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Scene Title Values
Synopsis Alister and Hana disagree on what they should be.
Date August 24, 2012

Broken Bow, Kansas

The midwest is not any place that Alister has any desire to be, especially shipping out here with the Ferry to fight a bunch of anti-Evolved rednecks who decided to go full militia.

It's after their initial conflict, in the middle of the main street of a small town that is very much on fire, that Alister Black has decided to take certain liberties.

He's in a pair of dark green camo pants that he acquired at some point, with a white tanktop and some black combat boots. Very much unlike the style of dress he usually has outside of a military conflict. But he's quickly caught onto many things, and one of those things is that war is cruel, war has no compassion, which is how he can be in some instances.

Like this one.

While the Ferry are saving civilians who were caught in the conflict of an armed militia deciding to start knocking down doors to drag known Evolved out of it, Alister has other plans.

He starts to grab the bodies of members of this militia, taking his combat knife, beheading one after another, and sticking their heads onto poles he's stuck into the grass. "If the Evolved aren't human to them, they won't be human to me." he says with his hands and arms entirely drenched in a mixture of both wet and dry, crusty blood.

When it comes down to it, Hana despises conflicts like this, where the battlefield encompasses homes and streets and the tableau of everyday life, where the tactics of the aggressors boil down to terror, massacre, and genocide. There is an inherent, indelible ugliness to it that sticks in her throat like the smoke and dust hanging in the air, lingers in her ears like the cacophony of gunfire and shouts and screams coming from all directions. Much of her adult life has since been subsumed in shadows and secrets rather than blood and fire, but some things never fade, they are only set aside for a time.

It is visceral, bone-deep indignation that has Hana striding what seems nearly halfway across the conflict zone when she overhears reports of just what tactics their supposed ally has chosen to adopt. Hana is worn and weary, her olive drab pants and shirt stained by dirt and blood and oil, a streak of grime cutting across her cheekbone and her hair flattened damp with sweat. Her hands are free, gun holstered, knives absent from view — but the furious energy coiled in her frame could change that state at any moment.

"Just what do you think you're doing?" she snarls as she closes in towards Alister.

The words are like so much noise in the face of this particular horror. This part of Nebraska wasn't supposed to be an active theater of war, it was supposed to be a pit stop to take advantage of the allied triage center at the Melham Memorial Medical Center. That's now a block away and on fire, a thick plume of black smoke and glowing embers rising from the east over the rooftops of residential buildings.

They weren't supposed to find a fight here, and yet…

What the fuck,” is all Colette Demsky can manage as she moves down the street a few paces behind Hana, assault rifle relaxed across her chest. There were so many bodies in the street they hadn't noticed the heads on spikes until they'd swept down this far. The fighting had mostly stopped by now, though distant pops of gunfire indicated that perhaps the peace was isolated.

What… the fuck…” Colette whispers again, looking up to a piece of sharpened rebar sticking into the ground, slathered in blood, with a gaping human head impaled atop it. She looks away, lips parting and a sharp intake of breath steadying her stomach. The smell in the hot summer air was thick already and they hadn't been sitting up there long.

Down the street, Epstein and Harkness are conversing with local military and allied militia fighters, trying to figure out what happened here and how the fighting started. Colette walks backwards a few paces, enough to make sure Avi still has line of sight to them down the street, then pivots around to follow beside Hana.

By the time she comes into Alister’s view she doesn't look like much. A skinny, dark-haired girl just out of her teens in a battered flack jacket over a muscle shirt to avoid the heat. Bare arms glisten with sweat, her brow too. There's blood on her cargo pants, but it doesn't look like hers. It's all over the bag she carries over one shoulder as well, that bares a ubiquitous Red Cross symbol.

"These people, they think nothing of the Evolved. They'd massacre us, well, I suppose it's just you now, ten times over, commit atrocities beyond our imagination. They should be instilled with fear." Alister pulls out his handgun and aims it at one of the heads, firing straight through the eyes.

"What exactly is the value of these lives that see no value in ours? This is war. They should know what will happen to them when they come knocking at our doors." He puts his gun away, staring down at his hands. "I often feel sympathy for the weak, the poor. They can't help their circumstances, they weren't raised to be vicious predators like the rich. Sure, the poor prey on each other, they have no choice. The rich prey on each other, and the poor, because that is simply the life that they choose to live. I feel no sympathy for the rich."

He points at another one of those heads on poles. "Just as I feel no sympathy for any of the poor who would make the active choice to commit genocide. I feel no sympathy for predators. Predators will be met by super predators and learn their place in this world's food chain."

Finally, he turns around, facing Colette and Hana, taking on his most pompously rich tone possible. "That is, as you so eloquently asked, 'what the fuck'. That is what I'm doing. I apologize for the general lack of grace I'm displaying at the moment, I've never enjoyed filth. I need a bath that is probably not coming any time soon."

