The Light and the Demons

Summary:
January 05 2015: Jericho tracks down Audrey once more to finish an interrupted conversation

Centennial Park

Established in 1860, the expanse known as Centennial Park is positioned in the center of the New Troy island, the city's largest recreation area which spans from Midtown all the way to Downtown and skirts the Suicide Slums.

Cutting through the middle of the park is a twenty-eight million gallon reservoir populated by forty-six thousand species of fish and open to boating, while on the west side of the canal a few wooded acres are set aside to cater to more privacy from the rest, also having trails for things such as hiking and horseback riding.


Characters

NPCs

  • K'nert

Mood Music:
[* None]


After being noticed in Gotham, Audrey fled to Metropolis. It's the beauty of the tri-cities: keep moving, and you might get lost in the shuffle. Metropolis, though, hasn't been much better. She ran into Domino during that strange pigeon debacle, and then Zatanna in the park. But she told the magician she was catching a train, and even put on a good show of it before circling back to one of the few places in the brightly-lit, clean city of Metropolis where people who are a little less shiny can find a few shadows.

Audrey has found a corner of the wooded area, off the beaten path, where she can set up a makeshift tent of blankets strung between the trees and actually have a small fire. There's not much to cook over it - just a lonely pigeon - but it's better than nothing. And out here, it's quiet.

-

It was the train where Jericho picked her up again. In his passive culling of CCTV images and the like he spotted the telltale signals of someone trying to hide and even got a glimpse of who it was. That's what brought him back out to Metropolis. The last time Audrey had been nervous and he couldn't say that he blamed her one bit. This time Jericho's going to try to make a slow approach… and not sneak up on the girl. She may run again, or worse, decide to fight.

There's a very obtrusive snap of a twig as someone comes up the little goat-path toward the make shift camp and the thump-thump of well worn boots. The hacker moves slowly to the edge of the circle of light the fire casts and leans on a tree. "Hey there…"

-

Audrey looks up at the sound, swiftly drawing a veil of shadow over the fire to hide its light. She can see in the dark. Enough to recognize the figure there. The next sound is a soft click, the safety being turned off on a handgun. "Don't come any closer," she says in a low, firm voice. "I can see you, and I will shoot you."

-

Jericho puts both his hands up. They're empty. He made a point of wearing short sleeves today and even in the dim firelight the silver grey of his traces and the brighter metallic silver of the bands circling his forearms (they look like blade scars, but made of metal) are visible. "Easy. I won't come near if you don't want me to. Remember me from Gotham?" Maybe not the best introduction he's ever had to anyone…

"I brought something for you. It's in my pack. I'll toss it over, if you like."

-

"The fact that I remember you from Gotham is part of why you really shouldn't toss anything over here," Audrey points out, letting the shadows fade away from the firelight just a little bit. As the lights come up again, she's crouched near a tree with what little cover it offers, a handgun leveled at him. "Why are you following me?" she asks evenly. "Who sent you?"

-

"No one sent me. I don't work for anyone and I only really came looking for you because I monitor DoD internet traffic and when I saw your missing persons report it struck me as suspicious." Which is true. It leavs out the fact that Jericho met a version of her in an alternate dimension which is why he was on the lookout for her face to begin with.

-

Audrey grimaces, apparently not thrilled that there are alerts with her face on them. "I will shoot you if you try to bring me in," she warns quietly, then lowers the gun, shifting slowly to sit cross-legged next to the fire in an uneasy truce. "Missing persons reports coming from the DoD are inherently suspicious, you know," she points out. "They're not exactly the usual source for that sort of thing."

-

"And not many missing persons reports seem to go to lengths to hide why the person is being looked for or how they went missing. Usually the more informatin the better, you know?" Yeah, he'd read those reports. The hacker takes a careful step forward, waiting to see if Audrey's going to react before approaching and sitting down far enough away that he's out of easy arm's reach. He slides that backpack off his back and unzips the top a bit, then pushes it over to the mutant. It's got camp food in it. Basically civilian MRE's.

