A Wise Sage

September 11, 2018:

Lorna, Sage, and Drake have a conversation in the basement lounge. Drake asks Sage about the collars and sentinels.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Though certainly not off-limits to the general attending body, the first level of the basement tends to not see too much activity. On the one hand, you have the indoor pool - that will likely bear the weight of more traffic as the weather outside chills. On the other hand, the student and visitor medical area - which one tends to not see unless things have gone badly.

As it happens, Drake has had a bit of a run-in recently with misfortune; in the shape of a caltrop. Though his foot had been obviously taken care of before he appeared in the medical area, he thought it best to have a trained professional (or so he hopes) take a second look at it. As expected, the foot's fine and will heal with the treatment already given it. But he's to go easy on it until the wound heals more. The sock he'd been wearing, however, has reached the end of its lifespan, as has the shoe.

Sigh.

Drake is now emerging from the medical area, the door shutting behind him. He distinctly favors one foot over the other, tending to let one prop on the toe. He's wearing a completely different outfit, at least: Institute swag.

*

It might seem odd, to have a complete, to most, stranger wandering about the secured areas of the Mansion, but anyone who has access to the personnel files and roster, if they bothered to do some digging would be able to track the access codes that this particular stranger was using. Only recently reactivated, to be sure, but they're old, about on par with the first generation of X-Men. Give or take a few weeks either way, depending on when one decided to mark the beginning of that particular timeline. That being so, it didn't raise any alarms, as Sage made her way back into the building, working her way down in levels, though most of the students, rather than being curious, seemed to give her a wide berth. Nor were the alarms triggered by the small box she withdrew from her jacket pocket, and slipped under her arm as she walked. As she arrived at the basement level, her nose wrinkled, ever so slightly, at the smell of chlorine, but it was a momentary thing, as her attention shifted to the familiar face and figure making his way out of the medical bay.

*

This part of the mansion as typically fairly quiet, at least for those that sought it. And it would seem the green haired mutant wished to get away from the upper floors of the school, where classes took place and where students lounged around as they went about their days. The basement was quieter, and in this section at least, Lorna could curl up with a book, a tablet and just forget about the outside world for a little while.

The chair she'd taken over was comfortable enough, and her legs curled up beneath her.

Her focus drifted though, when Drake and then Sage entered the open lounge area. "Hey," Her brows furrowed as she glanced to Drake, spotting him coming from the medical area. "Drake? What happened?"

*

Drake Riley doesn't pay much mind to the fact that Sage is now down here. After all, it doesn't require clearance to be in this area. But moreover, he was present when Scott ran into Sage. So while he still isn't entirely sure what her deal is, the tenor he was picking up is that she's 'with them.' Maybe. There's a bit of faith-taking here, and it gets to a point where he has to acknowledge he's still the 'new kid'.

Kid. Ugh.

His hand lifts to greet her, though! Despite his mild hobble, a smile persists on his face. He starts to speak, but a greenette steals his focus.

"Huh? Oh. Iiii ran into someone and stepped on something that disagreed with me. Had to make sure I didn't need stitches," is all the detail he's getting into in publicly-accessible areas during the daytime. He's still not sure how much discretion is appropriate on school grounds. "I'm good, though! You?"

*

"Drake." And that was about as friendly a greeting as the woman ever offered. That accessing look, as she took in his state of health, the hobbling, but with apparent lack of cane or crutches. And then to another familiar face and voice, "Lorna. Am I interrupting?" But then the conversation seems to turn away from amiable greetings and towards Drake's physical state and Sage takes that opportunity to settle into a seat about equidistant from the other two, the box set on the closest table to her, hands folding into her lap. And there's that quiet stillness that had prompted a comment on her serial killer like heavy looking on.

*

The green haired woman shrugged simply as she set her book and various other things aside. Her legs tucked out from under her to dangle free, a simple jeans and a sweat-shirt, some brand-name logo on the front. Her booted feet clicking softly against the floor. "Don't tell me you stepped on a lego, and I promise not to judge, deal?" She teased gently, her lips twitching briefly as she sat up.

Green eyes flickered toward Sage, she'd met the woman before a few times, and she had vague impressions of the woman. But really didn't know all that much. A slight sake of her head followed and Lorna flapped a hand distractedly to the things she'd been reading over. "No, not an interruption. Not really. I needed a break. My degrees are in physics, but I need to brush up on International laws and the UN's systems. It's rather dry." She muttered, making a face.

