Personally Involved


graeme_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Personally Involved
Synopsis Graeme and Ygraine talk some more about Liberty, and about the possible reasons for their acquaintance.
Date February 17, 2010

Two cell phones.

The soft whoosh of air is the thing that Graeme's paying the most attention to. The skatepark, despite the weather, is fairly busy. And Graeme is definitely the oldest one there, and has been there for an hour or two already. Nothing terribly fancy, no tricks, because there is still snow, but he's got earbuds from his phone in, has ditched the jacket in a locker, and manages to avoid collision with any of the other skateboarders in the snake run.

met alice shaw, zachary stone, re deveaux society. both v interesting. would like to meet up soon, talk. thank you.

Ygraine eyes the text message once more, her cell plugged into her charger, one hand idly turning the crank while the other holds her phone. Crouched atop one of the buildings closer to the Brick House, she's both taking a break and on watch for trouble, squinting Westwards towards the river and the pollution-generated cascade of colours offered by the sun as its increasingly low-angled light gets filtered through the Dome's build-up of grime.

Pursing her lips, she shakes her head, sighs, then sets her cell to dialling, calling back the man she's never met but who seems intended by this mysterious faction to become part of her life.

He'd started to pick up a bit more speed along a section with an overall downslope, but the telephone ringing over the music he's been listening to startles Graeme, and he reaches up, hitting the answer button that's inline on the headphones before slowing, jumping and letting his skateboard roll to a stop.

"Graeme Cormac." He hasn't bothered to actually look at the caller ID, and the phone's in his pocket, so it's a generic answer, punctuated by the sound of some teenagers yelling and shouting and teasing each other in the background. At least some people are getting to have fun. "Gimme a sec." Skateboard is kicked up, over the edge onto flat concrete, and then the man takes a bit of a running start to vault up after it, ducking to pick up the skateboard and beginning to walk towards the storage lockers. The background noise fades some, after a minute. "Alright, that's better. Go ahead."

Ygraine's phone has received a few rather confused and odd looks by the time that Graeme declares himself ready to talk, the woman having wondered more than once whether she'd somehow crossed lines or dialled the wrong number.

Still, that extra delay has served to leave her floundering for words, her intended greeting having fled her memory. "Ahhh, hi. It's Ygraine. We… spoke a few days ago. I'm calling about your text? The one you sent me yesterday."

"Hey." Graeme's voice softens a little, and footsteps carry him to a corner of the park far from most of the noise after he retrieves his jacket. "Sorry about the background noise. At the park, was halfway down a snake run when you called … was giving myself space to think." He chuckles, a little too aware that most of the other people at the skate park are somewhat near half his age.

"Yeah. I went … I went by their building yesterday." He pauses, shrugs, leaning back against the wall he's found.

There's a definite pause, then Ygraine chuckles. "Each to their own. I suppose that my notions of relaxation are thoroughly bizarre by most standards. Skateboarding, I never got into at all. Never even stood on a board in my life…. So… ahhh. How was it? Other than 'v interesting'?"

Graeme hms softly as he thinks. "I'm still trying to decide," he admits. "Learned a fair amount about the public front they put on. Charitable work, the like, money left by Simone Deveaux; the precise phrasing used was that they're in the business of giving people 'opportunities that they may not normally be aware of or otherwise explore in the interest of forwarding acceptance and the betterment of our kind'."

Another pause. "Those last two words aren't used in their public information, at least", Ygraine muses pensively. "That's… intriguing, to say the least. And I can understand why they don't want to be too overt about their activities in the present climate. As I mentioned, I couldn't even get a straight answer to a legal query from some lawyers when I was doing preliminary work…."

"Yeah, something like that," Graeme says, going silent but for the rustle of cloth he causes as he sits down. "Meeting with them caused as many questions as I'd already had, and answered very few. From what I gathered, their agenda is … is shadowy, too much so. Elisabeth agreed with me on that." He pauses again. "And Alice Shaw told me in no less words that Claudia, who gave me the card and the paper with your address in the first place, isn't to be fully trusted even if she means well."

Ygraine laughs, though the sound is low and faintly bitter. "Welcome to the world of Evolved who mean to do well", she says dryly. "Smoke, mirrors, and vast amounts of mistrust. But… who's this Elisabeth? You didn't mention her in your text message…"

Graeme covers his face in his hands for a moment. "Agh." There's good-natured frustration in his voice, and a pause as that amount of mistrust has him checking that there's no one around to overhear his conversation. "She said she knows you. Harrison?" He bites his lower lip. "Sorry. I'm tired, I think," he admits.

Ygraine's chuckle this time is rather more relaxed. "I do. But… it's usually good not to make assumptions that the same person is being talked about. Especially in this sort of context. She's… anxious not to be too visibly associated with anything that might even hint at politics, given her role. But yes, I know her. I've been feeding her information about what's going on in here."

"Very true," Graeme agrees. "She lives in the same building I do," he says, by way of brief explanation. "We … ran into each other in the lobby. Thankfully not literally." There's a pause. "How're you doing?" There's a small hint of concern in his voice, with the question, though concern that he's at least trying to mask somewhat. It's one thing to be concerned when you're talking about someone. Another thing when you're talking to them.

