Lead Me To Your Fire


garza_icon.gif ignacio_icon.gif isis_icon.gif salem_icon.gif skye_icon.gif spencer_icon.gif wiley_icon.gif zachery_icon.gif

Also Featuring


Scene Title Lead Me To Your Fire
Synopsis Members of Shedda Dinu gather to discuss the future while the world turns around them.
Date April 9, 2019

I can’t do this.

The sound of screaming voices is a deadened murmur, drowned out by both the high-pitched whine of tinnitus and a pounding heartbeat. Fingertips feel beads of sweat on a trembling brow creased with worry, and there’s both a tension and a tightness in his chest. At the touch of a hand to his shoulder, Frederick Medina practically jumps out of his skin and turns to look wide-eyed at his personal aid, holding a cell phone in one hand and Medina’s trembling shoulder in the other. As his eyes focus, he can see the hall and other campaign attendants looking on.

“Do you want me to stall, sir?” The aid asks, searching Medina’s stare for something. Anything. Frederick pulls out a handkerchief from his jacket pocket, wipes his brow down and shakes his head. He pulls away from her without a word, balling up the handkerchief and tucking it back into his pocket. She watches his back as he goes, moving toward the open door out to the warm glow of afternoon sunlight and the crowd of screaming voices. A member of his security team nods as Medina passes, calling an all clear over the comms.

Medina has to squint as he steps out into the light, into the screaming.

Into a future someone else designed.

1,192 Miles Away

The Times Square Building

Rochester, NY

April 9th, 2019

The penthouse of the Times Square Building in Rochester is an expansive hall reserved for private functions, on paper they’re fundraiser events held by financial backers of Coldbridge Financial Solutions. But there’s no money exchanging hands at these meetings.

There’s an impersonal and yet cathedralesque quality to the penthouse hall, with its concrete walls, tall and narrow windows that evoke Catholic church architecture, and Art Deco frescos of tarnished brass illuminated by electric chandeliers of iron and stained glass. Amid this anachronistic design, there is nothing as formal as a banquet table. Rather, through an arched doorway there is a smaller and more intimate seating area apart from the marble-tiled floor, at the center of which rests a number of expensive antique rugs and furniture. Chaise lounges, couches, armchairs, all arranged in such a way as to allow a large number of guests plenty of space to sit and converse, while end tables and stands hold drinks drawn from a sideboard stocked with decanters of alcohol.

It feels like an unfinished space, something someone set up for a celebration or other memorable event and then never got around to finishing. It is the emptiness of that great hall that evokes this feeling, a yearning for a space to be filled, for the incomplete to be made whole. But there is rarely anyone in this room; no security, no guests, a forest of furnishings with no one to appreciate them.

Today, the forest is in alive. Coldbridge Financial Solutions is as much a mask as it is a company, held up to hide the true faces of change behind its waxen facade. For five years now, this building has served as the secret center of operations for Shedda Dinu, but the disparate arms of the organization had little call to meet face to face, with no centralized meetings, no major calls to action. Instead, they have been spreading like roots beneath the surface of the earth, an invasive species of plant choking out the life above.

Seated in a low-backed barrel-style chair, Antonia Garza waits like a patient grandfather for his children to arrive to dinner. The lowball glass of neat whiskey in one hand has his attention, while the handful of Shedda Dinu members that already arrived converse among themselves. Garza scrubs one hand at his gray beard, brows creased and attention seemingly elsewhere — beyond even his drink. His eyes alight to a clock on the wall above the doorway, then allows his sigh to slide under the conversation happening around him.

Setting his drink aside, Garza slowly rises to his feet and claps his hands once to draw attention away from the side conversations. As the conversations die down, Garza tucks his hands into the pockets of his slacks and looks around at the people gathered around him. “We’ve walked a long road together. Some of you only joined the journey recently, others have been with us since the beginning. I would like to start today by telling you that I appreciate you all… that without you, our kind faces extinction.”

Garza reaches down for his drink, then raises it into the air in a toast. “To our inexorable bond, and to our future.”

