2010-04-15: Generations


Magneto_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg Connor_icon.jpg

Summary: A furious Magneto digs up the courtyard for a Sentinel hand, and in the process gets into a roiling argument with Rashmi and Connor. Surprisingly no one was harmed, but Connor got two gold stars for sheer nerve.

Date: April 15, 2010

Log Title Generations

Rating: PG

Xavier Mansion — Courtyard

Location description, if any, goes here.

The courtyard is usually a quiet place, with its benches and its memorial statue. Tonight, the ground is growling, moaning and groaning as it cracks and slowly rips apart. The yellow paving stones split, each one sounding like a rifle shot.
Over it all floats the Master of Magnetism, encased in a fluorescent bubble of eye-hurting energy. He does not have his helmet on tonight, so his expression is visible: glowing eyes, bared teeth. The muscles are standing out in his neck as he gestures at the hole he's creating in the ground: arise. Arise!

…And something in the hole responds.

Ah, study breaks. Islands of leisure, floating in a sea of numbers, facts, goals, essays, books, research, reports, and whatever other cruel and unusual punishment could be dreamed up by the teaching staff. Moments of peace and quiet, where Rashmi treats herself to a thermos of tea, and an hour alone with Middle-Earth, in the late-evening calm of the Courtyard.

…Or that was the plan, until the sound of pavement giving way changes all her expectations. Thermos and book forgotten in her hands, she barges out the lobby doors, eyes wide and horrified. "Mr. Magneto!" she cries from a respectful distance away, "what are you *doing?!*"

Magneto flings his arms out and the rift widens, a crack running through the earth slantwise across Rashmi's path. He does not look at the girl, but his expression hardens; perhaps it is the tone of her voice. "What does it look like I'm doing, Miss Franklin?!" He raises a fist, hand clenching in the air, and the thing in the hole waves appendages in answer. "I am putting the past to use for the future!"

"You're breaking the courtyard too!" is her answering cry, as she shies away from the zigzagging rent in the concrete. To credit her convictions, if not her judgment, she shows no signs of turning and fleeing, but the terror on her face is easy to read. "And you're scaring the kids, sir!"

"I am certainly frightening you," replies Magneto. He opens his fist, fingers extending as if each is connected by a string to the thing in the hole. That thing rises and shudders, and dirt rolls off the back of it, revealing it to be… a giant, mechanical hand. "As for this courtyard…" He makes a dismissive noise. "It has been rebuilt so many times, it barely counts as anything at all."

Rashmi's face goes red and ashen in turns, as the dirt sloughs off the hand, and the redhead takes in a slow, deep breath. Here it is, the moment of truth; verbally disagreeing with magneto, Round One… "…I'm sorry, sir… but I disagree. If it didn't matter at all, why would it be rebuilt at all? …Or even here in the first place?"

"Because, as far as I can tell, Charles and every person he has ever touched is endlessly, uselessly sentimental!" Magneto's hand spasms and the mechanical hand crawls out of the hole, dragging cables behind it. "We do you or anyone else bother rebuilding after any set-back, rather than building anew?!" He growls something under his breath in spitting tones. "Uselessly!"

"…Because the past is just as important as the future, sir," Rashmi says, brow furrowing deeply as the hand begins its Thinglike crawl toward its caller, eyes growing wide and round as the shape clicks in her brain. "And some people, some things… They deserve to be remembered. Always. That's what monuments are *for,* sir…"

"Monuments are useless. Blind memory of what has been and gone, never to come again. If you live, LIVE! Abjure the past, because the future will happen only if you work for it!" The hand rears up and the blaster in the palm glows an eerie, threatening violet. "Use it. Beware its lessons. But do not live in it!" The cabling dangling from the sliced end of the hand go snaky, coiling through the air and looping in upon themselves, like some mechanical medusa wig.

"Um… with all due respect, sir…" Never have those words been spoken with such crushing sincerity, because *no one* wants to be accused of disrespecting an angry Magneto, "…There's a really *big* difference between living in the past, and respecting it…" She trails off, carefully edging away from the glowing, violet palm. One can be certain that they have nothing for an infamous villain like the Master of Magnetism to gain by their destruction… But to Rashmi, in all likelihood the school would do a better job of being a visual reminder of the need for some modicum of restraint. "…And with even more respect, sir, since it's part of the topic… um… *why* exactly are you pulling an old piece of a Sentinel up, anyway?"

