2012-05-15: Three Mutants And An Alien

Players: Cale, Taylor, Mike and Rocket

Taylor_icon.jpg Cale_icon.jpg Mike_icon.jpg Rocket_icon.jpg

Summary: Cale runs into Mike at the mall - later Taylor shows up and bravely turns off her image inducer after meeting Rocket, the anthropomorphic alien raccoon.

Date: May 15, 2012

Log Title: Three Mutants and an Alien

Rating: G

Westchester - Salem Center Mall

On the far end of the Food Court lays the long, wide hallway of the Mall. Oversized skylights let the sunlight pour in during the day, while the florescent bulbs light the Mall at night. This hall has a number of kiosks, selling anything from cheap jewelry to car stickers to on-the-spot portraits, along with them come a number of benches and let's not forget the store fronts calling out to the consumers with their bright lights and attention-drawing displays.

It's an afternoon after school, and Cale is doing what many teenagers after school do! That is, hanging out at the mall. He's dressed in a snug fitting pair of cutoff jean shorts, with some cork & leather sandals on his feet and purple hoody, with long black hair in a loose braid down to about mid-back. Despite the warm weather; he tends to get cold easily enough that even a somewhat over-cooled mall can be chilly. Plus, he likes his hoody. But it does make it sort of hard to immediately tell his gender, with his slender build. Currently, he is exiting an electronics store with a few various odds and ends in a bag. He's still replacing things that he left at home, and of course always buying parts for his computer anyway…

Existential questions of life: why do relatives insist on thinking that you are still eight years old, that you are a girl not a boy, that you love the bunnyrabbit suit with tutu that they send you for christmas every year? Or in this case, why did Mike's great-aunt send him a gift certificate for a SPECIFIC electronics store, the one near the place he USED to go to school? Oh well. Mike has had his electronic eye on a specific computer part - a video card that will handle his current favorite game AND the stupidly rare connector cable, which not even Barnes has the components for - because for some reason nobody trusts him to do the display part himself, when he's teamed up.

So, he's in the store… and the person who just left has the very cable sticking out of his or her bag… And there was only one when Mike called. And they said they'd hold it… ARG.

"You are a worthless tool of the oppressive corporate masters," Mike snarls at the sales idiot who just tossed the 'hold for mike dracos' note into the garbage, "and when the machine revolution comes, you will be rendered down for low-grade lubricant."

He runs out to try to catch up with the person who got the cable.
"Hey, wait!"

"Wha?" squeaks Cale, blinking and turning towards Mike, "Me?" he asks, pausing and turning to look at Mike. He does indeed have the offending cable in the back! Or rather, he is the offender? The effiminate teen asks, "D-do I know you?" He's not used to being chased down. Well, except by people who he'd rather not be chased down by. But in general, those types of people do not hang out at electronics stores.

"Hi! You just bought the last Stumper cable, the one they were supposed to be holding for me until Brainiac point zero-five back there sold it. Can I buy it from you?"

Yeah, Mike doesn't look much like your average game-playing type. Except perhaps if he played one on TV. But the look of hopeless desperation and the pleading look is amazingly well crafted. You'd never think that it was a hologram unless you knew what to look for. And the voice has just the faintest tinge of 'autotuner' as though he fell off a Glee Cart or something. (Which is an indicator, actually, of how desperate he is.)

"Oh… this one? I mean… I kinda… need it… I left the old one at home 'n it's probably in a storage cube somewhere by now…" Cale pulls the cable out of the bag, clutching it to his chest. "I mean. I guess…" he furrows his brow at Mike curiously, hearing the weird voice pitches. Having heard the shouting match back in the electronics store, he figures it'd only be fair. He sighs, "Yeah, I guess that's alright… I mean I don't really NEED both monitors anyway…" he tugs on his earlobe nervously. "Fine. Just pay me whatever it was in the store. Twenty or something?" he asks, shrugging.

Relief! Mike bounces up and down, and grins widely.
"Hey, I won't be going back there anyway, you can have this stupid gift card and a twenty on top," the robot in disguise says. "This is strike three for them, they sold the special edition copy of Rocket Racer 13 that I had pre-paid, and of course when I first moved out here, they sold their last Stark Watch to some random jerk even though I left a credit card number. And those things are rare."