*

"That's a promise me'n my foot just can't make," Drake sighs. Of course he didn't step on a lego! But he did make a very similar crack when it'd happened. And a part of him thinks a lego could, in fact, butcher a foot like this. But in this particular instance, no. It was something far more nefarious(ly misplaced).

The teen hobbles forward, balancing his hurt foot as much as he can on the rubbery toe of his shoe. But he turns to take a seat beside Lorna, with one spare seat between them; a polite distance. His head tilts to look towards Sage and her eerie stare. "We're good here. In fact, /please/ interrupt before we have to talk politics."

*

Sage seemed to shift that gaze in equal measure, between Drake and Lorna. So that was some consolation. "A training scenario might be more helpful than books. I can work out a few iterations, if you are interested. It may be easier to commit laws into memory when you are actively working with them. A real-world version of the sort of strategy games which are so popular today. Until, of course, the universal pacifist nation grows in power and subsequently decides to level nuclear weapons on everyone." Well, at least they were not talking about politics. "Do you have a preferred topic of conversation?"

*

A snicker of laughter followed Drake's words, and Lorna grew ever more convinced that Drake hurt himself via stepping on something as simple as a lego. They hurt. They were plastic menaces to all and she hated them. Still, she looked over him with slight concern still etched in her gaze, looking down at his foot and back to Sage as she offered a means for her to learn international law without the use of dry, boring, and often times confusing textbooks. An eyebrow lurched upwards.

"You could set up a scenario for? Damn.. yeah, sure. I'll take some of those. I'm working on trying to figure out ways to help Genosha on a political stage. I need to know what I can do to help diplomatic ties and establish them. It's hard to say, because, well, no one wants to touch Genosha even in trade agreements." She drawled, glancing back toward Drake as he begged to not talk about politics. A blink, and a slow shake of her head followed.

"Everything in our lives is politics, Drake.." She offered dryly.

*

Drake Riley meets Lorna's concern with the sweet and simple sort of smile that may put concerns more at ease. He bobs the injured foot around lightly. It only hurts when pressure is applied to the wound. And so far, he's managed to not re-open it.

Vivid green eyes shift over to Sage and lid to half-mast. "Aaaand that's when our training sims turned into Phoenix Wright games." He doesn't expect either of them to get it.

*

"Of course. Give me some time to up a few mock scenarios, and I can have you access them either through my AI or, if I can get it cleared, I can utilize the Danger Room's imaging systems. Though it might be easier to build a new projection system from scratch and set it up in a lesser used classroom, to avoid interrupting the usual training schedule of the school. And it would be easy enough to arrange for the equipment to be modified but left available for you to use." Muck UN in the Matrix. Fun. "The more difficult the task, the more satisfying it can be when you accomplish your goals. And there are few arenas more difficult than Genosha." Drake's comment returns Sage's attention, "Something very much like that. With slightly more guns, and possibly less courtroom banter."

*

Lorna glanced at Drake, her eyebrows shooting upwards as she considered him, crossing her arms. She didn't get the reference at all. Though Sage's details about what she could do to make studying a little easier when it came to international laws and politics certainly gained a smile. She propped her chin up, "You know, careful with that in classrooms. If it starts to help me understand things, then soon Scott will be asking you to do interactive scenarios for all of the students." She grinned, sitting back in her chair as she considered what else could be done with such a projection system.

"It would certainly make math class easier for some of the kids."

*

Drake Riley straightens his posture and points, in dramatic fashion, to Sage: "Objection!" What's Phoenix Wright without courtroom banter? But at least she got the reference, so hopefully this will be the joke that finally lands with her.

Instantly, Drake's posture is relaxed again and looking to Lorna. "Only if the class can be called Number Crunching instead of math."

*

"Somehow, I think that no matter how apt I might be at crafting classroom scenarios, I will never be invited to be a teacher here. It takes a level of empathy which, I think is better suited for others. And, as well, I would not have the time to devote to the school that it deserves. A few things offered here and there, but I am rarely brought in for longer than a few months at a time. Mission to mission. And the students require much more continuity than that." She does glance at Drake, though Sage's expression had not changed, "Is this the point at which I bring in a rebuttal witness?"

