No memory, no answers

May 19, 2017:

Nate Grey seeks Emma to find out their memories do not match.

New York, 5th Avenue


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Charles Xavier


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It's later in the evening. Well past dinner hour, but not yet approaching the wee hours of the morning. This is when the Hellfire Club is arguably it's most alive to it's exclusive membership and the cars that drive up to the front doors are mostly dropping off their passengers. It's rained recently, and the streets still shine like glass under the glow of streetlamp and buildings.

There is one sedan, however, with darkly tilted windows that waits. The driver stands at the rear door, holding it open and just… waiting.

After a brief while, a blonde wrapped in a white trench coat emerges and pulls her collar a little closer against the cool spring night air. As soon as that uniformed chauffeur sees her, there's a nod in her direction. "Miss Frost." The sharp clack of her stiletto-heeled boots is hard to miss as they descend the concrete steps and move in the car's direction.

Still going through his list of people that are… somewhat missing (misplaced?) Nate stumbled with the name of a certain blonde telepath. Not much in the X-Men mission files, and no mention Emma was ever a teacher or X-person. Wtf?

That was four hours ago. He called her office, but of course no one there knew any ‘Nathaniel Grey’ and he got politely ignored. So he showed there in person and applied some telepathic trickery to find out Emma was in the Hellfire Club. Naturally.

It was obvious, and maybe he should have come here first. Hovering a few hundred yards over Central Park, Nate was giving a five minutes consideration to the best way to get into the club sneaky-like, vaguely aware it would have ended up badly, when he spotted the woman leaving the building.

But unless Emma is very distracted, that is about the time she would feel Nate’s presence through her telepathic senses. His psychic signature is so powerful than he can’t disguise it even when he is trying to shield his mind. And now he is flying towards her vehicle.

Oh, she feels it well enough.

And while she doesn't try to hide herself, Emma Frost does stop her forward advance towards the car and narrow her eyes suspiciously. She doesn't trust most other telepaths, and Nate will feel as the woman most certainly locks down everything in her own mind that she possibly can. Emotions and stray thoughts, all sealed behind the veritable fortress that is her own formidable defenses.

All that's left is the prickly remains of her telepathic presence that does not invite intrusion as her ice blue gaze strains against the misty sky for the source of her concern.

And for his part, her driver's seen her pull enough strange antics that he doesn't really question her delay. He simply looks up to see where she's looking.

Not a greeting, not a flicker of recognition. Nate’s eyes narrow, but he halts his flight a few feet over the top of the car. The driver looks up, but he is unable to see the young man, who is cloaked with a simple telepathic compulsion. Most human minds can’t see or hear him.

“Ms. Frost,” the young man with a glowing eye is tall and well-built, and battle-scarred too. “We meet again. Or maybe for you this is a first time, hmm?” He peers at the blonde woman, although not with his telepathy. “Yeah, go figure. You got hit by the reality warp, not many of your students remember you now.”

A glance to her driver is all of the evidence that Frost needs to confirm that he can't see the hovering Grey. An eyebrow pricks upwards as she looks back.

"My-" She stops short of the word, before testing it out on her tongue. "My students?" she inquires softly, unheard by all but Nate after a bit of illusion-weaving of her own. To everyone else, she's simply standing there searching and holding a finger up to her driver to bid him be quiet and wait. Nate will see her true self when her head slowly tilts a degree to the side as she considers a something. A something that is already churning in her gut, curdling her demeanor. Her eyes begin to narrow. "Is this your idea of a joke?"

“Not really,” replies the young man, “that would be a waste of time, since you have no sense of humor, right?” At least she didn’t. If Emma is nowadays the soul of the party, oops. But it doesn’t seem likely.

“Anyway, we can do this the slow way or the quick way.” He drops to the ground at the other side of the car. “Slow means we can talk a lot about time travel, alternate worlds and an insane Inhumans changing the world with crazy powers. Which is what I remember and you don’t.”

"My sense of humor is just fine, you impertinent twit," Emma snarls as she tries, very hard to tamp down her temper. Her unpalatable failure is on clear display for a stranger to see. She chides herself inwardly. This is just lovely. "The problem is that I've yet to hear anything that's actually amusing. And I imagine your 'quick' way isn't the joke's surprise punchline."

“That is fine, since it is not amusing at all,” Nate tilts his head, curious. The reason of her anger is not obvious to him. Maybe he hit a nerve without realizing, but he is not the kind of person to pry about it. “Quick way is a trip through my mindscape. It will end up with mutual headaches at the very least, so I hope you have painkillers in there,” meaning her limo. “My brain is unpleasantly ‘hot’ for most telepaths, but it will let you verify my story and show you I am willing to trust you at least a little.”

Emma crosses her arms under her breasts as a light drizzle begins to start up again. And for all of her glowering, it really doesn't help her mood. The very last thing she needs is to look like some pathetic, drowned rat atop of this.