Certainly not the most interesting or embarrassing point to come in one a conversation, but running footsteps mark the young man's entrance well before his presence is known… skidding to a bit of a stop and almost falling backwards at the sight of the imposing figure before him. Connor's eyes flick to Rashmi, and then back up towards Magneto himself… that person at least recognizable from the news and the basic things he's learned in the short time here, "Hey… Uhhh… Rashmi… not that I'm questioning your taste in people to have a friendly chat with… but…" And he stops… the piece of tech pulling him short as he stands up a bit straighter, "Whoa. Wasn't expecting this…"

"Is there a difference, Miss Franklin?" Magneto lands and lays a hand on the hand. The mechanical one shivers, dirt sliding off the enameled surface. "Respecting the past is useless. It cannot give you the same in return. All it has is facts, and those are the same, whether you respect them or not!" He turns from the hand and strides over to her, to shake a fist in her face. "What use 'respecting' the past, if you refuse to learn from it? Tell me, girl, since you prize it so!"
The hand scuttles up in his wake, rearing up behind him as he pulls back from Rashmi to cross his arms. "How unusual… a simple question." He smiles without humor. "I'm gathering facts, of course."

Whatever Rashmi was about to say to Connor is swept away; having an angry Magneto stalking up toward you and shake a fist in your fact tends to have that effect, after all. The redhead's first response is to stumble a few paces back, spheres blinking into existence to whirl and cross each other in a tight weave before her, forming a barrier of sorts between the two. For a moment she stands there, cringing, mind racing furiously to put together an acceptable answer. "Because if we don't respect what happened before, everything we do just ends up being selfish! You can't build anything good without ideals, and if those ideals die with you, what's the point!"

Connor takes a couple steps back and then… in a most likely futile gesture he moves around the pair and makes to interject himself between Rashmi and the rather imperious man before her, and his vitriolic tirade. Stopping short of being smacked by the spheres, he looks down at the apprehensive redhead, and before he can stop himself, he does say quietly, "Ideals can be perverted… anyone who's studied history knows it… Ideals of religion, Ideals of society… ideals of living… all of it suffers from the fact that we're all basically human." Licking his lips before turning his head to look up at THE Magneto himself… somehow forced to meet those eyes… his jaw trembling slightly, his breath coming with a slight stutter as he takes an unconscious step backwards, "W-what I meant by that is… well…" Words failing him as a trickle of sweat goes down the back of his neck.

So Rashmi wants to debate with Magneto, does she? Magneto is 'down' with that. He stalks forward as she backs up. "Of course it's selfish! Everything we do is selfish, even so-called 'heroic acts' are selfish! We decide what kind of world we wish to build and we build it, with every breath we take and with every action we accomplish! And if we die of those decisions, those choices become facts for others to learn from!

"But respect?!" He turns from Rashmi and gets in Connor's face. "You, boy! You 'respect' me… I can see it in your eyes. You and your 'ideals'… do you respect me because I stand in front of you, living and breathing and," he raises a fist, static crackling around it in eye-blinding arcs, "dangerous? Or do you respect the memory of me, the ghost which was and which is not here?" His lip curls up. "You have one guess."

"That's not respect, sir," Rashmi says meekly as her spheres swing backwards, their paths weaving and crossing behind her, to her sides, leaving the front open but ready to defend her literally with but a thought. "People *fear* you, are terrified of what you could do. So… nobody wants to cross you, because you're terrifying and dangerous and could squish any one of us if you wanted to, sir… But… it's not the same."

Connor's eyes turn a raging azure as his field goes up, body sparkling with subtle energy patterns that play across him, putting him outside of physical harm for the moment, reflexively defending himself as his head turns away and his eyes wince shut at the sudden raging ire that the Master of Magnetism and one of the most wanted men in the world focuses on him. Another gulp, and he opens his eyes, turning his head back to face the demon before hi,. Taking another breath and looking to Rashmi, he straightens himself a bit, fear present in him, but still a mote of defiance… pride or protectiveness there, but which is unclear… and then his answer comes, "Sir… what I respect is your story. Like they said in one of my favorite shows when I was a kid… truth is a three-edged sword. Your side, my side, and the truth…"

Then is added with a bit more bravery, "I don't know the truth. I know what the news says… I know what your eyes can say… or your words… but I'll never really know the truth. So all I have is the story… that's it. And that I can respect… because truth or not… it's what we have to go with."

"So will you split hairs with me, Miss Franklin? Shading the thing so that it looks more one than the other, so that the part you don't like recedes behind the brightness of the part you do? Such reasoning is flaccid!" Magneto sweeps a hand through the air, trailing sparks. "Respect, fear… what are these but two points on the same line? Both mean that you look at a thing and see the potential in it, and the portion of the line that your judgement lands on lies in you, not the thing!" The hand sweeps back, trailing more sparks.

