huruma2_icon.gif keira7_icon.gif

Scene Title Untouchable
Synopsis Two people get to know each other at the market.
Date September 2, 2018

Red Hook Market

The Red Hook Market resides within the gutted shell of Textile Factory 17, a turn-of-the-century mill building that once served as the headquarters of New York's FRONTLINE civil defense organization. Miraculously, the building survived the civil war largely unscathed except for the total collateral loss of its electronics to the EMP that ravaged Manhattan. When the building was reclaimed by Gilbert Tucker in late 2015, it was remodeled with the intention of turning it into a central community hub for the entirety of the Safe Zone. Today, the multiple above-ground buildings serve as meeting halls, council chambers, offices, and storage rooms for the Safe Zone Cooperative. The basement levels, a labyrinthine maze of brick corridors, vaulted storage spaces, and small nooks, have become the sprawling home of the Red Hook Market, an open-air bazaar with free admittance to every Safe Zone resident. The market features pop-up vendor stalls, a single bar called the Red Hook Tavern, and food vendor stalls. Be sure to visit Eleanor, who has the best coffee in the safe zone at the corner in the main square.

Late in the day the market tends towards a healthy population, and the aura of the place is generally just more- open. Despite everything that goes on around them, this place is one where Huruma knows she can always find her fill of open books. Literally, figuratively. Both work. Her ability is a gentle, invisible cloud around her, those pale eyes on a recently bargained book, tall frame deftly maneuvering her past market patrons without much of a glance.

Even with a plain canvas bag over her shoulder and dressed for the humid summer in a just a plain tank and capris, she is still hard to mistake. The book in her hand gets filed away in the bag for safekeeping, traded out for what looks like a paper shopping list. Huruma’s brow furrows when she skims it.

If there is one thing that Keira doesn't miss about the way her ability used to work, it's the need to cover up every available bit of skin to avoid accidental transformations. On hot days like today, staying cool would be impossible if she wanted to go out and about.

Not having to kill people to take their faces would have been nice, but trade-offs have to be made sometimes.

The shapeshifter is dressed in a pair of super short cutoff shorts, with a black top that consists of little more than a halter top with straps that wrap around her midsection. Her eye patch is black with sparkles, because of course she has to turn her gaping eye hole into a fashion accessory. The remaining eye is roving about, perusing the selections on display.

That roving gaze stops on Huruma, recognition blooming in the woman as she spots her Uncle’s tall friend.

“What does that even…” Huruma mutters to herself, somewhere between confusion and amusement, one side of her mouth ticking up, brow still knit. She turns the list on its side. “Ah. Hn.” Her breath huffs outward, and she scans the next few spaces of merchants lined in the market. Once she spies what she is searching for, the tall woman makes a beeline for the stall. It carries her closer still to Keira, such a relative unknown that Huruma remains unbothered.

The table is a popular one, it appears. Candlemakers make a mint down here, and this one even sells spools of wick and oil lamps. Huruma could absolutely muscle her way in. If she wanted. She kind of does.

The reminder to be polite has the dark woman disgruntled and patiently waiting her turn.

She could probably just walk on by if she wanted. Huruma would be none the wiser and Keira could go on with her day. But she never had a problem with the tall woman, and she was close to her Uncle, so perhaps she feel a obligated to show herself.

She slips closer to the tall woman, quietly taking a moment to examine her — Huruma is an impressive person no matter how you look at her.

After a moment, she clears her throat. “Um…’scuse me. Huruma, isn't it?” Keira keeps a respectful distance — candles aren't on her list today, but they could be handy to have around in a pinch.

The line at the stall is slow moving and prime real estate for starting a conversation. Keira clears her throat, and Huruma's eyes draw sidelong before her face turns, pupils sharpening on the other woman at her name. Mentally looking to place her now, Huruma feels a slight sense of familiarity- - but fails to pinpoint it. Her eyes give a slow blink, fingers idly folding her list back to a pocket.

“Yes, it is.” Huruma measures Keira’s current state, anticipating some sort of shift once there's confirmation.

