1963-12-06 - Target Practice
Summary: Target practice, X-Men style!
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
magneto rogue logan 


*

Logan's not in a particularly great temper. Is he ever? At the moment, though, he's got a few things he's been chewing on of late, a few people in particular he has on his mind. Which is why he's around the mansion more, lately, instead of holed up in his cabin. Maybe that's part of the problem. Maybe he's been keeping to himself too much.

He's got his usual cigar, coming up from the basement after taking a poke around the facilities.

*

Morning dawns grey and cloudy over Westchester with a nip in the air promising of a need for a good coat, rather than actual snow. Mournful weather that skims off the Great Lakes steals down through the Adirondacks to settle over the Institute, constituting something miserable in the making. Umbrellas are something pointless for someone who usually dances above the cloud tops, at any rate, and it's a good bet she spent dawn in doing those unpronounceable yoga asanas on the back lawn or jumped four thousand feet up to study for her impending final exams. The sheen of moisture painted over her leather boots and leggings would imply frost or ice crystals that melted back at ground level. The book in hand? Something tedious and dry, one last dig for an anthropology class she inexplicably taught for much of the term. Just not as Scarlett. The redhead's stride tapers off when she enters the room, looking about the way one does when trying to make a run for it. But, no, Logan. Busted. She offers a curl of her fingers his way, though the pale jade hue of her usually vibrant eyes painted over him. "She's staying with me." No good morning, no how are you; just a fact, possibly measuring his expression. "At least the past few days, an open invitation."

*

Ironically, Erik is on his way to the facilities down below, having come back from his morning run. It's clear he's been physically active this morning, for his hair is no longer perfect, he's wearing sweat pants and a white muscle shirt (which, of course, reveals the numbers crudely stamped into his forearm), and his face is pale from the harshness of cold against a warmer body.

When he spies Logan, he slows. "Logan," he greets simply, then turns at Scarlett's voice. "Rogue." Short, but not unfriendly.

*

Logan meets Rogue first, nodding at her information, "Good. I think she could probably use some space to clear her head. Unless the solution to a problem is punchin' somebody in the mouth, I ain't always the best one for advice," he says.

His brow furrows a bit at Erik's approach, a soft snort going through his nostrils as he puffs on his cheroot, "Well, if it ain't Officer Krupke. Never knew you were such a stickler for the letter of the law before, Mags. Guess everybody can surprise ya now and again, though, huh?" he says.

*

Scarlett doesn't smile to Logan's clarification, giving him a nod. A compromise of sorts, though, even as she marks the page of the book by dog-earing the corner, heathen she is. The covers shut with a light pinch leave the volume in hand, more an accessory than active font of knowledge. "I suppose, given the changing state of the world, I ought to accept that punching someone in the mouth is a suitable alternative. I meant to ask you about that. Whether you might be willing to refine some of my techniques." A query made by a pacifist is not one in a happy tone, hence the tight, quiet tension vibrating across her vocal cords.

Erik's return garners a dip from the redhead, a nod more than anything. "Good morning." Those spiraling braids trace twists and coils down her back, dripping beads of water onto the floor.

*

Talk of punching people in the mouth has the very slightest of upturns delivered to Erik's mouth. Her dampness is noted. He'd managed to towel off, and the spare is still slung over his shoulder. With a free hand, he claims it and offers it toward the woman.

Then, to Logan, he lifts an eyebrow. His response doesn't come too terribly fast; maybe he's trying to place the 'Officer Krupke' reference. "To a point," he answers. "I trust you're speaking of the orphan, Lily Chambers. Let me assure you, Logan, if things don't go well for her, there are a number of people who will learn just how far my 'adherence' to the letter of law may go."

Erik folds his arms then, and takes a step back to encompass both of them. "Refining technique. Ironically enough, I was hoping to speak with both of you about such a thing. Charles and I have decided that it's long past time to train a new generation of X-Men." He looks toward Logan specifically. "I could use your help."

*

Logan arches an eyebrow, "A new generation? Generations last longer than a year or two, bub," he says. "An' I'm sure it's very reassurin' to the little girl that you're ready to avenge 'er if she gets mistreated. Cause the government has such a great track record wit' superpowered folk without any pesky family. Gotta say, you got a lot more trust in the state than I'd have thought, all things considered," he says.

He nods to Rogue, "I don't mind helpin' ya learn. I ain't never had a problem with teachin' what I know, long as everybody understands that I ain't exactly the professor type - and they know that the stuff I got to teach ain't very nice," he says. "So, what's the matter with yer current bunch o' X-men, pal? They outgrow the old outfits?"

*

"Lily Cooper?" A question lies flat in the middle of the conversation, lightly tendered in Scarlett's English-inflected accent, and she leaves a pause strengthened by the rise of her coppery brows. "There is a story there, one I heard only in pieces. Would either of you care to explain?"

