Rank Three on the Official People Ranking System


young-magnes_icon.gif b_sable_icon.gif

Scene Title Rank Three on the Official People Ranking System
Synopsis Sable is stuck in a basement with the thing that will become her best friend. It could be worse.
Date April 3, 1998

Cottage - Future Site of Ferry Safehouse

That Eileen is doubtless the most useful of their number places any number of burdens (or birdens, ha ha h-…) on her. Blind or no, she's got the largest set of the keenest eyes, arrayed all over the strange biom of pre-Bomb New York. As such she's the one who knows the terrain well enough to venture out into it, despite also being the one best suited for keeping watch over the ad hoc safehouse where the miniature Magnes is being held. For his own safety. Still, they've got to eat, and Sable understands if Eileen doesn't want to be left alone with her estranged fake future spouse. Hell, she doesn't want to risk Magnes' safety that way either.

So it's just the Sage and the Doctor in the house still standing. The story constructed to lure Magnes out has done its bit, and Sable figures it'll come apart at the seams soon enough anyways, so she's let her adopted accent sink back in - it's easier, at this point, to use it than to suppress it. That's the beauty of self-reinvention. She's glad, too, because she needs all the concentration she has on hand to be freaked out and paranoid. She remembers, if strangely and distantly, how she - not this she, the she that she is, but rather the she she might have been - managed to track them down. The temporal assassin that is after Magnes' blood might have similar luck, or similar assistance. So they're inside, in a basement, where the only furniture is a scrounged mattress (Sable's good at finding those) and a couple milk crates that serve as chairs.

The yellow eyed girl is perched on one of these crates, weird gaze set on the sole entrance to this room (save for a couple basement windows just large enough for the diminutive cast of this little drama to escape through if things get dicey). She's got her knife out again, flicking the blade out then back into its handle. Like she wants to use it. She doesn't actually. She's a lover, not a fighter. But the former demands you occasionally act like the latter, when what you love is at risk.

Magnes marches around the basement, having pulled a brown leatherbound journal from his backpack. He's been writing, talking out loud as he makes observations. Clearly it's not a very private journal. "The pretty one seems to be very mean, so I have to make a note to have a spine when I grow up. And robot eyes, I'll give her robot eyes. I have to learn robotics, no, cybernetics, the proper term is cybernetics. Scratch that out!"

He starts marching back in Sable's direction, still wearing his backpack. He writes in pen, unintimidated by its permanentness. "The yellow eyed one is short, I seem to find this appealing, but I won't let it cloud my judgement. Since they're from the future, I can use their knowledge to make everything happen earlier. I'll find the pretty one in my time, and give her cookies and share my toys. She'll be a better wife, without the cane to hit me with."

"Aw, what the hell's this?" Sable squawks, glaring over at Magnes, "this is, like, th' first time in m' whole life when I'm th' tallest one 'f th' lot, 'n' I still get called short? That's some kinda bullshit, boy." And it is. Sable is a whole half inch taller than Eileen, and don't think she didn't notice. "Y'all wanna know what's really goin' on? I c'n tell y', 'cause at this point it don't really matter. 'course, I don't wanna burst yer bubble 'r nothin', 'n' boy, you sound like you were goddamn raised in a bubble. I'm impressed y' got as much game as y' do, down th' line. Christ on a bicycle…"

A shake of the head and a click of the tongue mark Sable's disbelief. She never knew someone could be a square and a freak, but here it is, in living, breathing, opining color.

"Your hair is short." Magnes points out as he points his pen at it, then goes back to writing. "The yellow-eyed one has a Napoleon complex, making a note here for psychological strategies. Her accent change suggests an insecurity in her own intelligence when making a first impression, I think. I'm extrapolating from the book." He marches up to her, squinting into her eyes, then starts very quickly scribbling something.

"I'm scratching the other stuff out. Her homeliness suggests an overwhelming confidence. She's also completely unaware that I'm only writing outloud to test her intelligence, and the threshold of her patience. I'm also pacing back and forward because Nietzsche says that all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking. But another rather apt Nietzsche quote is that anyone who has declared someone else to be an idiot, a bad apple, is annoyed when it turns out in the end that he isn't." He suddenly points his pen at her again, addressing her directly. "I will not declare you an idiot, you have to prove yourself. I don't trust the judgement of my future self, my mind is pure and without the influence of the liberal agenda. I'm still in my tank."

