The Pilot

November 14, 2017:

(Backdated for late August) Nate possessing a smuggler pilot flies Emma and the Genoshan President out of Genosha.

An old airplane.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

She'd hired him on the coast of Mozambique. He was a blockade runner by trade, although the jobs he'd come across as of late were not enough to pay certain debts. It's part of why he was hiding in Mozambique to begin with. And so when a mysterious woman in white offered him an ungodly amount of money, he didn't ask questions. He just said yes, and he lost consciousness somewhere in the air above the oceanic waters, on a course for a point somewhere in that ocean.

Emma had changed the course, once she'd had what she needed to continue flying and get it the rest of the way to Genosha. She'd almost let him wake up during the storm, but she'd managed to touch down without him.

Fast forward to right now.

Now, there's an unconscious president - is it too soon for Reneau to be called a former president? - in the back of the plane, drugged out of her mind and strapped in. Because, safety!

Granted, nothing about this entire mission has been safe. All the same, there's something a little unsettling about relying upon the possessed form of what was once a single-pilot body to now get them out of Genoshan airspace.

The white leather-wrapped blonde is beyond exhausted, and it's diminished the occasional dubious glances cast in !Nate Grey's direction as Emma Frost helps him through the initial sequences as they prepare to take off.

At least she doesn't have to worry about the pilot waking up halfway over the water; his psyche is sleeping unaware underneath Nate Grey's presence. She'd made certain to tuck him up securely, to give the other psionic space.

"You're certain you're up for this?" she inquires, her voice betraying a little more uncertainty than she'd like to admit. A little late to ask, perhaps, but better late than never? Not that she knows, precisely, what she'll say if he tells her he's not.

“Of course,” replies the pilot/Nate. “I should be back in four hours, well within schedule.” Pause, he glances to the blonde and smirks. Nate smirk looks odd on the older, smaller man. “Ah, you mean if I can pilot this thing? I am pretty sure I could do it even without tapping into the man’s memories. I have been taking flying lessons for almost three years and I can fly the X-Men supersonic stealth jet pretty well. This is simpler, and the pilot has over a thousand flight hours of experience. Should be no trouble.”

He is taking fairly well he is -dead- and possessing a strange body. But Nate is pretty desensitized to the bizarre. And he is actually seen most things with rare clarity now his mind is not overcharged with psychic energy. He feels calm and surprisingly focused.

Alright, then! The words seem to sit well, and Emma smiles palely back and then arranges one last time the headset that she hates so much.

She's got a few hours herself, here and there, although it's been on smaller craft like this. She owns a company with a transportation arm. She knows a lot of rich men who like to show off. She learned a little, here and there, but it hardly compares to formal training like Grey has. It also doesn't help that the plane's old and heavily modified. The gas tank probably has very little in the way of reserves beyond what was needed to get to Genosha and back again. For Nate, however, once he looks, he'll see that the pilot's made the trek a couple of times, although under far better circumstances. The poor man's just become an accessory to an international kidnapping now, although he doesn't know it.

The crime is just one more than Emma Frost is adding to her list of sins. It pales in comparison to some of her others.

"If something starts to feel wrong," she offers, the words echoing more clearly in the headset now that engines are starting to warm up, "You need to tell me. No toxic masculinity today, please."

Nate frowns at the levels of fuel on the display. So much for going faster, he needs to conserve the reserve. He will also need to fly low to avoid whatever detection tech Genosha still has after they knocked down their entire defense system.

Was this Scott's plan? Why are they not using Illyana teleportation? Ah, well.

"I am fine," he tells Emma. He is always fine, see? Toxic masculinity whatever. He is just stubborn. Besides, if he start listing the things that are wrong they will be here until tomorrow.

"Have you done this thing before?" He asks, curious. Barely heard over the sound of the engines roaring at take off. "I mean moving your mind completely into a different body."

"I have." The words are quiet enough that, were it not for that headset, they'd be lost entirely. "And Charles knows that."

Nate is the part of the plan that wasn't quite what Scott and Emma expected. But at least the White Queen seems able to adjust the plans to accommodate for one Nate Grey. "Which is why I want you to tell me if something starts to feel wrong sooner rather than later."

A pause, and then Emma looks over in the mismatched man's direction and she offers a half-hearted smile. "Although, I didn't do half the damage to my body that you managed. That's… rather new territory."

"I will never hear the end of this from Laura," replies Nate, still managing a faint smile. "She believes I am too careless. 'Stop bleeding Nate' she says. Oh well." No blood left to lose now. Not even his bones remain.

He knows of a bodyless telepath that manages to cling to life. The Shadow King steals a body after another, consuming them with his reckless use of power and his uncontrolled vices. That is not the life he would live, he rather let go. But first he will see Genosha come to an end.

"I know I would die young, y'know?" He notes blandly. "I was programmed to die at 21. Well, I made to almost 24. I wouldn't have bet on six years when I left my home world. I made my choices fully aware of where I was going."

"You're not dead quite yet." The words are sharp and stern, and all hint of smile disappears from Emma's face. Her eyes turn back sharply to the plane's windshield as they climb and take to the air. It's so much smoother with the clear skies of late morning, as opposed to the dark and rain that saw her arrival.

Nate's attention to the climb into higher altitudes perhaps affords her the opportunity to hide the way her fingers dig into her thighs to keep herself reined in. Present.

