Agree To Disagree


devon_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Agree to Disagree
Synopsis Two of those trapped in the Dome come together in a sort of alliance.
Date February 17, 2011

The Dome:Roosevelt Island

As pollution inside the Dome increases, added to by the growing stream of buildings and vehicles wrecked in looting, the light within it is steadily taking on an increasingly unpleasant hue. While the great, dark stain of the Humanis First fire-bombings marks the Northern end of the Roosevelt section of the Dome, much of the rest is acquiring an ever more noticeable tinge, filtering and refracting the sunlight to have a persistent reddish tinge.

As it is, that unearthly quality is much less visible today, the clouds outside dimming the intensity of the illumination in the Dome, leaving it washed-out rather than blood-stained - at least in appearance.

A lone figure who manages to look both faded and bloodied sits on a law wall, her back towards the Suresh Center some little distance away, her gaze… not really on the street before her, to judge from the expression on pale, deeply-shadowed, and taut features. Clad in the leathers that seem to constitute the only outer clothing she has in here, she looks as if rudimentary attempts have been made to clean her up - but her skin has the waxily translucent quality of ill health, and one arm is bound across her chest beneath her jacket, the sleeve hanging loose in the still air. In her other hand, she holds a cell phone - but there's no light coming from it, the screen as blankly empty as its owner's expression.

The rattle and squeak of wheels, too small to be a proper vehicle, announces someone moving down the street. The sound covers over normal footfalls, but is loud enough to be heard some way off, leaving the housing area nearest the Center. A glance would reveal a single figure, young and male, pulling a wagon.

Drawing closer, the boy reveals himself to be Devon. The wagon isn't the only thing he's hauling, a rifle still rides with its muzzle poking over his shoulder. In the hand not occupied by the wagon, he holds an untidy clutch of papers, many with writing and scribbles. A pencil rests behind an ear. As the teenager walks, he glances up occasionally, to see where he's going.

The wagon isn't heavily laden. It's been too long since the dome went up for any hope of finding substantial supplies. But Devon has managed to find a few packages of ramen and some sports drinks. Crackers and an unopened first aid kit, a real treasure that one, also rests amongst the jumble. As he steps onto the street and turns to travel northward along the island, his eyes catch on a familiar figure. A frown tugs at his brow, marring the otherwise blank expression, and the teenager approaches with a sense of disregard for his own safety. Once alongside Ygraine, one of those sports drinks is opened and offered, wordlessly and patiently until she sees fit to take it.

The squeaks and rattles did manage to penetrate the haze surrounding Ygraine's thoughts, but the boy and his wagon received little more than a listlessly disinterested glance before the powered-down phone was again focused on. The drink, however, does manage to engage her attention - at least after a few moments, and she carefully tucks the phone away into an inner pocket within the empty side of her jacket, before mutely acecpting the bottle.

Grip bottle between knees, set cap's gravitic attraction to hand to enhance grip, lock liquid's attraction to bottle to reduce the risk of spillage, then awkwardly twist open. The hiss of released pressure generates a faint smile of approval, a ghost of warmth illuminating the woman's ashen features. Tucking the cap into another pocket, she then brings the bottle up beneath her nose, apparently savouring the smell.

"Thank you", she murmurs hoarsely.

"Drink," Devon instructs, his voice edged with a coldness yet not unkind. Once relieved of the bottle, he turns to the wagon again and rifles through the contents. There really isn't much inside, besides already mentioned before little else seems of any use. But he produces a lone Twinky in clear plastic cellophane. This he opens, keeping the plastic between the treat and his fingers, then offers it to Ygraine as well.

Managing a weak chuckle after her first - long - swallow of the drink, Ygraine wets her lips with her tongue. "I can't take all your edible supplies", she protests quietly, before finding the energy to lift her head and peer up at him. "Have you had anything to eat yet today?"