The blade flicks out, then stays out, guided carefully to her fingernails, tip pressing just under. Freeing a few bits of dark detritus that she acquired while digging around in the Gun Hill garden. It's also just a sort of badass thing to do, a way to appear mildly menacing. Something in Sable, an ugly part of herself, wants to cause this pompous little creature pain. Guess it isn't just Ferry brass that have dark urges.

"We're friends, y' know," Sable remarks, lightly, looking down at her nails before, driven by a certain press of necessity, glancing up at the stairway again, "like, best friends. Y'all do me no end 'f good, 'n' I try 'n' repay y'. Mostly helpin' y' with girl trouble 'f one sort 'r 'nother." The knife lifts to eye level and she examines a surprisingly large fleck of mica she's unearthed. It gleams in the light of a dust, worn out incandescent that hands from the unfinished ceiling overhead. "Y'all want that pretty girl t' like y' better?" she inquires, casually, yellow gaze flicking over to the petite pedant.

"I don't have friends, my parents say other children are dangerous because they'll fill my mind with liberal nonsense and their horrible public school teaching. They say in public school at my age, they don't even know algebra yet." Magnes says as if this is some surprising and amazing fact, that Sable will totally understand. His eyes are wide and everything! But then she's talking again, and making an offer, which causes him to stare down at his feet. "I don't care about that stupid, mean, pretty girl!" His intelligence seems to revert back to a ten year old when he's not quoting from a book, or trying to show off. Then, he looks back up, cheeks red. "Maybe."

"Boy, yer plenty smart, but y' ain't sly," Sable says, folding the knife and slipping it back into her pocket, her energies directed in a preferred direction - holding forth on matters semi-romantic. She turns on the milk crate to face young Mr. Varlane and leans forward, elbows on knees. "Makin' a girl like y' 's 'bout bein' sly. Sayin' th' right things 'n', even more important, sayin' things in th' right way. You just 'magine f'r a sec… what's a gal like that want? What sorta things does she like? Yer so goddamn quick, y' put what's b'tween yer ears t' considerin' how she might be thinkin', 'stead 'f just spoutin' what's on yer mind. Dig?"

"I don't understand. Why should I care what people who aren't my parents think? Those people are all stupid, they just want to drag me down to their level." Magnes explains, lifting his journal up to write again. But he's stopped writing out loud. "How could we be friends? You barely use full words, and you have an accent. You'd make me look bad."

Sable lifts a hand to her brow and massages it, slowly. "How 'm I gonna put this in, like, terms y'all unnerstand?" she muses, before dragging her hand down and rubbing her eyes. "Arright, so… when y'all come out of yer tank, there are gonna be all sorts 'f folks that don't, like, recognize what a goddamn genius y' are, eh? I mean, that's why y' been kept away from it all, 'cause plenty 'f folks just ain't gonna get it, dig? But yer still just one person, eh? No matter how smart. So y' gotta make other folks agree with y'. Now y' c'n do that all sorts of ways, lots of ways bein' vicious 'n' comin' outta fear. But fear's a E-string 'way from hate, 'n' hate's th' sort 'f thing that lands y' in a basement bein' hunted by assassins from th' future. But love is what brings saviors from th' future to protect your sorry little ass, so, as y' c'n see, logically it's better t' be loved, t' foster love, y' follow?"

The yellow eyed girl taps the side of her nose suggesting that she's heading towards the conclusion of this little argumentative array. "Gettin' someone t' love y' is 'bout getti' in tune with th'm. Right now, boy, yer playin' solo, 'n' it ain't even yer original work. Just what yer parents told y' t' cover. Best thing y' got on hand is, like, a tribute t' squareness. You gotta find yer own riff, 'n' then y' gotta tweak it t' play in harmony with how other folks 'r' playin'. 'n' that means figurin' them out, figurin' out how they think 'n' what they want. That's why y' gotta care. Otherwise your loveless, boy. And if yer loveless, I ain't here, nor is she," she thumbs at the window, indicating Eileen in absentia, "'n' yer dead on th' ground.

"But," Sable continues, "I do love y' 'cause even if I do make y' look bad which, lemme tell y', I don't, I make y' look like a badass, but even if I do, it don't matter, 'cause down th' line, we're in tune. And that brings me here, ready t' defend your four-eyed little self no matter how much shit y' give me."

"I say what my parents teach me because that's the most important stuff in the world. I want to make my parents happy and do what they say, and I get cookies and they let me play piano. I even get to watch TV sometimes." Magnes reaches out to take her hand, staring at her palm curiously. "People care about me, and they don't know I'm smart in the future?" he asks, that being his general interpretation of what she's saying. "I've never touched a girl hand that wasn't my mom. You're really old, but your hand is different."