One of the newer additions to the organization is also one of the earliest to arrive to this little get-together. Despite this, he has made no introduction, nor have people already present looked to him with an air of recognition. Zachery Miller, dressed rather smartly in an all-black suit, has drifted calmly in and out of the hall and is currently standing with his own glass of amber liquid held close to his chest as his one visible eye scans some bronze decoration. His left eye is covered by a square patch of white, plastered on there to cover an injury that has nearly healed but maybe not yet one he'd like to expose the world to.

At least, not when he's trying his best to look presentable. When the sound of Garza's clap comes, his attention snaps to it with a twitch of his brow. After straightening up with an anticipatory roll of his shoulders, the newcomer saunters back through the archway, rounds it and walks only just far enough to find a wall to lean his back into. The prompt to raise his glass has him do so— but only barely, his wrist straightening and his arm barely moving from where it's been tucked against his chest. His mouth is drawn in a smile so often found around forced pleasantries, but his body language communicates something else. Something cautious. Perhaps just unfamiliar.

Amidst the dark tones of antique, the back of one slender figure seems to meld seamlessly with the atmosphere. A smart, charcoal suit has been tailored to a feminine fit; complete with a slender tie and shiny babydoll shoes with sharp, short heels peeking from under the billowy cut slacks. Garnet tresses are left loosely styled, soft waves bobbing gently around slight shoulders as the figure carries on in some idle conversation that inspires a little wave of highball glass in her small, unadorned fingers.

The hollow clap elicits a sharp reaction from the figure and she turns. For a moment her jagged reaction is cut from view by a passerby looking to seek a better vantage point, but when the obstruction has passed it is Isis's pale silhouette and sparkling, golden eyes that have turned their attention about Garza. As the man's voice drifts to her, the stark reaction melts away and she once more seems at ease among the suit-clad knights of the evolved.

The toasts warms a small smile from her peach-pale lips before she, like the others, raises her glass in acknowledgment and brings it up. As she sips from the glass, her hazel-gold gaze finally breaks to scan the room's occupants from over the bisecting brim of the crystal.

Looking a bit out of place in these trappings of luxury, despite a nice-enough suit and tie, even if they’re off the rack and hardly bespoke — is a teenager with a shock of turquoise hair that’s been pomaded into a pompadour. His eyes are every bit as bright as his hair, though a truer shade of blue. He’s taken care to match a turquoise vest to his pompadour, and there’s a flash of bright yellow socks when he stretches out colt-like long legs. No black tie affairs for Salem.

A pair of beaten-up black-and-white Converse are clearly a fashion choice for the young punk, meant to juxtapose with the propriety of his suit and tie.. When Garza begins to speak, Salem quiets his conversation with Ignacio beside him, finding his own glass of alcohol he’s too young to drink, lifting it to the toast that Garza makes.

Not too far from Garza, another lean figure leans against one of the side tables, though this one is in a fine Italian suit that was clearly tailored to his dimensions. Just 5’8” and approaching 50, there’s a nervous quality about this man, something rabbity in the way he glances this way and that, his gray eyes darting to Garza when the man claps, his own fingers tapping the same rhythm against his leg as he stands straighter, picking up his martini. He nods as Garza speaks, quick bobs of his head fueled by that lapine energy he seems to carry throughout.

Nacho, at least, does not look the most out of place in the proceedings. He doesn’t have blue hair, right? So that’s good! Just kidding, it looks great. He’s dressed nicely, though not in a suit. He’s wearing black slacks, and a deep red button-down with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. However, he does have a tie, and it is black, so who knows, maybe he thinks that’s fine.

He says something lower to Salem right before Garza begins to speak, but he is at least polite enough to shut up as well when it actually begins. He picks up his glass and lifts it in a toast as well, with a smile that looks just a little bit irreverent.

“It’s a hard future to toast to,” Garza admits as he finishes his sip from the glass, setting it down on the small table beside his chair. “I can understand your hesitations at what might feel like a celebration, in light of the reality outside of this building’s walls. But that’s the thrust of why we’re here today, why I wanted to bring us all together into the same room… under the same roof… to have this talk.”

