Solus Ipse


peter_icon.gif kazimir_icon.gif

Scene Title Solus Ipse
Synopsis I Alone.
Date September 2, 2009

Staten Island

There's something about the fringes of Staten Island that will always inspire sentiments of unease. After the bomb, much of Staten Island has fallen into glorious disrepair, so much so that places that were already in stages of decay look more like monuments to entropy than once urban settlements in decline. While much of the island was suburban residential areas before the bomb, there were two crowning moments that drove this borough of New York into an early grave. The first was the mass exodus of survivors and panicked people fleeing Manhattan. They came by foot, bicycle and car across the bridges to Staten Island, all manner of desperate and frightened people flooding into a crowded place. While some fled through to New Jersey, others simply couldn't — or wouldn't — go further. This, like in Queens, led to an eventual chaos that would in time eclipse the pandemonium in the eastern edge of New York after the bomb.

Staten Island was in the direct path of the fallout from the explosion, and after thousands fled to the island, the entire populace was forcibly evacuated. Those few that managed to stay, clung to their homes desperately, and those few who did would suffer from radiation sickness and the ever-escalating crime rate. By the time Staten Island got the "all clear" from the government, the damage had already been done.

What was one suburban neighborhoods and parklands is now a monument to decay. Houses lie in various states of disuse and ruin, and like much of New York has seen property values nosedive. Few want to move out to a formerly irradiated zone, and even fewer want to return to a place so rife to violent crime. Now, much of Staten Island lies in various states of decay. Houses abandoned by families that fled the city, were forced into forclosure and were never resold, or simply places where entire families went missing and are now squatted in by any number of transients line the once peaceful streets. Staten Island is a home to crumbling infrastructure, spotty electricity, and people who wish to remain undiscovered by law enforcement. Few police will willingly go into this now infamous island.

The cry of pain is one that causes fingers to curl and knuckles to go white, jaws to clench and his back to arch. Fingers wind into the dark locks of hair at the side of Peter's head, and as his back curls and legs pull up to his chest, the throbbing pain in his head knows no boundaries. Breathing in and out of heavy, panting exhalations, Peter's arms tremble at his side, his suit becoming soiled on the dirty concrete floor of the basement.

«The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.» The voice comes from one of two people in this grand foyer. At the center of the entry hall on his knees, is a sandy-blonde haired man in an unbuttoned gray trenchcoat. The creases on his brow and cheeks show his growing age, and the lightness of his hair at the temples suggests encroaching gray. Where he kneels, there is a body beside him, laid out in a pool of thick, still warm blood. The corpse is of a man much younger, with somewhat lighter hair, trimmed to a crew cut. His stomach is dark with blood staining, his uniform froma gunshot wound. Utterly motionless, save for one hand that is cradled between the two hands of the kneeling officer's. «He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.»

Dim blue light filters down through grimy windows, redbrick walls are cracked from the settling of the foundation. Exhaling shuddering, sharp breaths like a wounded animal, Peter opens his bright blue eyes, a groaning croak of pain escaping him as his hands move to wrap around his sides, fingers curling into the fabric of his jacket. Eyes wrenching shut, the agonizing pain lasts long enough to feel as though a knife has been driven under his skin, sliding around like a snake before ultimately revealing itself.

«Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,» There is a twitch, a motion of three fingers on the clutched hand, a spasm of nerves. The older soldier stops, letting out a ragged breath as he brings his mouth down to the young soldier's knuckles, «I will fear no evil: For thou art with me.» He squeezes the hand harder, hopeful, but knowing full well the chances of surviving such a wound.

The source of the pain seeps forth from one of Peter's shoulders, a curling tendril of black smoke. Fingers of night rose up through the fabric, umbral fog that curls and twists like a snake's body bends. His eyes track the motions, a darkness that seems to consume light and life around it, and everywhere it moves beneath his skin as it ducks back down, bruises blossom to life beneath clothing. "Stop!" Peter screams, as if the vapor would listen, one of his legs kicking wildly as he falls onto his back, mouth open in gasping breaths, "Stop!"

Then, abruptly, the wounded soldier's eyes snap open, staring blank and empty towards the ceiling. «Kazimir— » The man kneeling at his side breathes out in a heavy exhalation, squeezing the hand again. «Kazimir you— »

"It doesn't hear you." The voice is rough, gravely and old; coarse in the way sandpaper is. Fearful eyes open, and Peter stares up at the dark silhouette looming in the corner of the room, only the sunlight glinting off of the steel head of his cane serves as any indication that he's even there. "You think it's easy to tame it?" The figure begins to move, the soft scuff of shoes interspersed between the click of the metal tip of the cane as he walks.

"Who— " familiarity shows in Peter's eyes, but he isn't sure why the voice and the posture seems so right to him. "Get away— get away from me!" It's not out of fear of himself, but fear for the stranger that Peter scrambles back across the floor, his back slamming up against an old wooden workbench's legs, sending a puff of dust up into the air, glinting like tiny stars in the pale light coming thorugh the high windows.

The figure stops, just shy of the windows, but enough for the light to catch in his eyes. Blue, softer than his voice, the way water smooths around jagged stones. "Shhh," the old man states, his face weathered and pitted like worn granite. "You're not half the student Gabriel was," and the footsteps begin again, a click-tink-click of shoes and cane, as Kazimir Volken steps out into the light of the window.

