Moral Compass


gabriel_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif

Scene Title Moral Compass
Synopsis Gabriel tells Magnes a story, and Magnes makes a request.
Date October 13, 2009

Central Park

Central Park has been, and remains, a key attraction in New York City, both for tourists and local residents. Though slightly smaller, approximately 100 acres at its southern end scarred by and still recovering from the explosion, the vast northern regions of the park remain intact.

An array of paths and tracks wind their way through stands of trees and swathes of grass, frequented by joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, and horsemen alike. Flowerbeds, tended gardens, and sheltered conservatories provide a wide array of colorful plants; the sheer size of the park, along with a designated wildlife sanctuary add a wide variety of fauna to the park's visitor list. Several ponds and lakes, as well as the massive Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, break up the expanses of green and growing things. There are roads, for those who prefer to drive through; numerous playgrounds for children dot the landscape.

Many are the people who come to the Park - painters, birdwatchers, musicians, and rock climbers. Others come for the shows; the New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacorte Theater, the annual outdoor concert of the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn, the summer performances of the Metropolitan Opera, and many other smaller performing groups besides. They come to ice-skate on the rink, to ride on the Central Park Carousel, to view the many, many statues scattered about the park.

Some of the southern end of the park remains buried beneath rubble. Some of it still looks worn and torn, struggling to come back from the edge of destruction despite everything the crews of landscapers can do. The Wollman Rink has not been rebuilt; the Central Park Wildlife Center remains very much a work in progress, but is not wholly a loss. Someday, this portion of Central Park just might be restored fully to its prior state.

A new shirt! Magnes has been excited about that since the day before, yet another gift from Claire he's more than proud to show off. He's wearing his faded blue Superman logo t-shirt, wearing open a sleeveless black leather trench for a change of pace, some black jeans and a pair of dirty black sneakers.

It's early in the night, and with his irregular shifts while he's still either recovering people from the wreckage or finding bodies, he has the whole night to conduct business. His arms are crossed as he leans against a tree, waiting for his future BFF Gabriel. There are many things to be discussed.

In the future, too, Central Park has all been eclipsed by the verdant flora of the Midtown crater, the Unity Park that had grown a jungle faster than weeds. Gabriel doesn't remember it, on account of any memories of the future not being his own and only shared peripherally while he'd simmered in Teo's head, and so it's pure coincidence that he chose the park for a destination to meet Magnes Varlane. That, and its enormity, its anonymity, and the quiet that plagues it towards the southern-most portions.

The younger man will see it out the corner of his eye. Something dark, thicker than shadow, drops down from the branches of the tree he's come to lean upon. Shapeless and shifting, it's an ink-black swatch of darkness that hits the ground, rolls across it like water.

And quickly becomes a man, if no one Magnes would recognise. Someone who couldn't be older in appearance than he is, of equal age if even younger. Gaunt, pale, with brassy gold hair and features that seem pinched. His clothes are ill-fitting, too big for him, which would make sense - Gabriel's true shape is larger than he is. As the last tendrils of shadow soak back into his solid form, he turns back towards Magnes, looking him up and down— and hazel eyes catch on what he can see of the Superman T-shirt before going back up to his face.

"Thanks for coming."

"You should be careful whose ability you use to sneak up on someone, I've been trying to think of a way to counter that one for a while." Magnes casually points out, quick to note that he knows exactly whose ability that is, or at least, he thinks he does. It's dark. "I've been wanting to talk to you though. But, before we get to business, I believe you said you had a story to tell me the next time we met."

"I could tell you," Gabriel says. The face of Timothy Lantz, missing teenager since 2007, early 2008, something like that, twists to accommodate a wry smile, and he pushes his hands into the coats of his pockets. He wears a grey sweater beneath the oversized woolen coat, the hood of which spills past his collar. "About how to counter that power. But that wouldn't be very careful."

A head tilt, eyes sharp and analytical. "Not that you know much about that. Being careful. I make a career out of it." Which is only partly true. The wind is cold, ruffles hair and tugs and snatches at the hems of clothing, and Gabriel lifts his shoulders as if to guard against it, smile fading away. "I did have a story."

"I'm learning. Fame is a definite weakness, that's something I have to let fade away and avoid at all costs. I'm about to lose my job, but I already have a way of staying out of the spotlight while helping people. I need to know how to counter a lot of powers, there's a war brewing, but we'll get to that later." Magnes nods to Gabriel, motioning for him to continue. "Go ahead, tell your story."

Blonde eyebrows go up in amusement at Magnes's assessment at fame, and Gabriel only tilts his head in something like agreement. After all, there's a reason why he's turned into another person. The mention of a war saps out some amusement, though not in favour of anything particularly solemn - a neutral expression that has Gabriel casting his gaze upwards.

Story. He doesn't start with the cadence of a storyteller, no facetious once-upon-a-time'ing. "Several years from now, we meet again. I remember what you tried to do for me, sometime in 2009. What you tried to show me, about villains becoming heroes or at least, some semblance of sanity."

