07.18.3013: Under Cover
Summary: Temple finds the poor section of Volkan, and walks Reena through it with both in disguise. It cements the Khourni's decision to make a difference.
Date: 18 July 2013
Related: The Morning After
Reena Temple 

Somewhere in the lower levels of Khournas
See Log
18 July 3013

Saying goodbye to Reena, he at least walked with her out of Khar-Mordune's Down Below before splitting away from her, letting her to do what she needed to, but not before making sure to give his contact information this time. By himself, he ventured off through the gates to Volkan, immediately devling into some of the more rundown areas of the megacity. The one thing he figure he was going to have to encounter was because of how high towers that hold the majority of the populace, going to ground level was likely a death sentence with the combination of heath, volcanic gases, nevermind the lave. Nothing probably lives down there, so it was probably smarter to not even bother investigating.

There are, however, numerous towers in Volkan, and while it may not threaten the skies like Blackspyre can, all are intimidating in their own right. After scoping out a high enough vantage point, he picked out a few towers that he thought looked like prime targets for being gathering grounds of the Ignored, Volkan's own Down Below. Towers that look to be in disrepair, that haven't had upkeep, the kind that clearly haven't had the soot scrapped their sides. It's these towers, that function almost like small cities on the inside. To varrying degrees of success. Temple stalks these broken-down promenades and old shopping malls where clusters of homeless and jobless congolmerate.

Reena left Khar-Mordune and took a circuitous route back to Landings. She made sure to make an appearance at the Palace, with some face powder and a sponge making her pale and clammy-handed enough to lend credence to her calling in the day before. Once the Princess takes further pity on her handmaid, she sends her home for a few days to recuperate, rather than get everyone sick.

Thus, Reena is back on Volkan, and she sends Temple a message that she will be there for several days, freed from other duties. She's gone into the market and purchased some used clothing, saying it was going to be donated to charity, then roughed it up further for herself, smudging it with soot and causing wear in the knees and elbows with a block of sanding paper. When he calls for her to join him, she will be ready.

After a bit of hanging around dark hallways of the forgotten tower and eating something odd from a ramshackle foodstall that hopefully was real meat, Temple looks at his beatup comm with a cracked screen. Reading the message, he gives her the location to meet him at, the outside of the tower he's currently scoping out. He adds for her to make up a name for herself and fake background, just in case they have to mingle with people. After sending the message, he goes back to his eating, waiting around fifteen minutes before heading to the tunnel enterance to the place.

Taking him at his word, it isn't Reena that arrives, but Callie Green. The young woman is in a worn out cotehardie, with a stained apron over it, a fraying basket on her arm, and a drab and moth-eaten scarf wrapped around her head, concealing her hair. No makeup. No jewelry. No corset to make her figure ideal and a pair of very used, mismatched shoes on her feet. She approaches the tunnel entrance, eyes on the ground, her shoulders rounded and her posture closed off.

Temple hangs out at one of the larger enterances of the tower. He's wearing his usual clothes: canvas workpants, worn boots with the steel showing at the toes. That old cracked leather jacket and a slightly torn long-sleeve shirt around it. The addition is a bandana that's being used as a headwrap. So while he does almost miss Reena as she approaches, he does manage to pick out her face from the crowd, even without make-up. "Hey baby." he greets in the tone of a casual boyfriend who's known her for years. "Wasn't sure when you'd be showing up."

Reena leans up to kiss him on the lips with a smile. She snuck out through the servants entrance and took the freight lift down to the base of the Spyre, before sneaking out through the garden. Then she hid the cloak she'd worn for that in a planter bed near the exit, and went to the meeting spot. She is, indeed, a clever thing. "I've missed you," she says in a girlfriend tone.

"Good to hear." Temple notes, running a slightly dirty hand down her side. "Good job." he utters in a low whisper to her before turning to lead her inside. "Work was shit." he grunts, giving off the persona of one of the nameless manufacturing workers in one of the countless fabrication plants. The place is similiar in some ways to what she saw in Khar-Mordune but instead of carved out hallways of cave systems, this is a bit more enclosed, if one can believe it. Cramped hallways of broken down living quarters, some people simply sleeping nestled against walls. The center of the building is hollow, all seventy or so stories of it with soot covered skylights, just barely giving the idea of natural light. At the bottom floor is a large ramshackle marketplace of sorts. Stores with buzzing holographic or neon bulb signs, merchants hawking wares, and various of stalls that offer food of…some kind. "This is largest grouping." he says quietly aside to her. "The building barely functions."

