Blackened Pastures


candy_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title Blackened Pastures
Synopsis Teo spies on a spy then comes to talk to her about a wallaby few mutual friends.
Date October 17, 2009

Ruins of Midtown

Standing in the ruins of Midtown, it's hard to believe New York is still a living city.

There's life enough around the fringes — the stubborn, who refused to rebuild somewhere else; the hopeful, who believe the radiation is gone, or that they somehow won't be affected. Businesses, apartment complexes, taxis and bicycles and subways going to and fro — life goes on. Perhaps more quietly than in other parts of the city, shadowed by the reminder that even a city can die, but it does go on.

Then there is the waste. The empty core for which the living city is only a distant memory. Though a few major thoroughfares wind through the ruins, arteries linking the surviving halves, and the forms of some truly desperate souls can occasionally be glimpsed skulking in the shadows, the loudest noise here is of the wind whistling through the mangled remnants of buildings. Twisted cords of rebar reach out from shattered concrete; piles of masonry and warped metal huddle on the ground, broken and forlorn. Short stretches of road peek out from under rubble and dust only to disappear again shortly afterwards, dotted with the mangled and contorted forms of rusting cars, their windows long since shattered into glittering dust.

There are no bodies — not even pieces, not anymore. Just the bits and pieces of destroyed lives: ragged streamers fluttering from the handlebar which juts out of a pile of debris; a flowerbox turned on its side, coated by brick dust, dry sticks still clinging to the packed dirt inside; a lawn chair, its aluminum frame twisted but still recognizable, leaning against a flight of stairs climbing to nowhere.

At the center of this broken wasteland lies nothing at all. A hollow scooped out of the earth, just over half a mile across, coated in a thick layer of dust and ash. Nothing lives here. Not a bird; not a plant. Nothing stands here. Not one concrete block atop another. There is only a scar in the earth, cauterized by atomic fire. This is Death's ground.

Despite that the last cloudburst spent itself dry hours ago, the night sky is dense with weather and occupied by little else. The latter thing would be true over the ruins of midtown even during the day, probably. There are fewer people living in the ruins every month, the stubborn clingfilm of its remnant population slowly, discriminatingly picked off by inconvenience (no supermarkets), hazards to health (hooligans and radiation sickness), quite possibly boredom and greener pastures (any would be greener than this).

This is both convenient and inconvenient to the young man waiting in the dark at roadside. He's Evolved, and he needs people to see very far, though granted the density of crowds tends to only confuse things. Teo has his shoulder stacked against the brick of a wall, shadow thick over him, concealment, as he watches the skinny gulf of the street, the paved edge of it, something like expectation hunkering his shoulders low underneath the leather of his jacket. There's an errant fragment of concrete hanging in the hood of his sweater, and his weapons remain stowed, hanging silent and cold in the equilibrium of his patience.

He might be the only man in Manhattan whose arrival in the ruins of Midtown signifies he's come out of hiding, rather than having come here to hide.

Candy is on her way to where ever it is that she goes to purge herself of the guilt of her continued existance as a deep cover operative for Phoenix. Her eyes downcast as she thinks once more over what she has had to do, and what will surely come. Her hands shaking, though they are stowed deep in her pockets to try and minimize that. Her shoulders are slumped while she walks, unable to lift them, or simpley not caring that her melancholy is allowed to leak through when she is in the anonymonity of the crowds. Her own weapon is left where ever she stashes it, trusting more in the knowledge of her evolved ability to keep her safe rather than the cold steel that she barely knows how to use.


It's more of her name than most people would think to refer her by, but then, he doesn't really know her. Teo comes out in a stilted swivel and straightening of his spine, pushing off the wall and falling into his first step. Nothing clings to his shoes as he moves out of the recessed shadow and out onto the concrete because there's nothing alive enough out here to die and leave its residue. He has boots, hardily utilitarian running-hiking affairs, a lumpy layering of clothes, shaven head and unshaven jaw. He looks like a thug, except that the curiosity in his face, the sharp clarity of blue eyes and how they weigh the slump of her shoulders, the fact that he's alone implies he is, at the very least, a particularly well-groomed thug. He says: "Friend of Cat's."

