A Light in the Darkness, Part I


adelaide_icon.gif agnes_icon.gif brian_icon.gif carla_icon.gif cat_icon.gif danko_icon.gif faith_icon.gif helena_icon.gif hope_icon.gif len_icon.gif phoebe_icon.gif teo_icon.gif tracy_icon.gif

Scene Title A Light in the Darkness, Part I
Synopsis The Chandra Suresh Memorial Center for Evolved Education is formally dedicated. Whether it will live up to anyone's hopes and dreams… remains to be seen.
Date August 9, 2009

Suresh Center

It was almost sunny earlier today, but the clouds refused to be defeated; came back in force for the evening, now hiding the sun's gradual descent towards the horizon. Some might consider this a poor omen — but then again, it could be worse; could be raining, like it did earlier today.

The courtyard of the Chandra Suresh Memorial Center for Evolved Education is packed. Packed. Half a dozen people stand in a V-shape before the glass-fronted structure's doors, microphone and podium nearby; recognizable faces. The city's management, with Mayor Bianco at the fore, never far from local news; representatives from the ReGenesis Foundation, the Suresh Center's management, spearheaded by Carla Dove. She may have turned down most interview requests in the past week, but her picture if nothing else has been on every news station. Many, many times over.

There's a red ribbon between them and the doors; a black ribbon strung up on the outside, courtesy dividing the audience from the guests of honor. Security keeps a watchful eye — men and women in the muted uniforms of private companies, the distinctive garb of NYPD — just in case the throng thinks to get out of hand.

It's a valid concern; in the multitude milling about, there are several knots supporting placards and banners. Some denounce the project; others support it. Add in the many, many people here just to see what all the fuss is about, whether it is what it claims to be, what the Center has to offer them — men, women, elderly, youth, families of the well-to-do and refugees alike… It has all the necessary ingredients to dissolve into greater chaos, given a spark; the security personnel may well earn their paychecks tonight.

She wore her midnight blue dress. The grand opening, something to help people, something to make the future a little brighter. A place for her to apply herself. Adelaide looked the the part of some socialite heiress… and indeed she tried. She mingled a little and began looking. She pulled out her program, things like this grand openings always had them,, she skimmed it.. a tour — that looked promising.

From the expression of serene calm upon her face, one might assume that Phoebe Thorton was utterly unaware of the presence of protesters at the event. Most assuredly present,and most assuredly not alone, Mrs. Thorton, stationed midway between the guests of honor and the regular onlookers, is clad in a classic black Marc Jacobs evening dress, is accompanied by her ever-present bodyguard/driver Mosha. Much like his employer, the stoic older male is clad in a classic black suit of obvious designer make. It is, for those who notice such things, equally clear that he would much rather be wearing something more comfortable and less confining. It is also clear, for those with an exceptionally keen eye, that Mosha Feldman is not unarmed despite his attire. In fact, quite contrary to his employer's calmness, he seems to be very much on the alert and makes no small pretense of scanning the crowd on a regular basis. At the moment, the pair are standing close enough to the ribbon cutting ceremony to have a prefered view, but far enough away to make it clear that they are not part of the group intending to tour the premises this evening.

Setting near the back, Len Denton could possibly be the tallest attendee at the reception. It would definitely be hard for someone like him to blend into the crowd, but he does his best. In his line of work, having a few contacts inside this organization might be a benefit for him. The cowboy thought it might be a good idea to get in and shake a few hands.

Standing near her sister, Hope Kelly is here for the quotes and the story. She already put together a pre-article for the grand opening, mostly based off sound bites and provided pictures, but today she's here to get more of a scoop. See who attends. See who doesn't. She nudges her sister. "Let's see if we can get a few interesting pictures. Something with a little more substance," she grins over to Faith.

The Daily News has sent its own throng to the event — Faith Kelly, having already had the tour of the Center, has been assigned to the outside, to get the pictures of the various demonstrations that unhappy HF members are sure to launch, along with the shots of the ribbon cutting. Her camera to her eye, she snaps pictures of everything that falls into the frame of her lens: politicians, the center administrators, Carla Dove, the picketers. It could be a boring assignment, but it has the promise of being an exciting one. More exciting, probably, than getting shots of people eating appetizers and roaming around the halls inside where it's indubitably safer. She glances at her twin and nods. "More baby Evo haters, most likely," she says with a wrinkled nose.

Tracy Strauss fired at least two people for not tracking down this project months ago so she could donate and get in on it. That's why she's standing a little bit further back from the entrance, not about to rush in with the tour group, but definitely going to meander around for the wine. As always, she looks immaculate — a very dark blue dress, form fitting and falling down to her ankles, is worn, and her hair is up in an elegant french twist. Peals? But of course. She stands, listening, waiting as she glances around to see who else is around her. Someone she recognizes, perhaps?

