Everyone Still Has Limits


colette_icon.gif quinn2_icon.gif

Scene Title Everyone Still Has Limits
Synopsis On their way to Grand Central Station, Colette discovers that Conrad's saying is still true.
Date October 8, 2010

Grand Central Terminal

Beneath the street of New York City, there lies a hidden underworld. Not the kind that has rivers of fire or lakes of molten rock, but an underworld forged entirely by man's hands. An unlit, twisting labyrinth of concrete, steel and water. To say that the Ferrymen ply the River Styx is most appropriate on the way to Grand Central Station.

Beneath the shattered heart of Manhattan, former subway tunnels and metro access passages form a network of dangerous tunnels. Ceilings bow downwards from the weight of collapsed buildings atop, water flows from burst pipes to flood large portions of railway, creating underground lakes where once there were subway platforms.

It goes like this for blocks and blocks and blocks, and without proper foreknowledge of the New York City Public Transit System, as well as the changes made to the subterranean landscape by the bomb, most visitors to this lightless realm would be lost long before they ever find the surface again.

It is no small surprise that Ygraine Fitzroy had no intentions of following the entire trek all the way to Grand Central, breaking off from Colette Nichils and Robyn Quinn to spare herself further frustration, using these underground access points to take her closer to home and a semblance of somewhere that does not contain a young woman she wishes to strangle.

For Quinn, it is a journy of learning. Following the dim glow of Colette's self-generated flashlight she is led through submerged sections of underground highway once some sort of half-finished freeway tunnel, down lengths of dry sewers drained of water by deep rifts opened up into the ground below, thorugh former shanty towns of homeless that lived beneath the city in its humid depths.

Six minutes Colette said it would take, it's been almost a half an hour.

"Are you sure we're not lost?" For the last fifteen minutes of that near half hour, Quinn's been almost as bad as a ten year old constantly asking "Are we there yet?". In fact, this is probably the fourth turn she's asked it on. She's mostly teasing of course, or at least the somewhat forced grin on her face says. "How the hell does someplace like these tunnels see use an' people don't know about it? This is crazy." Hands slide into her jeans as she walks behind Colette, letting the younger photokinetic light the way - between Tartarus earlier and the little situation they just went through, she's rather tired.

Occasionally, Quinn hums as whatever some that comes to mind, comes to mind. In this case, it's a Cure tune she had been listening to after the Ball. "You know, Colette, you do realise I'm half considering punching you, right?" Again, said more teasing than angry, though Quinn really had been considering it.

Still not answering the are we there yet question, Colette instead focuses on the question of the tunnels themselves. "All of this is directly under Midtown, and most of that is blocked off by those tall concrete barricades. The government maintains the checkpoints in and out, but there's too much perimeter to cover entirely. Too many buildings, back alleys, and heck the entire north side where the ruins meets the park. There's ways in, if you know where to look."

Dropping down off of a raised walkway, Colette lands down on top of the roof of a car wedged sideways in the tunnel, possible washed down here by flooding ot the blastwave of God knows what reason. Stepping across the warped metal of the hood, Colette offers out a gloved hand to Quinn. "Careful've your step, the metal's wet."

"God, it's like something out of an urban legend or something," Quinn says with a bit of wonderment, looking around at the decaying tunnels and fallen archways. "Or a horror movie." Probably not the most comforting thought now that she thinks about it. "Pretty feckin' amazin' either way." She gives a bit of a yawn, pausing a moment to stretch. "An' if you have any advil, a few when we get there'd be greatly appreciated. My head's still kinda really killing me." To say the elast.

She pauses a moment when Colette offers out her hand, grimacing at the slick, distorted metal of destroyed club. Shaking her head, she reaches out to take the younger woman's hand, stepping gingerly on to the car - and promptly beginning to slip. It's probably luck that she manages to balance herself and stay upright, one arm thrown out to the side to keep her steady, unable ot fight back laughing at herself.

Managing ana wkward laugh, Colette slides down off of the car and onto the concrete rubble below. "Just so you know," Colette explains as she comes past a junction in the tunnels where it looks like someone has blasted through a concrete wall, complete with twisted rebar and heaps of rubble, "that way leads to some sort of bank vault that a transient turned into his home. He's got a gang or something, as far as anyone knows, but he's like— a mechanic or something? I dunno, but you can hear machine noises from the the tunnel sometimes."

Colette turns to look over her shoulder to Quinn, "He's not one of us."

Leaping down off of the rubble pile, Colette's boots splash down in shallow water, following a partly flooded subway tunnel towards a distant orange glow. "It was six minutes to the tunnel that leads to Grand Central, from where we were. We've actually only gone six blocks southwest from where we were, but with all the ruined tunnels we had to take the long way."