Garza is an eloquent man, a natural public speaker, and his thick accent proudly announces his Argentinian heritage and adds a rich texture to his tone. He carries himself with a presence that makes him seem even taller than he is, and yet there’s a gentle quality to it all as though he were someone’s affable old uncle whose traveled the world. “The evolved,” a term Garza greatly prefers to the more contemporary SLC-Expressive, “come from a place of genetic privilege. We are capable in ways the mundane aren’t. But we also come from a place of shared trauma. Each and every one of you here with that gift has been the victim of discrimination and hate because of that advantage.”

Garza begins to walk the room, coming to stand beside Zachery’s chair for a moment with his hand on the back, though he doesn’t directly single Zachery out. “Outside these walls, it looks like a war we won. Something we had every right to celebrate. For most people, this is enough. Living in the corpse of America, delicately pretending that this balancing act can hold.” Garza’s brows furrow, and he drums his knuckles on the back of the chair. “I tell you from experience, it will not.”

“When you look around, even inside this country, you see people… the mundane who look at us with fear in their eyes. Jealousy, because our side,” and Garza’s tone implies some measure of skepticism, “is in control. But then you have people… people in the government, like Frederick Medina, who push this agenda. Who push anti-evolved legislation, more restrictive registration, bigger checks on our freedom. Again?” Garza starts to walk away from Zachery’s chair, pacing the floor. “Pueden creerlo?” Garza says with a roll of his eyes. “We’re still counting the dead, and people like that man say we’ve too many freedoms. He’s walking around, trying to gain support. He lost his election, but tides will turn. Fearful will embolden fearful… and where will we be?”

Out in the other room is the sound of doors suddenly bursting open, the sound is rather deafening carrying through the cathedral-like space, especially as the door bounces off the wall before it can be stopped. A few moments more and the tap tap of italian leather shoes… a tall lean figure is suddenly in the doorway, making a show of straightening the cuffs of the sharp designer suit with a tug; a dark grey suit with maroon shirt and a darker tie. He was very well groomed and gave off the air of an upper executive. A brilliant smile is offered to everyone looking his way. Followed shortly by a drawn out, two-symbol, “Hello,” outing the man as British to the room while he finishes stepping into the meeting room, ignoring any glares sent his way.


Godfrey Wells was late, he knew it, and seemed not to care.

Whether by design or not was left to be seen. There was a stiffness to how Godfrey walked, having been injured at a Yamagato function. “My apologies for the tardiness,” he offers directly to the man in charge. Then notices the glasses, and spreads his hands a bit helplessly, “and the interruption, it seems. The traffic was hellacious.” What traffic?!? He moves to pour himself a scotch, familiar with what was there. “I would have called, but I couldn’t risk bringing my phones.” There is a true apology in there somewhere. “Hazards of having a technopath as a drinkin’ companion, I fear. I’ll make sure security get my new burner number.”

With glass in hand, Godfrey moves to take a spot in a high backed leather chair. Settling in, resting a foot on his knee, and turning a bright attentive smile Garza’s way.

Next to Garza, Zachery may seem all the more like someone whose home is decidedly not in the limelight, but usually more curtain-side. His expression of idle pleasantry wanes as the speech carries on, the muscles in his jaw tightening while his gaze finds a comfortable place to settle just ahead; he's pulling a look of contemplation off quite nicely, which saves him having to awkwardly look up at Garza himself. A keen eye, though, might notice the way his head tilts upward when those knuckles rap his chair.

He remains quiet. Probably for the best, and probably for a reason he considers to be in good manners, considering the only somewhat suppressed smirk that ends up on his face when Godfrey enters the room. Zachery visibly relaxes slightly but holds still while his gaze briefly slides over others in the room, perhaps to gauge their reaction. Only to have his expression freeze when he sees Isis, recognition sparking in a twitch of an eyelid as he continues to stare his one-eyed stare. Yes. Quiet is good for now.