Reena holds his hand, leaning in close to him as they walk, so she can look at the area arounard them while seeming to be focused on the man. "This is terrible," she whispers. "The air down here hurts. The heat is oppressive. These buildings need to be renovated and these people need real food and clean water." Her heart hurts to look at it. These are the people her family is responsible for. She'd hoped it wouldn't be as bad as Khar-Mordune. It's worse. It's a bigger city, with a bigger population and a bigger class divide.

"Notice the scarves?" Temple remarks lowly. A lot of people wear mouth coverings. "To keep the soot out. You should consider looking up the numbers for the cases of lung cancer in Volkan." he points out. The ambiant noise of this community seems to drone out whatever they say. "If you want to be quiet, if you open your mind to me, we can speak without talking." he offers. That's kind of a big step, but it would prevent anyone trying to overhear. He just nods at the rest. "You didn't know. Not many do. Politics doesn't often involved the Ignored or Down Below."

"Won't they see if you do that?" Reena points out. White eyes and an aura are hard to hide. Taking her cue from the locals, she partly unwinds her head wrap to cover her nose and mouth as a filter of sorts. She grimaces , with the expression thankfully hidden from the residents . "So, the people a step up don't tell the ones above them, and it never trickles back to people who can actually change things. Don't the senators come here at least?"

"Damnit." Temple curses under his breath. "You can tell just how often I actually do stuff with that." He shakes his head, mentally admonishing himself for such a lapse in judgement. "So much for that idea." Her questions get a shrug in response. "Maybe they did a long time ago, but I haven't heard of any protests. Not with the war and all. There's anger here, sure, but it's not like they can do anything about it. As for the Senators, I'm sure -some- of them actually give a damn, but what can they do? The war is here, and most money is being put towards that. Maybe when it's done it'll change, but I somewhere doubt it. Everyone likes to assume that there's this is small class divide. It's a lot bigger than people think. It's enough about class, it's about money at this point."

"These people don't have forty years to wait for help, Temple," Reena murmurs. "We can't focus on killing Hostiles at the expense of humans. They are trying to destroy our species, and we're destroying it all on our own." She heads over to a booth to look over the wares, trying to judge the skill they were made with.

"We're our own worst enemy, Callie." Temple says, looking down at her from the corner of his vision. "I would've thought you figured that one out by now. It's not the Hostiles we should be worried about, but ourselves. We do more damage to ourselves they do sometimes. Or it feels like that, at least." Leading her away from the marketplace to it's fringes, he leans against the hard concrete wall, on an upper landing that over looks the writhing mass of humanity. "A lot of people say there's work programs, that there's enough work for everyone. And maybe that's true. But what about the people that can't work? The old? The young? The ones who're in situations where they can't get out of? The addicted and so on and so forth. The problem has always been here. The numbers rise and fall, but there's always been Down Below."

"I don't know how much of the damage I can repair," Reena murmurs to him. "But I can make a start. That's the hardest thing, isn't it?" she asks.

Temple nods. "Making the effort is always better than standing aside and doing nothing, isn't it?" he asks, squeezing her hand. "If you watch, if you let it happen, how much different does that make from those who ignore it purposefully?" It's a loaded question, to be sure, and maybe an slightly unfair one, but when did he ever claim his life was fair. "You know what you have to do. And you know that it's not just in Khar-Mordune, but here too. Sure there's a bit more structure, but there's still the same problems"

Reena looks miserable now, which makes her blend right in. "I think I finally understand the term Ignorance is bliss," she murmurs. When she didn't know this was here, she couldn't be blamed for not doing anything. But now she knows. To turn away is a choice, not an accident.

"Part of me is sorry you had to see this, experience this." Temple states quietly, looking back out at the main marketplace again. "But part of me isn't. Part of me wanted someone within the nobility to see this first hand. See it, taste it, live it. Understand that not everything is hunky-dorey in paradise. There is decay. There is darkness, and there's pain and suffering beyond just what the Hostiles have done to us."

"Paradise isn't what you think it is either, to be fair," Reena says quietly. "You have a level of freedom that is alien to most nobles. You have choices that are taken away from us. But I won't even begin to pretend that compares to this." She stops in her walk when she sees children playing with rocks and sticks for lack of proper toys. Tears leap to her eyes, and she has to turn away and bury her face in Temple's shoulder to hide the vulnerability.

