2010-10-27: It's All Fun And Games


Magneto_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg

Summary: Magneto drafts Rashmi to sift through the belongings of a late Gamer.

Date: October 27, 2010

Log Title: It's All Fun and Games…

Rating: PG-13

Xavier Mansion — Kitchen

This kitchen was designed to feed large numbers of people, and looks it with its bright white walls and stainless steel appliances. The stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher are all larger than normal. There is an island with stools around it for people to sit and eat around along with a table for twelve by the windows in back. Along the wall is a hole in the wall looking into the dining room so food can be passed back and fourth. Anything you want to cook or eat in the kitchen you will find the food and supplies to do so.

"Ah, Miss Franklin. Good evening." Magneto arrives in the room, armor on, cloak billowing, helmet shadowing his face. "Perhaps if you would spare me a few moments of time for an… opinion." White teeth flash in the shadows of the helmet. His tone is edged.

It's been, relatively speaking, an easy day on Rashmi; only a few students to talk to, her own class-load light and easily handled, and a record low of three calls from the Drakos family asking if there's been any change. Top it off with a platter of Christopher's apple zeppoles, and the day could be counted a good one. However, there's a certain ring to Magneto's voice when the helmet is on, rather easily recognizable, and rarely has she known the elder mutant to dress the part for any cheerful reason. Thus, there's a faint shade of dread in her eyes as she looks up from her studies, a hesitancy in the clearing of her throat. "….Um… Of course, sir… … ….Zeppole?" The denuded plate of bite-sized fritters is held up, a courtesy if nothing else.

"Perhaps later." Magneto waves the platter away, and it lifts out of Rashmi's hands and wafts to a counter without his paying any real attention to it at all. "If you would follow me, please?"

Without further explanation — or any indication of doubt that Rashmi will do as requested — he sweeps out of the room again.

Behind Magneto, a flurry of activity is heard. Laptop closed, books heaped atop, chair pushed back, and hurried footsteps patter down the hall, until finally she catches up to him. "…This, um… isn't like the *last* time you needed my help, is it, sir?"
"No, Miss Franklin. Not quite." A flash of those teeth within the red and purple helmet. "Would you prefer that?"

"Frankly, sir," Rashmi says, voice dry, "I don't know. Probably not, but, I'm going to hold off judgment until we're there. Just, y'know, in case."

"How wise of you, Miss Franklin. Not always a useful trait, of course, being who and what we are, but as a lawyer? Definitely an asset." Magneto bares his teeth in that smile again. "Do you wish to put your books away before we go? I will wait."

Rashmi shakes her head quickly. "No, it's fine… And besides, anyone stealing them is taking federal property, so, they'll keep where they are. Besides, if you don't mind my saying… It's not exactly smart to keep you waiting when…" A hand comes up, gesturing vaguely at the elder mutant's armor.

Magneto's eyes flash as he tilts his head. "Interesting. You intimidate." Then, with a swirl of the cloak, he is out the front door and off the steps, striding out into open air. Rashmi will find herself lifted after him, unless she insists otherwise. "We're going to Connecticutt," he says. "Tell me if you become chilled."

"I wha—hey!" Being lifted off the ground, not precisely high on the list of things Rashmi is used to, and it takes her a moment to find her balance again. "…I'll be sure to speak up," she says faintly, tugging at the sleeves of her sweater. "Um… What's in Conneticutt, out of curiosity?"

"A house and yard, belonging to a dead man. A certain room within said house, also belonging to him. Certain documents, including transcripts of chat room logs, and photographs. Other objects." Magneto turns his head so that he can see Rashmi from one eye. "No, I am not responsible for the state of the gentleman's health." He's still smiling.

"Well, that… sort of makes me feel better… A little…" Rashmi shivers, a full-body shudder that may or may not be related to the temperature, and tugs on her sleeves again. "…May I ask why we're going to be breaking and entering, sir? … …Unless you knew the person and have the key, anyway…"

Rashmi's last comments elicit nothing more than an irritated growl. Magneto hasn't used keyes in years… they're stone age technology, practically. He'll soar over the darkening countryside, encapsulating both himself and Rashmi in a streamlined pocket of air defined by currents of magnetism. Television reception fuzzes out as they pass, and the loss of homing pigeons over the next several days will confuse owners terribly. Not that the Master of Magnetism cares.

He's going fast, but it's still a couple of hours to get where he's going. Magneto isn't the speediest flier out there.