"So, less defeatist attitude, Mister Grey." She laughs suddenly, although the sound rings hollow in her own ears, her gaze turning back to him from the side window. "You have me on your side! What could possibly go wrong?" Please don't feel obligated to answer that, she thinks to herself with a small sigh. It's a thought that might bleed past her notoriously stringent defenses. "If Charles and your team can't figure it out, I'll help. But I'm sure they will. So, let's just get through this, and then they can get to sorting you out."

"By any scientific definition I am," replies the man, eyes on the instruments. There is a certain clumsiness in how he moves, but no hesitation at controlling the flying machine. "Undead, maybe. A ghost? But that is not science. I guess I am treading on undiscovered land." He clears his throat.

"Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come."

Pause. "I do love Shakespeare. If we lived in a better world maybe I would have seriously gone for a career in acting. Oh well, I do have a couple ideas, but none of them seems good at this moment."

"Why, Mister Grey," Emma gasps, affecting a certain undeserved pride. "I never would have pegged you for a fan of the immortal bard." She throws herself into the distraction of it, far happier to cling to it than bleak alternatives that come of not finding a solution for Nate's present problem. "I believe he also wrote, 'That we shall die we know; 'tis but the time and drawing days out, that men stand upon.'"

Crossing her arms, Emma sets her eyes back down to the water that passes beneath them briefly. And then her eyes close as she starts carefully pinpointing places where eyes might hide, hoping that they don't see the tiny plane that goes by. "I'm serious, though. Just because a thing isn't defined doesn't mean it ceases to be."

"Yes, and also from Julio Caesar," the pilot/Nate replies with a grin. "I grew up among a theater troupe… well, actually a mutant guerrilla group. But when we weren't blowing up train tracks and rescuing prisoners heading for death camps we did some real acting." And the Complete Works of Shakespeare was about the only book he could read. If he had grown up in a more normal place he would have had access to Internet and video consoles he would probably be a pretty regular illiterate Millennial. Not everything was bad in the Age of Apocalypse! "Ah, don't worry. We will think something. The professor seemed to know where we were going with this… thing."

"I'm not worried," Emma lies smoothly, because she is. How could she not be? Because now she feels partly responsible. As the coastline of Hammer Bay fades in the distance, a long exhalation carries some of the White Queen's stress. One thing down.

"Because you're right, he did." Although she has concerns that she doesn't voice, with how everything broke off at the end. She worries a corner of her lower lip a moment between her teeth, and then she lets it go to - once more - focus on the here and now. "So just be careful with the body when you get back. I know there's not an official contract, but I'd just feel terrible if he got damaged." Everything in her tone, however, says that… isn't actually entirely true. Yeah, that's what she decides is less important to lie about.

Nate nods. Mostly about the last issue. "I am not going to put him at risk. I…" he huffs. "I am really uncomfortable because he did not know what is going on and he shouldn't be here. This can't go on for long. Whatever happens after the final attack I am letting him go."

Which is not smart. No anchor means he will start fading again, it is unlikely his astral form had the time to heal the damage in so little time. But this is not a question of cleverness for him. He is not stupid - he is really that principled despite his violent and reckless attitude. And he doesn't fear death.

"You're going to stay right where you are, Mister Grey," Emma says, her eyes reopening wide to look at him with a bewildered expression. For her, to whom survival is so rabidly treasured, the words he speaks are an alien tongue. "Ugh. I didn't think martyr complexes were contagious." A hand unfurls in his direction, moving to set a hand down on the pilot's arm, if Nate will allow it. "You just have to give a little time to get this all figured out. A few days won't hurt him. Trust me. You can feel him, can't you? Sleeping soundly nearby. He may not have known what he was getting into, but he's hardly innocent."

There's a pause, and then an arch of an eyebrow. "I'll pay him more than I promised, if that makes it better?" Because it should, right?

Nate chuckles. Really, money solves anything? He closes his mouth when he realizes something. "Oh hell… I am pretty sure -he- would accept the deal. Greedy guy." And not an innocent, no. But hardly deserving this. "

"A martyr, moi? Who has been spreading the contagion this time?" Survival. But survival is -his- thing. He survived far beyond what anyone could expect. He survived the death of his friends. The death of his world. And the death sentence programed in his genetics.

But sooner or later his luck was going to run out.

"I don't know, but it's seemed to have gotten you dirty. You don't need to worry about letting him go. He's fine." Nate's luck may run out someday, but today is not that day, should Emma Grace Frost have any say about it. Which, she really doesn't, but she's going to try to pretend she has some authority over such things.

But perhaps the point seems settled, for now. And that's enough.

The blonde closes her eyes again, and she would melt into the chair if she could. Every part of her hurts from not sleeping properly, and she keeps hoping that if she keeps her eyes closed she can pretend she's sleeping without actually needing to. That she can make the pounding headache from being so near Nate in the astral plane for that careful transition go away.

Finally, she gives up. "But I need to sleep off this headache. …Are you alright for twenty minutes? You can wake me up if you need me, but… twenty minutes of a nap sounds like heaven right now."

Nate nods. "Sleep. We have at least two hours more of flight," he comments, checking the controls again briefly. "I'll wake you up when we are arriving." Twenty minutes seems too little given the tension of the last few days. He is not tired, though. Can ghosts tire? The pilot sure had a lot of rest with Emma putting him to sleep so much time.

Nice to know she cares about him. Or at least she pretends very well. It does not change his decision, though. He will live or die by his own rules. Soon.

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