2019-08-24 - Hunter's Pride


Laynia explores Mutant Town and learns about The Pride. Thankfully the Hunter doesn't shoot her!

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Aug 24 01:36:02 2019
Location: Mutant Town

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Laynia has been curious about Mutant Town, it seems like a strange thing, though considering how many micro-communities there are in New York, why not one focused on Mutants? So many ethnicities - almost like a patchwork quilt is New York. So, she came out to the area and is going to try and get a feel for it. Knowing that it is a lower income area, she dresses in casual clothing, a pair of mildly distressed and quite faded jeans, and a long short sleeved black t-shirt that fits loosely. Her hair is worn in a simple French braid. For the moment she's just walking, and drinking in the details.

Mutant Town is a melting pot of different economic strata, but none of them are rich. Some are less poor than others. And some - a not-insignificant number of them - are the truly downtrodden. Thee homeless. An exploration of Mutant Town by one who does not visibly appear to belong amongst their number will largely reveal that the people here stick together. They don't get aggressive with apparent outsiders unless those outsiders get aggressive with them. But they also don't tend to open up, much.

An experienced operative, however, could notice a few interesting tidbits. Like the very subtle signs and signals passing from one person to another, most often amongst the homeless population. No one moves through here, it seems, without being watched. An open eye kept.

A few other interesting bits include a few often-redone but very simple 'tags' in spray paint on some of the walls: a stylized, simplified silhouette of a lion's head, given the ruff of the mane. And there's an elleyway that seems to have a rather significant number of feral cats milling around on the ground, up on top of boxes and cans and dumpsters, and even up on rooftop ledges. And more of the homeless nearby.

Laynia doesn't really mind the wariness, in truth it is a good thing in her book. It shows solidarity, and it shows prudence considering how lousy mutants have traditionally be treated, by far the vast majority of the time since mutants were a 'thing' would feature them being targets, and worse.

Laynia is not doing anything aggressive, just walking about and soaking up the feel to the place.

The Tags, however, are interesting. OF course she picks the alleyway with all the feral cats when she decides to get a closer look at the emblem. After all, she's not privy to the Pride, but a recurring symbol like that? Definitely something she'd spot, even without know what it signifies. The subtle passing of signals is also noticed, but that seems to fit with the general caution she so approves of and is not found all that remarkable.

Stepping into the alley, she moves with care not to step on any strays, and then stands looking at the stylized lion's head, one hand in the small of her back, the other touching the wall as if to confirm the reality as cinnamon eyes try to sort out if the tags are done by one hand, or many.

When the clean-cut civilian decides to come off the beaten path of the main thoroughfares and enters one of the alleyways, that clearly garners more attention. Signals pass, subtle and out of the way. The response to the passing of those messages is one some might find odd: no one approaches Laynia. Instead, a few of the homeless pick up and move, gathering up those who are less mobile and fit and helping them to move away, going back into the deeper recesses of the alley and taking cover behind dumpsters and the like. Only a rare few stand - or sit - their ground where they were, as the cats mill around.

And there's a sense of someone watching. Intently. No visibility. No clue. But there's an aura of lethal menace, however well leashed and restrained. It's the sort of thing even generations of civilization cannot kill from the instinctive perceptions of humanity. The itch between the shoulderblades. The hair standing on end at the back of the neck.

"Is like Wild West, when sheriff and gunslinger are about to meet." Laynia says musingly as the bulk of the mutants near her go to ground. She can definitely feel the intense scrutiny, how could she not? She /is/ a trained operative, granted not as skilled as her friend Natalia, but still skilled. Still trained. And one with many years of experience in field work.

She is definitely going to be aware of that scrutiny.

"So…if you wish to come out and talk, I will be happy to." She speaks again, more loudly this time. Not a challenge, but certainly an aknowledgement of the observer even as she tries to keep her nerves from clawing their way from under her skin. Skilled and experienced, she's still human, after all.

Up above Laynia, a figure watches, a whole new level of tension suddenly spiking at the sound of that voice, that accent. Instinct shouts. Screams. 'KILL HER NOW!' it demands. Eliminate the threat. Sanitize the area. Then disappear again, somehow. Somewhere.

Diya doesn't fire. It's not because she's not a killer; be serious, of course she is. And it isn't because she doesn't think killing Laynia is the smartest thing to do in this situation. It's because she is, finally, the protector she always felt she was in her heart. And killing this woman here, now, will endanger her people.

