No Coincidences


graeme_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title No Coincidences
Synopsis Graeme follows the lead from the piece of paper; two people try and figure out why.
Date February 10, 2011

On two cell phones

Graeme sits at the kitchen table of the apartment he shares, an empty bowl from cereal in front of him, and his cell phone in his hand. He'd meant to call a little earlier in the morning, but the odd schedule he keeps from sleeping when he's tired rather than at a regular time means that now it's nearly ten.

Ring. Graeme really, really hopes that Ygraine picks up. Working phone or not, the woman he's trying to call is in the Dome, after all. Could as well be on another planet, the way it sometimes feels.

Fortunately for Graeme, Ygraine has largely run out of anything remotely urgent to do. 250 hours into her captivity, she's scouted the perimeter repeatedly (confirming that it doesn't expand or contract, nor does it appear to corrode what it contacts); she's visited the wounded; she's recharged a number of people's phones; and she's concluded - however reluctantly - that she really shouldn't stick to anything resembling her customary exercise regime, instead opting to conserve energy and keep down her requirements for food.

As a result, her phone is not merely on, it's in her hands, the Briton sitting in seclusion in the garden of an unoccupied house, cell plugged into her portable charger, and the BBC News site open on the little screen. She is, however, just in the process of opening up a few tabs of web comics when the little device rings.

Giving the unfamiliar number a wary look, Ygraine debates a moment or two, before slipping a bud into one ear and answering the call.

"Miss FitzRoy?" The query is … well, quiet, and the man on the other end doesn't sound entirely certain of what he's doing. "My name's Graeme Cormac. Miss Quinn gave me your number." There's a pause, the sound of fingers drumming on a table. It's quite possible that on his end, he has her on speakerphone.

"Ah. Yes. Robyn mentioned you to me", Ygraine says quietly, her accent unmistakably educated and British. Soft sounds of movement accompany her rising to her feet and peering around, the gentle creak of leather perhaps audible among them. She's pretty sure that she's in private here, but… this is all rather too weird for her not to indulge her paranoia. After all, either it's justified, or there's no one at all to witness her being silly.

Despite that it's a phone conversation, Graeme nods, leaning back. "Alright, right." There's a bit of a drawl to his words. "Yeah, someone had left a piece of paper with your address and liberty on it. That, and a card for the Deveaux Group. And to be honest, I haven't a clue why or anything." More drumming on the table. "So."

"Well… first things first", Ygraine says quietly. "Do you have any connections to any investigative, law enforcement, or journalistic agencies? The sort of ties that might lead to someone trying to get you to follow up what they think might be a story…"

There's a soft hmmm sound from Graeme. "No, no." He pauses. "I'm just a soccer coach. And this is the first time I've been back in New York for ten years, give or take a little." There's a small, nearly self-deprecating laugh. "And I've been doing my best here not to make myself a person of interest to anyone. Doesn't seem I succeeded."

"Don't worry about that too much", Ygraine says with a rueful laugh. "There are people out there with abilities to… foretell what might happen. Some with lamentable inaccuracy and massive personal bias, admittedly, but others more accurately… and others who just seem to come up with guesses. It's possible that you've been seen to have potential by someone - or that you were just a convenient pawn to try to set something else in motion. We live in strange times, and this city seems to be the locus for them."

"Right, right…" There's something in Graeme's tone that suggests he doesn't remotely like the idea of being a convenient pawn for things. For anything, and he considers what Ygraine said, quiet except for fingers drumming on the table.

A low chuckle, as Ygraine moves further into the shadow of a tree, propping her back against its trunk. "Now… we can live our lives in paranoid fear, or… we can be aware of the possibility of being manipulated, and make the best of it. After all, it's quite possible that even if we are being pushed into something, the results will be good. And if not? Then we still have the opportunity to make the best of it that we can. However it happened, we're in contact, and we have a certain amount of information. It might not provide a remotely complete picture at present, but we should be able to find out more. And we can certainly see if we can do something worthwhile in the interim."

That gets a much more positive murmur of assent from Graeme. "Of course, yes." He grins to himself. "I'd say you have more information than I do," he says, thoughtful, the tapping on the table having moved to be tapping out something on the tablet computer that sits propped up to one side of him.