"Tired. Hungry. No longer bored, at least", Ygraine responds, venturing a low laugh. There is, however, a persistent hint of huskiness to her voice, as if her vocal cords have been rather overtaxed. "Things currently seem comparatively calm, but… every day, resources are used up. We've got a supply of clean water thanks to a hydrokinetic friend of mine, and he and I are able to get people to and from Roosevelt without having to use the deathtrap of the Subway tunnel. But we're in a resource-scarce environment without government, and with guns. And, of course, at least two sets of vigilante nutjobs who each want to kill the other - though it's been a few days since anyone let off any bombs, thankfully."

Graeme sighs, softly but audible over the phone thanks to that the inline microphone of the headphones rests against his neck. He's thinking, replaying the meeting he'd had in his head again. "Small mercies," He says, the drawl cutting a tad more into his voice. "It occurs to me." Another pause.

"And it's not a train of thought I'm liking the direction of. Speculation, mainly. From what I gathered from Miz Shaw, the Deveaux Society seemed particularly interested in using me. Using both of us, really, but using me in order to do so."

"Using you for what? Or me, for that matter?", Ygraine asks, rubbing at the back of her head with her free hand. "Are they wanting to use the pair of us, collectively, for something? Assign one of us to aid the other? Set us off on separate paths now that they've confirmed you're willing to chase a mystery?"

"There was mention of a sailing club," Graeme says, a hint of a question but not quite a question in and of itself. He shakes his head. "I don't have a clue, really. Emphasis on whatever it is that is rather more proactive. I'm not sure I liked much of anything Miz Shaw said, at least, not really." Another pause. Graeme rolls his skateboard back and forth with one foot.

"Ummmm. Riiiight", Ygraine says slowly, the particular phrase identifying Shaw - to her ears, at least - as someone aware of the group in question from some time ago, before the more recent influx and events. "I can introduce you to the club some time if you really want. It's more of a social thing than much to do with going out on the water…. But was I brought up in connection with that particularly? Or was this just generally something that you might be interested in?"

Graeme considers, a couple muttering sounds. "It was brought up, specifically," he says. "With as I said, emphasis on the proactiveness. They seem to be interested in me getting in contact with you, predominantly. And perhaps that they're now waiting for whatever we happen to do." He pauses. "More questions than answers."

A sigh, and Ygraine closes her eyes. "Nnnngh. But the initial contact was Liberty, and your skillset sounds as if it could be very useful indeed there. Right. If you're willing to help with Liberty, I can certainly give you some things to tackle, and we can see how they go. But we can't pay you in anything other than occasional cups of coffee, unless we manage to pull in enough funding to start employing staff full-time. And that's not exactly the primary goal, however welcome it would be."

Graeme grins. "Yeah, well. Occasional coffee sounds good," he says. "Let's worry about that after there's no longer some invisible thing trapping half of Queens and Roosevelt, though, yeah?" There's that worry again.

"Actually, I was thinking of giving you the commission now precisely because I'm out of your way. A chance for you to come up with ideas that are wholly your own, without me peering over your shoulder", Ygraine says, a smile audible in her voice.

"Your study of how to use the media to generate an impact upon a society makes you eminently suitable for the kind of advice we need. I've studied how systems and structures of communication break down, and I understand many of the principles of generating an engaging message. We're asking people to do something odd - and perhaps a bit bold - so we have to both stand out and also seem safe. We need to be trustworthy, yet memorably different… and also worth engaging with."

"We've distributed a range of posters and fliers, put up a music video on YouTube, established a protected web presence that's hard to hit with denial of service attacks…. But we need to be more than a dimly-remembered poster-campaign and a song that a few people half-recall hearing once. I've got some ideas for that, and I could use you to further those, while you think of some of your own. If you're willing, that is."

"Fair enough," Graeme says, considering. "Yes, yes, right." He's considering, now also tapping at a text note on his phone. "I can certainly work on those things, yes. And worth engaging with, yes, yes. There's a certain level of frequency that needs to be kept, as well, new postings, public faces of any movement making regular appearance, et cetera." He grins, and continues. "Hopefully, I'll have some material together, when this wraps up."

"Yes. Frequency, I've rather let slide in the past fortnight and more, I'm afraid", Ygraine says dryly. "Though I have considered staging a campaign in here…. But if you're willing to dabble in the world of music, I have some things I can give you to do. And if Robyn can let you into my place, you can grab some more of the posters and fliers I hadn't put up yet….."

Graeme chuckles, amused. "I'm no marketing person, not really, but I should be able to put together another video if given a piece of music to play with, and actually, I can talk to some of my former students about getting a bit of technical help to cause them to go viral. It'd be exposure, at least." He grins, more, but his voice is quieter when he speaks again. "You take care of yourself in there, yeah?"

