A Hard Day's Life


luther_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title A Hard Day's Life
Synopsis After the events of November 8, 2011, contact is re-established and Luther and Ygraine realize there's a lot to process still.
Date November 10, 2011


It’s been a hard day.

For Ygraine, it started on the outskirts of Boston, where she got to find out whether Graeme was in a remotely fit state to do wild and crazy things like ‘eat without vomiting’ and ‘stay upright’. Confirmation that he could manage both of those had seen him elevated to ‘on-duty nurse’ status, so that Ygraine could abandon her little band of survivors and set off Southwards.

Moving from just beyond one war zone to the middle of a larger and nastier one was not necessarily wise, but the Ferry courier had committed to making it back to the Brickfront’s rally-point and message-drop. Long experience of moving over and under New York gave her confidence in her ability to bypass the military cordon now clamped around the city - a faith in her competence that had indeed proved justified, though the process of getting all the way through to the Skinny Brickfront had taken many hours, a great deal of crawling, and much more time than she ever wanted to spend inching her way along the roofs of sewer-tunnels.

Now, she’s seated in the living area, gradually peeling off the filth-stained layers of her expensively custom-tailored (and sadly abused) black and midnight-blue leathers. Beneath, she’s revealed a futuristic liquid-metal bulletproof vest worn over an insulated burgundy skinsuit. She looks exhausted and a little dehydrated, but has resisted the temptation to venture into the kitchen lest she leave unmentionable stains in her wake.

In the wake of the second nuclear-level event, Luther too went underground so to speak. Not just to move out of sight of the military and law enforcement cordons necessarily, though that is a primary reason. The other, simply to recover from the shock of it all. He’s not entirely aware of the date or time when he stumbles his way back to the brickfront. A home base of sorts, the residence is grounding when one needs to go to ground. The sound of him entering is a rough one, with a stumble of heavy feet and a rumbled curse. He hasn’t cleaned up at all, either. The clothes are newer, though, different from what he’d gone out on the 8th in. Looted, probably, in the aftermath of it all. But his hair, hands, face, all smudged in similar levels of dirt and grime and concrete ash that mimic Ygraine’s state.

The moment he crosses the threshold, Luther stops. Lets out a long sigh, closes his eyes to try and push down a well of overwhelming emotion that threatens to break him right there. Nostrils flare, he takes a deep breath. And then, he opens his eyes again and turns to look at the room, and attention arrests on Ygraine. The man’s stare wavers between blank consternation and again that twitch of fragility. His voice is the one that cracks.


He’d say more, but the push of air through his vocal chords to speak proves to be the thing that kicks up the crud in his lungs. He turns away, coughing loudly and rasping.

Ygraine had frozen, briefly, upon the sound of the arrival. Then she’d cast around for something suitable to use as a weapon (breathing mask - no; low-light goggles - definitely not!)… before relaxing as she recognised her new companion. His hacking attempt to clear his lungs, however, is sufficient to actually stir her into real motion. Rising to her feet, she clomps - feet still in half-unfastened boots - a little closer to him, peering to see if he’s badly-enough off that he’s visibly clearing anything from throat and lungs, or is ‘merely’ coughing invisibly.

It’s clear even at distance that Luther’s not bloodied beyond a scratch here, a cut there. Sweat has dried the concrete dust in a murky paste on his face, cheeks, head. But he is genuinely coughing for the removal of ash and dust from his inner airways, that becomes clear. Eventually, the reflex dies back down and he straightens to take another ragged breath. His eyes are glistening with a sheen of wetness and red with irritation around the edges, but take in the woman with clarity of mind. “I’m ok,” claims the man preemptively. “Are you…” Hurt, is the implied conclusion to the question. But hey, she’s upright. Not like some others out there.

“The bullet-hole in the back of the jacket’s not serious,” Ygraine says, gesturing to the - neatly perforated - upper part of her leathers, hung on a chair. She ventures a gentle smile, her expression one of deep concern. “Everyone we took up to Boston from here is alive. I’m the one in best condition. But everyone else should recover all right. I’ve not heard anything about the Alaska team, yet. I spoke to Alia when I arrived here: she was monitoring it. She’s holed up elsewhere in the city. Even she’s not got contact with the Alaska guys yet.”

Glancing towards the kitchen, she quickly looks back to Luther. “I was going to finish stripping off the crap - I came through the sewers, much of the way - before going to fix anything to drink. If you can wait a minute, I’ll sort something for you to rinse your mouth out with, and see about getting you some water to rinse the worst of that lot off.”

