Familial Obligations

October 19, 2018:

After Pietro has been plucked from Illyana's grasp, on the island of Genosha, Lorna tries to find some time to herself. Only to be interrupted by her father on the beach. Magneto Emits by Pietro

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Pietro, Wanda, Exodus, the X-men

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It had been a few hours since the blazing arrival of Exodus and the Magnus children. Lorna, the youngest, didn't stick around to see Wanda and Pietro reunited. To see what would happen after her arrival felt wrong. It wasn't her bond. It wasn't her place to be there. Besides, medical attention to her throat, her power burn out and a shower was in order. Mutant Town had limited water after all, and she knew she smelled thickly of iron, oil, and sweat. A mutant healer checked her out in her rooms, a coolness to her skin and aching muscles and Lorna was given all clear.

The evening was beginning to settle on the island, and Lorna escaped the confines of the Spire with ease. She had a favored place to go and think. A place to be outside and to see the rolling waves and the splendor of Genosha's sunsets. To see and feel the warmth of the sun, sprawled out on the white sands with a towel, and picnic basket was the dream that she missed with an ache in her heart. Genosha had stolen a part of her heart in the months she'd lived there before, and it hadn't left her since.

Plus, it was one of the few places she knew her father's Acolytes wouldn't linger over her shoulder. It was well protected, the cove in the shelter of the Spire's shadow and ringed with high cliffs around the sides.

The youngest of Magneto's children hid out there. An apple in her grip freshly plucked from the groves grown by Mutates with the gift for growing things, red and perfect. She wore a silver bikini, edged in teal. A sheer cover-up of some manner of silk hung loosely around her shoulders. Her long green curls sprawling down her back in a carefree way. But her expression was anything but. Focused and concentrated as it was on the sunlit horizon where the ocean sparkled with gold.

*

Lorna didn't have too much trouble flying under the radar, in the initial chaos of their arrival. Their father was not on hand to greet any of them — when was he ever? — but Acolytes were, and they had their instructions which they carried out with wordless efficiency.

Pietro, still unconscious, was sent up to share Wanda's room, and his twin went promptly up with him. She is much paler and frail-looking than Lorna remembers as if her increased grasp on her powers came at the cost of some of her physical strength burning away, but she manages well enough. Everyone seems to accept, at least, that she will purge whatever corruption remains in her twin's veins. The two are up at the top of the Spire even now, no doubt working through that, though their room no longer pulses with the feel of that thick metal cage Lorna would remember from her last visit.

Lorna was seen to promptly. Her every want is met: including, ultimately, her want to be left alone. No one follows her when she slips down to the cove. For a long time, no one disrupts her solitude.

Soon enough, there is a familiar moving flux in the magnetic fields to which she is so intimately attuned. Magneto is not a presence that can be missed by anyone with any sensitivity to the electromagnetic spectrum — much less his daughter. Yet as he draws into sight, a few things stand out as perhaps a little odd.

The first is that he is walking alone, down the steep rocky path leading down to the cove, when he could easily have flown from the clifftop. The second is that he is wearing none of his armor, none of his accoutrements of office, and certainly not his helm. Bareheaded, he paces slowly down to the sand dressed simply in a loose shirt the color of the sand, and a pair of black pants. His hands are pushed into his pockets.

It is telling of the kind of person he is, that even such a simple display might engender some suspicion as to his motives for such deviation from his typical fanfare. But outwardly his expression shows nothing save the usual cool calm.

He stands easily in the sand, stance planted as if sinking roots into the island itself. "Missed the sun, did you?" he wonders.

*

Time alone had always been valued to Lorna. After all, she'd spent her teenage years in the Mansion, surrounded by people constantly. Privacy was hard to come by. Just as it had been difficult to find in Mutant Town for the past few weeks. Her focus had been refined, hyper-vigilance had exhausted her just as much as her emotions had been wrung out. She savored the beach, even if she hadn't gone into the tropical waters as of yet.

Her senses weren't extended far, but then again, she didn't have to be actively looking with them to sense where her father was. Usually, he was a vague presence, a sum too large to be considered at a distance. He was an electromagnetic polestar. A power that was a constant no matter where in the world she was.

But to feel his approach to the beach, in which she'd never even once had seen him, was enough to stun her actual gaze to twist around to stare at his approach. Her brows furrowed as she sat up, tucking her legs beneath her as she bit into her apple. As he stood beside her and spoke, her gaze returned back to the distant horizon. Her lips pursed together briefly, and she shrugged.

"I do… did.." Her voice soft, and it was clear her mind was else where besides the literal sun before her. Her gaze flickered back toward her father briefly and she took another bite of her apple, holding her silence only for a beat more. "How are the twins? Anything new?"

*

Familiar blue eyes study Lorna where she sits. Perhaps he is aware of how burned out she is in almost every way. If he is, he says nothing about it immediately.

