An Artist's Revolt


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Scene Title An Artist's Revolt
Synopsis "Art is a revolt against fate" - Andre Malraux. Tasha seeks to warn innocent citizens about the robots in Midtown, and finds an unlikely like-minded spirit in Audrey Hanson.
Date July 3, 2011

Ruins of Midtown

So much for holiday-weekend barbecues. The weather is gray and humid, threatening rain and spitting drizzle now and then, though the warmth is balmy enough to remind one it is indeed summer. The dampness of the day doesn't make Tasha's self-appointed work any easier today as she makes her way around the perimeter of Midtown on Colette's bike, equipped with an artist's portfolio and bright-blue painters tape.

It's repetitive and tedious work, a cycle that involves parking the bike, putting up a poster in some spot her artist's and rebel's eye finds practical or aesthetic or a mixture of both, then climbing back on and choosing the next. The posters are all variations of the same theme: painted depictions of the robots seen in midtown, gathered from her own frightening experiences and interviews with the squatters and homeless who call the ruins their home. "Caution! Can detect Evolved!" in both English and Spanish is written in bold letters.

Starting with stack of thirty or so, each has been painted and drawn by hand, because going to a printer shop to get duplicates made is simply not an option. With only five up and 25 to go, Tasha parks the bike and moves to an empty storefront and holds the poster board up against the brick with one hand, pulls the tape from her pocket with the other, and proceeds to rip the blue strand off with her teeth.

She'll have one more free hand, if the one that's pressing against the posterboard helping Tasha to pin it to the store window is any indication. Fingernails kept neat and short not even a hint of clear nail polish, of average height and out of the periphery of the younger womans eyes, blonde hair, Audrey Hanson is looking at the poster, and helping to hold it up.

"Use your hands. I got it"

Shit. Tasha hadn't seen anyone when she pulled up. Her heart pounds for a moment, more to the surprise than to actual fear — the woman isn't overly imposing in appearance, not much taller than Tasha, and normal enough looking from the little Tasha can see of her with a quick glance to the side.

"Oh, thanks," the younger girl finally manages, letting go and pulling of a strip of tape. "You'd think after a few I'd figure out to pull the tape off first, but then it always manages to stick to itself or the wind catches it and I have to start over anyway."

Blue tape is torn to go along the top length of the poster, and then another swath torn for the bottom. That done, Tasha tapes down each side before stepping back. Her nose wrinkles slightly. "Messed up on that one, but I guess the point's clear enough," she remarks, her own worst critic. Finally, she turns to look at Audrey. "Thanks."

"Bring a box cutter next time or a swiss army knife. Cut a piece, put it on two corners, then put it up. Will be easier to follow through." Both of Audrey's hands come into play now, and she's getting a good look at what she thought it was that she saw. "You've seen them?" She nods her chin at the display, taking in the image, comparing it to what she was told about them.

There's something familiar about Audrey — not that Tasha's met her before, not that she remembers, anyway. It's more in the way the woman holds herself, in the intensity of her gaze as she looks at the poster, in the alertness of her features. And then the shoulder holster confirms those feelings. Everything about her screams cop.

It's enough to make Tasha more than a little nervous, but she nods once.

"The little one, I've seen, myself," she says, finger pointing to the little spider-like creature, a "Before" and "After" of the innocuous looking thing before it becomes a fire breathing robotic demon.

"The others, I've seen the heads of and sketched what others said they saw," she adds.
"I … it's okay, right? To put this up? I don't think most people know about them and I don't want people to get hurt just because they didn't know any better."

"If it wasn't, I'd be asking you to take them down" That the woman is asking Audrey, she's not surprised, and to make things fair and in the name of full disclosure, she's removing a hand to dig around and flip out her badge. DHS. Special Agent Audrey Hanson. "I could nail you, for obviously having gone into the ruins, but… I don't have proof of that. So it's never hold up and frankly, I have better things to do with my time than chase down teenagers who think that they can make five bucks on a dare to run through the ruins. If they want to get cancer, it'stheir choice"

Audrey pauses.

"Unless they're running meth from methlabs" Audrey looks to Tasha. "You're not running drugs for a meth lab are you?"

The small teen slips the tape into her pocket and adjusts the strap of the artist porfolio on her shoulder. Dark eyes grow wider at the mention of nailing her for going into the ruins — but only because there are so many other things she could get nailed for if they bring her in and start to poke. Maybe.