It seems that once Luther is in the presence of a familiar face, he grows more aware, more self-conscious about appearance. Eyeing past Ygraine to the mentioned jacket, seeing the bullet hole, he frowns and looks back to the woman as she goes on. If she’s the one in the best condition, then… But he dare not finish the thought. Instead, he dips his head in a single nod as she goes on with the situational report of not knowing the status of Alaska. Nagging thoughts creep out into his tone, even as he shakes his head to note, “No, you don’t have to trouble yourself. I’ll grab us both somethin’. Hell, you’re the one who got shot.” He lifts a hand to gesture for her to sit back down (although it’s not a command or anything) as he turns to the kitchen instead. “We could break out the whiskey,” muses the man aloud.

“You stay there,” Ygraine counters with a smile. “I’m just about down to stuff that at least isn’t sewer-dirty. And the vest took the bullet. Honestly. It’s not the full set of armour I was originally promised a few months ago, but it worked.”

Moving to finish divesting herself of the remainder of her outer layer, she thoughtfully eyes Luther. “Whiskey does sound good. But I have the impression that rustling up some soup, once you’ve cleared your throat enough to swallow it, might be wise. You don’t look like you’ve been anywhere that serves food, any time recently.”

He’s not in a position to insist, really, so while he doesn’t exactly obey by staying put and instead steps into the kitchen area regardless, Luther accepts that they’re moving to the kitchen together. Storm-grey eyes set on the woman for the part she says about full set of armor, and his jaw works like he’s concerned about what it implies, but he winds up merely shaking his head and it’s back to the search for spirits. Once he finds a bottle, his hand pauses around its neck. Luther dips his head, brow pinching. “I’ve gone longer without.” But now that she’s gone and mentioned it, the next rumble out of the man isn’t his voice but his gut. He looks down at it, and frowns at its traitorous but honest assessment. Luther huffs and looks back up to the other woman. “Alright, you win. Soup first.” The bottle of whiskey’s coming out too, though, as he pulls it from the cupboard.

Ygraine gently tries to chivvy Luther back out of the kitchen once he’s found his precious booze, so that she can work without potentially-toxic dust getting onto (and into) everything. The removal of her supertech armoured vest and a quick clean-up for herself follows, before she sets about preparing the soup - though that, at least, can be done quite quickly. Once it’s heating, she sorts out a basin of water and some old cloths for Luther to use to get the worst off himself. Those delivered, she also digs up and slices some bread and cheese, and fills a couple of pint glasses with water for him to drink once the - likely - thirst from all that dust hits hard.

Once the soup is ready, she serves it out into a couple of bowls, adds spoons, then finally moves back through to deliver one portion to Luther - and slump into a chair with another, herself.

The kitchen space is small, it’s true. So it doesn’t take much effort to have Luther exit out of it. Banished to the outskirts, he stands a bit awkwardly on the invisible border and watches in silence as Ygraine moves around. A longer glance than usual is spared for the life-saving techno-vest - he’s never seen anything like it up close - and then it’s back to that awkward watch. Guilty pangs color the edge of his expression even as he accepts the basin and washcloths, to which he finally moves off to a side and sets the basin up so he can wipe himself down. But even he will admit that feeling clean is a good feeling.

He returns to view with a freshly wiped down face and clean hands cradling the whiskey, moving to sit at the place she’s set up and waiting until she’s sat down to resume their conversation. But first. “Thank you,” he speaks, gaze traveling over the spread offered. Simple but comforting. And that’s what’s got him moved, at least inwardly, to the point that he seems reluctant to tuck in, to destroy the sight of it. But if eyes could eat. “What should we do now?” he asks, not to question their immediate action, but rather the broader, more fearsome observation of the state of the world. Their world. The man wavers in place. “The… the President. He’s Evolved.”

Ygraine blinks, lifting a brow at Luther - watching him in silence over her soup for a couple of moments. “Wow. That’s… okay. There’ve been some pretty confused reports coming out of New York, but the EMP took out the communications gear before much could clearly emerge. Events in Boston have been dominating the ‘live footage’ slots…”

She shakes her head a little, then shoots her companion another worried look. “What happened?”

