No Boom Today


gael2_icon.gif melissa3_icon.gif

Scene Title No Boom Today
Synopsis One crisis is past - or at least badly set back - but another one looms, with only a short time to fill in the gaps.
Date October 21, 2010

The Nite Owl

The Nite Owl is a survivor from ages past - one of those ancient diners with huge plate glass windows, checkerboard linoleum floor, and a neon owl over the entrance that blinks at those entering. Inside, there's an L-shaped main counter, complete with vintage soda fountain and worn steel stools. All of the cooking is done on the ranges ranked against the rear wall. The outer wall is lined with booths upholstered in cracked scarlet vinyl, tables trimmed with polished chrome. Despite its age, it's been lovingly maintained. The air is redolent with the scent of fresh coffee, vanilla, and frying food.

It's been a week since four near strangers landed a stolen shuttle in Utah. A week for people to recover and start to move on. And a week to wonder how the rest of them are doing. At least Melissa's wondered, given her state when they first landed, and the few days after that. And now that her migraine has been downgraded to a lingering headache, she feels up to actually solving the mystery.

Gael was called, the conversation brief, and she gave the address of the Nite Owl, along with a time around lunch. When he arrives she's sitting at a booth near the back, facing the door, her back to the wall. She's ordered a coke but nothing else yet, and is sipping on it while watching people pass by outside.

The call woke him up; Gael is not a morning person, or at least he hasn't been one lately. Banker's hours do not play well with flying under government radar. Fortunately, there's enough of a crowd out on the streets to get lost in, provided he hunches his shoulders to appear shorter— the only thing that really stands out about him is the wool cap, and that only to Melissa, who got a good look at it during their trip together. "Good to see you made it back," he murmurs, easing into the seat opposite.

Melissa smiles faintly and nods. "You too, though I had no doubt Daphne'd get everyone. Plus it was quicker than driving or even flying. At the time, I was a big fan of quick." She takes a sip of her drink then leans back. "How you feeling though? All recovered? Know you guys were unshielded the trip back."

"No radiation sickness that I've noticed," replies Gael, dryly, as he looks around for a menu. Might as well get in a decent meal while he's out. "I don't think I'll ever be all recovered, but I'm about ready to get back into the action again, figure out next moves. Speaking of, the flash point's only a couple weeks out, now…"

"I honestly hadn't even considered the radiation," Melissa admits. "I was more thinking about…well, you guys missed that bit, envermind. And yeah, too close. The guy we heard up there? The one I was yelling at? He's the one responsible," she says, her complete and utter dislike for Rupert showing clearly on her face and in her voice.

Oh, he remembers that voice, all right. Pulling a stunt like compromising the mission organizer tends to draw attention. "I'm guessing he's a telepath, or the like?" Gael scratches his chin, frowning as he begins to imagine more specific scenarios. "Everyone's already on edge anticipating a riot, it wouldn't take much of a push from him. What's he want, though, just to pull everything down?"

Melissa shakes her head. "No, his ability is persuasion. He'd actually gotten to me, put three suggestions in my head, but the week before we went up, I got put in DHS custody and had them…removed." Transferred, really, but they're gone from her. "I think that's what he was trying to do. Set off some sort of trigger he'd put in my head. And not sure what he wants. He claimed to want to scare people into giving the evolved more rights, but that just doesn't fit."

Gael shakes his head. "That doesn't even begin to fit. Scaring people is a classic formula for drawing backlash— anyone looking for a scapegoat for their troubles, or just easily convinced." Even without throwing in an ability that does precisely that; the guy can't be everywhere at once, after all. "I wonder if he thinks he can get all the others wiped out and out of his way, while he holes up and stays safe…"

"Looking on it without considering anything I know about him? Looks like he's trying to start a war," Melissa says flatly. "And I know for a fact that he's a coward. And I really can't wait to get my hands on him, though I'm doubting it will happen. Which is a major pain in the ass."

"Nothing's impossible… but if he's a coward and he thinks on that big a scale, then he must've put a lot of work into establishing hiding places." Gael pauses, looking around— but no, everyone else nearby has their own conversations to worry about. Old habits die hard. "What about the things he implanted in your head— did you lose your memory of them, too? Does anyone else know what they might have been?"

"I never knew what he put in my head. I didn't remember him putting them there. It's part of his ability," Melissa explains with a shrug. "I only found out because I had a telepath check me out, and it was another telepath who got 'em out. But no one knows what they were. I'm guessing though, they weren't anything good," she says, keeping her voice soft.

Abruptly, Gael decides that it's a good time to look down and pay attention to the table surface. "Considering what you can do— or, more to the point, what he could make you do? That could help start a war, all right. At least that's one bullet we've already dodged."

Melissa smiles faintly and shakes her head. "Don't get me wrong, my ability isn't fun for the person on the receiving end, but it's not deadly. It's just pain, temporary pain. I'd be more worried about him getting ahold of people with truly destructive abilities like pyrokinesis, or telepaths, or just people who have the physical skills to kill."

"That's just the thing," says Gael, meeting Melissa's gaze once again, "something that seems relatively low-key could actually turn out to be a catalyst. He doesn't necessarily need to control them… if he just wants a general state of war, then all he has to do is get them to lash out."

"Mmm. Maybe. But either way, he doesn't have anything in my head anymore, and he's got a hell of a lot of people hunting for him," Melissa murmurs, shrugging a bit. "Though, admitedly, I more want him, right now, for nearly getting us killed…up there." She's not going to say the word space here, where it could be overheard.

Gael makes a face. "I can't blame you for that. And that's another piece of the puzzle… if you're right," and he isn't saying she isn't, just playing devil's advocate, "then he wouldn't go to that much effort just to get revenge on you. He might have ties to the Institute— or just have intended to beat them to the punch."

"Oh, I am," Melissa says, sounding utterly convinced. "And I honestly wouldn't be surprised for him to have ties to the Institute. Or anything else. I wouldn't be surprised if he was working with the Company before it went down," she admits with a shrug.

He doesn't say anything right away, instead closing his eyes and thinking back. "It doesn't sound like a familiar profile," Gael finally answers, "but he might have had contact with someone. I can ask around." If said someone actually made it out, that is.

"If you hear of anyone, get any information, let me know?" Melissa asks, picking her drink up again, though the ice is now mostly melted so it has to be watered down. "I know all of DHS is looking for him, but…let's just say I don't have a whole lot of faith in them."

"Oh, don't get me started on DHS," replies Gael, leaning forward and pressing fingers to temples. "At best, they've been fed a convenient story. And I will— anything I get at this point is going to just be bits and pieces anyway, they'll need to be put in context." The idea of helping Melissa take her revenge on the mysterious antagonist is a bonus.

Melissa gives a soft laugh. "Trust me, I could rant about various government agencies for days. Nevermind that my uncle is one of 'em," she says, shaking her head. "Anyway. I appreciate anything you get. Should probably get going though. Got a thing tonight at the club, so need to start getting set up."

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