"I know what hiding from people like that is like. I'm not sure if you'd have ever heard my name, but I'm Jericho Trent. Formerly of SOAR. Did the guinea pig thing in a pilot program for experimental cybernetics."

-

Apparently, Audrey has heard of the name and the program. And that's what finally gets her to relax, at least a little bit. Now she knows someone wants him more than they want her. The gun goes away, and she reaches out to take the offered packet, giving it a shake. "Thank you," she says quietly. "Sorry about…You know." The running. And the gun threats. Finally, reluctantly, she offers a hand over. "Audrey," she says quietly. "Our program didn't really have a name, but I've heard someone else call the type of program it is a Weapon Plus program."

-

"You had every reason to be suspicious." Jericho takes Audrey's hand and gives it a firm shake. "I'm just glad you didn't shoot me." Because guns are a thing that can definitely hurt him when he's not traced out.

"Weapon Plus?" He thinks. He hasn't heard of that one but if she's as young as she looks it may be a fairly new one. Oooooor he might not have heard of it. Which happens. He's searching now though.

"Can you tell me what they want? Why they're after you? I'd like to help, if I can." He hopes she doesn't ask why. He's got several reasons but 'I met an other dimensional version of you after a magical teleportation gone wrong who really helped me out' is a bit of stretch at this point, he suspects.

-

"I'm a mutant," Audrey explains with a ghost of a smile, taking out a packet of crackers. "With a useful talent. The light show?" She waves a hand, and the light of the fire disappears again, only to reappear at another wave. Light cascades up from the flames, swirling into a ball in her hands, then dissipates in a sparkle of light toward her face that leaves her looking entirely different - just like him, in fact. "We had skills, so they wanted us to become soldiers." The mask dissipates, light filtering back into the flames and leaving just Audrey. "I didn't want to."

-

Jericho blows out a long sigh. That makes rather more sense than he'd hoped it'd make, frankly. "How many and how young?" If the kids volunteered all well and good, but… well damn it. He just last year dealt with a HYDRA plot to do this sort of thing to (relatively) young kids. Now the US Government is on board with this?

-

"I was thirteen when I joined the program," Audrey shrugs, taking a bite of the cracker. More like shoving the whole thing in her mouth, actually. "And we weren't the only unit like that. Look, it's not like- They weren't- Well not with-" She starts and stops, letting out a huff of breath. "My dad was in charge of the program I was in. Numbers changed, membership changed. Most of us were under eighteen. At eighteen, you graduate out, enlist, and they put you into active missions. The real unit."

-

Her dad. Aw hell. "And you wanted something else… but, let me guess, Dad's a career military type. And at some point you started being a weapon system instead of his daughter." It's not just for the movies after all. The Army is, on balance, a good thing or at least Jericho thinks so. But the people in it? They can get wrapped up in everything the military is and loose sight of the people they're supposed to be protecting. "So you took off, yes? And he wants you back."

-

Audrey tucks a piece of hair behind her ear, nodding. "That's pretty much the summary, yeah," she agrees quietly, pulling out the main dish and setting off the chemical reaction that warms it with a practiced twist. "I was okay. I was a good soldier. And Dad was in charge of the program. I might not have entirely chosen to be there, but I wasn't exactly forced, either. It wasn't the same for all of the others. I didn't like where things were going. I didn't want to be used. So I didn't enlist. I ran. And I've been running ever since."

-

"I'm sorry." Jericho takes a deep breath and lets it go. "Well I know what that feels like. Do you have a plan? I mean, I doubt they're likely to just give up. Are you trying to take the program down or just… get away?" He's already running scenarios in his head. He might be able to help but he has to be careful not to hurt first and to do that he needs to know a bit more about what's going on.

-

"Mostly I've just been trying to stay clear of them," Audrey answers, drawing her knees up toward her chest. "It's hard. Staying off the grid. They put a lot of time and resources into training me. If they find me, they'll make sure I stay. But staying invisible is hard in the long run. I'm good at it. But it's been more than a year now."

