The Red


gillian2_icon.gif knox_icon.gif rickham_icon.gif

Scene Title The Red
Synopsis With the help of Knox and Rickham, Gillian trains with her abilities in an attempt to be stronger. Strong enough to survive.
Date June 26, 2009

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.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.

"Come on, it ain't that much further." Walking backwards with his hands in the pockets of his urban camouflage cargo pants, Benjamin Washington — better known as Knox — casts an almost playful look towards the two people following behind him. At his back, the towering concrete and glass tombstones of Midtown Manhattan gleam both brightly and dead-gray in the fading afternoon sunlight. "Ain't nobody goin' out here, so we'll be nice an' uninterrupted."

It is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

"Ben," Allen Rickham's voice is strained with impatience, "it's been an hour and a half since we left Catherine's place, don't you think you could at least give us something of an idea as to where we're going?" Perhaps a pinstripe suit isn't the most sensible attire for a trak through the ruins of Midtown, and odds are Allen wouldn't have worn the suit had he known where they were going. But, unfortunately, he didn't, and now he's dressed stylishly, and most of that style happens to be covered with dirt and dust from the crumbling cityscape around him. "Shouldn't you be worried about the radiation?"

Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress.

"Man, you worry too much." Knox notes with a crooked smile, "It's all about long-term exposure at levels as low as this. I ain't planning on drinkin' the water or whatever, so it hink we'll be fine. Long as I don't decide to, you know, start livin' out in these parts everything'll be good. We're far 'nough away from the crater."

In a world of stable populations where each individual must struggle to survive, those with the "best" characteristics will be more likely to survive, and those desirable traits will be passed to their offspring. These advantageous characteristics are inherited by following generations, becoming dominant among the population through time.

"Look, you said you wanted to help teach Gillian about your ability, right? Why do we have to be here to do it?" Allen looks around at the crumbling skyscrapers, anxiety about being out in public high, it's plain as day in the way he speaks. There's that fear, an undeniable one, that someone will find out about him here, and it will all fall down on his family.

This is natural selection.

Stopping at a parking meter, Knox glances from Allen to the woman at his side — Gillian Childs. "You know, you're right…" he leans against the parking meter, lips pursed. "But, you know what they say— " one second Knox is casually leaning against the parking meter, the next he's uprooting it from the ground with inhuman strength, swinging it with all his might at an unsuspecting Gillian, "experience is the best teacher!"

Survival of the fittest.

Unsuspecting being the key word, there. A dozen thoughts going through her mind, none exactly nice, the closer they get to the crater and the radiation, and they all act as a distraction. The sound of a parking meter ripped out of the ground snaps her out of it in time to look at him, but no where near in time to do anything that would resemble stopping it.

A heavy impact on her side knocks her several yards away, rolling on the broken ground of what used to be a street. The cracked rips may be healing even before she gets up to her feet, but the wind knocked out of her has to come back in gasps. "Fu— fucking— you— are— so fucking lucky— that I can regenerate!" She growls as she pushes herself up to her feet. There's some tears in her clothes from the rolling at impact, but the only visible would, a split eyebrow, heals over right before their eyes.

That could have gone better, but experience is a good teacher, especially when people learn from mistakes. And pain. "Do it again," she finally says as she gets fully upright, letting her hands drop away from the midsection where the parking meter impacted.

"Jesus Christ!" Allen shouts out, taking a step back from Knox as his skin reflexively begins darkening in uneven splotches before his footfalls sound like the thumping crash of an approaching bull elephant. "Be careful!" Rickham's voice takes on that steely quality, hematite eyes focused on nothing and everything around him all at once.

Swinging the parking meter around like a baseball bat, Knox grins playfully and hefts it in one hand before resting it over his shoulder. "I know you can heal, girl, you were talkin' about it before. Wasn't gonna' just break your face for no good reason. Been a long time since I met someone I could go all out on, y'know?"

"Wouldn't be nothin' if it weren't for ol' Allen here being scared of the radiation." Knox knows he's afraid, he's just wrong about what. "Man, alright girl, glutton for punishment. I ain't gonna' hold back this time!" Knox winds up, rearing back with the parking meter held over his head as he takes a few plodding steps towards Gillian, swinging the meter down on a swift downwards arc.

Not in the face, damnit! Gillian doesn't get much a chance to say that before a parking meter with super strength behind it swings down at her small form. She doesn't look particularly tough, at her size. What they don't see, in those steps, would be the way her body shifts under her clothing. Only in the moment before impact will it become visible on her hands, neck, face and hair. The last few days of going into the form as a kind of emotional shield gave her some schooling in turning it on.

A surge of adrenaline, a desire not to be hurt by the blow— really all it took. The parking meter impacts with the sound of metal on metal, a newly iron head. The stability and additional weight help her not move much, but the already broken concrete gives under her feet a bit.

Even if there's no flying, or yelps of pain, the metal face grimaces a bit at the impact, the sound that vibrates through her. But it doesn't seem to have really battered her metal face in. No major dents, though those could be some scratches on the surface… The parking meter might not fair nearly as well, though.

