2007-07-28: Lions, Meerkats, And Underground Railroad?


DFDaphne_icon.gif DFJane_icon.gif DFMcAlister_icon.gif DFClaudine_icon.gif DFStefanie_icon.gif

Summary: The owner of the Bronx Zoo and two residents converse inside the compound and are approached by someone with an offer.

Dark Future Date: July 28th, 2009

Lions, Meerkats, And Underground Railroad?

Bronx Zoo, New York

She's never without her guards anymore. People call her paranoid, and to some extent, it's a front. She's literally the crazy cat lady for all intents and purposes, because, well.

Following a few paces behind her are two adult male lions.

She doesn't smile much anymore. There are scars - not severe, but they're there, marking her face and arms from run-ins with her own animals as she was coming to grips with this aspect of her ability - full control. Once upon a time, it was a moral issue. Now it's just about survival. At least the zoo is kept clean, the paths are swept, the atmosphere is nice, if not a little stale. There are animals everywhere, though, none of which are in cages.

One of the people resident in the zoo now is returning from an excursion to some place beyond the perimeter. Some things about her are the same as they had been two years before, at least apparently; Jane Forrest still carries a guitar case over one shoulder and a backpack over the other. But, given the state of things, can anyone be sure an instrument is in there or something else entirely? Her clothing, likewise, is similar. Dark colors are favored, and shirts featuring rock stars on the front over boots or athletic shoes.

Where the difference lies is in her demeanor. The eyes are hard and searching, showing a haunted quality which mixes with anger and loss. Her face is gaunt, she's leaner of frame. Smiles are mostly a thing of the past for her also.

At the perimeter she stands and waits to go through whatever security procedures are required to get in and make her way to the Boondock Saints HQ.

At current, the security detail?

About forty meerkats.

Much more effective than one would believe. You get past the meerkats, you get cobras. However, the meerkats and the snakes both seem to accept Jane as part of the pack, so to speak, and while beady little eyes will glare at her from positions around the gate through which she's entering, none will actually attack.

It's very quiet. Pigs inside the gate - with some of the best noses in the animal kingdom, sniff for explosives, fear - anything that shouldn't be there. People do come in and out with explosives, sure, but those are always checked over by a real person, while the animals detain said entrant.

There are a few people who can make it in and out of the zoo without inspection. Daphne is one of them. Members of the Saints are usually subject to scrutiny, albeit much less so than other visitors. Jane should get by with no problem - and as she does, Daphne's approaching the gate.

Sometimes? It's /all/ about the popcorn. Where she got it - best not to ask, maybe, but a big tin of carmel corn is a hell of a hit with the youngsters about … and that pigmy marmoset seems to be indulging too.

Ali, looking ratty and unwashed, has taken over a chair near one of the concession stands (BE A PEPPER, TOO! still stencilled on the side), pawing through, of /all/ nonsense/, a massive pile of what looks like cracked CD cases. She whistles - "Satisfaction" from the sound of it, as the tin of bad-for-you popcorn near at hand is shared out and devoured.

After waiting while the meerkat guardians spot her and, she thinks, verify who she is by scent, Jane walks forward steadily. Her eyes focus straight ahead, she doesn't deviate from the path toward where her friends and associates take shelter within the compound. Her thoughts drift while moving, back to one of those Terminator films she saw when the world was a better place. When she'd been mostly fresh from law school and eager to start her musical career in New York, before that first shattering scream. She doesn't show fear to the animals.

There are still a few supplies lingering around the zoo. They have to feed the animals, after all, which means they need to get large quantities of food from outside the zoo. They can't, after all, allow the lions to kill the zebras whenever they want to. It just wouldn't be fair.

The lions that are tagging along behind Daphne look up as Jane arrives. A hint of motion catches their attention and they glance over toward Ali and her popcorn. One of them heads over that way to see if he can score a handout, and Daphne lets him go. He won't hurt anyone, and the animals need to have a bit of fun, too. The other sticks close to Daphne.

"Hey," is the greeting she offers Jane.

… oh, hay, look! Isa Lion! Ali flashes the big cat a grin - and admonishes, "Hey, fuzzy, if you knock over that tin? Spanking. Seriously. Let one of the kids get you some." Yes. She just threatened to spank a lion.

Of course, if he gets in reach? There's an earrub in the offing. For now, though, the DJ remains engrossed in her task, sorting the cases into three neat piles.
She stops near Daphne and her lion guardian. The greeting is returned in that same terse fashion. "Hey." Jane remains there, letting her eyes move to take in Ali with her discs, popcorn, and lion visitor for a moment, then turns back to the zoo's owner. "Quiet day?" she asks. One hand extends to rub the lion's ears if he'll allow it.