The silence that trails after is an unspoken question of ‘who is asking’.

Thankfully, Keira can read cues fairly well. The woman smiles faintly, one hand raising to push her hair away from her face. “You were there the first time I met Uncle Ben…back before we found out he was my uncle and not my dad.”

A pause. “Sorry. Keira Ryans. Used to go by my mom's name, but the Fionns never really cared much for me, so I figured I'd take my dad's name.” Ah, the long lost neice.

“Reminds me I need to visit my Uncle again soon,” is mentioned as an aside to herself.

Huruma's head cocks visibly towards Keira fully, the glint of her eyes curious. Keira, yes, the niece. There was a nephew too, wasn't there? Information dribbles back from memory creep.

“Ah… hm… were you blonde then?” Narrowing her eyes, Huruma studies Keira's face longer, ability prodding gently. “So you took your father's name.” She repeats, a smile sprouting over her lips. A mix of fondness and something a touch more wistful. The latter turns into a smooth laugh. “You could do much worse than becoming a Ryans.”

“And yes… You should. See him.”

“I was blonde, yes.” Keira seems…content, for the most part, at least in regards to her uncle. She cares about the man, and honestly views him as the kindest of her family. When mention of her father comes up, there is still a bit of turmoil, though it has been stamped down by a sort of melancholy resignation. “Still haven't met my dad, but Uncle Ben has been good family. The Ryans Family has one up on my mom's side.”

She's not sure she is much of a credit to the Ryans family in her line of work, but it feels good to introduce herself with her dad and uncle's last name.

“Last time I saw him, he made me stay for dinner. I feel like I should bring something next time.” Thug though she may be, sometimes people just want to feel like they belong to a family. Even if one of her cousins probably hates her. “So how are you doing? I never really got a shot to talk to you.”

Judging by the pleased little look Keira gets, Huruma must approve of her logic in the name. It does make sense.

“A fine idea, that.” She should definitely take something next time. Huruma rolls one shoulder in a shrug, brow lifting. “It happens. The world was a different place. Your uncle and I were often occupied with other problems… and I am sure that you had your own reasons to be scarce.” Now it’s a new day, and a new place. No better time to try that again.

“Much better than the last time you saw me, I expect. Life remains a tumult, of course, simply in different ways than before. But to give you a certain answer: I have my complaints, but I am well. As for you, you seem… healthy. Well, for the most part.” Huruma lifts a finger to tap herself lightly under her eye, a gesture pointing out the more obvious change.

“Yeah. I was in Mexico during the war — helped out when and where I could.” Keira nods quietly, dipping her head toward the ground for a moment. “Found out that the slice test gave me a false negative, and I'm actually an Evo.” It isn't the PC term, but old habits die hard.

The attention called to her eye — or lack thereof — prompts a little flare of dull rage. She's still mad about how that one happened, it seems. “Yeah. This one is a story for the ages.” She lifts a hand, tapping the eyepatch gently. “You probably wouldn’t even believe it,” she adds, a grimacing smirk etched into her features.

“Or you would,” the tattooed woman finishes, shrugging. “Emile Danko isn’t dead. He’s also Surprise Evo, just like me.” She watches Huruma’s expression. “I tried to kill him. Instead found out that he healed. Then,” she says, “Eileen Ruskin turns out to be Not Dead too, and she ripped out my eye and rescued Danko.” She’s definitely telling the truth.

One might see why she’s mad.

False negatives themselves are not exactly uncommon, especially years ago when the tests were imperfect. Huruma studies Keira and the shift of her emotions to darker things. She is about to say ‘go for it’ when the young woman does just that.

The resulting tale earns an arch of brow, and a more intense look down the planes of her cheeks. It's not a tall tale, exactly. Huruma's eyes narrow somewhat, thoughts of candles and lamps pushed aside for the time being.

“He is not one of us. Was not.” Huruma amends her words quietly. That one- - it's not really hers, is it? In some ways. “I knew Emile Danko.” Past tense. “They are not who you think they are.” It may not be what Keira wants to hear, and Huruma's reply comes rather gravely.

