X-Nerds

November 26, 2018:

Lorna and Sage take a virtual simulation for a test drive.

Basement - Level 1 - X-Mansion - New York City

This level opens into a small open lounge. Not as plush as that of the ornate decorations in the upper levels, but none the less comfortable for sitting and relaxing or even, waiting.

To the right are double doors that require medical service security keys and recognition to pass. This is the student and visitor medical area, as well as the overflow if need be for the X-Men and Faculty/Staff.

To the left is a separate version of doors, unsecured and once passed, the unmistakable odor of chlorine and the first tell tale sign of what lays beyond is evident in the split to men's and women's separate locker rooms.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Magneto, Cyclops

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

What with demons, and portals, and rifts, and people being snatched willy-nilly, is there ever a good time to do anything but heroing? Well, if you're Sage, who might or might not actually sleep, there usually is. She's returned to the mansion in the wake of the professor's disappearance, though no one's been really sure where exactly she's holed herself up. She's just, well, there when she needs to be.

Suffice to say, she's close enough to have left a message with Lorna to meet her in the lounge when she had a few free minutes, possibly an hour or two. And then she simply settled in to wait, occasionally munching on one of those MRE ration biscuits that so terribly offended Remy when he tried to make her eat real food.

-

It didn't take long for Lorna to shift gears from endlessly pouring over the recordings of portals all over. She'd been endlessly pouring over her theoretical physics books, on the line with various people in Genosha and trying to wrap her mind around what might be going on. The problem was, that so much of her understanding about the world manifested in electromagnetic pulses, in her senses running through and over them, that it didn't help to watch what happened. She had to be there in person..

And being there in person was all a matter of luck. Like any other problems, though, Lorna worried at it endlessly. So Sage's invitation to meet up with her in the lounge was an opportunity to distract her mind for a time. The green haired woman entered with a sweep of the door, booted feet lightly clicking with each step she took, black leggings and a loose fitting, over-sized purple sweater completed the look. A mug of hot coffee steaming away in her grip. "Hey, what's up?"

-

Sage lifted a hand in a just a moment gesture, finishing her bite of biscuit, and putting the remainder back in the bag it came in, brushing away crumbs and depositing them in the dustbin she'd likely moved over near her for just that purpose. "I thought you might want to see about getting the VR system up and running, while I was here to troubleshoot any problems you might encounter. Given the state of the world, and your desire to travel down to Washington, I thought you might want a bit of practice on how to use it and to run through a few scenarios before you left." Given the rifts, Lorna might well not be leaving, but Sage was nothing if not a woman given to preparing for any possible eventuality.

-

A hint of a smile lit up over Lorna's lips at Sage's words and a bob of her head followed as she stepped further into the room, a sip of her coffee following as she pressed her chilled hands against the sides of the mug. "Sure, I'd be up for messing around with the systems a bit. I had planned to be down there this week, but obviously that's not happening just yet." She grumbled, no small amount of annoyance in her voice.

"I'm hoping that this gets settled quicker than the demon invasion. Before Congress gets back in session. Everyone has been so adamant here about playing politics and being nice and working within the systems of power to help mutants.. So I'm giving it a shot. Not that I expect anyone to actually listen to me.. but hey.." She grimaced and shrugged, a hand sweeping back green curls from her face.

"If the worst is them refusing to talk to me.. I'll make do."

-

"There is always going to be another crisis. Another insurmountable obstacle, another seeming apocalypse on the horizon. Sometimes what looks as though it is the priority is not actually the right direction of travel. If you feel that your talents will be best served elsewhere, then my advice would be to go where you decide you are needed. For all we know, your leaving here to deal with problems elsewhere might avert a worse catastrophe."

Sage rose from where she had settled herself. She was dressed, as she always was, in her usual black attire, though she had set the coat on the back of the chair. She walked around it now, to retrieve a box which looked identical to the one she had given Lorna. "I wasn't sure if you would have the unit I gave you handy at the mansion," given that Lorna spent most of her time in recent weeks in mutant town, "so I brought a duplicate rig for you to work with." The box in hand, she walked back around the couch to offer it to the green-haired woman.

-

A shrug followed, "If there's a threat out there that isn't to do with mutants, the public seems to cool off on 'lets hate those guys in particular' crap and hates on whatever the flavor of the month is. If my trying to talk to whoever will meet with me is gonna help out, I'll do it." She pursed her lips briefly as she thought about all that might entail and shook her head slightly.

