Still Kicking


luther_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Still Kicking
Synopsis Luther has an interlude reunion with one of the many faces he had met months ago.
Date October 29, 2011

Skinny Brickfront

Compared to the wide run of New York City he's had before, the brickfront building where members of Endgame and Redbird have been staying at is a closet. But right now, it's a secure closet. A pantry, even. And that's good enough for Luther to wander through in his exploration of the common living quarters he's only recently come to live in. Thanks to Monica showing him the way and Cardinal's approval, the man technically stands vetted by the "top brass". But he's still a stranger in these parts, having disappeared back into the cityscape when the previous Redbird building had been blown sky high. For security purposes, it's been said. At present, he stands observing the layout of a common area, maybe deciding where he's going to sit. It's a tough choice, these things.

By the standards of derelict, off-the-grid hideouts, the Skinny Brickfront is certainly a luxurious one. Claire and Monica had been holed up here for months before anyone else joined them, but the influx of arrivals on the night of the 31st of March did bring a number of benefits - not the least of which has been Jaiden’s jury-rigged shower mechanism, and his ability to control the water used to supply it. Sadly, it’s unheated… but having the option of a proper clean is something welcomed by all the residents.

The more residents were added to the home (Remi, Graeme, a Great Dane called Odin…), the more welcome such amenities became. But one person in particular makes especially heavy use of the facility.

Tramping in from the outside comes a figure swathed throat to toe in filth-caked bike leathers: old, battered, black beneath the grime, with reinforced ridging over the joints. A (pedal) cyclist’s helmet is perched atop a snugly-fitted hood, while what look like military-grade night-vision or IR goggles hang around the newcomer’s neck. Where bare skin can be seen on her face, she’s pastily pale, though her gait is a rather predatory stalk.
That comes to a halt as she rather belatedly registers the presence of an unfamiliar figure in the safehouse’s Spartan living room. “Ahh… hi.”

Having already utilized the facilities, Luther is at the moment clean enough to not look like some guy who managed to wander in off the street. Even though, really, that’s kind of who he is. But on the plus side, the place has a janitor again. Yay? The sound of the door opening, of heavy creaks of bike leathers and boots, turns the man away from the possibility of seating. For a good, solid couple of beats, the pair stare at each other - or Luther stares, anyway - in awkward silence. When the newcomer breaks the ice first, he looks somewhat relieved. “Hey, uh. Luther,” he supplies in introduction, “Just got here and…” He trails, still kind of eyeing the dirt and mud. “Cold shower’s that’a’way?” The man angles his head towards said facilities, making a pointed sidestep to get out of the woman’s way. Even if he’s larger, she’s the one with the feel of a predator, and him just the wary beast separated from the overall herd.

“Ahh, thanks. Yeah. I live here.” The accent is educated and crisply British, the tone bashfully apologetic rather than challenging. “I know I stink. Probably more than a little. I’ve been underground. I’d offer a hand to shake, but….” She glances down at one glove. “Yeah. Oh. Ygraine, by the way.” The hand raises again, in a little wave of greeting.

Eyeing but not judging, Luther approaches the half step and puts out a hand. “I’m not afraid of a little dirt or stink,” he says with a genuine smile drudged out from his expression. “Been underground plenty of times myself, although not with any kind of gear.” His tilted head changes direction like a parrot studying sound. “Ygraine, I think… we’ve probably crossed paths before but. Pleasure to meet you, again.” Another beat passes and he adds, “Sure I’m not keeping you from that shower?”

Ygraine does Luther the kindness of carefully stripping off the glove, letting him shake a hand that is merely very sweaty and heavily imbued with the scent of old leather. Her grip’s firm, without seeming intended as a challenge. “We… might well have done. I’ve been around the Evolved underground for a good portion of the past three years. Formed my first links to it back in oh-eight. And I probably should go and clean up a bit more before anyone complains, but I generally try to strip off the worst of the gear before I get too far inside. I, ahh… explore a lot down there. Do runs out to as much of the city as I can reach without coming above-ground. I cheat, more than a little, with moving around. But it does mean I fall into things I’d rather not, quite often.”

Luther’s grip is firm as well, a calloused hand of a roughish life meeting hers. He doesn’t even wipe off, you see? “I guess I’m late to the party a little,” admits the man, “met the boss - er, Mister Cardinal - just last year.” The ex-janitor of the Redbird building bobs his head a bit, adding, “Yeah don’t worry about making a mess though. It’ll give me something to do while you’re all…” Again, the man trails as thoughts turn to the days ahead. To the unknown outcomes of several fates. Having made the conversation turn heavy, he draws himself up and rolls his shoulders back in a tension-relieving motion. “Where do you go? Outside the city, I mean,” he asks curiously.

“Cardinal, I think I only met in person earlier this year,” Ygraine says with a grin. “Liz… I first spoke to her in oh-eight. She’s who drew me into this particular part of things; persuaded Richard to take a chance on me. And me? I don’t get right out of the city too often. That’s a long way on foot, past all the obstacles. But I do runs out to some of the other sites that are still in operation. Explore escape and courier routes. That sort of thing. I, ahh, don’t have to stick to the ground when moving. Walls, ceilings, pillars, whatever - I can use any surface strong enough to support my weight. I wind up so messy ‘cause quite a lot of them aren’t really strong enough… but that’s part of the exploration process.”

Though he starts off nodding, when Ygraine describes what else she’s capable of, Luther pushes up both brows in surprise. Awe, perhaps. “How? Er, sorry that’s kind of rude,” he blunders and scrubs a hand behind his neck. “I read a few things out of Dr. Suresh’s book, but the guy had more theory than actual, you know, evidence.” Yet, here they all are. “I can change energy?” Even now, he doesn’t sound very sure about it. “Like, ah, I go out and take in a bit of sun, turn around and start a fire.” He frowns slightly, realizing his explanation is lacking. “Conversion, that’s the term.”

