devon_icon.gif perry_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Castra
Synopsis When linguistics, disaster and the classics collide - the result? A plan for a castra. A nerdishly practical discussion of death, disease, discord and the prevention of all three via the media of democracy and collective defence.
Date February 12 2011


Queens is the largest in area and the second most populous of the five boroughs of New York City. Located on the western portion of Long Island, Queens managed to avoid much of the physical ruin attributed to the Bomb. However, Queens on whole suffered from something far more significant in the wake of the explosion that tore apart New York — Economic crisis. With much of Queens relying on industrial productivity for its commerce, it was the mass exodus of many businesses from the New York area following the bomb that crippled the borough.

With refugees pouring in from the western portions of New York following the destruction of Midtown, Queens was inundated with homeless of all walks of life. Food shortages, coupled with the collapse of Queens business centers and the strain put on local police only furthered what would become one of the most embarassing mishandling of a crisis situation the city had ever seen. Weeks after the bomb hit, riots swept through New York by the panicked populace, this was felt most hard in Queens, where food riots ravaged the businesses that dared remain open. Shea Statium was used as temporary shelter for bomb refugees, and the riots that swept through Queens enveloped the stadium as well, resulting in a remarkable loss of life in the chaos.

Ever since, Queens has settled down from the turbulent weeks following the nuclear explosion. But while its scars may not be as physical as Midtowns are, Queens suffers just as the rest of New York does, under the shadow of that broken skyline to the west and the collapse of its social and economic centers. Queens is now a ghost of its former self, slowly struggling to recover from the damage done.

Already, it feels like one of the longest days of Ygraine's life… and it's barely past noon. The dawn's beautiful light-show has long since disappeared, to be replaced by a great shadow cast by the snowcap atop the Dome, and a surly red-orange tinge to the light filtering through the more polluted sections of the field.

Of course, across the water and to the North, one portion of the Dome is all but opaque thanks to smoke-stains.

Here, however, Ygraine is hunkered down close by the entrance to the Subway, examining a great dark stain the spreads across the tarmac, its patterns clearly suggestive of a liquid, though one prone to congealing stickily. Footprints have tracked through it in a profusion of trails, as people spilled out of the darkness below and, while squinting upwards, tracked through whatever it was… but those help to highlight a less-trampled area where the source of the stain lay for a time, as it emptied so much of its contents onto the road.

Somewhere behind her, Jaiden is busily taxing his ability to provide a portion of the clean water required by the hundreds of fugitives gathered in the vicinity, but around the dark mouth to the underworld the pensive, pale-faced, harried-looking biker looks distinctly isolated.

Blood's been spilled. More has yet to flow. In the face of strife and seemingly senseless violence, one must struggle to be philosophical. At least if one is inclined in such a direction. Inclination is, actually, rather understating it in the case of one Pericles Jones, who has, since the retreat from Roosevelt Island, assumed a position of - if not leadership as such - a certain vocal opinion. When indecision strikes the much diluted opinion of a great and frightened crowd, Mr. Jones has been amongst those willing to suggest a course of action.

Even if that course of action might be: show no mercy.

Days without replacement contacts has forced Perry to switch to his old, thick-rimmed, styleless and ugly-as-sin glasses, which shift on his nose as he fiddles and fidgets with it, deep muscle memory relieved to have his third and fourth eye back in habitual place. His winter coat hangs, cloak-like, over his shoulders as he picks his way towards the entrance to the subway - and thus the only clear path back to Roosevelt.

He spots Ygraine quickly, remembers her own active participation of the events of the past exodus. He doesn't know her name, her affiliation, and has no clear sense of what ability (if any) she possesses… but let he who is without ignorance cast the first doubt. The bespectacled young man lifts a hand in greeting, moving over to the edge of the stain, tips of his boots halting at the further edge of that dark spread.

"You- uh- what are you doing?" is said in the spirit of genuine inquiry, not suspicion.

Lifting her head, Ygraine blinks at Perry with the kind of complete absence of any form of recognition that confirms her thoughts are wholly elsewhere. Then they return to the here and now, and she blinks again, this time looking somewhat startled.

