We are not our fathers

April 17, 2018:

Cable makes a deal with the Brotherhood to acquire a stolen TRASK collar.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Magneto, Xavier, Cyclops

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

No prying, surprisingly, had been done into the man known as 'Cable' prior to this meeting. The Twins have their own ways to pry into a man, and none of them traditional.

The only preparations made were the usual precautions one might take in engaging a stranger for the first time — one having openly stated a relation to Scott Summers, and thereby assumedly the X-Men. Even those were desultory. The appointed location was checked out beforehand, of course, but otherwise the Twins seem almost… lax. Perhaps they are overconfident in themselves and their powers, as only the young can be… or confident, rather, in the company they keep.

The stated warehouse has been cleared for the occasion, both conventionally and by more otherworldly means, though no doubt members of the Brotherhood lurk around the general area, unseen. The only people in clear evidence are the Twins themselves and their everpresent lieutenant, a towering bruiser of a woman standing guard at their backs. An invitation was extended to another, her decision to attend and manner of arrival left to her choice.

Pietro is standing. He is almost always standing. On a small table before him, set out in the center of the warehouse floor, is a nondescript case.

"He really doesn't look anything like Summers," Pietro comments, after a time.

*

Summoned by text-message there comes a voice, “At ease.”

Thirty meters to the west reality waivers nearby the muster point. For a moment it looks a funhouse mirror approaches as reality bends awkwardly around a massive disturbance and then the effect falls away completely dissipating like fluid evaporating inches from his form. A body-slide at this proximity would have been too flashy – like an electromagnetic storm against the darkness. The Askani’son approaches by foot utilizing technology that was relevant for stealth activity in the far future but it’s anyone’s guess how long he’s been waiting; or where.

Cable. Seemingly the technological fusion of a man and a cybernetic-weapons platform. Dressed first in combat fatigues and then overtop them he wears a chest piece that appears to be a naval warship’s plate belt-armor that has been shaped to fit his torso. Upon the left pauldron there is a squarish rocket-pod which looks to house at least a dozen futuristic missiles but otherwise his entire body bristles with pouches and bandoliers that appear to have a mix of back-up firearms, reserve ammunition, 24th century grenades, and anti-personnel mines.

He currently wields a monstrous weapon that measures approximately one meter in length. Its primary barrel ends in a massive trapezoid wide enough that most adult females could work their fist into it. Mounted underneath there appears to be some sort-of secondary fire weapon and his right-hand grips a fore-grip mounted below that.

He stops well beyond social distance seemingly to observe the group with a dour look across his gnarled features, “Evening,” he says in a gravelly baritone whose casual tone seems to juxtapose the idea that he’s prepared to single-handedly conquer an advanced military installation and then gives the speedster a direct look, “What is a Summers supposed look like?” He asks Pietro.

*

If Frenzy had it her way the Twins wouldn't be here. Not yet. Not until this man, who's related to Scott Summers and in that way has ties to the X-Men, showed himself to be either be an easily handled threat, or a non-threat altogether.

But the Twins wanted to be here for his arrival and so, here they all are.

Still, that doesn't quite stop the strong-arm of the Brotherhood from internally bristling like a cat trying to protect her kittens. It's enough that her typically stoic expression is shut down hard; her features nearly expressionless at this point. All that shows is the vaguest of frowns as she keeps her attention focused upon the warehouse around the small group. Attentive for any sound, any sight, any change that might herald the arrival of the man.

And when he does arrive, and when Frenzy gets her first look at Cable, her frozen features shift at the sight of him. The look upon her face darkens to grim lines and automatically, Frenzy shifts and steps forward, edging herself between Pietro, Wanda and threat that approaches. The earmarks of a military bearing, dress, and all those weapons aren't lost on Frenzy and truly, it only makes the woman's proverbial hackles rise.

Frenzy ignores his greeting and that question of his too, simply opting for silent disapproval.

*

While she was not there just moments before, the last scion of House Ul steps into view from seemingly no where at all. Only Pietro would have seen her coming, moving out of lockstep with time to appear only a few feet from Cable's left. In her, a response not unlike Frenzy's own. Perhaps she has the ability to measure it a little more, to hold back some of her disdain, but certainly she does not hold back the arrogance in her eyes.