*

A glance was spared in Drake's direction once more, and her lips twitched in amusement, even if she didn't entirely get the reference, the joke about math earned a smile regardless. A sigh and a slight shake of her head followed. "Only if you're actually crushing them. Molly would be into it." She shrugged, standing up as she gathered the books and the alike into her arms.

"I've gotta get headed out, I have to get in some time in the Danger Room while it's open here. I'll see you guys around? I want to talk more about the political scenarios with you sometime, I can give you some notes on what's going on in Genosha's political climate if you want to add onto things. There are more players than just Magneto over there.." She nodded toward both of them, and made to head out.

*

"Only if it's a surprise witness, like a ghost or talking newspaper. I think that's how it works." Drake purses his lips in reflection. He doesn't really know much about those games, but that seems like something they'd cram in there.

Drake's attention turns to Lorna, and his hand raises to her. "Yeah, have fun with that." There's a morose note in his voice. The knowledge that his foot being screwed up slowing his training down is gnawing on him. He's been burning the candle at both ends since being mixed into the inner-workings, and this forced slow-down is already making him feel out of sorts. He shifts his eyes back to Sage as Lorna departs. "What've you been up to, anyhow? Settling in for a while?"

*

"That would work. It will make it easier to know how to make the scenario actually useful to you." Sage did not move to make the woman stay, but simply watched her depart before she turned back to Drake, considering the younger man, and the question he posed, "Even if you are not physically capable of engaging in training, it is still possible to improve on your grasp and control of your electrokinetic abilities. Most young mutants try to be as forceful as possible. Sometimes, winning the battle means looking for the subtle ways that you can engage the enemy." Sage took a moment to consider, before she continued, "I am doing what needs to be done. Acquiring equipment, and working within the parameters that Scott has set for me for the mission I was brought in for."

*

Drake Riley takes a breath and leans back. "Yeah, I'm what you might call ahead of the game there. Not saying there isn't more I could do with it, but there's a /lot/ I can do with my powers already." His head cants. "It might be easier to think of me like a transfer student. Not that I'm ragging on you - /everyone/ so far has thought I'm a newb'." His hand lifts and his fingers wiggle, as if twiddling a wave to her. Instead, tiny tendrils of brilliant blue electricity weave and tangle between the digits.

The feed between his fingers cuts off, and he smiles wryly at her. "That sounds like a whole lott'a words just to say 'classified'," he teases. "But if Scott's in the know, that's good enough for me. I won't badger for details."

*

"I am not given to making assumptions about the abilities people might have. But I will say, that the day you stop trying to do new things with your power is the day that power becomes a dead end. So tell me, what is the most subtle thing you have ever tried to do with your power?" Sage, as per usual, did not seem either offended or elated to see the display of electrical energy between his fingers. The comment about classified receives just the slightest weight of a shrug, "That is a word that tends to make people more interested in what I do and not less, in my experience."

*

"Guys like me understand secrets. Trust me. Not prying," Drake replies.

He shifts forward then, shoulders hunching inwards. "It's usually cooler to give a demonstration, but sure," Drake nods. "One thing I can do is surround myself in electricity. But it doesn't have to be all flashy and frying everyone I come near. I've worked it down enough to be basically invisible, but an EMP. That count?"

Drake's head tilts. "Then there's the drain trick. Just touch something, I can sap its power and shut it down. Anything electrical. Or I could feed power into it. Or I could double the power onto myself and supercharge my abilities for a bit."

*

"And what about using electrical energy to rewrite a computer system, or to redirect a security system to attack and defend against the people you are trying to defeat? Or to rewrite the subroutines on a Sentinel?" Of course, his power might not quite work that way, but it was certainly a different approach to engaging with electrical systems. Sage, though Drake was leaning forward into the conversation, did not do the same, remaining seated, stiff-backed as she had settled into the chair. Her gloved hands did move from folded on her lap, to casually resting on either arm of the chair she was sitting on.

*

Drake Riley laughs softly and shakes his head. "Yeah, I thought about that pretty early on. I think they call that, like, technopathy? My power's more raw than that - energy. Either they have it or they don't. Either I'm putting it out, or holding it in." A grin soon follows. "Don't think I didn't try, mind you. Plenty of electronic security panels I tried to rework with my power. But, ah.. no. If a careful jolt of electricity didn't short it and cause the security to shut down, it wasn't working." His gaze shifts sidelong. "Not that I'm opposed to being able to do that. I just don't think it's how my power works. Happy to be wrong about that! So we'll see, right?"

