From X-Men: rEvolution
Dramatis Personae

Ion, Tian-shin, Gremlin


"{I'm goddamn starving.}" (part of flu season tp)


<NYC> Lower East Side

Historically characterized by crime and immigrant families crammed into cramped tenement buildings, the Lower East Side is often identified with its working-class roots. Today, it plays host to many of New York's mutant poor, although even here they are still often forced into hiding.

It's a bright clear afternoon, mild and sunny and perfectly conducive to the festive environment that has coated the city with costumes and spiderwebbing, candy and bats.

Ion's motorcycle -- parked by the curb by a small strip of stores (a tiny family-run Argentinian restaurant, a little cell-phone accessory store, a shoe store, a liquor store, a check cashing place, currently closed, a boarded-up storefront that until recently was a Korean restaurant) has been nominally decorated with orange and black tassles hanging off the handlebars, a pair of large googly-eyed bats stuck to his saddlebags, an oddly GLITTERY spiderweb-patterned cover stretched over the seat. None of this is /nearly/ as in keeping with the Halloween aesthetic as the bulging-eyed goblin-eared head sticking out of the leather sling strapped across his chest.

Ion himself is dressed much as usual; black jeans, tall dark boots, white wife-beater, though there's a red cape slung around his neck and shoulders today, dangling down behind him as he clomps up to the door of the restaurant. One hand is curled loosely around Egg, absently rubbing against the monsterling's back through the thick leather sling.

Tian-shin looks bright-eyed and industrious today, striding down the street with a purposeful step and a grocery bag slung over one shoulder. She wears a mauve Mandarin shirt fastened diagonally with black knotwork buttons fashioned to resemble stylized bats, loose black trousers, and black boots. Her long black hair she has bound up neatly and secured with a black lacquered hair pin, and she wears a Chinese longsword across her back (its pommel presently decorated with a red Chinese knotwork tassel with bats to match the buttons on her shirt). Recognizing Ion's motorcycle first, she casts around until she spots him, then waves. "Hey!" She trots after him. "{It's been a while! How are you?}" Her Spanish has more a distinct Oaxacan accent now than it did at their last meeting.

Ion is just leaning into the door, though he straightens at the familiar voice, brows lifting a moment before a huge bright smile spreads across his face. "Eyyyy! {Hey! How you been! How you /doing/! I --}" There's a moment where his smile falters, eyes dropping to the baby strapped to his chest. His hand presses a little firmer to the Omelette's back. "{I been. Doing. Busy, busy, you know. How it goes, here. Shit, yo, it's been /for/-fucking-ever. Hey look you match my dragon!}" He gestures to the bats, on Tian-shin's shirt and her sword both. "{You hungry? We're eating.}"

Well, maybe eating. Though the hours posted on the door clearly state that the restaurant should be open now, and there's a wealth of festive Halloween decorations in the windows, the restaurant looks oddly deserted. The door -- a little bit stuck when Ion pushes on it, though it grates open a moment later -- pushes slightly open, then thumps back closed as he straightens. Beyond, the cafe floor is very much empty.

Tian-shin's smile is a little shier, though still rather bright. "{Me? I've been real busy, too, you know? Work, family...other stuff.}" She looks at Egg, grinning broader now. "{That kid is getting /huge/! Know how to fly, yet?}" Her eyes flick to the restaurant door, faintly skeptical. "{Hungry, sure, but are they actually open? Maybe the sign is wrong...}"

'Fly,' Egg's clawed hands struggle out of the sling to flap in the air eagerly, eyes lifting hopefully to Ion. Then shift to the bike, just as hopefully.

"{/That/ bike ain't the flying one, tiny-monster. Later, we fly. Now we eat.}" Ion tips his head down, pressing a kiss to the top of Egg's fuzzy head.

There's a quiet purring series of clicks, at this, Egg's head lolling back against Ion's chest. Their mouth opens, wide and toothy, maw chomping with another click.

"{Not quite up to flying on their own but sure do love flying. With their mom-and-dad, on the bike, when-fucking-ever.}" Ion frowns towards the door. "Huhwhat? {No, they open, they my /people/ I'm supposed to be --}" He pushes the door open, this time actually stepping inside to frown around the empty dining room. "YO. Hey. P? Lissa?"

"{Riding a bike is /kind/ of like flying.}" Tian-shin muses, re-settling the strao of her bag over her shoulder. "{I am seriously considering getting a motocycle, by the way--and learning how to ride, obviously. Or maybe just a scooter...}" She follows Ion into the restaurant, stretching out her senses to search for signs of habitation.

'Bike fly,' Egg agrees with Tian-shin, claw raking at the front of Ion's shirt after this.

