Light Bulbs


linus_icon.gif quinn_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Light Bulbs
Synopsis An old subway station gets another work-out as a training site for Evolved. Linus is frightened by his potenital.
Date September 3 2010

Ruins of Midtown and Subway - Derelict Station

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.

A few disconsolate birds flap away from their roosts overhead, the concrete tumble of a part-slipped building reflecting a harsh glare of sunlight and heat, though the travellers swing into a patch of deeper shadow.

The rumbling echoes of the powerful engine fade away a few moments after Ygraine brings her bike to a halt. The black helmet tilts back as she surveys her surroundings - her eye now far more trained than any normal person's to the advantages of lofty vantage points and the possibilities of surveillance. Satisifed that there are no obvious threats, at least, she turns that blank visor towards the man perched astride the back of her bike.

"You can get off now, if you want", she dryly informs Linus.

It's a good thing Ygraine's eyes are so well trained, because Linus' have been clenched tight since the bike underneath him started moving. His grip around Ygraine's waist was probably stronger than it needed to be the whole ride, but not rib breaking. When the bike finally shuts off, he slowly opens his eyes - one, then the other.

"O-oh. Okay."

He climbs off the bike awkwardly, almost falling as he staggers, almost hopping on one foot before catching his balance. He looks around, one hand lifting to shade his face from the glare of sunlight reflected off of the many sloped surfaces. He's quiet for a moment before he lets out a low whistle. "Wow.. look at this place.."

It's another minute or two before Quinn's scooter comes to a stop beside Ygraine's bike, the smaller, less powerful bike far from able to keep perfect pace with the motorcycle.Her own helmet is tossed into the scooter's compartment, a grin on her face as she straightens her black skirt. "Have a fun ride, Linus?" Quinn teases when she sees him staggering off the seat, giggling.

Hands run back through her hair as she steps up to meet the others."Yeah, I was kinda like… 'whoa' the first time I saw this place. It's rather impressive, if kinda scary. The other person who's helpin' me with workin' on my ability brought me here t' practice. It was… interestin', t' say the least."

"Quite something, isn't it? I've done many runs through the Ruins, but there's still always a… feeling when you come in here", Ygraine says quietly, glancing around once more before swinging off her bike and wheeling the heavy vehicle a bit further into cover. "We should be out of the way here, but… I do feel rather awkward about leaving him exposed like this. Still, it's in a good cause…"

Gesturing grandly, she starts towards one of the nearer ruins. "Now, if you'll come this way, I'll show you to your training arena…."

Linus runs a hand through his hair before that same hand gives his own neck a quick massage. His other hand goes to his waist as he pushes his chest out, cracking his lower back. "Man, I don't know how you people ride those things. Talk about killer on my back." He walks beside the two women, nodding at the comments.

"Yeah, you can definitely feel something in the air here.." Despite the temperature, a shiver runs up his body. "Lead the way."

"Are we stayin' up here, or headin' down below?" Quinn asks with a quirked eyebrow as she looks up at Ygraine. "I was taken down below, but that's cause it's dark down there. I do have a flashlight, though, an'… I'm kinda a flashlight myself, so if we want t' stay more outta sight, that's totally an option." Quinn shrugs, hands falling to her side. "Whatever works, you know?"

"Down below", Ygraine says. "Let's get out of sight. I don't want any pyrotechnic displays in the ruins attracting attention. And… if the one of us who might be most likely to let off something uncontrolled taps solar energy, let's not have him standing in Summer sunlight while we see what he can do."

She moves with practiced ease - and, Quinn might suspect, a little cheating - as she bounces across a belt of rubble to take a short-cut, before shining a torch into the interior of her chosen building, scouting it out a little while the others catch up.

"Right. Stick close. If you feel at all unsure about your footing, I can help."

Linus manuevers uneasily through the rubble, stepping over smaller pieces awkwardly while his hands fumble unsteadily on larger pieces for balance. "Yeah, that sounds like a smart idea. Though I might need to pop back up here to recharge at some point.."

He almost trips, but catches himself along the way. "Hey, it would be easier to stick close if you weren't so far ahead."

Quinn, despite her usual clumsiness, seems to be rather fine traversing the uneven and unsteady footing down into the subway, a hand held out and producing what's effectively a flashlight beam as it becomes appropriate - it's clear she's done this at least once before, just like she said.

