Breakfast with Kang

February 25, 2016:

Nathaniel Richards detected Rachel's time-travelling arrival and goes investigating

Mutant Town

It is a place full of mutants with a very long desc.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Rachel's eaten, slept, recovered from the splitting migraine that she inflicted upon herself and hasn't been shot at by anyone in more than twenty four hours. As a result, she's decided it's time that she starts exploring the world she's found herself in. She slips out the back door of the abandoned building that she's been holed up in, telekinetically re-locking the door behind her and shifting a broken table across the doorway inside the building, just in case an enterprising soul has the same idea she did about the place. Nate might have given her some money, but she doesn't have any obvious means of getting hold of more. Besides, she's still wary of the idea of staying in a motel, or even a shelter, given that her face is apparently known in this world already - and sufficiently disliked that she nearly took a bullet within an hour of arriving here. In any case, the place she's picked has a decent roof, and that makes it better than a lot of places she'd had to shelter in back 'home'.
Stepping out onto the streets of M-Town, Rachel begins to walk. She's not going anywhere in particular, but she's not exactly wandering aimlessly either. She's methodically learning the layout of the streets, and at the same time she's mentally eavesdropping on the passers by, trying to build up her knowledge of the world as quickly as she can, the better to blend in and disappear.

The arrival of a time-traveler to New York should be a momentous even, except for the fact so few people in the current age has any way to notice. In fact, no one should be able, the technology doesn’t exist yet.
That fact, of course, is completely irrelevant for Nathaniel Richards, that got here and now first. His neurokinetic suit has chronal sensors and he has programmed them to notify immediately if any time traveler shows up. Its range is considerable; he was in Metropolis half an hour ago. And he is still several hours late, as the chronal shockwaves proceed in strange ways through space-time. It took some difficult calculations to pin down the origin of the event to New York, but now Rachel shows up in the scanners loud and clear.
To say the truth, Nathaniel is an odd fish here. It is too early for a tourist, and besides tourism in MT divenosed with the Purifier terrorist attacks. Also, he is not looking and gawking at the sights, he moves with purpose and quickly. Too well dressed for the neighborhood. Unlikely to be a mutant, although he is actually a post-mutant human. Rachel would get some odd readings from him if he checks for mutanthood.
He is walking straight for her, too. If she looks up, he smiles faintly and nods as greeting.

After walking around M-Town for a while, Rachel's started to relax, at least so far as uncurling from the shoulders-hunched, hands in pockets defensive posture she'd adopted to begin with. Finding that not a single mind she'd encountered had recognised her - if they'd even glanced in her direction - contributed a lot to that. Whatever the other 'her' did - and she doesn't believe Nate gave her the full story by a long way - it's either old news, or only a select group of people actually want her dead.
Satisfied that she can at least move around in public - in M-Town at least - without drawing unwanted attention, Rachel decides that her next move has to be to find out exactly WHAT she's supposed to have done that was sufficiently bad to warrant a bullet. A little judicious mental digging of the kind that tends to be frowned upon by more principled telepaths reveals the existence of the internet how she can access it. Smiling slightly to herself, Rachel turns in the direction of the closest internet cafe and notices the man walking toward her.
Rachel doesn't pick up that his clothing is out of place, she's not familiar enough with this world's styles yet. But she does realise that he's not just walking in her direction, he's heading right at her. The smile and the nod are unneeded confirmation. Rachel's expression tightens, her eyes turning hooded and wary as her steps slow, giving her a couple of extra seconds to touch his mind with a light telepathic probe.

The young man in the dark outfit stops and blinks when he notices the probe. Well, no exactly. He didn’t notice the probe. He was told there was a telepathic probe going by some technological device that is directly linked to his brain and that detected the telepathic sensor. « Please, do not try to read my mind, it is very rude. » He thinks directly back to her. “And good morning. I am Nathaniel Richards, I would like to talk with you,” he has an odd accent. Faint. Maybe European.

Rachel's steps slow even more as the man reacts to her telepathic probe, and she draws to a halt facing him. It was a light touch on his mind, he shouldn't have felt anything, unless he's a skilled telepath, or has other abilities. She starts to frown, and then she picks up the thought that's directed her way. Not projected, so perhaps not a telepath, but clear and disciplined enough that she suspects he's dealt with telepaths before. And oddly, it makes the frown fade away and the corner of her mouth twitch in amusement « It's been a rough couple of days. Better safe than sorry. » She projects the words into his mind without a direct apology, then lets him feel her pull back, out of his mind.
In the physical world, Rachel moves to lean her shoulder against the nearest wall and cross her arms. It's a relaxed and comfortable pose, but there's still enough tension in her body to betray her wariness even if the look in her eyes didn't. "Hi." Rachel replies. "Why do I think you already know my name?"

“Why should I?” Nathaniel looks at the young woman cautiously, “you didn’t exist in this world before yesterday, did you?” But just in case he runs a facial recognition program through the databanks and gets a 99% match in seconds. “I stand corrected… Ms. Grey,” he smiles again. “I guess you are a mutant activist and able to travel through time. Fascinating. And beautiful, too. Would you have breakfast with me?”