It cuts as sharply as any knife, fixed on this man head to toe as her vision slips past the mundane and into other spectrums to learn whatever she might about him from what he carries.

Finally, she says nothing, her armored form resting at a ready attention for this man to make a final, false move, or otherwise offer some measure of why he is to be trusted. The mention of 'Summers' tilts her head just a little, and she glances sidelong at Pietro with silent question.

*

Wanda Maximoff, by first glance, appears already at ease.

While one twin remains standing, the other prefers to sit, and she occupies one of the two chairs crowning that tiny, nondescript table.

In a business where her kind enjoys their elaborate costumes and bulletproof armors, the Scarlet Witch is a brazen anomaly, looking little more than someone's spoiled cat: come to do deals in no more than some tiny, tailored slip of a dress the colour of arterial blood, a fitted black coat unbelted but left on to stay the last of Manhattan's lingering, late-Spring chill. Her dark hair shines with the red beads of her headpiece.

Back to the chair, legs crossed, one pump dangling off her heel, Wanda seems imbued with the patience to keep waiting for some time longer —

But the Brotherhood are not left alone long.

The newest voice draws her eyes, and jaw leaned against her curled fingers, Wanda silently absorbs Cable. The world resolves itself differently to her, a permanent manifestation of her ability — her witch's sight, as she calls it — and she can already taste the world reacting to him: space and time trying to make sense of something that should not be.

She does not see his weapons the way the others do; if Wanda does, she seems to not give them much mind.

Instead, the witch remains seated, docile in every way down to her smile. "Good evening to you," she answers politely. "A pleasure to meet you."

Cable has a question for Pietro — one that quirks her smile wider. Wanda deigns to answer. "We've only met the one. He is much more narrow than you are." She pinches two fingers together to playfully gesture it. "And with far more fancy hair."

*

The Scarlet Witch looks a spoiled cat… and the way Quicksilver's left hand dotes absently along her hair does not help nullify the impression.

At the least, he stops when Cable makes his dramatic appearance. His gaze swings immediately over to the man, already mildly irritated to have his swift perceptions so easily bypassed as that. Perhaps for that reason, he doesn't reel Frenzy in when she bristles and steps in front of the two of them, affronted at so many weapons in the presence of her charges.

It is left to Wanda to speak the first courtesies. Half a smile crosses Pietro's face at how she chooses to frame 'what a Summers is like.' "He was indeed perfectly coiffed," he muses. "I think I've seen many of his kind… in Connecticut."

Only then does he clear his throat, a wordless bridle for Frenzy to stand down — for now. "This is Frenzy," he introduces, "and Faora, of House Ul." He glances towards the latter, catching her question. "And Cable… the son of Scott Summers."

His gaze drifts back to Cable. "Scott Summers, a leader of the X-Men. You understand how that gives us some pause. No one would like to get straight down to business more than I…" His hand rests down on the case, clicking it open just enough for the shine of the collar to be seen. "But first, I think, the ladies would be interested to make your acquaintance more in depth." His mouth quirks with a droll wryness. "I already had that pleasure."

*

Cable holds the ground he’s taken. As Frenzy shifts to a defensive position his eyes move to regard her in silent appraisal. The Askani’son’s cybernetic left-eye glows like a dim cinder as it moves across her form but the rest of his body is without reflex to her action the casual grip upon his future-cannon maintained as is his militant posture. He’s practical enough to be wary of the threat her defensiveness might mean but also confident that as his alliance with the brotherhood has yet to be strained her threat will only escalate at the whim of the Twins.

When the Scion of House Ul emerges Nathan Summers looks momentarily away from those near the table his head tilting in subtle recognition of the woman’s emergence. Then he gives Pietro a deliberate look before taking a step away from her to re-orient his body so that it’s bladed to such a degree that – were she more human – he would have tenths of a second additional reaction time if she attempted bullrush him.