"Need a hand?" Quinn offers back to Linus with a grin, slowing her pace until he's near caught up with her. "An' want my actual flashlight? I mean, I'm covered, so… you know."

Ygraine looks around, straddling a gap between two of the larger hunks of rubble, a chuckle emerging from within her helmet. "Sorry. I'm used to this sort of thing. I'll pick out as clear a path for you as I can. I'm afraid that we're going down a way - but there's nothing unsettling down there, I promise, apart from the dark. And that, we can deal with."

True to her word, she hops down from her more adventurous route, and sets about ushering her two companions through to one of the hidden ways down to the derelict station below….

Linus looks back, giving Quinn a smile as he shakes his head. "No, I'll be alright. Just keep shining that flashlight this direction and I'll make sure not to put my feet in any holes or something. I need both my hands free." He continues to make his way, the sound of gravel crunching under his shoes mixing with the sound of hands scuffing over concrete.

As Ygraine moves to make the path easier, Linus begins to fumble less and less until they enter the derelict subway station. When he finally finds more even ground, he stops to put his hands on his waist to catch his breath. "Wow, this place is crazy.."

Ygraine turns on the spot, gesturing grandly around, before stalking out into the wider space, her own torch-beam running over the ground, then the walls. "Looks like nothing of note's happened here since I was last here. And… it's spooky, but safe so far as I know."

Clipping her torch to her jacket, she unfastens and then removes her helmet, her pale features eerily under-lit against the inky black behind her, her dark attire merging into the encompassing shadows. "Now… first things first: how do you feel, Linus? Does being below ground have any immediate effect upon you?"

Linus takes a few steps forward, turning in a circle as he looks around to let his eyes adjust to the change in lighting. "Nope. I feel fine at the moment. I haven't used any of my energy, though, so that may have something to do with it." His hands come up to rub his arms. "Man, it's.. chilly down here. I'm getting goosebumps."

Darting a glance to Quinn, Ygraine then cocks her head, thoughtfully studying Linus for a moment. "Have you ever tried warming yourself up? Would you feel confident about doing so? If not, I brought an old newspaper for you to use as a target for your ability…"

"Huh. No, I never really thought about that. Would have made last winter much easier to go through, that's for sure." He clears his throat, then holds his hands out in front of him. After a few moments they begin to glow ever so slightly, bright for a moment then toning down before he starts to hold them to his chest. His eyes close, hard to tell in the dark but his face is slightly illuminated by the subtle glow of his hands. "Oooh. That's.. wow, that's warm." He only holds it for a moment, his hands lowering as his body shudders. "Wow."

"So I'm a lightbulb, and you're a space heater!" Quinn quips as she leans against something just tall and strong enough to support her. Her hand is no longer glowing; rather the ambient light in the immediate area seems to have brightened to about a candlelight's glow, at least in an area big enough to cover the three of them. The flashlight is still dranw form her bag and held in hand, just in case.

Ygraine chuckles softly and shakes her head at Quinn, but looks distinctly pleased as she refocuses upon Linus. "Now… a question for you. Thinking about things can sometimes screw them up a bit - like if you think about breathing or blinking it suddenly becomes awkward. But since you're wanting to develop beyond instinctive responses, I'd say it's worth it…."

A momentary pause, then Ygraine quirks another smile at Linus. "This'll hopefully sound a bit familiar to Quinn, and I might ask her to demonstrate a little - but how did that feel? Could you tell if you were generating heat, and the light just came with it? Or was the light necessary for the heat? Was it all one package - you emit the sun's power, so it comes out as heat and light at once - or are you actually doing two things at once?"

Linus lets out a low, pleasant sigh before one hand comes up to run a hand through his hair. "Both at once, I think. I mean, I didn't really think about light or heat or any of that stuff. I just.. thought about letting the energy inside me slowly exit through my hands." He looks to Quinn, chuckling. "Yeah. Worst comes to worst, I can hire myself out to keep people warm at nights. Sounds like a hell of a career path, huh?"