"It's a legitimate thing to be worried about— the radiation. Your testicles could fall off," she's cheeky in saying, even if the new metal form distorts her voice quite a bit.

The head of the parking meter simple explodes on the impact, showering the surrounding area with quarters, dimes and nickles. Knox staggers backwards from the hit, the vibrations in his arms agonizing from the look on his face as he clutches his hands together. "Fuck!" He hisses out, followed by a dry laugh from Allen. "Hey man, don't just stand there, give her something to be worried about!"

Rickham rubs one metal hand over his forehead, looking at Gillian with absolute amazement. "That's really good, your reflexes in bringing it up." He doesn't seem to have much intention at all to getting into a fight in his suit. "What else can you do, overall? It's been a long time since Knucklehead — " Knox grimaces at the nickname, "and I talked to you about your ability."

"Well, okay— yeah that's kinda' a good question." He notes, lips pursing together as he drops the bent haft of the ruined meter. "What'cha got under your hood?"

"Got pretty good at it the last week or so," Gillian says, though she doesn't comment on her reason for why. It'd been a fairly non-combative reason, purely an emotional defense. It's easy to not cry when in a form that's physically incapable of the action. Easy to fake emotion when there's no need to breathe to speak, and no heart pounding in the chest. What else can she do… "I'm not too good at doing a bunch of things at once— but I can move at super speeds, and control the weather, I can… replicate myself. Both physically and with these electrical mes."

As she speaks, she thinks back to the lesson with Peter, even if it sparks a certain kind of emotion. There's a spark of electricity suddenly pulls out of her, released. Rather than trying to stay in like that time, she manages to get it all the way out. A floating blue electrical form that looks somewhat like her.

The urge to vomit that had come before followed the first encounter in the alley doesn't happen. No stomach. In fact— suddenly she sees better all of a sudden. Two different styles of seeing data. One based on vibrations in the air, another more like what she'd been used to.

"Never able to get that quite right before— I have no idea how many I can handle at once. The guy who I got it from could do at least two… And I'm technically using a third all the time." Perfect memory is difficult to not use.

"Shit." Knox says with his eyes wide, staring up at the blue electromagnetic replicant. "Man, that's some seriously impressive shit, girl." Knox's dark eyes drift back to Gillian as he folds his arms, lips pursing together. "Back when I was in PARIAH, my man Cameron and I used to talk about trainin' our people, lessons n'shit, so I ain't entirely dumb on this routine. But, you can do more than one at a time, so…"

Allen follows Knox, one brow perpetually raised as the man's words trail off. "I think I see where he's going with this. If you've got all of these powers, then you either need to be able to learn how to use all of them at the same time, or call on them as fast as you can. Which means, if everything you told us is correct, you need to get your head in the right space."

Knox nods slowly, "My ability works on emotions, feeds off of them. You can feel the fear around us, make it your strength. Your ability prolly' ain't that much different from mine, in a way. You just gotta' feel the people that gave you those things, right? Then bam you've got electric death at your fingertips."

Looking from the replicant down to Gillian's metal form, Knox asks, "Make another you, then try and turn it to steel, like ol' Rick."

"I'm not sure it'll work that way," Gillian says, before she focuses in and out on the two of them. It's just like looking from one person to the next, but not quite. The electrical one looks at Knox, while her metal sight is focused on the one person who could understand what she means when trying to explain how awkward senses in metal form can be. "You're right on the emotion thing— that's pretty much how it works. Having a really good memory helps with it," and the request— is not an easy one to meet.

Even then, metal eyes close, even if that does absolutely nothing other than make her look like she's thinking. Replicate.

Two choices. And considering there are two men, one the guy who should be President! — she opts to open her eyes and rather suddenly punch herself in the chest, like Tarzan. There's a loud clank. Nothing happens.

A second clank. A third. Still nothing. "I might have to turn back first… I didn't have to change back to…" Bad idea. Bad bad idea. All of a sudden another something pops out of her body. This version of her isn't made of electricity. Instead she's butt naked and—

"Oh son of a bitch!" Why. Why did she think of that moment in the alley. The electrical replicant moves, darting a few feet away— until it's oddly at equal distance between metal Gillian and Rickham, as if tempted to fly into both of them— and the poor naked version, many tattoos including a Chinese dragon on her breast, a tiger on her stomach, and a funny triangular symbol on her butt… all visible to the world for a moment. His instruction had been to turn to steel with that replicant?

Well, at least she remembers it. While she tries to cover the essentials with her hands and arms, everything, including the essentials, starts to become a very detailed nude statue. That looks furious, an expression mirrored on all three faces. The adrenaline of being butt naked in front of two relative strangers might have helped.

And Knox has the audacity to just whistle after everything's said and done. Allen at least had the decency to look away, but Knox? Nah, he's staring, and laughing. "Man, girl, apparently you got all sorts a powers." That had to be a lewd comment, didn't it? There's nothing but a wide smile on Knox's face as he paces around Gillian, head tilted to the side. "Alright, that's pretty goddamned good, scary kinda good. I mean, what the hell we gonna' need two metal ladies and one lighting lady for anyway?"

