ArchivedLogs:A Brief Talk

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A Brief Talk
Dramatis Personae

Hive, Magneto

Monday, December 2, 2019

Part of Future Past TP.


<MOR> - Below New York

They're somewhere underground; deep beneath the labyrinthian sewer system of New York City. One of the ancient, abandoned subways -- old, tattered police tape clings to some of the walls, here (it looks like it's been here for nearly a decade). On one of the walls, graffiti is writ: 'VAMPIRE LAIR IZ HEER'. Beneath it, a helpful arrow points to the forgotten platform's entrance.

It is a splendid looking platform, if you ignore the refuse and broken lights -- lovely mosaics adorn the walls and ceilings, with colored glass that would have looked marvelous back when the platform was in use. There is power, here; a few beds, hidden away in niches -- some basic equipment. Heaters, a few other necessities -- and a chair, along with a table.

Both pieces of furniture are unique, in that they are made completely of metal -- metal that has been stretched, squashed, and restretched much like putty -- until it has been made as smooth as glass. Upon the table is placed a few pieces of china; a saucer, a teacup, a kettle, an electric heater beneath the kettle. Upon the chair is an old, exhausted looking man.

He is pale-skinned, with a thick, stubbly beard that is mixed between white and black -- but mostly white. His curled hair is dense, and spills out from beneath his black trilby; he is wearing a black overcoat, with some unfashionable clothes beneath -- a few bandages peek out from the sleeves, some of them still matted with blood. Judging by the way he slowly reaches for the teacup in front of him, he seems to be in pain... though not enough pain to stop him from enjoying his tea.

The man opposite him is a good deal younger. Not much less exhausted looking, though. Gaunt-bony lanky frame, sunken cheeks in a sunken face. The thick denim jacket slung over his shoulders is filthy, maybe once blue but it's darkened to a browny-grey; the fleece lining it is equally soiled, as is the old Columbia U sweatshirt underneath. Tatty fingerless gloves on knobby calloused fingers, lank black hair pulled back into a ponytail beneath a black fleece beanie. In hollow sockets, hollow /eyes/ seem oddly distant, a little too vacant, a little too glassy.

His fingers curl around his own cup. It takes a moment before he actually lifts it, nostrils flaring. /Hff/. << ... /one/ of these days. >> The ghostly shiver of chorusing mental voice(s) has the tone of an oft-repeated -- argument? Maybe one he's used to losing. << /One/ of these days. Coffee instead. >>

"Mmmn. Coffee," the old man says, and there is amusement -- exhausted amusement, but amusement nevertheless -- in his tone. "Next time I'm up there, I'll fetch you some." He winces, sipping the tea. "I need to ask you a favor. Two, perhaps. One is a matter of necessity; the other..."

<< You always say that. >> Grump grump grump. << And we're always drinking tea. >> Something shifts, in a side tunnel -- a draft of air, a rustle that might be fabric? The shiver of mental presence shifts, too, /quick/ and alert, not wary but hopeful like a dog perking up. Then settling back down when it resolves into nothing. << /Two/ favors. Damn. Getting greedy. >> But there's a slow concerted effort to focus, dark almond eyes shifting. /Just/ a tick less glassy when they manage to move across the table and center on his companion.

"Only because I've yet to find coffee in a metal tin," the old man replies, though this has more of a teasing tone than a serious one. At the flicker of shifting attention, he lifts his head up; his fingertips rest upon the table -- and a slight, near-imperceptible tremble travels through the length of it. But then, he's sipping his tea again, and: "First, the necessity. The Mark IV -- we've seen it can duplicate the powers of those it slays. We don't understand the means, yet -- but until then... If you are in someone's mind -- can you kill them remotely? If they help you? If they *wish* to die?" The question is asked with such a dry, thoughtless calm; as if it was as trivial as weather.