Agnes is one of those just here to see what the fuss is about. New in town, no job, no real friends to speak of, not even a permanent place to crash yet, she quite frankly had nothing better to do. She hangs back on the fringes of the crowd, as if reluctant to actually commit to being here, even as an onlooker, but that is what she is. One arm crosses over her abdomen, covering the strip of bare stomach that her short shirt and low jeans don't; her hand holds her other elbow, and in that hand, a cigarette. Giving her head a little toss to clear her hair - brown at the moment - from her eyes, she takes a drag on the smoke and just watches quietly for the moment, gaze sweeping over the crowd periodically before coming to rest on the podium.

Helena stands by herself in the crowd to avoid being linked and/or tagged by any particular person, but today the face of Phoenix has taken care to make sure some changes were in place before she ventured outside. It's amazing what subtle changes like eye color from blue to brown and a faint deepening of skin tone can do, but the auburn hair and smattering of freckles has Helena looking almost entirely like a different person — and well, that's the point. Sal did a good job on making her look not-like herself. Her clothes are kept non-descript — jeans, a nice blouse. She can't hide her smile at the opening of the Center — it's a step in the right direction. Her eyes flicker over the crowd, noticing faces, attitudes, aware that not all of the expressions being worn will be reflective of people's true opinions. Still, she's encouraged.

A bottle of Gatorade sits blue in the clutch of Teo's hand, gripped with sturdy confidence that leaves his knuckles their normal color and his palm dry except for the perspiration of the drink itself.

He is probably calmer than he should be, standing out here, though that makes him precisely as calm as he needs to be, recent fugitive from justice, still wanted for questioning— whatever. False identification, a neatly trimmed beard, wig, square-framed glasses, notepad, and deeply uncharacteristic use of a turtleneck shirt make him a different man from the one the New York Police Department keeps idle interest in looking for. He is a nebbish stranger, blinking owlishly at the crowd and the reflective glare of cameras going off at his spectacles in the fashion of one neither particularly used to nor particularly impressed by either, pleasant good humor static in the upward curl of his mouth. He isn't far from the ribbon.

She's not far from the ribbon, her eyes roaming over the building's facade to take it all in, and she's been cautious. Cat got into a position from which she could overlook the area through binoculars and check for the apparent presence of DHS people just lying in wait to prick fingers and conduct SLC tests. She also had a contact look into the possibility of evidence linking the center and/or ReGenesis to the Company and/or DHS, being told none existed. There are the protesters now, and she's given those a few glances to see as many faces as she could without seeming to stare and draw their attention. Len in his cowboy hat, and his height, doesn't escape her notice. Nor does the White House staffer. But she looks so very little like the woman at Bert's Falafels that day, being attired in a Brooks Brothers suit with skirt and pumps. Very much the professional attorney in her clothing for this event, carrying a briefcase and notepad to write things on, lest anyone suspect her ability by the lack of such.

"Hell no! No Evos! Hell no! No Evos!"

It's one of the many slogans — and less-organized epithets — being shouted from the side of the crowd that's decidedly against this school and all that it stands for. Placards and signs bristle from the crowd of demonstrators like the quills upon a porcupine's back, flatly racist signs waving right along the biblical verses that certain groups 'claim' to be proof of the Evolved's satanic origins — the messages are myriad, but they're hate and fear, primal emotions as old as time, and they've caught the crowd in their grasp. Of course, the demonstrators have gathered in small knots and groups of the like-minded, some of them eyeing their fellows as direly as they eye the opposition waving signs of support for the school. Prejudice rarely has merely one target.

Danko is here. He's been here, in fact, for some time, dressed in matte shades of sable and ink from collar to dress shoes. All crisp, flat lines and pressed planes across the flat of his shoulders and the compact knot of his tie. Suit coat buttoned, hands in his pockets, he exudes confidence the way hagfish exude slick ropes of filthy snot: chin lifted, spine straight, shoulders at ease. His face is sunken and pale over the neat lift of his collar, and he's tuned firmly in to the goings on at the door, grey eyes focused flat upon the divider that is the ribbon between himself and a few select Guests of Honor.

It should probably come as no surprise that he isn't one of them. He's closer than might be expected all the same. Timeliness and a few careful pushes through the crowd have landed him a position in the vicinity of Phoebe, Tracy and their ilk. If he were to rock up onto his toes he could probably see a little better, but past that initial sweep across the doors he seems more interested in sizing up the attendees nearest him anyway.