"I'm taken care of," Devon replies. It's neither a yes or no, but it seems likely that's the best she'll get. The Twinky is continued to be offered, a brow raising slightly. "Eat. One little cake isn't going to be the death of us over here. I'll find more, you'd be surprised where some people hide their treats." He won't mention where that Twinky was, but you could guess that it wasn't found in the pantry.

Ygraine manages a low chuckle, before setting the bottle upon her knee - seemingly unconcerned about it falling off as she reaches for the little morsel. "I'm still not at all sure what these things actually are", she muses, eyeing it with wearily amused curiosity. "They've not migrated to the other side of the Pond, but there'd be frequent references to these strange objects in American media…."

"They're cream-filled cakes." Devon glances toward the sports drink then back to Ygraine dismissively. If it falls, hopefully he'll be fast enough to catch it. With a glance down the street, away from the Center, he sinks into a squat beside his wagon. Papers and even the pencil make their way into the wagon, amongst the rest of the jumble of things he's looted. "Why haven't you been eating?"

"I have", Ygraine protests rather defensively. "I just…. Well." She sighs, glancing down at her arm. "I got shot last night. And they don't exactly have a lot of blood to spare at the Center. And I'd been rationing myself since the Dome came up. I normally exercise a lot, so I eat a lot, and I've been doing neither, so… my body ate itself at first. You lose your edge really fast if you stop…. And I inhaled half of Eastview from the feel of it, which I don't think's helped. And… I'm just really tired, but I can't stop for long because without me, Jaiden's our only way back and forth that doesn't involve crazy risks for everyone, not just the people making the trip."

A weary sigh accompanies a shake of her head, before she rather sorrowfully bites the end off the Twinky.

Devon watches Ygraine while words tumble forth, not quite impassive. Too much has happened for him to shut down completely, no matter how much he might like to. Humanity still has a firm grip on the boy. "There's rationing and then there's starving," he says gently, brows lifting again. "You need to eat more." He doesn't have much else to offer for immediate consumption, but an unspoken idea lingers. If Ygraine follows to the next house, she can have first pick of any ready to eats.

"I know how much a 'normal' person should need", Ygraine says ruefully, eyeing the Twinky. "But maybe my ability takes more out of me in that way than I'd really realised before. I always just ate enough to maintain my targets, and that'd always be a lot more than 'normal'. But the major problem's blood loss, I'm pretty sure. And quite possibly after-effects of the smoke, if there was anything toxic in there - which there quite possibly was. And probably shock, come to think of it…. But I must be looking bloody awful if you're this worried about me…."

"Why shouldn't I be worried for you or anyone else," Devon asks quietly. He stands, dragging the handle of the wagon up with him. "If you want more to eat than just that Twinky, you'll have to follow me. Unless you care to chew on dehydrated ramen noodles."

"I didn't have the impression that you exactly liked me", Ygraine says dryly, but does take another mouthful of the little cake, chewing with the careful attention of someone attempting to make herself savour the flavour.

"I don't agree with your ideas," Devon answers honestly. He supplements with a shrug, different people, different ways of thinking. "Could've just walked by you, left you to whatever it was you were doing. My goal's to see as many out alive as possible, but I'm not going to be overly cautious and afraid of every shadow I come across."

"That's rather my goal, you know", Ygraine responds, tone soft. "I don't want to see anyone kill anyone else. There's been far too much bloodshed and hatred and misery already. And with stupid mistakes spreading the violence every day…." A weary sigh, then she carefully consumes the last of the cake, before stuffing the wrapper into a pocket and picking the bottle up from the knee on which it still rests. Another sigh, then she rises smoothly to her feet, amidst a gentle creaking of her leathers.

"They attacked first," Devon says evenly. "And we don't have enough supplies to offer quarter to an enemy who kills for fun or attacks a community without just cause. I don't want to kill anyone, I don't want to see any more death. But if it comes to it I will. To keep as many people alive as possible."