Mike reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a twenty dollar bill, and folds it on top of the gift card, which he holds out in a "you can have these" grip - so as to avoid this guy accidentally touching his hand and being freaked out. Guy? Whatever.

Cale blinks, "Really? That's pretty awesome! But," he pauses, taking the money and the card from Mike, "It sounds like maybe I need to find a new place, anyway!" he seems rather cheerful about the whole matter, at least. But that's just his way! "Yeah, those things are expensive anyway, I was looking at them online and… You just moved out here too?" he wonders. "I just got here too, like, a few weeks ago. So I'm still looking for a good place to buy parts. I mean, it's amazing, you have a good junk pile going and you think you don't need any of it, and then as soon as you don't have it, it turns out you did."

"Hm? No, I moved out here a couple years ago, for school. Changed to a different school though, so I don't come up here much. Except when I meet up with friends, or have to get something they only have here." Mike shrugs. "It's a nice area, but even more crowded than Seattle." He accepts the cable in return, and immediately (though probably undetectably) goes online to order the video card, NOT from the idiots at that store. Built-in radio? $335.90. Brain interface? Priceless.

Cale and Mike are standing in front of the local electronics store at the mall, making small talk as Cale stuffs some money into one of his pockets without bothering to pull out a wallet. Typically, he's rather disorganized about that and doesn't bother carrying one, preferring to just jam things in his pockets instead! "Oh. Yeah, the city's nice too, I guess. Kinda big," he smiles. "I'm still getting used to stuff. Anyway, I guess I'll cya round? Or, maybe not, if you don't come up here too often…" he trails off.

Wearing their image inducer, Taylor is walking through the halls of the mall, arms crossed close to themselves. The feline wears a light jacket, a red blouse and a pair of black slacks. The feline student is peering into the windows, though they just look like an androgynous blonde teen at the moment, how Taylor looked before the image inducer was even necessary. For the moment, Tay doesn't notice Mike or Cale, but is getting closer and closer to them.

Mike nods. "Hey, I should give you my contact info in case they give you a hard time about that card. You got a phone I can text it to?"

No, Mike is not stealthily trying to get Cale's digits. He's doing it overtly. Fellow gamer and hardware geek, after all.

For those who have a keen sense of smell, Mike's image inducer is not a great disguise. While he smells faintly like human sweat and such hiding under a relatively light 'body spray' he also smells a lot more like a new car, and perhaps a tiny bit like ozone.

As Taylor gets closer, a silent alarm goes off in Mike's prosthetic brain. The wordless alarm shows up after a millisecond or so of searching status as 'Image inducer nearby, adjustment of self-inducer required to prevent interference.'

"Umm… Sure!" Cale digs out his phone, which is some kind of fancy looking smartphone covered with an anime-themed case, scrolling through some options before he comes up with his own phone number. "Oh! My name's Cale, by the way," he offers cheerfully, holding out a hand to Mike. As Taylor gets closer, he catches sight of the fellow student out of the corner of his eye. "Taylor!" he calls, waving at the other also cheerfully. He seems to be in a pretty good mood.

Taylor seems rather surprised at hearing the call from Cale, more surprised than one should be, and the student turns towards Cale and Mike, walking a few paces towards them. "Hey, Cale, what's going on?" The teen seems to wave their hand in the air above their head before armcrossing. "Who's your friend, Cale?"

"Mike Drakos," Mike answers both questioners at once, and pulls a (completely fake and not-there) flat-screen-phone from his pocket and copies down Cale's number, then apparently texts his own in return.

(An appropriately skilled telepath or cyberpath would hear Mike arguing with himself at this point.)
==I know I said to dedicate the second bank to finishing the design test, but I need that processing. I'm in public! There's another … oh fine, whatever. It's another Xaviers kid. If I fault on the image inducer, at least they won't kill us right away.==

"Nice case mod on the phone," Mike says, and starts the 'sync contact info' process to the x-phone, sending his full actual contact information (with a link to the least-horrible student picture in the ghastly orange and white creamsicle colors: himself in robot-form, Connor, Cloud, and a few others who are no longer around… and the inimitable Dr. Hank McCoy behind them with that big beastly grin. And names underneath.)