There's a brief nod, an even shorter smile. Quiet day, indeed, but not a complete loss. Stuff got done. It's a lot easier to get stuff done when there aren't threats against the zoo itself. Gardening, feeding the animals, cleaning up after the animals. As the lion leans into Jane's touch, he grunts softly, a happy sound. At least the animals can be happy. "You were out. Bring anything good back?"

"I found a few things, slim pickings today," Jane replies with a slow nod. Her left hand rubs the lion's ear, encouraged by that happy grunt. Her right hand unslings the backpack and sets it gently on the ground. "A bottle of white wine from Germany, some good chocolate, and a few newspapers from other parts of the country. Oh, and I picked up some steak too. Other than that I managed to salvage a bit more sheet music and some instrument parts." She extracts the chocolate first, offering a package of it to Daphne.

Well, the more time they go, the less likely they are to have a good day. That's understandable, really. Still, Daphne rests her hand on the Lion's back and sighs. This used to be a lot easier.

She should say something matronly and heroic like 'This is for the kids.' Because… they'd love it. However, not being the most generous person in the world, having lost her best friend, her family, her personal pets… She'll just keep the chocolate for herself. For now. Unless she, you know, 'accidentally' leaves it out and some kid steals it, then she can yell a little and act all angry and stuff.

Seagulls circle overhead. Daphne glances upward.

"It's quiet everywhere, at least. There's not much that can get past seagulls." After all, they're always on the lookout for their next meal. She amends, "For now."
Her grim expression darkens a bit more as she listens, nodding once at the 'for now' statement. Trouble exists often beyond the perimeter. Federal forces are still on the prowl, rounding up people for the camps, there's the occasional violent attempt to relieve persons of whatever valuable things they might carry as well. But she doesn't speak of activities engaged in with the Saints. "I made it back into the area that used to be Greenwich Village," Jane relates with her eyes going distant, "and the apartment I lived in there. Just to look around and remember. Then I checked out the practice spot. Construction teams haven't made it there yet. It all still looks the same as it did during the early days of the war."

Daphne doesn't actually leave the zoo much. It's kind of sad, really. She'd say it's not fear, but a lot of it is. After all, she can feel safe with barbed wire surrounding her, and it's easy when you have venemous snakes hidden everywhere in the zoo - at least when it's warm out. It's pretty hard to shoot a snake.

"I remember it. Laurel used to live there." She can say the name easily, but it still hurts. Never tell your friend to grow a backbone - apparently they decide that in order to prove themselves, they have to work for the enemy. It's a friendship she never sees getting back, which is unfortunate.

Over there by that concession stand? Lion's gotten /pushy/. Ali, utterly fearless, pushes back, removing the popcorn tin from his immediate vicinity - holding it up - "Hey. Enough. Save some for everybody else." Leaves it in eyeball distance of a gull, though.

The woman mutters - "Pig. Yes. You're a /pig/." And then she's struggling out of that chair, yawning widely - still holding the tin aloft.

"I found something else," Jane replies as she reaches into the pack again and rummages around. To her it's a thing worth salvaging, one which others may or may not attach value to. She pulls out a large piece of carefully folded paper, yellow in color and looking aged. When she unfolds it, the first thing visible are three words in script at the top left corner of the document. We the People.

While she was extracting that, one of her steaks was also pulled out and fell on the ground.

Stefanie comes out from behind a tall stack of brush. A wave of her hand and tey return to their original state. "If corn consumption is up, just let me know. I can work on growing some more." She says as she makes her way around. She checks on the various vegetation, edible or otherwise, making sure that all is well.

Of course the lion's pushy! And he actually looks upset when the popcorn is held aloft and out of his immediate reach. He's not allowed to jump on people, darn it all, and so he grunts and meanders back toward Daphne's vicinity.

Because of the fact that the steak is a distraction and the lions are hungry, Daphne doesn't notice the document that Jane pulls out. Instead, as they run off with said steak, Daphne rolls her eyes and follows after them. "I'll be back," she mutters, with a wave to Stephanie.

Ali, the absolute queen of maturity - sticks her tongue out at the Lion.. and then snags a handful of that treat for herself before handing the tin off to one of the younger residents.

And it's /then/, as the lion moves away, that she notices Jane, of course. Offering a wave, she crouches to start picking up those CD cases, calling over, "Tell me you brought me an amplifier?"