"{Food /first/,}" Ion reiterates. "{My other bike it fly but this one only go on the ground?}" He shrugs like /oh/ well, not every bike can be /perfect/. "{You want a bike, maybe you come out my garage, I help you build.}" He trails further into the room, fingers absently running against the backs of chairs as he goes. "Yo? "{Guys, you closed? You leave the door open, maybe I should lock it up? Or you should /feed/ me, I'm goddamn starving.}"

From the kitchen in the back there's a faint shift of footsteps, though it soon stops. Tian-shin's senses can feel people, back there; at least a couple, two moving, one at the moment still. A couple more moving in the small apartment above the restaurant.

"{Is that sign language?}" Tian-shin watches the baby's long, clawed fingers move. Then, "{Wait, seriously?}" Not about the flying bike, though--/that's/ apparently completely normal. "{You said you've been really busy, but even if you don't have time to help me /build/ one, I could sure stand to learn about motorcycle maintenance, at least.}" She closes her eyes for a moment, holds still. "{There are three people back there in the kitchen, and more upstairs. Why aren't they answering, though--you say they know you.}"

"{Yeah yeah. Sign language, Dragon smart as a fucking whip, right? One day know /every/ fucking language.}" Whatever genuis Ion professes for his kid is not particularly in evidence right this moment; Egg seems more focused, right now, on bopping their head forward to start gnawing at the leather of the sling since Flying seems off the table. "{And these my people we go way back.}" Ion frowns, striding over to the counter to lean up against it. He raps on it sharply, then presses his palms down against it, hauling himself up to lean over. "{/Hey/-o, it me. Where you motherfuckers /at/, I brought a friend.} Trick-or-treat?"

The footsteps in the back start to move again, when Ion calls out. The swinging door opens, slowly, pushed open by a vacant-eyed young woman in jeans and t-shirt and apron and hairnet, walking straight into and then through it, her steps slow and mechanical.

From the steps down from the apartment above, there's a thud. Then a series of thuds, clump-bump-THUMP! A teenage boy has just taken a tumble down the stairs, lying for a moment with a small croaky groan at the bottom before he slowly starts to push himself up.

Tian-shin goes very still when she sees the young woman enter. "{Are you all right?}" Even while she speaks, though, she takes one more step to come level with Ion. One of her hands goes to his shoulder, tense--not pushing him back, but definitely discouraging him from moving foward. "{Have they been sick recently that you've noticed?}" This quietly, to Ion.

"Hey, Serg, {man, you --}" Ion frowns, pushing briefly against Tian-shin's hand when the boy tumbles down the stairs; the baby in their carrier clicks quick and disgruntled. "{... recent, I dunno /recent/, their little girl she sick some time ago?}" His brows knit together, deeply. "... Sergio?" He doesn't move much /past/ Tian-shin's hand, though he does lean forward, craning towards the teenager with a deep frown of worry. Then towards the woman. "Lissa?"

The teenager is struggling back to his feet, jerkily. The groaning hasn't ceased. Like the young woman, his eyes are blank and staring; there's mottled bluish-purple spotting along one side of his cheek and arms. He staggers towards them, mouth opening. Then closing again.

The young woman continues forward towards them, at least until she hits the counter. Thud. This prompts a rattly grunt of protest. She steps back, thunks forward again, then simply flops forward onto the counter, arms scrabbling out to reach towards Tian-shin and Ion in desperate clawing stretch.

"{I think they have the English flu.}" Tian-shin does push Ion back now, steadily toward the door as she herself backs toward it. "{We need to get out /now,/}" her tone remains neutral, but firm, "{and get help.}"

"Oh fuck no {no no Lissa, fuck, they ain't -- but they --}" Instinctively, Ion lifts a hand to cover Egg's bulging eyes, turning the baby's head in towards his chest as the thing that once was Lissa claws towards him. Softer, under his breath: "{Christ, help them.}" Not a curse, but a prayer. For a moment he seems like he might press forward towards the boy; instead, after a moment, he follows Tian-shin's pushing, holding Egg tightly and hastening towards the door. He grabs a pair of chairs to drag with them on the way out.

"{I'm sorry,}" Tian-shin's voice is tense. She slowly lowers her center of gravity as she moves backward, still keeping herself between Ion and his erstwhile friends. She carefully backs over the threshold once Ion has gotten out, closing the door tightly behind her. "{They may not all be gone,} she says, looking up to survey another path into the house, "{we can go in a different way to check, but we contact EMS.}" This as she pulls out her cellphone and dials 911.

"{They wouldn't have been just sitting up in them rooms with them, if they wasn't all gone. They lived through the plague before same as us.}" Ion's voice is grim. He stacks the chairs underneath the door, jamming them beneath the handle once they're outside. His other hand drops from Egg's eyes. "{Either they gone or they food. Fuck. /Fuck/.}" His eyes are scanning the building, though. Hopeful despite himself, even if his words have come out in a growl.