There's a good quarter-second while he does this that he stops moving completely - disturbing if you notice it.

Cale doesn't really appear to notice what's going on with the phone, per se. "Thanks! I thought it looked kinda boring when I got it. I thought maybe I could make them for other people, too! It's kind of a proprietary model, so you can't really buy stuff for it just anywhere," he explains, turning towards Taylor, "And this is my friend Taylor!" Great. There are two of them now, and Taylor is even more ambiguous! Being that Cale's attention is constantly flitting around, he doesn't really notice Mike's imagine inducer problems, either.

Taylor watches as Mike's image inducer pauses for a moment, and the youth seems rather surprised. "Oh, dear…" Tay grabs their own wrist for a moment, apparently checking their image inducer, "I hope my, um, thing isn't interfering with your thing and stuff." The teen glances about, trying to see if anyone is looking in their direction, but because it's a busy mall, nobody is. "Oh, yeah. I'm Taylor…" says the teen, shrugging lightly.

"No, it's not that," Mike says to Taylor. "It's just that my brain is busy and won't pay attention to me. I won't mess with your inducer, promise." He does the boyscout finger sign thing, and nods to Cale, clutching the precious video cable to his chest. "Cale gets extra gaming karma points for letting me have this cable."

"Eh, it's not a big deal," Cale shrugs a little, slipping his phone back into the front pocket on his hoody, where he keeps his hands also for the moment, "I'm sure I can find a converter or something…" he looks to Taylor and then back to Mike.

Taylor headtilts slightly at Mike and then says, "Okay, yeah, that'd be really appreciated. I kind of like to feel a little normalcy now and again… and my image inducer screwing up might get funny looks." The teen then glances towards Cale and says, "So… what cable? What are you talking about?"

"This one. Very specialized display cable for a standard that nobody cares about except for game freaks. It ignores certain DRM features."
He shifts a bit uncomfortably. "So, were you planning to meet somewhere? I can get out of your way, if so. I mean, Cale has my number if they give any trouble about the gift card."

"Nono," Cale shakes his head, "We just happened to run into each other just now… actually, I was sorta headed home but… I don't know. We could hang out, I guess, you know?" he eyes Mike for a moment, pondering. "Anyway, yeah, it was just something for my computer, apparently Mike reserved it but they gave it to me… some kinda misunderstanding."

"Well, I'm up for hanging out," says Taylor, glancing between Mike and Cale, "But yeah, I was just coming out here to kind of window shop. I don't get my allowance for a bit and I'm trying to scout out anything I want, maybe get ice cream." The feline frowns slightly and then says, "I've always just used whatever cables that were in my console boxes and stuff. I don't know about that other stuff. Though I wouldn't call myself a game freak exactly."

"Yeah, the kind of misunderstanding where they say they've reserved something but they get commission on anything they sell so they will take stuff other people reserved and sell it so they get the commission instead." Mike glares at the store, which he will (he hopes) never have to deal with again. Meanwhile though, this isn't the school. How do you politely do the "mutant" version of A/S/L in a public place, without some sort of massive damage event?
"When I was going to school near here, everyone always wanted to come here for ice cream. I'm not a fan of ice cream though. It doesn't agree with me." Lactose intolerance doesn't BEGIN to cover it.

It's probable that there is no way to politely ask that sort of thing! "Yeah?" Cale wonders, blinking back and forth between Taylor and Mike, both of whom seem to be using some kind of image inducer technology. That's kind of a dead giveaway. Kinda. "So… you go to a different school now then? You like it?" he wonders.

"Did you used to go to the same school as us? I mean, if you recognize what my inducer even is, I'd expect so…" says Taylor, looking down at their watch, "I dunno, unless… unless there are more schools that use these things and I don't actually know about it?"

"Yeah. It's more like a military school, but not in a bad way," Mike says to Cale, then answers Taylor. "I did, which is why I recognized Cale's phone. And I linked you a picture, Cale, but you won't be able to open it until you get back to the school." He fidgets.
"So Tony Stark invented image inducers, and a gentleman named Forge took his invention and made it even more so. Mine is built in, now. Which should explain why I need it."