Connor gets his portion of snarl, too. "There is only one truth, boy, and the stupidity of 'your side' and 'my side' are the failings of each of us to encompass the whole. And you may do that deliberately, or blindly, or you may set aside what you know and act only on what you believe, but if you do that? If you take that 'story' and raise it above the evidence of your ears and your eyes and the tightness in your gut?" He steps up to Connor to loom over him. "Then you are a fool, and worse than a fool, and deserve to be crushed."

And deep within, something breaks in Rashmi… evidently, her sense of self-preservation. Nothing else at all could explain the reasoning behind her next words. "It's not splitting hairs at all!" Yes, indeed, she *did* just raise her voice to Magneto. "*Any* history class could prove that! Every single person who ever led by making people afraid of him was only obeyed until his people got *sick* of it, and *threw him away!* That's all fear does, it puts people in line only as long as your back isn't turned, because a man who does that only cares about *himself!*" Throwing her arms up, she starts to pace, spheres dimming, fading, banished by her own swerved focus. "But people who lead by *respect,* who want to make something *bigger* than them, something that lasts *beyond* them… *They* succeed because they're *respected,* because what they believe in shines so bright, people *want* to be the ones to make it happen!"

A bit stunned… perhaps a bit taken aback by the change of the conversation, Connor's eyes dim slightly, so that all that the glow is contained within is the iris… and he looks over at Rashmi, reaching up to scrub the back of his neck a moment… then looking down and away from her, his field fading from around him and bringing him back within the focus of the others… and he takes another step back from the pair… silent for the moment…

"Points on the same line, girl!" Magneto swings away from Connor, having (temporarily?) cowed him into silence. "Do you think those 'respected' leaders were 'respected' equally, by everyone, and never feared? Let us bring the big villain into the conversation! Do you think that Hitler himself was not 'respected' by his people? They loved him! They honored him! They all but worshipped him! And he was feared and hated and stygmatized by other men, until force alone shifted the balance in the favor of the haters… but he was the same man the entire time! Respect is your choice! It has *nothing* to do with the object of your idiotic emotional reaction!"
He stabs a finger first at Rashmi, then Connor. "You! And you! You pathetic, puling animals! You are not human, not true, not worthy! You are mutants, and you are not fit to live!" Hands on hips, teeth bared at both. "Discuss."

"That is a *lie,*" Rashmi says, teeth clenched. "That is the same lie told over thousands of years, with a different face on it *every* *single* *time.* Gay people aren't human. Black people aren't human. *Jewish* people aren't human. *Dalit* aren't human! It's a silly, stupid, destructive lie, and the only way anyone can do anything to stop it is to *prove* how stupid it is!" Shaking her head, she breaks eye contact, looking to Connor. "…But you can't do that by blowing up the UN, sir, no matter how much better it makes you feel. Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Benjamin Franklin… *they* did more to prove the lie was wrong than a million Genghis Khans ever could. And everyone *was* afraid of Hitler, sir. So many people *could* have stopped him, but they were too scared of the people he could command. That doesn't make it right, ever, but… knowing *why,* respecting the past, can teach you how to do better this time. And we *have* to do better… because if it gets much worse, it'll all come apart."

Once more Rashmi's inspirational speech cannon seems to be loaded for high-yield ammunition, and once more the young man seems a bit stumped, looking back and forth, before he stops, and then pushes his hands into his pockets, looks up at the sky, and then exhales a breath… and when he looks back, he's smiling. Tilting his head a bit he shrugs some, "I don't want to. I don't want to stand here… and be threatened… berated… hell… LECTURED by you…" Shaking his head once he walks over to Rashmi, and puts a hand on her shoulder, before looking back to Magneto, "This is all pointless. You're going to do what you want to do, and you're not going to be swayed a moment by anything we have to say… we haven't seen what you've seen, fought your war. We're innocents." Blinking once and thoughtfully, "But in a perverse way you're fighting for us… not just for us to have a world… but for us to understand you… so your fight isn't in vain."

It's not even manic when he laughs… just a strange calm… "See… it doesn't matter. End of the day? It's just us… you get to die, or go away, or get zapped to an alternate dimension, or get tortured by your personal demons unto whatever whatever… and WE get to be the ones who pick up the pieces… we get to be the ones that clean up after your mess. Some inheritance, huh? A Hindi girl and a tech boom baby… we ARE human. We ARE flawed… and I don't know about her? But I'm happy with that."