Her eyes grow wider at the mention of meth labs, and Tasha hurriedly shakes her head. "No, ma'am. I would never do anything like that. I'm just a student and an artist, but not a starving one who needs to do anything illegal like that to make money," she babbles a little.

Nervousness, however, doesn't dampen her own curiosity. "You know about them? The robots? You don't seem to think I'm crazy or anything."

"Lets just say that some nights, I'm of a mind to go poking around for them myself, and I know a few people who have seen them. I haven't heard about this one though" A gesture to the crab like robot. "What's this particular one do?"

Tasha resists the urge to bring her thumbnail to her mouth to chew on by shoving her hands in her pockets. "I think it takes pictures at first, maybe with its eyes… But then it spewed fire. A multi-purpose robot, I guess. Very efficient, right?" she says with a shake of her head, and a glance back toward the bike, keeping a watchful eye should anyone try to take it.

"How big was it?" Because it's not like she can get that visual from the poster itself, even as she takes a few steps back once it's up so that she can get a good look at it unobstructed. "Things like these, tend to have a twofold purpose to them. Likely, if you said it took pictures, might have taken it to make note of who ventures out into the ruins or near?" Audrey doesn't know. She doesn't even really know what part of the government is responsible for these other than it showed up, on Staten Island and made a mess of her plans.

"Umm." Tasha bends down to indicate the robot's approximate height, then uses her hands to indicate its width. Straightening, she adjusts the strap of the portfolio again, and shakes her too-long bangs out of her eyes.

"Probably," she says, keeping her face neutral despite her real feelings. The thing didn't capture her image (that she knows of) but if it can do so, it could track the comings and goings of the people in the Ferry. Even if the robots themselves don't kill the Ferry operatives, taking photos of them might mean, in the end, the same or worse.

Sometimes, people are kept loose, for the express purpose of getting more dirt on them, where they go. The mouse that will lead them back to the colony. That there's now three robots is a little disconcerting. 'Where's you see this one?" Audrey inquires, lines on her forehead as she frowns, pushing her tongue against the back of her teeth. Her focus, clearly, on gleaning information about the robots and not so much on Tasha herself.

Despite the adrenaline trying to force her into fight or flight (in Tasha's case flight), Tasha stays put. She knows that not all cops are bad — not even most of them, really. Unless you're a criminal — which she is, even if it's unknown to the government (knock on wood). "Not far from here… maybe like six or seven blocks up, and two or three blocks in? I don't remember the exact street," she says, pointing down the road. It's a risk — 'two or three blocks in' implies within the ruins, as they stand on the fringe now.

"What about the other ones' Audrey switches her focus onto Tasha now, looking the girl over. "Not going to run you in. I've heard about them. I'm curious about them. So don't worry, really." Lifting a hand to try and maybe calm a little of what she see's in the teenager. "The others, do you know from talking with people, where they saw them? What exactly it is that they do?"

She looks over at the poster, a grim little smile. "This is nice of you. The warning. Would that more New Yorkers were like you"

Tasha offers a smile at the compliment, and shrugs. "There are good people who live in there, just because they have no where else to go. Homeless people… but they have a life. It might not be what you or me think is a good one, but… I donno. I just think they should have some warning."

She nods to the poster. "Negation gas and tranqs I think. And a way to detect them." The words are spoken coolly, with anger at the institution responsible for the robots — whichever that may be, Tasha isn't sure.

Who makes these things? 'Who wakes up one morning and goes, I'm going to make an evolved detecting robot that will spew negation gas and tranquilizers?" It's more mused outloud than directed at Tasha, but Audrey is digging into her back pocket, pulling out her wallet so she can grab a business card and offer it out to Tasha. "If you come across more information about them, will you let me know?"

Tasha steps forward to take the card, and nods, glancing at it before tucking it into the back pocket of her jeans. "Sure," she says, voice bright enough, though it's not a promise she's sure she'll keep. "Thanks for the help. I should get to putting the rest up before it starts raining."

Dark eyes glance up at the gray skies above and Tasha begins to move toward the motorbike. "Have a good 4th of July weekend," she adds, the irony of the comment not lost on her. Independence Day doesn't mean a lot to her when most of her friends aren't really free.

"You as well" No names exchanged, well Tasha's name not gleaned. But Adurey turns away, starting to walk off. Hesitates, turning to look at the poster one more time before she starts off the way she was going in the first place. Three. Three of them now. How many more other kinds were there.

How many more would be invented?

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