Her community.

Her Pride.

A just barely adolescent teen hops up to his feet, one of those homeless that has remained rather than retreating away from Laynia. "Whatchu want, lady?!" he asks, drawing in a breath as he struggles to pull his body together as it tries to loosen into a oozy pile or puddle. He's somewhat like tar trying to hold a human form inside those clothes. "Your kind doesn't come down the alleys, near the dumpsters."

Her instincts scream at her that she's in danger, and really, it was only a few weeks ago to her memory at least since Laynia actually /was/ snipered. She has the scars front and back just over her heart to prove it too. A faint twitch is all the sign she gives of her shrieking nerves, however.

Instead of crafting a defensive barrier or leaping into flight, she simply turns to face the angry youth, a brow quirking and expression curious, but not even faintly disgusted or repulsed. "My kind?" She asks. "Do you think because I do not wear my mutancy on my skin as you must that I am not a mutant?"

A faint black nimbus forms about each of her hands. "Many years ago I was a hero, a champion of /our/ kind and a protector of human and mutant alike, I am Tyomneya Zvezda, the Darkstar, and I want only to understand this place, to see if there is help I can offer our people. Is this such a bad thing?"

The kid gestures towards Laynia. "Your sort? You give money to the shelters, the kitchens, maybe even volunteer. But you don't come down the alleys." he offers. The sneer of disdain is a bit less, now, but it's not entirely gone. She may be a mutant, but she is one who can and does pass as normal. And she's well-off, and he knows it. Her beauty is privilege.

Then an old man - the oldest of those who have remained, a weathered and beaten black man - lurches up to his feet. "Terry, back off." he orders in a voice firm with conviction despite being decrepit. "Pride don't hunt those that do no harm. You know this."

The kid grumbles, but does back off, heading back to his spot towards the mouth of the alleyway, as the old man comes closer, watching Laynia cautiously.

"Heroes don't come 'round here much, Miss. No offense, but you talk funny. What is it you need to know?" he asks.

That lethal tension and presence has not abated, has not pulled away. It lingers, painfully.

"There is much truth to what you say, boy, but I am new to New York, and have been protecting people for longer than you've likely been alive. In trenches, in sewers, back alleys, boardrooms, ballrooms, swamps…you presume much to /judge/ me based on my appearance." Cinnamon eyes are smouldering now with Darkforce, and there's a palpable chill in the alley. "Do I have much? Yes, but I have given as much or more in service to others."

The woman's anger is magnificent as she watches the lad shuffle off once more when the older man speaks, and then approaches. And STILL her nerves scream of danger.

She looks to the man. "I am from former Soviet Union, Russia, this is why my speech is 'funny'." She takes a moment to call down, and nods. "I thank you for your courtesy, sir. WHat do I need to know? I need to know about his Pride." She chin points to the logo. "I need to know what, if anything I might do to help people here. I am not poor, but I am not wealthy either, I can make effort to help people but I need to know what /they/ need, da?"

The old man rolls his shoulders a bit, as if he too can feel that tension. "The Pride takes care of themselves, and the streets, Miss. Not sure what else you need to know. But the Pride is not much in the habit of asking for anything." Which is not what it sounds like: they are not thieves. But they don't ask; if a shelter pops up, some may take use of it when necessary - when too hot, too cold, or too weak. The same with a food kitchen. They work hard not to be a burden, despite their homelessness.

"If you want to help, you could do as the boy commented, and volunteer at one of the shelters or food kitchens. There're some here who know your tongue. They might appreciate that." the weathered old man offers.

"I am so not knowing what is needed here, your friend, young Terry seemed very bitter. Is there danger here? Are there placs that folks dare not go? I am no stranger to conflict, my powers are well honed, and I would gladly spend my strength in defense of our people - if they would but let me do so." A faint sigh, and Laynia rubs at her neck. "I confess, there is much animosity I can feel, is like I am in sniper's sights." How little she knows!

"I can volunteer, or give to shelters, or work…those are not unworthy, I just wonder if I might do more."

The old man tries not to look around when Laynia speaks of a sniper; he is aware that the Hunter is very upset right now, but he has no idea why. It's not like she has had a chance to tell anyone. And she doesn't talk about her past, or her fears. That's not what mysterious lethal loners do, after all. "We do our best not to have trouble 'round here. Not always so lucky, of course."

