Crossed Wires

October 08, 2018:

The Cuckoos come to Mutant Town to pay Lorna a visit. Esme specifically offers to help however she can. What Lorna asks crosses a line for the X-men. But not for Esme.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Magneto, Eclipse, Jean, Pietro, Nate

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

*

The community center in Mutant Town had been given a more defensive make over. Scrap metal, cars, and the alike had all been used to coat the inside and outside in as many layers of steel as one Lorna Dane could add. So much of the fragile had been hidden away, given over to steel and iron slag. Spikes protruded from the points in which entrance or exit might be otherwise compromised by an invading force. Considering that the twilight that had taken over all of New York, along with mists and hordes of demons it was understandable why one would choose to do so.

The surrounding area had clear marks of past battles and fires, signs showing in previously demolished homes and scorch marks on the (at times) broken pavement.

It was hard to get in and out of the city, with a military blockade set up by the humans beyond. Chaos still occurred beyond the limits of Mutant Town. However, here, it was usually silent. Patrols along the borders still happened regularly, and situations still sprung up. But at least the community center was well defended by those that remained. Brotherhood and X-men alike came and went, protecting the area with at least, minimal casualty. Supplies were limited but were made do. Inside were generators, Christmas lights and other assorted odd bulbs had been wired into the ceiling, creating a multi-colored sparkle against the smooth sheen of the metal interior. Beds were packed where ever they could fit. Same with couches, tables and chairs. Food and water were locked up tightly and rationed with medical supplies under a strict watch. And through all of this, was Lorna Dane. Polaris.

Magneto had ordered The Brotherhood, those that would listen that is, to guard her. She in turn had been told to stay, be a symbol and rescue her lost brother. In a round about way, she'd become a grounding center for the temporarily leaderless Brotherhood.

Since she'd made the bunkers and rooms, she had claimed a tiny closet as her own. A small steel bed and chair with shelving molded from scraps were filled with odds and ends. Her outfit, which had stretched toward being 'fashionable' had regressed to leather studded with metal and plates. She sat on the edge of the bed, her laces twisting up her bootleg as she got up.

*

The Cuckoos have visited periodically but for the most part they've been busy. With what is unclear, but it probably had to do with their friends, jobs, possible significant others and other distractions that would need protectiing just as this palce did. After all, much of the city isn't so lucky as the areas guarded by an entire army of angry, besieged mutants. Where the Cuckoos go there is peace too. Of a sort.

This time the girls approach together, all of them dressed relatively innocuously given the situation. Their clothes are clean and in good shape, and not one of the five girls have chosen to wear armor. High socks, pleated skirts, blouses, yes. But armor? The biggest indication something is amiss is that, for once, they do not all match. One is even wearing a blue blouse instead of a white or pale pink one. Scandalous.

The blondes proceed through the steel barricades and wreckage with quiet thoughtfulness, their blue eyes wide as they survey their surroundings. They split up at once, with the one in pink (presumably Celeste) moving to assist people with efforts in moving supplies. Blue goes off to talk to a friend and perhaps catch up. That has to be Mindee.

Esme continues to walk. No doubt she assumes Lorna will find her.

*

The green haired mutant, if she focused knew everyone inside of the metal encased base, the magnetic fields were constantly buzzing through her head, her ability to sense the vague electrical synapses and nervous systems of everyone around her had been on edge. After all, demons didn't exactly play by the usual rules. So when the blondes, alike and not alike, arrived passed the barriers and barricades, guards and lookouts, their arrival snared her attention thoroughly.

With a rough exhale of breath, Lorna pushed herself through her own little corner of chaos, opening the door without much of a thought, the latch clicking open as she walked and stepped out into the hall. It wasn't hard to spot Esme through the crowd of bodies that came and went, after all, the blondes were striking on a normal day. Here? They were clean. Which was more than most could say. With spotty water access, clean clothes and showers were limited.

"Esme." Lorna called, and eyes flickered up in rapt focus at the green haired mutant as a slight softening of the general murmur lowered.

*

How specifically the Cuckoos managed to stay clean is a mystery which will need to be solved another time. The girls disperse in all directions and begin making themselves busy. Esme joins Lorna as soon as her name is called. Blue eye study the green-haired magnetokinetic critically from head to toe. Then she murmurs, "The steel plates and titanium rods suit you."

There's earnest concern there, right down to Esme's pursed lips and the faint line of worry etched into her perfect brow. A closer inspection shows her clothes are at least a bit rumpled. They may well have been slept in. Small things, in the case of the Cuckoos. "Supplies are still coming in okay?"

*

Lorna nodded her head toward the doorway propped open not too far behind her. A room where all the lights were more or less the same steady white. She'd put them up, she got to pick where the lighting needed to be clear and focused. The room that had become a pseudo-medical area had the same benefit. The rest, the mixture of colored lights, strange and odd wattage. She crossed her arms as she offered a slight nod.

