Logs:(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

From X-Men: rEvolution
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
Dramatis Personae

Alice, Blink, Jax, Leo

2020-04-02


"Potential anomaly detected."

Location

<NYC> Hellhound Bikes - East New York


Located not far from Jamaica Bay in a predominantly Latinx sector of East New York, this garage doesn't look like much from the outside. A low-slung squat dingy brick building with a hand-painted sign over front proclaiming it to be HELLHOUND CUSTOM CYCLES, this garage has a small office area with its own pedestrian entrance from the street at the front, containing a minifridge usually full of beer and beaten down old desk with a ledger and an antique cash register that no one ever seems to use. The rest of the space is roughly L-shaped, its walls lined with racks of tools and heavy workbenches with built-in steel drawers full of hardware and spare parts. There's a raised platform in the wider leg of the space for working on one motorcycle, and there's space in the narrower leg for parking at least three more.

While many areas of the city have fallen into an eerie quiet as the vast majority of residents shelter in place, Hellhound Bikes is bustling like never before. It has been serving as a makeshift clinic for some time now, with more and more patients showing up every day. Much of the garage has been taken up by cots separated by privacy curtains that do not muffle the coughs and wheezes of those struggling to breathe. Mountains of supplies are piled up and depleted in the office every day, club members and volunteers squeezing themselves in every so often for much-needed breaks. A large portable pavilion has been set up over the driveway, which serves as a triage area with folding chairs for those waiting to be seen. The queue out the door and down the street, however, has to make do with standing for the most part, voluntarily spacing themselves six feet apart.

At least the weather today is nice, quintessentially springlike with a cool breeze and warm sunshine. Even so, most of the patients and caregivers in line are subdued, their quiet chatting interrupted often -- too often -- by desperate hacking coughs. MMMC members and other community volunteers move up and down the line, distributing water, masks, and hand sanitizers while quietly bringing the most severe cases up to the triage area. Even though many desperate eyes follow those being helped up front, almost no one ever complains.

Quietly, in the last week, the clinic has started to see some rather drastic improvements in the patients that come through their doors. They enter wheezing, coughing, gasping; within the day they are not hale and hearty but are breathing and on their feet. Leo is looking like he might belong in one of the beds himself, stick-thin and pale and a bit wobbly even where he sits in a rickety folding chair beside a recently-vacated bed. His eyes are kind of sunken, kind of shadowed; his hair at least has regained some of its gloss. His clothing is neat, though it hangs a bit too loose on his frame -- a lightweight gray nehru jacket worn open over a blue poplin band collar shirt with black accent thread and buttons, black plain front trousers, and black slip-on boots. No sign of any protective gear, despite the abundance of coughing going on around. He has a glass bottle of Coke in one hand, half-finished and resting on his knee as his fingers rub at his temples.

Jax looks less overtly haggard than Leo, at the least, though his cheerfully metallic peacock-hued makeup might go a long way towards glazing over underlying pallor. He's in black skinny jeans with green lacing up the sides, a silvery jacket unbuttoned over an asymmetrically colourblocked purple and green tee, stompy black and silver boots. He's been seated just outside Leo's little partitioned-off not-an-office, a copy of The City We Became ignored in his lap in favor of anxiously scrolling through Twitter.

The appearance, a little while time ago, of a brightly glowing violet space-time anomaly on the street outside caused some consternation among the waiting patients, though probably not as much as it would have at a clinic that wasn't run by an infamous mutant gang. The two women who stepped through it, one leaning heavily on the other, received quite a few stares as they make their slow way to the back of the line, but no overt harassment.

Alice looks exhausted but seems otherwise healthy, sporting a leaf green fitted t-shirt bearing the silhouette of a dancing faun-creature bowing and extending one hand to a child above the words 'Amongst the Green and Growing Things' written in flowing cursive, a faded blue denim jacket, matching cigarette cut jeans, and black boots with chunky heels. Her coily hair is done up in twists with bright red red yarn that weaves in and out of her black hair to striking effect, a black fabric mask embroidered with whimsical musical notation in rainbow colors covers her nose and mouth, and the only jewelry she wears is a jade ba-gua amulet on a red cord around her neck.

Leaning heavily on her sister, Blink is very obviously the reason that the Fergusons are here today. What's visible of her face is pale and thin, and whens she's not coughing behind her mask of vivid purple-and-pink geometric fabric she's clearly struggling not to between labored breaths. Her strange green eyes are bleary and unfocused, looking even more unsettling than usual when they can be seen beneath the hood of her long mauve jacket. Aside from the outer garb, though, her outfit is startlingly normal by her standards: a royal blue t-shirt with three white silhouettes of sharks viewed from above, each comprised of many smaller silhouettes of other marine life, and soft, faded black cordaroy pants much too loose on her. Her head droops to rest on Alice's shoulder, as if she would fall asleep right there on her feet.