The old man considers the blonde Russian carefully. "We haven't had any problems with the gangs or the outfits lately. It happens, now and then. When it does, we deal with it. They go away for a while, after. We had Russian problems a while back. Tendril knew them. And Bluehair. Then Claws dealt with them. Messy thing."

'Mysterious Lethal Loner' does not work well without that first bit, the mysterious part is what pretty much holds the other two together, that's a fact. "Well of course you do, trouble is not something most would or for that matter -should- seek out. Even with powers trouble has a way of being more difficult than it first seems, da?"

She looks to the old man. "So. Gangs, and Russians?" She laughs softly. "Well, there are those in Russia would be most happy to put an end to the Darkstar should they know she lived." She rubs just over her heart a moment, remembering something? Perhaps. "Tendril, Bluehair, and Claws. Interesting names…do these three work together, or alone?"

"Sometimes together, but not always. All are members, or allies, of the Pride." the old man explains. "Russians. Italians. The Outfit. Even the Kingpin. Everyone seems to try to muscle in on the territory, thinking there's profit and power to be made here." And then something glitter's in the old man's eyes. "They all learn better." Or they have so far.

Able to hear the conversation without even trying, Hunter picks it all up. Including the comment about the Darkstar, and those in Russia who would want another try at killing her if they knew she was alive. That's a circumstance Diya understands all too well. But she cannot afford Black Razors here; her people will never survive that.

"Sounds like you have troubles you're trying to leave behind." he mentions. "Not the first like that amongst the Pride, to be sure. We don't carry tales to strangers. You can be safe here. Allies, we look out for. Keep watch, like we do the neighborhood. After all … the police tend to avoid this place."

"So and so." Laynia murmurs, unaware that there's an eavesdropper as he ponders.

"Then I will have to make time to do these volunteering actions, and work to win the trust of our people. I am no debutante afraid to get her hands dirty with honest work. I /am/ one who believes that those that are able must look out for and shelter those who are not. Communities are built of all kinds - and it is that very diversity that makes them strong." That's one thing that so many abusers forget, that crime lords and tyrants alike miss - communities are strong, even when they only resist passively, they can make things hell for those they wish to suffer. Suppressing a unified people? Costly, and dangerous, and eventually doomed to fail.

Laynia shrugs. "I am a woman with past, is true. I have many allies however, many friends, and I am not without my own power. If the old enemies of mine would come calling they will not find me easy prey." Though, the Sniper on the Rooftop at the moment surely would! "However…da, I will come by, I think. Prove myself." A smile then. "Forgive me, I do not believe I have your name?"

The ancient-seeming black man extends his hand towards Laynia. "They call me Weather." It seems almost no one here uses their human names. Most of the Pride don't call them 'slave names', but some do, and it's a growing trend amongst the citizens of Mutant Town. "That kind of diversity is what the Pride is all about. You walk safe, Darkstar. We will keep your secret; none shall hear your name or know you breathe from the Pride."

Interestingly enough, that lethal intent has lessened significantly. There's till an itch at the back of Laynia's neck, but no longer is there a feeling as if at any moment some ferocious predator is going to rip out her throat and beat her with her own spine.

Laynia grips the man's hand, her grip a little cool in the wake of it having been sheathed by Darkforce. "Very nice to meet you, Weather." Her shake is solid, however. "If you need my help, the Darkstar will gladly lend it. I shall have to find some means to be reached, though I will watch the news, aye, and patrol when time permits." She inclines her head in thanks. "And I in turn will protect our people…" A grin. "…with Pride, da?" The sudden lessening of baleful attention is -very- welcome, by Laynia. Spinal drubbings are -very- rough on one's weekends, she's perfectly happy to avoid them. Sensing that the conversation is probably over, she smiles then. "Thank you, Weather."

A moment of concentration, and then a field of darkness emanates around her, a halo of darkling energy. "Be well, tovarisch." And then she lifts her arms and streaks up into the sky leaving a black trail behind her that wisps away. It is possible that the sniper might even feel the chill of her passage, but either way, the flying woman arcs up, and angles off at a goodly clip.

As Laynia takes off and flies away, there is the opportunity to spot the artfully arranged rag-shrouded blanket that breaks up the lines of silhouette, beneath which hides the Hunter on watch, keeping an eye on her. She does not poke her head out to watch the Darkforce-shrouded woman disappear, but she does watch what she can until then. Interesting.

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