Under the weight of Erik's scrutiny, she tends to stand a little straighter, though her slight inclination of her head speaks to a particularly acute awareness of angles. "What had you in mind on treating? I'm not amiss to it." A sidelong glance follows to Logan, and she murmurs sotto voce, but still audible, "You do know what happens when I have to step onto the battlefield? I am sworn to non-violence for a reason, but that vow cannot hold up if I need to protect those I care for. Sometimes I wonder if I wasn't forged as a god's instrument of vengeance. More and more, it seems so. Do I break the wheel of fate or accept it? If I accept it, I better be good at what I can do."

*

Logan's retort earns a smirk. "Semantics. Perhaps 'class' would be a better term?" As for his trust in the state goes, well. his expression does curdle a bit. "Let's just say I'm trying out the 'olive branch before maiming' approach. If we want to avoid a war between mutants and humans, then we shouldn't lead with violence." He's not exactly discounting the potential inevitability of violence, which might explain why he's actually trying to enlist Logan to help him.

"Chambers," he offers, correcting Scarlett. "We found her in Sacramento; she was the only one to survive. Charles has contacted the municipality in an effort to begin adoption procedures, but I decided it was only proper to hand her over to the authorities, since her parents were killed in the rioting. To do otherwise would, by all technicalities, be considered kidnapping." And that's just what they need on the newspapers… Mutants in Uniform Kidnap Child!

He looks between the two for a moment, before returning his attention to Scarlett. "That is exactly my concern. If we are going to be called upon to use our powers in the defense of others, then we must know how to work together as a team. I've seen what some of the younger ones can do, but they are untrained. Inexperienced." He points to the floor twice. "We have the tools to train them, and they are going sadly underutilized."

*

Logan wipes a hand over his mouth, "Yeah, only proper. Gotta think about what folks are gonna think, right? Perception. You an' Chuck, the politician an' the general. Now you wanna see if I'm up fer playin' drill sergeant in your young mutant's army, now that you've either run off or discarded the ones ya had," he says.

He listens to Rogue's story and purses his lips, "I admit, I don't really understand some o' the stuff you talk about at times, girl. You sworn not to hurt folks, it makes life a damn sight harder. Things gotta get broken, in my experience, a lotta times before you can fix 'em. Otherwise they heal together all twisted an' painful. I think you should stop carin' so much about what any gods or men think or want and figure out what you want fer yerself. An' if that involves me teachin' you how to fight, then I got no problem doin' it."

"As fer the X-men," he said, "I don't have a problem there either. But I gotta tell ya, when I see little kids bein' hung out to dry, it does make me think a lot less about followin' orders. Maybe Jeannie's got the right of it, maybe it's time to start just doin' good and lettin' the world see it," he says.

*

The redhead falls silent, the book going into the pocket of her coat with some difficulty. Fortunately paperbacks can take abuse, and this particular one, she has no great love for. Otherwise she might not be squashing it into a half-moon stowed so, no? Her fingers slip over the backs of her gloves, testing the buckles that secure them to her wrists and forearms. "Then permit me to state it plainly: I can kill people as easily as hugging them. A brush in the street, I rob you of your most personal memories. It's easier to prevent myself from snapping someone's arm when I get caught off guard than tearing out pieces of their soul, self, whatever scientifically you would like to call it. That rather makes me a nasty weapon to have on the battlefield. I'm not the gun to a knife party, I'm the ballistic missile. So, yes, I would like to know something other than defensive or evasive techniques. Or the other ones." She's not explaining that statement, her gaze fading in a deeper green.

"Jean has a point with doing good. Trying to establish a positive message looks far better than reacting, which is what we're doing. It was hard to get the message across, but if we don't take control of the way society views us, then society will dictate it to us," she muses, tone skating neutral and distant.

*

Its written all over Erik's face. He doesn't care much for Logan's disposition. Ironically, he does value the Canucklehead's opinion, even if he doesn't exactly like it. "Charles and I don't always see eye to eye," he admits. "Neither do we." He lifts his eyebrows then, looking between the two. "Maybe Jean was right. Maybe not. Point is, I think we're all in agreement. We could do better. We must do better. Time is running out."

There is a time for violence, and a time for peace. Right now, it would seem that all three of them have their own opinions on where those chips fall.

Erik turns, decisively. "I am going to the Danger Room." He heads for the doorway that leads downstairs, then turns to look at Logan and Scarlett.

*

Logan looks after Erik for a long moment. "Not sure if he answered that or dodged it. Fuckin' smart bastards, "he mutters. He nods to Rogue, "Plenty o' good techniques that you can use with a pair o' gloves and keep folks off ya without havin' to risk much like that. An actual weapon might not do ya harm either. You ever think about takin' up the sword? There's a lost art," he says, "Although I'm not a bad hand with a katana," he says.

He considers for a moment and then chucks his chin in Magneto's direction before going to follow the Master of Magnetism .He's not sure this discussion's done, but he does agree: he can do better. He's going to - and that means someone's gonna bleed. It always does.