"Ahh, I… I really wouldn't advise going down there", she says quietly, her voice huskily deep thanks to the smoke that made it past breathing mask and helmet last night, though her accent remains clear - the evident education at odds with her filthy leathers, the country of origin decidedly distant. "Even if you don't mind the risk of collapse, I know there are untended corpses down there. And there have been since all this started."

"I- uh- don't have such a problem with bodies," Perry says, though for all this he edges back very slightly at what he perceived, momentarily, as the slow creep of that sanguine spill, "it's- uh- how they get made that- uh- concerns me most. How- uh- how life leaves them."

He begins to make his away around the stain, circumventing it as best he can, closing the distance between himself and the Briton as he does so. "Is- uh- is that what you're doing, then? Warning- warning people from entering the- uh- the subway?" he asks. Perry's hands slide into his coat pockets and he gives the dark stain a sustained frown, like it some sort of quandary rather than the material traces of a life snuffed out.

"This- uh- this was a- uh- a poorly handled encounter," Perry states, at last, still frowning at the stain, "we- uh- we need a way to deal with- uh- future- uh-" his words halt, and he lifts thumb and forefinger to massage the bridge of his nose, pushing his glasses up and out of the way as he does. Perry's gaze slides over to Ygraine. "We're- uh- we're calling a quorum. Later today. If- uh- if you hadn't heard."

Ygraine gravely inclines her head to the last comment. "I'd heard", she responds in that husky half-murmur. "And… not exactly. The warnings, no. I'm… trying to figure out what happened."

Turning her gaze back to the dark entrance, she exhales a slightly rasping sigh. "The bodies down there were… pulped, when this first happened. They were dripping into the water of the very start of the leak. There's been the contents of multiple human bodies breeding in that water since it first started flowing down here, quite apart from everything in the Hudson. It's semi-stagnant, and mixed with liquefied corpses."

Turning a rather intense look back to Perry, the Briton sighs again. "Every time anyone ventures into it, they risk picking up fresh delights to bring back and give to anyone they meet on the surface. I understand the desire for a rapid departure last night, but there are other options, at least for small groups."

Well, that certainly leaves very little to the imagination. Perry, for all that he claims not to mind bodies, makes a bleak face at the news that said bodies are… liquefying. His muddy brown gaze slides down to the darkened entrance of the subway, indulging in a temporary imagining of the Stygian scene below. A literal river of the dead.

"You- uh- you should be sure to come, then," Perry says, breaking from his grim revery, "this is something every- uh- everyone should know. Especially those of us who- uh- who intend on going back," he folds his arms over his chest and looks up at the Dome's curve overhead.

"We- we don't know how long we are here for," the young man states, eyes dropping back down to Ygraine, a purpose entering his voice, stammer lessening, "and if we get out- what will be said of what happened here? That so-called civilized people slaughter each other the moment the law is lifted from them? That- that force majeure is the final conclusion?"

Raising brow, Ygraine cocks her head. "The bodies down there were crushed when the field sliced their train car in half. Hence the… effect upon them. I was the lucky soul who went right up next to them, and confirmed that this glorious creation isn't a Dome, it's a sphere. It's curving back on itself down there…."

Visibly attempting to bring her thoughts back to the present, Ygraine instead pauses. "I saw you that night, didn't I? You went down into the Subway to help people. Thank you for that. There… there was a lot of help needed. Did… did you see what happened here?" One gloved hand gestures to the great, dark stain. "Is this the force majeure that concerns you?"

"Of- of course," Perry says, blinking in realization, "I- uh- you provided me with a flashlight." he steps a little closer, unfolding his arms and offering his hand. "I- uh- I should introduce myself. I'm- uh- I'm Pericles. I'm- uh- I'm an electrical engineer out- uh- out in the real world."

The question as to what happened here, at the sight of the stain… that makes his lips quirk. Considering. "Words- uh- words turned to blows quite- uh- quite literally too fast to be stopped," he explains, "we- uh- we were down there," he nods towards the subway passage, a"nd then people- uh- people up here attacked- uh- attacked the door guards. About- uh- about six men with guns, beaten, shot and- uh- variously accosted. They- uh- they didn't manage to fire a shot. Given no chance. Tac- uh- tactically sound but uh-" he dips his head, "ethically problematic."

