Changing Tides, Part 1
Location: Danger Room - Townsend Tower - Atlanta, Georgia
Timeline: The Year of the Apocalypse - 9 January 2012
Syn was sitting in the one open danger room, the scene surrounding her one of nature and peace. A small stream curved and twisted through the low running hills that dominated the green, lush landscape. Old growth forest seemed to surround a small, open glen, complete with a softly glowing fire, and pinpoints of light danced in the trees as the fireflies took flight.
The diminutive Asian woman was dressed in flowing black robes that were delicately embroidered with a golden eastern dragon, the head of which rested on her shoulder. Her skin was just a bit too red, as though she had recently spent a bit too much time in the sun, and her eyes were red and orange, her pupils slit like those of some great reptile. Her long, jet-black hair was coiled into a thick bun at the crown of her head, held into place by two slender, dragon-carved hairpins, with gold and silver yin-yangs dangling from the tips. Around her throat was a slender, black leather choker that bore another yin-yang of silver and gold, that one in the form of fighting tigers.
She stood from her place at the fire when the guards entered with one of her two guests, and bowed to them. “You may leave us,” Syn told the guards calmly, and they followed her orders, walking back through the portal that had opened in the scenery for them, the door closing behind them.
With that, the small dragon woman smiled at the man, and motioned towards the fire. “My name is Absynthe Drake. Most simply call me Syn. I am the leader of the group that rescued you, as well as the Headmistress of the Academy here. Come, join me in food and drink, and let us speak plainly. You have been under guard for a few days now, always within a danger room, for your safety, as well as ours, and I am certain that you have questions.”
Dominic, his hands folded behind his back, walked calmly towards where Syn was standing. He was dressed in a dark grey, form fitting garb that half resembled a uniform. Glancing around briefly, he stood a few feet from the small woman, blinking slowly as he waited for Athena to arrive. He had no doubt fireworks would be involved, Athena was impulsive and had little in the way of verbal control.
“A man of few words, I see,” Syn said, chuckling softly. “I wonder if that is a new state of mind, or was that the same before?” She produced a silvery, customized pad device from the folds of her robe, tapped at it momentarily, then approached Dom, offering it to him. It contained an open file, a picture of his old self staring up at him. “This is you, is it not?”
“It is.” He commented plainly, taking the pad in his hand and looking at it for a moment. “My own assessment is that something changed due to contact with the entity. I am aware of a change having happened, and can envision how my old self would perceive a situation. I am still unsure as to if this is a positive or a negative change. It is certainly more efficient than before, but Athena is likely to feel very strongly that it is a negative change.”
The small, reptilian-eyed woman nodded. “An astute observation. Change normally comes with the territory when it comes to mutation. Sometimes, it’s simply the manifestation of a power, at others, it comes with physical changes. Yours appear to be rather dramatic, both physically and mentally. Athena’s are much the same. At least physically. And be it positive, or negative, that is ultimately up to you.”
Syn walked around the fire briefly, her eyes moving to the flame. “Both Bethany and Athena mentioned something about a device. An improvised awakening device? Can you explain that particular creation? It appears to have exploded and nearly killed Athena, while you awakened, but seemed to have avoided any physical damage from the explosion itself.”
“Based on the limited data of Lorde’s I was able to get my hands on, I theorised that most awakenings coincided with a massive shock to the system. This usually seems to be either from severe emotional distress, or physical harm. I observed that we were linked and that I seemed to get stronger after absorbing electromagnetic energy. I built an Improvised Awakening Device, designed to discharge the energy from an energy core I salvaged. It would gradually build up a charge along the surface and theoretically awaken a mutant specialising in electromagnetics.”
Although Dom paused for breaths, his body barely moved as he explained the IAD. There was no hand animation, and very little head movement save to continue looking at Syn as she moved around.
“It was a calculated risk, I knew it was just as likely to kill me. I built it in order to get out of a corner, which we eventually found ourselves in. It would seem the core’s design may have included some anti tamper measures that caused a chain reaction. I have no doubt that Lorde was aware of my tampering and deemed this method was the best way of provoking the outcome he wanted. Whilst it was...regrettable that Athena was injured, it seems to have proven my theory that awakenings can be manufactured.”
“I guess that you can be moved to speak, on the proper subject,” Syn said, turning back to face the tall, pale man, giving him a wry smile. “I can only assume that you noticed your glimmers. Most don’t. Sometimes, the glimmers are completely different from what a metahuman’s powers wind up being. Most mutants don’t have a choice as to when they change, or what powers that they will exhibit. But, yes, awakenings can be provoked, manufactured, controlled. We have had to perform such measures a number of times, here, in one of these danger rooms. Still, that was reckless, though, I have the feeling that you already know that. It was also ingenious, as well as incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands.”
Dom nodded, and was about to open his mouth to speak when the portal opened up again and Athena stepped through.
She looked very different from the last time he'd seen her, though she had the advantage of having watched him during her out-of-body experience with Susan. Like Dom, Athena's skin was white, scarred with what looked like electrical marks running down what showed of her skin. She had found some clothes somewhere, but they were small for her, with sleeves that failed to cover her arms or midriff, and a full length skirt that came just past her knees. The ill-fitting clothes emphasized her new height as much as her well-toned figure.
Athena took a few steps into the room and stopped, pausing with an uneasy look on her face. Behind her head, white tentacles writhed in slow, sinuous movements that led some to wriggle up and over her shoulder as though trying to peer at Dom and Syn for themselves. She'd tied them back like she used to do with her dreads, for all the good that did, as a way to try to tame the serpentine strands. “Dom...”
“Hello, Athena.” Dom clasped his hands in front of him and turned to face her properly. “I see you’ve undergone some of the same physical changes.”
Her expression changed to an incredulous frown. “That's all you have to say to me?”
Dom glanced at Syn briefly, wondering if she had brought up the IAD in preparation for this moment. “I apologise for the effects of my device. It was not my intention to harm you in any way.”
She stared at him, blinking, as she tried to parse what he was saying as much as what he wasn't. After a long moment, Athena shook her head, giving what might best be termed as a single huff of laughter. “Not your intention... sure. And that's all you have to say. You are... no.” she shook her head again with a deep breath. “No, I'm not doing this right now.” She turned to Syn. “And who are you, then?”
“I am Absynthe Drake,” Syn answered, offering Athena a slight bow as she spoke. “Most simply call me Syn. It was my people that rescued the three of you from China. I am also the headmistress of Townsend Academy. It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”
“Syn has offered to answer our questions. I’m sure you have many, as do I.” He moved around to a seat and lowered himself into it, intertwining his hands on the table in front of him.
Athena laughed again. “Oh, I have questions. Lots of questions. Let's start with this one.” She took several steps toward Syn and pointed back at Dom. “How do you intend to fix him?”