But then… Then he offers a very interesting proposition that bids her silent. And, at the end, she relents. "I've got a few things inside the car, yes."

With a softness like an exhale, reality and her driver's perception of her once again become the same.

She turns towards the car and moves to climb inside. And to Nate, over her shoulder, she calls wordlessly. »Well, then, get inside. No reason for us both to get wet."

Telekinetics do not get wet, but Nate slides inside the car with a humorless smirk. Definitely better for this kind of talk than the street. “I am Nathaniel Grey, by the way,” he offers. “Mutant, omega class. Main psychic powers telepathy and telekinesis. I hang out with the X-Men sometimes, but I don’t always agree with them at everything. Nice to metcha.” Maybe it would have been better to start with the introduction, but protocol is so not his thing.

"I figured. The mutant part, I mean. I'd introduce myself in kind, but…" Blue eyes close and eyebrow arch as she shrugs her shoulders helplessly, even as she settles into her seat. The door is shut behind them.

"Not that I am one to argue with someone randomly showing up on a street and offering me knowledge straight from their brain," she continues once she's nestled herself in the corner and crossed her legs, "But it does lead a sane person to inquire as to why. So, let's start with that before we get to far into this. I'm clearly not whoever you think I am. …Not entirely anyway, right? All of your talk of realities."

“What can I say? Everyone thinks I am reckless,” admits Nate, half-turning to look at the blonde. “But we could be allies and I am impatient. This method probably saves us a few awkward conversations, and we are telepaths, so why to limit ourselves to mundane conversations?”

So he switches to telepathic communication. «Of course letting you into my mind has some risks. Like you trying to manipulate my memories or implanting suggestions there. That could work, but it would also spectacularly fail, because I am quite stubborn and my mind is an odd place. And since I -am- a reckless and violent guy… well.»

He smiles, and taps his temple, the telepathic mental defenses come down. «Come and see».

Emma bites her painted lip, watching Nate for a long moment and debating the wisdom of diving down the rabbit hole. Leaning forward, her knuckles rap on the glass that separates she and her driver. "Home, please," she requests, before she settles back again. «I'm not most telepaths, you know,» she finally retorts to a possible slight several turns of conversation ago.

But that's all she offers before grounding herself, touching her own temple with manicured fingertips and closing her eyes.

It's silence after that, her mind stretching out quietly and unseen by most mortals towards the one beside her. It's tentative, and feather soft, that that first touch.

There is a high level of psychic energy beyond Nate’s mental barriers. Emma’s cautious approach proves to be smart, as it is blinding bright and hyper-charged inside his mind. It takes a few instants to get used to the background noise. «Are you here?» He asks.

This is not where Nate wanted to start, but since Emma was so… subtle, she gets the real beginning. «Right, I guess you do» he comments, as the mindscape resolves into the ruins of a city. The sky is cloudy, an ashen red. Scorched buildings, most of them half-crumbled, frame the remains of a street, with gutted vehicles at the sides. The old style of the cars hint the destruction came in the 80s. «Not what I wanted to show you, really. But this is the place I grew up. America fell halfway during the mutant-human war; the main cities were ‘culled’, which means most people was murdered.» There are some corpses here and there, but they are little more than skeletons with some rotten clothes on.

«I left this place when the last nukes dropped. I was about seventeen… this way,» through what seems a crystal prism where Emma and Nate are reflected a hundred times. Each reflection slightly different. Past the crystal there is a living, normal-looking New York. “Later on I learned to walk between worlds on my own; that was what got me to yours almost three years ago.”

Externally, Emma's brow creases at the brightness of it, but that is all. Eyelashes flutter nearly imperceptibly, not even close to hinting at the worlds that unfold to her at Nate's behest. «A dramatic improvement to be certain,» she comments simply about the horrorscape, the words decidedly neutral. In such close mental contact, however, it's harder to keep her host wholly unaware of her own sentiments.

She's cautious. Suspicious, even. There are parts of her that look for the signs of untruth in the memory. But, at the same time, she's still intrigued.

She follows him onward through the guided tour.

“I visited a few Earths, but that is not important. Eventually I got to yours,” explains Nate. “And I found it harder to leave, for a few reasons…” which he is not interested in revealing, although he is not good at hiding his thoughts. There was a young woman with white hair somewhere.

“So here I hooked up with the X-Men, just when the Purifiers launched their offensive against Mutant Town and American mutants as a whole,” which led to several months of violence and dozens of mutant killings, with little response from the police and Special Response Division. Eventually the SRD was proven to be corrupt in Gotham and New York and disbanded, the assets absorbed by the DEO.