"In prison camps and body ba-".

Isis’ alto remark is spoken quietly into her glass, uttered with the instinct of an ever dutiful student who always has an answer, even without the desire to be acknowledge for it. The hiss hollowly echoed into her shallow drink, Isis's remark is drown in the crashing wave that is Godfrey's fashionably late arrival.

The glass is drawn away, hazel-golden eyes flitting briefly over Godfrey. Very briefly. Some in the room perhaps find the interruption the most intriguing thing at hand, but she is not one of them. Her off hand come ups, her head bowing slightly to meet it, so that the knuckle of her index finger rests gently at her lips. Over her hand and behind a few coils of garnet, her eyes swivel back to the figure left in Garza's shadow - Zachery. A little side-twitch of her head is paired with a lofted brow.

When Garza speaks of jealousy, Salem’s icy-blue gaze slides over to Nacho beside him. His smile tips the corners of his mouth upward, before he takes a sip of his glass and looks back to their host. He nods once, to indicate he too has sensed these things — felt these things the way only an empath can.

His brow draws upward at the late arrival of Godfrey and he leans to murmur something to Nacho, before he quiets again to wait for the next movement in Garza’s pep talk — if one could call it that. He fiddles with the laces of the Converse of the foot resting on the opposite knee; his gaze darts from person to person, studying their faces, never staying too long on one before moving to the next.

Unlike Salem, the rabbitlike Wiley Schnook jumps a little when Godfrey comes busting through the doors, splashing a bit of the very expensive whiskey in his glass onto the leather of his very expensive wingtips. “Goodness,” he murmurs, pulling a pocket square from his suit to bend down and mop up the alcohol. When Godfrey arrives in all his bravado, he lifts a worried looking brow at the man, before glancing over at Garza, watching nervously for the other man to react to the interruption.

Nacho catches Salem’s look, and his eyes narrow just slightly, though not quite enough to dislodge the smile. It does turn into more of a smirk too, though, and he mutters something that sounds a lot like, ”Pendejito de mierda.”

However, it’s then that Godfrey makes his grand entrance, and he looks over his shoulder, as one does when one is in a room and the door opens. You know you do that, too. Don’t lie. And whatever Salem says to him has him letting out a little snort of laughter, though it’s not as obvious as some things happening at this particular moment. He says something in return, before looking back to Garza and taking a sip from his drink.

Spencer Greaves has been a so-far silent presence as he normally is at functions like these, a tall, lanky shadow in a navy-blue suit hovering over the proceedings with some mixture of a warning demeanor and inconspicuous lurking. Though not as used to standing among on the audience floor to hear it, the Coldbridge Director of Security is accustomed to this flavor of rhetoric from the organization he has been a member for approaching three years, and the overall message is consumed appreciatively.

One thing he is not as accustomed to, and which makes him squirm slightly even his immaculately-tailored wardrobe, is the continuous inclusivity of the pronouns— an inclusivity which he is very sorely aware does not, and has never, included him. To our inexorable bond. We are capable. Each and every one of you.

Well. Regardless.

Hands clasped formally behind his back, he straightens his posture even more in an affirmation of committed rigidity.

This Squib stands behind Garza 100%.

Mr. Wells,” Garza says with a flat look at the new arrival, “it's about time. I was beginning to wonder if you'd be able to get away from your current engagement.” He motions to one of the empty seats, “please, join us.” Which Godfrey would be as to do, in more than one way.

It's only then that Garza looks at Isis and points at her with one manicured finger. “You are possessed of the truth, even though you claimed it flippantly. Body bags is where our kind will eventually wind up, again, if we do not hold fast on what is ours. Everything this nation’s administration is working for is a tenuous and precarious thing. If the UK finally decided it didn't wish to tolerate the United States any longer… what do we have to protect ourselves from them?”

Garza spreads his hands. “The US’ nuclear arsenal is thinned, silos destroyed, an army in shambles. This country limps along with two broken feet, it could not stand and fight again so soon. We risk annihilation daily. Which is why we have to make a change, why we have to steer this country away from a pacifistic footing and instead proactively strike back against our future enemies.”