"Heh. Perhaps", Ygraine admits, a smile clearly audible in her voice. "Of course, I have no idea what you know. But… you were given my number… which suggests that either the Society wanted you to bring them to my attention, and your role is now finished - which I admit I find unlikely - or there is the expectation that I can either provide you with assistance of some kind or that the pair of us together are intended to achieve something."

"Or that someone expects something of me being useful to you," Graeme adds, voice quiet. "That particular possibility has crossed my mind. Which would go along with achieving something, though what that is, well, I suppose we'll have to find out." He chuckles. "Really, I know very little, as far as the current climate of things, though my degree is in sociology. But I never got my masters. Spent the past several years teaching high school soccer, until well, the climate in New Mexico got too bigoted and hostile for my liking."

"Would you like to talk face to face?", Ygraine enquires, tone curious - and helpful. "If you're able to get onto the Island, we can. The Dome doesn't block soundwaves, thankfully, so we could have a chat in person. Or I can provide you with what answers I can now, if you prefer."

There's a pause. "I have to admit I've been curious to see the Dome," Graeme says. "It would be nice, yes." And it would possibly help smooth over his doubts, as well, which couldn't hurt. He nods.

"Fair enough. I can meet you just about anywhere you want around it on the Island", Ygraine offers. "I could possibly get over to Queens, but it's probably easier for you to get here than for me to cross the river. I can send you a map link for where to meet, if you want? Or you can call me when you get close."

Another pause of thought. "Map link would probably be better," Graeme says, having considered it. "I've been so glad my phone has navigational skills, recently." He chuckles. "I grew up in Manhattan…but a lot has changed."

Ygraine chuckles ruefully. "I've been working as a courier for most of the past couple of years. I might be able to help you with working out what landmarks to use for navigation nowadays, but… want to give me an email address? Or shall I read out a URL for you?"

"Send a text message to this number?" Graeme suggests. "It's probably faster than reading off an address. An email'd just get lost in my inbox."

"Heh. Fair enough. Give me a couple of minutes to sort that out. I'd suggest meeting for lunch or something, but…." Ygraine shrugs at the phone. "So - anything else before I get onto that?"

Graeme shakes his head, and there's a small stifled laugh as he realises that he's still on the phone. "See you in around half an hour, then?" It'll probably take less time, but Graeme's not going to push his luck with New York traffic, in any case.

"Sure. I'm… curious to see who on Earth you are. I suspect the same might be true in reverse", Ygraine laughs. "See you soon." And with that, she disconnects, then sets about creating a little web map with a push-pin to mark the desired meeting point on the perimeter of the Dome, before providing that in the requested text message.

At the edge of the Dome, Roosevelt Island

The spot chosen is about as secluded as is possible for the publicly-accessible portions of the Dome's perimeter. Rather than the middle of a major street, it's off to one side, with at least some degree of privacy for people holding a conversation. Of course, the periodic law enforcement patrols will still pass it from time to time, but it should offer some hope of talking without being overheard or observed.

As might be expected, Ygraine is in the vicinity some time before the half hour is up, keeping an eye on the chosen meeting point for anything - or anyone - suspicious. Not that being trapped in what's been described as a giant hamster-ball has done anything to heighten her paranoia, of course…

Traffic wasn't apparently bad, at least for the part of getting to Roosevelt island that Graeme took a taxi for. The rest of the way, it's been a skateboard, despite the hazards it offers with the snow. The man slows to a halt about four feet from the actual barrier, pulling off the knit cap and gloves that he wears to stuff them into the pockets of his peacoat, and he reaches into his pocket, pulling out his phone to double check. Sunglasses come off, revealing blue eyes as Graeme looks over to Ygraine.


Skateboard hadn't occurred to Ygraine as a possible means of transit, and she is offering the man an amusedly wry smile when she emerges from cover and approaches the (slightly) pollution-dulled blue shimmer of the Dome.

For her part, she's a rather odd figure: clad in dirty and decidedly lived-in biker's leathers, with dyed red hair bound into a tight braid that disappears down the back of her jacket, she looks as if she's either at home in the cold - or as if conditions in the Dome are somewhat warmer than on the outside. Certainly, though her features are pale she doesn't appear to be feeling the bite of the day's sub-zero temperatures.