Crying downhere isn't unheard of. Happens probably more than a few times a day to various denziens of Down Below. But Temple puts an arm around her regardless, hushing her. "It's alright." he comforts softly. "Don't mourn for us, Callie. Things may be different up at the top, but you still have more ability to change things than any one of us down here does. You can create awareness for this, try to instigate change in it. You might not be able to solve it or stop it, but you could be able to lessen it." But he let's her have her moment, crying into his shoulder if she needs. "You want to go back to my place?"

"Please, take me away from here. I need somewhere to clear my head and really work out what I can do," Reena says softly. She wipes at her eyes with her sleeve. It's overwhelming to go from the luxuries of the Royal Palace, to the dregs of Volkan.

That's all that Temple needed to hear, taking her by the hand and escourting her out of the broken-down tower. Through the winding passageways that eventually lead them to the more livable area of Volkan. And again past the gates again into Khar-Mordune. Weaving through the cavern streets and into the Down Below that's more recognizable until the reach his shop and home. He closes the front door and locks it. "More port, right?" he finally says, which seems like the first thing he's said in away since he got her out of there.

Reena nods her head a little numbly, unwinding her scarf and sinking onto the couch. "Thank you for showing me," she murmurs quietly, though she looks pained by what she saw.

Temple returns from the kitchen portion with two plastic cups and that bottle of port they were working on last night. "Don't thank me, I took no joy in doing it." he offers, popping the top and pouring wine into both glasses, more into her's than his. Seems like she needs it more than he does. "But I know how hard that must've been. It's hard, and you've got guts for being able to see all of that and keep it together it for the most part. Other people I know, they would've been a mess on the floor after too long."

"I feel like a coward, fleeing it that fast. I was just overwhelmed." Reena takes a deep draught from the plastic cup, gulping down the cheap wine like ambrosia. "Clean up and facility repairs have to happen before anything else. If there isn't clean air and water, and proper shelter, then a community garden and skills training aren't going to do much."

"Don't." Temple shakes his head. "At least you didn't throw up. I've seen some people do that." There's another bout of listening to her talk, letting her get her ideas out of her system, probably because she just needs to talk right now. "All very well and true." he finally states at the end. "You know what you gotta go, just gotta get it down in planning. Or writing. Or whatever it is nobles do to get that kinda stuff moving."

Reena pulls her datapad out of where it was concealed in the false bottom of her basket. She powers it up and begins tapping away at it, making lists of things she has to tackle for the project. "You call them the Ignored. I think this will be the Notice Project." She looks up at Temple for his approval.

"Yeah. All of them. It's a name that's sorta been coined in a lot of the Down Belows." Temples describes. "That's what a lot of people call the slums in the bigger cities. Down Below, and as one of the Ignored myself, it's just a term we've used for, well, ever, I guess." He tilts his head, looking at the datapad. "Damn, that's a nice one. Haven't gotten to see one of that model up close ever." As for approval he gives it in a headnod before drinking from his cup.

Reena looks at her expensive datapad, then back up at Temple. "All of the tools and equipment for this project is going to require security. Are you up for being a security foreman? The job will come with a good datapad, a small wage for your time, and an excuse to be around me in public."

"Wait, seriously?" Temple wasn't expecting that. "You want to take me on as part of a job? I mean, sure, I can lock down anything you want it comes to security, no problem." But the fact that being paid does help, though when the last part is brought up, being seen in public with her, he swallows. "Wait, you sure you want that? I mean, I don't often leave Down Below. I don't exactly fit in up there."

"Well, it will mostly take place Down Below, but no one would look at us sideways if I have a meeting somewhere else with the security foreman of my charitable organization," Reena notes with a small shrug. "And I don't care if you fit in. I like you as you are. If you want to work on fitting in, that is something you decide for yourself. If not, I am proud to call you a friend no matter what."

Hearing the explanation, Temple considers it all. The parts about how it'll all go down, how she'll need him and in what capacity that'll take. Watching for a long moment, there's something that she says that effects him, and so even as she's typing out on her tablet, a hand reaches to lift her chin up to press his lips against her's. "No one has ever told me that." he murmurs quietly after breaking away. "I've always had to be a few things for people, but rarely myself. Just. Thanks."