Once they actually do tuck in, or rather in Luther’s case he takes a slice of bread and literally breaks it over the soup, dunking one half in and setting the other on the side. His hand pauses halfway up with the mention of Boston. He’s heard the reports. Women. Children. Innocents. But he stuffs the anger down with a proper chomp down on the food, taking enough care to not chew furiously in the woman’s presence no matter how hungry he is. A sip of water and soup later, he answers. “The boss wanted me to go to the memorial instead of Alaska, and I went. Maybe he knew something we didn’t.” Because Richard Cardinal had already been to the future, so Luther had heard. And they’ve all time-traveled, so that’s not the mind-blowingly new concept. He continues, “Then the President said they found a… a cure. But that doesn’t make sense. Why would he, if he was - is - Evolved…” Luther’s report is halting, rough, definitely not the kind that anybody of situational debriefing is used to. It’s super speculative. But then he looks back at Ygraine, straight on in the eyes so she knows he’s telling the truth. “He got a phone call, and after he hung up with whoever it was, he just. He flew off. Just. Right up into the sky.”

Ygraine nods slowly, brow furrowed pensively. “Mmmm. It… might depend upon who’s pulling your strings, or how. Or what your personal agenda is,” she muses cautiously. “We know there’re Evolved out there capable of controlling minds and altering memories or sending dreams, quite apart from all the ‘conventional’ means of manipulating someone…. Or he might want to cull the herd and wipe out rivals for power. Or…” She shrugs broadly. “He might sincerely believe that it’s a curse that should be removed from God’s pristine creations. We’d need more information. Which… might indeed be part of the reason you were there, if Cardinal suspected something. Crap. I know he’s got information on shady goings-on in various elements of the administration, but I’ve been focusing my attention more on stuff like Humanis First - who’ve had high-profile people in dangerous places, that we know about - than looking for Evolved trying to screw us all over from the inside of the system.”

A spoonful of soup follows with another, and another. Luther’s listening, but he’s finally feeding the body with some proper energy rather than relying on the environmental energy that has powered him in a pinch. It might also be amazing how can eat given the topic of discussion. As far as his appetite is concerned, no amount of mind control can stop it now. But still, he sets down the spoon. “He wanted me there just in case something happened,” Luther says about Cardinal’s plans, “and something did. The President - the most powerful man in the world some say - is like one of us? The people went crazy. They stormed the stage. Riot police threw tear gas. People started pushing, and the ground started shaking in an earthquake like we were all back in Los Angeles sitting right on the fault, and then the second bomb…”

He falls quiet again and grabs the second half of his bread, but doesn’t eat it yet. His brow pinches and he sucks in a steadying breath as he recalls the events like it’s, well, two days ago. “There’s still looting and riots out there. People angry, looking for something - someone - to take it out on. You saw it, Ygraine. I… I don’t know. Nothing about anything I’ve learned could have prepped for all of this.” His head shakes with the whole litany of events, and finally his gaze lifts back up to her. The question returns, his expression lost, helplessness murking up any clear waters that could grant clarity of action. What should they do?

“I dodged most of what was happening here,” Ygraine admits, nodding towards the city beyond the Brickfront. “Came up from underneath, again. The… well. It’s threatening to turn into a civil uprising. Riots started in Boston first, I think. Then here. Then spread. There was a massacre, live on television, in Boston. Fleeing children gunned down by drones. Then the President did his thing. And New York….” She sighs, shaking her head.

“It’s bad, it’s safe to say. It’s known that something happened in Alaska, but we don’t know what. If they ran into defences as strong as were in the Cambridge facility, then it’s likely to have been messy. We had help inside the Ark, in Cambridge. I don’t think they were expecting anyone on the inside at Mount Natazhat. That’s all… partly why I’m here. To try to check in, and find out more, I mean. I’ll be checking in with the remaining sites I know of, to share what information I have and to try to get more. For you… it looks like you need to rest up, at least briefly. Have you been out there since the eighth?”

“I wasn’t really, um, conscious,” Luther starts to explain. Realizing the inadequacy of the statement, he adds in, “Once the President took off, it wasn’t five minutes later, feels like, before something blew up. It was the stuff of the Apocalypse. Red skies, lightning.” He tenses with the fresh memory, shoulders stiffening. “Grabbed a few people and made a run for it. Well, the guy was hurt so not really. But when the blast actually happened, I…” His gaze drops back down to the soup, and guilt returns. “When the blast actually hit me, it felt like it did five years ago, Ground Zero. I was ready for it this time, but again, nothing could’ve prepped for that. I ran away. The energy from the blast was too much. If I stayed.” The cowardice, he assumes, radiates through.

