We've Had A Few Riots


trask_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title We've Had A Few Riots
Synopsis Ygraine tracks down her favourite cop. He's laconic. She's idealistic. He volunteers to try to find yet another missing person for her.
Date March 25 2009

The Surly Wench

A punk rock pub through and through, The Surly Wench is dim, cramped, and incredibly popular. It's a small, rectangular venue with a bar bordering one entire wall. Despite this, ordering a drink on a weekend can be an exercise in line-waiting and rib-elbowing. There are a few small tables ringed with high stools for seating, but these are prime real estate. The majority of the patrons are forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on any given night. Almost half of the cramped interior is devoted to a low stage for live music. There's no dance floor. If you feel the need, you'll have to thrash in place.

Back in the pub for the second time in one day, Ygraine can't help but chuckle to herself as she pushes through the door and starts towards the bar. Now, admittedly, it's a good deal more crowded than it was on her earlier visit, forcing her to peer to and fro among the patrons in search of the man she's agreed to meet here…

Trask is at the pub, he actually has put on a lot of muscle weight since last you saw him, and has a few more scars, he is sipping on a drink already.

Having paused at the bar to snare a glass of something dark, Ygraine soon thereafter locates Trask - offering him a somewhat relieved smile as she emerges from the crowd. Hooking a stool out from beneath his table with one foot, she lowers herself onto it, raising her glass in a toast as she runs her gaze over his face. "Your health."

Trask chuckles and shakes his head. "My health yes…and all that goes with it How are you?"

Ygraine takes a long sip, then cradles her glass in her hands - but continues to study Trask as she does so. "I have the impression that I might have been leading a rather quiet life, compared to you. You've been in the wars, even since I last saw you laid up in hospital…"

Trask nods, "We have had a few riots…some other problems…I spent some time on Staten Island."

Ygraine winces sharply, offering Trask a distinctly worried frown. "It looks like it was as hard on you as the news reports would suggest", she says cautiously.

Trask shrugs, "I don't know…the news…lets just say I havn't watched much tv lately. I am sure the other night made front page, at the food riot though.

Ygraine sighs and nods once more. "I'm sorry. I've hauled you out, and begun pestering you with questions. I was… I was worried, to be honest. I know we never saw much of each other, but I hadn't heard anything from you since I left you in hospital with a miniature cactus for company… and I bumped into Dr Miller earlier today, and he said that he'd not seen you for a long time, either."

Trask nods, "I was missing for a while…under cover kind of in the cage fighting ring down in Staten Island. Just got back on duty recently. Its just been a hectic few months, since the curfew started. My girl friend was apparently beside herself.

Ygraine winces once more, gaze again returning to the new scars upon his face. "They sent you into the cage? No - I'm sorry. I really shouldn't ask for details, I'm sure. And… I can sympathise with her. I'm worrying about what you must have gone through, in a past tense. I hope that things are okay between you now."

Trask says, "I think so….better then they have been ever maybe…or maybe they are just…different. She is very hard to read…not…traditional.""

Ygraine lifts a brow, then chuckles. "I'd imagine that she'd have to be… open-minded to cope with things like your recent… job. I'm glad that you're happy together."

Trask says, "Yes well she is a cop too, Liz is incredible." He shrugs and takes another sip of his drink, "How are you doing? I am sorry I havn't checked in lately."

Ygraine blinks, then chuckles once more and cocks her head. "Liz? Would she be the one who answered your phone, back in December, and told me where to find you? I geeked out at her - I was flustered, finding myself talking to a total stranger - but she didn't mind. Even said she liked me. So I can say that I approve, what tiny amount of contact I've had with her…."

"As for myself…" Ygraine shrugs slightly. "Stressed. Worried. Trying to look after my fiancee, and avoid getting caught up in any of the trouble. People are just… dropping of the grid, leaving the city, falling out of contact. Hence starting to make some efforts to re-establish contact with those I can, or at least those whom I think might not object to hearing from me."

Trask smiles, "Yes that was Liz, she's a detective on the Scout Squad. You said people are dissapearing, people like who?"

