AoA: Lorna's Quest

October 27, 2017:

Sea a few days before the battle for Washington. Lorna Dane finally finds out the fate of her AoA counterpart. (emits by Nate).

Liberty, Pensilvania

A small town of with many greenhouses

Characters

NPCs: Valerie Cooper, Rusty Collins

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Most of the towns that dot what were the New York metropolitan area are settlements that either survived Apocalypse purges or have been rebuilt on the ruins of older towns. Liberty is different.

Liberty is a new town, built north of the ruins of a city called Allentown, in which used to be a national park. It was founded by survivors of the Holding Pens of New York and a few retired resistance fighters. It is remarkable because out of its about 4,000 residents, almost a fourth are mutants, and they don’t live in different areas of the town.

It is rare in post-Apocalypse America to find humans and mutants living together. Most keep their own settlements, and in larger towns they live in separated neighborhoods.

Liberty is also a rarity because it is almost self-sufficient. To face the nuclear winter, the inhabitants dug deep wells and raised glass-covered greenhouses, burning coal and wood to produce the electricity they needed until the town was hooked to the grid.

The houses are also new, not rebuilt, and they are made of brick and wood. Valerie Cooper has a cottage close to the town hall, where she works with some vague position that sounds like she does all the real work while the mayor is the public face. Lorna has been given this address, and the lights are on, so she must be inside.


Lorna wasn't entirely sure what to make of the trip to Liberty. After all, 'Captain America' had told her he was sending an escort along with her and that it shouldn't take too long. A few hours at most. Still, she had a sinking feeling that it was just going to be another run around. That she'd never find what had happened to this world's version of her and fix what had been wrong.

That and she also feared just showing up on someone's door when said someone clearly knew this world's version of her… and wasn't aware that she wasn't one in the same.

Still, she came up to the cottage door, leather jacket, jeans and battered boots. She stomped her feet to warm them up against the chill that spread up from the ground and grimaced. "Right," She muttered under her breath, summoning up her courage and finally knocking on the door with a firm, yet polite, she hoped.. knock.


They did offer Lorna a jeep ride. But actually she made it here faster by flying. It is just a hundred miles. With the army so busy with the preparation for the attack on Washington it seemed better to come here alone.

The door opens not fifteen seconds from the knocking.

Valerie Cooper is a slender woman that must have been pretty attractive in her youth. Blonde, tall, pale blue eyes. But she is in her mid-40s and had a hard life. Scars and worry have left a legacy in her face and her body.

And she goes deathly pale at seeing Lorna. Yes, she recognized her. The woman stumbles back and looks about to faint.


A wince pulled at her expression and Lorna held up her hands in what was supposed to be a placating manner, until she remember that her hands were usually how she directed her powers. She put them back at her sides with a sheepish look. "Miss Cooper? Please, please… calm down. I'm not.. I'm not the Lorna Dane you knew." She hurried to explain herself. "I need to talk to you. Please. I swear I'm not here to cause trouble or anything."

Mentally, she cursed Bucky Barnes for not having contacted the woman for her. She knew this wouldn't go well.

"May I come in? Please?"


In his defense James Barnes has a lot in his plate nowadays. Lorna’s sidequest has been given minimum consideration and Val Cooper for him is just a name in a folder full with the names of resistance fighters. Most long dead.

And Valerie recovers quickly, “who are you? A shapeshifter? Illusionist?” Her lips form a thin line when the young woman speaks. “Explain first,” she demands, straightening.


Lorna stepped back to give the woman her space, and dragged a hand through her tangled green locks and sighed. "I am Lorna Sally Dane. I … I'm not a clone, or a copy, or someone pretending to be her to yank your chain. I'm.. I'm from another world. An alternative reality. I look, I know it sounds crazy, and I'm willing to answer any of your questions about it.. I just.. I'm looking for this world's version of me." Her brows creased and she dropped her hands, thinking.