Ygraine offers a low, bitter laugh, though it doesn't seem to be directed at Devon so much as the world. Indeed, her tone is conversational beneath the weariness. "You know - 'they attacked first' is very probably the major pitch that Humanis use to recruit their goons. Whether they choose the Bomb or the Dome as their focal point, it works as a convenient excuse to let people pretend that they're not really responsible for what they do."

Shaking her head, she arches her back, winces sharply, then starts slowly down the street. "The standard excuse of a child is 'they started it'. It's also the standard excuse of everyone from the vigilante to the genocidaire. It's so popular because it's easy, sadly. It's one that people so often want to believe is an excuse for their own actions. As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter who started it when you're in the middle of it. The goal's ending it, not furthering it. And violence almost always just begets more violence."

"Almost always." Devon shakes his head as he falls into step alongside Ygraine. "Almost always means sometimes not. Personally I don't want to be kicked around and if meeting violence with violence is a means to stop it, then I'll take it. I'm not going to stand aside and watch some fuckface shoot a kid because he's Evolved, especially not when talking hasn't worked."

"Nor'm I", Ygraine says tiredly. "Nor have I, for that matter. But… the key to ending the violence is to break the cycle. Otherwise, for every dozen Humanis thugs killed, a dozen more will take their place - drawn from people who don't believe that it was a far fight between freaks and mundanes, who think that the Evos are the pets of the government with their free housing scheme here and their special services, who simply don't believe that their brother could possibly have been evil and think that the 'Humanis' tag was thrown around simply to excuse an Evolved murderer's actions…."

Shaking her head, she sighs once more. "It's a basic cycle. The more tense a situation gets, the more violent people's instinctive responses become. And the more violence occurs, the tenser people get. Incidents that on their own, in normal times, would barely provoke a response can become seen as incitement of the most extreme kind. Conflict is addictive, and it is infectious, and it has an energy to it. If you don't fight against it, it'll take you over and suck you into the whole stinking mess."

"You're making it sound as though I enjoy the idea of killing someone." Devon switches hands pulling the wagon, the other lifting to rub at his brow. "You have no idea how hard it was to choose to be one of those standing up for the others. Or how hard it is to ignore the weight of the rifle I carry openly or the pistol you can't see." He sighs and shakes his head. "All you see is a kid with a gun and you've pegged me as one of those bloodthirsty nutjobs because I've chosen to put myself on the line to keep others alive. —All I wanted was to be an actor before all this shit came down. I acted because I felt I could and keep a level head about it."

Ygraine turns her head, lifting one brow at Devon. "No", she says quietly, taking a slow, deep breath before providing any clarification of just what it is she is disagreeing with. "Like I said - it's a basic cycle. Virtually everyone alive is prone to it. And I'd see you as a victim of it, if anything. Like most people who get caught up…."

Another weary sigh, and she peers morosely upwards at the shadowed Dome overhead. "Standing up for people is good. But never let the other side decide the paradigm of the encounter. The rules of the game. If you let them do that, then with a group like Humanis First, then they either win or they win. The leadership are in many ways happy to have Evolved kill off armed troopers. It proves to the world how scarily dangerous we are. It shows that even armed, ready humans can't stop us. It heightens the fear of us even among those who disapprove of their methods. And it also heightens the fear among the Evolved. More and more figure out how to fight to defend themselves. More and more decide to act first and wait to see if it's Humanis First afterwards. The result? More violence, more deaths, more people fed into the great, glorious mill of death and destruction and power for those few at the top of it all."

"But if you cheat. If you refuse to let them set the rules whenever you possibly can. If you don't give them what they want and still foil their plans - that's far better. It's harder, it'll often require people accusing you of being a coward, and it's often more dangerous than just blazing away… but it's the one sodding hope we have for avoiding this becoming a common occurrence around the world."

"If you're talking about the splatter above the subway platform, I didn't see what happened." Devon casts a sidelong look at Ygraine. "I know the men up there had guns and had threatened to keep us in the tunnels. The tunnels you warned against being in. I asked for a weapon that night because we didn't know what was going to happen and we had to show that they couldn't push us around."