"She's in SCOUT?" Ygraine sounds both surprised and impressed. "I suppose I never asked what she did for the police… not that I've ever been clear quite what your role was…. Ummmm. Disappearing? I don't want to give the impression that I'm filing a missing persons report, but… people I used to see around, I've not seen in ages. Even someone who lived two floors below me seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth. I went from being someone she turned to for advice and promised to visit more often to… well. No contact at all for weeks. But…" Ygraine shrugs awkwardly. "I'm scared that I'll fall into the trap of thinking that everyone's disappeared if I simply don't hear from them for a while. After Cat and Dani, and, well, you being out of touch because you were badly wounded in hospital, I mean."

Trask smiles, "I can do what I can, if you know thier names I can look around a little. I heard about Dani…I am sorry……" He looks away a little, "I hope someone finally got that Es-Oh-Be who did that."

Ygraine musters a weak smile. "In many ways…." She shrugs slowly. "Actually, I'm not sure I want to know the details of why that happened… but…." Taking a long sip, she offers another shrug. "The one I'm most concerned about is a young woman by the name of Colette. She's troubled - but not in the "euphemism for shop-lifting junkie" sort of sense of the word. She desperately wants to be strong enough to face the world on her own, and… I'm scared she might have tried to - and done so at a time when everything's… as it is. She… she's spent the time since the Bomb looking for her sister. The last conversation we had, she told me she thought she'd found her. Then… nothing."

Trask nods, "Her father is a cop isn't he? Jacob something as I remember…or is this a different Colette?"

"Judah, I think. Dempsey. No, Demsky, sorry. Two floors down from me, at any rate. I've… dropped by a couple of times to ask, but haven't caught him in, and… heck. I've chickened out of leaving notes or answer-phone messages. How the heck do you say "hi! Either your daughter's missing, or she doesn't want to talk to me. Could you please tell me if you're grieving, engaged in a man-hunt for her, or if I've simply somehow lost her trust?" Ygraine offers another of her rueful shrugs. "I'm worried about her… and worried that I'm worrying without any cause. After all, if she's found her sister… no need for the temporary surrogate any more."

Trask nods, "I know…I am sorry…I wish I could do more…I will look into Colette Dempsy for you.

Ygraine chuckles softly, ducking her head. "Every time I see you, I'm worried about someone. Though I promise that these last two times, my worries have in large part been about you yourself."
Trask chuckles, "I get along….it is a hard world out there, everyone needs more people to worry about them.

Ygraine chuckles once more, flashing a swift smile at Trask. "Thank you. I bet that when you came to poke around Alley Cat, you didn't expect to end up being pestered months later by a random Briton…"

Trask says, "What is wrong with a random Briton? I wish I could do more to help you though."

Ygraine shakes her head, smiling again. "You already do more than you have to - and more than many people would. I'm quite sincerely grateful."

Trask says, "So can I buy you a beer?"

Ygraine blinks, then laughs. "Sure. I hope that you earned danger pay for your undercover work, at least."

Trask says, "Not exactly, but I am comfortable….it is just good to be back."

Ygraine nods warmly. "I'm glad. When… when did you get back?"

Trask says, "About a week ago, it have been very…difficult."

Ygraine nods again, that worried frown returning to her brow. "You're… fully healed? You're going to be able to stick to normal duties for a while?"

Trask says, "Yeah…..though last night was not exactly good on the recovery."

Ygraine winces. "You were caught up in the rioting?", she asks nervously. "I… I admit I'm glad that I wasn't out making deliveries anywhere nearby…"

Trask nods, "I was there…..it was not a pretty sight on any side."

Ygraine shakes her head, gaze dropping to the remnants of her drink, which she swirls around the bottom of her glass. "I… can imagine. Fear's such a dreadfully effective motivator for people to do stupid, violent things…"

Trask says, "Fear seems to be all this city has anymore."

Ygraine looks up, offering a rather lop-sided smile. "I hope not. Things don't always turn out for the worst. All too many people see fear as a route to power, unfortunately… but there's still some hope. A few lights in the darkness."

