Johnny, Just Johnny

September 19, 2018:

Drake comes to Sage to ask a favour. (Bonus points if you get the movie reference.)

Warehouse (Sage's Place) - New York City

Old, long since abandoned by the shipping company that had made use of it for their container storage. Every now and then, one might catch a whiff of motor oil or seat leather, olfactory ghosts of the cars which had once rested within the containers awaiting transport across international waters. Several of the containers remain still, derelict on the warehouse floor. The entirety of the warehouse expanse lacks all structural members, leaving the space with the impression of being vast, cavernous. The roof is mobile, able to be retracted to leave the length and breadth of the warehouse open to the environment. It appears, on all counts, an ideal location for a base of operations. And yet, no attempt seems to have been made to make use of the space. The only signs of occupation are left to the spare workman's washroom, and a single loveseat that sits in the center of what was once the warehouse's main office, a single pillow and thin blanket folded neatly on the left side.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Sage's device - be it a tablet, phone, computer, or maybe even her brain - pings. Drake, the teen from the Xavier Institute has sent her a message! It reads the following:

'Hey you ok? Weird stuff going on. Also wanna talk. Where are ya?'


The message pops up as a blinking light on the visual field that Sage's glasses project, a hand reaching out to touch the air above the kinetic keyboard that projects in red light above her lap, scrolling up to read the message. It wasn't really necessary, for her to use her hands, persay, but it was an affectation she allowed herself when she was alone. Words formed in the send window, thought conveyed into text, 'All is well here. I am sending the location to your GPS. Enter through the northwest door.'


The eloquent response: K

It takes Drake a little longer than normal. Partially due to unfamiliarity, partially due to all the jeepers and creepers scuttling and lurking around the city now. Drake's encountered weird before, but this is a whole new level. He isn't handling it too well.

The northwest door opens, then shuts, followed by a 'flump' sound. Drake is leaning back against it, staring wide-eyed ahead. He doesn't say anything at first, only breathes.


Given the distance between Westchester, where she assumed Drake was, and the NYC docks, Sage remained, she had not expected the teenager to pop up immediately following the text. And so, she had waited, working, as she almost always did. There was, though, some evidence that she was indeed mortal, as she sat on the loveseat, indian style, the displays hanging in space around her, digital projections of light and a small table pulled to the side where the remains of a pouch from an MRE had been set on a single paper plate.

The sound of the door turned her attention from what she was working on, her voice projected to carry across the distance between the door and the seating area she had not yet returned to the office. "Come to the light, Drake. There are no monsters here." Well, perhaps one, but he had wanted to meet with her.


Drake Riley is still for another couple seconds, then finally leans off the door. He makes his way over towards the aforementioned light, his frame rigid and tense. "I had no idea it was this bad," he blurts. "Holy crap. Makes what I wanted to talk about totally freaking superfluous." He just said 'superfluous'. The mansion /is/ having a positive impact on him.

He doesn't sit. He doesn't move any further than the light yet, hands linked tight together before himself.


Sage lifted her hands from the keyboard, the projection winking out, though most of the monitors remained, sweeping away to sit like some sort of strange flickering cage around her as she looked up, catching sight of the young man as he approached. Not close, and not in an entirely friendly manner. More like someone approaching some wild animal, strange and untested, "It is increasing in scope and intensity, yes. But nothing, now, I think, is not important. What did you need from me?"

It's her phrasing that pulls him out of reflecting on the horrific things he saw on his way over. It took him a second to dissect what she was saying, likely due to half-hearing it. But once he does, it earns her a small, tentative smile. "Well.. for started, I wanted to check up on you. I dunno whether you're 'one of us' or not, but you're.. y'know.. our people. So that's first priority."


"I am not. 'One of you'. A mutant, yes, but anything else." There was a slight tilt of her head, a shake, but barely a movement. "I appreciate you thinking to check in on me. That is more kindness than I deserve. I trust that the Mansion is still intact and protected?" Sage glanced over to one of the screen projections, which drew in closer, her hands moving as if she were working a touch screen, a map of Westchester filling the space, zooming in to show the Mansion proper, though it was outlined, like some odd architectural drawing, "I am still analyzing the security systems to determine the level of protection available from mystical interference."


Drake Riley's smile vanishes when she rejects his premise, and he breathes an easy sigh. "Well, /whatever/ you are, I wanted to check up on you." It puts a damper on what he was going to look into next, though. He's not sure how to really breach it.

Attention turns to the display she brings up. "Is that real-time? Remind me to keep everything behind closed doors..," he jokes under his breath. "Marrying science to.. to /magic/, it sounds like, is way above my pay-grade. No idea how to even begin helping you on that."


