To Be A Star


mayes_icon.gif nadia_icon.gif

Scene Title To Be A Star
Synopsis Show business and politics have a lot in common, and it helps if you're pretty. The DoEA sign on the new face of Registration.
Date August 14, 2010

Suresh Center

The air is dry within the foyer of the Suresh Centre, although one only has to glance upwards, to the wide windows, to recall the sticky-humid quality to the late summer air outside, with an overcast sky capping the city like a lid. There is an attempt at an idyllic quality in the smooth white walls, the living, well-nourished plants that decorate the spacious cavern, comfortable furniture in a raised waiting area and an unharried receptionist currently on the phone. Despite this, the suffocating mood of a cloudy summer, the recent terrorist attacks that clamped down curfew, had the whole city uneasy, and the Suresh Centre is no exception.

Nadia has done a lot of waiting. When one is dealing with the government, it's probably expected. Fortunately, she has only just arrived here, into the confusing myriad of a building, and with no particularly recognisable port of rest save for the occupied receptionist or perhaps the waiting area, with auditoriums branching off by the time she's in the thick of the building's first floor. Two men wander by her, one in a white lab coat, both talking amiably with their arms brushing elbows in the intimacy of conversation. Somewhere, a class or a seminar has been ended, and a gaggle of young men and women briefly flood her on the way out. Everyone walks a little quickly.

It is quite nervously that Nadia enters the Suresh Center. She's been here once before, for a support group meeting with Brennan, but it doesn't make it feel less…tense, especially right now, after all that's happened recently. The young Moroccan woman is currently wearing a knee-length dress, professional but casual at the same time, with her hair held up in a loose bun. As usual, she has one of those scarves she loves so much draped over the back of her neck, hanging down near her knees with the hem of her skirt.

Fidgeting with the strap of her purse the entire way, Nadia makes her way to a receptionist's desk. As she approaches, she places one hand on the desk, offering a small smile. "Uh…my name is Nadia Ba'albaki. I was told to come here…" She glances around the building, watching the people as they walk about for a moment, before looking back to the receptionist.

The receptionist looks up at Nadia through the heavy set of her brow, elegant though it may be, tawny hair up in alligator clip, and says nothing for a few seconds before raising a hand apologetically. It becomes swiftly clear that she's occupied on her headset when words come out of her mouth not directed at Nadia, her hand directly her to wait one moment please as she negotiates the booking of a lecture theatre with someone who must be quite insistent on the matter.

She's rescued not a moment to soon, kind of, the herald being a clipclop of sharp heels on the floor, loudest of them all, and Georgia Mayes is a reasonably distinctive character in her houndstooth patterned professionally cut dress, figure hugging in a way that suits her well, for all that she's clearly in her sixties to judge from the deep lines etched in her face, the shine of naturally silver hair that sweeps above her shoulders.

Coming in from the outside, she brings with her the slight scent of cigarette smoke, mostly glossed over by strong perfume. Her grey-blue eyes are stormy and focused on the receptionist, ignoring Nadia entirely as she leans against the edge of the desk. Her painted nails gleam as she snaps her fingers like calling a dog, and the lady with her headset raises an eyebrow. "I'm expecting someone, so if they're already here, direct them— fucking Christ, are you listening to me?"

"Nadia Ba'albaki?" the lady enquires, tilting her head to the younger woman just at Mayes' elbow, and she glances, now, to Nadia, mildly startled.

"Oh, you're on time," Mayes notes in her crisp London accent, and, despite her heels, she is a petite thing and has to look up into Nadia's oval face, by a few inches. "Good. Fantastic. Come with me." And with that, she starts off for a stairwell, as if there was a devil chasing her and that devil is time, though her pace is a professional brisk stride.

Nadia blinks quietly at the woman who approaches, turning to watch the interaction with raised eyebrows. One hand goes to the fringe of her scarf, fidgeting with it as the older woman chews out the receptionist. As attention is called to her, Nadia offers a bright smile and a small wave. She doesn't really say much as the imposing woman snaps out the commands, turning on her short heels and following after Mayes. She's a bit on the quiet side, isn't she?