Pausing nearby to street signs bolted to the wall that proclaim STOP, Colette turns to look back to Quinn again, waiting for her to catch up. "I'll grab you some asprin, yeah. There's plenty've stuff down here. We're gonna have t'spend the night too I figure, not safe to go in and out of here too much, otherwise this place stops being an urban legend."

"A gang? Right next door? I'm sure the other neighbours love that," Quinn replies dryly as she lets her laugh taper off, and once she's back on relatively solid ground, her hands slip back into her pockets. "I'll keep that in mind, though. Sounds like a bad place t' get really lost an' end up at. You know, more lost than we already are." Quinn flashes a grin at Colette, adding a shrug for emphasis. She nods when Colette gives her clarification on why it's taken nearly five times as long as originally believed to get from one spot to the other. "I imagine walkin' around down 'ere's a bit of a pain, with all the rubble an what not. Just a wee bit unstable."

Walking almost right up to Colette, Quinn doesn't take much time to stop despite being next to a sign that says STOP. She doesn't even seem to notice it. "God, good. Head's poundin' an' I dunno if…" Looking around as she speaks, Quinn stops as her eyes settle on the stop sign bolted up next to her. She looks absolutely perplexed, back pedalling a bit as if to get a better look at it, even generating a bit of her own light so that she can get a better look at it.

"Hey, Colette," she says after a moment, glancing back at her, "Did someone like that gang guy make this sign? Because who makes a grey stop sign?" She blinks a few times, squinting as she looks at it. Come to think of it, now that her eyes are adjusted to the minimal lighting that Colette's provided, everything looks kinda… odd.

Mismatched eyes flick from Quinn to the sign and back again, and Colette's brows furrow in silence. The teen says nothing at first, just watches the other photokinetic warily before tilting her head towards the tunnel entrance. "C'mon, and stay behind me this time…" Colette murmurs, looking suddenly pensive.

Treading out ahead of Quinn, Colette begins to head down the ascending concrete ramp with inset tracks, past a barricade made from plywood and cinderblocks, to where concrete rubble has been mixed with concertina wire and chain-link fencing, narrowing the entrance of the subway tunnel to one that two people could comfortable walk through side by sie. Beyond, a young man in a gray zippered jacket sits on a stool beside a stack of sandbags that stink of mildew, a bolt-action rifle laid across his lap and white earbug headphones trailing from his ears.

On seeing Colette coming down the ramp into the station, the young man gets up and lays the rifle aside, then comes ambling up to Colette, tugging off his headphones as he looks past to Quinn. Beyond this checkpoint, the terminal of Grand Central Station lies lit by fluorescent lightbulbs and tripod-stand construction lights, the tiled walls are marred with old graffiti and the noise of distant conversation echoes over the concrete.

"It's Robyn Quinn, she's on your list, Gun Hill?" Colette nods over to a spiral-bound notebook that's kept beside his look-out perch. The young man offers a look back to it, then to Colette and Quinn, then just nods and steps aside.

"Yeah, you're fine. Chuckles was looking for you by the way, something about shit you need to help clean up on the island?" At the sentry's comment, Colette's eyes widen and a hand lifts to her forehead. Hissing sharply, she offers an apologetic grimace, then angles a look towards Quinn and waves for her to come on in.

"It's a little rough around the edges but… Welcome to Grand Central Terminal." It's like a small town down here, thick and old wooden tables arranged with supplies ranging from toilet paper to clothing. Plastic crates filled with sacks of flour and other staples. A ticket boots has been converted into a private sleeping den with blinds drawn shut and a "Sorry, We're Closed" sign turned around to let the other residents know it's occupied.

The noise of a television and radio echo from an adjacent room, along with laughter, while up on the adjacent platform there's a handful of men seated around a poker table, cards held in hand, cigarette smoke cloying around them. It's unbelievable.

"This is the heart of the network," Colette explains, headed towards a short set of stairs that goes up to the landing. "Lemmie show you where the pharmacuticals are kept locked up."

That sense of wonderment Quinn possessed wandering the tunnels leading to the Grand Central Station terminal only grows as she finally lays eyes on what Colette proclaims to be the heart of the Ferrymen network. She welcomes the brighter surrounding, the distinct change in the feel and look around her after traversing tunnels for a near half hour. Even if everything looks rather drab.