"Given the size of this bloodstain, a good bit more than a beating took place", Ygraine says quietly… but does push herself to her feet. "I'd offer a hand, but…." She looks down at her decidedly dirty glove. "Ygraine FitzRoy."

Clearing her throat, she attempts to talk more normally. "Did you see who was doing the attacking? I'm… more than a little worried about escalation. I already had someone assuring me that the guys on guard here were definitely Humanis First… shortly before someone else told me they probably weren't."

"Escalation is- uh- most definitely a concern," Perry agrees, nodding and returning his hands to his pocket. Useless gesture, really. Names are exchanged; that'll do. "It was- uh- mutual fear and misunderstanding that made this- uh- slide into bloodiness so quickly. I- uh- I was attempting reason but- uh- well, there was no chance given." A pause. "These men were not Humanis First. I- uh- I can promise that almost categorically. One of the survivors joined- uh- joined our number. This was a- uh- very unfortunate product of- uh- a lack of central organization. We- uh- we lack proper protocols. People are- uh- shooting first, as it were."

Sighing heavily, Ygraine nods. "Which suits the overall interests of Humanis First, to be sure", she husks sorrowfully. "I… was deeply concerned about it when…." She closes her eyes for a few moments, clearing her throat before attempting another start.

"I was at Eastview. I was in Eastview. I got a lot of people out from inside it. But afterwards… once I couldn't go in any more, I… I found the scene outside. In the street. It… it had gone beyond a fight. I found a hand lying in the road. Someone was cutting off hands. And with Humanis First having specifically targetted Stillwater over there, the field was clear for a lovely round of massacres. This…."

She sighs once more, looking down at the stain, her voice dropping to a murmur. "This is just what I was afraid of. Anyone whom either set of vigilantes find is either 'with us or against us'. Which just helps the cycle to spread."

There's really not a lot of outward sign of outrage. Perry's expression remains closer to blank, eyes blinking at Ygraine as he listens to her own take on the situation and its unfolding. When she's done, he takes a little time to compose his reply. He's more used to espousing views than receiving them, at least in interpersonal discussion, but it's not a bad change of pace. "The- uh- the problem is as- uh- as it has always been. Civility versus safety. How- uh- how do we protect ourselves without- uh- without seeming immediately hostile? And- uh- and what can we do to help more people get off the island?"

The young man shakes his head. "This- uh- this has to wait until we all meet and decide, dem- uh- democratically. This- this is not the time for strong handed leadership but- uh- but instead a common cause. We need to- uh- to concur. Splitting us, splitting our- uh- our reactions will only exacerbate the problem."

"I… had a message relayed. Up the chain. A request for them to dig up someone who could be appointed a civil authority. A retired councilman, or whatever", Ygraine says tiredly. "The more sources of seemingly-legitimate authority we had in here the better, so long as they supported each other. But leave it to a handful of isolated cops and some confused contractors, and… you leave room for the bigoted and the stupid to take action."

Sorrowfully shaking her head at the stain once more, she then attempts to focus firmly upon Perry. "Myself and one other person I know of can get small groups of people to and fro to Roosevelt, without adding to the risk of exposure to… everything that's down there. It's not instant, and in my case it'll mess with people's heads a lot. But we can do it. I'm scared, though, of cramming people together without any supplies at all. And we're going to struggle to supply hundreds, even to the level we were managing previously. But… we can see what people want to do."

The furrow in Perry's brow marks the first point of major divergence between his opinion and Ygraine's. "I- I don't know that I trust civil authority much- uh- much more than armed enforcement," he admits, tone a bit dour, distaste for what may be government generally showing through, "I think our best option is a- uh- genuine populist election. Select pr- uh- provisional leadership at the quorum, maybe some- uh- some candidates and then- uh- then turn it over to the majority. This- uh- this is an exceptional circumstance. We are cut off entirely and- uh- I think we need to react with- uh- a more substantive autonomy."

A tilt of the head, though, at this 'way' Ygraine mentions. "What- uh- what method are you going to propose? I- uh- I'd like to hear it out now. Give me time to- uh- consider it before the meeting."