Dawning recognition comes as Peter's back grows rigid and straight, a hand thrown out to ward the old man off, only to have wracking pain come through his bicep as several thin vines of shadow slither out from beneath his flesh. "You learn to control it," Kazimir states flatly, gray brows rising, "or it consumes you in its control. It is an invader in your body, Peter— "

"How do you know my name?" Peter interjects hastily, breathing out a hiss exhalation as he tries to keep his arm from shaking with a firm grip around his wrist. Tiny threads of black smoke rise up between his fingers, like worms crawling across a carcass searching for flesh to gorge themselves on.

Laying his cane across his lap, Kazimir levels his eyes back to his right hand. "Gabriel Gray is a pawn, a tool, a blunt instrument that I will used at the necessary time. You are my most trusted, my most loyal, and my most favored…" Kazimir tilts his head back, "You of all people know my darkest secrets." Those eyes narrow as he speaks, "So you will understand the gravity of what I will tell you." His lips press thin, a contemplative expression, before he finally speaks again. "I am grooming Gabriel Gray, to be my successor."

One gray brow goes up, and Kazimir smiles softly to Peter, head shaking slowly. "You're not nearly half as sharp as Gabriel either, are you?" A few more footsteps is all it takes for Kazimir to make his approach, crouching down at Peter's side, his cane left to balance precariously against the workbench, steel gleaming in the shaft of light. "Relax."

"This body, Amato," Kazimir leans forward, eyes narrowing, "Is a tool as well. Just as Gabriel Gray's body is." There is no humor or lightness in his voice, only gravity, "Just as Richard Santiago's was." Tilting his head to the side, Kazimir makes a firm eye-contact with his disciple, to ensure that the loyal man learn the full length and breadth of what he means. "The plan I have in play, may require me to change the tools in which I use, in which case, Gabriel Gray's body will become mine, and all the powers he has."

Try as he might to push himself further into that corner he's wedged himself into, Peter finds the walls no more forgiving than the vice-like grip of the old man's hand around his forearm. The shadows flee away from the old man's weathered touch, they snake around his hand and experimentally begin to reach out for it. But he is unharmed by the contact, blue eyes leveled with Peter's; the same eyes, the same flecks and imperfections, perfect mirrors.

There is a certain strength to the way he emphasizes that, as if making a proclimation of further elevating himself. "I feel confident, that should this vessel be destroyed, the flame of my life will not be extinguished, but carry on. It is finite, this fragile shell of mine, and its time may not outlive the time needed to complete our work." He begins to sit back in the chair, slowly, "To that end, Gabriel will be groomed to become my successor." The full irony of the term seems almost obvious now. "Do you see?"

"Gabriel was wrong about it, though," Kazimir states flatly, his grip on Peter's arm becoming tighter, and the younger man's expression becomes something disconcerted as he stares up at the old man, eyes wide. "It's not like a current, or a flow, or water. It's like the clay at the bottom of a river. It is impressionable, and everything that comes into contact with it— " his fingers bit down against Peter's wrist, and only now that the hold is painful does Peter start to struggle, " — leaves impressions."

Words are replaced by a raw, agonized scream. Where the older soldier's hand clasps the younger's, flesh begins to pale, veins blackening before the skin on his palms cracks and flakes. A deep, low and roaring sound like a hollow wind being blown through a deep cavern exhales from the young Kazimir Volken's mouth, and like the speed of a wildfire, the rapid dessication begins to take effect. Hands become brittle, cracking apart as fingers snap and break, falling to the floor as the young man rises up into a seated position as a bullet forces its way out of his abdomen and onto the floor. «K-Kaz — Kazim…»

A gloved hand comes up, pawing at Kazimir's face as the old man leans in closer, his other hand moving to go around Peter's throat, wrinkles fingers squeezing the front of his neck in a pinching motion. Peter gasps for air, back arching, struggling on the ground as much as he had when the ability was going out of control. Kazimir breathes out at the side of Peter's head, a low and rasping phrase, "And I alone the deepest impression."

The words are finally swallowed into nothingness as Kazimir lunges forward like some hungry beast, knocking his father to the ground, leaping atop him to place both of his hands at his father's throat, screaming aloud as he does. The scream is unintelligible, a wild and crazed thing that only heightens the horror of the scene, as Kazimir's father begins to decompose at his son's touch, skin blackening around where his palms tough, eyes shriveling in their sockets, until finally his skull cannot withstand the pressure of Kazimir's hands, crumbling like an ash-filled paper bag.

There's a jump, a startle, a hastening of breath from Peter as he tenses up on the floor and reaches out for something that isn't there, pawing at the sky with thin fingers, grasping for the face of an old man who is not choking him. His airway opens, breathing comes back wheezing, and coils of black vapor around his hand slither back within the sleeve of his suit jacket.

Slumping down, Peter slouches back against the bench, eyes falling shut. There's a subtle exhalation of breath, a swallow, and his eyes open languidly to keep a half-lidded stare at where the cane was leaning in the back of his mind. Contended, there is the faintest echo of a smile on his face, one dark brow lifting up as he notes, "You almost had me that time…"

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