We Won

April 04, 2018:

Emma Frost return to Genosha for more HFC business. And a wedding. Magneto emitted by Nate Grey.

The Spire, Hammer Bay

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Polaris, Eclipse, Shaw

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Emma has avoided traveling here, for a good number of reasons.

Her company’s board was in town for the third quarter strategy review, and she needed to be present. Tony Stark’s misadventures in Genosha meant that she didn’t want to risk being caught in her manipulative quick-stepping, and it was best to steer clear until she was fairly certain that he wasn’t going to be a problem.

And then there were a few other Hellfire items that were set at her feet for managing, and so it was that Magneto in his distant island fiefdom was forced to be content with regular video conferences that would explain why—yet again—the sanctions against Genosha were still in place. Engineers, however, were sent in whatever quantity the Master of Magnetism might request.

But even Magneto must understand the need for a subtle hand, yes?

This time when Frost disembarks the plane on Genoshan soil (or the tarmac of a small, private airport upon it, at any rate), the woman is wrapped in a haute couture sundress that hasn’t been made publicly available yet after its Parisian Fashion Week debut. Her calves are wrapped in the thin leather strings of her stiletto sandals, and the rest of her legs are left bare to mid thigh. The gauzy formless number she wears floats upon the breeze, seemingly weightless and complemented by the gossamer-wrapped sunhat she wears with its enormous brim set over an oversized pair of sunglasses. A fine-knit cardigan hangs from her shoulders, covering the straps of her dress but so translucent as to not obscure the detail that they’ve been adorned with raw-edged fabric flowers.

She doesn’t rush those steps—or anything, really. There’s time.


The Hammer Bay International Airport is open again, and looking much better than a few months ago, even though half the buildings are closed for repairs. It sees so little traffic there is not much of a problem. Emma’s plane was the second today, only two more are expected.

It is still a very high tech place, and the private airplane is linked though a jet bridge that seems pulled out from a high-budget Star Trek movie. A small hover-drone leads her to the aircar waiting outside. The vehicle is driven (or piloted) by a smiling mutate with three eyes, and flies the white-clad woman to the Spire in the center of the city, taking a slight detour so the telepath can take a good sight to the rebuilding city.

Emma didn’t see Hammer Bay in person last time she was in Genosha. But there were pictures in some newspapers and the Internet. There were a few filmed documentaries about the sorry state of the city. Like the airport, it has changed quite a bit.

The Spire is an impressive skyscraper and one of the dozen or so that rise proudly, bright steel and glass. Parks and gardens cover much of downtown, smaller buildings visible among them. The city center has been restored and looks better than it was before the civil war. Past it the older building still show many scars, but it doesn’t really matter, since Magneto has promised Hammer Bay will be a city for mutants and that means most of its almost five million inhabitants will be expelled from the mutant capital.


The advances and improvements of the city are met with a curious consideration, although the appearance of it is mild as Emma watches its technological wonders unfold. The mutate isn’t given more than a cursory glance and murmur of gratitude, although the telepath keeps track of the running thoughts that pass in such close proximity.

Most of her consideration is there, really, in the psionic temperature of her environment. The timbre and tone of the thoughts that fill it.

Then, as the Spire comes into view, Emma hums to herself and then addresses at last the driver with some directness. “Tell me how things have changed for you. Good, I hope?”


The mutate holds an interesting mindset, having been a brainwashed slave until recently and just now starting the difficult process of learning to think by himself again. He is concentrating in driving with a rather monomaniac attention. Most men would be distracted by Emma’s presence, but he was distracted only before he turned on the aircar engine. His current train of thought revolves around the following the instruments on the vehicle and getting to the Spire’s 40th floor landing pad in schedule while giving the passenger a nice view of the city.

Then she asks him directly, which never happened when he was a slave. It is a surprise.

“Oh… things are good. I mean, it is getting much better.” How exactly? That makes him think. “I have many friends now. Less work… not that I mind working.” He shrugs. Emma is an American. That is like a different planet to Genosha.