Drake blinks.

"That was a little rambly. You get what I'm saying, though."

*

"Yes, that is what they call it. Though it comes in different forms. I do not need to use electricity to rewrite systems. But I would venture to say that it does not work now, but you are still coming into your power. It may be that you never learn the knack of it. But it could prove infinitely useful, especially on the subject of these new collars which are being put into use. Being able to find a way to disable them without damaging the mutant who is wearing them might well become an invaluable skill." No one, yet, really knew how the collars worked, but it wouldn't be a deterrent, if just ripping them off could solve the problem, would it. "I do. Powers are difficult things to explain, even to other mutants." Sage shifted, eyes falling to the box she had brought with her, before she returned her attention to Drake.

*

"Tell me about the collars," Drake requests directly. "I'm hearing that they nullify powers? Do they explode if ya yank'em off? What's the deal?"

His gaze dips to the box when hers does, then back to her face. "And what'cha got there?"

*

"That's the trouble, isn't it. No one really knows much about how they work or how to disable them. if I could somehow manage to acquire one, I could break it down and potentially find a way to neutralize them. But yes, that is how they are intended to work. They make it impossible for a mutant to use their abilities." She glances back down at the table, "An upgrade for Scott. I have not been able to find him as of yet."

*

"An upgrade? Are we turning Scott into a cyborg?," Drake asks, bemused. He's sure it has something to do with that visor he wears, though.

"But back to those collars - are they electronic? Do they only effect the person wearing'em? Cuz if they're electronic, I could just neutralize'em without disrupting anything. Maybe. Crap, now /I/ wanna get my hands on one."

*

"Not in the least. I think we would all prefer if Scott remained as human as possible. I believe there is already another Summers around who we can look to to see how well that has turned out for someone of his genetic makeup. And one is enough." For any other person, that might have been something approaching a joke. But for Sage, it was simply a stated fact. "So far as I know, they only affect the person wearing them, so they must interface with the person some way, perhaps destabilizing their electrical fields. But it might be that neutralizing them without using the proper technique or passcode might cause them to damage the mutant or blow their head off at the neck." Sage nodded, "Everyone seems to be wanting to get their hands on them."

*

"We'll get mannequins. For science," says Drake with a nod. "If it tries to interrupt electrical fields, though, there's a chance it might not even effect me. Feh, I want one. Or like three. We'll do like a dissection on one, a yank-test on another, and an electrical drain test on the third. Santa's got his mitts full this holiday season."

*

Sage's expression shifted, from her usual robotic neutral to thoughtful, as she finally leaned forward, forearms resting on her knees. "But the electrical fields of the human body are sometimes impossible to measure. And what is interesting about them, is that they seem to work only on mutants. Or, they were designed to specifically work on mutants. So they must be able to somehow identify when someone is a mutant and when they aren't. Much as the Sentinels seem to do. And I have not yet been able to crack the technology that they use for that identification. But they come from the same place, from Trask, so they cannot be unrelated."

*

"That sounds reasonable," nods Drake. "Follow the money." A phrase he's been using more recently when it comes to current affairs. "Is it possible that the collars have pointy bits? Like those diabetes testers? Get a little blood sample, test it, there ya go?"

*

Sage gave the suggestion serious consideration, before she shook her head, "While it is possible to test for the X-Gene using blood, so far as I know, you cannot then use blood to inhibit mutant abilities. If it were possible to poison a mutant into submission with some sort of chemical, it would have been done long before now. And there are too many mutants out there who either have invulnerable skin, or who can purge chemicals from their systems. So I do not think that it is a chemical interface. Also, the Sentinels do not require contact with a mutant to be able to tell whether they are one or not. They scan and identify."

*

"Ah, yeah, crap. That's right," Drake nods. His lips purse thoughtfully and he leans back. Arms settle over his chest, crossed, and his hurt foot crosses over his other knee. "So they scan. Would that mean there's a database of mutants that Trask has? That'd raise even more questions, wouldn't it? Like, how'd he get it?"

*

Sage tilted her head, "There are many databases that exist on known mutants. Most of which are kept highly classified. And Trask is nothing if not a devious man. I have no doubt that every Sentinel that encounters a mutant likely either sends the report back through some remote system, or, when the system is recovered, the black box, or wherever it is it stores its data is mined for information. And in many of the cases, for example in the case of the more public mutants, like Charles, or Scott, or Jean, most of the 'visible' X-Men, people have had more than enough of a chance to catalogue them, even if they might not be able to identify the full extent of their abilities."