Kryptonian X-Ray vision pierces every facet of his person except for his torso. The layer of plate seemingly to push against her capabilities as if designed to blur the advanced soft-targeting mechanisms of technology that had not yet been invented. Still, it does not prevent her from seeing those parts which are not protected. Muscle, nerve, and bone at the left side of his body is advanced robotics but as one moves left-to-right the robotics becomes cybernetic as a lattice-work of infection permeates his entire body – muscle, nerve, and bone growing less dense the further right her vision observes. If she were to look hard enough she could observe the cells of the cybernetic lattice seemingly frozen in their attack against his biological flesh as if billions of simultaneous instances of infection were somehow frozen in their attack.

Laughter; well, a chuckle – not from a futuristic terminator but from the man. “That’s fair. I don’t have the Summer’s hair,” he confesses to Wanda, “or the cardigans.” Then the right side of his mouth quirks with slight amusement which most versed in human expression would take as an unspoken compliment.

As Pietro makes introductions he responds looking from Frenzy to Faora, “Nathan Summers,” he remarks dryly, “Scott is my father. He’s also twenty years younger than I am. I won’t disavow my heritage but I am not Scott Summers” Cable says giving a slight pause, “I come from a time, approximately two thousand years from today, when the ideologies of Magneto, Xavier, and the fears of humanity had struggled such that when the true threat emerged none were strong enough to counter it.”

“I’m here to stack the deck so that will never happen. Right now that means taking down Trask.”

*

The seemingly 'arrival' of Faora allows some of Frenzy's concern to abate. Not all of it, but some.

Surely, in Frenzy's mind now, the man before them wouldn't be able to contain the twin powerhouses that the two women represent. That they themselves would be able to keep Pietro and Wanda safe.

And while Faora's arrival is quite fortuitous, that doesn't mean Frenzy steps quite so easily aside. In fact, she stays in front of the pair up until Pietro offers that wordless command. That's enough to bring the woman's gaze off of Cable and around, back to the Twins - one standing the other sitting. Frenzy offers a nod of acknowledgement and understanding, and while Frenzy retreats back to her original position behind the Twins, that doesn't stop the Bruiser of the Brotherhood from keeping all her attention focused upon Cable.

It's only with introductions and Cable's especially, that Frenzy can't quite stop the narrowing of her eyes. It's both a thoughtful expression and a suspicious one with the mention of just who his father is. That suspicion only worsens at the mention of the future and that he comes from the future.

It brings a bit of side-eye from the stoic Frenzy to Pietro and Wanda, but at the name of Magneto, Frenzy's gaze tracks right back to Cable. The rest of his words brings a reaction from the woman, in the form of her left hand curling into a fist, and also a question. Which is rare for Frenzy when she's on the job, but for today the Bruiser voices a question.

"What was that threat? More than just Trask I take it?"

*

"Do not move." The accented English is sharp and to the point, and she does not give Cable a moment to disagree with her command. She is in front of him, staring up at him, a barrier of flesh and blood that seems to blink into his path.

"He carries an cellular infection, and while I do not recognize it's particulars, it has all the indications of a pathogen, one abated by the technology that runs through his body."

This, to the Twins, to Frenzy. While she seems certain that no such thing could ever harm her, she does not know the measure of Frenzy's fortitude, and assumes disease could fell either of the Twins. "Should your technology fail, what danger would you bring to these, Heralds of the New Dawn?"

Certainly, Frenzy's question is paramount as well, but it is clear that Faora has made herself gatekeeper to the rest of this conversation.

*

Either the laughter, the reply — or both — reflects in the returned, slow slide of Wanda Maximoff's smile. Patient, as always, and genuinely amused. Though none of it detracts from the watchful half-mast of her blue eyes.

She remains where she is, still seated, relegated off to the back-ground, and easily overlooked when sharing a room with far more prominent, imposing women such as Faora and Frenzy, or the way their famous father reflects like a mirror over Pietro's face.

The Scarlet Witch, always a shadow.

Her head tilts when Cable speaks of a far future — two thousand years ahead where he apparently sources — and a restrainted sort of interest crosses her face. It's a tall tale, the sort of story many would confront skeptically, but the witch appears to have no objections. Perhaps the world she sees is offering its own, vague evidence, testament to the fact.

