Personae Non Gratae


claude_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Personae non gratae
Synopsis Claude approaches Ygraine while she's fixing a flat in Midtown. Bitterness ensues. Incomplete.
Date April 10 2009

Ruins of Midtown

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.

Under the still, cloud-covered sky, Midtown continues its slow, quiet descent into rubble. Here and there, a scavenger dislodges another piece of detritus, sending it tumbling and bouncing down the scree of rubble towards the street. But for the most part, the desolation rests in peace today, even the whistle of the wind still for the time being.

Towards the Northern end of the once-irradiated waste, however, a minor disturbance has arisen. A young woman in second-skin black lycra crouches beside a bicycle, hands moving busily as she deftly and expertly works to repair a puncture in the rim of her rear tire. Swearing in a sotto-voce stream of British-accented English and fluent French, she glances up every now and then to check her surroundings for any sign of approaching trouble. Beside her bike rests a well-filled camel-back pack, one strap securely trapped under her foot, while another is looped around a pedal.

But not all trouble can be seen coming. The audible signs of an invisible acquaintance approaching could easily be mistaken for background noise, blending in with the sounds of a dead part of town. Or, well. Not completely dead.

"We're playing with micro-organisms," Comes Claude's voice from behind Ygraine, with its owner re-entering the visible spectrum leaning on a pile of dusty white rubble. He's dressed in his usual attire of homeless shelter giveaways, and - as per usual - he's got an amused grin on his face as he watches the biker. "We can clone, we successfully sow ears to mice, we have cars that run on air now— yet bike tires? Still weak as they come. What is up with that."

Ygraine starts in surprise, clearly experiencing an adrenaline surge - only to blink in genuine surprise. She laughs somewhat breathlessly, grip relaxing on the roll of tape she clutches, as she shakes her head at Claude. "I, ahh, see that you've managed to get your powers under control again", she says to her fellow Briton.

Claude laughs, with little apparent worry that someone may hear him. No, he's been lurking around this place for a while, now. If someone's looking for him, they're not close. He has a while before he feels the need to pop invisible again. "I'd almost forgotten I hadn't talked to you yet, since then! Suppose that's what I get for sneaking and not chatting, eh?"

Ygraine cocks her head, quirking a smile up at the man. "I'm persona non grata, I have the impression. And some of the more intelligent ones - if they actually bothered to spread the word - might be avoiding me for good reasons rather than petulance. I had a visit from a Fed. It might just have been a random encounter, and her expressions of interest in how "the others" were doing might have been wholly sincere… but I got word - twice - to the firebirds that I might be under observation. Here… well. I doubt it. So… how're you doing?"

If anything, there's very very little interest showing on Claude's face as Ygraine talks. Observation is nothing new to him, and the 'firebirds'… well, let's just say they haven't seen much of him, lately.

Ygraine's question gets no answer. Insight on his life is rarely verbally shared, and today is no exception. "So you've fled the nest as well, then? Seems a trend." His opinion on the matter isn't clear by his expression. He still looks his usual careless self, save for the fact that he's now letting his eyes wander and absentmindedly scan over the rest of the area.

Ygraine chuckles softly, turning her attention back to her bike for a few moments, before rising to her feet and arching her back a touch. "Mmm. The response to daring to point out that there were flaws in the planning, huge gaps in the training, and…", she looks rather pointedly at Claude, "potentially vital assets apparently left wholly unused…. Well, it was made pretty clear that I was a coward who didn't think that we should have tried anything, and that I was scum for wanting to have let everyone die. There were a couple of saner voices, but…." She shrugs and shakes her head. "What about you? It was… a surprise to discover that the guy I gave lunch to was "with" us, and a further surprise to then see no evidence of that. Were you on some super-secret mission?"

To be continued…?

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