"See you, Daphne," Jane answers as the lions make off with some of her meat and the owner follows them. She stands there holding the paper, to her at least a prized document, in hand and begins to read it. Her eyes briefly slide over toward Ali when she's addressed. The grim faced five foot eight inch brunette in her mid-twenties adjusts the apparent guitar case on one shoulder. "I've got a few amps tucked away in here already, Ali. Want to borrow one?" Then she looks over toward Stefanie and nods a brief greeting.

Stefanie turns and nods, waving to everyone. She's not paying much attention to the conversation, since it's none of her business. She finishes checking on the plants here and heads off to another part of the Zoo.

"No, I wanna thrash one. Or Gene does. The transmitter's got pieces falling off of it again." The last near miss was hard on the electronics, apparently. Ali starts piling some of those cases on the chair, there. "We're going out again tonight.. or I am, anyway. He may not be. You know how it goes. s' a rumor there's going to be a crackdown on the east side, and … well. Maybe I can help, right? But it won't be much good if I lose the uplink halfway out."

"Oh," Jane replies with a slow nod. "Another outing for Radio Free America, yeah? Great work with that. If you have a copy of this, maybe you should read parts on the air. Remind people, don't let it be forgotten." When she finishes speaking she approaches the broadcaster, holding up the document. A copy of the US Constitution.

Ali smiles, a bit wryly - and taps her head. "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice… yeah. Don't worry. Seventh grade. had to memorize it for Mrs. Driggers's history class. Never met a Founding Document I didn't like." She straightens, eying the mess around the chair.

"Heard anything from Jack lately?"

"I was thinking more the bits about searches and seizures, speedy and public trials…" Jane trails off as she folds the document again and tucks it back into her pack before starting to assist Ali with her crates. "I'll see about finding you an amp to cannibalize. And Jack? I think he's all good," she replies. "He's Jack. I expect he'll land on his feet whenever he needs to, like a cat." And the mention of him gives her an idea. She maybe doesn't to move an amp here for Ali. She could tell Mr. Derex where one is and let him do he transport.

"Yeah, well - drop in the bucket." Ali runs a hand through her hair, "Sorry. I just worry about him. I worry about anybody whose face doesn't show up as often as it should." The woman stacks a couple more cases - "You seen anybody that needs a pickup? Out there, I mean." A wave of a hand at the gates, vaguely. "I think I can convince Jack to stuff a couple in the back of the van."

"Worry," she answers quietly. "Lot of that these days." The dark clad Jane, her eyes angry and haunted, a sense of loss also visible in them, continues helping Ali stack cases. Her customary guitar case and backpack are nearby, the folded US Constitution copy left sitting atop the pack. "I remember so clearly when I used to wonder if I could kill or not. All that ended when we got outed and my own bandmates tried to hang me."

Ali just smiles, tiredly, stepping back - "I don't think anybody expected anything like what happened. I never expected to be a conscious traitor, an' you never expected to kill somebody. And I'm damn /sure/ nobody expected the streets to turn into /that/. Here and now trumps anything else, though, right?"

She really shouldnt be the one doing this, but considering that Orion is the less stealthy of the pair, the young Filipina has decided to do a bit of recon. She was melded with the earth, following Jane to the site, until she waits at the gates, slowly rising from the earth, her skin a fair tan. She's changed in these past two years, no longer afraid of her abilities or hurting people with them. She became a full Company agent afterall and so she just watches them from the outside. "I mean no harm. I'm looking for someone.." Claudine calls out. She still looks the same, though she's a bit more muscled now, and Jane would recognize her..from before.

It isn't something she talks about much, outside of people she knew before the war, those who were then and still are her friends. It changed her. And she changed further when allies turned enemy, one of them she'd trusted almost beyond any other. As to Ali's statement, the reply is terse. "No one really knows the answer to that question, usually, until the situation is kill or die." Jane doesn't elaborate, probably feels she doesn't have to. Because she's still walking, talking, and breathing.

She pauses in her assistance with the cases a short time after going quiet and turns her head toward the gates. "I think I heard something." Feet go into motion, taking her in that direction. Within a short time she's in view of the visitor there.

Ali lets Jane go - starting to haul milkcrates full of aging media back into that concession stand.

Claudine peers curiously towards Jane, not quite sure if she recognizes the woman or not. IT's been two years afterall, and she wrinkles her nose a bit, showing her palms to show that she's unarmed. "I..I'm looking for someone. From my understanding, he..or she..is here.." she admits ruefully.