As both Frenzy and Faora come bearing questions, Wanda remains silent, listening.

*

Cable looks to Frenzy nods approvingly to her question, “More than Trask,” he confirms, “If Trask and the government are allowed to continue unabated they jeopardize thousands of bloodlines – potentially millions of births; entire generations of genetic selection and evolution.”

“The threat is En Sabah Nur,” long pause, “the Apocalypse. An—"

Cable stops as ordered.

“The virus is a biological weapon,” Cable confirms for Faora, “in my time the Techno-Organic plague is carried as a payload on nano-machines which are airdropped on areas in revolt against Apocalypse. The plague is sequenced to its targets. The biology of those who are infected is converted so that they become androids designed who purge those who are uninfected – literally turning upon their allies before succumbing fully to the virus and dying completely.”

“If left unchecked the virus will kill me but will not infect others. I don’t know what would happen If I succumbed,” Cable explains dryly, “I wasn’t infected by in the method I described. I was infected directly during infancy and I don’t know what specific purpose was programmed into cybernetic architecture of those cells. I suspect that I would turn against Nathaniel Essex and the total of my mutant powers would unravel his existence in the moment before I died. Instead I use those powers to hold the virus at bay.”

"Who is Sinister? How am I Scott's son and from the future? Does it matter?" Cable glowers a bit, “This is going to sound melodramatic but if my goal was to kill you then we’d already be dead.”

*

Whatever Pietro Maximoff is listening to, it is not necessarily Nathan Summers — nor even Frenzy and Faora, vanguard questioners, each with their concerns. He does not seem bothered by Cable's deliberate glance, either. He remains as he is, head canted slightly towards his sister, as if listening on some frequency beyond human hearing.

Cable's confidence that nothing will escalate without the word of the Twins, at the least, seems to be bearing out.

Pietro's harshness does seem to relent slightly as the man — not the cybernetic warrior — briefly interacts with his sister. But then, brother always did look favorably on those who interact with her well. As for the rest of what Cable has to say? Some of it is new, though the broad strokes he has heard before.

"Two thousand years," he muses. "That's actually longer than I had given all our races credit to survive, some days." His mouth quirks with humor.

The answer to Frenzy's question thins Pietro's mouth. "Whatever dangers we come to face, I assume Trask is the first step on the road. All the more imperative we stop him now, by whatever means necessary. In a universe of aliens and gods, when a world fetters and strips down its strongest denizens…" He shrugs.

Faora's sharp inquiry, and the subsequent answer, give Pietro distinct pause. The explanation of the techno-organic virus has him reaching for his sister's hand, twining their fingers. See what kind of future they want for us, sister, he murmurs in her head. This man is a living warning of what shall happen if we fail.

He is silent a moment, listening.

"I believe you," Pietro eventually says. "But it is not your potential desire to kill us that concerns us. It is your tie to the X-Men, and the depth and breadth of it. So long as we can be certain you will not compromise us to them — for assuredly, they do not endorse our… methodologies — then…"

He pushes the case across the table. "Then we may talk."

*

Likewise Frenzy listens. She listens and she watches and she remembers the name that's mentioned. En Sabah Nur. That brings a thoughtful look to her face, but when Faora steps forward, when the Kryptonian brings to light the virus that resides within Cable's body, that brings a reaction from Frenzy.

It could have been sudden, something like bodily picking the Twins up and getting them a way to safety, but some of that movement is forestalled by Cable's timely explanation, and most by Pietro's endorsement of the man himself. As such, that almost-step, that almost-grab, that knee-jerk reaction of hers is heavily stifled for her part.

At the mention of the X-Men and those ties that might particularly bind, Frenzy turns a sharp look from Pietro and Wanda, back to Cable and Faora who stands sentry much like herself.

Those last words of his prompt another response from the tall Bruiser, a quiet murmur of, "You could have tried.", and while Frenzy could have said more, boasted more, she doesn't. For this particular meeting, she knows her place and role and it's not negotiator, or leader. Instead it's protector, defender and soldier.