His voice is young, higher pitched than Gabriel's usual low gravel, but diction and accent all remain distinctive to the killer. "I get you into law enforcement. Maybe back into law enforcement. You're not happy, but you're better off, like I tried to be. I learn your power by virtue of being friends, or as close as we could come to that. The story doesn't have an ending, by the way. Not unless the world ceasing to exist counts."

"What? I mean, seriously? You know the future? And what do you mean ceasing to exist?" Magnes clearly didn't hear a thing about the Moab time travel incident, so this is all news to him. His tough facade is replaced with curiosity and sudden interest, almost leaning in for me. "Oh, crap, you know I have an ability… Well I guess I have been on television. Um, am I with Claire in the future?" Yes, that's his first question when faced with possibly useful information about the future.

"I don't know the future," Gabriel states, simply, lifting an eyebrow. Hesitates, then adds; "I can paint glimpses of it, but you'd be surprised about how much that doesn't count in the long run. No, I don't know the future, but I know about this one. Things have already started to change, and alter the course of things to come. Broadly speaking in probabilities, some of it has to unfold. But not all of it. And no - I don't know if you're with Claire, in the future."

"Oh, well, it is interesting, that we're friends I mean. You don't seem bad, I mean, you've done bad things, but you also know right from wrong, and you have a self-preservation instinct. So if I wanted you to, say, do something that would save the country, I'm sure you'd do it." Magnes casually slips that in at the end, not even making eye contact when he does. He fiddles with his shirt a bit, now looking down as he gets a bit awkward about initiating the topic change.

Say. Gabriel waits for a length of silence to stretch out between them, as taut as an E string, his gaze level even as Magnes dips his own down. He waits until the silence has to break before speaking up, his voice with more bone-dry wryness than any body this age should contain. "I've been known to be talked into it. From time to time."

"Before I tell you my plan, I have to ask you a question." Magnes points in the general direction of the Municipal Building, though makes eye contact with Gabriel instead of looking in the direction of his finger. "What do you think about what Norman White did? Would you be able to do something like that, or think it's alright at all?"

His lip curls into a mild sneer at the mention of Norman White, a slight head toss in the way dogs do at the tickle of a fly, compulsive and brisk. "I'm not a terrorist. I've never wanted to be a terrorist. White wants to shake the world to make a point and that's nothing I'm interested in. Which doesn't mean I don't understand it." Gabriel pauses, and casts a glance southwards - the trees and the shadows are thick enough that it's hard to see through all the way to the scars of Midtown, but the gesture is clear.

Everyone knows the way to the crater, especially if you flew to get here. "I thought Midtown was my destiny, but it wasn't. But for a while, I had hope that maybe, in some big, awful way, I could change the face of the world forever. It has its appeal. But no - that doesn't make it alright."

"That's a good answer. Now, I'm going to say some things to you, and you're probably the only person on the planet impartial enough to understand it without completely freaking out, so I'd like it if this stayed between us." Magnes' expression is dead serious now, lowering his hand, looking left and right, then finally focuses on Gabriel's disguised face. "I need you to steal Norman White's ability before either I or you kill him, if I can even find him. I need you to have his ability for two reasons. One is that I'm still working on a plan to stop China's army on a grand scale when it seems like they're gonna make a move." And, he doesn't add the little detail of Gillian being a part of that plan, he knows better. "The second reason I need you to have Norman White's ability is Madagascar. Somewhere down the line, after I've put a bullet through Emile Danko's head, an ability like Norman White's could be used to stop Madagascar's corruption and turn it into a haven for Evolved. It's the one acceptable place on Earth to do this, the one place that can be taken with massive support and not much contesting. Your thoughts?"

Timothy Lantz's eyes narrow in something a lot like focus as Gabriel studies Magnes, before his gaze breaks to contemplate exactly what his thoughts are. His mouth twists, before he says, "My immediate thought is about the frog in the pot, who doesn't realise the water is boiling before its cooked."

A look up and down, before he backs up a step, though not to leave, just marking some distance between them as he hesitates, before saying, "How do you figure I get White's ability without killing him? Unless you think I could make friends too, I don't see what the harm is."

"If you can kill him and get it at the same time, by all means. But don't you think it's about time you learned a less messy way to take an ability? You said yourself, you learned to use mine without killing me." Magnes holds his hand up, but he doesn't show any sign of his ability, he still remembers what Gabriel told him, about the temptation. "Granted, I really don't care if you kill White, but it would be incredibly useful if you could take abilities and we could have more than one person using it. Imagine if you could augment yourself, or if we both had my ability and took out White together."

"I've never been able to do it willingly. A few times, in the past, by accident. With people I understand." Gabriel shrugs, his gaze dropping right down to the ground of dirt and trampled grass, and nudges the toe of his boot against a pebble, almost seeming his age for a fraction of a moment. Water fills the shape of a jug and perhaps Gabriel's being fills the shape he's in too. But his focus is intent and hawk-like as he steers it back up to Magnes. "Find him, and I'll see what I can do.

