6330/Outreach of another kind...

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Outreach of another kind...
Date of Scene: 25 May 2021
Location: The Centinel Hotel - Mutant Town
Synopsis: Erik, Mystique, and Emma come to an agreement in principle. Emma commits to an open-ended debt in exchange for Brotherhood protection and assistance. Much wine is consumed for 10AM.
Cast of Characters: Emma Frost, Erik Lensherr, Raven Darkholme

Emma Frost has posed:
Mystique is good. Very good. It took Emma a few days to figure out she was being monitored, a realization that dawned only after two different people who 'sounded' the same upstairs caught her attention. Once she was onto it, it ... well it wasn't easy, but it was possible (and even inevitable) she'd spot Mystique's latest form following her.

Finally she'd had enough.

~Mystique, darling. Just have Erik drop by at 10AM tomorrow. Save yourself the effort.~

Courteous. And oh-so-arrogant. Emma in a nutshell.

Next morning, after having ensured the job site was mostly evacuated (in case things came to the worst), she arrived at the office in her business chic, chased people out of the board room, and set up a workstation while she awaited her ten o'clock.

Erik Lensherr has posed:
At 9:55, a portal opens in front of the Centinel. First out is an Asian woman with red and black dyed hair who scans the area and then mutters something into a comm unit she is wearing. Next through the portal is the easily recognizable figure of Mystique, actually looking like herself for a change in white body suit, yellow eyes scanning the area just as Blink's had a moment before. Right after her comes Erik, in full Magneto regalia including helmet... though at least it's the newer red and black version. He strides towards the doors, which open on their own for him. While Mystique follows him in, Blink moves over to lean against the wall to one side of the door.

Erik makes his way over to the reception desk, looking over the person on duty before saying, "Miss Frost is expecting me." The hotel employee nods nervously (Magneto!) and gestures towards the private elevator. Erik politely thanks her and moves over to the elevator. When the doors open, he and Mystique step inside and take the ride up to Emma's office.

When the doors open on the office, Mystique is the first out, followed by Erik, who looks around, spots Emma and smiles. "Good morning, Emma. It has been a little while, hasn't it? I was planning on a talk soon anyway, so your gracious invitation was appreciated."

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique keeps her eyes on everything, almost literally. She looks calm and moves with Erik, but her eyes miss nothing as she surveys the places they are moving. The elevator brings a pause before she scans it and steps in, ready for something to happen, anything to happen.

Emma Frost has posed:
"Erik! How charming to see you again. And Raven, you had me guessing for almost two days. That's quite impressive. I can help you disguise your thoughts better if you'd enjoy that."

Emma opens up a cabinet behind which is a selection of liquors and wines. "Please, partake if you wish. For you, Erik, I have a 1988 Rebentalerweiss. I'd have brought in some high quality beers but ... short notice only let me obtain commercial-grade nonsense and I wouldn't insult you with that." She holds up a bottle of the expensive Rhein vintage, waiting for Erik's assent to pouring. "Failing that, name your poison and it's yours."

For herself, Emma has already poured a glass of her beloved clarets, glass sitting next to her workstation.

"I would say I was surprised at your interest, but I've honestly been expecting this conversation since Charles and I parted ways," she continues. "I'm glad you remembered me. I trust you're here to discuss my Outreach project?"

Her eyes take in Mystique and she winces. "Raven, please, you're being so jumpy it's giving me the urge to have something jump out at you just so you have an excuse for it. Please calm down. This is not an ambush. I am quite alone, and I have no reason to attack two old friends."

Her eyes wander back to Erik. "We are that, are we not? Old friends? Not like you and Charles, naturally, but I'd rather hoped we could be considered friends nonetheless?"

Erik Lensherr has posed:
With a smile, Erik nods, "I believe we are. Certainly at this point I see no reason to think otherwise, anyway. And I admit, I am quite interested to find out a bit about your plans for our brothers and sisters. I mean, the hotel is quite impressive, and I have seen your release about the Outreach program, but I'm interested to hear what sort of plans you might have. And, for that matter, to see if there might be things we might assist each other with."

He gestures towards a chair, which slides over to near Emma's desk. Taking a seat, he shakes his head, "Thank you for the thought, but it's a touch early for me, I'm afraid." He steeples his fingers and looks at her for a moment, then adds, "You're looking as lovely as ever, but I admit, I was a bit surprised to hear of your leaving Charles. I thought you were settling in there."

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique turns her golden eyes back to Emma as she is addressed, having been ignoring the incessant chattering small talk bull. "The fact that you are so alone /is/ the issue Emma," she returns, head canting slightly. "Chase everyone off out of fear?" She moves herself to stand by the chair Erik moved and sat himself in, but she has no interest in the drinks or the banter, and is grateful when Erik gets to the point.