"Your sister has made substantial progress," he says instead in answer to her question. This pattern is consistent enough to be noticed by now — how often he refers to them in terms of their relation to one another, instead of in terms of relation to him. It is a rare moment he will speak their names, and an even rarer moment he will truly claim them: my son, my daughter. Some hurts follow a man his entire life. The last time he claimed a child and loved her, she was burned to ashes.

Yet here he is again. Three children, all of them now so close he can turn his eyes and behold each of their locations. He closes his eyes briefly and puts the thought clear out of his mind.

"I will check her work soon enough," he says a moment later, his blue eyes opening back on Lorna. "There are several things I wish to hear from your brother's own mouth before I send him back to his appointed task."

He regards her. "You have yours as well. I do not think you have forgotten."

*

A sigh followed her father's words, and Lorna continued to snack on her apple as she listened with what seemed like half an ear, but was well and truly with rapt focus and attention. Her green eyes lingered on the surf, on the crashing waves and the way the water ebbed and flowed, but her magnetic senses played over father's magnetic presence almost affectionately. Or at least, what served as much affection as either father or daughter seemed to share with one another.

As the topic returned to her, and what he expected of her, she frowned. Her gaze ripping away from the water back toward him with a faint frown twisting her lips. "What? I did what you asked. I stayed in Mutant Town, protected the people there and brought Pietro back." Her voice dry and ringed with her usual vague humor. She knew what her father was truly referring to, but exhaustion pulled at her with such temptation… And vague feelings of bitterness at her father that always lingered. Even when they were getting along, it was always there.

She reached for her apple again, finishing it off and tossing the remains into the basket at her side that held other bits and pieces of wrapped up food from the kitchens in the Spire. Even if Magneto never ate from there, and there were plenty of others that lived or worked in the steel fortress to merit a full sized, industrial kitchen.

*

"A narrow view of matters," says her father.

He doesn't elaborate immediately. The wind tugs at her father's white hair as he holds his silence. It is the only thing about him that moves; the rest of him is as solid as the city at their backs. The city he built back up with his own hands, after tearing the country's rotted heart from its corrupt chest. In her senses, he is as immutable as he always has been, a single stable point that stands with the strength of a driven steel beam. A lightning rod for the hopes and dreams of a beleaguered race.

Lorna's presence curls close. He doesn't leave — this time. Perhaps the only way left in which Magneto can show affection is to remain briefly still when his children cling at him, and not immediately walk away. Well, that and in bursts of abrupt and sudden violence against those who actually harm his brood.

Or perhaps it is merely his machinations at work again. Their father can be so kind… when he wants something, too. One can just never be sure.

"It does not become you to pretend to be more obtuse than you are," he finally says. "Much as it does not become your sister to revile her own powers. Much as it does not become your brother to indulge his soft heart, time and again."

He tilts his head back, his magnetic presence expanding. He seems to take in the entire island, to blanket it with his senses in one sweep. In ownership; in fervor; in a zealotry that, while confined geographically, does not always intend to remain so. "You know Genosha is not an end. It is a beginning. But first it must be made strong. I need your siblings in one way — to keep mankind afraid." He looks back down at her. "I need you in another — to keep them guided along the paths we desire them to take, out of our way. Someone must be the face of this place — of the mutants who seek refuge here. Someone must be their voice in the circles of the world."

His gaze averts. "I asked you, some time ago, to keep watch on the X-Men," he mentions, almost offhand.

*

Lorna shifted on the towel, bending her knees slightly as she stretched her legs out before her. Her toes curling into the sand as she settled her arms against her knees, leaning her chin atop it all. Her eyes closed, even as her powers curled up around her father, feeling his strength, his presence, his reach. This close, without even touching, there was a faint pressure of power between the two. North and South poles.

Even as his powers stretched out beyond, to encompass all of Genosha, she could follow the ebb and flow of his powers as easily as she could see the surf not ten feet away from her.

Her lips curled faintly at his words, her gaze narrowing faintly upon the sands before her.

"Yeah well, I don't enjoy cryptic responses when I asked for details." She shot back, a green eyebrow lurching upwards as she shot him a side long glance. "You don't need me to keep an eye on the X-men. You know well enough what goes on there. Don't pretend otherwise." Her figure uncurled from the hunched position, shifting around as she peered up at him, her arms loosely propping her frame up.

"You don't need me for anything. You don't give a shit what the world thinks of you, much less of Genosha. You've established the island on the global stage through the UN. And I doubt that you care about opening trade channels beyond what you've already got established." Her lips twisted, eyebrows held high as she watched her father.

*

Magneto does not answer his daughter at first. His gaze looks off across the ocean, due west.