One of the clinic's volunteers -- a small, dusky-skinned person of indeterminant gender whose choppy mop of blue-and-green hair looks to be the product of dye and not DNA -- has been working their way down the line. As they approach the Fergusons they are in the process of pulling out two small plastic water bottles from their black shoulder pack, bedecked with a fabric patch of a red star of life with an arm holding up a torch in place of the Rod of Asclepius. Then their dark brown eyes fix on Blink and they hesistate.

It's hard to read their expression behind their crudely made fabric mask, but their eyes pull inward with concern and their voice is soft when they speak. "Hey, friend, I think we should move you up front so the doctors can check on that breathing out a bit sooner, okay?" They don't actually wait for a response before ushering the sisters out of line, but do make eye contact with the few patients who have recently queued up behind them. "Someone else is going to come over and check on you folks in just a minute, okay?"

At the pavilion, the medic exchanges some quiet words with a nurse holding a clipboard who has been checking in on a couple of others in the waiting area. She comes over and sits Blink down for a no-nonsense assessment before promptly escorting her with sister in tow back into the "clinic" proper. "{Mister Aquilo, are you ready for the next one?}" she asks without fully stepping into Leo's curtained-off work area, her Spanish heavy with Dominican color.

Leo drops his hand down to his lap and sits up a little straighter. He takes another quick swig of coke and then sets the soda aside. Almost even musters up a smile but then just nods heavily. "{Thank you, yes. I can -- yes. Please send them.}"

Jax doesn't move much, as they're approached, but his eye does lift from his phone, only slightly visible behind the large frames of his mirrored sunglasses, tracking the nurse as she approaches. His glance hitches, lingers, when he sees Blink, his brows knitting in worry. He draws in a slow breath, his shoulders tightening, fingers curling harder against his phone. Ultimately he says nothing; just glances to the curtain and back down to the screen.

The long walk to the back of the line, then back up front, didn't do Blink's already dubious ability to breathe many favors. Her face is flushed an odd pinkish-purple, the triangular markings dark and strange. She looks startled and briefly confused when she sees Jax, but whatever she starts to say disappears into a fit of coughing and Alice practically carries her into the treatment area and sits her down on the cot.

Alice sits down next to her sister, curling an arm around her shoulder to keep her more or less upright as the coughing subsides into wheezing again. "{Please help her, Doctor,}" she says, her Spanish rough and Cuban and heavily tinted with a Bahamian accent. "{She's been like this since she woke up. We tried going to hospital but everywhere they told us, no space.}" Her black eyes are wide and frightened. "{They said, go to Central Park, go to Mendel.}" She just shakes her head, twists swaying. "{Please, Sir.}"

Leo's head dips. "{I'm sorry you were getting the runaround,}" he replies, his voice soft and smooth and his own Philippine-influenced Spanish a stark contrast to most of what has been spoken around the clinic. "{Just to be clear, I'm not a doctor. I don't have medical training at all, but I can help her. My mutation allows me to cure viruses. If you don't mind --}" There's been a rote cadence to his words that suggests this preamble is at least partially rehearsed, although here he hitches for a moment, dark-circled eyes fixing longer on Blink's face before his cheeks darken slightly. Continues regardless, if a little more stilted: "{-- don't mind being treated by a mutant and not a real doctor, I can get the virus out of your system.}"

Alice listens attentively, nodding often as Leo speak, though her eyes only grow larger. Studies Leo a bit more closely. Bites her lower lip. Starts to reply herself, then shuts her mouth very deliberately and squeezes Blink's hand. "Jie-jie," this is in Mandarin now, "{can you tell the -- healer, it's ok? He's can help you get better.}"

It's not entirely clear how much of who Leo says actually gets though to Blink. Her fever-bright eyes keep wandering away from his face and then back to it. She looks down at her hand when Alice takes it, then back up at Leo. "{I beg you, Healer --}" she starts in Mandarin, then breaks off and switches to Spanish, less polished though similar to her sister's, words clipped as she struggles to get them out between hard-won breaths, "{It's alright -- Sir, I -- I mean --}" She pushes the hood off of her head clumsily to reveal long, pointed ears only half-obscured by dull magenta-and-black hair, as if she thinks it possible that he could have been looking at her face for that long without noticing something amiss. "{If you -- can help me -- please do.}"

"{I can.}" Leo leans back in his chair, rubbing his palm against his eyes. "I'm sorry, it -- {it isn't very exciting. It doesn't -- look like much. Feel like much. You just -- both need to sit here, a while. I'll try to be quick. Do you want some -- water? Juice? I -- don't think we have a lot else to offer right now. Maybe ginger ale.}" He starts to reach for his coke. Drops his hand back to his lap instead, looks to Alice. "{Have you been feeling poorly at all?}"