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma sits in her own place, not across from, but to the side of Erik, the table not used as a barrier. Leaning back in her seat, crossing her legs, she picks up her claret and sips from it briefly before sparking up a cigarette and taking a drag, wreathing her head in smoke.

Those without the helmet will see the smoke form the shape of a translucent dragon parking itself on Emma's head. Just her little joke.

"What I want, Erik," she says, finally, having settled and relaxed, leaning back in her seat, "is the same that you want. That Charles wants." She takes another drag, expelling it from her nostrils in a showy way. "I want our people to have a life of peace and dignity."

Pursing her lips she glances briefly out the window as she chooses how she's going to word the speech she'd prepared since last night, but which has fallen away now that she's face to face. Erik's too experienced and smart for marketing speeches. He wants her heart.

Literally if they cross swords.

"I walked the streets of Bushwick," she finally says. "'Mutant Town'," she adds with a distasteful twist of her voice. "Long before the hotel. I wish you didn't have that helmet on, Erik. I could share with you what I felt. The lives of quiet desperation. Hopelessness. Those of our kind who can't pass as human, like me, like you, and like Raven here, when she so chooses. They suffer. They're marginalized. They're pushed into this ghetto and then forgotten about or, worse, victimized by those who despise them so."

Her eyes fix on Erik's, burning holes so deep it almost seems she *is* reading his mind despite the helmet. Like she's seeing through them to the back of his skull. "But they're not worth Charles' time, are they? Not worth educating. Not worth protecting. Only the top shelf X gene carriers belong in his mansion. Sure there's sporadic assistance granted, and sure the X-men will occasionally come into Bushwick to stop anti-mutant rioters or their ilk. But the victimization here comes from something far more insidious than rioters. It comes in the form of landlords. Crime lords. Gangs. Day-to-day small indignities. Week-to-week economic exploitations. They suffer here, Erik. And I feel it each time I go in there. They're treated as, and worse live as, animals."

Her arm waves up to take in their surroundings. "The hotel was my first plan. Money coming into the neighbourhood. Economic assistance, plus I turn a profit. It's a perfect plan. A good idea. Except for the part where it doesn't WORK!"

That last word is paired with a fist hitting the table, fury exploding from Emma's usually-refined exterior.

"Economics 101, Erik. Pour money indiscriminately into an area and some benefit greatly, but the rest get pushed even further down. Because inflation happens. The people affiliated with the hotel have had their lots improved greatly, but the money they spend raises prices in the markets. The people selling in the markets get some benefit too, but the desperate? They're now more desperate as their income flatlines while prices rise around them."

Emma slumps back in her chair, recrossing her legs.

"I did a bad thing, Erik. From the best of intentions, but bad nonetheless. I did the 'white man's burden' error and people are paying for it. Our people, Erik. So this time I'm going in with a plan to build a community, not just to dump money and hope it all works out."

Erik Lensherr has posed:
He nods as she talks about the plight of the mutants in Bushwick, "Trust me Emma, I know what you saw. I've seen it myself. For that matter, it wasn't all that long ago that I had to take steps here, as you may recall, by walling off an anti mutant crowd and reconnecting Bushwick to the plumbing and power grids of the city. Even utilities are denied our people because the humans can find ways to tie things up in red tape because the mutants have no political weight, no pull in government. And yet, in many countries things are even worse for our people than they are here. At least here they have some protection of law, even if that protection is rather slow to make itself seen sometimes."

He listens to her discussion of the economic problems the hotel has caused and replies, "At least you are trying, Emma. And when it didn't work, you're making new plans to try and make it work. I'm doing something similar, actually."

He shakes his head, "The Brotherhood is going to change, Emma. I've given things a lot of thought since Genosha, and my plans for mutant supremacy simply will not work. Not in the world as it is now, with all these other heroes and aliens running around." He looks her right in the eye and says, "I mean, do you believe for one moment this Superman would allow our people to conquer the humans? The goals I've fought my whole life for are simply... not realistic. Many call me fanatic, and I will never, ever stop fighting for our people, but even I am realistic enough to see the truth."

He shrugs, "You may have seen my offer to Genosha. That's a part of my plan, we need to rebuild a safe place for our people if they want to go there. But I also insist that our people be able to live here safely and comfortably if they want to rather than move to another country. The Brotherhood is going to take up a new duty, as a sword and shield for our people. We will, however, be a good deal more direct than Charles' team is. If we find a facility experimenting on mutants, you may expect to never hear from the guilty parties again."

