First Day Of School


claude_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title First Day Of School
Synopsis Helena's first day of training with Darth Claude.
Date September 28, 2008

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.

The ruins of Midtown are quiet. What is left of the streets is quiet. What's left of the buildings is quiet. Even the familiar roof with the pigeon coop is quiet. Maybe Claude should think of buying a watch one of these days, because this is definitely the time he said to meet Helena on this very spot. Then again, he has always done his own thing. A pigeon half hops, half flutters its way across the largely empty floor, curiously twitching its head to the side at some of the coos coming from the pigeons occupying the coops.

Helena leans against the pigeon coop in her too-large jacket. Her arms are folded to ward off the chill of the morning mist, but her eyes are clear and alert. Not-so-patiently she waits, though she's well aware that Claude may already be here and is just watching her. After a few minutes, she mutters to herself and begins lowering the ambient temperature so she can let her arms down.

For a good few minutes, things remain quiet. Maybe he really HAS forgotten. Or maybe not. Just after the free pigeon clumsily takes to the air, something enters visibility a few yards in front of Helena. It is not Claude. Unfortunately for Helena, it is a sturdy wooden broomstick type thing that's now horizontally and very rapidly advancing toward her head.


Helena lets out a yelp (an unfortunately girly sound which she'll kick herself over later) and throws up her arms; the broomstick smashes into her forearms and clatters to the floor. Scowling, Helena crouches and picks it up, and looks around, hefting the broomstick like a quarterstaff. "Where are you?" she asks, keeping her back to the pigeon coop. That's at least one direction he can't come at her from.

The yelp earns Helena nothing short of a mocking laugh. The sound comes from the direction the stick was thrown from, but Claude refrains from showing himself. Even though he can't be seen, though, it's clear enough that he's grinning. "What do you do, then? Is it something with humidity? I knew a lad like that. Used to try and splash people with water from puddles. It was rubbish."

Helena scowls, gripping the stick in her hands. Air starts to move, at first just enough to ruffle hair, but as moments pass, it becomes gustier and gustier, sweeping out from the pigeon coop in an arc in front of her. Debris starts to stir, first feebly, but then it all starts fluttering in the air, and it's getting stronger. Nothing to send a man skidding yet, but Claude may need to lean into it a bit.

Whoah, whoah. Okay, that's decidedly more impressive than splashing puddles with your mind. Not that this gets said, however. Claude's eyes narrow as bits of debris fly past him, at the same time impressed but… also a little more wary than he was before. "Well, look at that. You might be some fun after all." Then, without warning, the end of a second stick is swung at the side of Helena's head. Not hard enough to do any lasting damage, but it's definitely not any friendly pat either. Whether or not it actually hits, the man finally comes into view.

This time, she's ready. The stick she recieved snaps up in the air to bat away the stick flying at her, though at the same time, the wind dies down a bit. There's definitely a split in concentration there. "That's just one thing." she says fiercely. "I got other tricks."

Claude pulls his own stick back, absentmindedly working his hands closer to the middle as he lifts his eyebrows at the woman, as though to say 'Oh yeah? Been there, done that.' "That makes sense. Let's see, water, wind— you've still got a few elements left to show the rest of the class." Doing his best to ignore the conjured up wind, he steps forward and reaches to prod Helena in the stomach with the end of his stick. Gently. Taunting. "Come on, then."

Helena jerks her stick to try and fend off the pokes, grimacing. "You're not the only one who can go invisible." The air around them starts to thicken, first light, and then into something thick and pea-soupy and straight of a London Fog. "Weather." Helena says. "I control weather and weather phenomena." When it's so thick she thinks Claude can't see her, she moves out of her spot by the pigeon coop and sweeps out her stick toward where she'd last seen Claude as she passes by.

Claude tears his eyes away from Helena when the fog starts up. That's a new one. "Interesting, interesting." He admits, looking back to her only to find no one standing there anymore. The next thing he knows, her stick hits him in the side. He flinches— the time in his cell has not exactly done him much good and this hurts more than he thinks it should. But he knows better than to let his guard down, and he bends closer to the ground to do a low round swipe of his stick, hoping to catch her close enough to hit her in or behind the knees. "But do you still have the upper hand when you can't see either?"

He catches the back of her calf, and with an unladylike grunt, she stumbles to the ground, catching herself. Shifting to her side, she bats her hand and some of the mist clears away, so he can see her and she him. Rising to her feet, she curls her fingers around her stick grimly, but concedes, "Point."

Claude gets to his feet again, looking really quite content to literally rise above the fallen Helena. One end of his stick hits the ground with a dry tick while he leans a hand on the other. "You're not bad for a beginner." He grins, but as though he sparsely means it. "You've got things to learn. Plenty. You get distracted in a situation that actually matters, and you're done, it's over."

"Well, that's the whole object of this." she says, rising to her feet." She's still wary of him. "I'm Helena. As opposed to 'Hey you'." She cocks her head at him. "So does this mean you're going to help me?"

"Helena." Claude repeats to himself, as a way of storing it into his memory. He doesn't relax, instead staying still with his hand still gripping his trusty substitute for an actual weapon. "I intend to get back to training people. I have no reason to trust either you, these 'Ferrymen', or anything but my own experience." He pauses, the grin fading as he ponders. "You might make a proper in-between. A warmup for the actual, important work I should be doing."

Helena lifts a brow. "So nice to know you take me seriously. Do I also get what you can tell me about the Company? How they function, that sort of thing?"

Claude can't help but chuckle dryly at the first comment. He swings his stick back up and onto his shoulder, and starts in a slow, bored circle around her. "I've been thinking about that. And the more I thought about it, the less I saw me benefiting from telling you anything."

"You don't think letting someone else do the dirty work of sticking it to the Company while you lay back without having to lift a finger is to your advantage?" Helena stays in the same place, but turns as he does, keeping his front to hers. "I never banked on you giving a shit about the people they kidnap, since you used to help. But I can't help but think them locking you up for so long wouldn't piss you off. But then, why did they lock you up in the first place, one of their own?"

Claude's so far not entirely friendly demeanor takes a turn for the worst. He leaves his little circle to step back toward Helena again — close enough to bump into her if she doesn't back away — and raises his voice with an ugly sneer. "Does this not look pissed off?! The only reason they didn't bloody kill me instead was I made sure a bunch of the people they wanted to do their little tests on were missing because of me! SAFE because of me."

Helena puts the butt end of her stick down and leans on it. "We've got the same agenda, you know." she says quietly. "To keep them from rounding up people, experimenting on them, kidnapping them, using them. The government too. You want to know how you benefit from helping me understand how the Company works, well I just told you. Because on that score, all you have to do is talk, and it's me and mine who are putting their necks on the line."

Claude doesn't back off, eyes locked with Helena's. "Your words are hardly proof you even mean well, are they." In the same breath, he adds, "I choose when, where, and what to tell you. And on condition…" Because the when, where and what weren't enough yet, apparently.

"What's that?" Helena asks. She's not going to agree outright. She's not stupid.

Claude answers with the utmost seriousness! Serious business, this. "… When you find your Pete, you contact me so I can be the first to smack him over the head for letting me rot." Okay, so there's a bit of a grin at the end of that sentence.

Helena can't help it, she breaks into a smile. "I think he'll be pleased to see you." she says. "At least until you hit him."

September 28th: Dealing With The Devil
September 28th: Trying Plan B
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