"Of course, not everyone believes the lie. But the people you mention — those exceptional people — are, by definition, the exceptions." Magneto curls his lip. "And know your history, girl. Genghis Khan conquered a continent… and he was *welcomed* into many of the cities he beseiged, because he broke tyrants and gave the people hope. He installed his sons to the thrones of five nations, and those nations remember him well — so well, that the last line of them to lose his throne did so more than 700 years after the great Khan's death. His soul still flew as late as the 1950's, when the Red Chinese very probably stole it because they hated what he was to people who live even *now*. Genghis Khan did not slay what he hated — he took what he wanted, and he kept it. He kept it very well indeed."
And then to Connor, who stands up to the Mutant Master of Magnetism like a small dog to a big one (in Magneto's estimation, anyway.) "Close, boy. Very close. Not there yet — you lack depth in your understanding, but you see that the depths are there. And yes, you and yours will 'clean up' after me, and that is the inheritance I give you. See it for what it is," he flicks a glance at Rashmi, "not for what you wish it could be."

Rashmi glances down at her shoulder as Connor rests a hand on it, puzzled briefly… however, waging a war or words with the elder mutant does *exceedingly* well to keep her distracted enough to not mind. As Magneto glances back her way, her chin tilts upward, ever so slightly. "You're mistaken, sir," she says after a moment's silence. "…but only that I don't just see what I want the world to be. …I just hope it gets there, eventually… And I want to do what I can to see that it gets there." Falling silent, she looks to Connor again, a nod of visible respect given to the taller teen. "…But you're right, sir… I think I did miss a lot in my history studies. …I should fix that, soon."

Connor shakes his head once, eyes closed, the weird serenity still on him, "See… the problem is… you're both right. The Romans were hated, but they brought civilization and stability in their wake… yet that empire was plagued by it's bandits and troublemakers and it eventually all burned… the Middle East… forever the hotbed of contention between even the Jewish tribes themselves up to a point… then the conflict with the Muslim peoples… because of faith. Because of belief. See…" And… perhaps in the most daring move yet, Connor steps between the two, "The might and the vision to Do… can't always be correct because it can be blinded by the goals it sees before it…" Turning his head back to Rashmi, "And… I hate to be that guy… but he has a point… it's naive to think the world would fall in line just because of respect and vision… because in the journey TO that vision, one can lose sight of the goal. Look at Lincoln… Teddy Roosevelt… respected AND hated… and yet for both, in the end they left a part of the world a better place." Shrugging once, he then sighs, "It's going to take people like both of you to make this world something worth living in… even if you fundamentally disagree."

Magneto's eyes glitter. "Respect, fear AND hate. All points on the same line. When you move along the line, don't forget that it is your perspective that is changing — not the thing you are looking at." He regards Connor closely. "A goal is always seen, boy. It is not always seen in its proper context, because the closer you are to it, the more it dominates everything you see… and you may not notice some other object approaching, hidden by the bulk of what you stand in front of. No man sees everything, and thus, all men fail. The trick is to not fail all the time."

He smirks, and steps back, and the Sentinel hand behind him wakes up, palm glowing. Backlit by violet, Magneto says, "And Miss Franklin? The people *did* love Hitler. They *elected* him. If they changed their minds later? The love was there *first*."

Rashmi lifts one shoulder slightly, the wind slowly leaving her sails. Emotional endurance, rarely one of her strong points when it comes to extremes. "And 'the people' hated Gandhi, sir, because he was trying to change his world. But how often is a first impression correct?"

Connor rubs his forehead, taking a step back and looking back and forth between the pair before he throws up his hands, and turns away, "And there's not much difference between the BOTH of you either… It's a matter of perspective." Smiling just a touch where the others can't see for a moment, but his eyes get that little glint of wild 'what the hell are you doing' panic still in them, "This wasn't my conflict, until I found out I was different. I came here. Half the student body is telling me I'm nuts but I'm a welcome kind of nuts… some of the teachers are great, but I get the feeling they hold back because there's things we're not ready for… I dunno… sometimes you end up taking life like it is." Turning back to the pair, he closes his eyes a moment, "I've had a grand total of a month since I learned I had a special ability… a month. It's a lot to process. Now I'm standing on the driveway to an exclusive school for mutants with one of the most wanted men on the planet arguing with a girl who makes balls out of air. I couldn't MAKE UP stuff this good. It's a weird wonderful world… but it's the only one we've got."

"Gandhi is still hated in some quarters. Fifty years from now, will history have whitewashed that away?" Magneto snorts. "And first impressions lie, like any other emotional fillip."

