In Darkness, Again


colette_icon.gif quinn_icon.gif

Scene Title In Darkness, Again
Synopsis Following in the footsteps of her mentor Conrad, Colette Nichols takes a new photokinetic through the same training that Conrad had put her through.
Date June 23, 2010

Ruins of Midtown

There is a reason that the government has walled off large portions of what was once Midtown Manhattan from the general public. The eviscerated remains of skyscrapers rise up like broken fingers into the cloudy skies, grasping lifelessly like the skeletal hands of some long dead beast. Stretches of street are broken and shattered, pavement looking to have melted and re-cooled in places, and in others broken and upheaved.

Through this dust-littered ruin there should be no foot traffic. Twenty foot tall concrete barricades block off major roads and entrances, National Guardsmen stand at checkpoints, but there is simply too much ruin to cover, too many ways in and out, too many branches in the labyrinthine passages of New York City to watch at all times, and Colette Nichols knows them all by heart.

She isn't alone here, standing in the shadow cast by two skyscrapers slouching against one another, their concrete bodies crushed together, metal frame intertwined and glass shell glittering like diamonds on broken pavement. At her side is an unlikely candidate for wasteland exploration, and while Robyn Quinn may not be familiar with the treacherous footing she traverses, she could not ask for a more expert guide.

"I used to come out here a lot, when I lived in the orphanage…" Colette's never spoken of that place before, of where she came from or why, not to Quinn at least. "After the bomb, after I was hospitalized… I just— I don't know, I used to come out here. Sometimes the wind whistles through the ruins, and it sounds like people talking. Like… I dunno, like the buildings remember what used to be here."

There's a clunk of metal underfoot as Colette walks up a broken piece of street onto the hood of a rusted and fire-warped car, steps up across its roof and then down the back side onto the trunk, showing Quinn the safe path around a gaping chasim in the street that descends four stories deep into darkness.

"I learned a lot… fendin' for myself, where to go at night to sleep, where not to. I didn't even have a power back then…" Hopping down off the trunk of the car, Colette walks onto the sidewalk, heading towards a plaza between those two half-collapsed skyscrapers, by stick-bare trees that were blasted by atomic fire, broken glass crunching under her dusty boots. "I'm— lucky I'm not dead."

Turning to look over her shoulder, Colette furrows her brows and looks back to Quinn, watching her carefully. "We're almost there."

Wherever there is.

"Ah…" Quinn furrows her brow from behind Colette, and her head tilts to teh side. She hadn't realized how hard it'd been for Colette, back when the bomb had happened. "I'm at a bit of a loss, I'm afraid." She wrinkles her nose and speeds her pace, attempting to catch up to the other photo kinetic, managing just barely to avoid tripping over a small piece of debris. She wearing a short sleeve T-shirt, old and dirty, and a pair of jeans will ill fitting boots - she probably would have bought better fitting ones if she'd imagined they'd be doing anything like this.

"I still find it all a bit wierd," she confesses, hands in pockets. "This whole Idea of, uh, trainin' and all. But I trust you know what you're doin'." She flashes a smile to Colette.

"I don't, actually…" Colette offers with a crack of a smile, "but I had one of the best teachers ever, and what he taught me, I can teach you." As she talks, Colette rounds the corner of the dilapidated building, leading Quinn to the rubble strewn remnants of a subway entrance. The concrete surrounding the staircase that descends down into the underground is cracked and split, littered with pieces of broken masonry from the surrounding buildings, shattered pieces of glass and twisted bits of metal. Colette's booted feet clunk over a twisted and warped STOP sign as she approaches the gloomy, pitch-black recesses at the bottom of those crumbling stairs.

Turning around to put her back to the stairs, Colette nods her head over her shoulder. "I know its dark down there, but it'll be alright." Dark brows furrow as Colette adjusts the strap of a duffelbag she carries over one shoulder, then looks Quinn up and down. "Did you bring a flashlight, like I told you?" It's an odd request, given what her ability is.

Quinn blinks for a moment, and then reaches into the messenger bag she has across her shoulder - even for outings like this, she can't stand to go out without a notebook and her phone and headphones, among other things. "Well… yeah." She raises her own hand, first to run through her hair and then to hold a bit in front of her. "I'm still not quite sure why you think we'll need it."

The other hand reaches out with a long, back metal flashlight in hand. Quinn clicks the switch, and initially nothing happens - but once she smacks it, it flickers on and illuminates the ground in front of them. "I haven't used it in forever, since… well, I haven't needed to." She furrows her brow, quirking her lips from side to side.

