The Issue of Legitimate Authority


eileen_icon.gif magnes_icon.gif raith_icon.gif

Scene Title The Issue of Legitimate Authority
Synopsis After reviewing footage of the "Shibuya Incident", Raith calls in a favour and asks Eileen to arrange a meeting with the star of a viral video. There are misgivings all around.
Date May 24, 2009

Staten Island Boat Graveyard

Dappled moonlight casts Staten Island's boat graveyard in an uneven amber glow, lengthening shadows and creating a luminous sheen on the rocks that comprise the landmark's ubiquitous shoreline. It hasn't rained for several hours, and yet the air remains cold and damp, as heavy with the promise of more precipitation as the night sky is dark.

Eileen Ruskin is waiting, but not for the weather to change. Seated on the bow of what was once a US Coast Guard Cutter, its exterior little more than a fine shell of ruined sheet metal covered in rust, barnacles and sea slime, the young woman bides her time in silence and listens to the sound of the waves washing up against the ship's hull as the ocean breeze ruffles through her oily black hair and creates a dull roar in her ears.

Magnes will be here. He said he would.

Staten Island is no place for a young woman, or indeed for anyone to be alone at night. Whether lesson or simply common sense, it's something that Eileen knows well enough, although she's not waiting alone for fear of monsters lurking in the darkness. Certainly not when one of those monsters is lurking only feet away from her, silently pacing back and forth across the old ship's deck. It's not that Jensen Raith is nervous. Between everything he's seen in his life, standing out in the dark is the least of his worries. It's more likely that it's late, and cold, and any of a number of other reasons.

But they're waiting for someone, and if there's one thing that Raith is hesitant to pass over, it's an opportunity. So long as Eileen's friend shows up. He had better show up.

It took a while for Magnes to place Eileen's voice on the phone, especially considering he completely forgot her name. But if a girl is calling and it sounds important, sure, he'll come. It's rather quiet for a while, but they don't find themselves waiting for much longer than 45 minutes or so, then something is falling out of the sky. "Hey!" he calls out from above, not making it very apparent where he came from, he just came from up.

He lands a few feet from Eileen, pausing as he tries to stick the landing, then looks up from his crouched position and says, "You wanted something?" quite casually. There's something about Eileen that doesn't quite make him the nervous pile of goo that most girls do, but it's hard to say what exactly that is.

Large eyes and slightly pursed lips obscured by shadow betray the bewildered expression Eileen wears on her pale face — needless to say, up wasn't the direction she'd been anticipating Magnes to arrive from. The loud, metallic BANG of his feet slamming into the Cutter's deck causes her to stiffen in an instant, muscles growing tight and limbs rigid, coiled like some sort of wild thing poised to strike—

But then he speaks, and she finds herself relaxing, gloved hand falling away from the leather shoulder holster she wears beneath her coat. When she exhales, his name leaves her lungs with all her breath, hissed out through clenched teeth:

"Varlane," she says. "Don't do that."

Restraint is something that, in people at least, varies in quantity. It varies depending on the situation and circumstances, and this is a perfect example. Although less experienced, Eileen had enough restraint not to pull her gun on Magnes. Raith, by contrast, is spring-loaded to react to these situations a certain way, and his gun did make it out. Or maybe it's simply that he was that much faster, and simply had his piece ready on instinct, while Eileen is still at the stage where she thinks about it first.

It doesn't matter. The woman's somewhat favorable reaction tells Raith that this is the guy they were waiting for, and that means there's no need to show big pieces of steel. As he reholsters his weapons, he puzzles for a moment about Magnes' arrival, and then finds, as he looks up to the sky, that he gets it. "Nice touch," he says before bringing his gaze back to his company, "Over-the-top, but nice touch."

"Sorry, it's how I get around, stole it from the Hulk." Magnes slides his hands into his pockets, giving the two a curious look. He's seen Eileen before, he can definitely place her face, but the guy is new. "I'm not sure what this is about, but if you're gonna lecture me on Japan you'll be happy to know that someone already ripped into me for it. Don't know why else strange people would be calling me."

Raith receives a withering look from Eileen that doesn't linger much longer than the glimmer of moonlight on the barrel of his weapon. As her eyes move back to Magnes, her body language remains closed, guarded, tense with nervous energy — her resentful posture makes it clear there's no love lost between herself and her older companion. "Lecture you," she repeats, the venom in her voice tapering off to something softer, more reticent. "God, no."