Raising a hand in greeting, she then pushes up her own shades (sleekly wrap-around in design_, and offers a somewhat tired nod and smile. "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"

Graeme chuckles, the reference bringing an amused glint to his eyes as he kicks the skateboard up to grab it and walk up closer to the barrier. "Yes yes." For all that he was just on the skateboard, Graeme doesn't look remotely like he'd just been doing any form of physical exertion. He's also not dressed nearly as much for the temperature as most people are, yet doesn't seem uncomfortable.

"Aside from …" Graeme gestures at the barrier, "that, how are you?" He ducks a bit of a nod in greeting.

"Of course, as the possibly-lost Briton sought out by an American, I should be Doctor Livingstone, come to think of it", Ygraine says with a smile and a one-shouldered shrug. "Me? Tired. Rather hungry. Bored. But… very glad indeed that last Winter taught me to lay in some emergency supplies for use when the power cuts out. I've got a portable, hand-powered charging unit. So I can recharge a few phones - or laptops - each day. But… I'm very much aware that I'm one of the fortunate ones."

Very deliberately, she doesn't look towards the truncated bridge behind her. Nor glance back and down towards the horrors she all too vividly knows are still rotting in their crumpled prison down on the subway tracks.

"So… nice to meet you, Mister Cormac. I'm Ygraine FitzRoy. I'm a courier, foreigner, crazy idealist, and technical consultant for a certain organisation you are apparently meant to talk to me about."

Graeme nods, face impassive for the moment. "Please, just Graeme." The tone of voice if nothing else dispenses with any residual formality, at least as far as his expectations go. "I'd heard about the winter," he says quietly. "Back in New Mexico, it got about ten, twenty degrees colder than usual, but not much." For all that he doesn't seem to even notice the cold temperatures around him, he speaks as if he misses the warmth of the southwest.

There's a pause. "Right, right." They're here to talk about something, after all, no sense in getting too far off the topic. "Quinn told me some, about Liberty. Showed me the website, too. Which makes me think it wasn't simply that as far as reasons I was put in contact with you." He pauses again. "I'm not much of one for politics. Never have been."

"Nor is Liberty officially a political organisation, though it's bound to be interpreted as such", Ygraine says with a slight chuckle. "Strictly speaking, it's merely seeking due process of law. But… any action to ensure that the administration's actions are properly assessed and judged is likely to be taken as 'activism', I confess. Hence the design of Liberty, to allow people to pledge money anonymously and without losing anything from their accounts until the moment that a case is being heard."

The Briton shrugs slightly. "What we need is for people who either object to or support what's going on to agree that the Constitution matters, and that sweeping changes to the rights of everyone in the US need to be considered by the Supreme Court before they can be declared legitimate. It's not about party politics - it's about this country living up to what it claims to stand for, and making use of rights and powers and requirements already written into existence. If you want nothing else to do with it but to pledge a few bucks on the off-chance that the thing'll ever come to pass, then that's a lot better than nothing. But the fact you're here at all suggests that you're after something more than an easy cop-out. And that you were chosen as the one to be directed to me… I hope that that means that we're meant to work together on something."

"Politics are inescapable," Graeme says, grinning a bit. "Unfortunately, but insescapable nonetheless."

The man's face remains impassive, and he runs his hand through his hair. "I like answers," he says. "Always more satisfying than easy." He pauses. "That, and I've never been one to just sit around an' let other people be the ones to do things." The drawl comes out in his voice more, and there's a bit of a determined set in his posture, even as relaxed as it is with the skateboard in one hand.

Ygraine nods, even as she frowns pensively. "I think that an obvious question to ask would be quite what it is that you do…. I would hazard a guess, given your reference to bigotry and your apparent disdain for the cold, that you're Evolved? Apologies if I'm wrong…."

Graeme shakes his head. "No no, you're quite right," he says, even laughing a bit. "Technically, something to do with endurance. I don't tire easily, I keep going, and so far the cold hasn't bothered me enough for more than a bit of a sweater or jacket." Hands raise in a bit of a helpless shrug. "It's more annoying than anything else, I promise."