He tilts his head a little as he continues to look at her, "So, how can we help each other? Our goals are the same, even if our methods are different. There must be places we can assist each other."

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique lightly folds her arms across her chest. Erik was the talker, she was the muscle, at least in appearance. Truth was there was nothing she could add that Erik didn't already say, at least in regards to plans. "Perhaps it is time for us to police Bushwick, Erik. Put an end to the abuse on the streets at least, daily and nightly patrols?"

Emma Frost has posed:
And there it is. The offer. Emma has the decency not to smile triumphantly, keeping her neutral mask bolted to her face like rigid metal.

"Security is one aspect, yes," she says slowly, eyes drifting to Mystique, nodding slowly. "In the immediate term I'd almost call it critical. Especially since I let loose the fusilade and people know that money will be coming in, albeit more measured and more controlled than my first, amateurish attempt." She holds up a finger, pausing briefly. "But we can't let our kind fight our kind. That is poor optics. I have other ways of dealing with the desperate among us who mistakenly attack their own kind, and that will take time and community goodwill to accomplish."

Emma stands, then, pacing a little. "I'm more concerned with the various mobs. They know, as you said, Erik, that our kind have no pull, no weight, no gravitas with the authorities. They will be attracted to this place and will come to infest it like maggots infesting casu martzu."

She closes her eyes a moment. Sharp ears like those of Mystiques will note that footsteps move even farther away from the meeting room. For two storeys up and down. Satisfied Emma opens her eyes again.

"Kill them. Horribly. Post their heads on pikes as a warning to those who would come afterward." Emma's smile is cruelly amused. "Metaphorically speaking, naturally. I'm not encouraging you to break the law and deprive the flatlines of their human rights to a fair trial. I just will not be particularly depressed if they, in their foolishness in attacking our kind, wind up cooling on the ground, exsanguinated, as we defend ourselves."

She starts pacing again. "But that's the long-term key. Defending ourselves. Themselves, really. I can defend myself, after all. But part of community is pride, and part of pride is the ability to handle one's own problems without overpowering force from outside. Self-defence classes. Community defence classes. Community watches and enforcers. These people need training and organization. And you two are singularly suited to providing this."

She turns to face the pair. "Let's talk quid pro quo. You know what I want. What do you want from me?"

Erik Lensherr has posed:
Erik chuckles, smiling slightly, "Yes, I feel the authorities might have problems with that kind of signpost. As for the rest.. as I said, I've already taken action here, even personally the one time. The Brotherhood has clashed with those idiotic Friends of Humanity several times. But I can easily put people on the streets until we can get the local population able to defend themselves. The main reason I hadn't done so, is that, well, this picture is repeating itself all over the country. I don't have the people to patrol every mutant ghetto in America. How do I say that one city is more deserving of my protection than another?"

He considers her for a moment, "Quid pro quo, you say, but I'm not doing this for you." He points out the window at Bushwick, "I'm doing it for them. I mainly came here to get an idea of what you were up to now that you seem to be on your own. Your ideas are good ones, and honestly, why not start here? If we can make this city safe and these people able to defend themselves, then I, or even we, can move on to another city. For now, call it the good of our people. It may be in the future I may need a favor or two. Perhaps Frost Industries will be of help rebuilding Genosha in some capacity, even if they deny my direct help."

He nods, "I think that is the best thing to do. We will start here, in Bushwick. You will handle the economic assistance, I will supply the security and training when we find those of our people whose mutations give them the ability to fight to keep their homes safe. And might I suggest you work on finding those who might take up leadership positions in the community, because as we know, if our people don't start gaining some voice in government, all the rest we do won't matter. Sooner or later it will all go to hell if we do not become a political force."

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique's eyes had wandered to the window, looking out at the area around this place. "My offer has nothing to do with harming out own people," she comments to the window, then looks back over to Emma. "They can be taught to defend themselves and to not hurt each other, as they are our people. As Erik said, we have to start some place, so why not here? I am willing to invest my time and skills here." She shifts her weight slightly, laying one hand on the back of Erik's chair.

"As for the other elements that might be drawn here," she smiles, almost darkly, and there is a sparkle in her golden eyes. "Let them come and learn that we will not be pushed around."

Emma Frost has posed:
Emma takes in Mystique with a cruel grin of approval. Their backgrounds couldn't be more different, and nor could their personalities. But their methods are one and the same: woe betide those who cross either. Emma inclines her head in respect to Mystique's blunt trauma approach to life. "Well spoken, Raven."