Hana's lips curl in a snarl as the man spouts — it might as well be nonsense. There is no justification she recognizes in his statements, nothing that approaches valid reason for indulging in atrocity. "You. Will. Not." she declares, long strides eliminating the distance between them, staring up into his face with furious intensity, hands clenched white-knuckled at her sides.

"This?" she hisses, jabbing a hand towards the mounted heads, eyes sparking. "This is not an act of war. All it is, is cruelty that plays into their hands." She turns, irate energy carrying her through an arc that ends facing him again from a short distance away. It's either pace or hit him, and hit she may yet. "This will not even bring fear, Black — it will not stop anything!" she declares with an energetic sweep of hands.

"Anger. Hatred. Vengeance. Those are what you will reap." Hana bares her teeth in the very antithesis of a smile. "I will not have it."

Colette is tense where she stands a few paces behind Hana, the turbulent emotions she feels herself reflected in Hana’s vitriolic outrage. A nervous look is fired back to Avi, still several houses down and well out of earshot of the conversation — and sight-line to the atrocity on display — to be of any help. Instead, she edges closer to Hana, making sure to keep her rifle pointed down at the ground in an unthreatening manner. She struggles to remember the de-escalation training that had come along with her triage role.

A small crowd of onlookers gathers at the fringes of the argument, many shell-shocked residents while others are volunteer fighters keeping their distance and looking on at the grisly display with vacant expressions. Many of them had seen enough violence to be unable to feel at the sight of the impaled heads. Some others are looking away, others transfixed with hand clasped over a gaping mouth.

"You won't have it, but when they parade your head through the streets, they'll have it. They'll make their supporters, their soldiers, feel empowered. They beheaded the great Hana Gitelman! If I had my ability…" Alister stares at the heads, squinting his eyes in absolute disgust and hatred. "I've become nothing, just like them. A lowly creature who fears other lowly creatures, like a common cockroach. But do you know what I've realized?"

"A gun!" He draws his gun, aiming it at one of the heads, but he doesn't fire. "A gun is just as powerful as any ability. A gun can kill a telepath, a gun, a well-placed shot or two, or perhaps three or five, can kill a regenerator. A gun can do anything! But do you know what guns couldn't do?" He puts his gun away again, and looks back to Hana and Colette. "A gun couldn't cure their ignorance, but putting them down did. It cured the world of their ignorance. The ignorant should fear, they should seek vengeance, because I want them to line up and be systematically shot, just like these 'militants'."

He looks Hana cold in the eyes, still entirely lacking in empathy for this act, not a shred of guilt or apology. "I won't tarnish your reputation by doing something like this again, but this future that you seek, this future where the Evolved somehow live in harmony with humanity, and hold hands, and no one resents anyone for anything… you won't have that. What you can do is wield their fear, but you're too wrapped up in blind idealism and a false sense of practicality."

Throwing his hands up, he laughs. "The greatest technopath in the world, they call you. You could still be a god, despite everything, but you want their respect, their acceptance. I am now one of them, I have no choice but to earn their respect and acceptance now, but you…" he shakes his head. "You could have so much more. You could have had so much more a long time ago. But that ability is wasted on you, like so many abilities are wasted on idealists who want to live in harmony with mankind."

"Perhaps it's good that I no longer have my ability…" There's a serious frown, now. "I could have shown you godhood, but I don't think you'd have appreciated the gesture. You'd turn your back on that to continue pursuing goodwill and a pat on the head for doing the right thing."

He turns around now, starting to walk down the street. "Your people are what matter. Unfortunately, I am now a mere human, after this war I'll have to fend for myself. And you'll continue to play pretend, like you're less than what you are, like these lives on these poles actually matter."

In another circumstance, Hana might — might — see fit to laugh in the man's face, he's that far off-base on what she wants, what drives her, what compels her. In yet another, she might argue with him, staking out opposite poles on a spectrum of ideology that still both begins and ends with blood.

In this circumstance, it's obvious both that no length of debate will ever bring them into agreement and that Black is backing down. Given that, Hana merely fixes him with a narrow-eyed stare, her mien resolutely forbidding, unperturbed by the disparaging condescension cast her way. The megalomaniac can blow however much hot air he wants so long as the end result is that he walks away.

He does, and Hana lets him go, despising the necessity of it, the exigencies of all-out, open war. People like that always come back to haunt you later.

"Demsky," she says as she watches Alister retreat, as intent as the lioness she has sometimes been compared to staring after escaped prey. "Tell Epstein I need his hands. You organize a burial detail."

There is grim recognition in Colette’s tense expression as she watches Hana work through a response. But she's already moving back as she forms a response to the order. “Yes— yes sir,” Colette flashes a quick look at Alister with wide, nervous eyes, and then starts hustling down the street toward where Epstein is still talking with residents, boots clapping on asphalt the entire way.

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