The man stands just before the next bend in the tunnel, maybe thirty feet away, with his hands in the pockets of a thigh-length black leather coat. His posture is relaxed, head canted to one side appraisingly. His brow furrows, creasing a readily apparent scar that marred his face from his right brow down through his left cheek, "You're not supposed to." He answers Cameron's earlier question, as if he had heard, "You shouldn't be down here." He shifts his weight to one foot as he states the obvious, a single, errant lock of dark hair coming unbound from his slicked back coiff. His slacks aren't wet, in fact, neither were his boots. His clothing is clean enough to make it clear he hadn't come in the way everyone else had.

Helena reaches out a hand again, stroking it along the picture of the thundercloud with its lightning bolt. With her hand still pressed against that portion, she says softly, "Someone who knew we were com - " she stops as Peter appears and speaks. Youth perhaps lends her bravery. "Did you do this?" she asks. "Why would you even bother with a this if we're not supposed to be here? It's a message for /someone/. What do you know?" She takes a step forward toward Peter, expression intent, but her power remains at bay.

Trask takes a few steps himself, moving between the team and the intruder. He makes sure he is well out of range of his own people, taking a few steps toward the unknown, he doesn't say a word, just bracing for whatever comes next. His eyes stare out over his scarf covered face and lock on to his target.

Eve shivers slightly as she briefly looks towards Sergei. He freaks her out! Any vision she has concerning the group never shows his part in the future and it unnerves her. She goes back to the paintings and she lets her hair fall back down her back and she tilts her head as the eyes flicker and goes out. "Somebody is home," she says and sure enough, she is right. Her eyes flick between Cameron and Peter and then Helena and Peter. "Helena, I wouldn't advise that." She walks forward a little and stands near Cameron studying Peter. She wants to ask him if he can see the future too, she hasn't anyone yet that does. But now is not the time. "You knew we were coming, why even let us get here?" She is of course making assumptions, but she has a feeling that he knew they were coming.

"Helena—" Cameron starts, quiet urgency in his voice. Before he can get any further, she silences him with her question for Peter and he sets his mouth into a thin line. He can feel his heart lurching deep inside his chest, but he refrains from taking any action just yet; apart from giving everyone in his group the heebie-jeebies, Peter hasn't done anything to present himself as a threat. And even if he did, there's Trask: power dampener extraordinaire. Unless the stranger goes for an unseen weapon, he remains stock still, motionless but for the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathes. It's good that the girls are asking questions; it saves him the trouble.

Peter closes his eyes, bringing one hand up to his brow as his fingers pinch the bridge of his nose, while his head inclines "I don't know anything," He looks up to Helena, "It's just graffiti, just a pointless mess." He shakes his head, breathing out a sigh through his nose. All his posture seems remarkably casual, but there is a knowing movement to every step he takes. When the scarved man took a step forward, he leisurely stepped back. It looks meandering to the untrained eye, but to Trask his training indicates when someone is being physically evasive. "Now turn around and head back, it's not safe down here," He doesn't answer any of the precog's questions. "You're just going to get yourselves hurt." Peter's dark eyes languidly drift from one person to the next, another sigh escaping him as he watches them carry on.

"No," says Helena. "This isn't a mess. There's symbols here, and if it's not safe, why are -you- here?" As cautious as the others are, there's something youthfully idealistic and reckless about Helena and her demand for answers. "What are you looking for down here?" She takes another step forward. "Maybe we could help you." Another. "Maybe we could help each other. But just fobbing us off with warnings isn't going to accomplish anything."

Eve shakes her head slowly and sighs, "Maybe Helena is right," she says to Cameron. "Maybe we can all help each other," she speaks in a slightly soft voice and her eyes continue to study the stranger. She brushes a strand of her hair out of her eyes and then continues to look at the paintings on the wall. She is trying to remember all the images she is seeing. If only she had brought her sketchpad. Instead, she just keeps surveying the room and trying to document as much to memory as she can.

Trask steps to the side, when Helena approaches, keeping her outside his range, he doesn't attempt to approach Peter any further, but keeps an eye on the stranger. He hasn't reached for his gun at least.

"Help each other?" Cameron echoes, suddenly incredulous. "Eve, we don't even know who this guy -is-." Or what he can do. Admittedly, PARIAH's leader is more interested in the latter than the former. He starts forward with some difficulty, the bottom of his boots stuck in the silt beneath the water from staying in one place for too long. Even so, his strides are long and purposeful, and he moves with a sense of precision. The fire is in his hand again, glowing white-hot instead of its usual orange. "Helena, get back."