"This is incredible, Colette," Quinn remarks quietly as she moves up beside her, looking around with stars in her eyes. "Christ, if I didn't know what this was all about I'd think I wandered int' one of Magnes' games, or some sorta den of thieves or something." The latter may not be too far off from the right idea. "Is this place entirely self sufficient? I mean… besides needin' stuff from the surface." Quin takes a few steps ahead of Colette before turning and looking back, waiting for her to pass her and head up the stairs.

"By the way, you know a guy named Chuckles? Best name ever. Or worst. Right big toss up, that one is." Quinn snickers. Silence follows after that, Quinn largely content to look around and take in the sight around her. Her mind is by and large blown for the moment. Or would be if it wasn't for one nagging issue. "I hope they have somethin' strong here. I feel like someone's beatin' a drum in my head, an' the last time I saw somethin' like that, Galifrey hung in the skies." Here;s hoping Colette watches Doctor Who.

Nnnno such luck there, though.

Colette stares at Quinn for a long, long moment before bubbling with awkward laughter as she reaches the top of the steps to the rail platform. She's used to Magnes being the one that says all sorts of weird shit, but it seems Irish people are just as crazy too. "S'not really all that self sufficient, it's more of a supply depot, so there's the illusion of self-sufficiency, but most've it's all from supplies brought in from topside. This is where all the Ferry couriers work out of for the most part, we pick up supplies here and run'm out to all the other safehouses."

Looking over her shoulder to Quinn, Colette flashes a hesitant smile. "Pretty much everything about the Terminal is about getting to or going from places. Nobody stays here on the permanent, so you never see the same two people here twice in a row. Only Robin— of the dude variety— Neil and Joseph are really ever down here with any regularity."

Stopping by a door that is clearly marked as employees only with a yellow and black sticker on it, Colette sidesteps and pushes the door open with her shoulder, waving Quinn inside. "This is also the most vital part of the network. Without Grand Central, none of the other safehouses would be abe to get regular supplies of stuff they need. S'why it takes so much t'become a courier, because you've gotta' know all the safehouses and Grand Central, it's a lot of responsibility t'keep up here," she admits with a tap of one finger on her temple.

Inside the room they've walked into the tile walls are lit by a fluorecent lamp that Colette flicks on, just to show the standing shelves of canned goods, glass jars of jams and jellies, boxes of pasta, all kinds of food that can last for a long time in storage. Beyond the food pantry, there's a door with a padlock hanging off of it. Colette fishes around for the keys hanging from a caribena at her belt, then pulls out one and begins unlocking the door. "This is where they keep all the drugs. From asprin to the heavier stuff. It's nothin' personal but you gotta' stand outside. Nobody but keyholders are supposed t'be in here."

"Oh. So it's a hub?" Quinn's pretty sure that's the right word, offering a nod of growing understanding as she moves up behind. "I think I get this now. I always kinda wondered where all that shit came from. Couldn't be safehouse runners goin' out an' buyin' it all the time, I'm sure that'd look pretty feckin' weird." Quinn gives another terse nod as Colette lists off a bunch of names she doesn't recognise outside of Joseph.

As they come to the sign, Quinn runs a hand back through her hair, eyeing it for a moment before she follows after Colette. "So, that's what you do for the Ferry?" Quinn inquires as Colette taps her temple, grinning. "Sounds like a good deal. Stressful as all hell sometimes, I bet. But, you know. Good." Quinn gives a short shrug as she come to a halt when instructed, nodding as she turns to look back out over the station. "No worries. I get how that goes. I'm still kinda a fledglin' at this shit anyway."

From inside of the storage room, Colette doesn't hesitate to continue talking while she rummages thorugh small cardboard boxes and shelving for the proper kind of asprin for the killer headache she imagines Quinn has. "Courier's my official job," Colette explains in a hushed tone of voice, "I do what needs t'be done in the Ferry. You don't have an ability like mine without it going t'use, so…"

Voice trailing off, Colette seems to be lost in the back room, hesitant to describe further the kinds of things she's had to do for the Ferrymen. A moment later, there's the distinctive rattle of a pill bottle, Followed by Colette coming out with a green plastic container with a white label that reads EXCEDERIN EXTRA STRENGTH in sharp yellow lettering across the front. "Here, they're five-hundred miligram tablets," the bottle is popped into the air in an underhanded toss towards Quinn, before Colette turns to start locking the storage room up again.

"Keep the bottle, s'the same kind I use."

Quinn's eyes narrow a bit as she looks back at the door, curious. "An ability like yours, eh? So, what does that mean I'm destined t' be doin' sometime?" Quinn smirks a bit, shaking her head - but in truth, she's only half joking. Colette's choice of words has her rather intrigued. "I don't think I could be a courier . Supposedly I can't get anywhere on time. I doubt that'd reflect well on me at all."