Turning off the road and heading up a walkway to a house that seems still untouched, Devon frowns briefly. "There's a time for war and a time for peace. A time to be silent and a time to speak. We're in a time of war, regardless of what you want. I've made my choice, I will fight if I have to. If I have to. But I'm tired and don't care to see more death." Before trying the knob, the teenager rubs at his face, as though trying to wipe away a memory.

"The 'time for war' thing is itself an excuse", Ygraine says wearily, her voice devoid of anger. "But until you've killed and been shot at in return, be careful how certain you are about just how ready you really are. I've become more prepared, these past few years, and less willing than I used to be. But for many people, the hardest time's the first - and after that… it gets so very much easier…."

"What's happening in here is just a small and local example - larger than most conflicts, but far smaller than many. But it's running exactly as I feared it would, because virtually no one ever learns what the process is, and virtually no one ever tries to break it." The Briton sounds wearily bitter.

"Right back at the start of all this - the day after it happened - I had a message relayed up the emergency services chain of command. A request to find a way to set up a civil authority in here. Even if it was just giving some retired old duffer who once sat on the city council a 'special commission', it'd give a form of authority other than the gun and the super-power. Something that might persuade people that things were being held together. I don't think it'd had have held back the violence forever. But just buying us some time would have been welcome. But people never want to believe that things'll turn to shit. Their people are always too decent. It could never happen to them. And when it does, they respond with more violence. More and more violence until it threatens to swamp everything…"

"Too little too late," Devon says as he works the handle, striving to stay neutral of tone. Emotion, regardless of what he wants, has started to creep in, troubled and weary. "We've been in this bubble nearly a month and Saturday was the first time anyone had organized anything. Even though I'd suggested at the beginning we should ration food to keep order. Please save your lectures on the 'easy way out' or 'excuses' and I'll respect your opinion for what it is. No one tried to organize before Saturday and this war and violence you're trying so hard to avoid is on us."

Pushing his shoulder against the door, Devon jiggles the handle until the way is opened. "None of us really likes violence," he continues as he returns to the wagon, searching out his paper and pencil. A glance is given to the address and notes made without pause. "I never considered being violent. But I'm not going to sit by and let violence happen around me when I have a chance to stop it." He glances up at Ygraine again then makes for the opened door, notes in tow.

"If you were as confident of your stance as you pretend, you'd stop interpreting everything I say as a specific attack against your personal actions", Ygraine says wearily. "You wouldn't be so defensive if you weren't harbouring doubts about that rifle you keep touching - glad though I am that you are still uncomfortable with it."

"And if you believe that no one really likes violence, you've missed a good bit of what's going on", the Briton adds, propping herself against the door-jamb. "Some people love this shit. It's thrilling, it's exciting, it gives them a sense of power. There're reasons why soldiers struggle to adjust to 'normal' life after service on an active front - and for some of them, one of those reasons is the addictive thrill of combat. Some of what I've seen done to bodies in here looked awfully like someone had been having fun."

Closing her eyes, she sighs, resting her head as well as her shoulder against the support of the building. "And there were efforts at organisation. That's how the wounded got sorted and prioritised and housed, and why I was criss-crossing around charging cells and carrying messages, and why myself and others were sharing information on the Dome with those outside and inside to boost our chances of a solution, and why other people were putting in their own efforts…. The reason that Humanis felt it had prime targets to hit was exactly that people had been organised to look after those most in need."

Pausing at the doorway, Devon shakes his head. "Look. The way you say things makes it sound like you're personally attacking me and what I think is the right thing to do. I don't know your story, and I'm comfortable with my decisions. Seems like you're doing whatever you can to contradict me and change my mind."

Crossing over the threshold, Devon looks back. "You coming inside? I'll share what I find with you, like I said, but I'm not Pizza Hut." It's an attempt at a joke, and a means for a truce.