"The X-men have been able to continue sending supplies, yes. No one else has though. We've been able to scavenge here and there.." The but remained unsaid. How long could they maintain this? Weeks? Months? It would become an issue come winter. The base wasn't equipped with heat, and steel was a poor insulator. Regardless if it didn't snow, the lack of sunlight, plus the natural winter could be a deadly combination.

The green haired woman stepped lightly, magnetic fields moving the pounds of metal that clung to her frame without a hint of exertion. Beyond her facade of calm, cool, and collected however was a raging tempest. Lorna was far from fine, miles away from 'well' and the emotional turmoil that tore at her mind was akin to a storm-swept sea. She was on edge, and it was unclear just where she might land if she fell off it.

*

"Wait! Lorna." Esme follows after the green-haired woman but once they are inside she reaches out with both hands to try to snag her companion's. "Give me your hand." Esme takes a deep breath as she makes this request and starts to focus. Her brow furrows slightly. Whether or not Lorna complies with the request the blonde's mind is going to reach out. It's a warm, soothing presence. All Lorna would have to do is think on it- or on Esme herself- to receive some modicum of that telepathic serenity. Esme won't take her rage, just push back the precipice a few meters.

There's a deep breath as Esme comes close to her friend, straightening her skirt on reflex as she does so. "No clues as to how we can deal with this? …Has Illyana said anything?" She continues to speak in soft, gentle tones.

*

The request to wait had the green haired mutant stopping at the threshold of her door. Green eyebrows furrowed deeply as her glance flickered down the hall and back toward Esme as she followed her, and caught her hand. A brief pause followed as if Lorna was struggling to come to terms that the blonde had used telepathy on her without asking, or whether or not she was grateful for it. Her mind was a torrent of electro-magnetic fields and connections. It didn't take much for her polarity to nudge her physical mind one way or another. It was why meditation had become so routine for her.

In her mind, Esme would sense all the problems tumbling through her. Her marriage was over. Marcos was going to search for their baby. She'd fight him if she had to, to stop him. Should she tell her father? He'd kill Marcos.. No. Her siblings were— Pietro was missing. Wanda was locked away in a metal cell in Genosha. She'd almost died. Her birthday had come and gone. Her father had given her a present. A picture of her daughter sealed inside a metal pendant at her neck. Demons. What were they doing..

Some of the panic that had pushed her movements and fed her anxieties eased at the telepath's touch, and Lorna chose rather to scowl as she pulled her hand back and shoved her hands into her jacket pockets. While Lorna didn't have much in terms of mental shields or prowess like her father, she certainly knew and recognized when someone went inside her head.

"Stay out of my head.." She muttered, she nodded to her tiny sliver of a room. Shaking her head in answer to the question. "No. My time has been spent trying to find my brother." Marcos had returned, briefly, Alex was back. Alex was alive. That was another mess she'd yet to report.

*

"If you want it to stop just push it out," Esme replies quietly. "And I'm sorry. I didn't dig into anything." Esme doesn't sound all that contrite, but she does withdraw that as she follows Lorna toward the room, nodding once as they are moving forward.

"It's hard to stay out of your head *completely* when you're really upset. If you want I can show you a bit more about keeping people like me out?" Esme eyes the room, nodding slowly. "Tell me how I can help you," she relates simply. "I'm here because you're important. I know it took me a little bit but—- it's for the long haul if you need me."

*

A rough exhale followed as Lorna shut the door behind her, the lock clicking shut with a twist of her fingers as she took up residence on the narrow, thin bed literally grown from the wall. The other furniture in the room, was a chair, likewise made of steel, and was offered with a wave of her hand. "I've been trained on keeping people out of my head." She grumbled, crossing her legs as she perched on the edge of the bed that creaked with her weight.

"Before I wanted to talk to you about a job offer I'd gotten. I've been offered funds and a building, to start the concept of 'Mutant Underground' here in Mutant Town. I want people I trust to watch my back. I don't trust the woman that wants to hire me for it." Emma Frost. The image of the blonde telepath sitting in pure white, and sipping red, red, wine was immediate and the comparison to the other blonde haired, blue eyed telepath opposite of her followed. It wasn't perfect, but they were near enough it made Lorna vaguely uncomfortable.

What was up with telepaths? They were all blonde or redheads.

"But then all of this-" She waved hand around them.

"Happened. And now I'm stuck here playing figurehead to find my brother."

*

"We can figure that out after this is done. if it's even necessary still. Everything's changed now." Esme looks around slowly and then gives Lorna brief nod. She's evaluating things in practical terms. The Cuckoos have handled this much better psychologically. Probably due to traveling in a pack, having more resource options, and sheer blondeness.

"Do you have any leads on your brother?" Esme asks then. "Do you need us to try to help you get one or two? … I don't know what you've been able to try yet."

*

A grimace twisted at Lorna's lips as she settled back against the steel wall behind her. The metal was her strength and she'd turned the building into a metal death trap to anyone she didn't like. It was as much a security blanket as it was tactical sense. "Everything might be changed now, who knows. This might all play out before the month is out, or stretch and spread for years to come." She shook her head as she folded her arms.

