2020-07-23: The Demon Among Us


KalindiF_icon.jpg RashmiF_icon.jpg StarF_icon.jpg

Summary: Star leads Rashmi to the place she had her previous meeting with Kalindi

Date: July 23, 2020.

Log Title The Demon Among Us

Rating: PG.

The Future - NYC

The Metropolitan area, New York City, a city that once stood for diversity, freedom and liberty, a city that was once the largest city in America and home to the United Nations now stands for something else. New York City was the first city to get attacked after the Sentinel attack on Xavier's. Most of its residents have fled the area leaving many neighborhoods empty, shops forgotten about and the streets deserted. Entire neighborhoods have been leveled, electricity is only in select areas. Sentinels patrol the streets of New York like clockwork making it almost impossible for any mutant to be safe. The United Nations building has been taken over as a base for those against mutants, for those trying to destroy the race of those born with the X-Gene.

If there is one thing that's true about Kalindi, it's that she will do all she can to maintain her word, no matter how miniscule. Because of this, even in this rainy evening, Kalindi waits at the designated meeting spot. Her armour is worn beneath her clothes, an unusual sight to see the normally brightly garbed Hunter in such subdued clothes, camouflage to keep herself hidden from sight. She is not a mutant, but being spotted by others at the moment of her defection would not body well. She stands beneath the small amount of shelter provided by a nearby leafless tree, but she does not even seem to mind much, her expression the usual calm tinged with annoyance that seems everpresent on the woman.

The appointed time comes for the meeting between the now former Hunter and the leader of the ones being persecuted so desperately. As promised, Star leads one of those leaders towards the very building she was caught trying to loot to meet with Kalindi. The empath is dressed much as most of the civilians in the Underground usually are, in clothes that have obviously seen better days and are almost more mending than they are cloth. She's keeping her pheromones dampened for the moment, something she's had a little too much experience doing these last few weeks, "This is where I said we would meet her." The rain is ignored even though it makes the colorless shirt cling to the petite woman and leaves her hair hanging around her face in wet strings.

"To be honest," Rashmi says to the woman leading her toward the meeting point, submachineguns bouncing at her hips as they make their way toward Kalindi, "I'm surprised she let you go. Wouldn't be the first time a Hunter tried to sweet-talk us into trusting them… But, you did the right thing asking me to meet her. Thanks, Star." As they round a corner the redhead catches sight of the mystic, an eyebrow twitching upwards.

"I am surprised that these guns were not pointed to me as you approach," says Kalindi upon sighting Rashmi, crossing her arms over her chest. She points her hands forward, and the gold she wields seems to ooze from her sleeves onto the ground. "I am surprised that I am being met at all." Her accent, Hindi mixed with something otherworldly and demonic, even after all these years is still somewhat present, though less thick than it used to be. Once all of the gold is out, she takes some steps back from Star and Rashmi. "Now, I am powerless to do anything but run away. I know your abilities, and even my martial arts will be nothing against the weapons at your disposal. Here and now, you can trust my intentions."

Star sighs and nods, "I know… I'm just glad she did." She shudders lightly, "I'd hate to think that Emory could have lost me like we lost her father before she was born." Her shoulders slump a little and she brings her chin up at the thanks and nods, "She did seem to be sincere, so I thought it might be worth the risk." Then Kalindi is speaking and disarming herself of the gold at her disposal, leaving herself basically powerless. The empath takes a deep breath, and nods. Unless the other woman has found some way to mask her emotions, then Star finds that she's worthy of at least talking to for the moment.

Rashmi's eye twitches at the talk of Star's child, a brief flicker of old pain surfacing amid the white-noise of her surface thoughts, shaken off quickly. "It's worth the risk," she mutters. "Right or wrong." Her chin tilts up, assuming a mask of cool neutrality as she addresses the mystic. "I can point them both at you, if it'd make you feel better. I doubt I'd even feel *that* bad about putting a hole in each of your shoulders. But, that tends to sour negotiations, and I'd like to think Star's efforts counted for something. So. Let's hear the pitch."

"Well, I'd prefer not to be bleeding for this encounter," states Kalindi, flatly, "but I am at your mercy at the moment. If you did that, I think I would return back to my own realm until one side or the other is eradicated." The mystic crosses her arms over her stomach and says, "This is the pitch. My contract with the Hunters is broken due to their actions. Now, I have considered what it is that I should do. This world, I am here to prepare it and accumulate things and power. But what is left here? Blood and death and filth. This world is becoming useless. I want to help restore its worth." If nothing else, Kalindi is honest to the point of near absurdity. It is something that anyone who knows of her career as a supervillainess cult leader would know. "I want to join you people, the Rebellion. You have always been annoying. I admire you for it."