-

"If it's been that long…" Jericho muses… "You're good. Well, better than most. Not many would have made it a week, much less a year." He pauses and digs into his pocket, finally coming up with a small envlope which he tosses to Audrey. It clinks. "I've been running for a while myself. Long enough to have set up a network of safehouses. That one goes to one of the ones local to here. I'd have to look to remember where, the details are all in that envelope."

-

"I'm pretty uniquely suited to it," Audrey points out with a flicker of a smile, eating another cracker as she waits for the meal to heat. "I can literally disappear. I can be someone else. It's just that building a permanent identity or enough burner identities to actually stay on the grid without a support system is-" She trails off as he tosses over the envelope, eyeing it cautiously. "Why are you doing this?"

-

"Running destroyed my life, Audrey." Jericho shrugs. "I hated it. And, in my particular case, it almost destroyed me as well. I got so consumed with the need to hide and the need to lash out - er, people after me want me dead, so it's slightly different - hat I was within a hairsbreadth of just… snapping." He got lucky. Met people who were willing to help him. Found friends, and more than friends. "I didn't have anyone who could help me for a long time. And I'm not sure what I can do for you, or what you want me to do for you, but I can at least give you a roof over your head for a while. It's furnished. Hasn't been used since I acquired it. I usually keep them stocked up with food so there's stuff there." Safehouse networks are kind of necessary in Jericho's line of work.

"Identities are tricky, yeah. You have to trade a lot in cash and favors. I know folks though. Could put you in touch. And I'm a fair hand at forging myself. Just depends on what you want and how much you're willing to trust me."

-

Audrey eyes the envelope for a moment longer before reaching out to pick it up, peeking inside. "I haven't been anywhere for more than a week or two at a time in…a long time," she says quietly. "I wouldn't want to waste one of your places on a stay that won't last very long." On the other hand, she's still holding on to the envelope.

-

"Like I said, I haven't used it myself. And I've had time to build up resources. My places tend to be off the grid anyway. The bills are paid via automatic drafts from shell companies, and they're in quiet neighboorhoods." Jericho grins. "I'm a bit of a hacker. The only thing you'd need to worry about is being followed to and from. And… you'd know better than I if they can track you. So long as they don't actually follow you there though, and you don't do anything silly like call from an unsecured cell phone, you can probably stay hidden. Provided they're not, like, using SHIELD satellites to track you."

-

"I don't think there's a lot I can do about it if they're using satellites to track me," Audrey says ruefully, opening up the packet once the food inside is warm. "But I try not to be too obvious when I'm circling in to rest." Taking a bite of the meatloaf inside the packet, she chews as she eyes the envelope. "Thank you," she finally says.

-

Jericho's actually glad she accepted that because he's fairly sure she wouldn't have accepted the other reason he wants to help. Maybe one of these days. "You're welcome." He pauses. "There's… a group of mutants out there who I feel certain would probably help you. They're a bit on the secretive side though. Not real trusting." And he's not a huge fan of all of them. "But I could put you in touch if you wanted. And you can feel free to contact me if you like."

-

Audrey shakes her head quickly. "No. No, I don't want- Whoever they are, they don't need the heat from the program coming down on them, you know? I'm one person, and if they find me, they'll drag me back. But they won't hurt me. Not really. If they find me and a whole group of other mutants?" She shakes her head again, taking another quick bite. "I won't pull someone else into that. I'll just…I need a chance to lie low for a little bit. So I'll do that, and see where I want to go from there."

-

"Alright." Jericho nods. He can respect that. He stayed clear of a lot of people for a long time for similar reasons. There's a crawling in the shadows as something long and lizardlike emerges to peer down from the trees at Audrey's food. The hacker's eyes flash hard amber. "Don't even think about it K'nert."

