Interview with an Empire

July 13, 2018:

Lois Lane interviews Lex Luthor regarding superhuman registration and the issues of the day.

Lexcorp Affiliate

One of Lex Luthor's many offices in one of his many buildings.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Superman

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

*

Lex had set aside time for an appointment with Lois Lane. Interviews were part and parcel of his daily responsibilities, after all, and it was useful to at least be heard by journalists of quality. Lois might be a bit fiesty and hard to handle, but Lex, at least, respected her. Not so much most of the others of her profession.

The office he's using is at a small division of Lexcorp, nondescriptly nestled on the fifth floor of an office building. The windows are wide to allow plenty of light, but like one way mirrors, allowing no one to look in from the outside. He wears a blue suit, red tie and crisp white shirt - American colors. Superman's colors.

The secretary leads Lois in and shuts the door behind them, leaving her alone with Luthor, his back to her. "I remember when you couldn't see three city blocks in this part of town due to all of the smog. Then I increased filtration at all of the Lexcorp plants when I took over. Now it's clear as a country sky."

"Lois," he says, nodding as he turns to face her. "How can I humor you today?"

*

It was all nothing but business. The interviews here and there, speaking the truth as how it was written on papeer and filed in public records. It wasn't for anyone to listen to what she thought. She never delivered what she thought about a person through the pen and if she did, she wouldn't call herself a reporter. News is fragile. It needed to be handled with care. She presented options; here is this side and here is the other.

She brought light to the subjects truth as how they see it and allowed the public to make their own choices. She just brought the information to the informed. And there was a little buzz. The article that she did write about Danny Rand caused her to take a step back. She didn't bother to reach out, just left it open so that he could answer for himself. And now? She was going after the next man in power; at least.. one who could possibly turn the tide of the subject with a snap of his fingers and a checkbook upon the table.

Her own attire was professional at best, pencil skirt. Regular royal blue blouse, black jacket. Hair done up in a nice curly ponytail with her signature glasses on. Even though she knows deep down in her bones that Alexander Luthor is hiding something, she could never.. ever figure out what. Much respect that way..

"You didn't read the dossier I sent to your secretary?" She asks playfully. "I'm here to talk about mutants and meta-humans. And your stance on it of course."

Bold as she ever was, she takes up a little mantle next to Lex, staring out the window to the open skies. She wasn't sure if it was his doing, most people claimed that they delcared the water wet and people ran with it. "Country skies which are still taken for granted."

*

Lex Luthor smiles, "I hardly need to be briefed on those subjects, Lois. I'm a citizen of the world, after all. How can I live in our modern age of wonders and not have thoughts on the subject? Gods flying through the skies above, aliens living amongst us. And newborn among us, the gifted few," he says.

"I'm curious as to why you're seeking out my opinion in particular. I haven't developed any superpowers of my own, last I checked, unless you count my dazzling charisma and good looks?"

*

"Well.." Lois starts, turning away from the window to gesture to the chair upon the other side of the desk. "May I?"

Without allowance, she moves that way, tugging her bag from her shoulder to rest upon the ground next to the chair, smoothing out her skirt after she sits with one knee daintly crossed over the other. "I would like to say that you're at least one of the many voices in the axis of power in the world, the states in particular, but I wouldn't go so far to puff up that ego you already have." A little joke, not insulting, but somewhat meant to flatter.

"Daniel Rand already made his stance, I'm unsure if Anthony Stark would make his. But.. I figure I'd get to you first before you manage to open yourself up to the public and its scrutiny."

She leans forward, producing a pad and pen from her purse. "So dazzle me, Lex. What is your first thought when it comes to mutants and meta-humans."

*

Lex Luthor smiles, "My first thought? Come now, Lois, I expect better of you. Penetrating questions, prepared ripostes. I could easily offer you boilerplate with that question, a bland declaration of sympathy without commitment. Not an ounce of controversy, not a whiff of risk. That's what you'd probably get from Stark. He pretends to be a rebel when, in fact, he's as calculated as one of his precious circuit boards."

He takes his own seat, steepling his fingers as he leans back in the rich leather seat. "My first thought is that they make people afraid. Fear is the most dangerous emotion. It is unpredictable and it can hurt everyone on every side of it. Like scooping your hand in a box full of broken glass."