“Whoever he is, he and his Eileen are shitbags,” Keira replies, frowning. She would like Eileen’s eye, but barring that, she wouldn’t mind seeing the two of them dead. Or at least hearing about it from Richard.

Speaking of, “An old friend of mine says that they’re the Horsemen.” Keira frowns at the mention of this. “I think they’re up to no good, but I don’t really know much about that shit. The old friend keeps me pretty in the dark about things.” She crosses her arms.

“Sorry,” she finishes, peering up apologetically at Huruma. “I’ve been more focused on the human traffickers on Staten, really.”

Huruma does not remark on the validity of ‘shitbags’, but she certainly gives Keira an assessing look. That’s fair.

“Horsemen. Pff. What a funny way of saying invasive species.” The dark woman wrinkles her nose just a touch, mouth thinning. “They have their own agendas, but I would not necessarily say it is ‘no good’. I am not completely oblivious, though…” Huruma has said more than one useful thing, at least. It’s a small consolation for curiosity’s sake. Keira’s next mention earns more of her own focus.

“Not just Staten, let us be ‘real’.” Her jaw clicks once, cutting a sound of irritation that is followed by a ‘tch’ at the back of her teeth. “How I wish I could go hunting and not have to worry about a thing.” These days she has things like responsibilities, and reputation, and all that lovely garbage. “Not that Wolfhound isn’t already mostly vigilantism…” Huruma’s words edge into a low laugh.

A small snort and a large amount of approval comes at Huruma’s mention of invasive species, the woman bobbing her head in agreement of the assessment. “I am, unfortunately, completely in the dark when it comes to their agendas. My old friend hasn’t told me much.” She clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, watching Huruma thoughtfully, a curious look glimmering in her eyes.

“Wolfhound, no shit!” She grins. “That’s pretty awesome, I’ve heard things about them.” She tilts her head to the side. “If they need anything that’s more difficult to get ahold of through traditional channels, I’d totally be willing to help.”

She has a lot to make up for, in her mind. “I have resources and I’d love to help.”

Normally, Huruma would just indulge someone on this, but the honesty the offer comes with earns another considering look, pale eyes sharp. Mm.

“Oh? Not to sell you short, but we do have methods…” Between Raytech and whoever else- - Wolfhound does alright. Huruma pulls out her phone and pops open her contacts, tongue against the edge of her teeth and voice a drawl. “But,”

“I believe intel-sharing may be more up your alley, in this instance.” The tall woman holds the phone out for Keira to see the number on screen. There is a general intake email too. “Take this down. It will route you to us. You can speak to Major Gitelman or Avi Epstein. They would be better able to assess… just what you can offer.” To help.

“In the meanwhile… stay focused on your other good works.” And do not engage the Horsemen, presumably.

Eagerly, Keira takes down the contact information. Crime Lord though she may be, the little tattooed shapeshifter still feels like she needs to make up for her checkered past — for being angry that she wasn’t special like other Evolved Humans, and for acting on that anger. And what better way to make up for such actions than by offering to help out an organization that is dedicated to hunting down war criminals and the like?

Somehow, she’ll make up for it — though she’ll probably never live it down in her own mind.

“Thank you,” she replies, grinning up at the much taller woman. “I will.” Not that she does good works, she’s still in charge of many criminal activities…but at the very least, she does have a problem with those who do much worse than she does.

Better works. Even if not good. Just opportunistic.

“You feel guilt for something.” Huruma’s gaze hoods under her eyelids. It is not a question. She goes one step further, the ink if her pupils dilating in her study. “Do you seek atonement? Or are you atoning already?”

Oh yeah. She does that weird thing. Keira fixes her blue-eyed gaze on Huruma for a moment, brief fear flickering at the edges of her mind — does she know? That quickly fades, however, as Huruma makes it clear that her knowledge is vague at best.