"Don't mind him, he won't hurt you if he knows what's good for him. I'm pretty busy but I'm also already pretty deep in. If you need a hand with something and I can help, let me know." Otherwise, he figures, it's best to let her try to find her own way. It's a pretty big step that she's even trusting him with this.

-

At the sight of K'nert, Audrey yelps, stumbling up and snatching up the gun again to point it directly at the creature. It's only the overwhelming urge not to be heard that keeps her from pulling the trigger. Gunshots bring cops in Metropolis, and the police here are harder to shake than the ones in Gotham. "What is that?" she pants once she gets a better look, putting a spotlight worth of light in K'nert's face.

-

Jericho sighs and gets up, walking over to swipe K'nert off the tree with a grumble. K'nert's smug. He'd wanted to scare Audrey and make Jericho's little act of compassion harder and now he has. Sure the hacker's not happy and he'll pay for it, but sometimes the imp likes to remind the Hacker that he's one of Illyana's favorites for a reason. "He's an imp." He sighs. Yay. Now he may have to explain this. "And he's mine."

-

Audrey arches a brow, lowering the gun again and peering closely at the imp. "Maybe you might want to give him a flea bath or something," she says, wrinkling her nose at K'nert. Startle point to the imp. "That's…really ugly. Why do you have an imp?" she asks, brows furrowing. "The SOAR program didn't have anything to do with alternate dimensions."

-

"Long story. I'll tell you one day if you're ever that curious and we're still talking in a couple weeks." Jericho gives K'nert a glare and then lets him scamper down to curl up behind the log he'd been sitting on, peering up over it with crimson cat slitted eyes.

"No SOAR didn't of course and the Polymorpher program didn't either. I ran into alternate dimensional stuff after I got out."

Which is how he ended up giving his soul to a demon queen. Like he said, long story. And he usually leaves that part out. People tend to freak a little.

"Guy's got a literally wicked sense of humor. He just wanted to scare you." That's… kind of a lie. He wanted to make Audrey less trusting.

-

"Well, I kind of want to kick him across the clearing," Audrey says in a dry voice, still eyeing the imp as she slowly sits back down. Pointedly, she picks the meatloaf back up and takes another bite without looking away. Mine. And then, to add a little spite, she shoots another blast of super-bright light at those cat-eyes. Which is probably uncomfortable. Her point made, she looks back to Jericho. "I'm definitely curious," she says quietly. "From what someone else said, it sounds like there are a lot of these programs. That's a lot of people being pushed into something they may not want any part of."

-

That makes the hacker's eyes glow again, a hard edge to the amber light in them. "Now that's something that kind of pisses me off. I've dealt with this kind of thing before but never from the US Government side of things." He looks back over his shoulder and smirks at K'nert. Serves you right. Then he looks back. "I'm going to look into it." Beat. "Is this something you'd like to be kept up on?"

-

Audrey considers for a moment, then shakes her head. "No," she answers. "Not right now, at least. Some day? Yeah. I want to help other people get out. But right now, it's all I can do to keep myself out, and I'm not going to be able to help anyone else if I get taken in. And if someone who's digging around about it is making contact with me, it could lead them back. I mean, I appreciate all this," she adds quickly, finishing the meatloaf and nodding toward the envelope. "But some distance might be safer."

-

"Thought that might be the case, but it was polite to ask." Jericho has ways to keep an eye on situations like these that don't involve putting her new place at risk. "Alright then. Hope you find the place restful, however long you feel it's safe." And he hopes that's a while. It wasn't all that long ago when Jericho was changing residences every few weeks for fear of being found. And they were such awful little places…

And it was still heartbreaking every time he left one behind.

-

Audrey nods, reaching out to tuck the envelope into her pocket, but making no other moves to break camp. She'll look into it. And most likely, she'll scout the place for a few days before she even tries to move in. There are reasons she's stayed out for as long as she has with as few resources as she has at her disposal. "Thanks," she says with a small smile. "Even if you've got weird taste in pets."


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