"So, um… That's a no, then…" Hunching her shoulders, Rashmi cranes her head forward, to watch the countryside flow past, beneath them. Her mind, occupied as it usually is, split between reciting memorized books in her head, reviewing her latest subjects of study, and adding to her mental notes. The latest; try to make sure the school knows she hasn't joined the bulk of her friends in disappearing. Roughly an hour goes by, before she clears her throat again. "Sir… *are* we going to be breaking laws, here? …Only *you* have diplomatic immunity… I don't. Y'know?"

Magneto begins descending toward a plot of land outside one of the numerous small towns in the Connecticutt interior. "Yes, I do know that, Miss Franklin. And no, you will not be breaking any laws. The man was in deep arrears regarding his taxes, at all levels; when he died, the state seized his estate to pay those taxes. I bought it at auction, yesterday. Ergo, everything that was his is now mine. Satisfied?"

The plot contains a single-wide trailer boxed in below to form a house; it is not in good repair. A couple of outbuildings, half a dozen junked cars, and random detritus of various sorts add to the clutter on the property. Only the mailbox is empty—probably because Magneto already visited this place once.

"…Can we go with reassured?" It's difficult for Rashmi to keep the pit of her stomach from protesting as they descend toward Earth, but she manages without complaint. Though she is quite visibly ill at ease, as the ground draws ever closer… "…Sorry if I'm bothering you, sir, but um… I'm guessing that you were at the auction because of what we're going to look for? …Or is it something that came after?"

"Yes, Miss Franklin." Magneto sets down gently on the front lawn… what there is of it. "This man was pointed out during earlier investigations. However, it appears he had a drinking problem, and he seriously over-estimated his ability to drive while intoxicated. Hence why his property came up for sale, and just when I was looking to interview him. Tch." He gestures and the front door of the house creaks open. "However, it appears that interview may not be necessary. After you."

Half a dozen gently glowing spheres of telekinetic force fade into view, revolving lazily around the girl's waist, as the door creaks open. Upon invitation to enter, a pair of them separate, gliding in and taking up their own tight circuit at the ceiling of the room. The light provided, not much better than moonlight, but adequate for her needs. Creeping into the house, she sends the other spheres up after their siblings, in case her hunt for a light switch ends up fruitless.

The lights work… sort of. It would help if there were extra bulbs in the place. If there are, Magneto hasn't bothered to find them.

The room is messy, though not horribly so. A stack of newspapers and magazines moulders beside a couch, and there's dust everywhere. Several empty beer bottles are on the coffee table, more are stacked in a corner, and others sit here and there amid bric-a-brac. An empty KFC bucket is doing time as a wastebasket. There are several ashtrays, all over-flowing. The kitchen, to the right, is no better; there are unwashed dishes in the sink and on the table, the latter bearing a gun-cleaning kit scattered over it as well as bullet-making tools. There are no visible guns, however.

Rashmi brings the back of her hand up to her nose, revulsion evident. "Ugh… what in the…" Scooting in, she moves to one side to make way for Magneto. "…What was he *doing* here?"

Magneto looks around the room, face impassive. "He was living his little, impoverished life," he replies. He points at the table. "Note the evidence for emasculation and the crutches for same." The sink. "Note the evidence for incoherency and ineffectuality." He points into the living area and the empty bottles of beer. "Note the evidence of self-medication for the depression brought on by his other failings." A snort. "If anyone were to miss this man, they would have bid against me at auction."

A shrug of his shoulders. "Come. The real show is in the second bedroom." He leads down a short hallway, past a bathroom with a door mercifully shut. The main bedroom's door is not shut, and shows a messy bed, clothes on the floor, and naked pin-ups on the walls. Over-sexed, airbrushed women stare from the walls as Magneto opens the second bedroom door.

"…Actually what was *really* worrying me was the gun stuff," Rashmi murmurs, shaking her head. "The rest of it… mn… There's ways to get help, and he should have, but some people just can't….. oh god." Pin-ups everywhere, pictures of women in poses and places she'd rather not have to think about, and she turns her eyes studiously toward the floor, shaking her head quickly until her hair falls to adequately restrict her view of the walls. "…Sir… Can I ask what it is you're trying to show me, here?"

Magneto opens the door. "This," he says.

Inside, the room is neater — somewhat — than elsewhere in the house. A gun cabinet is here, guns inside. A computer station with several monitors. More pin-ups… but some of these aren't girls. Some are dead people, and judging from the green hair of one and the scales on another, not regular humans.

"He admired this," says Magneto, tapping the picture of the green-haired girl. The photo is full length and blown up to poster size; the blood is green, too. Judging from how much of it there is, and where it spilled around her, she died very, very, hard. "I moved in a different chair. You wouldn't have liked the one he did have in here." He sweeps his arm to indicate shelves of disks and books and print-outs. "He was a Gamer. I think you understand the implications."