"And then maybe we can talk about Madagascar and China. Don't you think America has enough problems without you playing superhero on a global scale?"

"As I said, after a bullet in Danko's head and Norman White getting his brain eaten by you, we'll have to focus on those countries, they're a potential threat. I don't plan to go at this alone, but again, you're the most impartial person I know, you're the only person I could say these things to. I'd value your opinion if you have issues with my plans." Magnes frowns slightly, staring at his shoes with a hint of guilt. "It's not that I'm keeping this stuff from Claire, I do tell her my concerns, but I'm afraid of what she'd think of my plans, I don't want her to think I'm some crazy world domination guy and then break up with me…" Yes, he mixes potential tyranny with teen drama.

That elicits a soft snort, cynical and amused in equal measures. "I don't think you're after world domination. For what that's worth. But I think you need to understand what you're really after. 'Stopping the bad things from happening' is a noble endeavor, but what is it about Emile Danko that the law couldn't handle? I heard your arguments on the radio, about how the legal system couldn't handle people like White." Gabriel raises an eyebrow, smiles enough to show canines. "People like me?"

He shrugs within the tight cage of his folded arms. "But Danko is human, and after all the crap he's stirred, there has to be a warrant out for him. And yet you want to put a bullet in his brain. Don't get me wrong— I don't care how things are done as long as they are, and that's probably why you wanted to talk to me. But you're talking about big things. There isn't room for not knowing your own mind. Your own moral compass. Believe me, I know."

"I… Damn, you're actually right. Why do I wanna kill Danko, I could easily just arrest him, he's only human and I could crush a human and probably most Evolved with very little thought." Magnes crosses his arms, vaguely alarmed at his previous resolve to kill Danko. "Maybe my moral compass is just a bit screwed up. I mean, I have three months of my life that I can barely remember, I just know I was a part of some organization that I left so I could date Claire. I'm trying to think in terms of grey, but I'm just not used to it…"

He takes a deep breath, staring out into the trees for a few moments, then focuses back on Gabriel. "No, the legal system can't handle Norman White, there's actually a reason to kill him, but killing Emile Danko… that would be excessive, he can be locked up. And no, I don't believe you can be locked up either, but if I intended to kill or make any sort of move on you, I would have done it by now. I need your help, you're an ally, you're more experienced than me, and you're incredibly impartial. I could learn a lot from you, and I think you could learn a lot from me as well."

"I think you don't trust the way the world works. That's why you wanted to kill Danko. That's why you want to take care of China, and Madagascar. Everyone else knows— right or wrong— that the world will take care of these things— but you don't."

Gabriel loosens his arms from their folds hands back into their pockets, stance restless as he takes a routinely scoping glance around the general area, as much as his powers permit he doesn't need to. "Perhaps," is a short and brisk answer to the theory on what they could learn. Then; "Find me White. There isn't much point in discussing beyond him until that's done, is there?"

"I never really thought of it that way… I mean, I feel like no one else is concerned, when I bring up China most people just kind of shrug it off. But then I have all this power, it's like, I should be doing something. People shouldn't be dying when I can do something about it. Yeah, I can save a crowd from a chopper, but what is that in the grand scheme of things?" Magnes shakes his head, pulling his iPhone from his pocket as he brings up the menu for entering a number. "If this all works out, and I really feel like I can trust you in the long run, I'll teach you everything you need to know about my ability, and hopefully that'll teach you a little something about yours. Now, can you put your number in here?" He offers the phone, though keeps the screen in plain view so there's no funny business.

Gabriel narrows his focus on the iPhone, before stepping forward to take it. "I know someone who really wants one of these," he mutters as he inputs a number. "It's given to change, so don't be surprised if someday it stops working." Fair warning, he figures, the screen casting its light up onto his teenage face as he speaks. "Saving a crowd from a chopper changed the crowd's life in the grand scheme of things."

He offers back the phone, hands going back into pockets once the device is taken, and Gabriel takes a sauntering step back. "But maybe the crowd won't change the world. You never know. Butterflies in Madagascar making tornadoes in China."

Turning, Gabriel starts heading for the southern portion of Central Park, though not without the last note of; "And I don't eat the brains."

"That's good to know, if we ever get into a fight I don't wanna get my brain bitten. But, you still have my number, so, don't hesitate to call for anything. This meeting was really helpful in a lot of ways and I'm feeling pretty good now, all things considered." Magnes smiles now, slipping the phone into his pocket, then heads in the opposite direction. He still refuses to use his ability in Gabriel's presence. "Consider me a friend, if you need to rant, just call."

There's a wave, from Gabriel, though he doesn't look back - just raises his hand in a gesture that could be both dismissal and acceptance all at once. And then, foot steps stop landing solid, as darkness sweeps his body, becomes it, and the ink cloud with which he appeared zigzags and disappears into the shiftier shadows of early evening.

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