*

"Well. That sucks."

Drake lets his gaze trail to the side, brow knit. "Is it possible that the collars are linked to that database, then? And scans whoever's attached? Or is the collar programmed before being attached, do you think?"

*

Again, that slow considering, "I cant see it being linked to a database, or else it would only affect those mutants who had not already been identified. And it would make it useless for a newly identified mutant. Because the collars exist where the Sentinels don't. Meaning that you don't need to have a Sentinel around to use a collar. No, they must use some other interface. Especially because they seem to have the power to work on any mutant, regardless of their mutation. So it must be something more general. You either are a mutant and it works, or you aren't, and it does nothing to you. Of course, that is assuming anyone ever tried to put a non-mutant into one to see what effect it had on them."

*

"Okay, maybe it's a totally different method," posits Drake. "What if it has a mineral, or material or something, that reacts to the presence of the X-Gene? Say, it vibrates at a certain frequency or something when close to a mutant, and that triggers the device's other.. functional.. hooey." One must not forget that Drake is not particularly techno-savvy. But he's trying, and he's making improvements.

*

Sage nodded, a full one this time, "That might be more to the true. Certainly it is not difficult to test for the X-Gene. And the Sentinels can certainly scan for it, so if the collars can do the same, that may well be how they can be effective. But the how of the scanning, the identification, and then, the greater how of how they manage to then render the x-gene inert is something we have no idea about." She paused, her lips thinning a bit, "We really do need one to study. Or access to Trask's R&D."

*

"Well, if it's a material or mineral or whatever reacting to the presence of an X-Gene, that's how they know they're attached to a mutant. As for the how…" Drake grips his hand onto his folded knee. "What iiif… the material or mineral is something that reacts that way to X-Genes? Like how chloroform knocks people out?"

*

Sage nodded, seeming more than content to remain where she was, working out the possibilities, "Also possible. We do know that there are minerals that inhibit power. Ruby quartz, for example. Though, I suppose in that case, it is not so much about inhibiting ability. It still exists, just…the quartz contains Scott's energy beams. But then, could we identify it? We might not have a collar…but if we could somehow capture a Sentinel…before Trask had a chance to retrieve it."

*

"Yeah, that.. I read that on Scott's file," Drake nods. "So there's reason to believe it's possible."

Sentinels again. Creepy. Especially with the rumor that even bigger and badder versions are on the horizon. Though something about it doesn't connect quite right with him. "Would they be using the same way to detect'em? If they react in, like, a blanket area to the presence of an X-Gene, would they be able to pick the mutant out of a crowd? Or just go haywire on a group of civilians just to mow down the mutant? Or could it be like a dowsing rod?"

*

"Everything that I have seen from the Sentinels seems to indicate that they can pinpoint a mutant from a civilian with great accuracy." Sage shook her head, "I just need access. If I can break the encryption on their systems, I know that I can figure out how they function. It's just a matter of time and access, neither of which we have. "

*

"So, we need to take a field trip to Trask's HQ," concludes Drake. "Seems pretty straightforward. And necessary." He glances to either side to ensure no one else is in the vicinity before refocusing on Sage. "I don't doubt for a second that you could pull that info off that database. But someone like that's bound to have a cocoon's worth of security."

*

Sage nodded, Drake's comment carrying it's own amount of weight. "I have no doubt. Probably one of the reasons he's both managed to corner the market on his tech, and keep his activities secret. But I have my own particular set of skills. And given enough time, I have not encountered a system that I cannot breech." She glanced over at Drake, "But that is a major offensive. We may want to start by thinking smaller."

*

"I may not have the.. uh.. Liam Neeson credentials you've got, but I'd be handy in a situation like that. It's up my alley. Except…" Drake bobs his injured foot again. "Benched until this gets a little better." That'll be another couple days, at least.

"So - smaller. Like what? If you know where the collars are circulating /now/, it's possible to nab one. Right?"

*

"Then we can plan while you recover. And find a way to sell Scott on the idea for a mission." There was really no getting around that, for Sage. Scott was the boss, and good or ill, what the X-Men did, ultimately fell on him. "Whether we go for the lab, or we attempt to secure either a Sentinel or a collar, it is going to take a great deal of planning, and it is unlikely to be something that we can do alone."