"Don't waste your time worrying about me." Peter dodges her more pointed note, "And I'm not looking for anything, there isn't anything to find down here. Least of all I didn't come down here looking for help." He pauses, a scowl forming on his lips, "I don't want or need any of your help." Peter's eyes unfocus and look down towards the ground, then back up again. His tension exits with a sigh, and he shook his head slowly as he turns his back on the group, then Cameron starts to walk forward with burning hands…

Peter falters in mid stride, his head jerking to the side as he turns around. His eyes are wide in surprise, and his hands shake for a moment as they begin to turn a deep red shade, like sunburnt skin, followed by wisps of smoke rising up from between his fingers. He raises his hand, looking down at his palm as it bursts into flame, and he closes his fingers into a fist, brow tensing as he tried to snuff out the fire to no avail. "Damnit." Peter looks back up to Cameron, "You don't want to do this."

"If there's nothing here to find, there's no need for you to be here at all, is there? You wouldn't warn us off if there was nothing - " she pauses, as suddenly Cameron moves forward, and orders her back. She looks back at him ruefully, and then to Peter. "I'm sorry." she says to him in wistful apology, and though frustrated, she starts to back away.

"Cameron! He hasn't even done anything to make us want to be on the offense against him" she starts forward with Cameron; she grabs his arm careful of the fire, "Don't do anything stupid. We don't know who he is and that is even more reason not to start attacking him" she eyes Peter and shakes her head, "Men," Eve mutters. "Can we please talk about this?"

The shadow moves quickly and decisively, Sergei sprinting through the water to close on the stranger with the burning skin. As he passes by Cameron's position he comes within a little over arm's reach of Peter, and stops, still not drawing his weapon. "I think we all need to calm down just a bit and not over react."

As Sergei passes Cameron, the fire goes out — and, perhaps surprisingly, stays that way. "Who's over-reacting?" he asks as he eyes Peter, his gaze dark and hungry. The man lets his arm drop to his side and flexes his fingers as if working the kinks out of his joints before turning his attention back to Eve and Helena. "As far as I see it, we don't have anything to talk about. Not here. For all we know, he could be working with Homeland." And that isn't a risk he's prepared to take — not when Peter has the higher ground, at least.

With a startled look in his eyes, Peter looks from one person to another, but when 'Sergei' moves in close to him, even the wisps of smoke fade away, and Peter visibly winces. Sergei's quick motions were enough to put Peter on alert, and the black-clad man closes his eyes and furrows his brow, like he was trying to concentrate on something… but nothing happens. His eyes opened, and he looked over to Sergei, then back to Cameron, "Homeland?" He stays still, eyeing the others more warily now, "Is that it?" His eyes narrow. "Did you come here looking for me?" Paranoia begins to set in. "Who told you I was here?" He starts to edge back, away from Sergei.

"He doesn't want us to be here." Helena objects. "Sergei, back away from him. Cam…" she trails off, and steps forward again, "Nobody told us you'd be here, you're as complete a surprise to us as we are to you." She considers the group, and then Peter, starting to walk toward him again. As she passes Cameron and Eve, she briefly places a hand on his shoulder as she passes and gives him a pleading expression as she steps nearer to Peter's proximity. "Are you in hiding? Because we can probably help you. But this whole Mexican stand-off thing, it's got to stop. Can't we all agree to back down?" She looks between Cameron and Peter. "And then you can tell us why you say we're not supposed to be here. Please?" She continues to look between the two men, her hands out on either side as if to make a barrier between them.

The seer sighs in relief as Trask intervenes, mostly because she didn't want Cameron to get hurt. She places a hand on Cameron's shoulder. "Can we maybe /try/ to talk first?" Eve looks pleadingly at Cam. "If it doesn't work? /then/ I won't protest to you do duking it out like the macho men that you are." She smiles softly at the last remark she made and then looks back over at Peter, "Let's just stay calm, nobody knew you were going to be here."

Trask steps to the side, not approaching Peter, instead keeping even with him, and keeping him within range. "I back off and he could blast you. Until I have some assurance he's not going to do that, I can keep this going all day." He smiles a little, "So Comrade, if you're not with Homeland Security, and we are not with Homeland Security, and we are both worried about the Nazis in Washington, then that implies that the Enemy of my Enemy is my possible ally, if he doesn't start shooting my friends." He gives Peter a lopsided smile, his gun still secure in his holster.

There's only one word for what Cameron does next, and that word is: deflate. What else can he do? He's outnumbered three to one, and while nobody ever said PARIAH was a democracy he'd like to pretend that it is. "If you want to talk about this," he concedes through gritted teeth, "we should do it somewhere else, somewhere less — damp." His eyes flick toward the rail car and he lifts his chin, gesturing to it with a slight jerk of his head. "Do you mind?"