"Wouldn't matter if we did," Raith adds, stepping closer to make speaking easier, "Because face it, if a lecture was going to work on you, really work on you, you wouldn't need one. No, we don't have a lecture, at least I don't, but you know what I would like to do? I'd like to hear some more about Japan. Saw you on the news, real flash and flair going on. But, and be honest, what was that all about, hm? Why all the mess and noise?" Valid questions, at least in Raith's mind. Because, face it, if the answer isn't a good one, the next time he sees Magnes Varlane may be through the scope of a rifle. But it'd have to be a pretty poor answer, given the apparent circumstances of the 'incident.'

"That guy, Jake, he kidnapped one of my mentors." Magnes begins to explain, jumping about four feet above the ground so he can cross his legs and sit on the air, in a very slow fall that one would barely notice. "He was coming to kidnap me too, and I tried to hit him in the foot with my pole so he wouldn't bother me and I could maybe get the information on where she was out of him, they didn't show that part on the videos, where he said he was gonna take me. Turns out, he has some power that's kinda like mine, except it's different somehow, so we just ended up fighting."

He sighs, placing his thumb and index finger at the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes with a slightly pained look. "I didn't know what they might be doing to her, after all that happened at the cage fights with being kidnapped, I couldn't afford to lose. When he finally took me, I woke up on a bench completely healed, and they'd released my mentor, then I came back to America."

Suspiciously, the only name he mentions is Jake's, so he's apparently gotten the whole information control thing down.

It's not the mention of kidnapping that gets Eileen's attention, but rather cagefighting. Her gaze sharpens, gray eyes limned in stark suspicion. "There are pictures plastered all over the internet. Footage taken from cell phones." She steps forward, maneuvering around Magnes' cross-legged form as he hovers several feet off the ship's deck, careful not to pop the invisible bubble that defines his personal space. Similarly, Raith gets plenty of room as well. "The media knows your name. It's a safe bet Homeland Security does, too. What are you going to do?"

Raith takes his cue from Eileen; she knows Magnes better than he does, and if she sees fit to give him space, then that might be the best thing to do overall. "They tend to look down on this sort of thing, especially when it results in that kind of damage. They probably aren't too happy about it, right now. But that? I'm not real interested in that. So they kidnapped someone obviously close to you. Natural you'd want to help them, of course. What about someone you didn't know? Stand-up guy like you'd want to help them too, I would think, whether or not you knew them. Right?"

"I don't know what I'm gonna do, I'll figure something out. I know I won't spend my whole life running, I plan to resolve this, and soon." Magnes answers with a determined stare between the two of them, quite intent on doing something. "And you're right, even if it isn't someone I know, I'd help them. Abilities aren't just for personal gain or improving your own life, they give you a responsibility to the people around you. With great power, comes great responsibility."

Eileen blows out a short snort through her nostrils, saying nothing as skepticism pulls down at the corners of her mouth and thins her lips into a frown. This is Raith's pitch to make, not hers — as obviously uncomfortable as she is in her fellow Vanguardian's presence, she must agree with the turn this conversation is taking or she wouldn't have consented to ask Magnes here in the first place. Small hands grip the railing at the edge of the deck, though she dares not rest any of her weight against it. Instead, she squares her shoulders, lifts her chin and turns her eyes outward into the black, keeping watch against the waves.

"Great responsibility, huh?" Raith replies to Magnes, taking a step closer. "Pretty deep thinking, isn't it? Guess this means you figured out that the world can be a pretty scary place, with some pretty scary people in it. Kidnappers can be pretty nasty. Maybe not as nasty as the rapists, though. Or the serial murderers. Don't need an ability to hurt other people. Just need the want to hurt other people. Maybe you'd figured that out too, already.

"And, of course, there's the issue of 'legitimate' authority." For the moment, Raith turns his attention away from Magnes, walking a few paces parallel to him while he speaks. "Take DHS. They're probably shitting their pants over you, instead of worrying about the bigger fish out there. Makes you wonder how they get anything done, doesn't it? Enough to make you think, 'maybe it's up to me.' There's a pretty tall order to fill, taking on a whole world full of nasties."

Pausing for a moment, Raith stops walking and looks over his shoulder back to Magnes. "Especially all by yourself. Don't you think so?" He doesn't immediately elaborate on that, preferring to give the youth a moment to ponder it and reach his own conclusion. Maybe even guess exactly why he's been called here.