*

"Iiii need to do more training with sentinel programs. There's something I /really/ wanna try with'em. And I'm assuming the simulations are, like, true to life, so if something works there, it'll work out in the field…" Drake trails for a moment, then blinks and refocuses on her. "Where /are/ those collars being used, anyway?"

*

Sage shook her head, as the questions came after. "I think that the Sentinels are programmed to act like the ones that we've seen, but since we don't know precisely how they function internally, they have that limitation. We can fight against them, neutralize them, but we can't use a Danger Room simulation to study them." The slightest tilt of her head, "And if we had a better idea of where the collars were being deployed, we'd be able to better defend against them, but as of yet, we don't."

*

Drake Riley shakes his head. "Not to /study/, but to try something on." A smirk then follows, and his hands raise in a helpless shrug. "So then we only have the two options - lab or sentinel, right?"

*

Sage lifted a hand, raising three fingers with it, "Or, we manage to locate a collar, escape with it, and take it to a secure location for experimentation. There is use in training against the Sentinels. And there might already be files in the database here about them. But the clearance level of that would, likely, certainly need rank four clearance, which I do not have."

*

"But we don't know where the collars are. So just looking at what we have now…"

Drake abandons thaat train of thought finally - it's not productive. "I don't need files on'em. Just- okay, it's simple. They're machines, right? Robots? So they run on power. All it takes is a touch, and I can shut'em down. Anything electrical, I can bleed dry."

*

"No, we don't know where they are right now," Sage agrees, "But that doesn't mean that we can't begin to recon the location of Trask's bases of operation and try to extrapolate when and where they might move them. Given that they seem to be being put to use all over the world, they can't all be originating from a single location. They have to be transporting them to where they plan to deploy them. And that, we might be able to track. And, quite possibly, set a trap. Bring one into a place where we have the ability to control the situation." A nod, at that, "yes, that might be possible. Something else we might be able to test, if we get the clearance, once you have recovered."

*

Drake Riley glances to either side to once again ensure no eavesdroppers are lingering before refocusing on Sage. "I can use the Danger Room. Been using it a lot, actually. As often as I can rope someone in to run the monitors." Since that's a requirement. Drake sees it as more of a hindrance, but at the same time, those are the rules and he's trying very hard to play by them these days. Plus, he gets it - the Danger Room can be dangerous. Truth in advertising.

*

Sage nodded, her attention briefly shifting towards the doorway and then back again, looking, for a moment, as though she were looking through the door. "There's no one coming. But I was not referring to the Danger Room. I was referring to testing your ability to neutralize a Sentinel against an actual Sentinel. Because what comes out of the danger room is only a simulation, extrapolated from what we have observed, we won't know that anything we work on there is effective until we test against the real thing.

*

"Oh. Well, that blows." Drake gives a hollow laugh and tips his head back. "Nothing sounds smarter than running up to a mutant-killer-machine to give it a hug, with absolutely no effect."

*

Sage shook her head, "No obstacle is insurmountable. I have no doubt that we will find a way to get to the bottom of this problem. For now, we can work on planning and developing a net to help us identify possible locations for the collars, and a way to track movement when they ship them from storage to where they intend to use them."

*

Drake Riley lifts his head again to look across at her. "First step in that should be making a note off where all you /do/ know the collars have been seen. Bust out the world map and push-pins, right?"

*

Sage sat up, moving to push the table that sat in front of her out from between them, so that there was an empty space between herself and where Drake was sitting. As soon as the space was empty, a 3D rose-coloured globe expanded into the space, like a living wireframe model, with points of light flashing at different points on different continents, including a few which appeared to be on smaller landmasses. "Did you bring your notepad and paper?"

*

Drake Riley isn't sure what to expect when she pushes the table away, and when the projection of the earth is made, he blinks. "Mmm'no?" He doesn't usually walk around with writing utensils. But he fishes into his pocket to produce a cellphone. "But I can take a picture, sort'a. It'll come out weird, with it being a globe, but better than nothing."

His solution, barring any changes, is of course to take multiple pictures. That'll help clarify things better.

*

The corners of Sage's mouth very nearly turned upward, as the globe expanded out into a flat world map, spanning the width of the space between them. Some parameters were easier to adjust than others.

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