Garza returns to sit in his chair, crossing one leg over the other. “Some of us here today do not share in our genetic destiny, however. But that is not a shortcoming… that is an opportunity. One that, very soon, you will be able to work toward. I have received word today that our allies have perfected a system by which the ordinary can be made more like us. The world is on the verge of a great change… and the fearful will seek to control or destroy us out of fear of that very accomplishment.”

“I will admit, I called you here with an ulterior motive.” Garza looks around the room, folding his hands in his lap. “I'm hoping to recruit volunteers of our cause to take part in… an involved project.”

While there might be an air of inattentiveness, Godfrey is very interested in what Garza has to say, even as he tugs his sock a little straighter there whenever his ankle is perched on his knee. He sips idly at his scotch, glancing over to Isis when motioned too. Brows tick up at the unfamiliar face, the smile tugging a little to one side and eyes narrow a little… curious. The glass in his head lift a little in greeting before turning back to Garza.

The mention of an ulterior motive is truly interesting and had Godfrey’s foot returning to the ground so that he can lean forward in interest. The low glass of scotch is held loosely between his hands, dark eyes intent on Garza. “Ooo… an ulterior. Well, sir, you’ve got my attention, I do love getting involved in extracurricular activities. I’m sure I could possibly clear out time in my schedule to help out.” His head tilts a bit with his curiosity. “Depending on what it is, of course…. “ He did have a cover he was attempting not to blow. “or is it a secret?” It is an honest question, simply asked.

The words pointed in her direction conduct her wandered gaze quickly back, relieving Zachery for a time. The air of attentive student returns, hazel gaze consumed more and more my golden flecks reflects Garza's impressive figure. Isis chews at the nude, pale tier of her lower lip as the authoritative figure in the room only agrees with her macabre, grizzly statement. She shivers visibly despite an effort to disguise the motion by straightening her slender tie.

A quick glance is spared to the first volunteer, a probing curiosity spent on Godfrey's person before that look passes across the others in the room and back around to the man of the hour. Clearing her throat just enough to make her honey, alto tones clear despite their quiet. "I didn't come to play bench warmer." Indeed not. That she came her for something greater sets her pale visage into sharp lines of certainty, jaw tensed, and she solidifies her statement simply. "I volunteer, also."

Leaning back to let his glass dangle down - fingertips circling the rim - Zachery's scrutiny of Isis continues. His head lifts, and he leans back in his chair as if to make a point of the fact that he's not going to stop attempting to bore a hole into her head— only to have his attention drawn to Garza once more when that ulterior motive is mentioned.

His glass is swayed in a circular motion, just the once, leaving the liquid within to swirl calmly around. Much like Zachery's thoughts, maybe, because he still appears happy just to sit. To learn, maybe. He's only just joined, after all. Except, then the others respond aloud. His brow arches, and his gaze fixes on Garza harder, still, cracking a smirk. Possibly before he's even able to think on it, he speaks up with a voice that sounds like it's carried by equal parts enthusiasm and confidence, "Naturally, I'd welcome the opportunity to prove myself more than just fresh meat."

A figure appears at one of the prominent doors entering the hall. A figure of average height and slender build, nevertheless striking in brilliant white. A pristine suit, cigarette trousers and a trim jacket, a shirt collar that buttons high on their neck, all fastenings pale and pearly. Long blonde hair is worn loose, a deliberate and elegant wildness. Face clear of makeup — or enough makeup applied to maintain the illusion of clear skin and unpainted eyes.

Skye Archer has little about them that suggests street urchin, save for the way they hang back, the way all thought and feeling plays across an expressive face — quiet intensity directed at Garza, and for whatever reason, their mouth is a firm line that connotes some form of disapproval.

They flex their hands and fold their arms, now steering their attention across the gathering, making note of faces and what those faces are doing.

