Changing Tides, Part 2
Location: Danger Room - Townsend Tower - Atlanta, Georgia
Timeline: The Year of the Apocalypse - 9 January 2012
“Come, eat. You both still require sustenance, and I would prefer not to see either of you starve on my watch,” Syn motioned to the table that Dom had seated himself at, made of a rough cut, dark wood. There were a few various foods cooking over, and around, the fire, and a black enamel tea set, painted over in golden flowers, sitting on the table. “As for fixing anyone, we cannot reverse mutation. You are both what we deem as metahuman, though, the world calls us mutants. Anything that can be healed, has been seen to by our healers and medical staff. Psychological effects are normally seen to as anyone would deal with them. Through counseling and time.”
“I'm aware we're mutants, thanks.” Athena glared, stretching her arms out. “It was kind of obvious. I know what metahumans are, and I know what being one means. I know it isn't reversible, just as I know that he doesn't act like Dom and that something happened to him, something more than just the trauma of awakening. You'll forgive me, though, if I don't sit down and eat. That freak-job, Lorde, who held us last immediately tried to feed us when he met us, too, under the guise of being friendly. He wasn't. What reason do I have to think you're going to be any different?”
“Suit yourself. I simply offer to break bread with you, nothing more,” Syn said with a shrug, as she set about pulling things off of the fire, without any apparent need to shield herself from the heat and flames. “And if you already know all of the answers, why ask the question?”
Athena's scowl darkened.
Syn set three small, steaming, pots on the table, one at each setting, then began pouring out the tea, as she continued, “What happened to you and your brother was out of my hands, and something that we’re still studying. I do not know either of you, other than what we have managed to pull up from public record, and what our tests and interactions have shown so far, so differences in attitude and personality are things that we’re not exactly familiar with. We simply answered a distress call from Bethany and responded.
“All that I can do now, is offer the same support that Townsend Academy, and various cooperating entities, have offered since long before I came here,” Syn explained calmly, her voice and demeanor nearly serene, even in the face of an angry new mutant. “I am simply carrying on a tradition laid down in ages past. We offer safe harbor, education, and training, to those that the world rejects out of fear. While we offer them homes, and jobs, this is no prison. Should you decide that you wish to leave, we will see to it that you are well outfitted and you can go on your way. Though, it’s true that we would prefer it if you stay. We do have a lot to offer.”
“Such as?” Athena pressed, ignoring the ‘brother’ comment.
The diminutive, dragon-eyed woman settled in at one of the seats, and pulled the lid off of her pot. Enticing aromas began to fill the air. “Well, excellent food is but the most basic of those things. I’ve mentioned shelter and employment. You’ve witnessed, first hand, the skill of our healers and medical professionals. Townsend Academy is also a fully accredited school, up through the university level, as well as a place that people can be trained to fully control their powers. Our goal is to teach people how to re-enter regular society, should they so choose. Though, I will admit, those with physical mutations have a more difficult time with that.”
“If we - I -” Athena tossed a pointed look back at Dominic. “go back to Nova Scotia, we'll be imprisoned for being metahumans. Surely you know that we were on the run. I know enough about Townsend Tower to know that you do your research. The thing is, the promises you make - aside from the freedom you know we can't safely take advantage of - aren't much different from the ones Lorde offered. Training, shelter, food, a job to do... what if I don't want the job you offer? What if I don't want to study what you tell me to? What if I don't want to eat your food or play your game, whatever it ends up being? You'll have to forgive me for not being very trusting, given my recent experiences and not knowing the first thing about you.”
“I’m playing no games,” Syn said, then sighed heavily. “I had no idea what Lorde was offering to people. He is building an army, bent on domination, fueled by avarice and fear. Some kind of twisted opposite to what we strive for here, his blasted spire included. He thinks he could run it all far better than mere mortals can, and he will draw many of that mind to him, sadly. If you do not wish to eat the food that I offer, then don’t. We do not control what someone wishes to study. We offer the opportunity for education, we do not demand it of people. Jobs that are offered, are normally along one’s own skills and desires, as that makes for a far happier employee. And those that do fight for us, myself included, do so of their own free will. It is not something that is forced.”
There was a pause, as Syn took a spoonful of what looked to be some kind of stew, then gave both of them a slight smile. “This is a difficult pitch in the best of times. It’s even more difficult after what you have suffered. In the interest of openness, I am more than merely a small Asian woman with strange eyes and skin. I am what lore calls a half-dragon. In reality, my mother was human, and my father was an alien from another world. A world of what humans call dragons. Other than being able to take a dragon form, my mutation, on top of all of that, gives me the power over illusion.”
Suddenly they were sitting in a bare danger room, not unlike what the pair had been kept in, save for the fire, the food, and the table and chairs. “I’m a limited telepath, and I have the power to make people see what I want them to see.” Again, the comfortable glen reappeared and she nodded happily, obviously content with the relaxing realm that she had created. “I’ve also walked this plane for well over a thousand years.”
The change of scenery clearly unnerved Athena. She looked around, taking a frightened step back. “Turn it off.” She whispered.
The scenery disappeared again, and Syn eyed the young woman closely. “You have nothing to fear from me, Athena. I am not Lorde, nor do I believe in his methods. The illusion that I chose is based on one of the more beautiful, calming places that I’ve seen during my many years of travels, nothing more. But if you are more comfortable in this setting, that’s fine. The fire, and tables and chairs, are nothing more than light constructs, created by the technology of the danger room. They have far more tangibility than my illusions do. The food, I brought and prepared myself. Yours has no animal products in it, as I know that you don’t eat meat. I show you these things, tell you these things, in the interest of honesty and openness. I truly wish to help you. Both of you. But I can’t force you to believe that.”
Dom, who had sat silently listening to the exchange, reached forward and took a piece of bread and ripped at it with ease, putting the broken piece into his mouth. He chewed slowly and deliberately before swallowing and continuing with another piece.
“In the absence of any further data, and with what I know from Lorde’s files, I believe this is the best place for us. Athena may feel differently, but I will comply.” Dom commented, his voice still impassive.
Syn looked at Dom and offered him a slight smile. “Then I will see to the necessary arrangements. I hope that you don’t mind being stuck in a danger room for a few more hours. You were not the only ones that were brought back from China. We’ve recently had to make arrangements for nearly four thousand people that decided to leave when Lorde offered the chance. It will just take a bit of time to see who’s decided to go home already and get a room set up for you.”
“I don’t foresee that being a problem. I require very little room, and have struggled to sleep naturally for some weeks.”
“A build up of energies? You were right over a nexus point, if our research is correct,” Syn said, nodding her head, a thoughtful look on her face. “Sadly, we’re close to a nexus point here as well, though, we may be able to alter the danger room to help suppress your energy gathering. Would you like me to talk to one of our engineers about that? We could give you drugs, but I’d prefer a more natural method if we can find it.”
“I’ll adjust. I would prefer to learn to manage myself, if it’s a part of me that I need to live with, the sooner I adapt the sooner I can be safe to be around.”