"Spider-Man's Uncle Ben said it, and it rang true when he let a robber pass by, thinking it's not his problem, and that robber killed his uncle." Magnes doesn't seem shy about saying the origin of the phrase, they're not Abby, he's not worrying about what they think of his maturity. He places his feet on to the floor again, straightening his clothes. Not having the pole or holster to worry about anymore, it's a bit easier to move around. "Mister, I've time travelled, to the bomb and a few other places; I've seen what people can do, I've seen what people can try to do for the sake of bravery. And, I'm not sure who you are, or what you're trying to get me to join, but I won't join anything without talking to some people I know first. I've only met Munin twice, you're both strangers to me, so, forgive me if I don't totally trust you, especially here on Staten…"

Raith offers a slight shrug. "Reasonable you wouldn't, I think, although I think I can see where you're coming from on this. From what I've heard, organizations in this town have a bad habit of rapidly growing far, far beyond their intended scope. Too big, too fast, and they get clumsy. That's the nature of ideas when they get too big too fast. But you? You're like me, and don't just have ideas. You have ideology, and that's what makes, or will make you effective.

"What I'm asking you to join is not a giant organization with an idea, but a small group with ideology. An effective vehicle for making positive change in the world, and given what I know about you, I think that's exactly what you want to do. Make a positive change in the world. You need to talk to people, sure, go ahead, talk. But no matter who you talk to out there, trust me on this, you're just going to end up back here talking to me again. I think you know it too. But talk. Think it over before you say 'yes.'"

Magnes gives that a long pause, walking around for a bit as he mauls it over in his head. "Are you Phoenix?" he asks, since it's good to know who you're dealing with. "And what's Japan got to do with this? I mean, why ask me after I basically destroyed a landmark of a country?" That's another good question, the Shibuya crosswalk being the largest in the world.

"Phoenix is a dead end," says Eileen. "Fools and dreamers, the whole lot." The railing creaks as she pulls away from it, bow groaning beneath the weight of her booted footsteps. "They aren't bad people," she adds, and although she doesn't make eye contact with Magnes when she addresses him, she's mindful to keep his figure in her peripheral where he exists as a dark smudge in the far corner of her vision. "Just— farsighted."

"Ideas, but no ideology," Raith concurs, "Desires and goals, but no means or methods. Maybe they know what needs to be done when you look ten, twenty years in the future. I'll give them that, sure. But that's in the future. We're dealing with the now, and that's where Japan comes in. You look at the now. So do we. And without the now, there won't be a future to look forward to. Follow?"

"I follow, though I think I'm still unclear on Japan." Magnes' eyebrow is raised, curious, obviously intrigued, but still a bit confused. "Are you saying it's good that I tried to deal with Jake and the kidnapping while I had the chance, instead of considering the consequences and waiting 'till later? People could have gotten killed, I was trying to protect them the whole time, having a fight like that in the middle of the city wasn't smart."

"No," Eileen agrees, "it wasn't, but maybe it wouldn't have come to that if you'd had someone watching your back." Her gaze finds Raith's and holds it in a wordless concession. When it comes down to it, really comes down to it, that's what this is about: watching each other's backs. "Taking down rogue Evo, minimizing civilian casualties, avoiding government detection. That's what Jensen is talking about, Magnes. He's just a wolf looking for his pack."

"Like I said, pretty tall order to tackle by yourself. Hard to keep track of everything that way. You get overwhelmed, make mistakes, lose focus of what really matters. But you have someone watching your back, or five someones watching everyone's back…." Raith allows the sentence to hang in the air. Magnes can fill in the blank should he desire, but Eileen is right. If Magnes had had backup in Japan, things would have gone differently. For better or for worse can only be speculated on. There's no way to know. But the odds favor better.

"I'll think about it. Even if I don't join you in any official capacity, you have my number. You don't really seem like bad people, but you never know. Munin never seemed too bad." Magnes smiles at Eileen, then gently hops to a rail, which oddly doesn't instantly break under his weight. "But right now, I've gotta deal with somehow making this Japan stuff go away. Like I said, I'm not gonna run for the rest of my life, or hide, I'm gonna have to make this go away."

The smile Eileen offers Magnes in return doesn't quite reach her eyes. "I've left you a number that you can call if you ever find yourself in need of help," she murmurs in lieu of a proper good bye. "Ask for Grace, tell her Eileen sent you. I don't go by 'Munin' anymore."

"We'll be expecting to hear from you," is all that Raith has to add. He's very careful to make sure Magnes understands that they will hear from him, one way or another.

"Once I get this stuff settled, I'll get back to you. Thanks for the offer." Magnes gives them a wave and another friendly smile, then he pushes off the railing, breaking the fragile thing in his jump, going for a clear leap into the sky. His landing is never seen, but perhaps that's intended, he's simply gone.

When she's sure that she and Raith are once again alone with the salty slosh of the waves and the wind whistling across the Cutter's deck, Eileen turns to her companion, lowers both her dark brows and shows him her disdainfully curling lip. "Taking on nasties," she leers, "making a positive change in the world."

She barks out a hollow laugh. "Bollocks. You just want to kill people."

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