Her Choice


anna_icon.gif zach_icon.gif

Scene Title Her Choice
Synopsis On coming home one cold afternoon, Anna James finds herself presented with an ugly truth, and an even uglier choice.
Date December 9, 2010

Red Hook

It's remarkably cold out for this early in December. The frost that collects on the inside of the windows at an abandoned tenement building amidst the Industrial parkland of Red Hook is testament to that. A small, kerosene space heater vibrates noisily where it struggles to heat the open space of the third floor apartment that Anna James and Zachary Becker have come to share. With no electricity, no heat and no running water the apartment is little more than a wind shelter.

The space heater does its best though, but it isn't enough to prevent Zach from wearing his jacket and a pair of fingerless wool gloves in the house. Fingerless, because he needs his digits for more sensitive work. Sitting on the sofa as he is, Zach fumbles with a mess of wires and a battery-powered soldering iron. The scent of something burning in the air carries between each touch of the iron's hot head down ont he unspooled soldering material being melted to fuse exposed wiring to circuitboard.

A cell phone is broken apart ont he table, back exposed and the target of the soldering experiment. Nearby, crumpled on the floor, a black tactical vest layd unworn, its velcro straps unfastened and all of the pockets on the front emptied. With Anna gone out for food and water, Zachary has been left to work on some pet projects.

Unfortunately for Zach, Anna is back faster than expected. Quite a bit so. The teen enters and starts to speak, "Sorry, Zach, I couldn't reach the gro—" And that's about when she notices that Zach is working on something weird, "What are you working on, Zach?" She asks suspiciously.

She heads on closer, to get a better look at whatever it is that Zach happens to be working on. Just to be sure, you know? She crosses her arms as she does so, trying her best to look the part of angry mother hen. Not that that's very effective when you're a kid and you're trying to pull that one on someone five years your senior.

When Zach looks up, he is admittedly started by Anna's arrival with a furrow of his brows and a stalling of his hands. Quickly though his expression is given a mercurial shift towards something more neutral, followed by a jerk of his head to indicate that Anna should come and join him on the sofa. "Workin' on a project for my buddy Khalid," he admits, setting down the soldering iron and picking up the wired phone and angling it from side to side slowly.

"It's a remote electric switch," he explains, waggling the wiring around in one hand. "Admittedly it ain't much to look at right now, but when I'm done it'll be set to commit an electrical charge on receiving a phone call to the phone it's hooked up to. Khalid ain't that great with electronics, so I promised him I'd get this ready in time for…"

He hesitates, brows furrowed, and Zach sets down the phone and scoots to the side some, offering a space on the couch where there's thermal blankets folded. "C'mon, I think it's about time we have a talk."

"A talk?" Anna asks, the electronical talk mostly passing over her head. But, she heads over to sit next to Zach on that couch, smiling faintly. "What about?" Is the inevitable question that follows it up. Arms are still crossed, by the way. Anna looks Zach up and down, trying to get a 'feel' for what kind of mood Zach happens to be in at this particular moment in time.

He seems relaxed enough, though admittedly a bit tense. "So, I haven't been totally up-front with you about who I am." Zach picks up the blanket behind himself, pulling it up over his shoulders. "Name and stuff, yeah— all that's good an' right, but…" Zach offers a lopsided smile and a bob of his head. "I'm not just… some kind of aimless trouble-maker, but I'm gettin' the feeling that you might not be all too surprised by that, are ya?"

Reaching out to turn up the space heater, Zach offers an askance look across to Anna. "When I was a teenager, I went to this school out in Texas. It's the one that got in all the papers about the Homecoming murder. The head cheerleader was killed, turned out to actually be the work of— you know— the Midtown Man."

Brows furrowing, Zach clears his throat and looks down to the electronics. "This girl I used to go to school with, Claire? She wound up being one of them, y'know? Went and became some sort of killer, I heard she blew up a General and some other government guys over the summer. She's… dangerous, you know? Like most of them are, fucking— dangerous and horrible."

Rubbing his palms over the knees of his jeans, Zach's expression becomes a bit more distant. "I'm… I work with some people, a group, who's job it is to make sure people like Claire and the Midtown Man don't hurt anybody ever again."

A few moments of silence, before it clicks in Anna's head. "You're with Humanis First, aren't you?" Is the proferred question, though it's mostly retoric at this point. She forces a smile, but somehow… she doesn't look to be, nor sound as fond of that group as she was a while ago. "Why are you telling me this, Zach?"

"Guilty as charged," is perhaps not the most well-chosen choice of words. "I'm telling you this, 'cause I'd like your help, Anna. We've got this big event coming up in a few weeks, this really huge message we're going to send to the world." Zach leans forward, pulling his backpack out fron under the table and unzippering the top, sliding out a manilla folder. From it, he tugs out a printed out photograph of a man with stringy gray hair streaked with white, overly large lips and a dour looking countenance.