"God, where were you when I was stuck in a feckin' hospital for a month and a half! Betyween you an' me it would have been like my apartment never lost power," Quinn jokingly asks, shaking her head and laughing, before a more serious look crosses her face, looking over to Ygraine with a nod. "One thing I was told by someone else is that it's important t' pat attention t' how you feel physically. If you start t' get tired, or get a headache, or your heart starts beatin' real fast or somethin' that's not normal, stop an' say something." Quinn's eyes close and she exhales slowly. "She went blind in one eye cause of how her power works an' because she pushed too hard, too fast. I get headaches an' poundin' in teh front of my head if I keep on too long or do too much."

Ygraine nods worriedly, shooting Quinn a sympathetic glance. "I've never really pushed myself that hard with my own talent", she says. "My… side-effects tend to be more directly… hindering when I start to get tired. Falling off things has never held a great appeal for me, so I've never found out quite where my own limits are…"

A slight shrug, then she smiles to Linus. "But we've no intention of pushing you to that sort of extent, I promise. This is rather more intended to broaden your horizons with regard to your ability, and get you thinking about how you can use it - and therefore how you can control it. Robyn… would you care to demonstrate a 'normal' glow for you? Just what comes naturally. Then show us a little of what I've had you practicing."

Linus looks a little relieved that he's not going to be pushed too far. At least not today. "The more I use my ability, the more tired I get. I imagine that's because I'm drawing on the energy that I've stored already, though. No real headaches or anything, though." He turns to face Quinn better, folding his arms over his chest. "Blind in one eye doesn't sound fun.. I'll be careful for sure."

Quinn has more jokes and quips coming to her when Linus describes his power - one is to deem his superhero name "Photosynthesis Boy" or something to that effect. This time, though, she keeps them to herself, pushing off from her perch. "My other teacher-" deliberately avoiding using the name as to not out Colette, as Magnes had so quickly done before they'd even met - "made a point of finding a baseline limit so we didn't accidentally hit it while she was teaching me. She says it'll get looser the more I practice if I don't go too fast. But we did find out I can light up this place like a lighthouse before my head starts to hurt too bad."

With that, she moves to more or less the centre point between the other two, the candlelight lighting fading from the room, briefly leaving them largely in darkness. Not really thinking about it, she holds out both of her hands and lights them up, filling the room with a light akin to a dulling lightbulb. Fingers waggle as the light dims again - and then brightens dramatically, like the area around them is full of fluorescent lamps - not to the level she had just mentioned, but quite bright regardless.

"What exactly do you want? Just the stuff I've been practicing, or a little runthrough of everythin' I know I can do?"

"It's certainly all too easy to push yourself too far. How many people get to play with having a superpower, after all?" Ygraine offers Linus a rather rueful smile, but it's Quinn who receives most of her attention.

"I was thinking of the colour-shifting, perhaps? Something with clear, visible effects, that didn't come instinctively for you. We can move on to a full run-down of your abilities in a moment, if that's okay."

Linus watches as Quinn moves to the center and starts to raise her hands. Apparently that's a thing with powers, raising your hands. Maybe it makes a good conduit. Maybe it's some sort of metaphor - reaching out. Either way, the room suddenly gets very bright. Even the less bright, brief pulse of light isn't really enough to prepare him for the light that floods the room. He instinctively raises an arm to block his eyes, lowering it as they adjust. "Whoa. Man, that could seriously distract people. You're like a flashbang.. well, maybe without the bang part."

"I've thought about that, actually," Quinn says with a nod to Linus, but that's mostly because she's watched far too many action movies. Slowly, the colour around them shifts to an almost blood red colour. "The colours came pretty quickly. It's the slow shiftin' an' the like that's not normal." Her hands separate - though the room stays the same brightness, Quinn's hands no longer glow. She begins to point to specific points in the room - a spot on the floor, Ygraine's stomach, Linus' left hand - turning each spot a different colour. "I did this to Toby's corgie the other day, turned his nose red. The dog had the most hilarious fit I've ever seen."

Ygraine looks very impressed, as Quinn demonstrates that she really has been practicing - then laughs aloud. "Oh, you meanie", she says with a grin. "But I'm very pleased. I've not seen you do this sort of thing before. Are you finding it easier to do slow shifts now, or does it still take a lot of effort?"

Linus lifts his hand to look at it when Quinn points to it, his brow furrowing quizically when he realizes it has turned a peculiar shade of indigo. "Huh. That's.. huh, I don't really know what to make of that." He keeps looking at the hand, turning it this way and that, but his attention looks past it to Quinn after a minute. "Can you make these sort of changes permanent? That's really cool."