Candy reflexively looks up as she hears her full name. Her green eyes retaining the haunted look that she had been sharing with the ground. The look at him for a couple of moments, unfamiliarly, until she hears that he is a friend of Cat's. A ghost of a smile passes across her lips, before that serious mien is once more put up. "Yes," she asks simpley while she looks at him, her eyes scanning the crowd for a quick moment, and not seeing any faces that she has identified as Humanis First, she looks back at him and says, "Have an alley to talk in?"

Candy reflexively looks up as she hears her full name. Her green eyes retaining the haunted look that she had been sharing with the ground. The look at him for a couple of moments, unfamiliarly, until she hears that he is a friend of Cat's. A ghost of a smile passes across her lips, before that serious mien is once more put up. "Yes," she asks simpley while she looks at him. Her eyes scan around the area, making sure that there are no people around. Seeing none, her green gaze returns to him as she patiently waits for him to go on.

No hostilities. That's almost unexpected, though not precisely refreshing— out here, in the dark. Teo makes simple ceremony out of the fact that his hands are empty, none out of the fact that he remains residually wary of attack, just in case. She can't see anyone with her green eyes, and he finds no one in the radius of his astral projection, but just in case. Wouldn't be the first time he was spontaneously recruited into somebody's cover, and if she is who Catherine believes she is, her cover is well-worth protecting. He nods his head leftways, a quick jerk of a degree, inviting her in under the patchy cover of a restaurant's half-demolished facade.

As far as privacy and security go, not much of a difference to standing out in Midtown's empty skull socket, but every little bit matters. He kicks broken glass away. It grinds, tinkles, settles leaving a whiff of dust translucent in the acrid ghost of the nearest sodium light. Not near, at all. "Anything on Helena Dean?"

"Perhaps," Candace replies warily. He may say he is a friend of Cat's, but that doesn't mean she is immediately going to go ahead and trust him. Her eyes regard him while she stands there, her hands still thrust into her pockets. Her eyes taking in the place that she has been afford cover for the moment. "Not exactly five-star, anymore," she observes in a deadpan, and could almost be taken seriously. Her eyes than flick back to him, before she finally says, "I'm going to need something other than that you're a friend of Cat's."

Shoulders square underneath Teo's jacket, a shrug stiffened by his aversion to the weather. "Old friend of Helena's, too. Used to be a member of Phoenix. A few of your boys at Humanis First! know who I am and would like me in the ground. My name is Teo." Tea Oh, he pronounces it this time, incorrect to his home culture but subscribing instead to the American pronunciation that his friends so often default to out of cluttered discomfort with the native accent of Sicily.

"I'd be the first person to admit none of this shit is my business anymore, and I'm not here to blow your cover. But I need to know that someone's made this their business. It's important to me." Or used to be, or something close enough. He regards her with an expression that's a bizarre hybrid of frank openness and the opacity of a stranger, whose cues and idiosyncrasies the young spy hasn't yet learned to parse. He knows that it's a strange request, but if she wasn't used to strange, she wouldn't be here.

Candy looks at him while she stands there, and she says, "I wish you could see this from my point of view, I can't just go and trust people." She blows out a sigh of hair, and bring a hand out of her pockets to run through her chair "Well, regardless, I suppose it is nice to meet you." She offers a small smile, before she finally says, "But, do you honestly think your friends at Pheonix would let Helena just rot in some cell with nothing but the fools of Humanis First to keep her company? No, they wouldn't. I bring her what comfort I can, and what knowledge she can give me to Cat. She is doing fine, all things considered."