Garza only briefly pauses at Skye’s arrival, offering them a brief nod and an unvoiced invitation to the liquor left out for guests. He doesn't formally introduce them, but Skye is someone that nearly every member of Shedda Dinu has met in some form or another already. Skye is, in most ways, the gatekeeper.

“All things are secret in some way,” Garza belatedly explains to Godfrey with a feline’s laissez-faire attitude. “But we must compartmentalise,” he says with a motion with one hand over at Godfrey, “which you of all people understand.”

But Garza isn't about to leave things entirely opaque. “Your eagerness to help the cause is an admirable and inspiring thing. You aren't the only ones volunteering to affect change, either. Our allies from around the world are moving together… and we will be cooperating with many of them in the near future.”

Garza folds his hands in his lap, leaning back in his chair with a creak of the leather. “The Ghost Shadows Triad, Mazdak… everyone sees what you all see. The importance of a certain future. So, today, we take our first steps to securing that future.”

“You all…” Garza offers a look to Salem, then Isis and Zachery, and around the room to each active listener. “You're essential. And most importantly, you aren't alone. I want you all to feel empowered to come to me, to come to each other, if you need something… whether it's information, protection, or just someone willing to listen who knows our struggle.”

Garza nods again, then looks over to Godfrey and Spencer. “Even our non-Evolved allies. You, too, are critical to our future.”

Nacho has mostly remained quiet throughout the speech, his arms crossed over his chest, tipping his seat back on two legs as he listens to Garza. The mention of a project has his eyebrows raising, especially when it isn’t really explained fully. Or at all. He leans over to murmur something to Salem, glancing back at Zachery then when he volunteers to readily. He, however, does not — not without hearing exactly what he’s signing up for.

The Cheshire-like smile that curls at Godfrey’s lips in agreement. “Oh, absolutely I do,” he adds verbally about compartmentalizing things. Either way, he seems content with the answer… For now anyhow, but he also doesn’t withdrawal his willingness to volunteer, just adds a touch more seriously, “So long as it doesn’t jeopardize what I’ve been tasked, I’ll assist where I can.” Though everything was at the mercy of those in the upper ranks. He salutes Garza with a raise of his glass - cheers - and settles back to sip at its contents and listen.

Skye’s arrival is noted with some interest, a brief upward tick of brows over dark eyes. Eventually, there is a slight tilt of a his head in their direction in greeting, before he turns his attention to the rest of the room and considers the others, taking note of those volunteering and the one who stay quiet.

The mention of non-evolved yanks his attention back to Garza, sobering him immediately. Nothing like being reminded he was not born like them and where he stands. Godfrey bows his head a bit, eyes focusing on the amber content of his glass…. He might need more scotch.

Pale brows furrow beneath a swoop of garnet locks as Isis turns a perplexed look on Zachery. She studies him with the silent question writ coarsely into every contour of her pale expression - What're you doing? Are you stalking me? Garza's fatherly voice phases through her wandered attention and she ultimately finds her gaze turned with equal measures of uncertainty and confusion to Spencer and, finally, Godfrey. That this last individual had previously given her a curious look and is now outed as decidedly different has earned him a more measured scrutiny.

Ultimately the redhead remains silent, but only by the force of visibly biting the tip of her tongue between her pearly front teeth. She waits long enough for the dull throb of pain to wash down the words stuck at the back of her throat before she tips back and empties her shallow glass of amber liquor.

Either Zachery is ready to buy Garza's words wholesale, or he's doing a very good impression of looking the part. In fact, he misses Isis and Nacho's looks in his direction entirely, sitting oh so comfortably in that chair of his while his eye follows the main speaker around the room. Sitting with an increasing level of slack in his posture, as his drink is slowly raised for a sip just as Skye enters.

Perhaps this was the reason he was milling about earlier, because the expression on his face instantly changes to something much more sincere when he sees the newest arrival, idle smirk turning into a grin as he shoves a heel into the ground to push himself back up and into somewhat more of a presentable position. Everything else in the room is forgotten, if only for a moment, because the look he gives to Garza - and then, subsequently, Godfrey and Spencer - shows that he is still very much listening when the words 'non-Evolved' are spoken.