Giving a bit of a shrug, she lapses into silence herself as she waits for Colette to return, perking up like a puppy when she hears that tell tale rattle of pills in a bottle, turning back to face the door. When Colette produces the bottle of pain killer, Quinn takes it eagerly, eyeing the bottle for a second. "This is a really ugly bottle. Good way t' get someone's attention I guess." The top is popped off, Quinn tapping out two of the tablets, tossing them down ehr throat and swallowing hard - this headache isn't worth waiting for water for.

Mismatched eyes consider Quinn again, and once more Colette pauses as she's clipping her keys to her belt. "Yeah," she says noncomittally, before tilting her head in the direction of the door they'd come in from, starting to walk again. "We'll grab something to eat in a little bit, there's a kitchen down here, I think Stephen might be cook tonight, he can make pretty much anything out of anything, and there isn't much fresh food here."

Pushing the door open and stepping out into the rail platform, Colette looks back over her shoulder to Quinn. "First thing's first though, you haven't been down here before, so there's tradition you've gotta' take part in." Turning left when she comes out of the doorway, Colette is movng on a direct path towards a freestanding section of tiled wall that is littered with graffiti, most of it looking very recent and all of it looking like different kinds of fish painted into a faux fish tank.

Treading across a canvas tarp on the floor, Colette dips into a crouch and reaches out for a few cans and a paint knife, popping the lids off and pouring out the acrylic onto a plexiglass sheet that doubles as a palette. A dirty old brush is plucked out of an old coffee can, and Colette holds up the palette to Quinn.

"Why don't you paint yourself a red fish?" One brow slowly raises, and none of the dollops of paint on the plexiglass sheet look red.

Quinn reaches to take the brush without even looking at the palette at first, but once she has that in hand she turns to look at the palette, eyeing it carefully.

"I can't wait a red fish without red paint," Quinn remarks, eyeing the plexiglass layout of paint, brow furrowed as she looks back up at Colette, head tilted. "Unless you have red spraypaint. That'd be pretty cool. Or this cool faded green. I've never seen a shade a' green paint like that." Quinn gives a shrug of her shoulders as she looks back up at Colette.

She glances at the wall of fish again, looking thoughtful, her head tilting. "This is a really neat little thing you have people do, though."

The sigh Colette gives is a weary one, and she turns away from Quinn and takes one knee in the same smooth motion, picking up the white-labeled can of paint, offering it out towards Quinn. "Read the label," she says with a furrow of her brows, all humor lost from her expression. Held out, the can clearly states BEHR, BRICK RED on the bottom in black block print, briefly followed after by the words Ceiling Paint but clearly that's not important.

"I think you might've done some permanent damage," is Colette's hushed answer, her mismatched eyes set to stare down at long-dried spots of paint on the concrete. "I'm— I didn't think it'd happen like that, but— we do what we do differently, which I guess— it means we get hurt differently."

Looking back up to Quinn, Colette shakes her head from side to side. "I only noticed when you asked about the stop sign. I don't— I'm not sure how bad it is."

"What?" Quinn says as she grabs hold of the can of paint, eyeing it closely. "Wait, so this is- what the fuck?" Quinn's sense of wonderment and mirth has faded ad well, turning the can around in her hands as she eyes it. "You're not playin' another trick on me, are you? Like, muting colours or somethin'? I can //sorta already do that, so…" Quinn's tone is clearly hopeful as the can finally ceases movement.

"Permanent damage?" Quinn repeats, swallowing loudly as she looks back up at Colette, a long frown on her face. She stares for a moment, eyes moving over to look at Colette's injured eye. "You said somethin' about doin' somethin' t' your eye once. I don't remember what, but it was the alst time we got t'gether. About pushing yourself too hard…"

Quinn pauses, reaching around and pullingg some of her own red hair into view, her frown only deepening. "Holy shit. I can't even tell my own feckin' hair right!" Quinn doesn't sound paniced, quite, but she certainly sounds unhappy.

"When I manifested I burned out my cornea in this eye," Colette lifts one hand to motion to her white eye, "left me completely blind. Later, when some crazy homeless Evolved guy tried to attack the kids at the lighthouse, I burned out my other eye too. I got healed, and I made the same mistake again…" There's a furrow of Colette's brows, a look askance to the painting of the fish.

"The blinding isn't really a flaw for me, not s'long as I have my ability. I can see with my eyes shut, like my old teacher said… my eyes are just for show now." There's a mild smile when Colette admits that, then looks back to Quinn. "I can only see about thirty feet out without actually usin' my eyes, but… it's a sight better than being blind." Get it? A sight better? She's trying to make a joke.