Then to Erik, "I'm glad we see eye to eye on the longer-term goal. Bushwick is the beginning, not the end." Emma smiles, and for the first time the smile goes up to the eyes and stays there. "I want Bushwick to prove that we can live with dignity and pride even among the human hatred. But, Erik, I fear you miss a major goal."

Emma takes a seat, taking a long drag on her cigarette, then washing that down by emptying her glass. "Economic is the least of my assistance. Like immediate policing it is the first-ranked problem, but not the goal. My gift to Bushwick, first, and then others once this place has been solidified and set in the fabric of the nation, is the gift of community. Pride in self and those around us. A desire to be a part of something larger with an identity that stiffens the spine and the resolve and makes people want to work for more. And that, precisely, requires leaders."

Emma's smile broadens, into Cheshire-like proportions. "I'm cutting the hotel in half, Erik, because the rest of the building will be assorted community facilities. Classrooms. Financial offices. Community halls. And, yes, leadership centres. I will be raising the next generation of Bushwick's leadership here, even as I cut the feet out from under the slumlords and opportunists who rent-seek on the backs of our people." And the triumphant, if mildly malevolent, face of an evil Buddha, relaxed and in control, tops her expression. "I am going to do the impossible. I'm going to gentrify the neighbourhood by gentrifying its populace, not driving it out for a 'better' class."

Erik Lensherr has posed:
Erik Lensherr says, "It seems our goals coincide then. You can do what I cannot, due to my past actions in trying to change things for our people. Magneto, after all, is still considered a terrorist. But it does mean that I'm not terribly worried about the legalities of our defensive actions. Oh, which reminds me of another thing you can actually help me with. In your uplifting and learning about the mutants here, should you run across those whose temperaments might not lend themselves to remaining inside the legal systems, do refer them to the Brotherhood? I can always use good people, and being based where I am, their legal status on Earth is of no concern."

With a shrug, he adds, "For that matter, should you run across any who need to escape legal troubles that are not of their own making, I might find a place for them on Asteroid M. I'm not looking for drooling sociopaths, mind you, but the mutant about to be arrested for murdering some hatemonger attacking his family, that sort of person I can help. Especially if they have any useful skills, be they physical, mechanical or mental."

A thin metal card rises from his pocket and floats over to settle beside her workstation. "You can contact the Brotherhood, and thus me, at that number. Be it for a pickup of someone who wants to join or needs to escape, or something you need to ask, it can all go through there."

He sits back, then adds, "Your plans are good, but you do realize you will have some who won't take you up on it, right? Some people refuse to help themselves, even when you all but shove the tools to do so into their hands. Some parts of Bushwick are going to end up as a slum, no matter what you do. I'm not saying you shouldn't go ahead with your plan, it is the best I've heard for our people, but know that not all of them will accept your attempted improvements.""

Raven Darkholme has posed:
Mystique goes back to looking out the window. It all sounded wonderful, the creation of something amazing, but it was just talk. She was smart, clever, and could be witty when she needed to be, but this was Erik's playing field right now, not hers. She preferred action, to be /doing/ something that brought about change. Perhaps when all the planning what done and the two were done strutting their words, there would be action. "There will also be those among out people who will not want to cooperate because they have a good thing going," she says looking back to Erik, and then to Emma. "Those who take advantage of those with nothing. I'm not saying we kill them, but I will make examples of them as a reminder that we do not gain from the suffering of our own people."

Emma Frost has posed:
"You're both right." Emma's Cheshire grin fades a fraction; a slight troubled look attacks the fringes of her demeanour. "There are those who will not come out. Will not want pride. Perhaps because they've given up hope forever, or perhaps because they're too lazy to work."

She pours herself another glass of claret and swishes it, watching the wine tears form and drop.

"Some people cannot be helped. You can't force people into pride and fulfillment. You can help the majority who want it. We do not have the resources to carry those who would cut our legs out from under us. They must be abandoned to their fates."

Or changed. But this she doesn't say aloud. Experience dictates she keep that to herself.

"Those, however, who predate their own kind ... are a problem for the community to solve. I must tread carefully there. I want the community to learn how to deal with cannibals. Assist in overwhelming cases ... like Logan's old enemy. But otherwise let the community develop, as a community, the techniques for dealing with their own predators."

Her eyes fall on Mystique. "A few examples. To show consequences. But then we must wean Bushwick of our dealings and let them learn to come to grips. As a community."

Emma stands and empties her newly-full glass.

"I would like to thank you both for coming. Erik, it's been a marvel seeing you again, and Raven, you're ever the best, most lovely of us all; a true credit to the X gene. I must confess I was mildly concerned about this meeting to the point of clearing out possible collateral damage. I should not have been. I look forward to future fruitful dealings."