"Well, the spot changing I've been able t' do for a while," Quinn notes, her head tilting. "It's a big part of how I do my nifty lightshows." A hand rubs her temple for just a moment, though Quinn doesn't grimace or otherwise look distracted. "Not really. It fades when I lose focus, or after a few minutes if I don't make it go away on my own."

Quinn fingers waggle again, the light in the room returning to normal, the coloured spots fading with it. She doesn't really seem to do much for a moment, but the effots of her concentration she in front of Linus shows when the light in front of him coalesces into something resembling, first, a triangle made out of laser light, and then once it vanishes three straight beams from floor to ceiling.

"I liked t' do this tricks when I was playing before I got int' DJin'. I'd rig a keyboard on the floor and make laser beams. There's this thing called a laser harp that plays tones and sounds when you cross the beams of light, so I found a way t' fake it. It looks really cool." She steps towards the beams, waving a hand through one.

"My other teacher can do all kinds of things with light that I can't. I can just bend it into simple shapes, she can basically paint with it. It's amazin'." A glance back over to Ygraine, and she grins. "I have one other thing, a better way t' confuse people, but it requires goin' dark."

Ygraine flashes a broad grin at Linus. "Cool, isn't she? Far more than just a light-bulb - though you're starting to see some of the limits of what she can do. From what we've seen, Robyn manipulates light, not the physical properties of objects. Physical colour-changing is a different kettle of fish. Though it could be possible that someone could do something akin to me…."

Frowning pensively, the Briton nods. "Mmm, yes. Given what I can do, it should be possible, actually - though not for Miss Quinn, I think. But it would be theoretically possible to temporarily alter the physical property of an object, so that it alters… ahh, sorry. I'm babbling."

Shooting her companions an apologetic look, Ygraine looks sheepish. "So… is this giving you any ideas for things to test with your own ability, Linus?"

"Yeah, definitely." Linus watches the miniature light show, the light making its own little show across the features of his face and the wall behind him. "I mean, I'd thought about them before sometimes. I just tried not too, you know? Sort of scary to think about the implications." He starts to pace back and forth a bit, looking at his hands. "If I absorb solar energy, does that mean I can manipulate that same energy for different ends? Solar winds, solar flares, geomagnetic storms.. I don't really even know where to begin with it."

The light beams fade, the room returning to a faint candle glow, Quinn exhaling sharply. "Actually, I'll wait a bit before I do more tricks. Don't wanna overexert m'self." Brushing off her skirt, she moves back to the coloum she'd been leaning against previous, grinning at Linus. "The way you melted that car seat certainly says so. I'm sure there's a whole bunch bet! I mean, for the longest time I never really thought about doin' much beyond makin' light and changin' colours. I've learned there's so much more crazy shit t' do. Maybe we should get t'gether an' do some research. I'll read the books on light I've been neglecting while we look up applications of solar energy."

A pause, and Quinn laughs. "You should look into solar powering wherever you live. I bet you'll never have t' pay a power bill again."

"Solar panels are sadly expensive, but… it could certainly be an option to look into", Ygraine says thoughtfully. "Good idea, Robyn. I can certainly think of a few people who'd be likely to find that sort of application very helpful at times. But I was personally wondering about some quite simple things - can the colour change? Is it possible to make the light brighter or dimmer without altering the heat?"

The Briton shrugs. "The photon is meant to be the fundamental particle for electromagnetic radiation. In theory, if you're spontaneously generating photons - either of you - then you could have the potential to do some quite dramatic things."

Linus keeps pacing back and forth, then lets out a sigh as he comes to a halt in front of another half-broken column. "I think I should sit down and read some books about this sort of thing." He turns around, lifting his arms in a shrug. "I couldn't have a power that's like, simple? I have to have some sort of ability where I could potentially pose a real threat to.. who knows? This is not the sort of thing I asked for." He leans back against the column, then slides down to the ground to sit. "I don't want potential. I just want to be Linus."

"Co- my other teacher says I generate photons, that she can see them," Quinn remarks with a quirk of her brow. "I really need t' get back to reading those books."

