Blue Sky, Part II


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Scene Title Blue Sky, Part II
Synopsis As Malcolm frees a patch of New York City from down below, betrayal comes from on high. And before that, a conversation.
Date February 20, 2011

The Dome: Queens, near the Autoshop

Up here, the wind should be shearing from the north, cold and hard, but in here, the Dome is protection against such environment factors, man having finally tamed the skies as its last frontier. Michal Valentin has his attention drifted up almost dreamily towards where the ice cap hovers ominous in the sky, veiled as it is by the smog of fires and pollution. His pistol is in hand, gripped like it gives him some comfort even if he doesn't look like he needs it— comfort. His arms set against the rooftop ledge, and he looks glad to be here. Happy to be free of the interior of the Institute's supply closet.

The street down below is empty, for now, but it's what his cold blue eyes observe.

Which doesn't stop him from story time.

"We were in some terrible little American motel, one of the times I was on this land to do the work the Company required of me. We were few, back then," he's saying, his accent pronounced, friendly. "They preferred me overseas. I was never very— " He pauses, trying to find the correct word. "Inconspicuous. Not only in my methods, but also— foreign. But it was an evening of close quarters, and tension. Wonderful, I think, but he never responded very well to conflict."

Pistol wavers in gesture. "You have felt it, surely. The ease at which your ability sets you above all the others."

What happens when you create the triplicate God complex of a child prodigy, set her on the fast track in medicine, make her a surgeon before she exits her teens, and then watch her become a Time Lord?

Odessa (Knutson) Price sits on the ledge of the building, ruffling her own hair with her fingers in the absence of a breeze to do it for her. Fringey white bangs settle over the white patch that completely obscures her ruined eye. "Yes." The fact that she's just a bullet or an easy shove away from death, and isn't remotely bothered by this speaks volumes to how at ease she is with how she feels her ability sets her above others.

Not just the mundane ones like him (or Bella Sheridan, for that matter, friend as she is), but also others like her. Others with abilities. "What was it he could do?" The distance of years makes details fuzzier. Or maybe Odessa just never bothered to pay attention. "I've forgotten."

"And I remember," Valentin intones with understated enthusiasm, smile compulsive. Dimmer.

He rocks his weight forward a little to glance towards the Queensboro Bridge, but while their perch is high, it doesn't give them enough advantage to see it clearly. Unconcerned, he continues. "A simple power. Primitive, even, compared to other complexities. He could turn organic matter into glass." That 'a' is long, like it's accompanied with an 'r' that purrs out his throat. "He gripped my arm, and from wrist to shoulder, he turned it into crystal. Held his gun over it, threatened to make it shatter. Cripple me forever, useless to everyone. I was twenty-four.

"And you know what he made me do then." He tips a look up at her, finally — there's no woundedness in his eyes, or insult. No trauma. He's interested in her expression. "My partner. He made me admit he was correct. He made me apologise. And my hand! My hand was beginning to turn blue by the time I begged as he asked. After that, we were okay. I shot him in the head a few days later. So the rumours, they are true."

It's okay, that she doesn't recall. He's been dead a long time.

"He deserved it," Odessa responds without missing a beat. "I'm sorry for what he did to you. We aren't all that way." She seems to mean it, too. Her expression isn't pitying, but there's a certain sense of sympathy to it.

A sort of understanding. "I remember what it was like before I… Before I manifested. And times after that, when I've been negated. I wouldn't give up my ability for anything." Maybe to have her parents? Maybe not.

"But I envy you." There's no shame in her admission, even as she turns her head to look over her shoulder at the polluted horizon over Roosevelt Island and Queens. "You don't fear powerlessness. You never are."

That has him contemplating the gun in his hand and admittedly, the way turns her head away — but if Valentin did not desire her help, he would never have gone to her, or tried to engage in parley. Would have found some other way to achieve the doses of amp, would not have entrusted them with her. With JJ, too. "It is envy, too, that inspires so many of the young men— some women— that follow the sentiment of Human Is First. They believe they are powerless, and envy the powerful, like the poor rising up against the bourgeoisie.

"But we aren't all that way."

