Codename Echo



Scene Title Codename Echo
Synopsis In the midst of Humanis First, more lies are necessary.
Date February 4, 2011

Inside the Dome - Queens

"I hate our fucking codenames." When Epsilon gets tense and tired from waiting for something in this fish bowl to happen, he talks about things that he hates. You'd think that was pretty classic for a bigot, who should be made only out of soulless void hatred anyways, but sometimes he complains about hating raisins in his mom's pastries and raisins in general, and that seeing a certain kind of hot on a chick probably means she's crawling with VD, and that pirating music means that older jazz musicians who aren't robust enough to tour are probably gonna go out of business. Sometimes he sounds like another twenty-four-year-old young man who has a lot of opinions about everything.

Other times, not so much. "What the fuck's your real name, anyway?" The bunkbed above Kincaid is wooden and regular, a little old, and completely impervious to the search of his eyes. Afternoon is leaking yellow light in through the musty shutters. Somebody used to live in this home. A family with at least two children. The bedframe meets almost exactly the top of Kincaid's head and the underside of his feet, when he stretches out to his full length. There's almost no other furniture left.

They didn't tell Kincaid whether the acquisition dated back a few months, or whether it was merely a fortuitous selection of squats that started only since the Dome went up. The only other occupied flat in the building was two floors down, and it sounded yesterday morning like that family was packing up to join a 'fugee camp. Or something. Now they're under instruction to reboot their biological clocks for night-time work, minimum use and abuse of caffeine pills, and Epsilon's said: he hates this curfew shit, too.

But he does it. Like a good soldier. "I'm Ray," he adds, quietly.

The new kids always get the lower bunk, even if they're older. Echo is no different. His codename isn't so much hated, as the entire thing that he's gotten himself involved in, but once in, his best chance was to blend, to act the part. Even if it meant saying things he that he would have hated others to say about him. Hate is part of bigotry, and if he hates having to play the role, maybe that's enough to hide the true cause of his distaste.

Looking up at the upper bunk, Kincaid bites down on his lower lip, feeling the dull pain for a moment before he responds. Lies.

"Joe," is the name he offers. A name that popped to mind more quickly than others. A name he knows he can answer to, because until recently someone her worked with had called him that. The less caffiene he gets, the worse he knows things will be, but he keeps telling himself he'll be able to handle it. He has to.

It's not just about a story. Not anymore.

"What do you think they're going to have us do when we're ready?"

A grunt, then the mattress and wooden slats above Kincaid creak faintly: Epsilon rolling onto his belly. There's then a whompf whop whack of fists trying to beat this lumpy misery they were given into something that passes for a pillow. "Well, Joe-ey," there's suddenly a jeering note to his voice, forced lighter. Feigning, maybe. Ray hadn't seemed to have seen the whole Dome clusterfuck coming, either, judging from his sweating pallor and uncertainty in the van. And over the past few days. He puts on a good front, though, like, "What're you, nervous?" Scoffing. "Shit, man.

"Don't let Quebec or Zero know. They'll give you shit for days and I don't want to deal with new kid crying in his bunk at night, okay?" Flump flump, he's folding his arms across the top of the 'fluffed' pillow. It'll take less than four minutes for it to deconstruct and level out to its original rolling-pinned dimensions, as Kincaid is aware of, by now. By day two, the mattress feels like sleeping on a slab of granite, too, but it's only a matter of time before his back acclimates.

"But they got it figured out. Don't fuckin' sweat. Way better than that bullshit that was happening down in WI." So that's where his accent's from. "You're local, right?"

"I'm not nervous," Kincaid mutters, leaning his head back and closing his eyes for a moment. It's not the most comfortable accomidations, but there's something so familiar about it too. "But yeah, I'll avoid letting Q and Z know," he rubs a hand though his hair, growing shaggier by the day. Shaving hasn't really been a top priority, so his stubble is moving toward a beard. He found some trimmers and has been trying to keep it mostly short, though.

He doesn't want to impersonate a mountain man, even if he's rooming with a bunch of…

"Yeah, I'm from around here. Pretty messed up. If it's not one disaster it's another. Bombs, Ice Ages, giant snow globes…" There's a grimace, as if he had first had experience with that sort of thing. Claiming to be from New York helps, but the grimace is also because of the words that come out of his mouth next:

"Wish that virus would hurry up and finish 'em all off, you know?"