Looking at the flashlight, Colette offers an approving nod of her head. "You'll see…" is an oblique answer if ever there were one. Averting her mis-matched eyes up to the cloudy sky, Colette wrinkles her nose and furrows her brows. "Storm's coming…" she offers quietly, and the smell of rain does linger in the air as much as her own silence lingers heavily.

"How'd you manifest?" Is Colette's first and prying question as she turns her back to Quinn, starting to walk down the concrete stairs into the dark. She doesn't carry a flashlight, doesn't create any illumination of her own either, just walks quietly into the dark with a crunch of broken glass and stone chips under her feet.

The ominous reply causes Quinn to tilt her head again, a quizzical look plastered across her face. Watches as Colette begins her way into the darkness, and she sighs. There's a few moments of hesitation before she finally pushes herself forward and after Collete. The flashlight, still turned on, is aimed forward. "I feel silly," she intones with a bit of mirth in her voice.

"I was… studying for finals, at a library back in Boston. In '04." She doesn't look rueful or annoyed, but as she enters the darkness her expression is notably stoic. "There was a power outage, and I forget how, but I ended ups stumbling headfirst into a bookshelf, brought almost every book in it down on myself. When I pull m'self up, my hands… you've seen E.T., right? It was like that…"

Boston elicits a quirk of one of Colette's brows and a shift of her eyes askance towards the sound of Quinn's voice. She doesn't look back at the woman following her, however. As they descend the stairs, Colette is largely quiet, save for the noise of her footsteps until they've reached the turnstyles that lead to the — clearly abandoned — subway platform. Unshouldering her duffelbag, Colette tosses it over the turnstyles, then vaults up and over them like a sawhorse in gym class.

Landing on the other side, she turns around and motions on the edge of Quinn's flashlight for her to follow. "Necessity", is Colette's belated answer about the manifestation. "You needed light, you made light. My manifestation— was different, but we have different abilities too… sort've."

While she's standing there, Colette swings her duffelbag around, pulling a zippered pocket open and fishing around inside, pulling out a handful of large glowsticks. She turns at that, walking out of Quinn's flashlight range and begins snapping the glowsticks, throwing them down along the concrete to create an otherworldly green glow that shows the cracked tiling of square support pillars, old newspapers and toppled waste bins.

Quinn's attempt to get over the turnstile is far less graceful and much more awkward, grunting and fumbling over. "What was your like, then?" A beat of silence, and then the glowsticks clatter to the ground. "If you don't mind me askin'."

She finally hops her way offer, sighing loudly. Hands slip into her jeans pockets again, and she takes a few cautious steps forward. "G-Glowsticks?" An amused smile cross Quinn's face, hands on her hips. "Did you plan a rave and forget to invite people, Colette? Ah, at least you have a DJ…" She trails off, laughing at her own joke.

"Terrible," is Colette's only explanation as she turns around in the scattered midsts of the glowsticks, managing a faint smile despite herself. She seems to dismiss Quinn's joke quickly enough, however, sticking to her uncharacteristically serious demeanor as she folds her hands behind her back. "This is more about you than me today, so let's focus on that…"

Nodding around the abandoned subway platform, Colette furrows her brows and offers a mismatched stare up to Quinn. "The lights are for me, unlike you I can't do most of what I do without a source of light to manipulate. You… make your own light, so I'm going to figure out where we overlap and then start instructing. So…" Bobbing her head into a nod, Colette steps back and parts her hands, motioning around broadly. "Show me what you can do, everything. Every trick you have, I need to know what you know about yourself before we can start exploring what you don't know you can do."

Quinn's eyebrows shift, and she gives a short nod. Both her bag and the flashlight are set down, off to the side, and she exhales sharply, standing straight and staring ahead. "It's not //nearly as flashy, but…"

And she begins. Both hands held in front of her, palms out and glowing. The light radiates outward, growing and strengthening as she concentrates. The room lights up considerably over several moments, and Quinn closes her eyes - the room darkening to blackness afterwards, save for the glow around her hands. It takes a minute for light to begin to filter back into the room- the time of a bright gree hue, not unlike the emerald hills of Ireland one often sees in pictures.

Quinn's eyes open and she gives a nervous smile, light focusing out form one of her hands into something resembling a flashlight beam. A few moments pass, and the entire display stops, Quinn coughing a bit. "Sorry. Head starts to hurt when I do all that stuff at once. There's more, though…" A hand rises again, glowing - and as she had shown Colette before, she begins to form shapes out of light in front of her. They're all very simple - easy geometric shapes, letters, numbers, almost like things out of a laser rock show display.