Star winces faintly at the old sorrow she catches from her former classmate but holds her tongue; she's not going to appologize for worrying about her daughter. Having already heard at least most of what the Hunter has to say, the empath instead keeps that special sense of hers stretched to its fullest, for all the good it might do. At least they should have a moment's notice before someone drops in on them as long as they're upwind. A small smile plays at the corners of her mouth and a hint of amusement manages to leak out before she regains control of herself at the comment about the Rebellion being annoying, but she still holds her tongue.

Rashmi remains silent, as Kalindi makes her statement, eyes faintly narrowed as they bore into her fellow Hindi's face. Bound to tell the truth or not, it doesn't quite require an empath to sense the Rebel leader's distrust; one too many times burned and betrayed, one too many friends lost or turned in the last five years. "…Fine," she says after a long moment of silence. "But you will understand something; until and unless the war is over, you are *not* top dog on the hill. You will submit to a telepathic probe to verify your story, and you *will* do the work that we'll need you to do. Gold is worthless to the Rebels, Kalindi. We can't eat it, drink it, or shoot Sentinels with it. Understood?"

"This is understood. I do not expect your trust. Your people may probe my mind if they will." There is an uncomfortable shift in Kalindi's position and she asks, a bit awkwardly, "But it is not all the time? Sometimes my mind wanders, and I might think of something embarrassing, I do not want someone watching my thoughts all the time. If they must, then so be it, but it makes me uncomfortable." The woman puts her hands behind her back and adds, "And my gold is worthless to your people, but in some places it is not. My accounts offshore still run high, leftovers from provisions made. I can travel easily, far, undetected. The sentinels, they do not detect people like me. If I were joining your people thinking that I would sit and yell commands, there are better more comfortable places that I can do that in. This… it is my country, too. And I think it is a shame what happened to it."

Star just remains silent, still keeping watch for unexpected visitors. It's not like she's got anything to add to the conversaton, after all… She's just the woman that usually acts as babysitter.

There's another spike of emotion from the redhead; this time anger, pure and white-hot. "This is what *happens* when people take control they don't *deserve,* Kalindi. Maybe in time, you'll understand that. But at the very least, you'll have your chance to make your apologies to Steve Rogers." The redhead closes her eyes, shaking off the tightly-controlled fury like a cloak, and takes a breath. "But, no. It's not all the time; we're the only free mutants on the Eastern Seaboard. That freedom *matters* to us. You'll just need one scan. One *complete,* unshielded scan. So if you're comfortable with someone learning each and every one of your deepest, darkest secrets, then we can work together. But I'd like you to realize something, Kalindi…" Her head turns to look at Star, and there's a small smile, a feeling of pride. "This woman, right here? She just saved your life, tonight. You *owe* her your every effort to prove that we weren't idiots for trusting you."

"I know she has. And I owe her mine…" At the mention of Steve Rogers, Kalindi turns her head away, her own emotion spiking at the name, predominantly guilt. "And believe me, my apologies will be paid. I apologize for my hand in your oppression. I have regrets, Rashmi. I am cold, yes, but I have regrets. Your forgiveness or anyone else's, I do not deserve, and this is something of which I am keenly aware, but I apologize anyways." The woman shakes her head and looks towards Star, "I am sorry that your daughter is growing in a dark place. Her light was not mine to take. Nobody's was. I am not going to claim to be a good person by your people's standards. My soul is demonic. But her light was not mine to take, and having a hand in it, this I regret." To Rashmi, she nods once and says, "A complete scan, then, I will submit to it, to you and to yours. Until this war is over, the Rebellion commands my loyalty."

Star actually flenches away from Rashmi a little when the other mutant's anger washes over her and instinctively allows calm to seep from her in an act that's almost one of self-preservation; anger has never sat very well around her shoulders. Not if it wasn't her own, anyway. Trying to be as discreet as possible, she moves upwind of the other two women so as to try to avoid further anger if at all possible. When the redhead turns her attention on the empath, though, Star blushes faintly. She didn't do anything more than bring Kalindi to the attention of those in charge; she didn't really do anything special… The mention of her daughter earns a little wince from the empath and she nods, "It would have been worse if she had known the world before the one she lives in now." And at least she's mostly healthy and happy.