Ygraine chuckles bitterly, shaking her head. "You misunderstand me. I asked for them to do that… oh, over a week ago. They apparently couldn't be arsed." British the slang may be, but the meaning should be clear enough.

"I wanted to avoid people winding up in a situation like… this if I could. And if we could wheel out some respectably retired old duffer who could be given a 'special commission', and have people listen to him when he told them to stay calm and not murder each other, then that'd be great. But apparently the media blackout is more important than saving any lives in here. Last night's events didn't even make the local news, first thing this morning….."

A sigh, and Ygraine once again closes her eyes, to help her force her thoughts back on track. "There's an offer of at least a degree of help, over at the Suresh Center. It got hit, hard, last night, but it still has power and there're still doctors there. And it might be possible to round up some more - genuine - security for it. And… since some of the patients there really can't be moved unless it's to another hospital, it'll have to stay open if we're not to kill more people."

"So… we could offer to move people back over to Roosevelt, in small groups. Focus them around the Center. Try to make it as safe as we can. Or we can try to gather everyone here, try to find places for them to sleep, see if we can set up clean water supplies, see if we can get enough food, and see if we can borrow at least one doctor from the Center for the wounded. Either way, we're going to have to split scarce resources. And it's all hanging together at the moment with myself and Jaiden providing transport - or people trekking through that" - she gestures to the Subway entrance - "and risking spreading a glorious kaleidoscope of diseases wherever they go. Not to mention the minor problem of the tunnel being cracked, and having a link to the Hudson now."

Perry has immediate concerns with the whole idea of dealing with the Suresh Center, but he doesn't know Ygraine, doesn't know that his concerns about association with Commonwealth Institute employees might find sympathetic ear, so he remains silent on that point, preferring to defer with the singular easy statement: "We- uh- we can see what people want when the time comes," but that's a bit disappointing after he requested details himself, so, "I- uh- I do think we need to establish a proper- uh- proper castra. We need to secure our own safety and- uh- well, as close to long term wellbeing as we can manage. If the Center is- uh- is our best option, then…" he gives a slight shrug. Non-committal. "I- uh- I don't imagine you'll- uh- you'll have a problem with being this vocal at the quorum?"

There's a convergence on the entrance to the subway, however this time is in the form of a single teenager. Exhausted, bruised and scraped, still favoring an arm, and still with a rifle clinging to his back, Devon's attention is on a gaggle of older adults standing further off from the mouth leading to the platform below. However, as the conversation from two familiar voices drift toward him, the boy slows and eventually halts his steps.

Pale blue eyes go to the pair in conversation, though the owner stops several paces away. Devon gives a slight shift of his good shoulder, gaze flicking between the two as he listens without trying to hide that he's listening. And for now, listening and watching is all he does, with a vaguely dispassionate expression.

"If I'm still conscious, and I'm not shouted down, that shouldn't be a problem", Ygraine says with a wry smile. "Having met up with Jaiden, I've got access to clean water in decent quantities again, which is doing wonders for my throat. Gargling smoke wasn't exactly good for my voice, for some reason…."

Shaking her head, she then shoots Perry a curious look - a hint of her customary enthusiasm for academia emerging, to replace the fervid intensity and near-desperation, distracting her from the near approach of Devon. "Your vocabulary isn't exactly standard. You're a scholar of Rome, or a Medievalist?"

"Uh- n- no," Perry stays, stammer reaffirming itself in the face of Ygraine's question, apropos no crisis or life or death matter, "my- uh- my mother is- uh- a Doctor of Classics. I- uh- I just sort of grew up with- uh- with Aurelius in one ear- uh- and- uh-" he attempts a smile, "Aristotle in the other. But I'm- uh- professionally a- uh- an electrical engineer," he mentioned that, right? But a sort of easy profession to forget, in passing, "Freelance."

Devon's appearance in the corner of vision causes Perry to glance in his direction with a quickness that's not quite jumpiness, at least not yet. He lifts a hand in greeting the moment he recognizes the teenager. "D- Devon," he says, eyes skipping over to note the rifle slung against his back, "good- uh- good to see you. You- uh- you will be attending the quorum, I hope?"