"I know my brother is here in New York. Exodus.. my father's acolytes, have all been sent to find him. Telepathic scans picked up his mind somewhere, but something is blocking further detection. We're down to eyes and ears on the ground, for now, chasing rumors." She pursed her lips, pushing her hair back.

"I think you'd be wasted trying to find him."

*

"Wasted, hm?" Esme purses her lips briefly judiciously and then nods once. "So what would you rather have me doing then?" Typical Esme, really. She'll wait patiently for an answer while scanning Lorna's room once more in case she missed anything interesting.

*

Lorna leaned forward, exhaling a careful, slow breath as she rested her forearms against her thighs. "I need you to watch Marcos for me." She murmured, her voice soft, her brows pinched. "He's dead set on finding our daughter, on bringing her back." Her lips pursed together and she swallowed the emotion that stung her throat. Her hand closed around the metal pendant that hung around her neck. A perfect sphere of strange alloys, that had no seam, no edge. Where inside lay the most precious thing Lorna owned. A picture of her daughter. The only one she had.

"I can't tell my father or his people. If they knew, they'd go to extremes to make sure he didn't. If I asked them to keep him out of Genosha.. my father would know that something was wrong. My father doesn't take chances. Esme, if he knew that Marcos was willing to put our daughter at such a risk.." She broke off, her gaze falling low.

"I don't want that. I'll do anything to stop Marcos from putting her in danger if I have to. But I want to avoid that as much as necessary."

*

"I can keep him under control, Lorna," Esme replies very quietly. "But he isn't going to trust me. It's going to be just as drastic as what your dad would do… Just in a different way." The response is made seriously and earnestly before Esma nods once.

"I can do it. And I won't hurt him. If this is what you want just point me in the right direction and I'll look into it." The blonde shrugs lightly at that. "You know… I want to keep her safe too. We all do."

*

A rough exhale followed as Lorna reached up a hand to pinch the bridge of her nose. "I doubt that Marcos could find her on his own, but if he bothered Nate? Jean? I doubt he'd go that far or would think of asking them to use Cerebro to find her. But it's a possibility. She was young, barely a newborn the last time Nate sensed or read her mind, but it might be enough. If Marcos went to Genosha.. and started to sniff around.. my father wouldn't let it go." She pursed her lips together.

"I just want her to be safe. And that means neither Marcos or I can know where she is. Otherwise, it just takes someone going through our heads to find her and use her." She swallowed the thickness in her throat, raw fear, worry and anxiety bubbling up in her mind and stealing the breath from her chest. Lorna had gnawed over this for weeks. Wound herself tighter and tighter over what to do in regards to her husband and her ruined marriage.

*

"Okay. I promise to do anything and everything I can to protect her," Esme replies seriously. "That's my first priority." She blinks once and then tilts her head slightly. The woman steps forward and then moves to place a hand on Lorna's shoulder. She doesn't apply her powers this time. Not right away.

"It'll be okay. I'll take care of everything. She's safe…" Those words are spoken in a soft, soothing voice. "Let me in and I can help you a little too. Take a deep breath…" With even a hint of assent, Esme will begin the delicate -process of untangling those knotted emotions. She can't fix it, not with Lorna's powers messing with her brain function, but she's been close enough to make some nudges.

Bit by bit. Tiny tweaks to help keep Lorna coherent. And maybe a little bit more pliant. Loosen the tightly wound anxiety constricting her heart.

*

A glance followed Esme as the woman swore to do anything and everything that she could to protect Lorna's daughter. Even if that meant muddling with the father's mind. Because that is what would have to happen to turn Marcos away. To drive him away from his daughter. It knotted everything inside Lorna, she knew it was wrong to ask of a telepath. Knew it was wrong to even suggest. But it was either risk Marcos going to lengths that would put their daughter in danger, or put him into Magneto's line of sight. Her father would have no qualms with ending Marcos if he viewed the man as a threat. If Lorna admitted that her marriage was through. Lorna loved him too much to risk that.

The green haired woman shot Esme a look of warning as the telepath approached and slipped her hand gently against Lorna's shoulder. There was more than a little bit of defensiveness to the magnokinetic's posture as she sat back and her green-eyed gaze clashed with Esme's own, soothing blue.

"I can't rely on telepathy to nudge me back from manic every time." She muttered, her voice curled with irritation by how much she wanted to just let Esme work. Her own sense of self demanded that she handle her mental instability on her own. She was proud. And for all that Lorna had told Emma Frost that she trusted Esme.. Part of her would always be leery of letting anyone into her head.

Her father had spent weeks drilling meditation practices into her. Ways to fight off panic attacks. To control her powers and the magnetic fields around her, rather than to be controlled by them. It had been a slow process, restrictive and harsh. Magneto didn't suffer fools, not even in his own offspring.

The temptation won out, being on high alert, without sunlight, and all the emotional blows that had struck in the past few weeks.. was exhausting. It was hard to be strung so tightly, and something had to give. If she cheated a little and let Esme help once?… well, no one had to know.

But maybe it would help her fight back the darkness just a little longer.

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