Tea and Sympathy


helena_icon.gif jennifer_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Tea and Sympathy
Synopsis Helena visits Jennifer and Ygraine to consider the latter for recruitment. There is tea.
Date November 13, 2008

Le Rivage: Ygraine's Apartment

A comparatively large and well-maintained apartment occupying one corner of its floor. Windows dominate two sides of the living room, illuminating it brightly throughout most days. A kitchenette occupies one corner of the lounge, while several doors offer exits.

Luxurious but slightly worn brown leather furniture is arranged around the television in the main room, with a small dining table and high-backed chairs diagonally opposite the kitchenette. Wall-mounted shelves and stand-alone cases take up a lot of space along the walls, almost wholly filled with books. A collection of full-size geographic, political, and historical atlases have been given pride of place - though academic texts on history, international relations, conflict theory and linguistics are also prominent, alongside a fair collection of DVDs. The one sizable decoration is a blown-up photograph of mist-shrouded Edinburgh castle at sunset, a black silhouette rising out of white and luminous gold.

Of the exits, one (with an extra lock, deadbolt, and a sturdy chain) leads out of the apartment; another to the bathroom; and the next to a small room that has been converted into a rather cramped home gym. A computer desk, filing cabinet, and a single bed take up most of the space in the next room, while the last is the master bedroom - dominated by a double bed (upon which sits a two foot tall cuddly penguin) and more bookshelves (these holding a jumble of magazines, art books, Neil Gaiman graphic novels, and a collection of science fiction and historical novels), with a clearly well-traveled laptop resting on the bed-side cabinet. Here, high-quality art-prints of dragons decorate the walls, while a small cabinet holds a collection of cycling trophies.

When Jennifer finally managed to track Helena down and ask her about recruiting Ygraine, it was then that Helena agreed to a meet up. Truth is, she feels wierd about recruiting one of her former co-workers, but imagines that Ygraine will be equally surprised, especially if she had any idea of just how many 'terrorists' worked at Alley Cat. Regardless, Helena, in her jeans and blouse and black leather jacket, wait outside Ygraine's apartment after pressing the buzzer.

Jennifer looks to the clock. It's the right time, it ought to be Helena. She heads over, in jeans and t-shirt, to open the door. A quick check of the peephole confirms blondeness, and she tugs it open. "Hey there." She avoids using the name in case Helena's going to use an alias. "Come on in."

The lighting in the apartment is subdued and largely indirect, lamps directing warm glows onto walls rather than directly into eyes. The music is comparably restrained, a Mozart clarinet concerto burbling cheerfully away in the background.

Standing in the kitchenette, adjacent to a boiling kettle, Ygraine's in the process of making hot drinks. Clad in tight breeches and a thigh-length, loose woollen sweater of voluminous size, she seems dressed for relaxation - though the thoroughly startled look she gives Helena upon recognising the new arrival rather spoils all her careful preparations to seem relaxed.

"Thanks, Jen." Helena says as she steps inside, and then, "Hey, Yggy. Long time, no see. Have they given away my locker yet at Alley Cat?" She grins a little bit, and looks at the two. "Please tell me I can impose on you for something to drink? Tea would be awesome."

Jen nods. "I'm on it. Ygraine, would you like anything?" Tea being one of the things that she can't just clone up, she moves to the kitchen to put on a pot of water.

"Normal, green, or de-caf? I think I've even got some Earl Grey, just to conform to stereotype, but that takes more preparation to serve properly", Ygraine responds on autopilot, brain clearly still somewhere back around the point where she first saw Helena in the doorway. "You're… you're Jen's contact?"

"Mmhmm." Helena doesn't correct the fact that kinda sorta technically speaking, she's Jen's head honcho. Her eyes flick briefly to Jennifer - if she doesn't bother to correct Ygraine yet, she doesn't want Jennifer to. "Normal's fine." She looks around for a place to sit. "Jennifer says you're looking to get into the movement here. Can I ask why? It's not like you're an American citizen. You can always go back to Jolly Ol'."

Jen hasn't given that much away…she only told Ygraine that Helena was a contact…and hadn't even named her. She's quiet, making the tea and letting the other two talk. "How do you take it?" she asks.