"It was not my intention to reject your concern, Drake. I am not the easiest person to deal with." Sage was not a woman given to being oblivious to the effect she had on people. "Most would prefer not to. And I am also not accustomed to being approached out of choice. When people come to find me, it is usually out of need, not desire." It was an apology, as much as Sage was capable of. "I am not…used to people being concerned after my welfare."

The projection of the mansion swung around, so that it was easier for him to see. The only elements which were visible were what were the actual structure of the mansion and some finer lines and tracery which were no doubt elements of the security system, though there were so many, it would be nearly impossible to make heads or tails of them. "I am not in the habit of spying on children. And I have no great experience with magic either, nor, I think, do the X-Men, so it is a concern." A beat pause, "What did you need help with, Drake?"


Drake Riley blinks. "Children? Come on. Come on, Sage. Children? Come on." He's eighteen, dangit. But that doesn't seem to bother him in any genuine capacity, as he's sure she didn't mean it like /that/. She's just being general.

"Anyway, get used to it." Even if she liked the idea of being alone, no one should /have/ to be. At least this way, it's her choice. "Though, uh… there was something I wanted to ask you. And hear me out on this," he begins as he steps a little closer. "If you wanna learn how to make a sword, you ask Muramasa, right?" If he has his lore right, anyway. He isn't actually sure. Drake, despite his floppy bangs, is not heavily into Japanese culture. "If you wanna learn how to suck, you ask the monsters outside. But if you wanna learn how to hack…"


Sage studied Drake, listening to his protests, before she spoke herself, "Whatever else the Mansion is, above ground, it is primarily a school, both for younger X-Men and for mutants who are being trained and educated." And that was what the display was showing, the mostly benign, in appearance and use, upper levels of the Mansion. "There are few places where mutants can go to hide, and to escape being peered at as though they were living specimens. When ever possible, I do attempt to respect those expectations."

"So you are interested in learning how to hack computer systems? That is either not at all difficult, once you learn the techniques, or extremely difficult, depending on what systems you are attempting to infiltrate and how well versed you are in their countermeasures."


Drake Riley flat-faces at her explanation, but a smile soon creeps back in. He's come to expect such dryness from her. "That's nice of you," he nods. He's sure she doesn't hear that too often, either.

Another step is taken in her direction. "Basically, yeah. You say you're not 'one of us', but we share info, right? You probably know all about my record, what I've done, whatever notes the X-Men have made about my skills'n all - right?"


Indeed. "Nice is not a word usually used to describe me." Something in Sage, as she read Drake's body language cautioned her against delving deeper into that. Some things were better left unsaid. This was very entirely one of them." Sage turned away, for a moment, picking up the remnants of the MRE and sliding it off of the paper plate back into the plastic bag in which it had been stored, "My kitchen is, perhaps not to your tastes, but if you are hungry, there are a variety of packs in the office there." Indeed, if he looked, there were a number of crates of MREs, from all over the world, both meat-based and vegetarian, though there were less of the latter than the former. She did not bother to deny the answer to the question, "Yes, I have accessed your records."


Drake Riley's smile adjusts into a grin. "Offering food to strays now? You /are/ nice," he teases. He glances to the aforementioned kitchen, then back to her. In honesty, he couldn't eat right now. The image of those /things/ were still fresh on his mind.

"So, you know I'm pretty solid for infiltration. Forced entry, swiping keys and cards, going unnoticed, spotting alarm systems - the X-Men know it, and I've been working on it even more. But hacking.. that'd logically follow, right? If the goal is accessing information from a terminal, I could get to the machine but not do beans about it once there. I wanna be rounded out. More useful."


Sage nodded, the motion curt, but there was something thoughtful in that. "Yes. Teaching you how to be able to use the systems, and beyond that, to both hide your traces and insert your own commands would be a natural extension of your existing capabilities. I am surprised," though she did not sound surprised, as usual, she did not sound like anything, "that the X-men have not already begun your training in that arena. Talent should not be wasted, but evolved to its natural conclusions." She did take a moment to study the young man, "Why me?"


"You wanna learn how to sword; Muramasa."

Drake stuffs his hands into his pockets. "I don't know of many there who could keep up with you. And that's just going by what I've seen and heard so far. You've got an unfair advantage, for sure, and I may never be as good as you, but learn from the best if you wanna be the best you can."


"Even if you're not 'one of us.'"


"There are not many people who could keep up with me, true. But that is a function of my personal mutation, not a failing on the part of anyone else." When your powers manifested, you did not, most of the time, have any other choice but to learn to deal with what you had been given. "It has always been a strange dichotomy within myself. The computer mind, and the telepathic mind. They very rarely seem to appear in the same person, and one limits the other. I have spent a lifetime trying to harness both and leverage them to best advantage. But it has meant sacrificing what I could be on the one hand with what I am capable of, or could be potentially capable of on the other."