Ygraine laughs softly. "And you're Registered, to have got onto the island", she muses aloud. "Hrmmm. We both have connections to sport, we both have somewhat physical abilities, and we both have rather more in the way of meaningful education than the classic all-American "Phys Ed" graduate. But I'm still struggling to see why anyone would point the two of us at each other. Perhaps the Society hold the key? And the two of us are meant to be jointly pointed at it?"

"Quite possible," Graeme muses, observing the woman carefully. "I'm Registered, yes." He stretches his arms out for a bit. "I coached for a high school. Registration let me keep my job for longer than I would have been able to otherwise, so while I may be … opposed to many of the principles behind mandatory registration… not to mention, the head coach knew full well what I could do. It left little choice in the matter, for me." He shrugs, chewing on his lower lip a bit. "I suppose that might well be. It's curious, certainly."

"I used to compete professionally. I was a cyclist", Ygraine explains. "When compulsory Registration was - somewhat belatedly - extended to non-citizens, it became necessary if I wanted to enter the country at all. And given the blood samples still on file in various drug-testing agencies, my DNA wouldn't have been too hard to get hold of anyway."

Shaking her head, she sighs softly. "So… educated, Registered, physically-capable Evolved. You're without a criminal record, or the like? No outstanding legal troubles?"

The man nods. "Pretty much." There's a pause from Graeme before he continues. "Nothing. I'd had a juvenile record," he laughs, "but you don't grow up as a ward of the state without one, and that's long expunged."

Ygraine lifts a brow. "Ward of the state? Hrmmm. So… someone with the right connections would be able to find out a good bit about your past. While… a lot of my life is semi-public. Intimately so, if you can tap into things like the records of drug and medical testing."

Pursing her lips, she cocks her head. "We're starting to sound rather like candidates for 'use' in something. Are you good with a gun, or anything of the sort?"

"I was left in a hospital waiting room," Graeme says. "Group homes until I was nine. I was adopted when I was ten, but yes, there's still a lot about me that's public." What schools he went to, what street he lived on. All of those things are a matter of public record. He shakes his head. "No. I mean, I got a guard card, once, and did the requisite training with a handgun, for the firearms endorsement. But that was when I was working as a bouncer. A while ago, really. Never actually used one outside a firing range, barely remember that."

"Still, you're certified with it", Ygraine muses, frowning again. "And I assume that we can rule out anyone who personally knows us doing this. So whoever is, they're working from second- or third-hand information. In which case… you look quietly impressive."

"Was certified with it," Graeme points out. "New Mexico's firearms endorsement needs to be renewed to stay valid past the initial period. I never did." His fingers tap on his leg absently. "Hm, that would make sense, and could explain things, really." He shrugs, choosing not to say anything about what does or doesn't look impressive.

A low chuckle, and Ygraine shrugs again. "Believe me, I'm not making any great boasts for dangerous competence as a covert operative, myself. But of all the people in this city, we seem to have an unusual amount in common that might be considered 'useful'. Even down to being people who know the city fairly well, but aren't longstanding residents."

Shaking her head once more, she sighs softly. "Hmmmm. I wonder how far the… similarities go. What did you focus on, in your study of sociology?"

"Predominantly, crowd behaviour theories," Graeme says. "Branched into study related to both media and environmental interaction, as well." There's a bit of a grin. "It allowed me to make inquiries into other people with abilities, as well." Another pause. "Would you mind my asking what your ability is?" She never did actually say, after all.

Ygraine blinks, then laughs softly. "Sorry! I'm not being deliberately mysterious, I promise. Ahh, I'm Registered with Object Adhesion. Just a sec…." Pulling off one glove, she then rests it atop a flat palm… before turning her hand over. In spite of there being a complete lack of anything visibly holding the sturdily reinforced leather item in place, it appears to have no inclination whatsoever to even droop towards the ground.

"Ta-da! Stunning, huh?" She fires a wink at Graeme, then lifts the glove away and sets about restoring it to its proper place. "So… that field of research might suggest that you were in fact intended to help with Liberty. Right now, our 'media expert' is probably me. And I'm a specialist in international affairs, particularly conflicts. But that's focused upon the large-scale interaction of people with ideas, and with the representations of ideas, so our fields of study would seem to overlap and be complementary…."