"Built in?" Cale ponders, "Does that mean you're like… some kinda cyborg or something?" A cyborg mutant? Hm. "Well that's pretty cool, anyway," he smiles. "Wow, really? I'm… kind of a big fan of his, I mean, he's pretty cool!" he glances at Taylor, clearly impressed. "That's cool!"

There is a slight commotion in the general direction of the food court. People are turning and trying to see what exactly is going on, but many of them are having a hard time believing what it is that they see. "For the LAST TIME, I DID NOT escape from the pet store. Do they sell Raccoons as pets on this planet? Do they TALK? Do they WEAR CLOTHES?" Rocket Raccoon is walking briskly as a security guard jogs next to him. "Now would you PLEASE go do something useful?" The Raccoon shakes his head and shoes the security guard off before turning away and sighing to be finally rid of the baggage. He smiles at a group of women who are giggling and pointing at him. "Ladies. Know anyplace that serves a good burger?" But then the Raccoon notices someone familiar and excuses himself, jogging in the direction of who he believes to be Mike.

"Oh, I didn't realize that Tony Stark made image inducers. I'm not really… all that… smart, with these things," admits Taylor, grimacing and looking aside. "And yeah, if it's built in, that kind of explains it. And the smell. I mean, not that you smell. I'm just… good at smelling…"

"… And I don't smell human. Even when I use a scent faker." Mike grins at that. "Yeah, Mikhail could always find me even when I hacked the inducer for camoflage. I'm actually kind of a robot, it's complicated. No fleshy parts at all."

But before he can go into details, Mike hears the yelling in the distance, and winces. "You're probably about to meet one of my teachers."
And yes, there he is. Raccoon approaching. "He really should get one of these, but so far nobody has managed to explain it to him," Mike says in an aside.
"Hello, sir," he says when Rocket approaches.

"Mikhail? You know him? We hang out a lot," Cale nods, glancing over at the Rocket… eyes somewhat wide, though, after a short time he figures Rocket must just be a mutant. Right? 'cause that's what Taylor is. He offers the raccoon a little wave.

Rocket offers a curt wave as he comes up to the students. "Ah Mike, I thought that was you. Hope things are going well." He places his paws on his hips and surveys the mall. The people seem to be done with the excitement of seeing a talking Raccoon and continue about their business. A few passerby can be heard mumbling something about how unfortunate it is to have a mutant like that in their mall. Rockets ears flick in their direction, but he doesn't say anything to them. "You know, you'd think the earth people would sell more clothes in my size. Seems I'd have to do all my shopping at "Kid's Gap"…Which seems like an odd name for a store. Anyway, how do they expect me to blend in wearing earth children clothing?" A quick glance at the Raccoon shows that he is wearing tan shorts and a green jacket. "I mean, this'll do. But the people on the television are always wearing suits."

To Mike, Tay notes, "Sometimes, I think I'd like to just walk around openly, since it shouldn't raise such a fuss, but it does…" Taylor looks down at Rocket and then considers him for a few moments before noting, "There is this nice little shop in mutant town, and the tailor there can alter textiles, so you can wear nice things at a fraction of the cost, since one size does fit all. I can give you their address so you could get a suit. I think it'd look nice." Tay also looks up at the mumbles about mutants and seems to shrink a bit uncomfortably.

Mike also hears the mutterings about mutants. He looks at the mutterers, curiousity carefully depicted on his imaged face. This allows him to record their pictures, and he saves their mutterings for voice analysis. Any of them carrying cell phones? He also snags their phone IDs.

"This is one of my teachers," Mike says to Tay and Cale, "and he's from outer space. It's purely a coincidence that he looks like a raccoon." He says that loudly enough that mutterers should be able to 'overhear' but not loudly enough that they should feel OK about interrupting someone else's conversations.

"Yeah," Cale reiterates. It is a nice shop! They'll put up with pretty much anything there! The teen, for his part, notices the mumbles and it does annoy him, even make him feel bad, but he does his normal thing and just sort of pretends it isn't happening… Yeah. That's healthy. "Whoa, really? That's totally awesome. Totes. D'ya like, have a spaceship and stuff?" Oh god.