Rachel's eyes narrow slightly in curiosity when Nathaniel doesn't appear to know who she is after all. Why, then, has he so clearly sought her out? She'd like to look inside his head to find out, but that's not currently an option - and in any case, he gives her answer that causes the the tension in her body to become more pronounced. "No, I didn't."
She reaches out telepathically, not toward Nathaniel, but in a quick scan for nearby minds with hostile intent. Finding nothing, she sets up a mild telepathic field to blunt the curiosity of any passersby before she says any more.
"Summers." She tells him, because he seems to know too much about her, but he doesn't know everything. "Everything else… more or less." She admits, before snorting quietly at the 'beautiful' comment. Carefully, she straightens up from her lean against the wall and considers her options for a couple of seconds. "All right." She says, slightly surprising herself. "As long as you're buying." She has no idea if the money Nate gave her is sufficient to cover breakfast for one, let alone two.

“Of course, it is only fair,” he replies. And since there is a cybercafe just around the corner, he invites her inside. “See? I am a time traveler too,” he explains, “from the Thirty Century,” he adds. Which is not quite true, but a boy has to have some secrets. “I detected you arrival and came to investigate. Time travel interest me greatly, what time are you from?”

Rachel is starting to feel slightly light-headed, as her life takes another turn into the surreal. She hasn't done nearly enough covert telepathic scanning to figure out if asking to be bought breakfast is fair or not. She's pretty sure that half the people she's exchanged words with since arriving here being time travelers isn't remotely normal, even if Nathaniel is blithely talking about it as if it's the most normal thing in the world. Rachel strengthens her telepathic curiosity-deflection field a bit more, just to be on the safe side, as she steps inside in the cybercafe and looks around, trying not to appear completely lost.
"So I'm a curiosity?" She asks, turning to watch his reaction. She's tempted not to answer, to be evasive, to ask why she should trust him. But she'll never learn what she needs to if she adopts that approach with everyone who's willing to speak to her. It's a risk, but she takes it. "Not nearly that far ahead." She admits. "But some things here don't line up with what I remember." She hesitates, then adds, "Like the other me that everyone seems to know already."

“Yes, curiosity,” agrees Nathaniel. Half curiosity, half precautions against time-travelers out to kill him. Although if the redhead abilities are natural he has reasons to relax. Maybe.
He looks at the offered fares and smirks. “Everything looks incredibly unhealthy and delicious at the same time. I love the first quarter of the Twenty First Century, but… I suppose you come from the Dark Age,” he observes, losing his smile.
He is pretty observant. Rachel do seems lost. Her observation about events not lining up makes him nod. “Chances are high you slipped to a parallel timeline, not your exact past. That is actually safer, far less chance to cause a catastrophic causality failure.”

Despite herself, a slight smile touches Rachel's lips. It's difficult to tell without reading his mind, but on the surface that answer seemed honest enough. "I guess being a curiosity isn't so bad. At least you don't want to shoot me." From her tone, it sounds like that might be a nice change.
It doesn't take much for Rachel's attention to be drawn towards food. Her 'brother' managed to get her to eat something but it's been a while since had the opportunity to eat properly on a regular basis. "I'll settle for edible." Rachel offers quietly, before noticing that Nathaniel's tone has become a bit more somber. "Is that what it's called, where you come from?" She asks, looking back into her memories and shivering, pulling herself back to the here and now before they can get their claws into her. "It fits, I guess." She says, the lightness having gone out of her own voice as well.
To avoid brooding on her past (and possible future), Rachel keeps her attention on Nathaniel. Catastrophic causality failures are a bit much before breakfast. "Which means there's a chance this world won't become mine?" There's light in her eyes again, and curiosity.

Nathaniel nods, “that is always possible. By locating nexus points within the timeline it is possible to create divergences. It is tricky, however. Temporal inertia… what laymen would call ‘fate’ is a very difficult force to counter.” He helps the redhead to seat at a table, and gestures the waitress to come. Meanwhile he adds: “The second Dark Age after the second Heroic Age is one of those events that few timelines manage to avoid. The Great Betrayal comes just before the Mutant Genocide, then the Sentinel Uprising, and just as the Sentinels are neutralized, the Corporate Domination, which destroyed the mutant cantons and definitely set back human evolution a whole century. When did you come here, Ms. Summers?”
All this is ancient history for Nathaniel, but it might ruins Rachel’s breakfast. Oops.

It's possible. That's what Rachel takes from Nathaniel's words, at least at first, and a hopeful smile starts to creep over her features as she listens, allowing Nathaniel to guide her towards a table. Breakfast, as hungry as she is, is taking a bit of a back seat right now. Tricky? Difficult? That doesn't bother her. It's not like her life's been particularly easy so far. Just knowing that it's possible is enough.
Or at least it is until he tells her exactly what's waiting for this world if it doesn't avoid the fate of hers. For a couple of seconds the smile remains on Rachel's face, but only because her expression is frozen, but then it melts away, along with most of the surge of hope she felt before. The last vestiges harden into determination, and… Rachel catches herself. "I think I know how I got into so much trouble." She says, bleakly. "I'd do anything to prevent all that, but… I think I already have, and I think it didn't work."
Rachel seems to remember that Nathaniel actually asked her a question, and she answers, still distracted by what he's implied is coming. "When I left it was 2037."