"There will always be another crisis, I know.." She sighed, and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Normally we get a bit more of a break though.." She glanced toward Sage as the woman mentioned the box and a grin flickered over the green haired woman's features.

"Hey now, I moved all my stuff back here after Mutant Town wasn't in demonic danger. But it does save me a trip back to my room, so we might as well use it. What do I do?" She asked, moving to take the offered box.

-

"That seems typical of humans. When I was young, all I saw were militants and militia who would eliminate one threat and immediately look for another. And if they could not find one, they made one. It is as if they cannot simply exist, but must always be in opposition to something, or look for something that they feel is oppressive to fight against." As for whether or not Lorna could affect a change, "Even if your trip amounts to nothing, in terms of change, you will at least have first hand knowledge, rather than the stories and rumours we have now. A platform to build on for next time. And more information you can use to protect your people."

"I thought it was better to be safe than sorry." In regards what Lorna did and did not bring back with her. Sage indicated the box, "Your primary interface is a pair of glasses, in a similar vein to mine. Once you place the glasses on, you will activate them using the function button placed at the right temple along the arm. It's textured, so you will be able to feel it without needing to search for it. Go ahead and try them on, if you would. If they are uncomfortable, I can make adjustments to the fit."

-

Another shrug followed Sage's assessments on humans in general. It all aligned with what she'd known, people were.. people. They loved, they hated, they feared. Always somewhere someone had to have something to hate, someone to blame for their troubles. Whether mutant-kind would ever be any different was still yet to be tested. If mutant-kind survived long enough for that..

A mental shake and Lorna opened up the box to dig out the pair of glasses and settle them on her head. She tilted her head this way and that to see how likely they were to fall off, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they seemed stable and fairly comfortable.

"They feel good to go," She murmured, and reached up a hand to flick the interface on as she set the box aside with care.

"How tight do I have to keep my powers in check with these? Most electronics get wonky if I so much as breath wrong on them."

-

Sage watched the fitting with the same sort of Mike Myers care she seemed to watch everything. It really was a miracle Lorna never jabbed her in the eye to stop her staring. The question brought a momentary pause, before she continued. "I have been studying your electrical manipulation ability, the effect it has on both the human electrical field and the power grids of the city." Blowing out the power system in mutant town didn't only save them from becoming human husks. "I have attempted to extrapolate the necessary shielding for the glasses based on my cataloging of your genetic markers. My hope, is that that will suffice, but there is really only one way to test it." Sage stepped back, out of potential damage range. "Activate the glasses, set them on the table, and then we will see what we will see. I will make adjustments and repairs as needed."

-

A blink as Sage spoke of having studied her powers and a slight furrowing of green eyebrows followed. She hadn't quite expected anyone would take a scientific interest in learning more about her powers here. She'd always been curious, which is why she had a physics degree, but to hear Sage put it quite so frankly was a tad bit jarring."My genetic markers?" She mused as she reached up and took the glasses off after having clicked them on.

"Are you sure? How much do you want me to throw at them?" She glanced at the glasses, so innocent looking and unassuming, she felt almost bad to accidentally or on purpose.. destroy them. She hadn't even used them yet. Still, she shrugged and set them on the table as instructed.

-

Sage nodded, as she shifted her attention to the glasses, "One of my mutations, is the ability to read the genetic makeup of anything living or dead. A full analysis of any human's genetics allows me a range of abilities. Familial matching, such as I used when we were reuniting the mutant refugees with their families, but I can also mark both the current level of a mutant's, well, mutation, as well as extrapolate how they will continue to change and grow as their mutation evolves. I see what they are and what they could be. I can modify a human with mutant potential to force their evolution to mutant status, or push a mutant to the next stage of their evolution. I have done it less than a handful of times. It is a dangerous business. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle once you let it out." She paused, "Though, I have actually not tried that. I suppose, If someone ever asked me to unmake their mutation…I would make the attempt. Whether or not I would be successful, I do not know."

Sage tipped her head in Lorna's direction, "I am sure. I have enough supplies to build whatever I might need." Her lips curled into what was almost a smile, "Unlimited access to both the black market and the world's banking systems can come in quite handy when necessary. A stress test is the only way we will know for certain how much of your power they can withstand. I am monitoring the system now. If you could begin with a low level manipulation and work your way up, I will record the resilience of the system."