*

It is Pietro's words that have her step side, and perhaps the sound of that case sliding across the table. Maybe, even, it was Cable's assurance that he could not infect someone else. That, it seems, is enough for the Kryptonian.

Faora moves then, stepping aside to allow Cable passage to the case, and to the Twins. But she will continue her hawk-like watch, glancing past him and towards Frenzy for a brief moment Guardians in Solidarity, waiting for this man out of time to do something incredibly stupid - as if it is only a matter of time.

"We would, of course, wish to hear more of this ultimate threat. En Sabah Nur? Does it have an ancestor, in this time, that I might wipe from existence?"

Despite how discriminate her slaughter supposedly is, there's always room to add one more to the list.

*

Eventually, Wanda's blue eyes look away, as if to silently ruminate the exchange of words.

In actuality, looking too long at the man named Nathan Summers — hurts. For already a witch cursed to see her world not in its shapes and colours as much as a constant, compiling script of possibilities — new ones arising like streams running away from the bodies of intersecting rivers, others drying, others braiding into each others into new, complex tributaries — he represents a new dimension. On top of what was, what is, and what will be, adds onto what will already have been, Wanda faced to stare into gestating paradoxes.

It feels like the pang one gets, behind the eye, after squinting into too much sunlight.

But Pietro finds her hand, and his words through her mind draw Wanda's eyes. They tighten with distance, and a patient sort of sadness. Thinking too far into the future always makes her melancholy. She's never been an optimist.

That, and she can always see her own possibilities, and its vague shape: all her futures end with a dream's glance on her gravestone.

"That is an unconscionable disease, Nathan," she speaks after her silence. "I am concerned with the future, though at the moment, I must still look at the present. You said you do not disavow your father. That is a word that suggests many degrees. Do you disavow his ideologies? His people? He stepped onto our territory and made a declaration of war. Small matters, maybe, in contrast to Trask. But important ones. We need to know with whom we deal. And you may call me Wanda."

*

“I understand,” Cable says to Pietro, “You’re /persona non gratas/ but eventually someone will deduce I’m supporting you. You want to know what will happen then?”

“Betrayal isn’t in my blood,” Nathan says then, “I’m not going to give you information on the X-Men. I’m not going to give them information on the Brotherhood. I understand the need to compartmentalize your operations so that you can be confident in your security.”

“I didn’t come to you asking for a seat at the table,” somehow he delivers this line without actually looking at the table, “I came here for the collar and the intel you gathered. You have already shared both with outside parties. I will reciprocate with any information I source from either.”

He addresses the Witch then, “Wanda, when I spoke to Pietro last week I told him that Magneto and Xavier were sides of the same coin and that I believed it was imperative that both sides land upright. A seemingly impossible feat but,” the right-side of his mouth turns with a wry smile, “I think that you can understand the flexibility of reality. If I betray your trust then I also lose influence on how one half of the coin lands. Which jeopardizes my mission. Both ideologies are relevant for my purposes.”

“I wasn’t there for the situation. I don’t know who was right or who was wrong. Sometimes people act on impulse rather than ideology. Do you think that Xavier would have done the same? Do you think he couldn’t stop you now; if he wanted to? I don’t pretend to know your father but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him outside without his helmet on.”

With that stated he inclines his head to one side and turns a bit at the waist to regard Faora, “I respect that,” he says of her drive, “Today, En Sabah Nur is five thousand years old. He’s on Earth; right now. Likely slumbering beneath the sands of either Egypt or Khandaq. In a tomb created from the technology of those who had a hand in forging the stars. He has long had the ability to resurrect himself in the body of another. If you can get to him you might be able to kill him but tomorrow morning he’ll be back and then we lose the element of surprise. He didn’t take the world because it lacked the sheer force to kill him one time.”

*

I didn't come to you asking for a seat at the table, says Nathan Summers.

"So long as we are all on the same page about that," Pietro replies. "We will share the collar and its related intel because this is a threat all mutants need to address, and because it seems to me the X-Men will never acquire a collar for the study of countermeasures unless we give one of ours to them." His eyes hood. "Your reciprocation is appreciated and expected. The X-Men have resources enough. Let them be used for something productive. Beyond that… we shall operate strictly case by case. I have no interest in our work being meddled with by those who have already struck against us once."