Sable's hand has been rough for a long time. Calluses on her fingers, healed abrasions on her palm, a whole recent history of playing and pawing and picking and grubbing. They are, indeed, not the hands of a true bourgie woman like Donna Varlane. Sable flexes her fingers, giving miniMagnes something to observe.

"Yeah, boy, people care 'bout you, even when they think yer stupid, which I know y' ain't. But you never quite get sly. 's arright, though. I like y' as y' are. Will be. Whatever." She grasps Magnes' hand and uses her thumb to extend his index finger, setting it against the tip of her nose as she stares over it at him.

"This is gonna work out, buddy. I know, 'cause it's gotta. See, I been through this too. When I wasn't so fuckin' old 'n' wrinkled, yer girlfriend, th' one th' Professor talked 'bout, plus some other chick I know, they come back t' save me from th' same group 'f time travellin' assholes. See, these folks are tryin' t' keep us all from bein' t'gether, because we're meant t' do great things, dig? You 'n' me 'n' others near 'n' dear. And it ain't 'xactly th' kinda greatness yer parents have in mind. Fact is," she grins, "they'll be real pissed. But it's cool. 'cause when y' roll with us, y' get as many cookies as y' like, play piano and bass in a kickass band, 'n' date a girl prettier th'n anythin' y' seen on TV."

"The Professor is prettier than anything I've seen on TV… she said something about a redheaded girl too. I have two women?" Magnes asks with wide eyes, almost holding up two fingers, then quickly lowers them. "I'm not allowed to use my fingers to count. And I'm supposed to be a physicist, but I'm bad at physics stuff. My parents are gonna be really angry if I go off and join a band. They said I should avoid, uh— trollies, no, that's not it… trollops? I'm gonna go learn physics, and Michio Kaku will be my teacher, he's my hero. My parents say that watching Michio Kaku documentaries will give me a warped view of physics before I'm, uh, psychologically ready for it, but I sneak and do it anyway sometimes…"

"Boy, you 'n' I are tight, but I ain't gonna pretend like I totally fuckin' unnerstand yer love life," Sable says, releasing Magnes' hand and tugging her legs up onto her perch, soles of her shoes pressed together, "honest, I have a hard 'nough time keepin' track 'f my own. Y'all worry 'bout that when th' time comes. But, far as I c'n tell, y' steer clear 'f trollops. Just you 'n' classy ladies tramplin' over yer heart." Her eyes crinkle with slightly mean mirth.

"What'll be'll be," is said with a half shrug, half rolls of the shoulders, "at least, it will if we do our jobs right. Shit works out f'r y', I promise. Y' get t' live yer dreams. Not sayin' they're th' same dreams as y' got now, but that's just how things are, eh?" Sable grips the tops of her feet and leans down, stretching her lower back. "Now what's this, eh? Disobeyin' yer parents? Howsit that y' justify that?"

"The official people ranking system of Magnes J. Varlane." Magnes states as he begins to quickly write a long list on his journal, then turns it around to her. "Rank one, any president with conservative leanings. Rank two, Batman and Superman in a tie. Rank three, Magnes J. Varlane when I build my time machine and come to the past to tell myself what a good job I did. Rank four, my parents." The list goes on, listing scientists Sable has probably never even heard of, ancient philosophers, classical musicians… "You count as rank three on the ranking scale, so I can disobey my parents because I said so from the future." He suddenly points at her, very dramatically. "Since you're my friend in the future, I want a piggyback ride in the present! I saw one on TV once."

It's not likely that miniMagnes is totally up to date on all his social cues, so Sable's dead-eyed stare probably does nothing more than add weight to his suspicions that maybe she's not all that bright. She's trying to convey just how little of a shit she gives about 'The Office People Ranking System', but like so many of Sable's most deftly executed performances, it is pearls before swine. BEFORE SWINE, I SAY!

The dramatic point, though, snaps her out of it, causing her jaw to tighten up out of demonstrative slackness. A brow arches, an automatic response that she smoothes out into a more considering expression. Her nose wrinkles, and she gives a soft huff through her nostrils. "Y' don't even know how hard 'f a time I'm gonna give y' when I see y' 'gain," she informs him, then unfolds herself, rising to a stand before turning and crouching.

"Le's go. Hop th' fuck on."

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