Rocket nods to Taylor, "Ah! Sounds wonderful. I'll need to get that information from you before I head off. Think he could accomidate a tial as well?" He waves his tail behind himself to accentuate. "Ah, sorry I just realized I don't know you boys. Rocket Raccoon here, from Halfworld." He eyes Taylor suspiciously, "I'm…Going to assume you're not from my quadrant. Otherwise you wouldn't be using one of Tony's snazzamajiggers." He gestures to the boy's general appearance. "Like Mike here. Don't know why you wear those things. Why I almost…Sometimes don't get bothered when I go out in public. And I'd never use one of those."

The Raccoon turns to Cale. "Ah, the ship? It's a LITTLE busted at the moment. But yeah I've got one. Trying to get help reparing it from some of the technicians, but its…Difficult. The technology on this planet isn't…Well you don't have the same materials that are available where I come from. Even then, I'm in no hurry to leave."

"Yeah, they'll absolutely do tails as well. I get all of my pants there and, well, I have a tail, so. It's pretty handy, good shop, they get a lot of my business," says Taylor, looking down for a few moments. "It's nice to meet you, Mr. Rocket Raccoon. Do you prefer to be called… Rocket or Mr. Raccoon or Mr. Rocket Raccoon? I'm Taylor Marinov. And… I don't know why I wear these things. Mostly cause I'd rather not get into scraps. I get into trouble for that sort of thing."

"Taylor's really cool looking underneath there!" he smiles, glancing Tay's way, "But you already know I think that," Cale giggles, turning towards Rocket, "Do you think I could see it sometime? I mean, that's pretty cool. I guess our space programs are kinda horrible in comparison, huh? It's been sort of a dream of mine to, I dunno, help build one. Or something. You know, the software side of things more than the actual construction though…" So. Cool. Actual spaceship. Cool.

"They won't let me anywhere NEAR his ship," Mike mutters. It's as bad as Scott was about Mike getting near the Blackbird. As if Mike couldn't be trusted with the alien technology. Really, very insulting. The part of his brain that's busy doing design analysis on his next chassis sends him a note. ==Hey, if we could get into that ship we could probably solve the whole materials problem for the secondary chassis.==

"Yeah, I'd love to see it too," Mike says, but with a less edgy eagerness.

Rocket shrugs, "Eh. Most people around here call me Rocket. Even the students. No need to be terribly formal." The Raccoon chuckles at Cale. "Well I can't SEE him exactly. The nose knows." He points a claw to his own nose. "Raccoon senses and all that. And the projectors are made for human eyes. They shimmer to me a bit, but I can't see past them." A short pause as he tries decide how to explain the ship. "Well she's not exactly accessable. There are all sorts of treaty sanctions and other boring stuff that prevent me from GIVING technology directly to the people on other planets. And the safest way to make sure it doesn't accidentally end up in the wrong hands is to just set it completely off limits." He shrugs, "But yeah. Only myself, Tony, and a few other people at the school have access to that bay."

Taylor stares down at their image inducer for a few moments and then nods for a few moments before sniffing themselves, kind of mumbling, "Do I smell like a him?" The teen shrugs indifferently before nodding at Cale, "Yeah, I know that you think I look cool under the image." Taylor peers back down at the image inducer for a few more moments before making a bit of a face and putting a finger on it, seeming to hesitate doing anything further.

And it's not like the X-Men where they would just smile and pat him on the head and send him off to play in the Danger Room with the safeties off. Mike knows they'd do some sort of government spook thing that he'd regret. So, despite the thing being REALLY easy to get into, he won't. But why Tony gets to see it… well, just another one-percenter thing.

"Shimmer? That's interesting," Mike says, "What does it look like?" This must be fixed; if the raccoon can see through it then others might. "I can't tell," Mike says to Tay. "My sense of smell is my least normal sense. If you were a toxic gas, I'd know, but otherwise? No. Is that your pre-change image? It's quite nice. Mine has a better nose than I did but otherwise is about right."

Cale looks somewhat dejected as he's told it's pretty much off limits to everyone. Still. "Aw… that's kinda lame… but, I guess it makes sense… You could like, mess up the natural progress of the planet or something. Like in Isaac Asimov's books," the boy nods. "Anyway, it's like Taylor says, it just makes things a bit easier to deal with. I guess. I can totally understand where Tay's coming from."