"No, Kalindi. We don't command anyone," Rashmi says, shaking her head with a slight frown. "We ask. We *need.* We trust. But we don't demand." Drawing in a deep breath, she rakes a hand through her hair, glancing back at Star with a nod. "It would have been worse, yeah… trust me on that. But hopefully, we'll be done by year's end, one way or another."

"Then I do not know, I will do whatever I must for your people. After my scan, so you know that I am not your enemy, I will provide whatever is needed of me. If it is supplies, I can even cook and transport back. It is no effort. If it is information, I have what I have. There are some confidentiality agreements in place that I cannot violate with my speech, but your mind reader will take care of that." Kalindi considers this for a moment and then adds, "But for your cause, I will risk my life for what you think is right, and for what I think is right. In the future we will disagree on what that is, but now… these are trying times." She pauses and then gestures towards the pile of gold, "Should I recover this? I do not want to break your trust, but it is something I would like to have."

Star's lips are pressed together at the thought of everything being over with by year's end, dread and hope warring on her face, but she manages to keep from forcing her emotions on anyone else, "Lets hope that it works out in our favor." The world will be a much darker place without the light of a tiny five year old girl that wants to be Captain America when she grows up, even if her mother wouldn't be around to live in that world, either. The question of the gold is left for Rashmi to answer. She doesn't see any use in it, but she knows of several people that have kept small things from life before all hell broke loose.

Rashmi's eyebrow rises slightly, the corner of her mouth twitching upward. "We all have our weapons of choice, Kalindi. Go ahead. Just… bear in mind. Our opinions aren't everyone's. You've, personally, have hurt a lot of people, and it's going to be very hard on you for awhile. If it helps, think of it as a way to start making up for that." Shaking her head, she lets out a quiet breath, beckoning the mystic along with. "C'mon, then. If we're going to get you settled, better to do it quickly. Star… anyone coming?"

Leaning over the gold and touching it, the metal flows up Kalindi's sleeves again to armour her body beneath the camouflage. "I am aware that many of your people will hate me. I do not care. I am not doing this so that they think I am their best friend and we can hold hands and sing songs. If they feel need for retaliation against me, then it is my price to pay." With those words, though, she falls silent, looking down towards the ground and following Rashmi's lead.

Star shakes her head, "If they are, they're so repressed it's going to be scary when they finally let go." She shudders faintly at that thought, although, to be fair, she's at the mercy of the wind when it comes to catching the smell of someone else's emotions. She looks over at the redhead, "I think we're clear, but I wouldn't push our luck. Sentinels don't have emotions, after all." And this has already lasted longer than she's entirely comfortable with.

Rashmi nods, leading the way back towards the newer entrance to the Lower Underground, some blocks away. "Your orientation is going to be a bumpy one, Kalindi. So on our way back, think about this. One… No orders. Only requests that fill the needs for all. Two, no retribution. Period. You have a problem you can't talk out, you come to me. Dead fighters serve no good. And I *will not tolerate* people bringing more war into the tunnels when they don't need to." The redhead nods at Star, before picking through a pile of rubble. "We've still got kids living down there, and nothing will threaten their safety."

"No orders? That is fine, I have no authority here. No retribution? Everyone there has reason for retribution against me, but I have none for them. If someone causes me harm and I fear for my life, I will defend myself, though." Kali tilts her head slightly at the rubble, curious as to what's happening.

"Defending yourself is fine," Rashmi says, hauling aside a large brick to reveal a small, half-buried toaster oven. Pulling a scrap of paper out, she pauses to scan it, smiling to herself. "Just don't take it too far. Restrain, incapacitate, call for help. No killing in the tunnels. *Period.*"

"I prefer not to kill. It is a waste of minds. I do not even eat meat." Not as bad as some things, in Kalindi's opinion, but still a waste. Besides, she prefers the pleasure of beating people into submission over killing them. "In the tunnels, I will not take deadly action, though, I promise, and I will do the minimum to defend myself." The mystic continues watching Rashmi with a curious expression.

"Then we have an understanding. Good," Rashmi says, wetting the pad of her thumb and wiping away the charcoal writing. "All right, we've wasted enough time. Let's get you back to the Underground. If we're lucky, Addison will be lucid enough to give you your scan. After that… it's up to you." The redhead looks over her shoulder, arching an eyebrow. "Welcome to the Rebellion, Kalindi. I hope for all our sakes, you're finally where you belong."

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