Trask says, "yes but can we fan those flames into a fire, or will the go out like a cry in the night?"

Ygraine blinks, brows rising. "I'm not sure there are too many locals who would want any foreigners fanning flames here. There's enough paranoia about American citizens, without people from the old colonial power sticking their oar in… but I'd hope that the lights don't dim any further. I've not yet found a way in which I can really do much to change people's minds - to help them to embrace hope. After half a year here, I'm still delivering parcels as the best thing open to me to do that. Help to get people talking and doing business again - help them to treat this as one city again - and perhaps they'll start to return to more normal habits in other ways."

Trask smiles, "Do what you can…you know I tihnk you brits are more hung up on the colonial thing then we are. "

Ygraine shrugs slowly. "It doesn't need to be a very high percentage of people who respond poorly to make you aware of it. One loud bigot, sadly, tends to outweigh the impression made by ten people who don't care either way. If they didn't… we wouldn't be having this discussion, after all. The proportion of people who have a deep-rooted belief that the Evolved pose a dire and immediate threat is really pretty low… but they're very loud about it, and they're gradually persuading people that they're in a majority. That, in that dreadful politician's phrase, "all right-thinking people" support their own extreme stance. As an Englishwoman in Scotland I grew up with it - my awareness of my own identity came about as a result of the hostility my accent provoked in a minority of the locals. That most people didn't care did not, in some ways, matter - I became self-consciously English and "different" because that was how I was defined in the aggression of others. At present, the same cycle - with rather more serious consequences - is taking place here, albeit with different names being bandied about."

Trask smiles, "You're a bit of an idealist, do you know that?"

Ygraine chuckles softly, cheeks colouring a touch. "I'm a foreigner who returned to the city after being caught on the edge of the Bomb. Even if you take that as a sure sign of madness, I'd guess it hinted at idealism - or masochism, I suppose. But… yes, I'm an idealist. I'm an academic, a dreamer, a nerd. Sadly, the fruits of my imagination and the products of my mind aren't really wanted. In my post-grad work, I was one of many studying the nature of conflict - but had we been learning how to supply and profit from it, our employment prospects would have been infinitely higher. There's power and money in conflict - and precious little bottom line for politicians, bigots, ratings-chasing journalists, or big business in peace. So learning how to try to do something positive about a bad situation remains the field of dreamers and idealists, while stoking the fire…."

Trask says, "Stokeing the fire is the job of inncents and victims I think. These days too many die for too many reasons that….don't make any sense."

Ygraine offers a sad little smile. "Do they ever really make sense? Virtually all conflict comes down, in the end, to fear and a desire for respect. When people feel threatened, they tend to respond in predictable - stupid - ways. I can predict the styles of response that are most likely to arise, describe the reasons for them having done so when they do… but unless and until people are willing to think before they act, there's precious little I can do. Even those who do put some thought into things almost always do so once they've already decided to respond in a particular way - people almost never examine whether their goals might need rethought. Conflict in an organisation - or a society - can be like a cancer, with new instances spinning off to take on a malevolent life of their own. And the defensive responses of the body politic all too often simply serve to make the situation much, much worse."

Trask nods and leans back, "Maybe i am just a simple cog in the wheel, but I doubt I can do much about the machine."

"As a cog of some relevance, you can do far more than most. Idealistic dreamers aren't let loose on "practical decision-making", even in supposedly-idealistic organisations. Academic knowledge of this sort of thing is seen as even more suspect, on the whole - after all, it's obvious what needs to be done, who is to blame, and so on. It just happens to be equally obvious to all the serried ranks of disagreeing participants in the conflict…." Ygraine shrugs gently. "You, however - you're at the coal face. Yet you retain enough clearly-visible awareness of the implications of what you do that in the course of that first interview-over-breafast you were clearly something - someone - unusual. You don't simply follow orders without thought or see your only task as being the regular collection of your paycheck. A cog you may be, but as a self-aware cog that acknowledges the broader implications of its activities… you can shape quite how you operate. There are almost always nuances to action even when there aren't clear choices, and there are choices far more often than most people ever realise. I'm not saying that you can change the world on your own - but you've got the potential to do more good than most people in this city ever will."