"You are correct," he finally says. "I need someone for these things, but it does not have to be you. I would simply prefer it be my own blood that sees to these matters — that leads mutantkind through these troubled times. I would prefer it to be my own blood who watches the X-Men, who makes the judgment calls on their decisions, their actions… and assesses whether they would threaten what we have built here."

The sun of Genosha shines warmly down. "For you love what has been built here, do you not?" he asks. "The country where your daughter will grow up?"

He turns towards her, meeting her eyes. Magneto is the sort of presence that fills rooms, a man who still wears a regnal presence even in this era of no kings; but now, he looks like a man. An old man who has trod through too many tired decades, in search of some ideal which always recedes once he gets too close. "Yet if this is your choice, then I will not press you. There is always more to be done here, but it is not you who needs to bear the burden."

Her father glances, only once, up at the Spire, before his eyes return to her. "For once, I am attempting to be frank with you, Lorna," he admits. "Yes. I could ask any of my Acolytes to do these things I ask of you."

His eyes are steady on hers. "But can we trust anyone but us — our blood — to do it correctly? To love this land as much as it must be loved?"

*

Some of that defensiveness, that prickle of disgust and annoyance faded at her father's words. The comments on Pietro and Wanda had earned her ire, but his slow and measured response eased the tension from her figure. Her expression softened, her irritation fading as she exhaled and followed her father's gaze to the horizon where the sun glimmered on the sea and on the island's sandy beach all around them.

"You know I love Genosha, and what this island means. Not just for Dawn, but for everyone." Her voice was soft, her daughter's adoptive name falling from her lips awkwardly. She hadn't said it out loud once. Not since she'd given up her baby girl. Her jaw tightened as she swallowed a tightness that formed in her throat.

"I just.." Her gaze lowered, her arms crossing as she let silence fall between them. The only sound the rolling crash of the waves all around them.

"I don't see how I can possibly do more to protect Genosha abroad. It's not like diplomats or other politicians will talk to me, much less take me seriously. I might take up a position in Mutant Town whenever the stuff in New York is handled.." But it would go directly against his request that she keep tabs on the X-Men on his behalf. That she'd move out of the mansion and onto her own path. Pietro had encouraged her. Her father? She had a feeling he'd heavily disapprove. She sighed, reaching up to drag her fingers through her hair.

"I want to do more for this island. For our people here."

*

Magneto watches the defensiveness and tension ease from Lorna's demeanor in response to his words. His head tilts a little, before with a slight nod to himself and a blink, his gaze turns away.

"You are my daughter," Magneto says simply. "Carry yourself accordingly, and they will listen. They will take you seriously."

The magnetic currents around them flex briefly. Trace iron pulls from the sand and cliffs around them, building rapidly into a twisted seat of metal in the sand, upon which he settles. He leans forward, beside his youngest daughter.

"I will teach you something, Lorna. To move men is a combination of the whip and the carrot. Over the course of my life, I have tried only one, or only the other. Neither will work in isolation. Men do not seek solutions until they are shown fear… and that is when you offer them the solution you have chosen for them, rather than allowing them to derive their own. Your siblings are the whip. You are the solution."

He folds his hands. "It is a long game, and the particulars cannot be taught. You must read those seas yourself — every situation has its specific way it may be spun. But you can learn to discern the fear of a man, and guide him in the way you desire. The more men fear that mutants will run rampant in their own countries, the more suggestions of a legitimized, contained, and stable mutant state — far away from them — will appeal."

And once Magneto has his powerful state? His country flush with strong mutants, millions strong? He does not say. But some things do not change about a man.

He leans back again. "I know, at any rate, of your project in Mutant Town. It will cut into your ties with the X-Men, perhaps, but I find it a worthwhile endeavor nonetheless. Some of those you shelter may be persuaded to come here, in time."

*

A rough exhale followed Magneto's flex of his powers as he summoned a chair and sat beside her. Green eyes glittered with unsaid emotions as she watched her father, her focus singularly held by his uninterrupted lecture. A mirror of her brother's lengthy lectures, though it had taken until now for her to draw the parallel there. Her gaze turned down as she fell silent, taking her time in mulling over what her father had to say. Even while she applied his words about carrots and whips to his own relationship with her and her siblings. She recognized his manipulations, even while she found herself agreeing with them.

It was the danger of being in his presence for any length of time.

Her silence lingered as her thoughts tumbled. Finally, her gaze returned to her father, her hands settled on her lap. "I'd say I'm surprised you know about those plans in Mutant Town.. but I'm really not." She offered softly, "I was almost convinced at first that it was your doing, setting me up for that position." She murmured, "Either way.. I'll be helping to get mutants here." She hesitated, her lips pursing together briefly, thinking. Her mind rolled over the idea of an 'Underground railroad' type of operation. If Registration should pass.. it would only help what her father was attempting to accomplish here.