"Who're you looking for?" the woman replies, as her eyes study Claudine carefully. She definitely remembers. There was the occasion she played for her outside her building, a time they shared coffee… But what's really stuck in her mind is the two crises she was present for. "I remember you," Jane states, her tone a bit past neutral as she speaks. "Battery Park, the wind that kicked up, people going into the water. You had someone with you. Looked like you, a little, and younger. And again at Times Square. Winds blew, the earth shook. People told me later your name was Agent Salonga." But there was another memorable encounter, one Jane doesn't speak of. She either was never told Claudine had been present when she and others raided the Company, or she's not letting on knowing anything.

Thump. Thump - that's the last of them. There weren't many to begin with - but Ali's snagging a handful of the cases, left on top for that purpose, and stuffing them in very battered messenger's bag, alongside a few broken electronic /bits/. Scavenged from something, anyway. The woman pauses to trade a few words with one of the kids there… and scratch a meerkat obviously /wanting/ scritchings under the chin, "Stopit. You're seriously just whoring for cuddles, now." That's told to him gravely - not that she /stops/ or anything.

At the mention of the girl who could control the winds, Claudine's eyes well up with tears before they run down with cheeks. "That was my younger sister..an aerokinetic. Sylar killed her upon finding out about her abilities and used them to create terrible, terrible disasters.." She sighs a little, running her fingers through her hair and bows her head. "I know I have made mistakes in the past..and I was Agent Salonga, until Petrelli started all this.." and she spreads her arms wide, thinking he's the cause of all of it. "I have paid my penance, and have been helping humans escape with my own abilities. I am not the naive young girl of the past. I am battle hardened and could prove to be a useful ally. I want to find the person who is in charge of those radio broadcasts..if she can spread word about what I am doing, then I may be able to save more lives.."

"Sylar." The word is repeated with obvious hatred. She scowls. "I'd hoped my old roommate would find that man fry him like she said she would. Fry him until he looked like crispy burnt bacon." Jane's posture relaxes a bit, on hearing the tale of Claudine's sister dying at his hands. Petrelli's mention could mean two people, but in the context, it must be the President she refers to. It's a name she chooses not to repeat, given they were once allies and now have such a wide gulf between them.

Finally, /finally/ Ali heads for the front gate - whistling. "Baby got back", if anyone's got the ear for it. The chorus, at least. Boots scrunch as the two at the gate come into sight.. and her eyes narrow. Guarded curiosity, perhaps, altering course enough that her path will take her to Jane's side.

"Yes, you lived with the daddy's little girl. I remember that.." Claudine says with a soft chuckle under her breath as she runs her fingers through her hair once more, though she peers curiously towards the girl she's never seen before.

She isn't going to let on anything as she hears Ali approach and looks back over her shoulder. "It made for some interesting times, living with her." That's about all Jane says regarding Elle, though her tone doesn't reflect unpleasant memories of that time. "Miss Salonga's looking for a broadcaster, she wants to speak with her. Is the radiowoman around?" In this fashion it's left to Ali how much she'll admit to. "She's got an interesting story."

"Does she?" Oh, that voice is distinctive, a wry warm alto that caresses the ear. Good radio voice, that. Ali looks the woman over - "I think she might be. Depends on how honest people are for why they're looking for her." Warm and rich and inviting, Ali turns that smile on Claudine. "Why don't you tell me, honestly, what you're here for? I can let her know, then, and you two can talk - as long as you tell the truth." The phrasing may be peculiar, but it's carefully chosen. "That's all that's really important."

If there's any effect of the compulsion upon the young woman, she makes no sign of it."I have already told her, but I suppose I can explain.." she says with a shrug. Considering, she isnt saying everything right away, it seems she has more strength of will that once thought. "She spreads news to those humans wishing to escape to a better place. I offer a means for that to happen, without much threat from Petrelli and his men. My boyfriend and I have fought them, and we can protect people seeking refuge as they make their journey. All I want is for her to subtlely let others know..we can only save those we can reach, but if she spreads the news, then we can save more."

The conversation has moved beyond her now, with Ali here. Jane remains in place and lets the two converse, remaining silent unless she's addressed or hears something she feels a need to comment on.

McAlister narrows her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "And if you're with the cops, then whoever she points that way goes right to Detention - /and/ you get a nice prize, too. So how's that supposed to work? Trust ain't exactly something that comes easy around here. And words are really easy."

"I was a full Company agent. I have seen things you can hardly comprehend. Do not think that I can be intimidated with mere words. If she doesnt wish to save others with what I have to offer then so be it. Countless people will die, and I hope she can live with it.." With that said, Claudine starts to meld into the ground once more, willing to depart, unless she's asked to stop of course.