The logic of the man cannot be argued. It is in his best interests to alienate neither group, if he speaks truly about his mission.

Of course, the mention of Xavier, of how he could stop them if he wanted, and the almost-threatening implication behind his statement that Magneto never appears without that helmet to shield him from Xavier… Quicksilver takes that a little less well. His eyes narrow in trasparent displeasure, though perhaps not for the reasons one might at first guess.

"We are not our father," is his sole reply to that, his low voice a hairsbreadth away from a hiss.

As far as En Sabah Nur… he allows Faora to draw forth that information, if she should see fit to act upon it. His focus is on the present. On the collar he leaves to Cable's care.

"What we know of the other facilities Trask is operating, and the information we have on the Sentinels we encountered, is in there with the collar." His hand tightens on his sister's. "I believe we are finished here."

*

Cable's words are weighed by Frenzy and while there are still questions and some doubts, it's clear to the woman that the Twins believe what he says. For Frenzy, that's enough. It's enough to allow her to shift her focus somewhat. To stay aware and dutiful, as this meeting takes place.

Up until Magneto is mentioned yet again. That brings an almost tick-like twitch to her face, a subtle movement, but one that's there. That only calms down when the conversation shifts slightly away from the talk of Magneto and Xavier, and back toward the collar, intel and finally En Sabah Nur. The mention of just how old the being is earns a frown from Frenzy, but again, when the topic shifts, she follows with it.

Once again it's back to Trask, the collar, and his deplorable facilities. That causes Frenzy's frown to deepen, hinting at the anger she holds against the man and his terrible inventions. They will crush him. It's only a matter of time. Time that's running out.

When Pietro signals his readiness to end the meeting, Frenzy automatically takes a step closer to the Twins, ready to bustle them out the door and back to the relative safety of the Brotherhood.

*

For Faora, there is no greater pleasure in facing an insurmountable challenge. This, Cable has laid before her, and with no commentary to the contrary, her expression all but says 'challenge accepted.'

Here she turns, and it is hard to read in her departure what it will mean for the fate of En Sabah Nur. Perhaps she will approach this problem with a meticulous care. Or perhaps they will all wake up tomorrow and find his supposed resting place little more than smoldering craters the size of small cities.

Somewhere outside the sound barrier breaks just a few moments later, heralding her exit, and her retreat back to her sanctum to investigate this new and interesting threat.

*

The Scarlet Witch holds a pensive silence to talk of Apocalypse — yet another dark shadow taking the sun from their futures. She makes no comment on it; something to save for another day.

"While I am not fully convinced of this partnership," she says in the end, "for now, I am satisfied. The Brotherhood will speak freely to you, Nathan, only in terms of Trask and his collars. And, soon — not today — I would like to look into your mind."

Wanda phrases it as a request, but it is what it is: a condition to her allegience. She wants to see the shape of Nathan Summer's mind: a study into his relationship, whatever it is, with the X-Men, as well as a look into his future.

"I question such a coin," answers Wanda, something of a sigh infused in her voice. Questions if it is indeed possible to land both sides: equal peace with humanity, or a warlord's dominion over humans?

The thought comes and goes. Her blue eyes lower their lashes. "Nonetheless, my brother speaks the truth. We are Magneto's children, but he had neither hand nor lesson in raising us into his image. Perhaps it was different in your permutation of things. This Brotherhood is our own. And I care little for your father's reasons in light of everything else. If I were curious, I would have opened his mind and helped myself. All I care is that such acts will not be repeated."

*

“We are not our fathers,” Cable responds in gravelly affirmation.

He holds his ground as they depart and waits until he believes himself to be alone. Walking to the table then he takes his hand from the foregrip of his weapon masterfully balancing the stock of the massive blaster on his bicep as he reaches and retrieves the collar from the table.

“Bodyslide by one,” the overhead lights flicker as he dissolves to nothingness in a column of light.

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