“Already working on it — been working on it since the war. Don’t have anyone I answer to, though, just myself.” She tilts her head to one side, studying Huruma thoughtfully. “Which is why I’ll probably be trying to atone for the rest of my life.”

She shrugs nonchalantly, as if it’s really not a big deal that there’s this thing she feels guilty enough over that she will be atoning for it until the end of her days.

Even with the fear coming and going, there’s no indication of what, precisely, Huruma knows. Chances are that Keira will be fine. It won’t stop curiosity, though.

“A trying thing, atonement. It can weaken you, or it can make you stronger. There is a fine line.” Huruma offers this as if from experience. “I am tempted to ask more into it, but… family gets a pass.” She flattens her lips, words somewhat teasing. Keira is extended fam, of a fashion. Her voice lowers just so, easing into a drawl. “Try not to become obsessed with your guilt, Keira. Apathy does not feel like it suits you, either. Temperance seems like it may.”


It’s still not something that Keira is entirely used to having — let alone good family that treats her well. Sure, she has her mother, who seems to be trying to make things right, but Keira doesn’t trust that family — she probably never will.

She smiles, a feeling of warm belonging passing through her, before she clears her throat. “Long story short,” she replies, “I was part of a group that your employers created your job to exterminate — briefly.” She purses her lips slightly. “Found out that most of my family is Evolved, and gave a bunch of names to a little red bird before skipping town to Mexico.”

To most people, that would be vague, but Keira’s sure Huruma understands most if not all of it. She’s certainly not proud of her former associations, even if she was in over her head. “Did what I could to make up for it. Found out I was slice, too, and started doing more.” She reaches up, rubbing a hand along the back of her head, pausing to idly fidget with the strap of her eye patch.

It certainly wasn’t the Institute she means- - Huruma was far too embedded there and saw nothing of her. It leaves so few other choices.

“Ah… so that is why you were tangling with Emile, is it?” Both brows lift in a somewhat taunting question, lips curling into a smile. The thought of little red birds keeps it there. “I think that when it comes to effort, you are on track? Names for Richard likely had him taking steps- - “ A pause, just to make sure that she is correct- - “Going against former comrades, fighting the scum on Staten… all very redemptive, and god knows that I have a soft spot for redemption tales.” Huruma’s laugh centers in her chest, eyes bright.

“How did you find out about yourself, if I might ask?”

“That would be why, yeah.” Keira grins sheepishly. “S’also how I found out he’s Surprise Evo.” She lets the implication lie there. “And yeah, I’d like to think that I’m doing good with effort, if nowhere else.”

Because she is still a criminal, she’s just a more benevolent one than most. She likes her crime, but she doesn’t like the human trafficking going on around here, nor does she like the apparent motives of the Horsemen.

“That one,” she laughs, “is a little embarrassing.” She chuckles. “Was, essentially, having a bit of fun with a lover…found out on accident that I can turn into other people.” There doesn’t seem to be any indication of a demonstration — her clothes are too tight and it’s a bit inconvenient to shift into taller, bulkier figures in the middle of a market.

“He wasn’t my lover any more, after that. Not that I blame him, I would probably have a similar reaction in his shoes.” She grins.

“My ability works a little different now, in any case — for a while, I couldn’t touch anyone else without turning into them. Doesn’t work that way now since Sasha Kozlow got his hands on me, though.” Huruma will sense some very mixed feelings about that statement — a little bit of anger, a little bit of relief, a little bit of guilt, and a lot of amazement.

“I think I can see why that would be a turn-off.” Especially but not limited to her social circles. Huruma seems amused by the tale, though. That amusement gradually turns to puzzlement, voiced lightly. “Kozlow, hm?” Last she knew… he did not do that. The world is a strange place.

The mixed feelings earns more care, compared to history. Abilities are even more personal, if that’s even possible. If Keira wants to share that too, she will. Huruma nods once, listening to the shift of emotions. And because it seems fair:

“Physical changes sound quite taxing.” Huruma starts, gauging the younger woman’s attention. “Psionic abilities perhaps not as much. I am an Empath, since we are sharing.” Tit for tat, and now Keira has some of those blanks on Huruma nicely filled out. It answers several questions.