Ygraine laughs softly, albeit rather nervously, and reaches over to lightly run a hand down Jennifer's back, delaying her own reply to let Helena provide the prescription for her taste in tea before she responds to the question put to her. "I've got a reason or two to stay here…." Looking back to Helena, she shrugs slightly. "I came back to face down demons. I was here on the… the day of the Bomb. Came round two days later in a refugee camp hospital. I was lucky enough to be foreign - the UK government rounded up all its nationals that it could find. I was among those to be flown out, getting us off US hands. But…"

She sighs, taking a moment to pour some of the contents of her now-boiled kettle into a mug, turning to prop her rump against the counter as she stirs. "I left a fair bit of myself here. And I've always thought that when I got out of racing, as I'd have to do one day, I wanted to do something useful. Coming back here… that both let me - forced me to - face a load of personal demons, and let me try to see what I could do to help rebuild."

Looking up, she shrugs once more, though she now meets Helena's gaze levelly. "I'm an idealist. I was here in '06, working for the UN as an intern. I'm eccentric enough to believe in the rule of law as a tool to protect people, not control them. In power being a burden and responsibility, not a pleasure to be wielded to manipulate others or profit oneself. A major part of what helped me to trust Jennifer was that she's committed to aiding people. If I can help with that…."

Helena nods. "Lots of sugar, please." is Helena's request, and then she listens to Ygraine's answer. "Are you Evolved?" And if so, what can she do? That'd be the next question.

Jennifer finishes producing the tea, at the request. Again, still mostly silent, letting them have their talk. She hands cup and saucer to Helena, before moving back over near Ygraine.

Ygraine purses her lips, then pauses, pensively stirring her cocoa. After a moment, she upends the mug - the spoon quite visibly sticking out over the rim, though neither it nor the liquid within seem inclined to splash out onto the floor. Glancing up, Ygraine studies Helena's response for a second, then rights the mug once more and resumes stirring.

Helena cocks her head to the side, sticks her face up close to it, and lets out a little hmm. She leans back, regarding Ygraine thoughtfully. "Telekinesis, stopping time, or gravity control?" she inquires, hazzarding amongst what she figures are the possibilities for how the Brit pulled that little trick. And, "Thanks, Jen." She takes her tea, blowing on it gently.

Jennifer grins at the little demonstration, and chuckles. "Her ability is a little more field-useful than mine." She tells Helena. "You're welcome."

Ygraine manages to crack a slightly wobbly grin, slipping her spare arm around Jennifer to pull the smaller woman into a gentle hug against her shoulder. "Not cocoa-kinesis? Now that could be a fun power. No… this is more and less useful than most of those, and of far less… lasting use than Jen's. I've got… I've classified it as limited-range gravitokinesis. I _think_ that - if gravitons exist - I can flip their spin and orientation. I don't create or disspiate gravity, I temporarily alter its flow. I can re-orient an object's "down", setting it to be pulled to another object. But the range at which I can work is only a few inches, so… no funky Matrix-style super-leaps or the like. But I can let someone walk up a wall for a few minutes, or… I could really brutally mangle someone if they're dumb enough to grab me, especially near a vertical surface. That, I don't like thinking about too much."

Helena lets out a snort. "Jennifer, I'm gonna sock you in the nose if you keep blathering on about being useless in the field. You just need to think outside your box. As it happens, training is going to be getting an upgrade, soon." She looks to Ygraine. "I reckon you're not registered; what's more you may not be required to as a non-citizen. You understand what you're looking to get involved could get you deported if you're caught?"

Jennifer chuckles. "Well, we'll see what kind of training makes duplicating something useful in a fight. But I don't mind playing the support role, honestly. It's a way I can be handy."

Ygraine shrugs awkwardly to Helena, tightening her grip on Jennifer. "I've got faith in you", she says quietly, before addressing their visitor once more. "Or I could be disappeared for conducting espionage. But… I'm hoping that an international competitor and former employee of the UN's too high-profile to be buried off the books here. I'm aware it's a risk. But… believe me. I've no desire to be discovered. Or for the authorities to find out how dangerous this could be - not that I'm intending to be involved in _anything_ that gets people hurt, I should stress. But… some of what I wanted to do in life, I've already lost. The sporting authorities are making moves to ban Evolved from conventional internatioonal competition. Beijing this year was my last shot at an Olympics, unless Evolved categories are set up. That's my big sporting dream out the window, unless I want to compete as a cheat under false pretences - and risk jail if I get caught, when the drug-testing regime'll require me to submit samples after every major race anyway…. My racing career's over, it seems. Time to try to be useful now."

Helena cocks her head. "Let me be clear." she says. "We will not be striking civilian targets, and we will not be harming the innocent. But there will be occaision for violence, specifically in the defense of fellow Evolved, more specifically in the rescue of Evolved who have been taken by the government for use in their experiments - oh yes, it's happening, believe it. We're willing to work with those in our membership who don't want to fight - up to a point. There'll come a time when a line will be drawn and it may be every able body, Evolved or Non. Can you handle that? Don't make the mistake of thinking we're non-violent."