The psychic ambience of the city is one of guarded hope. They are finally getting out of a brutal seven months long civil war. There is fear, too, particularly among the humans. Magneto inspires respect and fear, but little love.

The aircar is landing; there is only one person in the landing pat. Tall, dressed in purple and red armor and wearing a helmet.


“No one should mind working,” Emma says, in the full spirit of being an American. She might even mean it, with the full understanding that ‘working’ can mean a great many different things depending on the person to whom the word is applied.

“But I am glad,” she tells him, her voice perhaps a little cool for a sentiment that she feels so genuinely. Glad in the broad strokes, even when her personal interest in a single stranger is tested. “That things are getting better.”

Her attention then turns to the man on the platform, and her expression changes to the more monitored and polished one reserved for business with its inscrutable, serene smile and relaxed gaze that obscures her thoughts.

It’s only fair, given that distinctive and altogether problematic helmet.

She checks her lipstick in her reflection on the glass aircar window, although the glance is lost behind the shaded lenses of her sunglasses.

“You should know,” she says to the mutate as he works on landing the car, “should you ever see me again, that you can tell me if that is ever not the case.”


“I… yes, I will do that,” replies the driver. Because seriously? Not a chance they will meet again. Unless Emma is a mutant planning moving to Genosha. Wouldn’t that be great?

But she is the woman that has Magneto waiting for her alone. So despite the driver’s lack of social experience after years of slavery, he is smart enough to realize it is unlikely to meet with her again unless he is asked to be a chauffeur for this semi-secret meeting.

So he lands the aircar, steps out, opens the door for Emma and smiles politely. Trying to avoid thinking Magneto is there. He is grateful to Magneto, but also suffering from something that can be vaguely defined as reverent awe.

Something mortals feel in the presence of the Gods.

Meanwhile Magneto stands a few yards away. If he is conscious of his effect on the mutate he gives no signal. He does smile faintly at seeing Emma, however. “Miss Frost, welcome back to Genosha,” he offers.


“Thank you for giving me a wonderful reason to return,” Emma says once she’s out of the car and a few strides towards the elder mutant. Her purse is tucked up under her arm, and her hand extended towards him. “I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity.”

Indicating the area around her with a glance about the space beyond the landing pad that they occupy, she continues. “What tremendous progress you’ve made in so few months. I hope you have been well, all considered?”


Magneto takes Emma’s hand, bowing slightly and taking it to his lips. “I have been busy, but yes, I am satisfied with the current situation. These have been very productive weeks. Progress has been quick.”

He gestures, inviting Emma to move inside. The tropical sun has heated the pad to the point the heat is unpleasant, despite the sea breeze and the height. “A wonderful reason,” he repeats, soundings somewhat tired. The wedding is a publicity stunt, of course. He dislikes those on principle, while acknowledging the usefulness. It is also a logistic nightmare and a security risk, despite half the superheroes of the world being invited.

Or maybe because half the superheroes of the world are invited.

He expects also dozens of spies and maybe a few assassins with non-metallic weapons, of course. The smart move would be sending a robot in his place to the ceremony. But Lorna would notice.


The weariness of Magneto’s comment draws amusement into Emma’s polite smile. “Well,” she offers with a chuckle, her chin tucking demurely at the brush of lips against her knuckles, “I was referring to the opportunity to see the advancement in fortune here, but I am glad to hear that you are so looking forward to the big day.”

She doesn’t look to linger in the contact, gently withdrawing her bare hand so it can rejoin its match in its hold on her clutch as she begins to move in from the oppressive heat.

It is only once she’s inside that she ducks her head enough to pull her sunglasses off. “As always, my associate, Mr. Shaw, sends his regards.”

——

Magneto grunts noncommittally at the possibility of advancing fortunes. Genosha is not supposed to be a land of business opportunities. But of course it is, for the right companies. He leads Emma inside the Spire, the floor seems empty. No one else witnessed her arrival.

“Mr. Shaw is also invited to the wedding, of course,” but apparently the man declined. “We will take precautions so you are not recognized in the public functions. There will be some media coverage, I’m afraid.”


The emptiness of their surroundings suits Frost, and she easily saunters beside Magneto with her long stride. That is, however, until he mentions the media presence.