-

Lorna fell silent as Sage spoke about everything the woman could do, and she realized how very little she'd known of this woman before her. A twitch of a smile traced the outline of her lips, green eyes lifting from the glasses toward Sage with a hint of bitter amusement. "Then I suppose you could tell me how much like my father I am. Will I end up looking that good at nearly a century out?" She laughed lowly, having forced a lightness into her tone that she didn't actually feel.

There was a pain there, deep-set and rarely examined. Would she outlive those she cared about too? Would her powers become so massive that she'd lose her mind to them? How much like her father was she truly? But she didn't say any of those thoughts out loud, not as she turned her focus to the glasses and stepped up to them.

"Alright, low level power.." She held out her hand above them, and ran a light tap of magnetic energy against them. It was enough to turn on or off most electronics. Not enough to fry anything but the most delicate of instruments. A glance toward Sage followed, "I didn't think that would do anything.. so.. here goes smartphone frying levels, and credit card wipes." She mused.

-

"I have seen your father only once and that from a distance, very, very many years ago, and my powers were not then what they are now. If I were close enough to him, I could certainly catalog him and compare your DNA to his. Based on what I know of your powers, I would suspect that it has something to do with your ability to manipulate your own magnetic and electrical fields. All humans have them. Part of human aging is the loss of the body's ability to regulate its electrical systems. A pacemaker, for example, is a way to aid a failing electrical system. Perhaps your manipulation of your own electrical fields rejuvenates them in a way that someone who cannot control their own base electrical system can't. I think I would need to do a deep dive into your genetics, and that would take a good bit of time."

Sage continued to study the glasses, a hand reaching out to make a tossing motion with her hand. A holographic screen appeared in the air to Polaris' left, which showed data readings from the superconductive material that Sage had used to act as a shield for the electronics in the system. "The shielding is holding. Keep going." The baseline electrical information from the system that was running in the glasses themselves was displayed just below it.

-

A slow nod, thoughtful and somewhat distracted by what Sage had to say. "Well, that's a good theory as any. If you ever have time to kill, yeah.. I could get you in to see him. Though, I think I'll keep what you can do between us. My father really doesn't need to know what you can or can't do. Frankly it's none of his business anyways.." She muttered the last part with a sigh, and turned her gaze back to the glasses instead. Her hand still hovering outstretched above them. Her brows furrowed in concentration as she slowly knit her powers into a more narrowed concentration of elecromagnetic pulses. A steady warping that continued. She didn't bother this time to call out where it was comparatively, though the table certainly rattled beneath, as she flexed her control.

A glance was spared back to Sage, an eyebrow hitching upwards as Lorna could feel the internal processes in the phone start to react.

"Well?"

-

"I would also prefer that your father not know that I have the ability to identify mutants and potential mutants. A human with the powers of Cerebro would be as dangerous in his hands as I would be in Trask's. So, if you please, do not point me out to him either." Wow. That was almost a Sage joke. Of course, rather a flat one because…Sage. "We're beginning to see some unacceptable stress levels, but we might be able to alleviate it with a secondary layer of shielding."

-

A twitch of a smile returned to Lorna's features as she glanced side long at Sage, never lifting her hand from above the glasses. She tilted her head, green hair spilling over her shoulders in a mass of curls. "Lets not put that to the test then hmm? It's bad enough he has an island with advanced technology all around and free time on his hands." She drawled back, humor only half teasing.

Because at the end the of day, Lorna knew the trouble her father could get up to in Genosha if left to his own devices long enough. It was part of the reason why she had gone in the first place.

Her focus returned to the glasses however as Sage murmured that they were beginning to show signs of stress and she dropped her hand and her electromagnetic pulse over them. "Well, that's more than something I'll accidentally do if I sneeze, so that's good. Nice job by the way."

-

"We can only hope that he has enough to keep him interested there, that he keeps his reach here to a minimal level. At least until you have shored up our defenses against him." Sage clearly saw no point in denying that whether or not Lorna wanted it, she was the one person the X-Men and perhaps the world, could trust to make the attempt to keep her father in line. The twins were, well, the twins. "Once we are finished here, and will head down to the lab and begin the modifications. But if you'd like to put them on, I will walk you through how to access the virtual reality systems."

-

A grimace pulled at her lips as Lorna straightened from her pose over the glasses, her gaze swinging back toward Sage as the smile fell from her lips. "I don't think there's much we can do beyond what we already have if my father was sincerely set on destroying the world beyond Genosha's borders." Her gaze dropped, eyelashes fluttering as she blinked repeatedly.