There's a breath of laughter at that, then a weary groan. Resetting one's bioclock doesn't always have very much to do with whether or not you feel tired. Nerves are raw around here; even for Humanis First!. "The virus is too fucking slow, for me," he answers. Then quicker, "Like who fucking knows how they'd wiggle out of that shit with other powers? It's only a matter of time before they beat that out. It's like fucking cockroaches, man. No, I think you gotta do it with bullets. And maybe prevention. Y'know, terminating beforehand, and that stuff.

"I heard that's coming down the pipes. Eventually. Depends on who gets power next I guess. I don't know how I feel about Petrelli sometimes. It sounds like his heart is in the right place, but fuck." A breath in, a breath out. "The economy is shit. People are miserable and scared and turning on their own kind as often as they throw stones in the right… the right. Direction.

"Whatever the fuck he's doing, it isn't fucking good enough. I mean he's smarter than I'll ever be, and I couldn't do better, but what a letdown. He was supposed to save people. Y'know?" The corner of a linen abruptly slinks down into view, silhouetted against the window.

"I dunno, he seems like the type to eventually lead to things like execution camps," Kincaid says with a small shrug, focusing on a stain in the bunk above him. Kids used to sleep in these beds, and the words coming out of his mouth make him want to throw up. But however horrible they are, it could be much worse.

"Bullets are definitely faster, keeps them from hurting anyone else," there's a pause, and his eyes close. "My parents were killed by one of their terrorists. They never even caught him. All cause they were involved in things they didn't like. A dangerous man, and they never did anything to stop him. Hell, for all I know he's still working side by side with those groups. I'd love to put a bullet in his head."

The disgust is audible in his voice.

There's a grunt. Nothing else for a few minutes. Epsilon either regards that as an overshare or he's surprised. Then, "There was some crazy African bitch witch who got everyone in my town go hog wild." His accent's eroding in, subtly, a twang or something that they don't really have much of where Kincaid comes from. "It started with just the immigrants but then it spread. It turns out, where she came from, there's this — like, legend or some shit, that if you have sex with a virgin it'll cure you of AIDS.

"Some mutant asshole killed my kid that way. She was nine months old.

"He came through the window while I was shopping some wood in the fucking garage. I couldn't hear Betty screaming over the saws before he knocked her out. I went after the guy with some of my friends, but then he got arrested. Betts divorced me a couple months later.

"Can't really blame her, you know?" A loud sniff through his nose, all air, no moisture; no crying. "We found the black bitch, though. Some seventy-year-old lunatic who can talk you into fuckin' anything. She nearly got my best friend to shoot me before we put one in her lopsided tits." A beat. "They're everywhere. Sometimes I wish they'd all join a fucking group. Then at least we'd know where they fucking stand. It's the ones that hide that really fucked my family over."

"Christ," Kincaid says, voice genuine as he grimaces. "I guess my parents weren't anything in comparison to that," he says, resting his head back against the limp pillow again and closing his eyes, picturing how he might have felt in a similar situation, and feeling ill once again.

"We all got our reasons," he admits, biting back a grimace from the pain that shoots up from his hand briefly. If only he had some more coffee. "I'm sorry about your kid, Ray…" That much he can feel genuine about, even if he still feels sickened by… No tears, though.

"Do you happen to have any cigarettes? A cigar? I could really use a smoke right about now— though I guess that'd be a fire hazard, or something, fuck."

A rasp of laughter reverberates through the chill air. "If Q thought a little fire would hurt you, he wouldn'tve given you that kind of hazing to get your skinny white ass in, would he? I dunno why they haven't given you a fuckin' sidearm yet— though." There's a staccato-ness to the distribution of those last few words, a sharp-edged awareness that mmmaybe he wasn't supposed to discuss that, but Hell. They just shared what would be, to most, a whole shit-ton of TMI. As far as he's aware, they're on the same page.

"It's not like you missed when they asked you to gank that motherfucker." Rivets creak when the young Humanis First! operative arches briefly, then more when he sits up and yanks at the heavy pack hanging off the bedpost. Too bulky to use as a pillow, or maybe he would have. The next moment, a thin smoke is dangled down into view between callused fingers, filter-end down. There's a lighter loosely fisted the next moment, hanging beside it, a broad thumb splayed loose over the smooth metal. Flink. He lights it up, and the room stinks nicotine, before Ray ropes his arm down lower.

Ash drops down on Kincaid's shirt, dappling the folds of his mothball-fragranced blanket.

"Thanks," is roughed out a few moments later. Coarsely. About his kid, he means.

Reaching up, Kincaid takes the offered cigarette with a grateful and genuine, "Thanks too. If I'd known what was going to happen I would've grabbed my bag as well as my gun." But he did get the gun, and… Speaking of guns.