"…I do," comes the soft, horrified whisper from beneath the curtain of hair hiding her features. "I understand…" Her throat squeezes, choking off anything else she was going to say, and it takes a moment before she can get herself under control, or at least enough to trust herself to speak. Scraping the back of her hand over her eyes, she hooks a toe around the leg of the chair, hauling it backward. "…Okay… so… You want all this stuff I guess." A pile of printouts are snatched from the desk, sifted through with less thoroughness and care than she'd normally use. "He'll have boxes somewhere, we need boxes, I'm going to go get some since there's a lot to take away, just give me a moment and I'll be right back."

Magneto lands a hand on Rashmi's shoulder. "Miss Franklin. Stop. Breathe." The hand squeezes. "He's gone. He was a fan of this group, not a participant, although he had ambitions to become a participant." He looks around the room. "I don't want it all. I don't really want any of it. But I do need what he has here, so that we may track down other Gamers and stop them before…" He looks up at the poster of the green girl and his eyes narrow. The paper curls off the wall, peeled away under the pressure of dust-sized magnetic particles. "Also know this: I came here in costume in case he has friends in the vicinity who want to count coup." The teeth flash again, sharp and white. "Fair warning."

Then, in a perfectly polite tone, "How many boxes will you need?"

Rashmi flinches, at first, as the hand drops to her shoulder, but she does as directed. A few deep, shuddery breaths, punctuated by the odd sniffle, the patter of tears falling from her chin to the papers in her arms, but eventually she gets ahold of herself. "Papers… Equipment…. stuff…" Clearing her throat, she scrapes at her eyes again, pitching her voice louder, if shaky. "Lots… as many as you can make out of those… *guns.*" The last word, spoken with clear distaste. "…And if he *does* have friends…. Well. I can call SHIELD as quickly as I can call 911. They won't be happy when it's over."

"Miss Franklin, if his friends show up, they may well never be happy again. Ever." Magneto gestures and the outer wall of the house folds and separates into a pile of bankers boxes. "If they are fortunate, they will survive to speak to SHIELD or the personnel answering the 911 call." Another gesture and the wall into the hallway of the bedroom folds into more boxes. He steps away, hands spread. "Meanwhile, I shall make things easier to organize out here."

"Then let's please ensure that they *are* that fortunate," is all Rashmi says, moving to retrieve more of the printouts, trying very hard, and very visibly, not to look at the lovingly detailed and hung pictures of dead mutants. "Sir… I know this is going to be kind of a stupid question… but… why me? Theo would have done this in a heartbeat, if only because it'd get him off the grounds. …He'd probably only be mad that nobody's around to take his anger out on, honestly…"

"Theodore provided some of the links leading here," Magneto says, as the front wall of the house rises into a geodesic dome. The floor extends and a fan assembles itself for fresh air. A heater self-assembles, too. "However, he is busy with other things just now, and this, well." His eyes narrow. "You're already involved, Miss Franklin. You know the stakes. You also have a grasp of the law, and it may be that there is evidence here which can be used against the backers of the Game. You have chided me before about vigilante activity—this is your chance to show the effectiveness of working within the law, yes?"

"…Okay," Rashmi says after a moment's pause. "*That* I can understand." Another box is snagged, disks stacked inside, pushed aside when full. "…I'd've been upset, otherwise. … …I guess I was scared this was going to be one of those object lessons bent towards upsetting me enough to care a little less about doing things the way I'd rather." A third box, pulled over, filled methodically. "…Sorry for thinking that about you, by the way."

Magneto shrugs a shoulder, watching the new building rise from the bones of the old one. "If you could be swayed like that by something like this, you would be less like Charles than I think you are, and I would think less of you because of it." He sweeps all of the beer bottles into the air. They're brown; that means there are iron atoms mixed into the glass. This makes it easy for him to shatter them and recast them as a row of windows high up in the dome's curve. "No, I chose you because you understand chain-of-custody issues better than anyone else I currently have access to, and you will tell me if there is something about this situation that I need to know, or need to do, to further a law case."

"…I'll do my best," Rashmi says quietly, closing her eyes for a moment and drawing in a deep breath. "…I'm going to need to brush up on procedure this week, just in case… You own the house, so I'm *pretty* sure all this is admissible in court. …But I want to be sure." Looking up, her eyes fall on one of the other 'pin-ups,' of a crag-jawed face, eternally locked in an expression of utter agony. Her hand, hovering over the box, trembles. "…It's going to be bad, isn't it, sir…?" Her voice, not quite a whisper, strained. "People are going to get really hurt at that party… maybe even killed…"

"Not if they are our people, Miss Franklin. I promise you that much." Magneto's tone has gone very soft and very dark. "That is also a goal for this …" he sweeps a hand to indicate the house, "situation."