Grimacing, Colette looks down to the concrete underfoot, to the paint-spatters she know she and Tasha helped contribute to. "Maybe you don't need color, maybe you'll be able t'figure it out another way. But right now… right here?" One brow lifts. "You just found your limitation."

Quinn's expression dips a bit further. "Jesus, you blew out your cornea?" For a moment, Colette's past problems seem much more pressing than Quinn's own. It does last lnog, though, Quinn still twirling some of her in front of her own eyes. "You blew out your sight, I'm going - colour blind, I guess?" The Irishwoman looks up at Colette witha grimace, shaking her head. "Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and it'll be fine." Wishful thinking at least.

Releasing her hair, Quinn reaches up and scratches the side of her head. "So, what? I don't do the invisible thing again? Or I practice hard t' build a threshold? You seem t' do what you do without much problem now." Quinn looks off to the side, and then back at Colette, a look in her eyes akin to the one a worried student might give their teacher. "Christ, my light shows an' shit. This is going t' be apain t' figure out…"

Grimacing, Colette dips her head in a slow nod. "You ever see those like, big ox-dudes on like the high-side of cable channels, dragging cars with their teeth and stuff?" One brow lifts slowly as Colette takes the paint-can from Quinn and sets it down on the floor. "I think Conrad was tryin' t'teach me that abilities are kinda' like muscles. You go to lift a car the first time you try to weightlift, and you're gonna break something. I mean like, we're using our minds to sculpt photons." When she says it all science-y it has gravity to it.

"It's only natural if we push ourselves too far, we're gonna find that limitation the hard way, like I did, like Conrad did." There's a ghost of a smile that crosses Colette's lips as she settles down to sit on the floor in front of the wall, pulling other paint cans over and prying their lids off with the painter's knife. "He made himself deaf learnin' how t'use his power, and had to find out how to hear another way. So," Colette offers a faint smile, "that's the way it goes."

Lids off and upturned on the canvas tarp she's sitting on, Colette looks up slowly to Quinn with a smile. "Now you know, and now you know how to stretch yourself, without tearin' nothing." Then, with a dip of her eyes down to the multitudes of colors, she cracks a smile.

"Now, pick a color you can see. You got a fish t'paint."

Quinn, still frowning, gives a bit of a short nod. "Yeah. I guess all that makes sense." She reaches up and rubs her eyes, as if that's going to help. All it really does is blur her vision for a moment, something which elicits another sigh. "I guess I have some more research t' do when I get home. I ahven't really read anythin' about colour blindness or stuff like that in any a' the materials you gave me." In truth, Quinn hasn't read any of them in a while, but she was going to keep that to her self.

Reafirming her grip on teh paintbrush, Quinn hesitantly reaches out to the light blue paint, slathering it over her paint brush. "At least this'll do. I can still see that the sky'll be blue, even if the grass isn't as green or I run a stop sign." A pause. "Shit, that's going t' be really dangerous on my scooter…" Not wanting to let that thought linger, Quinn turns to the painted fishtank, and begins painting her own, a bit of a forced smile as she works.

It takes a minutes or two, but once she's done, a rather stylised silhouette of a sky blue fish adorns the wall, a line of wet paint trailing down from the tip of the tail. With a sigh and a nod, Quinn turns back to Colette, eyeing her. "Thanks for bringing be here, if only so I could figure this out before I got into an accident or somethin' tomorrow." A pause, and Quinn smiles wide. "You know, Colette, you're a bit of an asshole sometimes-" said in an entirely mirthful tone, "But I'm really glad you're helpin' me out with this. So thanks."

Smiling softly, Colette seems to take the jab as a compliment, looking up at the fish tank and the differently painted fish all scrawled out in different styles and colors across the wall. Eventually, Colette's eyes settle down on a fish that looks like it was painted by someone with a spastic twitch, corners of her mouth creeping up into a smile as she looks down to her lap.

"I guess if both those things're true," she admits with a fond smile, playing with the drawstrings of her hooded sweatshirt, "than I'm doin' alright by Conrad's memory." Colette looks up, to Quinn, then to the fish she's painting on the tile wall. Quiet the rest of the time, Colette just sits and watches Quinn paint, hands folded in her lap and brows furrowed, watching one more fish be added to the Ferrymen's wall, a sign of solidatiry and family.

"In the mornin'," Colette says after a long while, "I'll show ya' a trick for readin' street lights even if y'can't see color." Her lips quirk into a lopsided smile, before ultimately Colette pushes herself up to stand, dusting off the back of her jeans. "For now, finish your fish…"

"I'll go get us dinner."

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