|Location||Mutant Town - New York City|
|Summary||Talya runs into some trouble. Tiffany blows her cover to help.|
| The neighborhood once known as Alphabet City has spent decades slowly reclaiming its former reputation as Manhattan's most dangerous, crime-ridden area. The stretch of city between Houston and 14th is populated with trash-strewn lots, poorly-lit streets, shady back alleys, and numerous storefronts, many of which have spent more years boarded up than not. A number of burnt-out or abandoned buildings have been broken into become the home of squatters who can't afford even Mutant Town's meager rent. It's the home of the desperate and the home of the principled, the one place where standing out as a mutant might afford you more safety than not, and passing as normal is likely to end in a mugging or worse. Aircars are far less common here than in the rest of Manhattan, and few ever stop within the bounds of Mutant Town.
The buildings here are dirty and dim; most of them escaped the development that marked other, more favorable sections of Manhattan, and almost all are aging buildings that still stand under six stories. Vendors often line the streets, selling food or jewelry or other goods from carts and trucks and blankets spread on the sidewalks. Windows are decorated in equal measure with bars and boards and signs announcing that mutants are welcome.Graffiti decorates nearly every available surface, marking out gang territory and scribbling warnings for those who know how to read them; one stretch of buildings near the south edge of the neighborhood has become known for its street-art depicting the impressive variance of mutant life. The most famous is a mural that covers the entire width of the brick building at the corner of Houston and Avenue B, greeting all tourists (and their cameras) in six stories of red and black letters: WELCOME TO MUTANT TOWN.
| It is a spring night. The weather is cool and drizzling.|
Sunday evening, a candlelight vigil is being held on the border of Mutant Town beneath the large WELCOME TO MUTANT TOWN mural, which has been marred by a half-completed kraken. Many people have gathered to pay tribute to the young man fighting for his life at Mother of Mercy hospital just a few blocks north. They carry homemade signs of various sizes, all of which are anti-mutant. Most of them don't venture deeper into the neighborhood itself, but their rowdy voices and chanting carries down the avenues for quite a ways.
Talya has been out for the evening and as she approaches the vigil and skitters back, almost. For a moment, she observes from a distance, fists opening and closing. Doing an illusion of nothing makes it hard to keep people from running into you, after all. The red-haired young woman dressed fashionably becomes a bigger man with a leather jacket. He hunches his shoulders down, and then strides by, giving off don't-bother me vibes.
Tiffany is there. She can’t be seen or heard or smelled, but she’s there. It’s difficult for her to gauge what has changed until Talya approaches a more populated area, where Tiffany can see through more eyes than just the talented illusionist’s.
The crowd does break for the large man in the leather jacket. Some eye him cautiously or fearfully and some, perhaps many, glare. Over the accumulative murmurs and conversation, a preacher spouts off somewhere towards the front of the gathering.
Talya/the guy do glance at the preacher, but she's pretty inured to the content of such speeches. Besides, she has to concentrate on the illusion, so she keeps her head down and skirts the crowd as much as she possibly can.
In her migration through the sea of bodies, Talya attracts some attention. A group of two or three men, roughly old enough to have children the age of the boy put in the hospital earlier today in this spot, take note of the leather clad man. One of the balding, middle aged would-be fathers nudges up his chin and pats his friend on the chest with the back of his hand. They watch Talya as she leaves them behind. Unable to see through the illusory disguise, they take her for what she appears to be. And it isn’t enough to scare them. “How much you wanna bet he’s goin’ into freak town?” One of them mumbles quietly to the other.
Maybe it's the wrong move, but it's the one Talya chooses--on gaining notice, she reaches into her apparent pocket, and the illusion looks very much like she's got a gun there. In reality, it's her Stinger, but she's hoping the men won't want to start something with someone who looks armed.
It's difficult to say. Perhaps in some alternate timeline, things turn out differently.
As it stands, these men are riled up. Mutants are dangerous to them, their spouses, and their children. They're on guard for any mutants looking to cause trouble for them and their peaceful protest, just like they did to those boys who were exercising their right to freedom of speech.
"MUTANT WITH A GUN!"
The crowd goes wild. Candles are flung and go out as chaos erupts all around. Bodies fling into bodies. The preacher's voice is drowned out completely.
Okay, Talya is completely disappearing herself now. She keeps her hands wrapped around the Stinger, but is far too deep into her illusion to even raise it, never mind aim. She's just trying to run, now, but with people bumping into her, the illusion of nothing there has a tendency to flicker.
"Holy shit!" The balding man nearly chokes, gripping his friend by the shirt and pulling at him as he rushes forward. He blinks hard as if that might make what he just saw go away. It doesn't. "HE'S FUCKING INVISIBLE!" More panic ensues as the man and his two comrades rush forward in Talya's wake. "INVISIBLE MUTANT WITH A GUN!" They feel around in the air and all around, grabbing and other people and shoving them out of the way as they continue in the direction they saw Talya heading.
Talya runs, but if that's not working, she tries flattening herself against the nearest wall. Just ruuuuun right on by, c'mon.
A small opening in the crowd appears, allowing Talya the opportunity that she needs to tuck away from her pursuers.
"He's gone!" The bald man isn't satisfied. Grinding his teeth, he holds out both arms and waves them around in the open areas an invisible foe could hide. "He could still be here!" Angry and frustrated, he comes very close to where Talya is.
"He went that way!" Comes the illusory projection of a female voice. Stepping from behind one of the men, Tiffany projects her own residual self image into the minds of those in their direct vicinity. The dark haired young woman points in an arbitrary direction. Expressionlessly, she turns her large eyes as if to look directly into Talya's.
Talya is hugging the wall very, very tight. She twitches when Tiffany seems to look at her, then frowns, just a niggle of recognition making it through. But she's also holding her illusion as hard as she can, so she's not only invisible but unfeelable at the moment. That means she can be heard, though, so she's holding her breath.
Just as the man is mere inches from Talya and so close that his whiskey-soaked breath can likely be tasted on the air, his attention is yanked away. "You sure?" He spits out. He doesn't wait for confirmation, instead rushing off in the specified direction to feel around at the air somewhere else.
As the crowd continues to shift and change, Tiffany blinks out of existence once more.
Talya has to breath at some point. She tries to make it as quiet as possible. She frowns at where Tiffany was, but doesn't move, waiting it out until space clears so she can slip away. Hopefully that's before half an hour from now.
Talya is in luck. It becomes readily apparent that there is no invisible mutant shooting up the place with an invisible gun. The coast becomes clear rather quickly as the humans begin to disperse. It's Sunday night and even the ignorant masses have to go to work on Monday morning.
Invisibly, Talya slips away, going back to a red-haired young woman as soon as possible. That's why she's shaking, obviously, mutation use with no sugar on hand, that's all. She keeps looking around her, then finally stops, seeing if anyone appears where she can see them.
Tiffany is there with her, covertly siphoning sensory information from Talya's own mind. She doesn't make herself known, again. Talya appears to be alone once more."Fuck," Talya tells the air. She looks around, carefully, very carefully, and then wastes power she shouldn't on making a firebird. It coos against her cheek, sitting on her shoulder, then she lets the illusion go, and shoves her hands into her pockets. Walking home a bit slowly, a bit shakily.