"This guy's name is Gideon d'Sarthe, he's a crime boss from out west in Chicago. Turns out that this d'Sarthe guy is one of them, Registered even. He's a murderer, extortionist, thug… he's just— he's everything that their kind represent. He has this power and he abuses it, threatens others, it— he's no better than the Midtown Man, the law just can't seem to touch him."

As Zach sets down the picture and lets the folder slide back into his backpack, his brows pinch together in a furrow. "I'd like you t'work with me, help me take this guy out. Permanently."

Slowly, Anna rises. "So, wait. You're asking one registered evolved to help you take out another?" She asks, tone cold. She isn't even entirely sure why she's doing this, except for that quick flashback to that girl from that dream… that girl that's been haunting her since then. "I'm not entirely sure you have thought this through completely."

And then, Anna turns around, and starts to make a sprint towards the exit. A quick dash, she can't last long, but maybe… maybe she can shake him off before he even has the chance to start following her. Let's hope so… anyway.

For the barest of moments, Zach looks unsure of how to proceed, but quickly finds his footing again. "Hey!— " Zach protests, before Anna begins running for the door. He breaks into a sprint after her, stepping over the table and using longer legs to catch up to her just as she pulls the front door open. Slapping his palm on the door, Zach slams the door shut noisily. "Hey," Zach protests again, "it's not like that. You're not like that."

His breath is visible in the chilly apartment, a huff of steam issuing out of his mouth as his shoulders rise and fall slowly. "Anna— you're not one of them, not yet anyway." Careful, deliberate wording as best as he can manage, is used. "I'm asking you to do what's right. I'm asking you to help me stop a killer."

Well, shit. That didn't go as planned. "And what'll happen once I am one of them? Once I'll manifest?" She asks, tone even colder than the apartment. "Because we both know that's just a matter of time, don't we?" A cold glare. "Besides, aren't you asking me to kill someone? Won't you just use the same poor excuse to get some other naive person to kill me?" She asks, anger apparent in her ice cold tone.

"Or wait, no, those are difficult questions. I'm not supposed to be asking those, am I?" A deliberate pause, not long enough to give Zach a chance to interject, "Well, shit luck, because I'm asking them. And I am leaving if you can't answer them to my satisfaction, unless you have a way to prevent this. Do you understand what I am saying, Zach?"

"I'm giving you a chance to die a hero," Zach says with a furrow of his brows, "instead of die one of them." There's a tension to the young man's jaw as he says that, hand still flat against the door. "You are going to become one of them, you're going to manifest and you're going to become a monster. Is that how you want to live? Hating yourself? Knowing day in and day out that your kind were responsible for all of the terrible things in the world?"

Zachary looks back to the table, then squares a look back at Anna again. "I'm asking you to take charge of a life you haven't ever been given a choice how to live. You didn't ask to be a fucking freak, but you are. So what do you want? To live like one of them, or to take charge of your life and choose not to pollute our world?"

A long, tense silence as Anna processes what Zach is telling her. Which is followed by an attempt to knee him in the groin. "I am taking charge of my life." She speaks, "Rather than taking charge of my death like you want me to." She is, admittedly, quite upset. "Becoming a suicide bomber was not in my plans for the future. Now, let me out of here, or things are about to get quite unpleasant."

Zachary doubles over and falls away from the door, losing his footing as he stumbles back and falls into the door to the bathroom. There's a crash as he grabs for the shower curtain, pulling it down with a clatter of the metal bar and plastic screen. "Fuck," is wheezed out, "you little— fucking— "

If she's going to make a run for it, now would be the time.

The teen flings that door open - and makes sure to slam it shut behind her - and makes a run for it. Anna heads for the buildings exit, going as fast as she can manage. Run, Anna, Run. That's the plan, and she is hoping to be gone out of the building before Zach gets a chance to catch up to her, so she can duck into some side alley and be fucking gone from where he can easily find her.

By the time Anna reaches they alleyway her lungs are burning from the exertion. Tucked away in an alley, Anna can hear the front door of the tenement building slam open, hear Zach's voice shouting, cursing, hollaring and screaming. Time passes, the cold sinks back in to Anna and there is no sign of the young man who was going to take care of her anywhere.

There's just the cold, lonely alleyway and the clear skies overhead. She won't be able to come back here, but on the same token neither will Zach. Unfortunately, unlike Zachary Becker, Anna doesn't have a group to fall back on, doesn't have a safe house to retreat to.

She just has the cold, lonely streets and the repercussions of choice.

But at least it's her choice.

And that's a good start.

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