"Hey, at least you have an obvious way to show what you can do." Graeme grins, clapping his hands together in amusement at the display of Ygraine's ability. "If there's one thing I learned from studying the media, it's that there's really very little good that comes out of it." He nods. "The media is not so much a social machine anymore as it is a machine of the government, but then again, look at the times we live in, and look at anything similar. Couldn't expect less."

"That's why we need to use unconventional methods if we're to gain attention", Ygraine agrees with a smile and a nod, having taken a playful bow in response to Graeme's applause. "I've got some ideas on that front, but more would be welcome, I assure you. The chairwoman's a musician, and I have a number of musical friends, so we're looking to get a collaboration going - preferably several of them. But the more we can do the better, especially if it's wholly legal and attention-grabbing."

Graeme nods, rocking on the balls of his feet slightly. "Well, I've certainly got plenty of time to consider ideas in," he says. "I don't typically sleep too much, unless I'm tired. These days, instead, I end up pacing the lobby and gardens of the apartment I live in." There's a snort of laughter. "Martial law sucks."

Ygraine laughs softly. "I hadn't thought of that side-effect. Mmmm. I could see that being very useful indeed. How are you with computers, as an aside? And… yeah. I used to do a lot of my exercise after dark - so I could work during the day, and dodge getting caught up in rush hour. Now… even the working days are curtailed, if I'm to make sure I have time to get back home…. Not, admittedly, that that has been a concern for the last week and a half."

"Trust me, it gets old," he says. "More hours in the day, but it gets old. Only so many times I can walk around a building, only so much to read in general." Graeme takes the chance to observe the Dome more carefully than he had on first seeing it, as he considers. "Decent. All I have right now is my phone, and an Android tablet, and yeah. Didn't have more, I used the computer the school had given me."

Nodding pensively, Ygraine chuckles. "I confess that I'm thinking of giving you technical tasks, as a possibility. But that would presume your being keen to get significantly further involved in Liberty. But that's quite possibly getting ahead of ourselves. I'll keep digging away and see what I can figure out about the Society and who might be behind it. And what its agenda might be. Do you have any ideas for investigations yourself?"

Graeme seems to be considering his phrasing. The man speaks carefully, if nothing else. "I'd been advised to call them," he admits. "That they don't usually reach out to anyone without a reason. I haven't quite gotten around to it, but I will be doing so."

"Do they have a physical address? Or was the card you got just a name and a number?", Ygraine asks curiously. "Actually, I think I saw one in one of my searches. Come to think of it - it might be an idea to sit down now - or stand, I suppose - and pool the information we have on them…"

Graeme pulls out his phone from his pocket, pulling up the few things he's managed to find on the Deveaux so far, with a bit of a chuckle. It's not much, and he apologises for it, but there're a few news mentions, and some ties between people known to be associated with them and other organisations. "Their card has the address too," Graeme says, frowning a bit at the overall lack. "But what little we know, I still am no closer to hazarding a guess as to why either of us."

"Perhaps the lady in apparent command wishes to make use of her resources, and sees Liberty as worth backing. And you as someone who could help. Which, to be honest, it does sound as if you are", Ygraine muses, having chipped in with a variety of odds and ends of her own. "But I confess that I'm still not at all certain that we're not also - or instead - being… selected for something else. It might all just be a coincidence, but… we share a remarkable number of similarities to have been pushed together so mysteriously."

"I've never been quite sure I believe in coincidence," Graeme says, with a shrug. "It's too often used as a convenient excuse not to look further." He pauses. "Hopefully, time will bring to light other factors. And perhaps, well, something more to do." He ducks a nod. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Ygraine." The skateboard is dropped to the ground, and he moves it back and forth with one foot. "Anyway, if I do get in touch with the Deveaux Group, I'll be in touch. Or, you know. If you do."

"You got the number. I think they might be expecting the call from you", Ygraine points out with a smile. "And you're certainly a lot more available for a meeting than I am. I'd personally be inclined to give it a shot, I admit. But… let me know if you decide against it. I'm spending a fair amount of time where there's a signal, so I shouldn't be too hard to get. And… thank you for coming all the way out here. It was good to meet you."

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