Trask says, "I do what I can…but I am not super hero, no great warrior for truth justice and the American way, just a man, with no special powers who tries to do the right thing.""

Ygraine chuckles softly. "I'm a Brit, remember? I'm not exactly wholly sold on the "American way" business, anyway. I doubt that I could have this conversation with too many all-American boys. But… the point is that this is unlikely to be solved by any single person doing something startlingly heroic. It's conceivable that it might be, but… it's far more likely that what's required is a slower change. Overcoming bigotry and stupidity takes time - and it takes people doing the right thing time after time after time so that the morons and fools finally take notice and start to emulate something sensible instead of following those who would like them to dance to a different tune. And as someone whose actions can have very tangible consequences for those with whom you deal, you can have a greater social impact than most."

Trask smiles, "You make it sound so important….you make me nervous that I won't be up to the task.

Ygraine shoots her companion a rather sceptical look. "Now you're teasing me. I very much doubt that anything I can say would induce more fear than the things you've already faced. But… thank you for hearing me out, at least. Precious few people are willing to even listen to the suggestion that there might be some… non-conflictual approach to things. That, or as soon as I've got a sentence out, I get told "we have to fight to defend our rights" - whether that be Evolved, mundane, American, or whatever else the speaker's adopted as their cause celebre. I'm… grateful to you for putting up with my wittering. And I apologise for bending your ear."

Trask grins, "feel free to bend it anytime, you have a lot of good points, and you feel passionately about it, which is important."

Ygraine laughs softly, shaking her head. "Thank you. It's… it's just frustrating. I've found people, from time to time, who seem to sincerely want to change things for the better - but they're already wholly caught up in the conflictual mind-set and paradigm. Government agencies, concerned citizens, civil liberties groups, and frightened Evolved alike are all too often organising as if for a war - but if that is the only thing you prepare for, then that's the only set of options you're ever likely to take. When confronted with the threat of future strife, you need to consider your choices more carefully, not less. Yet the instinctive response is to try to act "decisively", and to be sure that you consult only those you trust. Of course, that tends to mean that leaders are assured that whatever first comes to mind is right - and those rare disagreements they have tend to merely lead to the removal of "problematic" or "disloyal" advisors…."

Ygraine polishes off the last of her drink, shrugging once more. "That's part of the reason for people with practical roles being so important in the realm of ideas. People who propose an alternate approach won't be let near the field… but people already there can bend or work around or imaginatively interpret rules and orders, and let other possibilities show through in a way that is less likely to be taken as a direct challenge to the leadership's authority."

Trask smiles, "Everday Heroes huh?" He shakes his head, "I will do what I can.

Ygraine chuckles softly. "No one who cosniders themself "in charge" is ever likely to listen to a mere academic blathering on about how they shouldn't trust their instincts and should seek to involve those who disagree with them in the decision-making process, so that they are exposed to as many options as possible before reaching their conclusions…. But hero-cops doing right by the world make good press copy. And if people read about it or hear about it, then ideas can enter the field of play without the need for a nerd to be anywhere in sight. Even those leaders who are heavily invested in conflict can find themselves under pressure of popular opinion… but I really have bent your ear enough about this. I shouldn't try to pour the results of all my study into your ears in one go."

Pushing herself to her feet, she cracks a grin. "Want that next beer? My round, in payment for putting up with me."

Trask smiles and nods, "You can buy if yu want." He settles back, "Is there anything I can actually for for you?"

Ygraine blinks, then offers a low laugh. "You've put up with me thus far. That counts for a lot. And… if you can confirm that Colette's safe, I'll be grateful. One less potentially-lost soul to worry about would be welcome…."

Trask says, "I'll see what I can find out. I know Liz is friends with Judah's partner."

Ygraine lifts a brow at that, then nods. "Small world. Now… wish me luck in surviving the trip to and from the bar…." With a wink, she turns and plunges into the press of bodies filling the floor of the Wench.

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