Ygraine winces, looking nothing but sympathetically concerned. “That sounds horrible,” she says softly. “Me… I minorly broke the space-time continuum, and got shot and irradiated. But the bullet was a small-calibre round not meant for me, that the vest took entirely. The other stuff… I wound up with a nasty headache for a bit. And my group completely missed the massacre above-ground - we got out by the old subway tunnels, and didn’t even find out that all Hell had broken loose on the surface till a lot later. Surviving is important. And helping people to do so matters, too.”

Luther swallows emptily, the bob of his Adam’s apple dipping. It’s a few beats of silence before he composes himself enough to do more than just sit with the shock of it all. Enough so that he can take in what Ygraine says about what happened with her group, and focus on events outside of his own traumatized world. He winces belatedly, the man pulling his lips into a thin line. Is it empathy? Or confusion? A little bit of both as she describes Boston. Describes getting shot and irradiated. Then, he looks concerned for her. “You were the best condition, you said,” he starts slowly. “And the others? What happened, where did they go?”

“They’re posted on the edge of Boston,” Ygraine explains. “Remi’s got a days-long migraine, after over-using her telepathy. Tamara - a precognitive, whom I don’t think you’ve met - is in a coma. Graeme suffered severe radiation poisoning while pulling a young girl out of danger. It turns out this ability lets him recover from it. But… yeah. Not easily. I’m not going to forget some of those images, from when he was at his worst with it. We rescued a scientist from there, as well; he got stabbed in the back amidst it all. So me, I’m in great shape compared to the others. The plan is for them to rest up for a couple more days, while I check things out here, then get back to them. Hopefully with some good news from out of all this mess.”

There’s just one word that describes Luther’s reaction to all that. Yikes. The man scrapes at the end of the soup with the crust of bread left, topping it all with a bit of cheese. “And no word from Alaska,” comes the worried lament. “Are you here to— are you going to stick around, or you’re here to resupply before you go back?” It’s a matter of logistics, perhaps. And concern, on his part.

“I’m going to stick around here today, I think. Try to reach a Ferry site or two tomorrow. See if they’re intact. I’ll move underground: I’m used to that.” Ygraine shrugs tiredly. “Then the day after… I should get back up North. There’s another Ferry site I can stop in at on the way back to Boston: I didn’t go there on my way here. But I’ll aim to sleep here tonight and tomorrow, and leave on the twelfth. If you want to come with me, you’re welcome to.”

Though he’s heard the terms before, Luther reserves his judgment on the Ferrymen. “Sounds like you got a plan,” he remarks with a slow nod. “I… I’ll probably stick around here awhile. Wouldn’t want to slow you down, for one.” He glances between Ygraine and the empty bowl of soup, his tone undecided but again, it’s been a bit of a day. A bit of a few days. “But,” he says with a push up from his chair, and a gathering of empty dishes, “we still have time.” And, it’s implied, life. “You can go get cleaned up and I’ll wash up here,” he offers with dishes in hand. It’ll give him something to do as he thinks over the recent events.

“We can both look after each other a bit, while I’m here. Let each other have a good rest, without needing to worry about keeping watch,” Ygraine suggests. “And I can report back whatever I find out, about how things are going. Moving around the city… you wouldn’t slow me down that much. I can share my wall-walking. But solo would be a bit quicker, and probably a lot stealthier. I’m used to working upside down and at right-angles to the world. And I know the routes I’ll be aiming to follow. But this place should be safe to hole up in for a while, at least - and Alia will keep monitoring it. I’m going to meet up with her, and get hold of another batch of burner phones she’s made secure. We can make sure you have at least one or two, yourself. Through them, and her, you’ll be able to get hold of me - and other people I give them to, as I re-establish contact.”

Pushing herself to her feet, she can’t help but groan slightly. “But you’re right. Cleaning up and changing into some clean clothes would be very welcome. I can then let you sleep - you look like you could really do with it yourself. And I can have a proper meal ready by the time you wake up. We could both do with that, I think.”

The mention of wall walking and going upside down or right angled makes Luther pull a face. “Think I’m probably too old for rollercoaster rides, but yeah,” rumbles the man aloud. He nods, though, to the mention of Alia and burner phones. “That’ll be good. Maybe she’s got a way to get the signals through Manhattan, or around it,” he says, considering the whole area’s electronics have been fried to hell and back. He looks chastened when she mentions his appearance again, and starts the short step away to the sink. “Sounds like a plan,” he echoes of his previous statement. Then, lighter, “Go on then. I’ll wait to crack open the bottle when you get back.” It might take a few shots for the nerves to really calm back down, but for now with food in the belly and a safe place to lie down, it’s a good place to rest. A good place to start.

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