"Actually, I was thinking of asking you to get rather more personally involved", Ygraine says teasingly - pausing a moment before continuing. "As a producer, at least. I've had some interest in a collaborative album… but there's been no movement I'm aware of for some time. If you could set about chasing up a few people, I would welcome it. Greatly. Robyn has just released her own first album, and has a radio show. Collaborate with her, if you can. At least one of the other members of a band she plays with also expressed interest - but avoid their male bassist like the plague. Actually, more like Ebola, come to think of it. Go nowhere near him if you can possibly help it."

"I was also wondering about setting you to contact a singer called Eve Mas. She's got a bit of a name, hereabouts, and sometimes performs at a place called the Orchid Lounge. You could probably get a message to her through them. And, of course, there's Adelaide - the chair of Liberty, who wrote and snag the song 'Liberty' that appears in that video we released online."

The last name is noted down, with a few taps on his phone. "Right, right. I'll see what I can do. I don't really know very much about music," Graeme admits. "So, it'll be a bit of a new venture for me. I know to make images and video look good and time right, and I know what should and shouldn't work in the political environment as far as that goes, but I don't know about music."

He nods, pausing. "Right, avoid the bassist…" He shakes his head. "I'm thinking I'll take your word on that."

"Hopefully, it'll just be a matter of getting them interested in the project - or in some cases finding out what they've already done", Ygraine assures her unseen contact. "If you can get them collaborating directly, it'd be fantastic… but any participation is welcome. Even if it's anonymous, having professionals making the music would be great, and the more styles we can cover the better, in theory. Though probably not on the one album…"

"As for the graphics? If you can come up with things that suit the songs, all the better. Likewise, if you can do some more videos with the existing one, or to other themes, that'd be wonderful. Just make sure that every last second is squeakily-clean legal, or it can open a can of worms."

"Yeah, that last bit's going to be the hardest part, could take some time," Graeme says. "And in some cases, providing a bit of a push in the right direction of get moving." Graeme nods, thoughtful, with a bit of a pause.

"One other thing," he muses, not entirely addressing Ygraine. "I'd put money that the Deveaux Group is keeping enough of an eye on what goes on. Until I know more, I'd prefer to give them as little to notice as possible. But I'll see what I can do, and at least see if I can set the ball rolling on things." He chuckles, quietly.

"We set up the song Liberty to be designed for editing", Ygraine explains. "It's Creative Commons. I've toyed with the idea of setting up a competition - a reward of a chance to spend the afternoon jamming with Adelaide, or something, if she's okay with the idea. Get people to do their own versions. Mixes. Music videos. Get it spreading in new forms… but anything we do ourselves or that is hosted on a site run by us has to be utterly legit…."

Chewing her lip, she sighs quietly. "I want to go to see them and ask what they want me to be doing. Your help could be fantastic, but I wouldn't say no to some investment - either in the Liberty group, or pledged to the court costs. Not, admittedly, that I've been accessing secure servers from in here, so possibly they have given us something…."

Graeme nods again, chuckles. "The competition could be a very good way to spread a message," he muses. "Add in a short written explanation of submission requirement, and then that sort of a competition is the thing that you notify high schools and lower division departments in universities…" Graeme bites his lip. "And at least at the level of funding a competition like that…" he pauses, words trail off. "We can figure that bit out later, anyway."

"We've got spending money, thanks to Adelaide", Ygraine says quietly. "There are good reasons why she's the chair. She founded Evolved Anonymous, among other things. But I'm thinking that if we can bypass the 'conventional' media initially - make this something that gets reported on as a news story in its own right - then we can bypass a great deal of the conventional pressure against questioning conformity. But even something so simple as putting up the same posters again, around the city, that should get us some new interest and keep the name out there, as people remember seeing them before."

Graeme smiles, nods, and murmurs assent. "I'll see about getting those posters up, yeah?" Worry edges his voice once more, unbidden. "Interest is good. Familiarity is good."

"That's the idea. An initial campaign to get the name and the images out there. It's my artwork, so I might be ever so slightly biased, but I figured that very simple, stark images would make sense for an initial effort at awareness", Ygraine explains. "The intent was always to leave it a bit, then do another burst. By which time I'd hoped to have a new set of designs ready to go for a third campaign. But I was wanting the second burst to immediately precede releasing more music. Perhaps the competition can take its place…."

Another nod, despite that it's a telephone conversation, nods are useless, and Graeme speaks. "Simple images are better in general. They're eye-catching, fewer colours overall leave less to be distracting from the actual message. Or at least, that's what the theories say…" He bites his lower lip. "I've gotta get going, but I'll see about checking in with you again soon, and I'll work on getting some of those posters up, maybe take a longer ride and just put them up as I go. Be careful in there, y' hear?" The drawl is the other thing that creeps into his voice more when worried, more when any sort of emotion happens to be colouring his words.

"Be careful yourself, too. Not least with where you stick them. Make sure it's always with permission", Ygraine admonishes, still anxious to avoid any legal problems for Liberty. "But… thank you. Very much. This is… greatly appreciated, I assure you."

Graeme smiles. "Of course." The reassurance is quiet, gentle. "I'll check in again soon." With that, he reaches up to the button on the inline microphone, pressing it to hang up, and draws his knees up to his chest, staring across the skate park. He's not actually going anywhere, just trying to figure things out with enough space to think.

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