Slowly, very slowly, as Lorna kept her gaze on Ms. Cooper, she lifted a hand out from her side. She closed her eyes, searching for something metal. She reached for something that wouldn't be destructive, something that wouldn't be taken as a threat. She found a nail. Left behind from construction when the house was built. It was rusted and bent, and it flew to her outstretched palm.

Just as slowly, she reached her hand out, palm up. The nail balancing there above her skin. "I'm Polaris."


Valerie sighs softly. "Alternate realities, uh? I read about those long ago… before the war." She steps aside, inviting Lorna inside. "You are just a kid," she notes in mild surprise. "Well, I… guess I can tell you about Lorna. I got her out of the Breeding Pits. What do you need to know?"

The house is pretty nice inside. Somewhat rustic, but Valerie has a good number of pre-war, modern-looking furniture and appliances, along a fabulous-looking fireplace and wall kitchen in the main room. "Do you want anything to drink? I was preparing tea," she offers.


Lorna exhaled a breath, letting the nail flop back down to the ground and off the woman's steps. No point in leaving it someplace where someone might step on it accidentally. She brushed off the palm of her hand against her jeans and stepped inside, her brows lofting higher as she glanced around at the inside of the cottage. It was nice. Warm. Homey even. Such a difference from the cold military style of the Triskelion. This was a home. And not a stiffly posh one either.

She relaxed slightly, shoving her hands into her pockets. "I'm old enough to go to nearly have a college degree." She muttered under her breath about the kid comment.

Still, she perked up at the mention of tea. "Yeah.. sure I'd love some. Thanks." She glanced around again, trailing after Valerie. "I'm trying to find this world's version of Lorna. Where did you take her after the pens?"


Lorna found a chair and perched on the edge as Miss Cooper got out all the fancy bits and pieces for tea that Lorna never particularly used. As a college kid? She was used to heating her water up in a mug in the microwave and living without anything else added to it. So wen the woes of her world. Still, the idea of something sweet was a welcome and she happily added some to her tea and sipped at it. It was warm and reminded her of home.

Still, besides a murmured thank you, when the tea was brought out, she kept quiet as Valerie spoke. Her brows furrowed and her head tilted to the side. "So.. So is she here? In this town? I'd heard that .. she was suffering from instability.. I didn't know that it was quite that bad."


Lorna found a chair and perched on the edge as Miss Cooper got out all the fancy bits and pieces for tea that Lorna never particularly used. As a college kid? She was used to heating her water up in a mug in the microwave and living without anything else added to it. So wen the woes of her world. Still, the idea of something sweet was a welcome and she happily added some to her tea and sipped at it. It was warm and reminded her of home.

Still, besides a murmured thank you, when the tea was brought out, she kept quiet as Valerie spoke. Her brows furrowed and her head tilted to the side. "So.. So is she here? In this town? I'd heard that .. she was suffering from instability.. I didn't know that it was quite that bad."


"And amnesia, because a fight with Rogue long ago," adds Valerie. "She told me she had been in a mental institution before the war. She admitted to have had episodes of violence in her youth. But she was not violent at all anymore. Yes, she came with me, and married here, and had a daughter, Raven."

Valerie looks up at Lorna, "she was very happy for a time. I think happier she had been ever before in her life. But last winter we had an epidemic, one of those bio-engineered viruses that still linger. We lost Lorna and a few others. I am sorry."


Lorna pursed her lips together, her throat tightening as Valerie continued with the tale. The mention of a daughter? That had her eyes going wide and she gaped. "What? Really? Does she have powers? How old is she?" She leaned forward, interest in every fiber of her being. Jean always was the one to haver alternate reality kids. The ones that changed the world in one way or another. To hear that some version of her, possibly insane, had gotten better and had had a kid? She wanted to know.

Of course, her interest waned, her brows furrowing as she sat back hard in her chair at the news that this world's version of her was dead. Dead and no one knew about it. Dead and Pietro's lies had never been corrected. Dead. Gone.

Lorna felt her eyes water faintly for this other version of herself and she felt her stomach knot sickeningly. "..Where is she buried?"