"If you're asking if I favor registration, I'll give you the simplest answer: yes.:

*

"Oh, I didn't come here to razzle dazzle you. That's your job for today." Usually, interviews with Lex always wind up cracking; Lois did actually have good times sparring with Lex Luthor on obscure topics that she either wrote about or did not. Still, he's hiding things.

"Tell me how you really feel about Stark.." Lois muttered, but she begins to write. Shorthand, only the things that she could decipher, tipping her glasses with a press of her fingers and soon drawing them up to rest upon her head.

"Why do you favor it?" She asks. "Don't you think that it would make it much easier to profile.. in a racial sense."

*

Lex Luthor frowns, "I don't think it's of the same category at all as racial profiling. I understand that's what certain agendas would like to have you believe. But the fundamental difference is in the power and responsibility that has to come with having superhuman abilities."

"We require someone to be extensively trained and licensed to fly a plane. But if they happen to be born with wings, we just assume they know what they're doing? That no one will get hurt? Who's responsible for them? The insurance issues alone."

"To me, registration of mutant abilities is no different than registration of guns or cars. Both of which I'm also in favor of."

*

"To devils advocate, 'These are people who are born with these gifts, it's in their nature to instinctively know how after they're taught the fundamentals. Like children who learn to walk, throw a ball and catch a ball. Or children who learn to speak, and go on to do great things with just their innovative ideas.'" She gestures to him, then scribbles. "Proper teaching, environment, the knowing of what's right and wrong could be their guide, don't you agree? As it stands, aren't they all responsible for themselves and shouldn't we allow them to be?"

She does continue to scribble as she talks. "Are you agreeable to this because we ourselves are already registered? Our hair color, our blood type, our eyes. Even if we choose to donate an organ or our bodies to science." She waves a hand. "Guns and cars are no brainers. I'm registered for both."

*

Lex Luthor opens his hands expressively, even while it doesn't really say anything. "Proper teaching and environment and guidance would all be good things. They are things that require registration and supervision, as well."

"We learn to walk and throw a ball and walk not from instinct, but from our parents. But a mutant, by their very nature, is unlike their parents, possessing abilities they couldn't possibly fathom. How can they be expected to teach their young ones how to handle such gifts? Wouldn't it be better to have a system in place, support, structure, purpose? This isn't the Old West. I know many of the capewearing set like to imagine themselves as Wyatt Earp. They forget that Wyatt Earp had a badge."

*

"I'm sure that there are some people are there who are capable of teaching those who have gifts who have none of their own. Parents instruct and nurture. The good ones that is." A little opinion there, and then she was scribbling.

"And what are your thoughts about the recent findings of Daniel Rand and his corporation? How his child company wishes to affect the mutant and meta-humans in-vitro? And quite possiby use them as weapons on the militant front?" She pauses. "Mind you, most of this is just heresay, save for what was released in the official documents and printed by the Planet." And yours truly!

"Wouldn't you have a fair bit of skin in the game if this were to pass?"

*

Lex Luthor nods, "Absolutely. As would we all. In vitro experimentation is an extremely complicated and morally complex issue. I can see both sides of the issue. I think pretending as if military and law enforcement applications of powers isn't on the table is, frankly, naive. We live in a world full of conflict. We lose buildings, streets, businesses to superhuman battles as it is. Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't had more of that sort of thing."

"That said, do I support wholesale the notions you exposed, that sort of Frankensteinish tinkering? No. A surgeon needs a steady hand and I've seen no evidence of steel in Rand's spine, although I admit to not knowing the gentleman personally. His corporation doesn't have the kind of track record or history you'd want to engage in that sort of experimentation responsibly."

*

Lois has a good poker face. In fact, she doesn't make a face at all. Everything is as steel. Not pleasant, not threatening, even though inwardly she was cringing.

"Though in this case that we're speaking of, in theory, you would be the surgeon with the steady hand.." She does happen to glance around now, a dark feeling settling over her, but.. for now.. she leaves it be.

*

Lex Luthor keeps a blank facade, "I didn't say that. Merely that, if anyone were to indulge in such experimentation, the mind behind it should be of the finest quality. If you think I qualify, well, I'd hardly be one to contradict you. But I'll go on record as saying that Lexcorp is not currently engaging in any of that sort of unconsensual in-vitro genetic tinkering," he says, being quite specific in his wording. "Nor would we without responsible safeguards and suitable bureacratic oversight."