"Yeah," Devon replies with a single nod. He glances toward Ygraine, then back to Perry. "More to help keep order, tensions are probably still high." Not that what happened at daybreak is wanted again, but he's hoping people will show a little civility during the makeshift town hall type meeting. "Might be able to help flesh out any ideas people have, figure out ways to stretch our resources."

Ygraine nods a solemn greeting to Devon - perhaps intending it to double as an acknowledgement of his words - then shoots Perry a distinctly apologetic look. "Sorry. Yes. You mentioned. My father's a linguist, and a certain amount of that rubbed off on me while growing up…. I was just curious because my first degree was in history, though I… diverged a bit thereafter. And… with the surroundings as they are, the use of castra rather caught my attention…"

Don't worry, Ygraine, Perry is happy to be forgettable in details. When all this is over - and it is a leap of faith to speak in 'whens' - insofar as you are an average citizen, it is in Perry's best interests to never cross your mind again, professionally or otherwise. Safer that way.

Again, insofar as she is an average citizen.

"Linguistics is- uh- is an incredibly important field of study," Perry asserts, rather forcefully considering how little matter many would make of the topic, "language is- uh- is the substance of thought. To- uh- to understand language is- uh- well…" he trails off a bit, aborting his own potential gush before it turns into a proper flood.

"I'd- I'd like you to consider accompanying Melissa and I back- uh- back to the island, Devon," Perry says, "only if- uh- only if you feel it right but- but I would like you to give it thought," his gaze shifts to Ygraine, making clear something not stated openly before, "I- uh- I have every intention of going back. I- I am not eager to leave people behind to the- uh- the depredations of Humanis First and their- uh- foul weather friends."

The nod is returned in kind, polite but with a slight distance. Devon pulls his arm in a little closer, tucking his hand under the opposite arm. Perry's request earns a curious look, the teenager regarding the man for a long moment before nodding. He'd already told Melissa he was going whether he was welcomed or not. "I'm going. Tunnels or Jaiden and Ygraine's way. Doesn't matter to me."

Responding warmly to geekery is certainly not going to make Perry especially forgetable, at least where Ygraine is concerned. Indeed, she offers him an amused (but by no means disapproving) smile while he enthuses, her expression warm in spite of the fatigue and stress… at least until he moves on to other topics.

"Melissa… has already turned down our offer of assistance. She seems determined to use the tunnel", the Briton says quietly. "Though I hope she'll change her mind. As for the Firsters? I know some were active over here only last night, and survived. I know there are some with a boat. I don't know for sure of any survivals over on Roosevelt. So I'm honestly not sure which side is safer at all. In theory, this one, with the main Stillwater force here. But Humanis seem to be very good at only meeting Stillwater when they're in a position to wipe out the contractors in a first strike. I suspect that Humanis will continue to dodge the main Stillwater strength without visible difficulty, I'm afraid. But… I can see what I can do about arranging a little extra security. And I suspect that whatever we propose, we'll wind up with people divided over where they want to be, sadly."

"I'm- I'm glad to hear you so resolved," Perry says, nodding his approval to Devon, "and- uh-" he looks to Ygraine, "I will speak with Melissa about- uh- about our options. This- this will all be aired before our- uh- our assembly. And if- uh- if there are divisions…" he frowns, "much- uh- much as I dislike the idea, we can't- uh- can't keep people against their will. The best way to- uh- to preserve unity is to compromise within- uh- without ourselves, and to make the course of action we agree upon seem- uh- stable and reasonable. Most- uh- most will want to feel safe. Whatever decision is made."

Devon once more tips his head toward Perry. A look is cast toward Ygraine, not unfriendly yet not warming either. Just a look. He offers a nod to the pair again, his feet drawing him backward to generate space, take him out of an interrupting position.

The look that Ygraine shoots Devon in turn is frankly somewhat perplexed, but she quickly refocuses upon Perry once more. "If you have a cell, I can charge it. Give you another option for communication while you're trying to sort things out. I'd recommend sticking up a sign warning not to go down below, too. But for now, I should grab a rest. It's… been a rather hectic day. And night."

Miming the tipping of a hat, Ygraine delays just long enough to receive a phone should one be offered, before trudging off in search of a quiet spot in which to try to catch a little shut-eye.

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