Rocket's ears flick toward Tay. "You don't smell BAD, just…Different. I've come across similar mutants before. And I mean, I come from a planet where smell is an identifying factor." The Raccoon shrugs at Mike. "What's it look like? Well like I said I can't see through it. I can just sort of tell that it's not a real image." He ponders for a moment. "It's like…I can't explan. If you're concerned about it not working on me, have me over sometime when you work on it and I'll let you know if it's better or worse." Rocket glances at Cale. "I…Have not read these books. But for the inducers, it's something I don't quite understand about your planet. Maybe if earth had more visitors they'd see that the mutants are more similar to them than they think. Everyone focuses on differences. But to me as an outsider, everyone on this planet is human. Everyone is of this planet. I don't see a reason for segregation or dissent."

"Well, I didn't think you thought I smelled bad, I mean, I should smell really good. I take good care of my fur. I mean, if I'm going to have fur, may as well have a nice sheen to it," says Taylor, looking down at the inducer for a few moments longer, "Just smelling like a him to you, it's… curious." The teen considers that for a couple of moments and then shrugs, pressing a button on it and turning it off, to appear in their fuzzy glory, glancing about for a moment. "If anyone tries to beat me up, I'm depending on a little spaceman backup. I agree with your idea, though, that we should avoid segregation or dissent."

"And this is one of the reasons why he's one of our teachers," Mike says. "He's one of the handful of non-douche alien visitors we've had. Not trying to take over, not trying to kill, enslave, or turn us all into tasty snacks. That's fairly unusual. Even the guys who provided that really nice medical thing at my old school seem to think we're all better off as their slaves. Most of them anyway."

Someone's been doing his reading, huh? Hey, wait, is Tay about to turn off the Inducer? "Uhm, might want to consider the full ramifications," Mike says a moment too late. "The people who were muttering about mutants are still in the mall, two of them in the electronics store and one in the Belle Largesse over there. And someone else in the mall texted someone else that there were muties here, but I can only catch the messages, I can't tell you if that friend was from FoH or the Brotherhood. It wasn't one of those three mumblers, though. So, be sure you're not going to start something that will endanger other people. Especially after the recent fit of stupid evil mutant rhymes-with-ditch attacks."

Rocket seems embarrassed slightly, scratching the back of his head and laughing. "Was…I not correct?" He looks at Tay once the imager is down and cocks his head slightly. "Well I…Couldn't actually tell. I thought it was customary to say…" He trails off when a few people nearby seem to jump at the sudden appearance of another animal-person. One of the people Mike mentioned earlier takes a photo of Tay with his phone and sends it somewhere. Rocket waves his paws at some of the people who stopped. "Move along, move along. Nothing to see here." That seems to get a few of them moving.

Rocket glances over at Mike quickly. "I hope you're talking about Envy and that I didn't miss another attack. One of your classmates got into a tuss with her the other night, I'm sure you heard. Luckily we're getting some good intel out of it."

Taylor blinks a few times at the initial question from Rocket and the felinoid says, "It's fine. Nobody is ever correct anyways… I just, well, I'm curious about how I smell, is all." The felinoid student grimaces for a couple moment at having a picture taken and then nods slowly towards Mike, "Um, yeah, I guess I didn't think it through…"

(While he's being uncharacteristically quiet, Mike is also logging the phone activity because he's also in the shot, and that means he'll need to track down who the photo was sent to. Fortunately, phones don't usually encrypt that stuff, or not very well anyway.)

Rocket shakes his head and waves a paw dismissively at the crowd. "Pay no attention to them. They just need some time to-" A robotic female voice chimes in suddenly "Commander, you have an urgent message that may be of concern." Rocket jumps slightly and excuses himself to the side for a moment. He presses something that looks like a watch and a holographic screen pops up in front of him with writing in a language that is definately not of this planet. After a few moments Rocket pops back toward the group. "Sorry folks, looks like I need to run back to the school. Something's come up that…I hope is unrelated to anything…But anyway, it was nice meeting you." He offers a quick round of handshakes and heads off toward the nearest exit.

Mike says, "I need to get back too, I'm joining the alien. Hitchin' a ride or something close. Will phone or text later." And Mike sprints off after the surprisingly fast space raccoon.

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