Valerie nods. “Oh, Raven is three and… I have don’t think she has powers yet. But being the daughter of two mutants I think she will when she is older,” she smiles faintly. “Lorna was a good friend, so I am pretty much that child’s aunt. Russell lives in this very street, but near the mill. And Lorna was buried in the temple graveyard, of course.”


Lorna leaned forward, her brows furrowed as she listened and she swallowed a hard lump that formed in her throat. "Can.. can I talk to them? I know it's.. it's like seeing a ghost but." She bit her lower lip, "I wanted to find her to tell her that Pietro faked the genetics tests.. She's.. she was related to Magneto. He was her father. I am his daughter in my world.. She is here too."


"Was she?!" Val's eyes widen. "Oh my god, I never believed her," the woman looks appalled at learning this bit of information. "She was told all her life she wasn't… it was one of her greatest regrets that she, well… no one believed her." Valerie looks about to cry, the teacup clatters on the table, "poor Lorna," she murmurs.

She breathes deeply, recovering some composure. "I don't know if you should… I mean, it might be a shock for Raven. And Rusty… he is still mourning."


Lorna nodded, her brows pinched and she swallowed the curses, the anger that bubbled up in her chest. She was too late to tell her counter part that she wasn't wrong. That others had set her up. It hurt. That woman had known something so deeply and never been believed. "My mother, in my world had an affair. She died when I was very young and I was adopted. In my world, Magneto told me himself. He knew I existed. I had a test done to confirm it too." Her lips twisted with a grimace again.

"They deserve to know. And if I'm trapped here in this world… if I can't get home.. if possible. I.. I would like to be in their lives some how." She whispered. Oh if Lorna ever saw Pietro again he was a dead man.


"And if you meet them and then leave in a few days, you will hurt them," counters Valerie, frowning. "You should tell Magneto, however, if he is half the man they say he is, he will make things right and maybe Raven will find she has a grandfather. In this town almost everybody is the last survivor of his or her family. And if you find you can't return to your home, you can come here and I will make the introductions."


Lorna nodded at Valerie's words about vanishing back and though she wanted to see this daughter.. she knew that the other woman was right. "I haven't said anything to him. I.. I wanted Lorna's permission. Given what Pietro did.. and the bad blood between her and Rogue.." Her lips twisted with a grimace.

"It didn't feel right… but now… ?" She shook her head. "It still doesn't feel right. I dunno."


"That, at least, I can show you," Val stands up, going for a drawer and picking up a photo album, then sitting at Lorna's side. These are old style pictures, taken with instant cameras. A few are of Lorna. An older Lorna, her hair very long an very green. In some of them she is with a redheaded man, smiling. "Rusty Collins, her husband," mentions Valerie. Lorna with a newly born in her arms.


Lorna leaned forward at the picture as Valerie brought it out. Her brows pinched, and an odd hush fell over her. "What powers does he have? How did they meet?" Her voice was quiet. As if it mattered that she kept her voice down.

"You know it's common for second generation mutants to manifest early. I'm .. a good example of that. Actually. She's third generation maybe.." She pointed at the baby in the photo. "She's healthy, right?"


Valerie nods, "healthy and quite the handful," states Valerie. "And yes, she would be third generation. One of the first. But if she has manifested powers, Rusty has not told me anything." The blonde woman stands up again, giving Lorna a minute or two with the pictures. "If you wish I will take you to the temple," because it is a temple, not a church. Christianity is no longer the majority religion in America. Too many refugees. Plus a few new gods. Thorism is on the rise.


Lorna pressed her fingers against the picture frame, as if she could reach back in time and tell the older woman there that she wasn't crazy about her parentage. That she was right. That someone cared enough to come after her… But she had been happy. She had been in love. Gotten married and had a kid. Who now lacked a mother. Part of her wanted to stay here in this world. Here in this other wise waste land, where so much was wrong.. But some of it.. there was good too.

She blinked up at Valerie as the woman mentioned the temple and nodded, her eyes damp. "Yeah, ok. I would like that."

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