Carla watches the crowd more than she watches the clock; time matters less than atmosphere. Too early and she won't get their prompt attention; too late and the crowd will become impatient.

…Right about now should do.

Stepping up to the podium, the woman lets her gaze sweep the crowd, intent, expectant. Most of them are paying enough attention to quiet; the ones who aren't hear the general hush overcoming the idle chitchat and not-so-idle shouts, and themselves shut up in short order.

"Good evening, everyone." She smiles, honest, sincere, pleased. "It's truly wonderful to see so many people here— " Green eyes flick to the banners and signs, the protesting groups. "— most of them in support of our project.

"It's a project this city, this nation, sorely needs. Wishing alone does not change the world we live in. Whether we wish for the Evolved to go away — they will not, I assure you — or for society to remember that they too are people — someday, sense will kick in.

"This is our first true step down that road. To the realization that the world is what we find in it, and that blinders will not make it become something else, no matter how many of them we apply."

"Relax," is murmured to the stoic faced Mosha as Phoebe slants a rueful smile in his direction. In response, she receives a pointedly less then happy look and mildly arched brow.

"I will relax when we leave, Mrs. Thorton." His gaze, however, does not linger on his employer's face, sweeping over Tracy to regard Danko with a gaze that is only slightly sharper then before. There, his gaze remains, his posture taking on a more alertly wary tone. Apparently, Mister Feldman recognizes a fellow predator when he sees one. So much so that, to Phoebe's chagrin, he actually shifts his position to be more directly between herself and the perceived threat.

"Honestly," she sighs in quiet tones. "What?" And, while words are not offered in response, a subtle tilt of chin is. Fortunately, the Widow Thorton has been around Mosha long enough to understand the 'grunt and gesture' enough to slant a glance at Danko. There is a point at which one just doesn't bother to argue. This, Phoebe recognizes as one of those moments. Instead, she lets Mosha do his thing and turns her attention toward the podium.

Tracy gives Danko a polite little smile as he sliters his way toward their area, not really paying attention to him. No, instead her eyes find someone else, somone familiar to watch. Len. She gives him a larger smile, political and veiled though it is, and nods her head toward him. Well, knowing he's here makes her feel a little better in case Humanis First decides to take her out again. Or try to take her out. They've tried twice, so hopefully the third time isn't the charm.

But she had to come, even if she was a bit afraid. The government's face had to be here. Even if she should be on that podium with the cameras instead of back here. Oh, if only she could fire those idiots again.

Idly wondering if there would be any drive-bys, car bombings, or any other type of mass-mayhem, Brian's eyes around the crowd as Carla steps up. He bought a new suit special for the occasion. White pinstripes on a deep black suit. His gold trimmed aviators rest toward the end of his nose, his eyes peering over them at different people in the crowd. A toothpick bobs back and forth in his mouth while his hands remain in his pockets.

Giving a glance to the speaker, a little grunt emits in return to the words she speaks. His eyes swivel around as if to find someone in agreement with his grunt, yet finding none he looks back up.

Adelaide listens. She's half transfixed to Carla speaking, the other part of her is keeping an eye out on the protest groups. Being an Evolved made her only slightly more nervous-forget the law it was the wack-jobs who killed. She fiddled with her necklace. "What am I doing her, dressed up like a promdate…" she she looks around… wrong out for the wrong venue. She seems to exicte a little though as the speaking woman keeps her abit more hopeful. "Yeah.. we're here to stay. The world needs to accept it."

Hope pulls out her voice recorder and flips it on, recording the words of the speaker. She also begins to note some of the faces in the crowd. A few she's actually surprised to see. She'll occasionally nudge her sister and point, wanting her to snap a shot.

Len notices Tracy and reaches up to push the brim of his hat upwards in acknowledgement, but he doesn't move from his spot as he scans the area for anyone else he may need to make note of. There'll be plenty of time for smoozing once the ribbon has been cut.

There are parts of the crowd that cheer at the words of Carla Dove, fists thrust into the air and placards waved enthusiastically, signs with protagonistic messages such as EVOS ARE PEOPLE TOO and DARWIN WAS RIGHT - but just the same, there are groups whose calls towards the podium and the woman speaking are far less enthusiastic and welcoming.

The chorus of boos from that section of the crowd is made louder in some cases by bullhorns… although the amplifier brought in by one group along with a small generator was confiscated long before the event began by the police, without violence thankfully. Otherwise, nobody might even be able to hear Ms. Dove.