*

"Uh huh.." Still, a bit unsettled, Lois immediately felt as if she opened up a can of worms. Planted an idea where there were none, or at least ignited it. So the subject itself were immediately changed. "If you were, or.. if you did have a chance to speak to the policial powers that be, what would you say to them in this moment to sway them to the side of yay for registration?"

*

Lex Luthor holds up a placating hand, "Well, far be it for me to try to use my influence in an undo fashion. Every lawmaker needs to follow their own conscience and the will of their constituents. I think they need, first and foremost, to think about the little people. The sewer worker who doesn't know if the guy he's working next to is secretly a humanoid crocodile. The parents who don't know their children are putting themselves in danger every night trying to fight crime of all things with powers they don't begin to understand. I think we can find a sane and reasonable solution that falls well short of the 'fascist' accusations from certain hysterical wings of the public discourse. Something that respects the rights of powered beings to exists and still makes guarantees of safety and responsibility. I think, from the beginning, the greatest fear instilled by someone as powerful as, say, Superman," he says. Totally random example, of course, "Is that there are no checks and balances. They are a law unto themselves. And even registration may not entirely mitigate that, but I think it's an important first step. I mean, what's the alternative? Do nothing and just assume it all works out? That never went well for Dr. Evil, if I recall my Austin Powers."

*

Writing feverishly as she keeps up with his words. The writing on the paper looks like ancient runic symbols but she understood what it meant. Though, his last words? Hesitation. Pure, unadulterated, hesitation. The poker face that she held immediately failed as her face crumbles into something that looks like pain, and then a sheer howl of laughter. One that has her hand lifting and lowering down hard to smack against the arm of the chair.

"Oh shit." She blurts out, her hand resting upon her head now to hide her face as her head begins to shake. Every bit of professionalism went out the damn window. "That is a journalism first, bringing up Austin Powers.." The laughter quiets, yet her shoulders were bobbing rapidly. Yeah, it was clear to say that the interview itself was over. Lois Lane, 0. Lex Luther 1.

*

Lex Luthor smiles, "Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of the source, Lois. Surely you know that," he says. "I'm quite fond of Mike Myers movies. 'So I Married An Axe Murderer' is probably my favorite, but then I'm fond of Hitchcock and it's clearly an homage to the master's particular brand of paranoia and confusion. With a few Scottish jokes thrown in."

"It doesn't make my point any less sincere - we can't have people just going around declaring themselves heroes and answering to no one. We have enough problems with occasional corruption in the police force. The superhuman community has no oversight, no consequences, no responsibility. Those of us on the outside have to guess who is who by the color of their tights. And that is a recipe for disaster. In my opinion, of course. But my opinion is usually right."

*

"So you say, Alexander." The notebook was shut with a little bit more of a laugh, and used to fan herself. It was clear she was done. "I fail to see the wisdom in a movie where a guys stand-up first line is deroggatory in tone to women. Wo-man.." She mocks, then quits her fanning. With a lean over to stuff her notebook into her purse, she grips it by the handle and shrugs her shoulders.

"There is already something in place I do believe. I forget the acronym for it. Somewhere in the badlands from that alien invasion a few years back." She waves her hands briefly. "I need to do more research on them. Either way, opinions are always right because its the persons truth. And I'm never going to be the one to stop a persons truth." She rises, then shrugs. "I'm overstaying my welcome. I'm sure your secretary may request a draft of what I'll publish.."

And Lois will politely refuse.

*

Lex Luthor smiles, "Let her know if you need your parking validated or, if you took an Uber, I'd be happy to lend you my car service so you can travel home in something that doesn't smell like a stranger's marijuana sweat."

"Come back anytime. You're always a welcome sight. Provided you call ahead, of course."

*

Lois pauses, "Actually. I think I will use a car service. And if you don't mind, your black card. A lady's got to eat." And she waits, testing.. and pretty much expectantly..

*

Lex Luthor smiles, "Make reservations where you like. I have tabs at most of the finer restaurants. Make the reservation under the name 'Chrysalis'."

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