“That is when I meet you. You had gone to Xavier after some kind of soul-searching and joined the staff of the school. But the X-Men were not a good fit. So… we gravitated towards a secretive sub-team, the X-Force, and went to fix problems without being nice about it.” There was an interesting group, and maybe Emma would recognize a few others. Cable and Psylocke were there, too. “Didn’t last long, but I think we helped stop the Purifiers and then fought a corporation turning young mutants into brainwashed cyborgs. When Xavier decided to make the school public, you left. And then…”

The mindscape changes. This is not a memory, though. Nate is projecting an image of North America from low orbit, superposed to what he ‘felt’ from the psychic plane. “Steel City had been destroyed by monsters months ago. This Inhuman guy, Alfie Omega, decided to ‘fix it’. His power…” there is a burst of light at Steel City location, painful from the psychic plane, waves of force rip through the whole continent and beyond. “He pushed me out of the world; I fell through the Spiral of Worlds.”

It happens, Nate (and Emma) are pushed and fall into something that looks an impossible huge double spiral of parallel Earths that seem to extend to both sides of the infinite. It is unreal, and even Nate knows that it is just how his mind visualizes the paths through parallel realities.
“Took me days to returns, and many things have changed. Steel City is back, and although many people still remember me, there are some differences. Some have been… changed. Their lives in the past few years changed completely.”

Emma watches things as they occur, but she doesn't comment. No, instead, she observes and drinks in the details of it all. She follows along, wrapped in the memory of perception and listening to the Nate's dutiful narration. It's strange, certainly, but more off-putting is the consideration of a self that… no longer exists.

A perceptible feeling of mild unease escapes her for a brief moment, but then is locked away anew.

«I have none of these memories,» she states simply, knowing that he likely already knows. But, more to the point, she continues. «And none of that answers, What do you want from me?»

The landscape is fading, as the tale is told. «No… and most X-Men and students can’t remember this either. Hell, almost no one remembers!» Oh, and there goes the question. Which is annoying but sadly expected. «What would I possibly get from telling you all this, uh? Probably nothing. I just thought you should know. This is a path you could take. Lots of agencies and groups are gunning on mutants, even now the Purifiers finally have been declared a criminal group and the feds are after them. Collaboration makes sense.»

The landscape fades when the story is over, and the blonde extracts herself from the very bright environment without any further ado. It's not the pills she goes for, however. It's a small box tucked under the seat, where the booze hides.

She opens it and extracts the decanter of scotch and one of the crystal tumblers nestled inside with it. She pours a generous measure and begins to sip from it, and then looks at last to Nate. "It might. Depending on the effort. I suppose it's a fairly safe assumption that neither of us are particularly inclined to watch the genocide of mutantkind without …intervention." Her crossed leg bobs as she thinks. "But the preferred form of intervention might differ greatly betwixt you and I."

Nate hrms when Emma breaks the connection. To say the truth it went smoother than most… all other times. Maybe he is finally getting the hang to this telepathic stuff.

“Sure,” he agrees. “There are different ways to tackle the problem. But I have seen what happened when humans and mutants go to war for real. That makes me a believer in ‘whatever works’ as preferred form of intervention.”

"You still don't know me," Emma tells him tightly, her sipping becoming more a… not-so-subtle draining of her cup. It is there, in the downing of her beverage, that she perhaps betrays herself. She closes her eyes and slumps more readily down into the corner of the door and seat, and she takes a breath. The burning of her throat and belly is nothing in comparison to what she fears is brewing in her brain.

"I could suggest eradicating humankind." Without opening her eyes, she waves a hand in the air. "…Just, as an example, of course. My point is, you don't know."

“That won’t work,” replies Nate with a humorless smirk. “But there is Magneto out there for world conquering and eradicating, right?” Would she go that way? Anything is possible, he guesses. Just not likely. Hopefully. “But I didn’t really come to ask you about it. I haven’t grand plans. I try to deal with problems as I see them. And what I won’t do is sitting in my ass when places like Genosha exist.”

"Genosha." A single pale eye cracks open as Emma growls the word and lifts her head just long enough to consider her guest. It closes as she goes back to resting her head. The empty tumbler is set to resting on her knee. "Little neanderthals, trying to tame a forest fire to warm their filthy caves at night."

“And Cyberdata, and the FoH, and Apocalypse,” adds Nate. But Genosha might be the worse due to the volume of mutants and other superhumans being brainwashed and enslaved there.

Well, no. Apocalypse is the worst in Nate’s book. But he was defeated and has yet to return.
“Plenty to do, if you want to do anything, Frost. But I think I have taken enough of your time today. And since you are not sharing the scotch, I am going to leave you. I still need to find a few more former allies, and see what they remember.”

"It's remarkable how there never stops being plenty to do," Emma quips, the corner of her mouth tugging upwards and threatening to destroy the frown that has thus far dominated her expression. "I'll consider it, at least."

“True, no rest for the wicked and all that,” quips Nate back. “Enjoy your evening,” he adds, phasing out of the vehicle without opening the door. «You know how to contact me,» since telepaths do not need cellphones, either. He flies away.

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