Tian-shin's mouth sets into a grim line, but she only nods at Ion's supposition. Raising her eyes to the numbers above the door, she rattles off their address to the dispatcher on the phone. "It's a business downstairs, residence upstairs." She sets her free hand on Ion's shoulder and squeezes hard. "Yes," still to the phone, "two confirmed deceased--there are three others in the building at least, condition unknown. We've barricaded them in for the moment." Pause. "Yes. Thank you." She hangs up now, closes her eyes for a moment, trying to pick out signs of decomposition--or lack thereof--in the other bodies in the house.

Two of the people in the house are in relatively good condition -- though at least two more conclusively show the beginning stages of decomposition. One body is still, unmoving, in close proximity to one of the decomposing bodies and with small pieces of flesh being torn off at erratic intervals. Yum. YUM.

Ion's shoulder is tense, under Tian-shin's hand. He pulls away shortly, pacing restlessly outside the restaurant. In his arms, Egg clicks quietly, a rattly soft sound. "{They lived through all this,}" he reiterates, angrily, this time, "{they knowed what to look for.}"

"{Maybe they didn't recognize it, or couldn't afford the medicine and were hoping it was just a bad cold. Maybe...}" Tian-shin opens her eyes, looking up at the second-storey window. "{If you boost me up, I will go check upstairs, in case someone's sick but safely barricaded away.}" Her eyes linger on the child in Ion's arms. "{But you should stay out here.}"

Ion's eyes narrow at this suggestion, his eyes moving past Tian-shin to the sign above the restaurant door. A clicking from Egg and a small thump of head against his chest draws his eyes back down, though. Then over to Tian-shin's sword. "... fuck. {Fine. Yeah.}" He shakes his head. moving to the window, hands joining together to make a step to boost Tian-shin upwards.

Settings her grocery bag down, Tian-shin seats her foot firmly in Ion's hands and hoists herself up to the second storey window. She hangs there for a moment until her other foot finds high enough purchase to push body up. She hangs onto the windowframe and worries at it with her free hand, corroding her way through any latches that might hold it shut so that she might get inside with a minimum of noise.

Inside the window is a small bedroom. A child's, from the look of it, stuffed toys on the bed and Dora the Explorer posters on the wall beside posters full of images of sharks and squids. A guinea pig in a cage atop the dresser, schoolbooks alongside children's books in both Spanish and English on the desk. A few bottles of medication. Clothing spilling out of the hamper. The door is open, leading out.

Tian-shin drops down into the bedroom as softly as she can manage and creeps to the door, trying to orient her sense of the most probable survivor with what she can see of the apartment's layout now. She draws her sword, holding it reversed behind her, and makes her way down the hall.

There's another bedroom just adjacent to this one, evidently empty. A bathroom past this, a kitchen and another bedroom further down the hall -- there, in the kitchen is another form, currently still. A girl, perhaps six or seven, slumped in a corner against a counter. There's a pot of soup gone cold on the stove, a spilled bowl of eggs and sausage scattered across the floor, kind of smeared where her brother had tracked through it on his way to falling down the stairs. A bottle of water and bottle of pills both also spilled, turning the spilled food kind of soggy.

Tian-shin enters the kitchen and approaches the child, stooping down to check for a pulse at her carotid.

There is a pulse, in the girl, though it's weak and thready. Her eyes snap open when Tian-shin touches her, hands stretching up to reach out for the woman as she lets out a small snarl.

Tian-shin scoops the girl up under one arm and carries her--facing outward--back into the room from whence she had entered, closing and locking the door behind them. She looks out the window down at Ion. "{I found a small girl, she's alive but--/not/ well.}" Her eyes scan the street. "{If the cops show up without an ambulance, I'm going to...}"

The girl flails, snarling again, though her struggling is not very effective; it's quite evident as Tian-shin scoops her up that she's rather weak even for her small size. She still tries, though, hands beating down against Tian-shin's arm.

Somewhere off in the distance there is the sound of sirens. Police sirens! Wailing. Closer.

"{Oh no -- oh fuck, Cat.}" Ion stretches up onto his toes under the window, lifting his hands up higher. Then pulling them down to curl his arms around Egg. Then raising them again. "Shit. {/Shit/. Is she the only one?}"

"Gan!" This in a hiss under her breath when she hears the sirens. "{Yes, I'm so sorry.}" Tian-shin has sheathed her sword so that she can wrestle the little girl out the window and lower her by her arms to Ion. "{We have to go, get this child to the clinic.}" As soon as her hands are freed, she clambers out herself and hops down to the ground.

Ion reaches up to take the flailing child, frowning for a moment as he holds her carefully out of reach of Egg, hands her back to Tian-shin once the woman is back on the ground. "{It's okay, little sister. We're gonna get you help, yeah? Take you to a doctor, get you fixed up. Got my bike right there, you love riding on that, right?}" His deep voice is oddly calm as he watches the snarling girl. "{You gonna have to hold her still. She -- not big. Shouldn't be...}" For just a moment as he looks at her, now, there /is/ a waver in the evenness of his tone. He swallows, shaking his head and starting at a jog towards his bike. "{...shouldn't be hard.}"