I Am Nothing


bao-wei2_icon.gif nadia_icon.gif

Scene Title I Am Nothing
Synopsis Nadia happens upon something strange in the tunnels of Midtown.
Date September 3, 2010

Subway - Ruined Tunnel Networks

Without electricity in this portion of the subway tunnels, there's no ambient light to help people along. The tracks are empty and dirty. Some patches of the walls and ceiling have fallen away, leaving behind chunks of rock intermittently. The tracks curve a little in places, but stay mostly straight for long areas. A large pile of rubble blocks the way to one of the stations, somewhat conspicuous because the ceiling seems stable around it. Almost as if this blockage had been intentionally made somehow.

These stretches of subway tunnels spread for miles beneath the ruins of Midtown, some of them consisting of little more than collapsed railway passages filled with broken concrete and heat-melted steel girders. Other entirely vacant but debris-filled ticket offices, railway platforms and tunnels seem to spider-web beneath the city, collapsing into exposed steam tunnels and sewage passages that can make traversing these lightless subterranean realms hazardous for many reasons, from toxic fumes to collapsing floors or ceilings.

Most people wouldn't be caught dead here in the ruined tunnels beneath the ruins of Midtown Manhattan. Most people wouldn't be caught dead in here in the dead of night, either, nor would they be caught in here without a flashlight to light their way through the darkness of the tunnels. It's darker than night, it's filled with debris, and it's just plain dangerous.

Nadia isn't most people, however.

She carries a flashlight at her side, yes, though it is not currently on to light the way as she wanders through the underground tunnels. Despite the lack of light, the little Moroccan woman steps surely as she wanders through the tunnels, her feet finding flat ground as she weaves her way through the tunnels like she's lived here her entire life.

Sure, it isn't a cavern or a cave. But this is still Nadia's element, down here beneath the surface of the earth. The rocks and the dirt beyond the concrete, it's all her friend, and it would never guide her on a hazardous trail through its pitch-black depths.

Things move around down here, that much is as regular as it gets. The homeless, perhaps, sometimes gangs. The usual riff-raff. Nevertheless, the earth would never knowingly lead her astray- that is, unless it was led astray first. By something else, tonight, in the middle of the night. It doesn't know that that water in the end of the tunnel is being drained. It doesn't know that there is something alive, scratching around in the rubble of this route.

As Nadia moves onward, the coolness of the earth starts to become a noticeable chill. Further onward, it becomes colder, colder, colder still. Until frost is visible, if she should cast her light. Frost, and crinkling scales of ice underneath her feet.

Something up ahead, even further still, is scraping, scratching- clawing around. The sound in the oncoming dark is reminiscent of a crustacean scrabbling around on the bottom of a boat. Claws dragging, carapace clunking.

As her flip flops crush on the frost and ice, and as it becomes colder, Nadia reaches down to her side, her eyes trailing over the darkness of the cave. Then, her flashlight is licked on, trailing over the frost that collects on the ground and on the rocks. She arches her brows, slowly dragging her light along the floor, toward the sound of that scrabbling noise.

In the light from the flashlight, which glitters off the frost, Nadia becomes visible, her brown eyes wide with a combination of fear and marvel at this strange thing that's happened in her tunnels. Her flashlight trails over the glittering walls and their layer of ice. The woman, dressed in a simple sun dress and flip flops, loks terrified.

"He— hello?" She calls this nervously, even as her flashlight makes its way toward the beast beyond.

The rattling and scuttling pauses, and the tunnel is filled with quiet. The flashlight swims over a tunnel covered in frost and ice, a trail that thickens along the floor and lower walls. Glimmering like silver paint, and crystal tile. The air gets more frigid as she inches closer. When her light flashes over what looks to be debris in the tunnel, it is soon clear that it is not debris. Why?

Because it is looking back at her.

A craggy browline sits over two dark holes, bottomless. One contains a bright, shining golden iris, the size of a large coin. The pupil in the center contracts into a point when the light finds it, and when the light shines there, it helps to illuminate a head of large, arched horns, tiered shoulders, and brittle spines hanging down from a face full of vestigial teeth. Tusks, really.

It does not help that this face, connected to a golem of ice, is over two feet higher up, even though it is in the distance. Bao-Wei's jaw hinges open, a rattling puff of cold fog rolling from his mouth. Teeth clack shut.

The woman nearly drops her flashlight as it alights on the ice-golem, her eyes as wide as saucers as she takes a single step back, still staring at the beast. She mumbles a few curse words to emphasize her shock, though she also seems quite unable to move any further, her eyes meeting the gaze of that golden iris. For a long moment, her jaw simply works, opened and closed, as her brain makes an attempt to decipher this strange beast. No answers are found but the obvious: he must be an Evolved.

Monsters weren't real, last she checked.

"Wh— what are you?!" She edges away slowly, still watching that beast in the light of the flashlight, its massive fangs and the fog breath that is lighted by the flashlight. "P— please don't hurt me.."

It lifts a foot, from the sound. Scraping limb over ground, stepping forward, form bobbing with the movement. Another one, with the other leg. The shoulders mimic the rest, like a giant, spiny tortoise propped upright. His forelimbs are long, swaggering things, solid through to the oversized forearms and paws, talons ticking together at the ends. He stops after a few paces closer, the chill moving with him. He is not nearly close enough to subject her to more than below freezing, now.

One of those forearms lifts up, motioning vaguely to the girl and pointing a long, sickle-like claw to her.