"Oh shit," Alice blurts, "{I haven't drank any water since um...}" She frowns. Shakes her head. "{Actualy, juice would be great, thank you.}" Then she blinks at Leo. "{Me? I'm fine, I don't get sick a lot, and I've been uh, socially distanced.}" She doesn't seem to grasp the irony in saying this while holding up her deathly ill sister, though she does add, "{Except her, I guess. It's making me crazy.}"

Blink groans, the noise rattling around her failing lungs in a sort of disturbing way. "{I tell her -- she should -- stay far away. My work -- I am um...delivery girl.}" She coughs several times, then slumps even more heavily against Alice. "{Then -- I get sick -- and she -- has to -- be like this.}"

Leo twists around in his chair; behind it there's a cooler, the ice inside half-melted. He fishes out a bottle of water and one of cranberry juice, offering both out towards the sisters. His eyes are a little wider, staring, when he looks to them. Blinks once, twice. "{Fine,}" he echoes, his eyebrows lifting. He looks from Alice to Blink. Back to Alice. "{You might be breathing, but you have a heavy viral load. I'm glad you've been -- distanced. Small blessings. Please. Drink. I'll take care of you both.}"

Alice takes both bottles, and cracks the cranberry one first to give to Blink. Her eyebrows lift, too. "{Wait, really? I don't feel even a little sick.}" Though she sounds more awed than skeptical. "{Oh, /no/ I bet so many people were saying that two weeks ago and spreading it around.}" Then, more quietly. "Shit." Her hands are trembling when she opens the water and takes a sip. Then, more calmly. "{Thank you.}"

It's a quiet for a while save for the constant background noises of sickness and suffering, punctuated by nurses and doctors talking to other patients and caregivers nearby. Then there's a commotion outside, more agitated coughing from the patients in the waiting area, and the exhausted nurses and medics raising their voices to object.

Jax's senses, at least, can perceive the two cops who have pushed their way into the traige area before being waylaid by the staff. Both are wearing N95 mask and nitrile gloves, fully armed but standing in a way that passes for "non-confrontational" by law enforcement standards, thumbs hooked into their bulletproof vests.

They are flanked by two roughly meter-high drones with eight long, segmented legs that probably look distressingly like giant spiders to many. They bear little resemblance to the EMS bots seen around the city over the last week, but bold letters on their armored bodies read "NYPD Sentinel Unit".

The older of the two cops speaks up, his low, easy baritone voice cutting through the cacophony in Spanish, "{You don't have a license, and we could just shut you down.}" The other voices quiet. "{But we've heard you're doing some good here, so maybe we can work something out? We just have to take a look around back, make sure everything is okay.}"

This said, he and his partner press past the gathered medics and nurses to enter the garage.

Jax glances up briefly once more from his phone when the door opens again. His teeth catch at one lipring, tongue wiggling slowly at it before he returns his attention to his phone.

On the inside of the privacy curtain, a black square has appeared. Then, neatly against it, clear red text that blinks slowly. 'STAY CALM COPS INCOMING'. Below that, after a few seconds, a second line: 'please excuse the makeover'.

Makeover might be a little bit of an understatement for what happens next. A ripple, a shift; Leo's rumpled dark hair has lightened and neatened into a sandy blonde crew cut, his skinny frame filled out just slightly to a lean and muscular one, sickly-sallow-tan complexion pinkening into a fair and very lightly freckle-dusted tone, face rounding out of its sharp definition into someone altogether less striking. Inoffensive, nondescript. Goggles on his eyes and a homemade (cherry-blossom-print!) mask covering his mouth.

'sorry', flashes Jax's mini-message-board before disappearing.

Leo has been largely quiet through this. Occasionally sipping at his soda, his conversation kept to a minimum of (kind of haggard) checking in on the sisters as he himself tries to stay upright in his chair. Jax's message helps with that -- he sits, for a moment, bolt upright before forcing himself to ease back down. "{Sorry,}" he murmurs softly, "{I'm -- we're -- trying to, to fly -- under the radar, please excuse -- Jax needs to --}"

The rest is kind of self-explanatory, although Leo himself is left a bit wide-eyed as he looks down at his own hands. Stiffens, grips his Coke tighter. He swallows hard, shifts in his chair, exhales slowly. "{Still going to try and have you. Out of here. As soon as we can.}"

Blink is already looking somewhat improved, her fever receding slowly even though her breathing is still labored. The damage the virus had already done to her body isn't instantly reversed, but is no longer getting exponentially worse. Her eyes are a little slow tracking to Jax's illusionary visual paging, but she shows no real surprise at Leo's dramatic change when it comes. She nods at him, then squeezes her sister's hand and puts an index finger to her mask emphatically.

