|No Right Choice|
|Location||Tompkins Square Park - Mutant Town|
|Summary||Orianne finds herself questioning the right course to take.|
If there's a visual example of the damage that the Friends of Humanity can do, Tompkins Square Park is probably it. Foliage burned away, a kraken scorched onto the ground, play equipment melted and twisted... the park is truly a wreck. Even if some people have begun trying to put it aright, to scrub away the most offensive of the marks, it will take months to heal. And it may never be truly the same again.
Orianne sits on the boundary wall of the park, arms wrapped around herself as she stares at the mangled wreckage of the play area. As if through sheer force of will, through staring at the damage long enough, she'll be able to understand how this could happen. How things could get this bad in Mutant Town.
"Don't sit and stare at it," Ciel tells Orianne, coming up behind her with a rather sudden step. It's cool enough today that she's donned a light hoodie, shield against the occasional drizzle of rain. "It'll just make you depressed. Or angry."
Orianne is wearing an actual coat, because fuck New York weather. She has left the hood down, however, despite the rain; apparently the wet bothers her less than the cold. She doesn't yet turn to face Ciel, still staring at the ruined playfield. "Maybe I /should/ be angry," she says. "Maybe we aren't angry /enough/. I was here when it happened, and we still couldn't /stop/ them."
"Don't get me wrong," Ciel says with a dry twist of a smile. "You should definitely be angry. These fuckers are assholes, and they're going to drag the whole damn Town into a war if they keep going. But there's anger, and then there's-- you know. My whole afternoon is ruined again."
"It's this or being grumpy about the fact the doctor says I can't do parkour right now," Orianne notes, a little wryly. She unfolds her arms, gesturing towards the playfield with a flick of the wrist on her good arm. "Maybe if I'm angry about /this/ instead of that, I'll be able to think of something we can do."
"That's the part that ruins your week," Ciel says, turning her gaze toward the melted play structures. Her eyes narrow slightly, and her expression goes a little harder as she studies it. Her voice remains quiet. "The options are not numerous. If you want to remain a good, law-abiding citizen."
"I do." Orianne's posture stiffens, and then she slumps a bit, hands resting in her lap. "But the law doesn't seem to care much about us. When Kade called the police and fire department, as soon as he said where he was, they hung up on him." She finally hops off the wall, a little jump, and pivots on one heel to face Ciel. "What are we /supposed/ to do?"
Ciel turns her gaze toward Orianne, serious and silent for a beat. Then she sighs, lifting a hand to scrub it across her face as she shakes her head. "I don't know," she says. "Honestly, I don't. I'm worried that it's going to escalate. If we strike back, the next thing they burn may not be inanimate. If we don't-- hell. They still might start doing worse than this."
"If we don't do anything, they think we'll just roll over and take it, that they can do whatever they want. But if we do fight back, they get to point to that and say, see, the mutants /are/ violent. They /are/ a threat. I feel like our choices are whether we want to be seen as victims or monsters." Orianne shakes her head, clearly displeased with this line of thought. "Either way, it just gets worse, doesn't it? I don't like feeling helpless."
"They don't just get to do that," Ciel says, tucking her arms across her chest in a fold. "If they can ID us, we go to jail. They'll ruin lives."
"And if we don't fight back, sooner or later, one of us dies," Orianne points out. "They would've happily killed Misty when they were burning the park, just because she looks different."
"There are options between fighting and dying," Ciel says, tipping her head toward Orianne. "Not pleasant ones, necessarily, but groups are going to discourage them. A firmer neighborhood watch system. Enough mutants standing in a circle, even non confrontational, will give most people a pause."
"Then maybe we need a firmer neighborhood watch. Because our current one couldn't do /shit/ about this." Orianne's uncharacteristic profanity is almost /spat/ out, as she gestures wildly at the park with her left arm without thinking, wincing in obvious pain a moment later. It's still clearly not a healed and fully-functional arm yet. But she continues nonetheless. "There were /four/ of us here, and we couldn't stop them."
Ciel is quiet for a moment, her gaze fixed on the melted ruin. She draws in a deep breath, shifting her eyes toward Orianne. "What /exactly/ happened?" she asks.
Orianne scrubs a hand through her hair. "We were just out on neighborhood watch. I noticed the lights in the park were being smashed, so we went to check it out. We were almost here when we heard a scream..." She glances over at the remains of the trees. "Misty -- she's at Open Hands now -- had been sleeping in the park, and they had started chasing her, threatening her. Because she doesn't look /right/ to them. Kade and I got her away to safety, and Adelle and the jackass dimensional traveler tried to stop them." Alistair apparently doesn't deserve a name right now. "But they just laughed, threatened us, and then torched the place."