Quinn's knuckles crack as she flexes her fingers, and she begins making dramatic swoops of her hand and fingers, clearly getting into the performance aspect of her display, causing splotches of the lit room to change in colour, looking somewhat like polka dots before fading back to normalcy And finally, she takes a half step back, and raises one of her hands up, causing a thing beam of light to stream upwards. She runs a hand back and forth through it, grinning."I normally do this with a keyboard set up at my feet, it's kinda like a fake laser harp…"

And then it all fades, the room returned to its normal state, Quinn standing stuill with a hand propped against her head.

Nodding her head in the dark, Colette paces around Quinn, hands folded behind her back and teeth nibbling on her lower lip as she does. Not once during the light show did she directly look at the display, but all the same she seemed to be paying attention, or maybe was lost in thought, it's hard to discern with her sometimes. "The headaches…" she latches on to that topic, "you need to keep a very close attention to."

Ending her circling in front of Quinn, Colette takes a step forward, getting up close to Quinn. She lifts a hand, pulling down her lower eyelid of her blind eye with one finger. "This happened because of my ability," Colette states firmly, warningly. "I pushed myself beyond my limits, too fast, too hard. My eyes are important to my ability, in a way, I don't understand the like, mechanics of it? But if I go too hard and too fast with my light manipulation, blood vessels explode in my eye, I bleed, and my corneras scar over. I rendered myself completely blind once by trying too hard and too recklessly, and if it weren't for a healer— I'd still be blind."

Stepping back, Colette points up to Quinn's head with one finger. "You get headaches and I don't, which means it could be anything from like, blood clots in your brain to who the heck knows, but it's dangerous. It's like— working out a muscle. You don't stretch it, and you'll like— hurt yourself. Start small and push your limits outward slowly, over time."

Taking another step back, Colette breathes in deeply and rolls her tongue over her cheek. "How bright of light can you make? I know you can make your hand glow, how bright have you tried getting it to burn?"

Quinn narrow's her eyes as Colette relates the tale of what happened to her eye, of the problem with her headaches, all much more portentous then she had ever imagined. She quirks her lips, rubbing temple as the question is posed. "Uh, well- I've gotten my hands bright enough ot make me avert my own eyes, at least. Lit up my apartment like a floodlight once when I was, er-" She pauses, scratching the back of her neck. "Drunk," she continues sheepishly. "I've never really tried brighter than that."

"Go for it," Colette states with a nod of her head, "don't worry about hurting me, I'm never in need of sunglasses. Start small and work your way up, go as bright as you can before it starts to hurt, I'm going to do y best to estimate the lumens you're putting out so I can get a better understanding of just how powerful you are right now, which should give me, like, an idea of how crazy-powerful you're going to get."

Tilting her chin up, Colette assessingly watches Quinn, though quickly interjects, "Oh and— how— long ago did you manifest? Months? Years? That's important too, gives me a— uh— like a time-thingie that lets me know how far you've come in what length of time." For all her humility in this regard, the lessons that Conrad Wozniak and Gabriel Gray have instilled in Colette have given her a strong grasp of the fundamentals of her ability and the abilities of others. That a high-school dropout may have a future in teaching — no matter how esoteric the topic may be — is a little ironic.

"Um, well… actually, it was six years ago. Almost exactly, now, jsut a few weeks past." She cocks an eyebrow from a moment, a curious look on her face. Palms are held out in front of her, and Quinn's hands resume their glow. Hoping for better concentration, Quinn's eyes close, and she exhales sharply. The change in brightness is very slow and gradual, starting like a candle. A look of consternation crosses her face after several moments, the light cresting into the realm of a bright and clear xenon car headlight, only getting brighter with each passing moment.

After a few moments, Quinn let's out a distinct "Nnngh" sound, just as the light reaches something akin to the light of a rooftop floodlight being pointed directly into someone's face. Almost instantly it ceases, receding back to darkness, and Quinn coughs again. "Christ," she intones, hand to her head. "I hope that's not going to leave me with a migraine…"

The sharp whistle that Colette gives at Quinn's display comes with a raise of her brows and a shake of her head. "You've been at this for a while, that makes me feel a little bit better about myself." There's a selfish smile there as Colette takes a couple of steps back over to Quinn, lifts up a hand and rests it on her shoulder. "I'm going to be straight with you," figuratively, "like Conrad was to me when he trained me. You're… powerful, scary powerful, and you're only going to get more so. If you don't learn how to get a secure handle on your ability and understand your limits, you could hurt a lot of people one day."