"I don't, but then again, I didn't know Helena had anyone but the Humanis First! cunts in there to keep her company. Was my point." The shift in Teo's demeanor is visible, if understated: he's relieved, instantly and obviously. It isn't the total allevitation of the weight from his shoulders, of course: there's still some form of heroic rescue in the works, presumably, and God knows that people could and will get hurt. "I'm glad you found her. I'm surprised to hear she's— still herself," or so seems to be the insinuation. He squints at the Japanese American woman for another beat, for confirmation, before flitting a quizzical brow, ducking his head into a brief nod. "Can you get Catherine the entry points, Humanis First! headcount and artillery, all that shit?"

Candy smiles lightly before asking, "Do you think that I hadn't already? As soon as I could get the information she recieved it." Her eyes still bearing that haunted look despite the smile on her lips. "As for finding her, it wasn't hard. Just do any number of dispicable acts against your own kind; your own family. And they very well may invite you right on in," Candy's tone suddenly turns bitter as that smile is taken right off her face.

Which implies, hopefully correctly, that Candy has had the information for some time. And gave it. That the cavalry will be coming soon, and Helena Dean— the real Helena Dean has a solid chance at getting away okay. Teo's mildly distracted by this, the revelation, the peculiar fact that he feels markedly better for it. So distracted, indeed, that the bitter recollection of what it took the young Asian woman to get into Humanis First!'s homicidal ranks barely impacts his awareness at all, until Teo's left blinking, the information retroactively sinking into some spongier spot on the surface of his mind.

He doesn't point out that there are plenty of mutant-killing mutants that Humanis First! wouldn't invite in, of course; the entrance criteria isn't as simple as she's making it out to be, and looking closer at them isn't wont to help anybody. "It'll be over soon," he offers, instead. "Chances are better than good Humanis First! is going to suspect a mole after this goes through, no matter what precautions you take. How do you feel?"

"Oh, they'll know who there thrice damned mole is after the operation. I already told Cat, that I'll be there slaughtering them if we met with resistance. By the time I'm done with the front ranks it'll be a wonder that any of them ever want to fight me again. I personally think its rather demoralizing to see the man beside you erupt in a cloud of blood," Candace says, a feral smile on her lips and a rather frightening gleam in her eye. "Oh no… they will know who it was, and I will be happy to send them to whatever awaits when they come try and find me."

Sounds like Humanis First! is going to feel that one, and Teodoro honestly doesn't mind if they do. He inclines his head, briefly, in acknowledgment, lets a smile tug at the corners of his mouth despite that there's a little less fluorescent red fervor in his own expression, doing so. He's been awhile without fluorescent red fervor. "Sounds like a solid plan to me.

"Uhm—" he raises a brief hand up on the side of his temple, a finger curled as if to scratch his scalp in labrador-puppish boy confusion, bit it's a weak semblence at best; he's just trying to remember. "Might work well to use aerosols. CS gas, smoke bombs, something like that. The Ferrymen have an aerokinetic who may be able to help directing the misdirection, and if Helena isn't negated, she'd be able to keep her immediate proximity clear enough." There's a beat's pause, an odd frown bridging his mouth, almost wry. "I want to ask you if you plan on joining Phoenix afterward, but you probably shouldn't tell me anyway."

"I'll keep that in mind," she replies about the bit of aerosols. Candace's eyes watching him while she stands there, before she answers in a deadpan again, "Well, I'll see where the wind blows me when it comes to that, but, I don't have any future plans at the moment." She's being pretty truthful, as until she gets out of where she is, all she sees in her future is death.

The alternative that awaits Teo, as far as he's concerned, is captivity. "Me neither." Arguably, the worse of the two alternatives. He nods his head, once, digs his chin down into the coarse fabric of his collar, lifts it again. His aquiline profile and the cut of his clothes show shabbily regal against the gutted square of the window behind him. "That should be about it. I should head out. You're in good hands, just so you know. Hel, too. They'll have your back; the burning bird, the cattle-rustlers. More idealism than someone like you would admit to, I take it, but there's a lot of steel in them." He scratches a step away, one callused hand half-lifted in salutation.

"Yeah," is all Candy responds, her eyes looking at Teo while she stands there. She waits until he leaves, and she can't see him anymore before she heads out and begins her walk towards where ever she is going to spend her down time.

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