And like a whirlwind, Nadia is collected up as a leaf might be in a sudden gust of wind, one that carries itself for the elevators that arrive with enough timeliness as if fearing that they'll get barked at too. Mayes steps in, holds out a manicured hand so that the silver doors won't slide in on Nadia, before hitting the third storey button. Once inside, the older woman lets out a sigh, hand on a cocked hip, and when she offers a smile, it's disarmingly sincere in its kindness.

"Thanks for coming. I've only recently got myself set up here. Tell me, do you talk on command?" The doors slide open, to reveal a rather simple if sophisticated kind of office floor, heavily administrative. "And have you ever considered a career in show business?"

Nadia smiles over to Mayes as the elevator doors close, leaning softly against the rail. "Oh, it's not a problem. I can certainly talk on command, yes." She smiles winningly at the woman. "And…well, I never really considered a career in show biz. I'm almost done with my Masters in Architecture, and I'm a sculptor." She fidgets with the fringes of her scarf once more, offering a warm, sincere smile of her own. "I mean, I did always dream of being a star when I was a little girl…"

"What isn't told to little girls," Mayes notes, as she sweeps on out of the elevator with a small gesture for Nadia to follow follow, "is that there are a lot of platforms on which to be a star. Take politics, for example. Now there's some theatre, some smoke and mirrors." They don't pass by too many people, most quietly squirreled in their offices, and Mayes takes her, instead, to an empty conference room. The vaguely familiar appearance of Gerald St.James makes a brief appearance, the young man moving with a cellphone in his hands, and sparing Nadia a quick glance and a smile as he goes.

Mayes ignores him save for a quick check, before leading Nadia inside the room with its wide oval table. "Here's a better question," she corrects herself, moving around the table to check a laptop set out on it, attached to a projector which shows only a blue screen on the wall. "How fearless are you?"

She darts a blue eyed glance to Nadia, now, one silver eyebrow arching and an apologetic smile on her lips. "The Messiah terrorist attack is bringing about a new surge of anti-Evo sentiment. Or it will, just watch. We've got in a small flood of requests for accommodation on Roosevelt Island for their own protection against the nons that might find a place to put blame."

Nadia follows close on Mayes' heels, still fidgeting at that scarf. "Politics?" She asks of Mayes as she smiles and waves at Gerald St. James, seating herself at the conference room table. Then, her attention is focused on Mayes as she corrects herself. Eyebrows raise, and the girl runs a hand through her hair.

"Fearless?" She asks, tilting her head toward the woman. "Yeah…I'm pretty sure that will happen. It's happened before…people want somebody to blame. They blame a group of people for something that only a minority of them actually did." She leans back in her chair, crossing her legs.

Taptaptap, corral painted nails expertly takataka at the keyboard of her opened laptop, until the projected image on the wall flickers into the semblance of something. It's a frozen figure, a young black man in middle American clothing, poised to speak, a little blurry around the edges which has Mayes casting a disparaging look at the projector, but decides it's not ultimately worth worrying about. "And when they strike out, they strike out at visible targets. I want you to be visible. I do not want you to be a target."

Sitting down opposite Nadia, Mayes gestures towards the frozen video on the wall. "We ran this ad back in mid 2009. The Department of Evolved Affairs wasn't even established, but it was a good little effort on behalf of the DHS. Got slammed, heavily, for the fact they just used non-Evolved actors. It's a tendency of Evolved to not want to be visible."

The woman tilts her head toward Mayes, understanding dawning upon her features. Ohhh, so that's why they wanted to talk to her, of all people. Things are starting to make sense, now, more and more with each word that the woman speaks. She stares at the image on the wall, her fingers tapping on her chin. Finally, she turns toward Mayes, her brows raising slightly.

"So, just to clarify. You want me to be in ads like that guy was, because I'm an Evolved…right?" She tilts her head to one side for a moment, looking long and hard at the other woman, deep in thought.

