The Banks of the Acheron


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Scene Title The Banks of the Acheron
Synopsis Greek myth.: One of the five rivers of Hades, Acheron is the 'river of pain', and the river across which Charon ferries the dead (at least according to Virgil). By extension, it is also the river across which those who visit the realm of the dead return.

Having finally called out for Richard Drucker, Hana finds that the outcome of the battle that incapacitated her wasn't as bad as she feared… but it isn't much better than that, either. The reunion, perhaps predictably, is less than joyous.
Date February 24, 2010

Grand Central Terminal: Hana's Quarters

Morning starts not with breakfast, but with stretches; with warming up her muscles, testing, pushing their limits in a controlled and watchful fashion. She isn't impatient enough yet to let frustration eclipse caution; operative word being yet. The little box Hana currently calls her residence — inasmuch as anything is — is a poor space for real stretching, its confines too close, too cramped, even with the cot folded up and set against a wall. But neither is she yet interested in joining others outside for breakfast; company isn't her strong suit.

Besides, the technopath is still listening.

Just outside of Hana's living quarters, in the adjoining concrete hall strewn with old sweating steam pipes and water manes, a radio sits plugged in on an old metal shelving rack next to a dilapidated carton of cigarettes and a bucket of paint thinner. There's an odd variety of garbage and tiny treasures down here in the lowest sub-levels of Grand Central station, and the old battery-powered radio has probably sat mouldering in these passages for decades.

It's one of those simple treasures, though something that unfortunately sees little use due to the lack of available radio signal this deep underground. Most of the time all it plays is static when some uninitiated passer-by tests it for life. Maybe that's why the batteries have been working for as long as they have, or maybe it's just in the hopes that it'll find a use down here. One of those idle curiosities kept in the event that — barring use for spare parts — it might have a higher purpose.

When the radio crackles and splutters, then begins spitting out something resembling music it seems an unlikely sign of life. The gently plucking guitar, and the warbling voice of Billie Holiday comes as an echoing melody down those concrete tunnels. The song, entitled 'Crazy He Calls Me', is a jazz classic from generations past. It also, conveniently, happens to be one of Richard Drucker's favorite songs.

Which perhaps makes it no surprise that the sudden transmission of that classic song over the radio is appended with a largely unfamiliar trinity of voices in Hana Gitelman's head.

You call, we answer.

Though never promptly, it seems.

She pauses in her motion as the radio begins to play, raptorlike tilt of her head oriented towards the door, the hallway hidden from sight beyond it. The sound is identified, considered, classified faster than words might be formed: no hazard. The conscious thoughts, concerns, which follow on the heels of that instinct press Hana's lips together into a thin line.

Rather than complete the stretch, Hana straightens, letting her arms drop to her sides. She busies herself with picking the cot back up, unfolding it, draping the associated blankets back across its surface in nitpicky attention to precise detail. I didn't call for a we, the woman responds, a semantic distinction she wouldn't have made before — not even if both T.Monk and R.Ajas had responded to such a summons.

You did. Is the frustratingly terse response that initially echoes in three-part harmony inside of Hana's mind. But you did not realize that is what you asked for, when you made the summons. You called for the man who once was known as Richard Drucker, and that is who answered your call, in part. The radio crackles and pops, the female singer's voice echoing in the hall more background noise now than anything prominent, juxtaposing fifty year old music against the digital existance of modern day ghosts.

When the voice rises back in Hana's mind, she can pick pieces of sounds out of it like layered wave forms in an audio file. She recognizes all three, perhaps unfortunately so; Drucker, Micah, and her adversary that nearly killed her with that technopathic virus— the Behemoth. You seem to have fared well, despite your condition when last we were in one another's subjective presences. It's heartening to know you've retained yourself. As opposed to what seems to be the case with this amalgamation.

Heartening. Hana feels anything but that, for her part, as she weighs the digital voices — voices — against one another. Against their words. She sits down on the cot, since it is conveniently close, completely wrecking the neat perfection of arrangement that has just been achieved; it was only a way to fidget. And in what part is that? the woman asks, completely disregarding the second half of — its — statements altogether. She manages not to raise hackles at the adversary she is a long ways away from forgiving, which says more about Hana's preset fears than her tact.

No answer comes, not even a delayed one. Perhaps, at the heart of Hana's pointed question, Drucker is afraid to answer; or another part of him is too closely guarded to offer it. Why did you call? is succinctly asked instead, a short and quick cut to the point of the matter which seems so very Drucker, especially with the evasiveness layered atop. Even if the question is an evasive one, he could have not shown up entirely, so there must at least still be some familial loyalty left in there, or at least the illusion thereof.

No answer is given; and Hana's eyes narrow. Rebel isn't there to see the way her gaze sharpens, but he knows her demeanor well enough, and its intensity can be read in the snap of her response, the stab of sharpened words seeking weakness. Answer the question, she retorts, rising to her feet again in a gracefully explosive motion; denied the immediacy of physical confrontation, Hana paces, lioness constrained by too-small a cage. What part?

Mathematically, one third. That wasn't quite the way Drucker would have worded it himself, but it's a mutually agreed-upon answer. Does it matter? We are all, as individuals, molded by the ideas and concepts of others. Albeit less directly, the concept of a sculpted self wrought from the fundamental teachings of other persons should not be a foreign concept to you. We are all products of our environment, and ours simply happens to be an unusually complicated one.

Verbosity aside, the signal in Hana's mind seems determined to push the topic aside. Why did you call? is asked again with a frustrating level of patience, like the way someone patronizingly handles a small child by the hand around a difficult to understand subject.

Her pacing draws to a halt as the entity's reply filters in, and Hana closes her eyes again. Her lips twist in a bitter, humorless smile. If you contain so much of him as that, she replies, as much of a whisper as digital communication allows, answer your own question. It contains elements of the snide retort — you're so smart, figure it out yourself — but more than anything, the statement, the challenge, is a test: prove yourself.

The challenge is responded to with silence, save for the radio's quiet crooning in the background. Eventually, and with consideration, the response that comes doesn't seem wholly satisfying. You were angry. It almost seems like an accusatory tone that's been taken, as if to imply it's always about anger with her, even if that wasn't the case. Must we play this game of words? You wanted something, otherwise you would not have called, and we answered because you are — in part — family. Once more, in part, and perhaps that wasn't intended to be delivered so tongue-in-cheek, and yet it seems to be.

You needn't be so hostile, we're not your enemy. The uncomfortable plurality of this conversation doesn't seem to be coming to a close any time soon. We never have been, and never will be. Except for the part of them that was, which makes this all the more tangled.

No, Hana replies. No, now I'm angry, she answers, although she isn't really. Anger is fire and fury, or the biting chill of ice; not this leaden bitterness. Because they — were — family, Hana allows it one concession. I was worried, she states, with the crisp bluntness that makes the statement into a darting blade. Thank you for answering. You can go now. Uncharacteristic as it is, the words — even the thanks — aren't a courtesy; aren't meant as politeness. It's a dismissal, and an outright verbal shove: Go away. Now.

Again she's left with the radio, with the sound of that music slowly losing cohesion and fading back to static pops and hisses. A shove, in any language, is a very simple means of stating the fact of disapproval, even in as much binary complexities that these two entities share. When Rebel does formulate an answer, it is more distant sounding than before, as if space had somehow been placed between the two, despite it not working that way.

When you come around… he begins in typical fashion, …I will be waiting.

That time, for Hana Gitelman, may be a very, very long time from now.

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