“Yeah. Not sure how, but I went in with a broken back and a missing eye, and came back out with a different ability. Thought it was gone at first, until it showed back up.” She’s not even tempted to reveal how her ability works — she told her best friend, and then her best friend disappeared. Now, not even her boyfriend knows — and she’s fine keeping it that way.

Also, she apparently nearly lost her ability to walk along with her eye. How she’s walking around fit as a fiddle is anyone’s guess.

“The changing isn’t too bad, really. It kinda feels neat — though I take on any discomforts that the faces I wear might have.” She really isn’t all that fond of her Kevin face, for example, because man does he get winded easily. Vernon is old and comes with aches and pains — really, Carl is her only enjoyable face. Young, spry, and strong. “My eye growing back or going away is weird though.”

The mention of what Huruma is prompts raised brows and a nod. “That makes a lot of sense. Pretty nifty, it sounds like.” She grins up at the tall woman.

She could totally get used to having this awesome lady as part of her family.

A broken back? Mm. Huruma files this away for later, flashing Keira a smile when one comes at her.

“I can imagine that is not a sensation you can describe to someone else.” She doesn’t want to think about her eye disappearing and reappearing. Pop? Or like a balloon? Huruma shakes her head at nothing in particular. “‘Nifty’? If that is the word you want to use. It is a little more integral to my life and sanity than that. You overestimate my normalcy.”

Whatever she was going to add next falls off of her lips as the stall clears up a bit; Huruma angles in to take a space left behind by departing customers, eyes moving to wordlessly invite Keira along. Once she gets up to the tabletop she slides over the list in her hand to one of the dealers, who starts a tab and begins to do some gathering.

Quietly, Keira falls in next to Huruma, idly peering over the table. A few things are added to her own shopping bag, all paid for with a generous tip on top. She might be a criminal, but Keira is generous with the money that she does give out — possibly why her little slice of the crime world is viewed as one of the better organizations to work for by many.

“It’s really not something that can be described, no. Neither can suddenly switching genders. That one is weird, too. Adjusting how you walk is difficult sometimes.” She gestures at her slight, willowy frame. “Walking as a man is uncomfortable if you don’t do it right.” Apparently she speaks from experience.

“I probably do overestimate your normalcy. I can’t really imagine what it’s like, feeling what other people feel…crowds must be difficult.” Keira idly examines a candlestick, before turning to peer up at the woman. “I know when my ability was involuntary, crowds were terrifying. Easy to get lost in, but frightening all the same.”

Another thing to file away, apparently her ability is entirely voluntary these days.

Keira's remarks on having to adjust her walk gets a heartier laugh from Huruma, the sound playful in her chest, punctuated with a flash of teeth in a grin.

“That is one thing I do not envy…” It has got to be weirder than the eye. Huruma's feral smile eases, and she retains a more amused expression as she continues. Her voice softens with the croon of someone interested. “Crowds used to be difficult, absolutely. I have had a lifetime to learn how to manage.” She gives a nod, exchanging with the shopkeeper and coming away with a canvas bag packed full.

“It is more a blessing than a curse, but knowing what people feel even before they have time to quantify or verbalize… it remains a double edged sword. I may not hear thoughts, yet what I see is so much more raw, and real. A thousand eyes and a thousand ears. A thousand hands on the heartbeats of what makes us human. “

“You don’t know the half of it.” Keira grins, watching the taller woman with a small smile. “The hormone changes are interesting, too. There’s way more difference between male and female than you’d ever think.” It never really occurred to the tattooed gangster that she has a very unique outlook on gender, being able to be either or. She’s sure the other genders are interesting in their own rights.

When Huruma goes into what it is like to have her ability, the one-eyed thug tilts her head to one side, fascination blooming in her mind. “I never really thought of it that way. You get to feel the raw essense of every person you cross.” She ponders that one for a moment. “Most people conceal their emotions, both positive and negative.”