Sage rose from her seat, unfolding her legs and heading to the office where she retrieved a bottle of brought red liquid. It looked like a sports drink, but was in a water bottle. A powdered drink, no doubt, from the MRE she had been eating. "I do not have to be one of you in order to help you. There are many allies to the X-Men, and I do not believe the X-Men consider them lesser because they do not wear the uniform or uphold Charles' beliefs and principles. If you wish to learn, I will teach you." Another pause, "But not here. As Scott pointed out when he and his fellows came to me, this is not an ideal place for the X-Men to be. It is too removed from your normal areas of influence and might raise undo suspicion."


Drake Riley smiles brightly. Not only did Sage seem to understand his logic in thinking hacking synergizes with his breaking-and-entering thiefly talents, but she's going to actually help him! She has her work cut out for her, of course - he doesn't know the first thing about hacking. But he's eager, and in high spirits for having an ally. He appreciates her.

"O-oh, yeah, no problem. I'm cool with being wherever for this. I'll need to make time with my schedule, but it'll be worth it. And- thanks. I'll try not to frustrate you too bad. Promise."


"There are a number of primers that I can collect for you, which will allow you to learn the fundamentals of computer systems, security, infiltration, and circumvention. It would be best, as we begin, to work as anyone else would." Here she clearly seems to mean non-mutants, "Since your skill set does not deal with computer systems directly, we will approach it along a more mundane route. And they have made huge advances in the field, and continue to do so. I also have the capability to work by remote access. So we would not have to meet physically, if it was not feasible. Indeed, all of the work I do in that arena is done remotely. The hacking community values its anonymity."

Sage twisted open the bottle, drinking a few swallows, before she set the bottle down and returned to her seat. "if you have a tablet or other device, I can load the materials onto that, so that you can study when your schedule allows. You already know how to contact me if you have questions."


Drake Riley blinks owlishly at her as she explains. Primer, he sort of gets. He thinks it means reading material. The rest, he's mostly nodding along with, expecting everything else will help it make sense. He's silent the entire time she's drinking, and then even as she finishes her thought.

"I got a phone. It's a, it's a X-Man phone." That sounded dumber than he meant it to. "I mean it's like a phone I was issued. No more burner. No tablet, though."


Sage returned to her seat, once again folding herself into a comfortable seated position on the loveseat, "Think of it as no different than learning math, or history. You have to learn how you do it and why, and how to approach each system and each obstacle. Once you have a good handle on basic problems, you can begin to experiment. Taking what you know, and inferring solutions as new problems present themselves." Sage offered a nod, as she began shutting down some of the screens she had open, though some remained active in Drake's visual field. "I will procure one and put the information and lessons I think would aid your progress on them, so that you can advance quickly, rather than learning at a snail's pace."


Drake Riley nods again, then once more, a little more quickly. "Yeah. Cool. Thanks again." He looks from her to the visuals, brow knitting. "You multitask like an octopus with ADD. Should I get out of your hair? Let you work?" He doesn't expect her to have everything for him instantly, after all.


"It is another part of my mutation. I can assign different sectors of my brain to different tasks and work on all of them simultaneously. I have not tested my limits, but I have never had any interference from one task to another. The 'I' who is speaking to you is not, in a real sense the 'I' who is tracking the demonic activity, or the 'I' who is currently about to checkmate my nightly chess match. Or the 'I' who is ordering your new equipment." Sage didn't go on, but Drake was probably not that interested. "But it is probably best if you return to your more normal haunts. This is not the time to draw too much attention to yourself."


It's an interesting mutation, but it's one that's difficult to keep up with by default. After all, he only has the one brain to work with, himself. And he can't compartmentalize it like she can. Still, he nods to her. "You're right. Uh, text me. Call? Whatever, you know what you're doing. If you need anything, though, or the neighbors get noisy - lemme know."

The neighbors almost certainly mean the extra-dimensional monsters prowling around.

He backs up a step. "Thanks again, Sage."

And then he turns to head for the door he'd entered from. He does not look forward to heading out into that bizarre madness again. But if this is something that's going to attack innocent people, it's a superhero's job to deal with it, right? Step one: cope. Ready? Go!


Sage did not move from her seat, despite the fact that Drake was taking his leave, as perhaps a more amiable host might have. Instead, she simply watched the teenager making his way through the mostly empty warehouse, marking the set of his shoulders, and the determination she could see in his manner as he prepared to step back out into the demon-torn city. She would monitor his progress, of course, and do what she could to assist him, if it came to that, but she was not going with him. She did not speak again, until the door had closed behind him.

"Ready Player One."

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