Red Flower


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Scene Title Red Flower
Synopsis Huruma thought that she was meeting a foolhardy boy she knows; turns out, it isn't the one she knows.
Date April 15, 2011

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.

It was hours ago that Mr. Varlane made the call to Huruma. A simple meeting at a simple address in Midtown, one of the few row houses that weren't completely ruined by the blast. Some pesky homeless were thrown out, he cleaned up a bit, and now he sits in a dining room at a table with a fresh cloth, some candles, and two covered silver platters on each of their sides, with a nice set of silverware to eat with.

When she arrives she'll find him in his blue denim blazer and jeans, with the slicked back hair and neat goatee, quite different from the last time they met. And when he motions to her seat, he reaches over and lifts her platter, revealing what appears to be a freshly roasted dark skinned adult shin with numerous spices and some sort of chicken broth for moisture. "I do hope you like Indian." he says rather calmly, sitting the cover off to the side as he lifts his own. "I'll be having stir-fried chicken and red peppers."

When she finally shows, it is with a vague interest and not much of an investment; Huruma arrives at the house, wanders inside with pricked ears, and is suddenly faced with a vision that she certainly was not ready for. The tall woman looks like she stepped out of a CIA advert- dark suit jacket, pants, short heels, head bare save for golden studs in her ears, and a fine sheen on her eyelids and lips. She stops in the door, staring as intently as ever. Not impressed by him- rather- curious.

For once, she doesn't question him when he motions for her to sit. Though the platters at the table get her intense stare as much as he did, Huruma does not possess any visual reaction whatsoever as he leans over. Something flickers into place when he moves the shining silver, however, and there are some few seconds where all that Huruma can hear is the mumbling of his voice through the raging of blood in her ears. Her lips curl, the distaste obvious, her field open and more than willing to get a clearer mental image of him. Even Magnes was never this… thorough, before.

"I, mister Varlane-" She begins, purring and allowing her lips to tilt into a snake's grin. Her hand stops at the edge of the plate, moving it one inch away from her. "-am watching my figure."

"As am I. Your figure, of course, not mine." Varlane says with the subtlest of grins, carefully taking his fork so he can begin eating. Inside his feelings are both similar and an almost explosive contrast to Magnes' typical emotions. Rage, hate, an uneasy calm, lust, ambition, confidence, all held back behind an absolute brick wall of patience that one could say barely even existed within him before. "Are you reading me? I'm not sure if you often do that without permission, or if you're doing it at all, but if you are I can assure you that any confusion is warranted. I am Magnes J. Varlane, just not your Magnes J. Varlane. But my cooking is no worse than his."

For the first part, Huruma's reaction is purely amusement, the candlelight flickering in her eyes. She finds herself getting lost in 'reading' him; when he points out that he knows what she does, and that she is probably doing it now, the woman gives a playful tilt of her chin as if to ask 'doing what?'. Magnes' actual explanation, however, catches further curiosity.

"It is not th'cooking. It is my new diet." No more red meat that used to be talking out loud. Huruma watches him instead, sitting back in the chair with hands on her thighs. "You do feel different. Mostly." But he is still a boy, isn't he? "Not my Magnes? Lovely choice of words. You'ave a minute to tell me what you want, or I am going t'go. I'ave bette'things t'be doing than entertaining a man-cub."

"I come from another world, a place where Vanguard has wiped out most of the Evolved population. We've built a utopia with New York as our primary stronghold. An accident caused me to arrived here, and I have no way to safely get back to where I come from, so I'm going to make the best of this world." Varlane spreads his arms, knife in one hand and fork in the other. "You were a particularly fine and intelligent soldier, and you can help me save this world from itself. I know true peace because I created it once, and I can create it again. And I am no man-cub, a thing easily proven."

"Were?" For him? For the Vanguard? Huruma's lack of expression is slowly building into a seething rage under the surface, face flat and eyes glistening murderously. "Either you'ave gone off of your rocker, or you are something that does not belong here." Her shoulders tense at the top, the slightly squared shoulders of her jacket cutting a masculine angle.

"I'ave seen a world where th'Vanguard wins. And it was underwater." All of these thoughts are strangely easy to access, thanks all to Lynette Rowan. "You will always be one…" Huruma mutters, breath hissing as she stands up again, more than ready to simply leave him there. Once she stops responding to this goading conversation with a voice of fire and sulphur.

"It is a pity, that if you are not from here, that you'ave not done your homework. I will never be Vanguard."

"Vanguard was a failure here because Abigail Beauchamp killed Kazimir Volken, an act that will be avenged in due time." Varlane watches her walk, taking a fork full of his chicken rather casually. "Who's side will you be on when the Ferry falls apart, when Gabriel, Colette, and whoever else is in on it, finishes their new Phoenix? Whose side will you be on when Vanguard holds all the cards? Do you know why you eat people? Why anyone eats people?"

He's suddenly standing now, just as blood starts to seep into the dining room from under a closet door. Then he reaches down and grabs the roasted leg, lifting it up as emotions flare passionately. "Because you are a survivor. You survive against all human odds, you are the thing that people fear more so than Evolved, what's inside of them. A diet? Really? What has this trash done for you?" He tosses the shin to the floor, then balls his fists, rage and passion overtaking every other emotion as lights flicker.

Huruma's throat and chest vibrates, a growl clattering out through bared teeth. She does not dignify this man with an answer, slipping into a familiar state of bloodlust that even he would know. Essentially, he has come and defied everything that she has been becoming. Like her past embodied come back for her once again. And frankly, she doesn't like it. Not one bit.

Her eyes lock onto him, dilated pupils an inky black.

"Should it happen, I will be on my side. With those that I wish t'protect with this thing that people fear." Her voice resounds hauntingly in the room, coming from somewhere deep in her chest. Huruma takes a step nearer, more than able to still stare down at him, a sorceress on high. Handmade fear bubbles in Varlane's gut, shoved there like a hot, burning coal. "Because I am a survivor, I will survive no matter who, or what, or why."

"You ask such stupid, foolish questions- if you truly cared about doing what you must, you would not be so dim-witted. Do not test me, mister Varlane, for I can still tear you apart."

Varlane steps back from her as fear begins to flood, immediately reaching into his blazer and pointing his Company-model gun at her as eyes widen defensively. "Get away from me!" he shouts, then aims the gun at a window, shooting the glass out, and runs right for the frame to jump through it. He's not going to stick around, he's going to run, and run, and run, until he gets to his car, then he's going to drive very far away.

It takes. She presses, even as he pulls the gun. Pressure, like a fast dive, burrowing at him as he shouts and shoots the window. The tall woman gives chase when he pushes off, throat growling and teeth bared; she reaches for his coat just when he jumps, and her long fingers rake hard at the air, clenching onto nothing. Even if he looks back, he'll only see the embers of her eyes still reflecting the bare lights from the table, and her figure as it paces once, twice, and disappears around the wall.

She won't leave any evidence. The abandoned houses are so flammable, that even the couple candles will take to threadbare carpets in no time at all.

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