If it is possible, Spencer stands up straighter yet, expression becoming even more taut at the explicit mention of the promise which he has long known about. The urge to earn his place among the superior race is that very same fire that has driven him for years, ever since he had first heard the suggestion whispered — and every time it is affirmed, as Garza is so helpfully doing now, the embers of it glow just a little stronger yet. Caught up as he is in the music of these words, his nerves are still far too on edge to miss that he, strangely, does not seem to be the only non-Evolved presence in the room.

The Brummie swivels a quizzical look over in Godfrey's direction, additionally taking notice of those who had turned their eyes onto them in their own turns, a weird moment of judgment-ception. This lingers on for a few hazy seconds before he snaps his attention back to Garza.

If he is fidgeting, which he is indeed doing both externally and internally now, he is trying to hide it. "You can count on us, sir," he vocalizes, faint voice garbled by the strength of both his ridiculous accent and his outward tension.

Garza’s expression is a patient and yet appraising one. Sitting forward, he pushes himself up and out of his chair. “Then we’d best prepare for what lies beyond tomorrow. We are sitting in a singularly unique position to affect change on a global scale… and I know this sounds rather opaque, but I assure you that the last ten years that we have been working toward this goal has not been fruitless.”

Tucking his hands into his pockets, Garza walks halfway to Skye, offering them a fond smile before turning his attention back to the others. “We are Shedda Dinu, the wrathful spirits of judgement, and there are many in this world who are deserving of such an assiduous stare.” But Garza shrugs, as if to shake off the attempt at poetic inspiration into something more grounded.

“I want you to look around at one-another — Evolved, Non-Evolved — and understand that we are in this together. We cannot move forward as a people, as a species, as a civilization without expunging those who would dig in their heels and hold us to an archaic standard of life.” Garza looks over to Skye again, quiet and pensive, then settles his attention back on the group. “In the coming weeks I will have assignments for all of you. But I would like you to spend time with one-another, learn to understand what is similar rather than the differences that could drive us apart. We are all part of the same genetic community, and it’s time we started acting like it.”

A small smile creeps up on Garza’s lips. “There is no Company, no Institute, no edifice to place a boot on our necks. We should stand — stand tall — and stand united.”

There is a sort of itch that appears when someone is staring at you, Godfrey feels it with all the eyes on him. Though when he finally looks up again, it’s Spencer who’s eyes he meets briefly, until Garza gets to his feet.

The dark gaze shifts to watch the man move around the room and while he appears relaxed and blaise about it. Even as he sips his scotch leisurely, Godfrey is very intent on what is being said. The mention of standing tall has him shifting a bit to sit a little straighter, he chin lifting a bit. “Well said.”

In fact, Godfrey lifts his glass with a confident smile, “Here’s to the rightful heirs to the new world order.”

Nacho takes the suggestion to heart — of course, he had been looking around before anyway, but he does so again, a little more purposefully this time. His eyes fall on Godfrey when the other man speaks, and his head tips just slightly to the side as he studies him, but after another second or two he turns away again, back to Garza. “Los Shedda, unidos, jamás serán vencidos, ey?” he remarks, before he takes a sip from his own glass then.

Skye's attention narrows down onto Zachery when he gives them his notice, and it's a little like a stone thrown into the placid, neutral lake — a twinge of a smile in return, a little like they'd traded a glance across church pews. Uncovered something humourous.

They break from the doorway, moving into the room proper as Garza speaks, and moves. It's a strange thing, in a subtle way — while the man commands the room and everyone listens in comfortable stillness, there is Skye in their glowing white, cutting across the room like a cat that's escaped onto a stage. Not interrupting the soliloquy so much as existing in immunity of its gravity, and maybe adding some unintended quirk to it. It's the drinks in display that Skye goes, taking up a crystal glass of something amber.

They cut a look to Godfrey as he lifts his glass.