Alice notices the message board at once, eyes going huge again at the first message, though she remains quiet. She's staring at /that/ illusion so intently that she only notices Leo's 'makeover' after it's well underway. Despite Blink's warning she emits a startled "eep!" when she looks back at Leo. Then cringes hard, muffling her mouth with one arm, her eyes skidding aside to the curtain beyond which the cops are moving. She grips her sister's hand back, hard.

The two cops move through the garage, pushing aside privacy curtains with their batons. The spidery Sentinels trail them, moving with a near-silent grace that would probably startle anyone who wasn't familiar with B's work. Both cops simultaneously make a sour face when they come across Jax, but just then the Sentinels chime with one voice -- calm, soothing, clear, and neutral -- "Potential anomaly detected."

The younger, white cop unhooks a smallish tablet in a heavy-duty case from the back of his utility belt, squinting down at the screen. "They say that one's a mutant," he announces proudly, nodding at Jax.

The older cop glances sideways at his partner, and appears to conquer his impulse to sigh. "Yeah, that's Jackson Holland." His tone is bland, unimpressed. "Doesn't really make a secret of --" Alice's surprised squeak draws his attention and he moves past Jax, parting the curtain with his baton and dropping his other hand back, not quite touching his sidearm though he's prepared to in what he probably thinks is a casual way. "Excuse me, Doctor," he says, then hesitates when his gaze takes in Blink and Alice. "We're just taking a look around. Have you had any...trouble, here?" Still looking at the Ferguson sisters.

Beside him, a Sentinel pivots smoothly toward Blink and chimes -- every so helpfully -- "Potential anomaly detected."

It's only as the cops -- and their mechanical companions -- approach that Jax looks up, longer. If he's alarmed by the Sentinels it doesn't show in his expression, placid behind his enormous mirrored shades. One pierced brow does lift when the Sentinels first pipe up, and he lowers his phone to his lap, his smile quick if clearly (like most around here) a bit tired. "They figure on that one all on their own, sir? Hope y'all didn't pay too much for those, two seconds on Google coulda done you that homework." The smile is short-lived; it fades into a distasteful press of lips as the police move to the curtain. He makes no move to stop them, though he does speak, his voice is still mild: "You know there's patients in there, officers."

Leo's eyes go wide at the sight of the large spidery robots. He is fixated on them briefly, looking in confusion from the one that has spoken to Blink. "Sorry, officer," he finally says, flustered, "the ones on television didn't look, ah --" He shakes his head. "Sorry. It's been kind of a long -- No. No trouble this disease hasn't brought us."

Alice has manage to school her face to something almost like calm by the time the cops pull aside the curtain, but she sucks in a sharp breath -- narrowly stops herself 'eep'ing yet again -- when her eyes land on the Sentinel. The arm wrapped around Blink's narrow shoulders tightens fractionally.

At the sight of the robots, Blink's pupils expand until her eyes are little more than black holes ringed with forest green, but she does not otherwise react visibly. She does tense beneath her sister's arm, though. Weirdly, she relaxes just a bit when the Sentinel points her out as a "potential anomaly", though she still does not meet the human cop's eyes. She does, perhaps unconsciously, reach up to touch the pointed tip of one of her very obviously not-human-shaped ear.

"It just proves they work," the younger cop says, slightly flustered. Then the second euphemistic mutant detection alert sounds and he looks at his tablet again, excited. Then up at Blink, his next words dying on his lips and his triumphant look melting away.

"We work with what they give us." The older cop seems almost philosophical about this. "Not sure it proves anything we didn't already know." He nods. "Sorry to interrupt your work, Doctor. We're gonna let it slide for now, but you need to get a license to operate this clinic." Pausing, he glances back at Alice, his eyes narrowing slightly at her stiff posture. But when he continues he's addressing Leo again. "It'd probably help you reach more patients if you were on the list of accredited places for testing and treatment. Thank you for all you do."

At that the cops move along to check the other treatment areas, though the older one pauses to look back at Jax once. "There's wild rumors about this place," he says levelly, "not sure if that's because of you or why you're here, but you should go home." His expression softens just a moment. "Not that you've ever listened to me, but just this once -- go be with your boys, huh? And pray for us all."

"I been learned, people gonna start wild rumours wherever they see mutants gatherin'." There's a faint twitch of smile, fleeting across Jax's face, but a heavier exhaustion in his voice. "They're saving a lotta lives here, sir. I'm only just here to help as I can. Feels like we're in a bit of an all-hands sorta moment." His teeth catch at his lip, his head turning just slightly to follow the spindle-legged robots as they skitter off along with the cops. It's just a bit softer when he adds: "Been praying for alla us since long afore this, but --" His brows crease, head dipping slowly. "I sure do hope He been listening, lately."