Nathaniel nods. “Did you?… or maybe you will.” Time travel makes tenses complicated, doesn’t it? “2037 is… later I thought. I’d place the start of the crisis within five years, maybe sooner. The news reports the last couple years I have been studying present an alarming situation.” He studies the young woman again, then shrugs. “You have just arrived, I suppose you have some reading to do, right?”

Hope has well and truly left Rachel's expression now. She misses it already, but she meets Nathaniel's gaze without flinching as he piles on the bad news. She might as well tell him what she knows, it seems he knows far more than she does anyway. "I stopped counting birthdays a while ago, but I must be…" Rachel double-checks her mental arithmetic quickly. "Twenty. Where I came from it got bad, and I mean REALLY bad, when I was fourteen." Rachel's expression turns hard, and her eyes seem to look through him, into the past. "But things had been getting worse for years. I didn't realize it at the time." She looks a little bitter. "I guess it wasn't what you wanted to tell your kids, that the world was going to hell." She shrugs, blinks, and comes back to the present. "Maybe there isn't any time left." She sounds tired, almost resigned, but there's still a hint of defiance in her eyes. It's enough to stir her to answer his prompting. "You're right. I need to know what I've done, so I can fix it. Or at least not make it any worse." As she speaks, her eyes have drifted to the computers.

“I didn’t say there is no time left,” replies Nathaniel. “If there was not I would be flying in direction to Vega right now,” he half-smiles. “Time is somewhat of my specialty. I am gathering data, then I will seek the nexus points and come up with a plan. You should go ahead with your plans too. After all you have little to lose and everything to gain.”

Rachel looks quickly back at Nathaniel. Tricky thing, hope. Even when you think it's gone, it pops back up if you give it half a chance. Maybe she should listen to him. Maybe there still is time. Still, she's not so self-absorbed that she doesn't realise that it seems her immediate usefulness to him is at an end. "I'll do that." She tells him, with a half-smile of her own. And then, because he's the first person she's exchanged words with who hasn't tried to hunt her, shoot her, claim to be related to her, or a combination of all three, she adds, "If you need to gather any more data in future, you know where to find me."

"Do I?" Well, Rachel will remain a chronal anomaly for a while, but eventually she will vanish from his sensors. "Hmm… more details on the event chains would be useful, but whatever you remember is suspect, you have already spotted divergences, right?"
Finally the waitress comes, and they get some food. And access to the computers, of course. When she leaves, Nathaniel invites Rachel to check the news reports of the 'other' Rachel, and adds, "lets make it a two-way possibility, shall we? Send me a note to an email account if you want to talk."

A slightly confused frown touches Rachel's expression, but she shakes it off and just answers the question that's posed to her. "One or two. I think my parents would have told me if I had a brother." She deadpans, trying to inject some doubt into her tone, but for some reason she doesn't doubt that she and Nate (Grey) have a connection. She felt it, she just can't explain it.
When the food arrives… well, Rachel's not entirely without table etiquette. But she's also hungry, and she's used to having to eat quickly or lose the opportunity. So the conversation is fairly one-sided until she's finished. "Thanks." She says, when she's done, and means it. Maybe he didn't even need to think about the money he just spent, but where she's from sharing food is something to be grateful for.
Eating first might or might not have been such a good idea when it comes to finding out what she's supposedly done. Rachel finds the computers easy enough to get the hang of, if a bit primitive, but her finger hovers over the 'enter' key for a couple of seconds more than it should before she begins searching. What she finds doesn't cost her her breakfast, but… "Damn, what was I thinking? What happened to me?" Rachel says the words quietly. It's never easy to find out that you've apparently been a fugitive from the government for something that you haven't done yet. The more she reads, the worse Rachel feels. While she doesn't find anything about what the white-haired woman who tried to shoot her was alluding to, what she finds is bad enough. It's not what she did. It's the consequences she was apparently prepared to risk. "I can't go home." Rachel says, softly, then winces. It's not her home anyway. But she - the other Rachel - she's done enough. If she can't fix it, she won't add to it. She looks at the picture on the screen, of what is clearly an older her, and then closes the browser, twisting around in her chair to face Nathaniel with a sardonic expression. "You'll know where to find me." She says, her tone matching her expression. "Hiding out here, or…." She shrugs. "Somewhere worse, I guess." Even so, she takes the offered account details. The other Nate, she's sure she can talk him into sorting that much out for her.
"Thanks for breakfast." And then, a slight smile, despite the lingering despair at the hole she needs to dig herself out of. "And thanks for not trying to shoot me. This is already a better day than yesterday."

Nathaniel waves vaguely at the news and the food, “remember what you are reading might have only a passing resemblance with reality.” Pause. “Oh, they were shooting at you already?” that is some kind of record. His future self is Kang and they are not shooting him yet! “Regardless, I was not in this time when the ‘other you’ appeared. I do not think I can track her down easily. But I will be in touch with you. And no shooting,” he promises.

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