She thoughtfully taps her chin. “I don’t know if I could handle that one, really. It must be intense.” Huruma can likely determine that Keira, at this point, holds her in the highest of respect — right up there with her Uncle and her brother. And maybe Caspian.

Hormones. Eugh. Huruma had enough of those already, she wouldn’t want to shift completely like Keira needs to. Must take a toll on the body, that. She looks a little sympathetic, mouth tight. At least the explanation of her own lets Keira move onto something else- Huruma can appreciate the interest.

“I have not found many people who can conceal themselves from me. Negators, very strong psionics, power mirrors… Masking how you feel on the outside is one thing… fundamentally, however, hiding thoughts is much different than hiding your emotional existence.” Huruma rolls one shoulder in a shrug, stepping back from the booth to let the next people in.

“It can be intense, at times.” Pale eyes follow Keira’s gestures, the rest of her seeming pleased, to some degree. “There are downsides to feeling everything. I used to be able to push it all aside, blind to it. In recent years… less so.”

“I can only imagine,” Keira replies, slipping back along with Huruma and quietly watching the customers come and go. “I’m sure you’re at least used to it, though. Like, you’d probably feel naked without it. I spent years unable to touch people without at least briefly flickering into the same shape. Felt weird when I could suddenly shake hands with someone without worrying that I would scare them and tear my clothes in the process.”

So many torn articles of clothing.

“I’m sorry, I hope I’m not keeping you from your shopping.” Keira suddenly realizes that she has somewhat glommed on to Huruma at this point, like a fascinated five year old. She can’t entirely help it — it’s rather nice to have family ties when you never had them before.

“Without it, I am a worse creature. A thing of instinct and hate.” Huruma notes seriously, taking ‘feel naked without it’ to an entirely new, haunting level. “Your cousin Lucille had something of the same, for several years. Her ability shorted out in some way and had made her unable to come into contact with others. It recently healed completely, though we don’t know why that is. Still,” Her brows lift, lips curving in a smile. “You and your cousin have something in common.”

“If you hadn’t, my afternoon would have been less interesting.” A shrug moves through her shoulders, posture at ease. It’s kind of a compliment, right? Huruma does, however, peek at the clock on her phone. “I came early, anyway. I may have a date later, so finishing my list was all that I had.” Her hand jostles the bag slightly. “Done.”

Keira brightens at the comparison to her much nicer and much cooler cousin Lucille. She hasn’t really gotten the chance to get to know that particular cousin, but the little interactions she’s had have been much less intense and combative compared to her cousin Delia. “That’s pretty interesting to know,” she replies, smiling. “Maybe it’s a Ryans trait.” Or something like that.

“Same here. It’s been nice to get to know you, Huruma.” She smiles up at the woman. “I hope you have a good date. If you need food,” she adds, “I have a connection for some good stuff.” As in she runs a black market grocery store to make up for the food shortages. “I can find stuff like bacon and steak.”

“Untouchable? Maybe. Depends on the touch.” Huruma taps at her temple, smirking down at Keira. “I am not wanting for food, but you could always offer the same to someone like Lynette Ruiz.” She doesn’t require the good stuff all the time, even if it’s nice— but the Benchmark can always use essentials. “Rochester does me well enough when I am there…”

“I hope I have a good one too. I will see you around, hm?” Possibly more than before, that much is clear.

The shapeshifter nods up to Huruma, smiling. “I’ll keep that in mind,” she replies, nodding toward the taller woman. “It was really nice to see you and finally talk to you.” She’s probably much more agreeable now than she would have been back when she first met her uncle, in any case — time has definitely helped Keira Ryans mature.

“I’m sure you’ll see me around, yeah.” She nods in agreement — whether through her uncle or if she ends up involving herself with Wolfhound, she’s sure she’ll see Huruma more often. One hand is raised in a farewell. “Good catching up!” And with that final farewell, Keira makes her way back into the crowds, a smile on her face.

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