And then to Garza, and tip their head, raising their own glass to invite a clink of acknowledgment. Their contribution to the toast is a simple one; "To certainty."

"To certainty," comes Zachery's voice like an echo, his tone of voice selling an amount confidence that his expression doesn't quite seem to have the cash on hand for, staying just on this side of calm in his nice new suit, in this comfortable chair.

The air of newcomer stays with him in the subdued way he hangs back in that chair, but at least it's a newcomer who doesn't shy away from the eyes of others; he meets several pairs of those eyes with his own, albeit in singular form, before his glas, too, goes up. DOWN that drink goes, down his throat, while he stares directly at Isis with something of an amusement pulling at the corner of his eye.
“Sure, whatever you say,” says Salem with a smirk to the Nacho’s Spanish he doesn’t comprende, but he does lift his glass to drain the rest of the contents, something about the practiced air in which he does so much older than his few years. His, despite his tennis shoes and turquoise hair, is an old soul.

He does follow directions, letting his pale blue gaze slide from face to face, person to person. “Homework that doesn’t sound boring for once,” he adds. Despite being an old soul, he’s still a very young man, so recently freed from the need for lessons and assignments, even if they came in less than traditional ways over the past several years of his life.

Wiley picks up a second glass to make his way to Skye, but they find themselves their own so he’s left awkwardly standing for a moment, blinking at his second glass. This is a solvable problem, though, and he finishes the remnants of his first, leaning to set it down on a nearby sidebar. He then lifts the second. His chin lifts and he seems to will himself to stand a little taller than his small frame allows — at least in spirit. He’s still just 5’8”.

Garza raises an empty hand as if in toast, but then filaments of brilliant blue-gold light stream from his fingertips and swirl around just above his hand. They stretch and twist, moving like molten glass, forming an evanescent silhouette of a champagne glass made from white-hot plasma crackling with blue flame. Garza lifts the molten glass to his lips, a roiling cloud of fire constantly swirling within and takes a faux sip.

Lit by the lambent glow of swirling plasma, Garza’s lips pull back into a pearly smile. “To old friends, new alliances…”

“…and the coming of a new age.”

1,192 Miles Away

Liberty Memorial Park

Second Civil War Memorial

Kansas City, MO

As Frederick Medina steps out into the brightly illuminated steps of a granite building, a reflexive smile crosses his lips. The crowd is cheering for him, a small crowd of roughly fifteen hundred people, but a crowd nonetheless. The Second Civil War Memorial at his back looms tall, a concrete statue of broken buildings and bronze flames with three figures standing above it all, iconic representations of freedom fighters who perished in the war.

Beyond the cheering crowd, throngs of protestors five times in number of Medina’s supporters hold signs and chant loudly against the cheering. Some of Medina’s supporters have turned to face them with their own signs, shouting back angrily. Medina moves swiftly to the nearby podium under the fierce light of the overhead lamps, looking out to the assembled crowd.

“Good evening, Kansas City,” Medina says to raucous applause and cheers mixed with discordant chanting from the protesters. “I know… I know it’s been a long road this year, for me, for our country. We’re rebuilding from an unprecedented conflict, we’re on a long road back to normalcy. But— but what does normal even look like anymore? Where and how do we find that common ground when everything that’s behind us is ashes?”

Medina’s voice echoes across the memorial park between each sentence. “We can’t go back to the way things were. That America is gone. It was taken from us by tyrants and manipulators, by conspiracies and unconscionable evil. But we can’t continue to stumble blindly into the future, either… we can’t let the mistakes and failures of the past scare us from taking action to ensure a better future for America.”

His hands are shaking, sweat collecting on his brow. Every urge in his subconscious is telling him to vomit and run in no particular order. He swallows down the bile, forces a smile, and steps to the edge of a metaphorical gangplank.

“That is why…” Medina pauses, listening to the protestors trying to drown him out. “That is why today, I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States of America in the 2020 elections.”

Medina’s followers break out into cheers and the anger from the protestors grows into a deafening roar.

“Thank you all for your support.”

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