She doesn’t stop, but she does slow and fall a pace behind. Two paces. Three.

Her head twists and her eyes narrow suspiciously as she asks a very simple question. “Why? What is there possibly to gain from a media outlet?”


Magneto does not falter, but turns to look at the woman before stepping into the next room. “Several reasons. It marks the end of the civil war, Ms. Frost. A wedding is a powerful symbol, a new beginning. Lorna popular, the masses love her in a way they don’t love me. They need this… closure. Morale is very important. As it is the message we send to the world.” He turns his back, stepping forward. “We won. We celebrate.”


To say that Emma is skeptical is probably an exercise in understatement, given so rarely is she given to expressions of any seeming contradiction in the dealings she’s had with the elder mutant thus far. But it filters very subtly to her expression, in its mild flattening, before ultimately the woman closes her eyes, breathes a deep breath, and then continues moving forward.

“The right wedding is a powerful symbol, that is true. And so I gladly leave it to your judgment. I will speak to Mister Shaw about his attendance, but I think it suffices to say that neither of us are particularly keen on a public affair when we have done so much to remain very much detached from all of this so far as international optics.”


But contrary to Emma, Magneto does not live in the shadows and keep his abilities secret (well, not most of them). In fact he is ever one for grandiose gestures and powerful statements. Quite problematic for those who favor subtlety.

It is not he can’t be subtle, but he too often *chooses* to be loud. Set an example. And make himself a target.

Small wonder Shaw does not want to come. And he sent Emma in his place. Emma who is maybe more diplomatic, so a better choice to talk with Magneto, but definitely has been put in a spot.

“The time the mighty have to hide is coming to an end, Ms. Frost,” explains the armored mutant. “Indeed, if you wish to come to Genosha as a citizen, there is much to build here. And it is just a question of time Genosha returns to the international economic landscape.” With vastly superior technology and manpower, obviously.

Or maybe someone will manage to drop a nuke on Hammer Bay. It seems a coin toss at this point.


“I think you will find that you are not quite correct in that assumption,” Emma continues with a small chuckle. “The mighty always have a place and an ability to hide. It’s just a matter of what they’re hiding. But, perhaps citizenship. Someday.”

Someday is not today, apparently.

As they enter the new room, the woman removes her hat next, and sets it on whatever polite surface is available with her purse beneath it. A slender hand sets itself to smoothing the ruffled curls, twist them gently, and pull them forward over one sweater-swathed shoulder. It bares just a little more the fine gold chain about her throat and the string of small diamonds that hang as a pendant from it.

“So I take it from all of the trumpeting that you actually endorse the union? Forgive my ignorance, but I’ve not been very aware of the bride apart from some summarial points and not aware of the groom at all.”

Hardly the making of the right wedding to risk exposure.


“I meant the need, not the possibility,” because he believes Emma and her club allies hide their powers to avoid being ruined, maybe murdered by the rest of the business elites.

And if that is not the main reason it definitely is one important reason. Warren Worthington managed to pull it out, but not without a large number of problems including getting almost murdered a few times. And he looks like a mythic Angel.

Magneto waits for Emma to sit down before taking the seat in front of her. There are reports to review. The project the HFC engineers have been involved, mostly. Bits and pieces of technology he is willing to share. Looks like Roxxon Energy is trying to muscle in, they have very solid smuggling channels, too.

“The groom? Marcos Diaz is a powerful mutant. He seems a good man despite some criminal dealings in his youth. But to be honest, they are both very young,” so in his opinion it could be far worse. He is not optimistic about their chances to remain together to old age, though.

Then again, he is never optimistic.


She does, eventually, sit. Perching upon the chair and crossing her long legs, the blonde sets to the very cerebral task of consuming the data points of the reports. Of assessing and categorizing the technology that the engineers have been exposed to.