Reena returns the kiss gently, her lips tasting like port. "You helped me find myself, Temple. You helped me accept myself. If I couldn't accept you as you are, that would be incredibly hypocritical of me."

"Was this truly what you needed?" Temple asks, keeping his face near her's as if he might just kiss her again. "I mean, I wanted you to find that there was more that you were capable of. I guess, shit, I guess I didn't expect to have this much of an impact on you. But I'm glad I could." There's a pause where he looks at her face. "So long as you keep visiting me in the future. When you can, at least."

"You don't get all the credit," Reena quips with a small smile. "I was in a dark place when we met. I'd felt adrift, without a purpose in a House full of people with purpose, because I was so different from the rest of my family. I'd been arguing with my siblings, angry at everyone except maybe my cousin who is probably the only Khourni who doesn't care what I do as long as I still enjoy a cigar and a homebrewed beer with him once in a while. I needed a wake up, and you gave me one. Thank you."

"I wouldn't dare take all the credit." Temple muses leaning back to straighten himself. "But I'll take my part of it." Maybe he can't totally understand where she's coming from, at least in respect to the family. "I know what it's like to be left in a dark place and without purpose. It's kinda why I didn't want to get sucked into LucCorp. I've done illegal things in my time and I did them because it's what I had to do to survive. But for you, it's good that you had at least one person who didn't care." There's a pause to pour himself more wine. "And maybe when this isn't such a huge issue. We can try finding Sis."

Reena nods her head and leans back on the couch, slumping there as the adrenaline of the adventure seeps away from her. "It will still be a tough sell to my father. But I'm going to speak to some people I know have the skills and knowledge to help before I draft the proposal to present him." She looks at him, her pale eyes sincere. "I'll help you find her," she vows.

"I don't doubt that a bit." Temple gets up to spy his easel and the canvas that still sits unfinished on it. Can't rush greatness afterall. "I figure if anyone know to talk their walk, it's you. Convincing people of shit seems to be what you born for. It's just…good to see you using your power for good." A grin goes along with that. "It's coming along, by the way. You look damn good in paint."

"I didn't always use it for good," Reena admits. "I was one of those mean girls you hear about. Snooty even. Angry at the world and taking it out on everyone around me." She chuckles and rubs at her forehead. "I'm not used to being 'good' Temple, so bear with me?" she asks. She gets up and moves to look at the canvas. "You really have talent," she murmurs.

"No, you didn't seem like a person who was like that." Temple plops down on his art stool, readying to begin again at painting her. "Ah, so you were one of those noble who I dislike everything about then, yeah? The kind that took their life for granted, and didn't even the consider the people they lived above." Watching her, he smiles. "No problem. But I think, if you give it time, you'll understand that helping others doesn't need a reward. That making someone else's life for the better is a -noble- goal." As he puts his brush to canvas he laughs. "Well, I'm glad you think so."

"I think it was more a case of not having a purpose other than being made attractive for marriage which, if you ask me, isn't really a purpose at all," Reena says. She slips back to the couch and drinks her wine. "I was agitated, frustrated, and inside me something was trying to claw its way out and declare itself. It just didn't succeed until yesterday."

"Well, you are gorgeous, no denying that." Temple remarks, peeking out from his easel once again. "But you're exactly right. Just being pretty doesn't really give much purpose. It's like looking a nice sculpture. Nice to look at, but what's it going to do other than take up space? You, however, have done much more than any statue ever could. You want to make a -difference-. Do something positive with what you have availible to you. If history remembers you for anything, it'll be that you tried to do something good when no one else would. Take some pride in that."

Reena dips her head. "I'll try." She sighs and looks at her datapad. "I should get back to the Blackspyre. They'll be calling me down for supper soon, and if I don't show, they might try to track where I was." She rises and gathers her things.

Well, not a lot of work on the painting tonight, but it'll get done eventually. Dropping his brush into his water cup, he gets up when she does. "Probably for the best." he agrees, walking up to her. "I probably should get back to filling a couple of orders that I've been ignoring." Watching her get ready to head out, he grabs his coat. "I can at least walk you out of Down Below. But, feel free to drop by when you think you can get out for a night."

Reena smiles a little at that and looks at her feet. "I will. And I'll let you know if the others I talk to are willing to help with the project." She lets him walk her out of the Down Below, and gives him a kiss before she slips into the city proper.

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