There's a short pause, the redhead's lips thinning. "Please, sir… don't make promises you can't keep. Not to me." Tucking her hair over one ear, she turns her head to look back, up at the elder mutant. "I know what you mean. You'll do everything you can to keep as many people safe as you can. And I hope and pray that you'll be able to—that we'll all be able to. But don't promise it, sir. Please."

Magneto raises a brow at Rashmi. "All right. No promises." He smiles faintly, turning away from her again. "How appropriate. Life is full of broken promises." He turns and watches Rashmi work. Shades of Charles Xavier…

"…Actually," Rashmi says quietly, returning to her work, "Isabella taught me that. Remember, at the Embassy? I kept promising it'd be all right, and she'd never believe me, because she didn't have any reason to. … …It hurt, you know… I meant well, and I was pretty sure I was right, and still she just couldn't trust me. But it taught me not to promise anything you can't deliver on, especially not stuff only God could reliably handle."

Magneto crosses his arms and watches Rashmi fill boxes. "God isn't very good at practical help," he says. "Most of His help is a trifle too airy for my taste. A little bit too little, too late." Ancient bitterness shadows his voice. "You and I are right here and right now; best pick up the slack, yes?" He can't keep the bitterness out of that, either.

Rashmi's eyebrow rises, but, very obviously, she says nothing in the face of such an old, worn-in grudge. "It's not… quite the same… but yeah, we should get out of here soon. I mean, as much as I appreciate you rebuilding the house over my head and all, I think I'll be a lot happier once we get shot of this place…" Another box filled, shoved to the side, and now she crawls under the computer desk, pulling cords away from the CPU.

Magneto watches Rashmi for a long moment. "There are no ghosts here, Miss Franklin. There are only opportunities, and facts, and evidence. We can use all of those things against the Game and the Gamers. I find that a reasonable exchange for the price of this land." He looks up and around. "Perhaps I will build a country retreat here…"

"No," Rashmi says from beneath the desk. "No ghosts… but a *lot* of pictures, and… well… by now you probably have a good idea how my mind works, sir." Lifting a shoulder, she backs out, tugging the CPU after her. "It's going to be awhile before it, um…. gets out of circulation. A country retreat would be good, though…"

Magneto flicks a brow. "I would have saved you from the pictures, if I had known you were that sensitive… save for the fact the pictures are part of the problem." He still has the poster of the green girl, rolled up and floating somewhere nearby. "Pictorial evidence." He pauses to look at the girlie pin-ups. "Well, some of them."

Rashmi closes her eyes, letting out a quiet breath. "…It's something I'm going to have to deal with, sir," she says after a moment. "May as well start getting used to it now, rather than at the party…. right?"

"Miss Franklin. If you ever truly become used to things like this? You won't be you anymore." Magneto tips his head so that the light glints in his icy blue eyes. "You would be me."

He turns with a sweep of the cloak. "Have you everything you need?" The filled boxes assemble on a metal pallet that self-assembles under them. "I will secure these premises, of course, in case we need to come back."

Rashmi pauses to digest this, nodding slowly. "Just about…" Lugging the CPU onto the pallet, she stands, brushing down her skirt. "You're wrong, you know… At least in my mind, about when God acts."

"Your faith is your own, Miss Franklin. I find it refreshing, uplifting… and quaint." He moves to watch her sidewise, arms crossed. "I have met a great many people who professed faith, some of them entirely fervently. I don't see that it did them more good than the actions of their own hands did… and often enough, it did a good bit less." He pauses. "Yes. Boxes. Do you have what you need?"

"For now," Rashmi replies, stepping onto the pallet and lowering herself onto one of the boxes. "I'm sorry, sir, I won't proselytize to you. Just…" She pauses, shaking her head and subsiding. "I'm ready to go when you are."

Magneto nods, and a moment later, you are both soaring again. This time, he goes to New York and the Embassy; the means to protect chain of custody is easier, there. He will, of course, provide transport back to the X-Mansion once done.

Rashmi spends the return trip in silence, noticeably subdued by the things seen in the wreck of a house in rural Conneticutt. Things she'd heard about, things danced around the edges of in conversation, have suddenly become a great deal more terrifyingly real. Not, perhaps, so traumatic as watching a mutant executed in front of her, but the comfort of remove has been diminished. There will certainly be a great deal to think about, before she can manage to catch sleep.

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