A more serious expression comes across her face when she turns back to Linus. "My teacher's girlfriend told me a story about a girl up in Boston who messed with sound, and ended up causing some bad shit t' go down because she didn't know the depth her power held. If you want t' be normal old Linus, then findin' out the potential's the first step, so you can keep it in check."

"Virtually no power is simple", Ygraine says gently, shooting a rueful smile at Quinn. "Almost all of them have repercussions far beyond the obvious. Sound is vibration, for example - make things vibrate, and you can produce all sorts of effects…."

"No one even knows how these things work, let alone why. What any individual one does is often virtually impossible to understand - but it's worth the attempt, especially if you want to learn to control it. And with control comes safety - for yourself and others - as well as the potential to do a wider array of useful things…."

Leather creaks as the biker offers another of her shrugs. "There are a couple of options that I can see, for how your ability functions, Linus. One is that you're a capacitor - put energy in, get energy out. In your case, you seem to have the ability to store both the heat and the light of the sun. We could do some tests, if we had the kit, to see how much of the spectrum you were absorbing and emitting - whether you put out UV rays, for example. Alternatively… there's a more complex option, that you really do use the energy of the sun as fuel, and that what you emit isn't solar power that you stored up for a while, it's power that you generate inside yourself and then project. Like using solar panels to make electricity, except in your case you - thus far, at least - produce heat and light."

Looking apologetic, she sighs. "If that latter situation is the case then you absolutely, definitely do not want too many people to find out about it. That would be… something with a great deal of power and potential to it. I hadn't even considered it, till just now. I was impressed enough with the potential of a solar capacitor."

Linus looks between Quinn and Ygraine, and in the lighting it can be hard to tell, but it looks like his eyes may be welling up some. This isn't able to be seen at all for long though as he buries his head in his hands, shaking his head behind them. His words are muffled, but understandable. "Oh god. Yes. This needs to be figured out. I think I need a professional. I'm really scared, guys. I don't think I can focus right now."

When Linus buries his face in his palms, Quinn is quick to push off her support and move to his side, draping an arm over his shoulders, at least as best as she can given the height difference. "I'm sorry, man. We weren't tryin' t' scare you. It's… just kinda the truth." She lifts her other hand, point at him, a smile on her face. "Don't be scared. You're going t' be fine, an' I'll stick by you t' make sure a' that, 'k? I'll ask around. See if I can find someone with a bit more expertise that you're comfortable with."

"We're not going to make you do anything you don't want to", Ygraine says gently, as she hurries over to put a hand on Linus's shoulder. "And to be honest, I'd far rather have you respond like this than gleefully start testing your limits. All three of us have abilities that, at first glance, look quite harmless… but that have a great deal more depth to them when examined in detail."

Darting a worried glance to Quinn, she shrugs somewhat helplessly. "I would suggest that, when you're able, you try to gently test yourself. Try to feel what it is that you really do - not just the results of it, but what you actually do to make those results: whether you're releasing something from inside, or putting effort into making something. That should give you some good clues as to what it is that your ability's really about. And the more you know about it, the more control you'll have and the less you'll have to worry about."

Linus removes his face from his hands when he feels Quinn's arm slide across his shoulder, and he looks up to give her a smile. That same smile is turned to Ygraine when her hand touches his shoulder. Slowly, he pushes back against the wall to stand up. "Thanks, guys." He starts to walk forward some, wiping the wetness from underneath his eyes before turning around. "Maybe I should go somewhere like this, where I can be alone and not be a danger to people. Just as a precaution."

"To test your ability? Sure. Like I said, this is where I got brought, an' I think where my teacher got brought too. It's kinda a perfect spot, no one really comes here. They won't notice a singed wall or another fallen support beam." Quinn shrugs, arm still around Linus. "Like I said, don't worry about it. I'll make sure you're okay, an' so's everyone, okay?"

Ygraine delivers another shoulder-squeeze, expression distinctly concerned. "Don't become a recluse. One melted car-seat ranks pretty low in the stakes of accidental harm", she says gently. "Think. Examine what you do. Practice somewhere like this. But don't feel that you need to cut yourself off from the world. Like anything that marks someone out as unusual, this could do harm - but you've avoided that thus far, and the more you learn, the less likely you are to have anything go wrong. You're smart and you care about avoiding cock-ups. I have faith that you won't have anything go seriously awry, Linus. And if you want help, we'll gladly try to provide it."

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