Laughing, Ygraine shakes her head. “No, no. It’s quite all right. And… that makes a certain amount of sense, yes. Power-up via sunlight; emit it as heat?”, she guesses. “I’ve met a couple of light-manipulators who needed to absorb light beforehand, if they wanted to make any appear in a dark room. But if you can convert multiple kinds of energy in multiple ways, that’s pretty seriously impressive. Even ‘just’ the sunlight-to-heat thing is a comic book hero power, I’m pretty sure….

“But me? I, ahh, hrrm. Do you know anything about electrical circuits?”, the Briton asks hopefully. “How some resistors can be directional rather than two-way? A normal wire lets electricity flow through it either way; a directional resistor only lets current flow through it one way. It’s not that it generates an equal amount of electricity to resist things going the wrong way, or whatever: it’s just an aspect of how it is itself: electricity can only go one way through it. I can, basically, do that with gravity. But I choose what it is that gravity’ll draw me towards. So I can choose that it’ll be that wall instead of the floor: and if I choose that, then the Earth’s gravity pulls me to the wall, not to the ground.

“Or I can choose that it’ll be that wall for you. Part of the reason I’m exploring so much is that if we get in trouble, I can take a group of people out of here to safety, by ways no normal pursuit can follow. I can walk a bunch of us down vertical shafts, along walls where the floor’s fallen away, and so on. I can’t say it’d be fun for anyone else, but… I’ve rather got into the challenge of learning how to navigate the city’s literal underworld.”
“It’s not just sun,” Luther begins, hesitant at first but fast to resolve a follow-up. “I was… pretty near Ground Zero when it happened. And that kept me going for some time, being able to go back in there later. It… it felt good. Got a good boost that could keep me going the whole day if I stayed a while.” He holds up his hand to demonstrate, briefly, a little mild glow at his fingertips. When the light fades he curls his fingers back to a loose fist at his side. “Makes for a nice reading light at night,” he says lightly.

As she goes on to explain circuitry, it’s clear he follows along and absorbs the explanation as readily as he’d take in solar power. Luther nods here and there, and when he finally understands, he looks… amused, even. “The kids had a game like that. Where the hero could run around and jump off walls and things. They always had a little trouble with those levels where gravity changed…” The man then remarks to the Briton, “Do you also map it out? Or you got a few resources - maybe dig around in the public library’s archives.” The bombed out one. Really. The reminder sobers his enthusiasm back to the present. “Maybe when you get back,” he utters with a duck of his head and an assumption that she will be back. That they’ll all be.
“I’ve done a fair bit of research, yes,” Ygraine says gently. “And… the library’s somewhere I can reach - or very close by it, at least, before I need to come above-ground. But there are still traps there, from when it was Cardinal’s… secret base of operations. Or there were, when last I was there. I know a safe route into the basement, but not much else.

“But, ahh, I’m really glad you actually followed my attempt at a description. Mostly, people just get hopelessly lost when I try to explain it. Even if I try to show what I’m talking about. They tend to assume I generate gravity myself, and that gravity works like some sort of vague telekinesis. So I can just throw people around at will, hover in mid-air, or whatever. Everything I do is very short-range, and I generate nothing. Just redirect it. Even that, I’m not doing consciously: I put a sort of ‘charge’ on something, and for a while afterwards it just has gravity it pull it to whatever I chose to attach it to, rather than the Earth. Which is more subtle, and lets me do things that making it myself wouldn’t let be possible, but doesn’t let me do the sort of things I’m periodically asked to.

“Re-charging at Ground Zero, though? Wow. I, ahh…. I was in New York on the day of the Bomb. Not so close as you, thankfully: I was heading North on Broadway, fortunately in full leathers. The shock-wave put me through a storefront. My next clear memories are of waking up two days later in a field hospital. For months afterwards, I thought that the flashes I had of my ability were just the craziest of hallucinations. But… I’m glad I have it now. And I’m hoping I can be part of something that makes a difference, here.”

Luther again nods, it's in understanding and regard for the woman's initiative, her skills. "I don't think I've tried to go beyond short range, well, I never had a reason to. Not with the authorities out there hunting… our kind… down." His face twitches in a wry twist like he's sniffed something sour. It's not Ygraine's current covering of dirt and smudges of filth, but in a way worse.

As she goes on to describe her experience of Ground Zero, of the day of modern infamy, Luther pulls his mouth into a solemn line. "Several things happened that day, beginnings and endings. But, we're still kicking." He glances off and around the room, thoughtful. When his gaze goes back to Ygraine, he musters a smile. "Well don't let me keep you, Miss Ygraine. Sure you're wanting that shower now." He side steps again, rolling his shoulders once more in a stretch. "If you're hungry when you get out, I was going to make something." Though what, it's not clear considering he hasn't actually poked around in the kitchen yet. "See you when you're out?"

Ygraine glances down at herself, then laughs as she looks back up at Luther. “Yeeeah. Probably a good idea. I’ll try to get the worst off this lot, as well as cleaning myself up. See you in a quarter of an hour or so? It’s been nice to meet you, Mister Luther.” The honorific is accompanied by a cheerful wink, before her expression softens. “And yeah - we’re still kicking. Going to keep at it as long as we can, eh?”

Raising a hand in farewell, she picks her way through the room - taking care not to brush against anything she doesn’t have to - before heading upstairs to clean off at least the physical portion of the current world’s grime and filth.

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