<< Shitty insta-coffee. Sometimes. Sometimes has those -- >> A mental image of a Folger's tin. Shitty and instant, maybe. But beggars can't be choosers. The teacup finally lifts for a sip; some caffeine is better than no caffeine. It's a kind of robotic motion when he puts it back down. A shiver passes through him, slight and near-imperceptible as well at the question. << Not them. >> The mental voices sound less distant, now. More /presence/ to his presence, though something about his tone feels like a struggle. Working through a sludge of mingled concepts to try and extract one: << /We/ -- yes. Can kill a part of ourselves. If we have to. Help is easier. Don't need it. >>

The image of the Folger's tin is filed away in the old man's head; he seems to take the request seriously. At the mention of killing a part of himself -- outwardly, he does not so much as flinch; inwardly, there is an exhausted sigh. Bodies -- so many bodies. Their weight is beginning to bear down upon him. Crushing him. Suffocating him. "I see. I realize that it might be... but you understand the necessity, of course." Of course. Necessity. So many necessary evils. What's one more? "If I were to..." There is a flicker of imagery, brief and sudden -- the old man's mind recoils in horror from it. The silhouette of a Sentinel, over the city... as buildings groan and creak, their girders bending to its will.

The next sip of tea is just as mechanical. Lasts longer, though. Hive's eyes are starting to glaze back over again, blanker and far away. A feathertouch ghost outs, dancing light wispy fingertips against that mental imagery, skating over it without ever delving too /deep/. The chorus of echoes is whisper-soft. << Of course. >> The cup lowers. << If they get (me/us)... >> More a concept than a word, it's a pronoun he has trouble distinguishing, really. The mental image accompanying this is more abstract. A glittering night sky, bright and clear and cold. Scattered across it a number of the stars in it flare /harsh/ and blinding, and then gutter out all at once, leaving huge swaths of darkness gashed through. The next mental touch roils just a little bit less steady. Still quiet: << -- Necessity. >>

While the image of skyscrapers groaning beneath the weight of the Sentinel's power caused the old man to recoil, the image of the stars -- first bright, then flashing, then darkness -- causes a silent, cold dread. Something clenches in his chest; an old, familiar fear. << (Too old for this. Too tired. Just want to die. Let it go. Crawl into a hole, let the world burn.) >> They're not thoughts he means to broadcast, but they bubble their way up across his mind nevertheless.

He replaces those thoughts with a hard, mechanical conviction. Whatever relentless fury once beat in his chest has long burned out, leaving nothing but a cold, steel focus. He will use whatever life is left in his body to fix this. Then he can rest. "You are crucial to this, young man. If that happened -- if we lost you -- it wouldn't matter. We can't win this war. Your... assimilation would just hasten the inevitable." And then, a little softer: "I have one other favor, to ask. A personal one."

Hive's lips twitch, small and brief, at the mention of assimilation; an uncommon expression on a face largely given to oddly robotic blankness lately. It's odder still to hear his voice, rough and scratchy from its long stretches of disuse in between very infrequent snippets of speech: "-- Resistance is..." His breath huffs out, slow and long through his nose. There is, once more, a greater clarity in his eyes as they focus. His brows lift, questioning. << Ask. >>

The old man doesn't recognize the phrase. Regrettably, he isn't a fan of Star Trek. Maybe that's for the best; he probably wouldn't have gotten along with the captain. "--if this works... even if it doesn't. If, by some stroke of luck, you see him again..." The image of the Professor rises into his mind. "Tell him..."

His eyes close, as if reciting words in his mind; Hive can see them. Pages upon pages of thoughts, of arguments, of apologies, of refutations, of accusations. But when his eyes open again, they vanish, replaced with a sentence:

"Tell him I miss our talks."

The ghost of smile fades from Hive's face. He pulls his breath back in as his features once again slip into stillness. His mind washes in, a cool slip of tide folding over those words; by the time it's washed out again they are gone. He lifts his tea in an acknowledging salute, draining it entire before setting it back down on the metal table with a clink that rattles lost and hollow in the empty tunnel.