Curiously, one group particularly vocal are both holding Evolved-friendly signs and booing her down, the loudest of the group lingering behind the cordons shouting, "This is just fucking segregation! Are we gonna have separate schools for the black again too? Huh? Evos are still humans too! Equal rights for all!" Of course, that's not exactly what the center's about, but since when were shouting demonstrators ever logical in their arguments?

Faith snaps some shots of Carla Dove, then turns to snap others, including one of Tracy who she gives a friendly wave to, though she doubts the woman will notice her. Faith's camera whirrs and snaps, as the artist-turned-photographer tries to find a mix of newsworthy photos and artistic, interesting composition.

Everybody Teo expects to be here is here, a fact that he's largely aware of despite that a considerable number of them are wearing faces other than their own, and at least one didn't even bother bringing a body to the occasion. Humanis First!, 'the government', representatives, Phoenix, independents littered all along the continuum of political dis/agreement.

Possibly even one or two people with an original thought in their heads, but they're probably just distracted. The Sicilian himself is only half listening to Carla until the phrase 'go away' comes to her lips. Twitches a raptor-like glance in her direction, a slight downward turn to his mouth. His brow furrows slightly under the strandy shadow of his artificial forelocks; he glances at the sky, gives it the brief study through his weather-eye, before straightening his neck out. He unscrews the orange cap off the Gatorade bottle.

Agnes's gaze goes back to the podium as the woman there begins to speak, though Aggie's expression remains somewhat indifferent - or undecided. Casually, she flicks the ash from her cigarette and glances over towards the protesters nearby. Thoughtfully, she reads a few of the slogans, snorting quietly to herself, before her gaze goes back up towards the podium.

Listening as Carla speaks, the twenty-something woman in attorney's clothes who stands five feet ten inches in the heels she's wearing ceases scanning faces in the crowd to remember them, the Dankossassin being missed because he's so short, possibly even shielded from her view by the tall personage which is Len Denton. Miss Dove has Cat's full attention now.

Tracy's smile is met, fielded and returned with an upturn at the corner of Danko's mouth that's awkward enough in its insecure pallor to endear for all that falls short of visceral charm. She's tall, blonde, attractive. Important. He's…Danko. In short, the exchange doesn't last long. He looks away as if nervous to chase after the prickle of little hairs at the back of his neck instead, eyes all ash and ice in their search after the source, as onminous and grey as the stormclouds rolling oppressively in the low scrape of their bellies overhead. Doesn't take him long to settle on Phoebe and Mosha.

The latter gets a looking over, nearly formal in polite (if subtle) recognition. There's no nod or smile or twitch at his brows. Just that light touch of his eyes and he's looking elsewhere again, as sharply dressed and neatly shorn as any inquiring investor.

Carla's enjoying every second of her speech; she believes what she's speaking, or projects that impression very well. Enjoys the audience, gathered to hear about her project — even if only in protest, for some.

"It is my privilege to welcome you all to the Chandra Suresh Memorial Center for Evolved Education. But what does that long-winded name mean?

"It means many things. We hope this will be the first of many places to help teach Evolved and non-Evolved what it means to live with abilities — whether it's you that has one, or just that everyone else around you seems to. We hope to overcome the fear, suspicion, and prejudice that has become rampant in our nation."

Looking over at the Evolved-friendly protesting group, Carla merely smirks. She leans down to the microphone and resumes speaking.

"Despite the name of the Center, what we have to offer is not solely for the Evolved. Neither shall all that we do be related to them alone. The dream of the ReGenesis Foundation, the objective of the Suresh Center, is to see all people living under a single society — black, white, yellow, and red; male and female; Evolved… and non-Evolved.

"The Suresh Center is therefore also a community center. We open our doors to everyone who wishes to teach, discuss, and learn — regardless of characteristics, regardless of beliefs. It is our intent to lead by example, to show our city, our nation, and even the whole of the world that fear need not be the driving force. That coexistence is more than possible. All it takes is a little work."

Accepting a pair of gold-colored scissors from one of her compatriots, Carla steps back, shears poised over the ribbon.

"Let that work begin."

The ribbon falls to either side, hanging limply from its supporting poles.

"The Suresh Center is now open for business."

Something said stirs Phoebe to folding her arms over her torso, her lips unconciously pursing into an expression of consideration bordering on disapproval. From the fact that her gaze doesn't flicker from Carla Dove's face? It's a relatively simple jump to conclude that she doesn't entirely agree with the woman. Or, at the very least, has some reservations about the whole affair. She does, however, have the presence of mind to reach out and touch Mosha's arm in a silent bid for him to relax, at least marginally. Mosha, of course, does not relax, but he does turn his attention toward the stage, his head giving a faint shake as he watches the ribbon fall. "This," he notes under his breath to Phoebe. "Will not end well."

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