After a moment, Anne adds quietly, "Maybe we could've stopped them if we were willing to go farther. To hurt them more. That's the part that bothers me. That has me thinking."
"Mmm," Ciel says. She nods in answer to Orianne's last, then sighs and gives her a dry smile as she agrees, "Always is. Still. There are things that can be done without violence. /You/ could have stopped them without hurting anyone." She lifts her eyebrows at this, pausing as if to let the younger woman consider her words.
"What do you mean?" Anne turns to regard Ciel curiously, eyebrows raised. "I mean, I tried to scare them off with a triceratops, but they just set everything on fire. Almost including Spike." Because everyone names their triceratops alter-ego puppet, right?
"Ah, right. If they hurt your puppets, they hurt you. That's a problem," Ciel allows with a furrow of her brow. "I was going to suggest simply surrounding them until back-up arrived. There is the question of disarming them first, though."
"There's also only so many puppets I can make at once before it gets hard to concentrate," Orianne adds, a little ruefully. There were benefits to the whole 'power-up' thing in space. "One is no problem; I do that all the time. Two, I get a little distracted, but still not bad. But if I'm making five or six puppets to surround them, it's a lot harder to use all of them effectively. So if they chose to fight, I wouldn't be able to do much; I'd be too distracted by that many puppets to really fight back at all."
"You'd be able to immobilize them," Ciel theorizes. Her smile flashes dry and bitter as she adds, "Of course, it's against the law unless you can prove self defense. And they want to buy it. That's always the issue."
"And if they're burning down the park, it probably doesn't count as 'self-defense'," Orianne observes, not without a slightly bitter edge. She sighs. "There's no real answer, is there? Not an easy one, anyway."
"No," Ciel agrees quietly. "Not an easy one." She looks away from Orianne and back to the melted ruin, then adds with a dry laugh, "That's why staring at this shit will make you crazy."
"Yeah. But what are they going to burn down next time? The apartments? Oddball? The X-Factor offices?" Orianne sighs, stuffing her hands into the pockets of her coat. "Thanks, anyway. I knew there wasn't an easy answer, but sometimes it helps just to... talk it out with someone. Even if you don't find a solution."
"Next time," Ciel says, firm and quiet, "call people. Anyone. Everyone. The more people, the harder time they'll have doing this shit. We're nothing if we don't have each other."
"We did. But it was over too soon," Orianne says quietly. "They had already doused everything in gasoline. By the time anyone showed up, everything was already burning."
"It's just stuff," Ciel says, firmer still. "We'll replace it. We'll fix it. They're not /winning/ anything here. They're just being assholes."
"But sooner or later, it will be /people/, won't it? Not just stuff." Despite the words, Orianne looks at Ciel as if she's hoping fiercely that the more experienced woman will tell her that she's wrong. That it won't escalate past this point.
"Maybe," Ciel says, her jaw setting as her brow furrows grimly. She pauses, then looks over at Orianne. "You feel like you know how to take care of yourself?" she asks. "I mean. Outside of the puppet thing? Did you get training in on Knowhere?"
"I got firearms training on Knowhere, and I carry a stinger," Orianne notes. "And Huruma's taught me some hand-to-hand. Plus, Christian taught me a bit of archery in fairyland, since I can actually arm myself for that whenever I need." She takes her hands from her pockets, and with a little flourish a bow appears; a quiver of arrows is now slung over her shoulder. "Probably not the best for nonviolent confrontation, though."
Ciel's smile slips crooked. "I wasn't talking about nonviolent confrontation," she clarifies, then nods firmly. "Good. If you feel like you need something else, let me know."
The bow and quiver vanish again. "Thanks. I won't turn down anything. I feel like... the more I know, the more useful I am." Orianne offers Ciel a smile, even as she stuffs her hands back into her coat pockets. "I should probably go, though; I'm supposed to cover part of a shift for someone at Oddball a little later."
"Sure," Ciel says, nodding quickly. "If you ever want a brush up with your stinger or anything. Just let me know. I'll see you around.""Thanks." Rather than remove her hands from her coat pockets, Orianne pops her little dragon into existence on her shoulder. With a chirrup, it salutes Ciel with its tail, as Anne turns to leave.