"I trained with him on that island.. and even at my worst, when I lost my grip. He could turn my powers off with a snap of his fingers." She snapped her fingers as if to demonstrate, and a slow shake of her head followed.

"We share a connection, magnetically speaking. He can tap into my powers through it. And.. since he's the stronger magnetic force.. cancel mine out." She exhaled a breath, and reached down to pluck the glasses up.

"If it came down to a fight between him or me, truly? I'd lose." She tucked the glasses onto her head, settling them comfortably against the bridge of her nose. Green eyed gaze turning back to Sage.

"But enough depressing shit about my family dramas, how do I get these to work?"

-

"And yet, every magnetic field has something some weakness that can be used to disrupt it. The trick is finding it. Your father has been using his powers for many years, and people are justifiably afraid of him. Perhaps you are too. Perhaps the trick is to do what he does to you, which is t find a way to cancel out his power. The most powerful wheel can grind to a halt with the application of a grain of sand in just the right spot. And, if he can use that connection to tap into your powers, could you not, eventually, learn how to tap into his?"

But on that note, Sage returned to the task at hand, "Alright. Now, The first thing that we need to do, is to calibrate the glasses to your retinal pattern. This is a different system than the one I built for Scott. He can control his telepathically as well as retinally, because I am familiar with the electrical patterns of his brain. These are not as invasive as those. So, hold the function button down, and the system will take an image of your retinal patterns. Notice that the display, when you first bring it up will be red. Once it has been calibrated to you, the system will display green. Once the system is green, simply look at the display you want and the menus will open, look at each option that you want, the same way you would if you were looking at the display and using a tactile interface like a mouse to activate them."

The system was not much different than the HUD display one see on something like the blackbird or the projected screen of a computer display. "Once you have set the scenario you want, the virtual reality simulation will start up. The room first, and then you can add in people. No matter what the simulation looks like, you will always see the entry interface overlaid on your left hand side." Like a small virtual tablet. It is also possible for you to project the simulation for others to see, but they will not have the full immersion that you do."

-

The idea that Sage suggested had occurred to her, she'd studied the physics behind, the theory behind, what her powers could or couldn't do… but it was a crutch. An excuse. Her father had muted her powers when she'd lost herself emotionally at the news that she had killed her mother as a toddler. He'd turned her powers off before she could unleash another torrent of electromagnetic blasts in her distress. He'd done the same when she'd given away her daughter.. Both time, he'd been there. Both times, Lorna had sensed the way her powers had cut off and hadn't fought it.

She hadn't wanted to.

If she could figure out a way.. would she do it? Would she cut her father's powers out, knowing it might make or break a battle?

A year ago, she would have said yes without hesitation.. Now she wasn't so sure.

Still, rather than dwell further on it, she followed Sage's instructions with the glasses, pressing and holding down the button, setting up the retinal displays. She whistled lowly as the room sprang into being immediately after. Her head twisting this way and that to inspect it.

"Damn. These are way beyond what I expected."

-

Sage, using her connection to the interface Lorna was using, took a moment to insert herself into the simulation, a virtual representation of herself appearing beside Lorna. "I have a very specific set of talents. And I have had years to hone them." Which was very likely Sage's way of saying that she spent most of her time in her own mind. "You can adjust the 'room' to whatever scenario you like. The AI will extrapolate date from its databanks and create what you need. You can also use audio cues as well, if you'd rather not tap things out on the display." Now that Lorna was in the simulation, the tablet would function like any other. "I have been inputting information on all of the current UN delegations and their representatives and extrapolating their responses based on the information that I have retrieved, to attempt to make them as realistic as possible. Once you begin a scenario, they will respond to you in real time. Or you can set them to argue amongst themselves, if you would find that more useful."

-

A glance to the digital version of Sage and Lorna grinned, "Yeah, I'd say so. Your graphic interface is on point. You could make so much money developing this shit for the kids you know." She twisted her gaze around again, playing with the various settings she came across with intense interest. Lorna would likely be up all night running through scenarios. It was at least semi-productive. Which was more than staring at news clips about portals all over and learning nothing new.

She had promised she would stick close to home for protection, and she meant to keep her word.

"I feel like them arguing is the default of most political organizations, isn't it?" She mused, switching a scenario on to test out before Sage to make sure she understood it all.

"This'll be good."

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