The dark eyed man quiets for a moment to take a long drag and even longer exhale, before he finally responds, keeping his voice level as the nicotine stimulates his nerves. "It'd be nice to at least get my gun back, but… they're probably low on bullets. All I had was what was in the gun, and I wasn't expecting to be using it," he adds, to explain the rarity of a firearm that he managed to be carrying.

They're not as easy to come by as one might like, especially when they're needed.

"What was her name?" he asks, tone calmer and quiet.

There's a sharp intake of breath. Maybe heart-to-heart time was supposed to be over by now? Epsilon is brittley quiet, and then there is another clink-clink! noise, crisp metallic friction; another cigarette being lit, more ashes diffused through the downward slope of gravity. "Maelle," he says. "When she was seven months, she tested at the UWI for baby-genius. I mean fucked if I know what that was really—" he lapses into a silence, then a harsh laugh blows through the room. Water, bridge.

Poisoned water, treacherous bridge. "How about your folks?" he asks. Feet appear suddenly over the edge, his legs swung around so he can sit with his back to the wall, apparently. Thick military-blue socks to stave off the cold. It's not like they can afford to waste energy on heating out here. "And hey. Hell. You ever find out the name of him who did it? That kind of shit has a way of coming around, at least I've found. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I felt better after we unloaded those rounds into that cancerous Negro bitch."

The victory in his voice rings too hollow to be honest.

"Maelle was a beautiful name," Kincaid says, in all sincereity, before pausing to take another long drag on the cigarette and exhale of smoker, before he responds to his own questions. "Thad and Lisa," he says quietly. "Though I mostly called the mom and dad," he closes his eyes, enjoying more of that nicotine that makes his nerves tingle and move, that feed an addiction he doesn't often admit to having.

It also lets him keep his hand from hurting— something he's going to need for the lie to remain intact.

"I never found out his name," he says quietly, eyes opening again to find that dark stain in the shadows. "But he was a telepath. I know that much. One of the mind readers. Steal your secrets, your personal thoughts, and use them to destroy you…"

There's a grunt of agreement, a few seconds slow. Maelle was a beautiful name. And, "I hate telepaths, too. Telepaths— and the fuckin' talky mind-control ones. Anything that can crawl into your head, you know? I mean the motherfuckers who can walk into bank vaults or punch their hand through your fucking fist— that shit isn't right either. Makes me want to throw up in my own mouth. But the headcases are the worst, man. But who knows? Maybe you'll be the one to end him. Or someone else will.

"Not even Petrelli can fuck this up if the people really want it." The heel of his socked foot tap-taps lethargically against the ladder, cracking bone and cartlidge momentarily, a lazy flex through the air. "And the people do want it. Even if they don't know it yet. Don't worry, Echo. We're gonna get 'em. What happened to your old man and mama — that'll happen to fewer kids every fucking year. That's the mission."

A shirt doesn't make any better an ashtray than the blankets Kincaid lays on, but at least he keeps an eye out for holes getting burned into anything. For the moment. "I hope so," he says in quiet tones, before one last long drag on his cigarette. That gives him an excuse not to respond to the words, not to say what he wants to say.

What about the kids of those killed because they happen to have parents with an ability?

"We should get some rest," is what he says instead, putting the cigarette out, by pressing the burning end against the palm of his hand, the one he's already made numb, to keep old wounds in check.

"Hopefully we'll get to do more than sit on our asses tomorrow."

"I'll talk to somebody about getting you a gun." There's vague sympathy in that. Approval. Apparently putting a deadly weapon in someone's hands is an olive branch secured around here— who's surprised? Then again, the Ferry isn't so different. "Maybe I'll ask Beta. He isn't a bad guy, for a nigger with an ironic-ass codename. Kidding!" There's a chuff of laughter, and he puts out his cigarette audibly against— something. No stink of burning flesh, anyway. "You and your sweet Northern sensibilities."

Squeak. Nonexistant springs complain again as the man levels himself out in a sprawl, making the whole bunk shudder for an instant. Flump-flop. He makes himself comfortable like a giant maniacal man-eating killer panther, which is an analogy that would've held better if Kincaid were still making documentaries. Ray sounds contented. The cigarette helped, apparently. Soothed his nerves, calm him down. "Maybe you'll get to meet Alice. And Whiskey. And Tango. And Foxtrot. Fuck—" his voice splits into a yawn, and Ray's voice dwindles down to a half-smothered mumble, stained through with a sigh; he must not have slept at all last night if he's knocking straight out after a lungful of nicotine. "I hate our codenames."

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