And then there’s the matter of Roxxon. That will—

Wait. Criminal dealings. Emma’s eyebrows lift in very open skepticism. “And this is the wedding that you’re inviting the media to… as what should be a moment of redemption? Couldn’t you find someone a little more…” She shrugs and her eyes lift as she searches for the right word. “Shirley Temple? Mister Rogers? I don’t know. Whatever diabetes-induced coma of innocuous wrapped in a feel-good charisma you could put your hands on would likely do. Something better than ‘powerful criminal mutant’.”


Magneto waits patiently while Emma read the reports, as apparently he also has a few he wants to review himself. Most of them are written by the engineers and architects she supplied. In general they have been allowed quite a bit of leeway at the building and rebuilding projects. Genosha supplied almost all the materials requested, only in some cases asking for alternate arrangements.

Then the blonde woman speaks again, and he arches an eyebrow.

“Redemption?” Somehow he makes the world sound like it comes from an alien language. “I am not sure what you mean. The celebration is for the Genoshans. Foreign press will report whatever they want.”

Roxxon dealings? That can take care of itself. Roxxon Energy is the most powerful corporation of the world. Only Lexcorp comes close. They are also one of the most criminal corporations of the world, but they have an army of lawyers and bought politicians that is larger than the armies of soldiers of some developed countries.

Magneto would be surprised if SHIELD could prove in a trial that Roxxon is dealing with Genosha.

“Redemption is a fairytale,” Emma says airily, burying her nose back in the reports. “A fiction we tell ourselves to make past mistakes more bearable. And the foreign press are unlikely to give any such mercies to a pair of mutants.”

She flips through a few more screens and pages before finally setting it all aside to regard the elder mutant. She drapes her hands languidly over her crossed knees. “They’re humans. And that means they will always—when given the right opportunity—revert to their inability to trust. If you think it will look perfectly well and good to your citizenry, then that is your purview. But to get that embargo lifted is mine. The foreign press matters.”


Magneto nods quietly. That is preaching for the choir, which might mean Emma is just trying to make him feel comfortable.

The foreign press making the wedding look horrid is not a major problem. Except maybe for Lorna if the US media hits her hard. Maybe he will have some subtle death threats delivered. To shows he cares.

“Distrust is a healthy survival trait,” he comments. One he has in spades, certainly. “The foreign press, hmm,” does he really need the embargo lifted now? It would have been useful during the civil war, but now it can be a source of dissent. Genosha can be autarchic. It will slow the recovery, but it might make the country stronger in the long run.

But the ties with the powerful kingmakers of the Hellfire Club are also important for different, future projects. “What would you suggest, then?”


“A different groom?” Emma… is not kidding. And she offers the suggestion easily, as well as an alternative right behind.

“A public delay, and a private ceremony later if you must with the one you have. For morale, I would choose a day of festivities instead, were it me. Celebrate civic mutant heroes who bear the full brunt of Genoshan brutality. Mutates. A memorial to those known who died under the Genoshan regime. Let your beloved Lorna be the public face, if you like. A wedding? That’s just a pair of families who haven’t been here long. The ones who are forever scarred and survived… They are testaments as to why Genosha must be permitted to exist under mutant self-rule and given every opportunity to thrive. It can build a case in the international for the necessity of protecting diversity. …and a place that they can send their own persecuted and feel like they’re doing some great service.”


Magneto allows himself a brief smile at the idea of a different groom for Lorna. Oh, there are a few better men for his daughter, but he is old enough to know when a battle is not worth the cost to be waged. At least Marcos is a mutant.

It is definitely too late to cancel the public wedding, but not to add a few details. Memorials and eulogies for the fallen. Rewards to heroic mutates. Speeches about making Genosha a refuge for the persecuted. All those can be part of the celebrations.

He might try to convince Lorna to give the speech. No one is going to believe the old, malevolent Magneto is building a mere ‘refuge for mutantkind’. They will want and expect demands for justice and promises for vengeance from him. And they will have them.

He nods to Emma, “I will consider your advice, thank you.”


It’s never too late. Unless another candidate is dead. Then, possibly, it might be too late.

Possibly.

“Of course.”

And back she goes to picking up and reading reports, mulling over them with the odd tilt of her head for some of the papers that indicate that she may be regretting leaving her reading glasses in the plane.

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