Ali watches, thoughtfully. "Blackmail." She crouches, watching the melding with a suddenly fierce expression. "I don't /like/ blackmail. Your high horse doesn't really make any sort of difference - 'cause you can wave what you have to offer up broadway and down Times, and I don't have to care."

"That's the trouble, isn't it. Feeling /righteous/. Tell you what - you give me some kind of reason to trust you, and I just might. Wouldn't that be /special/? But just saying you're playing the right game doesn't mean you /are/. But guilt? If that's the best you've got, I'm not playing."

Choosing this moment to pipe up, Jane asks "Perhaps you can tell us what the Company is up to these days, Miss Salonga. We're cautious, because the stakes are high. Having been with the Company, who employed memory erasure, I'm sure you understand the need for that." She isn't so much as saying she'll trust Claudine, but is offering something to defuse things a bit. "And you still haven't said what the message you want spread is." Because that way, she reasons, the risk is Claudine's and they can deliberate it among themselves.

Half melded into the ground, Claudine raises her brows and wrinkles her nose a little, pursing her lips. "Trust? I dont trust anyone anymore.." she says matter of factly, having been burned too many times already in her short twenty years of existence. "But what I can give is power. Combat training, martial arts, weapons training, and even weapons. That I can provide and more. I was trained by those who sought to use me as a weapon. You want to defend humanity..you need to become a weapon.."

"If you want to know what the Company is up to, I can tell you. I am no longer with them.." she continues as she then turns looking over to Jane. "I want to spread a message of hope, that there is a safe way out of this wretched country. A way that so far..only I can provide, considering the nature of my powers. Take it or leave it."

Ali straightens, then. "I'll consider it. Just keep listening." Her voice is flat, though - "But I'ma let you in on a secret. You want to save the world? You have to offer it a better way - not more of the same. 'specially when you're the one scrounging to survive." And she looks to Jane - "I'm going out. Tell Daph that I'll probably be back late?"

Her head tilts to one side, watching the half in and half out of the ground Filipina. "Interesting," she remarks. "I can see how your method of transportation is unique, Miss Salonga. I'm guessing anyone in contact with you can be taken along into the ground and brought back out?" Jane glances over at Ali. "I'll do that. See you soon."

"No. I still havent figured out how to do that for others, but I can still shape the earth. You should know this.." Claudine says softly, considering back at their first encounter she shaped the hand of sand and earth that grabbed Nathan initially afterall. "You'd be amazed at what tunnels can be hidden. Besides, I was always a fan of the underground railroad.." winking coyly afterwards.

Ali moves off, out into New York proper - idly ruffling one of the guarding meerkats as she goes.

"You can shape the earth. Nice," Jane remarks, not seeming to remember seeing that before. The events of that occasion were cleared from her brain by the tall dark man from Hispaniola, and thus Claudine still has the advantage over her. "I should know that? How?" she asks, curiously. Her demeanor is neutral at the moment, as if still undecided, but still listening. And her mind is at work. "Someone who can shape the earth can make tunnels and make them close immediately behind her, right?"

"Like I said..underground railroad. Or I can simply liquefy it and let it solidify once more, but that's a bit more..taxing." Claudine admits ruefully. Then she lets out a soft chuckle under her breath, "Oh..I forgot that you were.." and she just shakes her head, rubbing her temples a bit. "The earth, rocks, minerals and other suchs materials are at my command."

"Forgot I was what?" Jane asks, her curiosity rising. "How would someone reach you? These decisions aren't mine to make, and I won't expose anyone without his or her consent. That's always been the ethic I've gone by in things like this, both before the war and now. Maybe I know people in the lines you want to work with, maybe I don't. We can posture all we want, try to sound each other out, do the whole dance, but in the end someone still has to take the leap of faith. Or all anyone will ever do is talk."

"If I was with Orion, then I would take the leap of faith. He's..uncomfortable if I do things like this without him. He worries.." Claudine says with an impish giggle under her breath as she runs her fingers through her hair. Then at the question of how to contact her, she hrmms and purses her lips for a few moments. "Let me work something out and I will be back in a few days.."

"We'll be looking for you," Jane replies calmly. Her mind drifts back to the windstorm and earthquake at Times Square. The big guy Claudine was with. In the suit. It's been more than two years, but they could still be together, could be the same one. "Having backup and support is smart. Have I seen Orion before?" A few steps are taken, she moves to stand where Ali was before.

"I'm sure you have." Claudine replies with a waggle of her brows. If anything, that could lead circumstantial evidence to the big guy being Orion afterall. "I shall be back soon.." and then, she disappears.

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