Letting her hand slide down from Quinn's shoulder, Colette traipses through the glowsticks, hands folding behind her back again. "I'm going to show you two things today, and I want you to pay attention to them both. Your power's… different from mine, more than I thought. You've got this really potent intensity control, color manipulation, we overlap there. But you don't seem to have the ability to bend light like I do and really move it around, just increase or decrease levels of photons. But that gives you a really distinct advantage."

Walking over to Quinn again, Colette takes the flashlight from the brunette's hand, clicks it on and gives it an under-handed toss to noisily crash about ten feet away, winding up shining at the side of a wrecked subway car. "I can go invisible, I don't think you can… but, I bet you can do something I can't. I want you to black out that flashlight. Just the flashlight. You've got all these…" Colette motions to the glowsticks, "around you. Think of them as your friends. You want them to be able to see still. But the flashlight? He's gonna kill you, if he can see you. So what you need to do, is create a pocket of darkness just as big as the flashlight. Remove all the photons from the area, totally put'em in the dark without blacking out everything else."

Looking up to Quinn, Colette furrows her brows. "Think you can do that?"

"Wait, you mean black out the light or- the flashlight itself?" Quinn's eyebrow is cocked and her head tilted. "I'm sure I can black out the light from it, but the flashlight?" She wrinkles her nose, staring at the flashlight eyes narrowed. "I think… I'll certainly try."

Quinn flexes her fingers again and exhales sharply, eyes set on the device. Fingers waggle, and she holds out hand once more. Eyes still narrowed, she watches and concentrates, eyes centred on the flashlight. There's just silence for several moments, before Quinn lets out a sound exasperation, hand still held out.

"The whole flashlight, from to back," Colette instructs, her voice quieter now as she comes to stand at Quinn's side. "Do whatever feels most natural, don't… don't push it, just… eyes open or closed, whatever your body feels like doing, it probably knows better'n you right now." Tense as she watches, Colette folds her arms across her chest, head tipping down and eyes lifting up to look side-long at Quinn rather than the light.

"If you start to feel a headache coming on, slowly stop…" There's enough worry in her tone that the lash thing she wants to do is make Quinn start bleeding from her nose or eyes at trying something too hard. "Just… go with what feels right. Feel the light, the different intensities, but be mindful of the glowsticks, don't darken them out…"

Quinn furrows her brow. "It doesn't hurt, it's just…" She trails off, and just sighs. Her free hand reaches up to thread some hair out of her vision and behind her hair. After a moment, the light from the flashlight starts to darken, and Quinn furrows her brow. That wasn't right, but it was improvement from… well, nothing happening at all.

She grumbles quietly, and the darkening of the light relents. "Alright…" she intones, eyes narrowing again. She would get this, she was sure of it. She eyes the flashlight, focuses on it. She know how to dim light. This can't be that far removed from it. She watches, waits, focuses - and once again, light begins to dim, this time though the whole area around her starts to go dark, some of the glowsticks losing their sheen as well.

"Feckin' hell," she says quietly, hand drawing back again. She's getting bits and pieces of it. It's the focusing that's proving the difficult part. But she's not giving up yet. She centres her gaze back on the flashlight, and this time she breathes deep and focuses. Her eyes close briefly, and open back into a narrow.

And finally, after what seems like an eternity of staring, the flashlight begins to turn blacker than it already is, fading most of the way form view. Not entirely, but the focus, its there. Somewhat.

"Good enough," is Colette's reassurance as she reaches up to squeeze Quinn's shoulder gently, "you've got it closer than I thought you were going to." Mismatched eyes that both — in this light — look to be different shades of green flick up to the Irishwoman, a smile spread across the younger girl's lips. "You did really, really good, Quinn…" Moving her hand away, Colette kicks a glowstick out of her way and walks a few paces away from the older brunette, then turns and folds her hands behind her back again.

"You feel up to one more thing? I'm going to help you with this one, we'll be working together." Something about what Colette has planned gives the teen an impish smile and a smirking, mischevious quality to her voice, both brows raised in hopeful expectance that Quinn hasn't worn herself out too much yet.

Quinn straights back up, a somewhat annoyed expression on her face for just a moment, before it upturns into a half smile. "Ah, well…" Quinn rubs the side of her head. "Thanks. I'm a right bit surprised myself…" Her gaze is lingering on the flashlight, arms crossed over her chest. She's trying to hide it with a subdued expression and quiet talking, but it's not hard to tell that she's incredibly pleased with herself. Quinn's attention is drawn fully back to Colette as she kicks the glowstick, prompting her to quirk and eyebrow.