"I think it might be a good start," Mayes agrees, with a pinched smile, but not an unkind one. Her hands are folded together on the smooth oak of the table, her posture like that of someone raised in the better known schools of her home country, even if her accent isn't as classy as the rest of her seems to be, edged with city London sharpness. "It's a simple thing, to read from a prompter. If that's all you'd like, you would receive a tidy pay cheque and a little recognition. A little security, if you feel as though you might need it."

Her mostly bare shoulders raise, freckles on her ruddy skin. "If you're amenable, perhaps a little touring. Public speaking. Photo opportunities. I'm the media breed of government organisation, what can I say. In return, we could find you accommodation on Roosevelt Island, should you want it — nothing will touch you on this island."

Nadia's brows raise at the offer, her head tilting to one side. She does fall into the category of not wanting to be visible, but at the same time, it's not as if she can't handle herself. And maybe — just maybe — this could be that thing she's been saying she should be doing. Something to benefit others, to benefit other evolved.

Plus, all of the extra incentive is quite helpful.

Nadia leans her elbows against the table, resting her chin in a hand. It's a big decision, this one…but why not? A small smile forms on Nadia's face, and she nods slowly. "I think that something to that effect could definitely be arranged." She offers a bright smile.

"Lovely. We have ourselves a starting point." Mayes angles the laptop back to herself, a couple of taps to the keyboard acting like punctuation. "I'll leave this with you and go get us something to drink so we can peruse the paperwork. Nothing fancy or complicated. I should ask, perhaps— what are your views on the Registry?" A glance is slanted Nadia's way, Mayes' head tilted enough to let a silver curl lay across her brow, with the distinct look of someone who just thought of something that they might have spoken about sooner, had it occurred to them.

The girl smiles, nodding slowly to the woman. Her question prompts raised eyebrows for a moment, before she smiles. "Honestly, I think it's a good thing. I've been registered since the Linderman Act first passed, when I registered down in Florida. I've stayed current since then, and I don't see what all of the big fuss is about. The only ones who have anything to fear from Registration are the ones who are doing things that shouldn't be done, anyhow." She beams up at Mayes. "I'm certainly a supporter."

And with that, Mayes rises to her feet, approval twinkling in her storm-blue eyes. "Thank goodness for that, all things considered. It's desperately worrying, some of the criticism we hear back at HQ." She doesn't cite an example, however, just hits one last key that has the lights automatically dimming, if not by very much — just enough to highlight the square of moving audio projected by the far end of the table. Mayes moves away at a slink, off to get paper work, maybe a tea set, and leaves the door open uniminously, the sound of a printer whirring almost as loud as the advertisement that plays.

It's a simple set up, a white background and midshots of various people: an older woman in conservative clothing, a younger, student-age girl in glasses, a young African American male in his later twenties, a white male in a denim jacket, and on and on. Their words overlap between cuts.

"I'm a mother of three, two boys and my little girl…"

"…study in Florida, philosophy and mathematics and I'm in my second year…"

"…a welder from Houston, Texas, and recently married…"

"…work in a predominant law firm based in New York…"

The shots move in closer on each one.

"And last year I discovered there was something different about me…"

"…I touch things, and they go colder, sort of…"

"…when I close my eyes, I can see into the future, I was scared at first but…"

"…and that was when I discovered I could fly."

They go silent, but the fading cuts continue, showing their varied faces as they stare directly into the camera. A voice over speaks, a neutral, empathic sounding masculine voice.

"Many citizens across our nation are facing a challenge, one we are all united in. The discovery of the Evolved is new and sometimes terrifying for so many of us, but together, we can overcome. Over the last two years, America has seen the devastation that can occur when an untrained, unknown super power goes wrong. If you are an Evolved, we encourage you to Register within at least two months of manifestation or ability discovery to prevent this from happening again."

The people within the frame start to speak again, their words overlapping, gentle smiles on their faces.

"It's my job to protect myself and everyone around me."

"It's my job to make sure nothing goes wrong."

As the ad winds to a close, the silhouette of Gerald comes to halt by the door and lean in its frame, peering in with a slightly amused smile on pale features, just visible out the corner of his eye before someone shoos him away again, his arms folding. A small wave from a splay of fingers, before he returns his attention to the screen.

"It's my job as an American to Register under the Linderman Act."

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