She laughs at that, softly. "I'm glad we've crossed paths again." Odessa's smile, flawed as it is with the deep scar that makes a ravine over her lips, is kind. "I was pleased you remembered me. Do you still see gangly limbs, bushy blonde hair, baggy jeans and braces?" Preferably with two clear blue eyes?

Her lower lip is bitten then, thoughtful as she seems to scrutinise and conjure up years-old visions of the man in front of her. "I still see a young man who could not keep himself from chuckling when I tried to practise my Russian." She harbours no ill feelings, even if he can remember the crestfallen look on her face at the time. Odessa is mature enough to accept some of her shortcomings after all these years. As much as she had hoped otherwise, her skill with that particular language was one of them. It still is, of all the languages she continues to study today.

There's the faint growl of an engine, that has Valentin's attention switching passed her, but only for a moment, and only to inspire him to tuck his pistol away beneath his jacket as he gets his weight back up on his feet.

"I heard you struck out on your own eventually, like me," he says. Grey in his hair and lines carved deeper in his face, less obtrusive than her missing eye and the ghost-white of her hair. But everyone's bones and foundations remain the same enough for recognition to be mutual. "You should do so again. This Institute foolishness becomes you nothing. Work for the people who pay you the most, in money or bombs or love, as you see fit, unless you are biding your time."

He shrugs once, a jaunty movement, bending then at the waist to open the duffel bag at his feet, the one he'd collected on their way here. Two slender silver canisters are taken out, slipped into the deep pockets of his coat. In Russian, he adds: "«I will give you credit.»"

Now when she smiles, it's brightly. "You're right. I left the Company, same as you. It was liberating, and terrifying." Odessa braces her hands on the roof's ledge and slides forward to plant her feet on solid ground once more, putting her back to Valentin seemingly without fear as she cranes her neck to see what's going on below. "I work much better with a partner, I've decided, than on my own."

Deciding it's much more interesting to watch the Slovak work, she again turns her back on the display beyond. "You aren't wrong. I dislike my lot here with the Institute. Immensely. They're holding me back, but I owe them a life debt. And I am short on allies." The smile runs away from her face at that notion. It's too honest to smile about. "People like us, survivors, generally are, don't you think?"

Nails slide against high cheekbones, and hook under the edges of the patch in the shallow hollow created by her eye socket. "«For my Russian?»" is asked in a tone that suggests surely not. Odessa drags the patch away from her face, shakes out her hair. For once unashamed of her scars. "And what do you work for, Michal?" Mismatched cobalt and scar tissue settle on matching blue. "Money, bombs, or love?"

He's crouching now, hands dipping into the bag to then pull out a rifle, unfolding the stock with smooth clicks, the suppressor left behind. When Valentin does glance to her, his eyes trick over her scars in an assessment of damage that pauses his hands, but there's no disgust or dismay for what's displayed, and obviously doesn't expect that she expects it. Or else he might put it on for her sake. "Bombs," he says, after loading the five-round magazine into place.

The small, detachable tripod set onto the rooftop ledge, the bulk of his body disguise behind signage. "I was never the better marksman of any partnership, group or department. But bombs are like ideas. You plant them. You walk away." He checks the door of the garage down the scope of his rifle.

The implicit meaning being: he works for ideas.

"There's our boy," he announces in giddy appreciation, the sight of the pickup truck coming around the corner. "I was worried, for moments."

Odessa hums softly, a sorrowful and yet appreciative sort of noise. She turns her attention to the same area where he aims his scope and comments, "A first time for everything, non?" Being the better marksman. "It's all right. You won't have to contend with things like wind, or movement. That's my contribution." And the Dome's as well, but even if it weren't there to shield them from the elements, she would have this.

"I'm actually going to miss you when all this is over, I think."

"Just make sure you don't miss me in mourning," Valentin says, watching as the pickup truck slips into the garage like a knife carving a wound. His focus is on the movement down below, his finger coming to curl gently against the trigger, a caress. "That is, for today, all I ask."

They wait until it happens. They wait for the wind pressure, and for Odessa to make it go still again.

They celebrate freedom with a bang.

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