"Well, I mean… I still have a bit of a headache from earlier." She wiggles her nose, and hands move to her hips. "Like I said earlier, though, I'm up for tryin'."

"Gimmie all the light you can give," Colette requests with a crooked smile, walking to stand beside Quinn again. "Slowly, try and get it near as bright as you got last time, but just… hold it for as long as you think you can. I want to show you what I mean when I say you can do something dangerous, but I'm going to give you the push the rest of the way. All I need is for you to make me as much light as you can, and I'll handle the rest…"

As ominous as that sounds, Colette seems intent on doing it. Lifting both of her hands up, she cups them together and then pulls them apart to form a slowly swirling disc of very dim, green light between her hands, stealing the illumination away from the glowsticks. The light spins like a tiny galaxy, with flickering firefly-like motes drifting at its edges. "I'm ready… just start glowin'."

"I- alright, sure." Quinn furrows her brow momentarily, hand out and open, waggling her fingers as the light begins to emanate outwards, slowly building up more and more, brighter and brighter. Her eye does twitch a little as she watches it brighten, rubbing the side of her head. It's not throbbing, but she can feel that bit of a dull ache.

As it reaches levels just below where he peaked previously, the light falters for a moment, and normalizes, remaining at that brightness instead pushing to the exact brink of before - a measure taken by Quinn to prevent herself from lying in bed the rest of teh day popping aspring.

"I think that's as good as it gets…" Quinn intones, glancing over to Colette with a curious look on her face.

"That's a little bit more than I needed, which is to say perfect." At that, all of the light generated by Quinn's hands are siphoned away and into Colette's whirling disc of light. It swells on both sides, rounding out to have a globe of intense light at the middle that bathes both Colette and Quinn in its glow. "Remember these two words, Quinn, you're going to be hearing them a lot once we get working on more advanced things…"

Breathing in deeply through her nose, Colette's attention moves to a torn poster taped to one of the concrete support pillars. "Bright," she intones breathily, "and hot." When that last word slips through her mouth, there's a crackling snap in the air as the entire disc of light between Colette's hands ruptures and turns into a whisper thin beam of blue-green light that moves in a streaking pattern across the poster, setting it aflame and slicing burned patterns through it. The laser only lasts a two seconds, but it's enough to have burned the poster off of the concrete wall and into several shredded pieces flaming on the edges, falling down to the floor.

Smiling and breathing heavily, Colette lowers her hands as the natural light from the glow sticks and flashlight come back, and her eyes settle up on Quinn. "That is just a really small part of what you're going to be able to do."

"I-what-Jesus fucking Christ!" Quinn's eyes are wide, and she definitely jumps back a step, sheer surprise on her face. Her eyes are fixed on the burning pieces paper flittering the the ground, and the gaze snaps back to Colette, the Irishwoman pointing at her. "You aren't feckin' serious. There's no way." Despite her seeming disbelief, there's a grin on her face. "That is so rad."

Her gaze moves back to the scorched spot and she sighs, shaking her head. "That's somethin' else, Colette." She points at her again, but the stature is different this time, much more casual. "But, I mean… could I really just do that?" Her voice lends a bit of worry. "I mean, I've heard of people's abilities getting out of their hands, but…"

"That's how I blinded myself, doing that…" Colette points to the wall, "but bigger. I pulled in too much light, stretched myself too far. You? You've got a lot of potential to do something similar… but it's a ways off. I just wanted to show you an idea of the kind of thing you need to be careful of, watch out for." Looking askance at where the poster was and the black marks on the concrete, Colette furrows her brows nervously, silence coming over her.

When she looks back to Quinn, the stoic expression she wears turns softer and gentler. "C'mon, you earned some dinner, on me. We can probably catch a bite to eat up at Janettos before it closes and get you on a bus before curfew…" Stepping away from Quinn, Colette's smile grows some and it's clear that she's pleased with the results of the first day of training.

"We'll get back to this after you've had some time to rest, and next time, we'll do it outdoors in the sun." Looking over her shoulder towards the turnstyles and the stairs, Colette breathes in a deep breath and then exhales a tired sigh, hearing the sound of rain falling outside. "Figures."

When she takes her forst step forward, Colette's booted foot comes down to crush a burning piece of the poster laid out on the concrete, leaving an ashy bootprint behind in her wake.

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