Peter edges back further as Helena makes her approach, "No, if you're all like him," He motions with a nod to Cameron as he says that, "Just stay back." Peter hesitates, watching the scarved man intently. "You're not supposed to be down here, because this place isn't stable. One bad step, and it all comes crashing down — all of Midtown, right on top of you." Peter's eyes dart from side to side, trying to keep track of the others — mostly the man leeching his powers. For every step Peter took back, Sergei moved forward, and it was clear by the frustration on his face that Peter's attitude was only souring as that dance went on. Finally, Peter just stops moving, and stands still. His hands slid back inside of his pockets. "You don't need to know about me, I don't want to know about you." He looks over to Cameron. "I mind. I don't have anything to say to you, the Company or the State. Leave me alone… and just go."

Helena turns faintly exaggerated. "God, Sergei, could you BE a little more KGB? Look, go have a Communist Party a few feet back, would you?" She makes a little annoyed sound that for a moment makes her age very evident, almost humorous despite the dank and dark and seriousness of the moment. "I'm not like him, and I'm trying to get him to back off. If it's dangerous for us, then it's dangerous for him." She keeps walking forward. Peter's either going to have to deal with her at conversational distance, run away, or attack. "If you're hiding from the government, we can help you. You're obviously Evolved and you've probably lost people you care about." She looks at him with earnest of the young. "Most of us have."

Nodding her head, Eve starts to shake visibly. "Cold" she mumbles and she wraps her arms around her. She sighs and then she closes her eyes and tries to count to ten in order to calm herself, but it doesn't work to well. When she opens her eyes again, she has a seriously annoyed look on her face. She lets go of Cameron's shoulder and walks towards Peter. "Look. We don't pose a threat to you if you don't try to kill us. Simple. That—" she points to the painting on the wall, "Seems important, and will you stop saying you don't want to talk to us? You are obviously /alone/ and what person that is alone doesn't want to talk to people. /Especially/ people that might have similar goals. So can we please go somewhere that is not so /FUCKIN'/ cold." She puts her hands on her hips and glares at Peter. Apparently, Eve doesn't like to be cold and shivering.

Trask growls a little behind his scarf at Helena's comment, but he does take a step back, almost like a minor concession, still keeping Peter in range though he is ready to close again if needed.

What Helena said was enough to push Peter past his limit of patience, "You don't have any idea about what I've lost!" For the first time he raises his voice, "I never asked for your help, I don't need it! All you're doing is—" When Trask steps away, Peter steps away as well. He withdraws his hands from his pockets, and they immediately begin to glow when that distance is inadvertently cleared. It's not like they were glowing when Cameron was near, it was a more white-hot glow, the bones inside of his hands shedding a brilliant radiance that seems to throb and pulse from his hands. His skin too begins to shed that white-orange radiance, and he takes several quick and staggering steps back as his jacket begins to smolder. His hands shake, eyes beginning to turn white before he regains his calm and composure. It all happened so quick, but the reaction to his emotional discord is intense and immediate. "You don't know a thing about me, and you're better off for it. Forget about me, forget about this place and just live your lives. You think you can make a difference…" He scowls, "But you can't." His brow tenses, he concentrates on something for a moment, and in the wink of an eye he is twenty feet down the corridor ahead of them, "You can't change the past, so you can't help me." Then, without so much as a twitch, he shimmers and fades out of sight.

"No one can." His voice echoes in the empty corridor, along with the sound of footsteps for but a moment, and then… silence.

Helena flinches back from the heat, stepping away quickly. "I - " she starts to say, but then Peter is gone. She turns back to the others, eyes on Cameron. She's silent, but her gaze is expectant, her eyes sadly earnest. It's clear she wants to know what to do now, and worried he'll her take her to task for what she perceives as her failure.

"Damnit." Eve walks back towards Cameron, "What do you want to do next?" she asks their leader and she places her hands into her pockets. "That man is more special than all of us. Never seen anyone with more than one ability" she tilts her head and looks around the room again and puts her gaze back on Cameron.

Trask frowns behind his mask, and looks over at Cameron himself. He says nothing though, knowing it was his fault the man got away.

Every time they pushed, Peter just withdrew further and further away. Now that he's gone, Cameron can't say he's surprised. He wasn't sure what Helena and Eve were going to accomplish with their tactic, but he thinks he now knows what they were ultimately going for. "Look," he says, addressing everyone in the tunnel with a loud, firm voice that sounds a lot more authoritative than he feels right this moment, "sticking around here isn't going to achieve anything, and if Tony Montana wants us gone — we're gone. It's not like we can't come back later." He glances in the direction that Peter disappeared and then adds, his voice softer than it was a moment ago, "Let's go home."


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August 31st: Peppers at Two O' Clock
This is the beginning of the storyline "Masks".

Next in the storyline…
Hazing 101

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September 1st: Hazing 101
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