"Either way, I can't do much in that regard until the situation in New York is cleared up."

*

If nothing else, it soon becomes very clear Pietro got more from their father than a carbon copy of his looks. The long declaiming lectures are similar, the authoritarian decisiveness, the anger… but it is also very apparent, after interacting with them both, that Pietro has a very youthful, unmatured form of all these traits, and that he has much forging to go through before he expresses the fully-matured calm which Magneto has come to live and breathe with consummate ease.

Then again, there's probably something to be said for a young man still having some ginger in him, too.

What Pietro also has in common with Magneto, apparently, is a tendency to manipulate, though the father has a much more deft touch than the son. Nonetheless, Lorna has been around her father long enough that she can recognize his manipulations — though the trouble is, as one might expect, that she has a hard time disagreeing with what he actually says. The best manipulations always sound logical, after all, and that is before one factors in Magneto's innate charisma. Most people remember him for his violence, his brazenness, his shocking displays of brute power… but to only focus on those is to forget the times he can recede and be as charming as the Serpent under the tree.

There is always, too, that slight small chance that he might truly have come to care. He loved before, decades ago. Sometimes he almost seems to love again. A child can perennially hope.

Lorna's admission that she almost thought it was his doing, setting up that position, draws a brief 'hmph' from somewhere deep in her father's chest. "Your brother likes to put his hands in things, it seems," he says, with the irritated disapproval that only a father recognizing some of his own traits in his offspring can have. "But the purpose is sound. Should it eventually evolve into a waystation for people to make their way here, so much the better."

He pushes back to his feet, the rudimentary seat dissolving back into a shower of metal ions that dust away. "But as you say — New York must first be reclaimed. We cannot build but from a stable starting point."

*

The youngest child of Magneto had paradoxically, been the one around him the longest. She'd spent the most time in his presence. Had spent years growing adjusted to the idea that he was her birth father and what that entailed. She was well aware of his manipulations, even as she fell for them. Before it had been easier for her to ignore them. She'd hated him as some nebulous idea in her life. Too distant to know, to understand.

All of that had changed as she'd moved to Genosha, as she'd spent months in his presence. A small kernel of understanding had been laid then. A foundation that had been laid with great care. Trust. It was hard for Lorna to give it freely to her father, but it had slowly been nestled among private training, dinners, and the odd hours in which she and her father simply talked.

It shone in the ease in which she spoke to him. In the way in which she felt safe enough to turn her back to his presence, or to take her eyes off him. All of which had led to the most important pieces of trust that he'd managed to snare from his youngest. Her turning over her daughter to his care to be hidden.. and her running to him when her siblings had gone missing. She could have turned to the X-men in both cases. To the people that had raised her. Her chosen family. But she had chosen him. Both times.

As he rose, Lorna smiled, her lips twitching faintly at his grumbled comment about Pietro. She finally stood as he did, a small lift of magnetism lifted her to the feet lightly as she floated there nearly on eye level with him. She seemed to hesitate for a minute before she touched down to the sandy beach below. Her toes buried in the sun-warmed sand. "Thank you, for my birthday gift." She offered her voice soft as she pressed her magnetic powers against his own. A bond that joined them as surely as they were both entwined to the magnetic fields above the Earth. It was as close to an embrace as she ventured, though her father had hauled her along by the arm before. She had never once seen him embrace anyone. Though, judging by the fact that she existed, he must have done so in the last three decades at least.

"I'll stay here until Wanda and Pietro leave, I think."

*

That was Magneto's intention in the end, perhaps. Once he was no longer just a cipher in Lorna's life, once he was a man to her — a father, even — she could not help but become close to him. Easier to understand. Easier to use. Easier to manipulate. Easier to forge into a person who would choose him when in need. Perhaps that is all it is, to him. Perhaps not.

It is likely not even Magneto really knows the truth there… or even that the truth changes from day to day.

The appearance of the twins had added some complexity to matters — but not too much. It did not take him long to understand them, in their turn — though the mystery of how he and his long-lost wife's children were so young despite being conceived so long ago is a mystery that remains as of yet unsolved. It is perhaps less important than the simple knowledge that they are his. For a man so completely shaped by his past, Magneto does not like to look back at it too often.

She thanks him for the gift. He is silent a moment, before a light 'hmph' escapes him, a sound that makes him almost seem in truth no more than a rather cantankerous grandfather. "Well, see that you do not lose it," he says, his powers allowing the close tangling of her own. It is perhaps his version of allowing a child to reach for his hand, brief as the moment may be. "It is as secure as it can be, but people find ways."

He disentangles a moment later, his stern demeanor returning and his powers pulling back into controlled austerity, even as she makes her determination. "As you will," he says, already turning to take his leave. "The means will be made available to you when you choose to leave."

His eyes turn up to the Spire. "I do not foresee they will stay long."

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