"I am nothing." The voice comes from somewhere inside, jaw moving puppetlike on his face. It is a grating, grumbling voice, though at the same time with a peculiar hollow sound behind it.

The little woman shivers, taking a few steps back as she stares at the creature that approaches with wide eyes. Her light still shines on the monster out of some nightmare, though it quivers along with her as her muscles work to keep the cold out. She ends up against the wall of the tunnel, her jaw dropping slightly. For a moment, it seems that she's frozen in a combination of terror and the cold.

"Nothing d-doesn't talk, I d-don't think…" She drops the light down to the sickle-like claw, both to get a better focus on it, and to stop shining the light in his eye. "Please…if you want to be left alone, I'll just leave and walk the other way…"

The creature jerks its head, mane bristling and breaking apart. Pieces glitter to the floor. The golden eye peers down the tunnel at her. The claw at the end of his hand is pointed with a sickly black and red.

"Why have you not?" It does not truly occur to Cong that he may have frozen her in her tracks. "If you have no business here, and with me, I suggest that you depart, at present." The golem steps forward again, slowly getting closer, the air getting colder. The moisture on her skin and in her face has likely frozen, as if she had walked into a freezer and shut the door behind her.

"P-please…d-don't come any closer…" Nadia is rather obviously terrified right now, her face and voice reflecting as much. She's also shivering violently, still staring at that black and red claw with the quivering flash light. She's never seen something like this, and while she's very slowly backing away, with her back still against the wall of the concrete tunnel, she seems reluctant to turn her back to the beast.

But why should she be scared? This is her element. A low groan seems to come from the walls, ceiling, and floor of the tunnels around the beast. A warning, perhaps?
The golden eye swivels slightly, casting up to the ceiling for a few seconds, until looking back to the small girl. He pauses in place, reluctant in moving closer for several potential reasons. One being her actually asking him not to.

"If you do not want trouble, again, I suggest that you depart." Bao-Wei's voice rumbles, flakes of ice floating down around him and the hollow of the deep tunnel creating a profound echo that funnels to the bone. "You obviously do not belong here." Less than he does.

Still backing away, Nadia is still shivering, one arm reaching up to rub at the arm holding the flashlight as. It's too cold to move fast, especially when wearing such a thin outfit as a sundress and flipflops. "I belong here more than you do…" The groaning of the tunnel has ceased, now that he's stopped advancing.

Still, she is heasitant to turn her back on the beast, staring at him as she slowly backs away from him, the flashlight pointed at the his chest. "Are you a monster? No…monsters don't exist…a person, maybe?" She seems to be mostly wandering aloud to herself, shivering as she

"Then tell me, little girl, where is it that I belong?" If she knows, she is more wise than he. Bao-Wei settles one step back now, lower limbs buckling and perching him down onto haunches that are only part of the construct he has made. A tail scrapes and curls along the ground behind him, wrapping with cracks and knocks around one ankle, connected to clawed, elephantine foot. He watches her for the longest time, talons screeching along the ice in front of him.

Thinking. Pondering. Gauging.

"I have not been a person for some years, now." Cong has long resigned to the fact that the pure human in him began decaying ages ago.

The apparently Arabic woman slows a bit more once she feels the air warm, staring at the creature. Once he takes a step back and asks that question, Nadia pauses, peering quietly across the distance at him. She's still quite frightened of the beast, but now she's curious. "Certainly not down here…aren't you lonely down here, all by yourself in the dark? Or do you want to be alone? If so, why?"

The little woman tilts her head to one side, shining the light of her flashlight over his form. "Why haven't you been a person for some years now? Are you unable to turn back?"
Children these days have some nerve to be doing things like this. She isn't the first person to do it to him.

"I want to be alone down here. Is that not enough?" There is a clear and present danger in his voice, now, a very obvious warning to her to stop prying. Bao-Wei's teeth grind together, the squealing of ice on ice sharp and high. "I am able. But it is painful, and difficult."

Nadia is surprisingly stubborn, standing her ground when he gives that nonverbal warning. She only takes one step back as his teeth grind, staring at the creature quietly. "I'm sorry…I really don't mean to pry so much. You're just…interesting. You look like something out of a horror movie…but you talk. I've never seen anything like you, and I want to learn about you." She tilts her head toward the beast.

"I'm Nadia. Do you have a name, at least?" The fact that she's in her element makes her brave enough to stay where she is, even though her teeth are chattering.

"Xuan Wu." For once, he sticks to the theme that he has given himself. The alias, though very telling, is still an alias, and has no stable connection to 'Bao-Wei Cong'. "Learn somewhere else." He cants his head and stands again, slowly turning around on the place where he had stopped. His spines and shell ate plainly visible under her flashlight now, the tail from underneath swashing at the air. The club on the end, and the spines around it, wander closer to her than he had, giving her a moment's glance at the hard ice and sharpness of those points.

"Pray you never see anything like me again, either."

Nadia frowns at the clubbed tail that swashes through the air, her head tilted to one side. She promptly reaches into her bag…pulling out a sandwich. "Okay, I'll leave you alone. Um…I don't know if you need to eat or anything…but here's a sandwich if you get hungry later. I'm going to put it on this big rock over here…" She does as she mentions, setting the sandwich on a large rock. "That way, you can stay here alone for a little bit longer."

The girl backs a bit more, staring after the beast. Then, the flashlight is put out, and Nadia is making her way through the pitch black darkness of the abandoned subway system, away from the beast.

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