He looks to Connor then, his eyes narrowing. "The only one? And you know this… how, young man? You yourself just said that you've had your gift for only a month. Before that, I presume your life was normal enough, for the conditions you lived in, and the idea that you might have a gift seemed just as remote. Lazy thinking, boy. Stop. Now."

"Only if we let it, sir," Rashmi replies quietly. "And I don't ever intend to let my children grow up without respecting history like that. Too many people have fought and died for everything we have today. Maybe you think it's useless, sir… just like rebuilding this courtyard you've broken. But I don't." Looking back over the jagged hole torn into the concrete, a small furrow begins to form at her brow. "…At least it'll be good exercise, helping move the concrete…"

Connor pauses a moment before he says to Magneto, hands going back in his pockets, "It's Connor… and… allright, you're right… maybe it is lazy thinking. One day I want to be a writer. I want to tell stories… whether fantasy or reality, I'm not sure… but either way, it's because it's what I'm good at. I study a lot too. Histories, movies, philosophy… when it makes sense." Shrugging once more, "I'd like to say it's a pleasure to meet you… but I don't know if it'll always be pleasant. I'm never going to agree with thinking the world needs to be afraid of me… but there are people that will be. Will I defend myself? Of course… will I let it jade me? I hope not. But this is till my world too. So… you've got your giant robotic hand… arm… thing… and you've had your peace… AND you've broken the driveway." Motioning to the same wreck Rashmi's going on about, "Fair's fair… you owe her. She's cleaning up your mess… but whether you care or not… you owe her. Admit that much?"

Magneto considers Rashmi for a long moment, eyes narrowed. "Charles will love you," he says, and then he turns his attention to Connor, and his mouth twists. "So… Connor. You think I owe Miss Franklin… what? For what? For standing out here in the dark of night, keeping me company as I scrounge for junk? What about you? Do you want gratitude for the same service? Or would you prefer a medal?" Fingers twitch and metal dust coalesces into a bright, shiny gold star, which attaches itself to Connor's shirt. "Perhaps the lady would like one, too." And Rashmi's shirt gains a decoration. "As for the rest…" He sweeps both hands outward, then in; the ground bucks under everyone's feet, then shivers, like the skin of a great beast. Cement and tiles and statues aren't solidly in the center of what Magneto can manipulate — but elements of them are. When the ground goes quiet again, things are back in their places, albeit the broken tiles are still broken, and the disturbed earth of the hole is noticeably lower than the pavement around it. "Better?"

Rashmi dips her head at the comment, a smile touching the corners of her mouth. "…I think that's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me, sir. Thank you." As the gold star resolves from the metallic flakes in the disturbed earth, she actually chuckles, amused by the display, and removes hers. "Oh, that's okay, really… but…" Turning, she pins hers next to the one on Connor's shirt, nodding. "…Yeah… you've definitely earned it."
Scraping cement and clattering tile pieces draw her attention back to the hole, her entire countenance brightening. "Much! Now we just have to fill in the dirt, replace the tiles and grout… Hmn… Probably it'll be a couple days, but that's a lot less time than it would have been… Thank you very much, sir!" Perhaps the worst part? Her gratitude is utterly sincere.

Connor looks down at the star as it forms, and then the second one as Rashmi puts it in place next to the first, and then gets a rather embarrassed look on his face, wide-stanced from having to deal with the bucking and shifting pavement, "I didn't ask for anything… you gave it freely, Sir. And I think that…"Looking at the mostly fixed ground, "Well… that proves more about your character than you'd like… A lesser man might have just laughed and walked away, talking about how foolish we are… how we're children. Instead… well…" Once more the young man nods reflectively, "You do realize we're going to have to tell the people here what you took, right? I can't lie for you… and I wouldn't lie for you. Neither would she."
Then he winces a moment, "Okay… I take that first part back… I -DID- ask you to admit you owed Rashmi… I think my nerves are coming back a bit now that the endorphin rush is wearing off…"

Considering the 'Destroy everything!' mood Magneto started the night in, he's feeling much more mellow. Mellow enough to just shake his head over Rashmi's determinably optimistic attitude. She didn't even pick up on the spite in Magneto filling the hole on Connor's say-so. What do you do?
As for Connor, he gets a raised eyebrow and a jaundiced look. "If I should ever require you to lie for me, young Connor, you would be well advised to do so, without hesitation or question, for it will be a matter of life and death, probably your own." He flicks a hand, indicating the straightened-up mess. "As for this, tell anyone you like about it." Another flick of the hand and the Sentinel hand turns over; he steps into the palm. Now he looks sinister, underlit with violet light. "Good night, students. You're out past curfew; go to bed!"

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