The tall woman in the bright trench coat walked with a proud and confident stride, while internally she fought the urge to flee down an alleyway. It didn't feel natural, acting like she was part of the general population. Here she was, walking brazenly down the street in her flashy, expensive clothing as though she owned the city.
It was the way she had to appear, if she was going to be able to hide in plain sight. Since she had no choice but to wear concealing clothing, the only way not to be a magnet for suspicion was if the concealing clothing in question was pricey and fashionable rather than dumpy and ragged. The long coat was a blinding shade of orange, and the scarf the woman wore around her neck was a brilliant purple. She wore large sunglasses that gleamed with the sun's reflected light. She wished fervently that she could wear gloves as well, but it was ridiculous to do so in this weather. At least no one bothered her in this get-up. In fact, most people were treating her with a kind of simpering respect now, she thought wryly. The illusion of wealth was a powerful thing.
She wasn't wealthy, but she had money. Back-up reserves in the event of an emergency. It was everything she had, and it needed to be used wisely. Give the appearance of being well-off, but stay in the cheapest rental units. Eat canned goods. Plan for every eventuality. It was only because of careful preparation that she was in the relatively safe position she found herself in currently.
The ID card in her purse stated that her name was Naomi Rhodes, but she'd been using this name for less than three weeks. Before that she’d been known simply as "Silver". A long, long time before that she’d been Taryn Blake, but that girl had died along with everything she’d known. She was a woman named Naomi now, and that was something she needed to get used to.
She stopped, and a young couple almost bumped into her from behind. The street was crowded, so she slipped into the entrance of an alley under the guise of searching for something in her purse.
Her eyes were beginning to tear up again, damn it. No matter how much she tried to shove down her grief and focus on the future, her emotions inevitably betrayed her. She felt like sobbing; like collapsing on to the ground and wailing like a child. She couldn't do that, of course. She needed to calm down but didn't yet trust herself not to start sniffling. The only thing to do was to step further into the alley to compose herself.
She could not get used to this empty, meaningless existence her life had become. Hiding. Hiding some more. Forcing herself not to think of the people she'd lost so suddenly, so brutally. She'd escaped and remained alive, but to what purpose? What good was she on her own? No good at all. She was utterly useless. Unable to help anyone. Snarling, Naomi slammed her fist into the concrete wall beside her.
It crunched inward, leaving a crater veined with cracks.
Hurriedly, Naomi stood in front of the wall, glancing about for cameras. Thankfully, there were none to be seen. Thank God. She stuck her arm behind her back, hiding the hand that now had skin gleaming darkly metallic. Damn it. She could not act this stupid. Not now. Naomi concentrated on her hand, willing the metallic skin to recede; leaving her normal, brown, perfectly human hand the way it was supposed to be. She sighed. Best to get away from this place. There may be no cameras, but anyone could just walk by.
She walked briskly down the alley which opened up into a smaller, less crowded street. She kept walking, not slowing down. It somehow kept back the tears if she focused all her attention on her stride.
Why her? Why had she been the one to survive instead of Veil? It was Veil who’d been the planner, the mastermind, the one everyone needed. Naomi was merely the muscle. The one who punched down walls and strode through hails of bullets. She could knock heads and punch people. She couldn't gather intel, couldn't create intricate plans or organize forces. The resistance was gone, wiped out. Without it, Naomi was a lost pawn unable to effect any kind of change.
She was walking and not paying the slightest attention to where her feet were taking her. Shops and restaurants started giving way to dingy apartments. In the meantime she was arguing with herself, trying to fight off the despair. There had to be some kind of hope, somewhere. There were other groups, other resistances, to be sure. She simply needed to find somewhere to go.