Ygraine frowns, though the expression seems pensive rather than angry. "I've studied terrorism", she says slowly. "And seen some of its effects with my own eyes. If you're to avoid being seen _as_ terrorists - and avoid the risk of members starting to become terrorists - you're going to need to fight to be as pristine as you can possibly be, at all times. I'd _like_ to be a pacifist - but I don't have the moral courage to be. So instead I've had a few dozen lessons in a martial art to make use of my strengths, and I hope I'd have the guts to fight to defend the innocent if I had to. If all you're after is another body in a posse, there'll be more useful recruits than me. But I might be able to help to make the violence as rare as possible, perhaps. I'm fully bilingual in French, in case that's ever any use - and my post-grad work, and the department I was with at the UN… I can study patterns of communication and conflict. Offer some possibilities for how things might develop, what might be motivating people's actions, beyond the obvious. Insight into how complex systems work."

A small smile appears on Helena's lips, but she doesn't give the thoughts that have prompted them voice. "Game theory." she murmurs, perhaps enigmatically. "As long as you're willing to bring it to the table when it counts. Has Jennifer explained the difference between PARIAH and Phoenix? Have you even heard of Phoenix?"

Ygraine shoots Jennifer a slightly surprised look in response to Helena's final query, then laughs and shakes her head. "She's been very good at keeping the secrets she's supposed to. If you're PARIAH, I'm out - I was at Saint John's, and I've heard of some of its reported activities from a few months ago. But Phoenix? No… not heard of them. Or it."

"You're a courier, so you've probably seen the firebird grafitti over the PARIAH stuff lately." Helena says. "PARIAH had itself a schism. Those of us who don't approve of the terror tactics became Phoenix. That's where Jen and I belong. That's what you're being recruited into. Savvy?"

Ygraine nods cautiously. "I'd seen the graffiti, yeah…. And… that makes sense. But expect me to be cautious. I want to end conflict, not get stuck into it. But if my brain's of use in that…. As for game theory, by the way, be careful how much stock you put in it. Some really interesting, useful theories, but a lot of what's written about it's total bollocks."

Again that small smile, but she says seriously, "You can't end conflict without getting involved in it to begin with. If you're not comfortable with that, then we may not be a right fit. But I know that Jennifer hopes that it is. If you like, you can take time to think about it, but I can't give you anymore information than I've already given you at this point. And I'm going to count on your discretion regardless of your decision, though I think Jennifer plays more into that, again."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "It's hard to think of any scenario that'd lead to me passing on what you tell me to the authorities. If you're willing to put up with a voice of caution, arguing for non-violent options, then I'm interested. At the very least, I can try to provide more choices than many people'll think are there. And maybe some ways of attacking our enemies that don't need any crimes committed."

"If it makes a difference, I was one of the voices urging Cameron - he was our leader before he was killed - to stop utilizing terror tactics on the general population." Helena says. "You'll be heard, but there will be certain actions that we'll be committed to as a group that will require violent effort. I won't like to you about that." She finishes her tea and stands up. "Thank you for playing hostess, Yggy. I do believe you should think about this, though. Tell Jennifer when you reach a decision, or let her know if there are questions you want passed on. I'll expect to hear from you soon. Alright?"
Ygraine holds up a hand. "Hang on - one question: what are your aims? What are you… striving to achieve? You split, in a stand against… terrorism in PARIAH. And you're fighting against the… oppression off the authorities. But what're you _for_? What're you going to build?"

"I'm sorry I don't have a handbook." Helena's mouth quirks in amusement. "We want to raise awareness and understanding that oppressing the Evolved is as much a wrong as what was done in World War II or any other period in which a class was seperated because innate nature. We want to free those Evolved who've been kept held by the government and other agencies against their will for little more than their genetics. And it's going to be a long road."

Ygraine quirks a wry smile. "People who lose sight of what they're striving _for_, or who never really had a clear idea at the start… they tend to be the ones who get caught up in fighting for its own sake, or just fighting to tear things down. I… wanted to be sure. And sure that what you were for, was something I could sign up to."

"Like I said," Helena says gently, tugging on her jacket. "Think about it. And let me know. Thanks again for the tea." With that, she heads for the door.

Ygraine musters a nod and a worried smile, holding Jennifer close as she watches her erstwhile colleague depart.

November 13th: The New TA
November 13th: The Morality Police Have Left the Building
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License