"When I spoke to you first, after it had happened, you were saying that you were certain that the guys guarding the Subway were Humanis", Ygraine says quietly, pushing off her support to right herself, then start inside. "Now, we know that at least one of them is actively helping the refugees, and the killing started without them having fired a shot - and they didn't even let off a round during the incident. I just don't want you to be similarly certain and similarly wrong in future - especially not when you have a rifle to fire now."

"Because believe me, please", she pleads, turning a fervently intense gaze upon the boy, trying to catch his eyes. "Killing someone - even in the best of causes - it eats at you, if you're human. What it wants to take… those are the best bits of you. The ones that make you human. Being shot at has been fucking terrifying, every single time it's happened to me. But some of my worst nightmares - those are of when I was the one doing the shooting… and seeing the results of it. So if I can somehow spare people that by bending a few ears…."

Closing her eyes, though it might not be wholly clear how much that's due to fatigue and how much to blink back tears, she then extends her one usable hand to the wall. "Let's go and see if we can find anything. You can shut me up with food, I promise."

Devon watches Ygraine silently, once again not entirely hidden behind his cloud of apparent apathy. He can sympathize with the woman, having suffered losses and seen more death than he cares to recall. His own pain is evident in shadows and creases. The teenager reaches out to touch Ygraine's shoulder and guide her into the house, motioning her toward the kitchen. "Let me know what you take, I'll write it down for the Frontline guy, JJ, and leave a note here as well. Not sure if this is someone who'll be back or not."

Ygraine nods a little dumbly. "Yeah, I've been doing that with places. Though I tend to go in higher up, so that security stays in place against anyone else. Some people'll probably wonder how they got burgled and why someone only took cans of tuna."

Dully shaking her head, she takes a deep breath then starts further into the house. "Sorry. Babbling again. The joys of pain meds combined with blood loss, among other things. To think that some people pay to feel like this…."

"If humanity is as good as you believe it to be," Devon says gently, "then you'll be forgiven a few cans of tuna." He follows her toward the kitchen, taking a seat on a counter. He'll let her have the run of the kitchen, finding and taking whatever she needs before he paws through the left overs. "You need a place to bunk down over here? My apartment… isn't being used. I'm staying somewhere else."

"I'm a very cynical idealist", Ygraine says with a weak laugh, keeping the fingertips of her one free hand on the wall as she walks, though she doesn't appear to be gaining any direct support from the contact. "I believe in the potential more than the current situation. Hence the need to fight to break the rules that people blindly follow, rather than just sitting back and hoping. Hence wanting so very badly to stop things following the same, stupid slide into Hell that people have followed time and time and time after time…."

Looking around, she musters a weak little smile, though her eyes are bright. "Which does always make it an especially pleasant experience when someone lives up to hopes rather than down to bitter expectations. So… thank you. I hope that I won't need to take you up on that offer - I need to be where people can find me, since I provide half our transit across the water. But… thank you."

Devon shrugs off the words of thanks. He doesn't see himself as a blood mongering monster, just a survivalist who'll do what he can to help others survive. "We'll get out of this alive," he points out. "As many of us as possible, all of those left preferably."

Nodding somewhat absent-mindedly, Ygraine moves through into the kitchen. "Now, what we really need is someone with the ability to sense edible food at range", she muses. "Though I imagine that that power would be as bad as sensing thoughts, at times. But… yes. Let's aim high. Aim for getting everyone out. If we can find something non-alcoholic and not rancid to drink, I'll happily raise a toast to that."

Feet thudding against the cabinetry under the counter he sits on, Devon nods somberly. That cold wall of detachment returned, emotions safely hidden once again. He doesn't care to revisit those, chances are they'll find him late at night while he's sleeping. They did last night and most nights since the dome went up. "Find what you can," he advises again, ready to take notes of any loot taken.

Hopefully the offering is a step toward… not friendship maybe, but an alliance of sorts. A show of good faith that they may not see eye to eye, but their end goals are the same.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License