Glancing over his shoulder at Rickham, Knox frowns and snaps his fingers. "Oh come on Rick, you know you seen it all before. Don't go all bashful old man on me now!" Allen looks up — to Knox — and furrows his brows, squaring his shoulders as a frown creases his metal face.

"You want me to play parking-meter baseball with you?" Knox doesn't answer, he just continues to grin — or perhaps that's more a grimace — and rub at the back of his neck as he eases away. "A'right, so we got three a'you now. Man's best dream, right?" Knox has been so much more laid back since getting out of Moab, so much more of an easy-going guy now that he has a new lease on life.

"Now I want all'a you to super-speed your asses somewhere and get me something to drink." There's a lopsided smile on his face, "Think you can handle?"


"I'm metal!"

"And naked!"

The two metal Gillians seem to be complaining, with mirror horrific expressions on their faces.

Electric her doesn't seem to be wanting to attempt speech, perhaps unsure if she's even capable of it, but she has the mind to spread her electrical hands out and make little sparks, as if to ask 'how exactly would I carry a drink?'

The one that isn't naked makes a step, a couple of them, but they're relatively slow in general, nothing facy at all about them. Certainly nothing approaching super speed… The second one moves as well, though being a nude statue with good details means she's still trying to cover herself up some. Little success in either case.

The electrical one, though— when it moves, it moves extremely fast, speeding away in the blink of an eye. Speed of light and all that. Not exactly what he'd had in mind, though. It doesn't even zip out of sight, because, really, how is she going to carry a drink?

She's stomping around, trying to find a way to compare the moment with Richkam of the Future— or even this moment with him right there— and her meeting with her brother, some way to combine both. The problem might be the fact that she'd not had perfect memory until after she got both abilities, and hasn't seen the super speedster since. "You know— if you're that thirsty…" the sound seems to be coming from the naked one. The sky darkens, the air shifts, and suddenly it starts to sprinkle, and then rain. Clean rain, luckily. But as the rain falls something else happens. A mental feedback she'd not expected as the electrical replicant, not too far away, catches the edge of the sprinkles.

The mental feedback makes the iron forms stumble, even dropping to her hands and knees in both forms, and a painful groan of sorts under the surface of the metal. And the short lived rain shorts out, and the replicant rushes back, sparking, unstable in what rain it got, and disappearing into one of the two metal bodies. Luckily it went straight for one of hers, and not one of theirs. Maybe that's two powers that don't mix well.

Both Knox and Rickham stare in wide-eyed wonder at Gillian at the speed the electrical replicant moves at, eyes tracking the blurry-fast motions as best as they can. This, admittedly, didn't go quite as Knox had planned. Rubbing at the top of his head, he glances skywards and stares up at the clouds, brows furrowed tightly. "Man… okay so, you kinda' got me some water," he says with a laugh, "that counts, that counts, thinkin' outside the box, girl?"

"Alright, this is ridiculous." Allen runs a metallic hand across his cheek. "I think what you have is too many things to focus on, multiple… you's not withdstanding." He paces closer to, keeping his eyes down on the concrete. "It's like anything, spread yourself too thin and you're going to screw yourself. You should try picking a few abilities you can mimic, ones you know really well, and just— go from there. Take those core abilities, and train them the damned best you can, until they're like walking."

Rickham's focus shifts to Knox, "This sort've nonsense isn't going to get you any better, it's just going to get one of us hurt."

"Or all of me… god damn," Gillian mutters, before both of them demetal, visibly wincing in response to the everything that'd been going on. The one with clothes still on even has to heal scrapes on her face from the exploding parking meter. It's the naked one that recovers more quickly, walking over to touch her own hand. "Fuck— rain plus electricity equals fucking headache of doom." Not only that, once the color has returned to her skin, she's looking paler than normal, sweating visibly, and overall looking weakened, something she'd not felt while in metal form at all.

But in order to do what she needs to do… she's going to have to be stronger. Stronger than the both of them.

"Okay…" she suddenly manages, taking the poor naked replicant and absorbing her back into herself again. No more naked Gillian to gawk at. "Seen enough of that, you jailbird," she says in a tense and raspy voice, but not metal. "Switching might be easier than using them all at once." In order to get stronger, she's going to have to sweat a little. A hairtie is pulled out to pull her hair back. "We'll keep trying until I get super speed to work— and then, maybe see if I can go metal mid-run."

It sounds cool in her head, even as the headache lingers for a bit longer.

"Metal mid run?" Knox looks over to Allen with both brows raised, a huge smile spread across his lips. "Allen, my man, I think I just figured out how to turn a girl into a cannonball." His arms cross over his chest, lips pursed in thought as Allen hangs his head and rubs one metallic hand over ihs brow slowly.

"I'm going to stay like this… the entire time," he decides with a reluctant and hollow sigh, "the last thing I need is Abigal having to put my insides back where they belong again."

Knox glances over at Allen, smirking, "Okay, he's scared again!" Dark eyes flick over to Gillian, and Knox slams a closed fist into an open palm, "Time for round two."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License