*

"And a sniper rifle." Might as well go for broke on that one. A dark shadow flits across her eyes, and then Scarlett shrugs to Logan. She follows after him en route to the Danger Room; a reversal of ladies going first, but it hardly troubles her. The roll her heels against the ground is barely audible; the moment they're out of the foyer, she surrenders her connection to gravity altogether and floats, stilling any notion of excess sound around her. It might be like Orpheus leading Eurydice out of the Greek underworld; don't look back or you might lose her, and all that.

*

Not long thereafter, Erik has changed into his X-Men uniform. It's a black leather affair, mixed with some compound one of the brainy types (probably Hank) came up with, making it more skin-tight and less obtrusive to movement. His has a deep purple piping along the edges, almost maroon, and after a fashion, he has added a cloak that drops down toward the floor. Perception. Logan was right. It's a thing that, as Magneto, he's come to care about.

The Danger Room is sophisticated for its era, running on a system of machines that can be automated, or controlled by an operator in the control room above. Behind its walls there are any number of surprises, buried within doors and hatches that many of the younger ones might soon come to fear.

As the others enter, they might see something fascinating, if they've never seen it before. Three small spheres, metallic and gleaming, are floating around Magneto's shoulders. Two of them begin reforming shape, bending around with quiet sounds of protest until they form plates of armor that fix themselves to his chest, arms, and legs.

"Hand to hand combat," he lists. "Swordplay. And, of course, firearms, but I think that subject is best left for another day." He turns toward Scarlett and Logan, and grins. "Or we could play with some larger, more dangerous items."

*

Logan looks across at Erik's new uniform, still clad in his flannel, jeans and bomber jacket. "Nice pajamas," he says. He knows Jean's gotten into this whole 'put on a funny outfit' routine as well, but he's gonna resist it as long as he's able. They'd probably wanna dress him in yellow or something.

He looks over at Rogue for a moment as he steps off to one side. "Problem with guns is most folks know what they're doin' know how to take 'em away. True o' swords, too, but at least there are techniques you can learn to avoid it. They don't teach ya much about how to use a rifle to riposte," he says. Then, to Erik, "Tactics an' the nitty gritty alike."

*

It could be worse, they might want him to try rust orange and maroon, like some demented university mascot. Maybe even wear head fins, to better transmit his brainwaves to a psychic perfectly capable of hearing his thoughts at a city block range. Scarlett already is in uniform for zipping about, and she doesn't bother with any addition short of removing her coat. It can hang with the unwanted books. Boots; fitted pants and shirt, what more can someone want? Magneto's piped jammies look very impressive, nonetheless. She simply looks like what she is, the bohemian who can rig up a bike or be effortlessly cool to other young things.

A glance around the room lends familiarity to its shape and dimensions, important when one has come to think of matters in four dimensions rather than three, and she's working on the fifth. The zipping spheres are something not without their consideration, and no doubt she's considering how painfully they might tear through skin. "I bow to the masters." And she does, Japanese style, folded from the waist with her hands at her sides, leaving them to decide the course of activity. The fact she knows even that little bit surely counts.

*

Logan's remark about his uniform earns a rueful grin. He bears a secret about that uniform but isn't quite ready to share it. Not just yet. "Yes, I find that a good strategy can outpace even the most skilled fighter," he agrees. "But strategy without skill can backfire."

He considers his own talent with combat; he hasn't had much experience yet with swords. Decisively, he reaches out a hand toward the wall. There is a slight buzz in the air, and one of those hatches opens, revealing a series of dulled katana blades that come floating out, seemingly of their own accord. Logan may notice that Erik's skill has become honed lately; there isn't a single telltale sign of the magnetic interference to be registered on his bones.

Once the blades are in his hand, he walks them over to Logan and Scarlett, retaining one for his own. "I'll admit, I'm not too terribly skilled with a blade," he tells them. "Not without use of magnetokinesis, that is."

*

ROLL: Jennifer +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 22

*

Logan takes one of the swords, rotating his wrist around as he measures the balance of the thing. He's always had the claws, yes, but swordsmanship had its own meaning during his time in Japan. A samurai could exchange his skill with a sword for respect, honor, dignity. Using a blade required control and precision, especially when done properly.

Logan had struggled with it. Oh, he could kill just about anyone with a blade, even duel with true masters. But he could never master the form, the discipline, that they so valued. He was always a sloppy gaijin, a brute.

He tries not to let some of the memories bleed out into the air, but there's no doubt a conflicted look on his face as he handles the sword.

"Just a matter of practice, bub," he says to Magneto.

*

Scarlett tries not to laugh. She tries. But Erik's response is just too good not to, and the tremolo quake of her voice ripples up through the higher register of her voice. "Pardon me." Manners will always rule in her little orbit; indeed, they might be one of the few things keeping her alive some days. The redhead holds open her hand to take the sword, her hand gripping the hilt gently and her wrist kept relatively limp. Bad sign, surely. This might be a blood bath.

All the same, she walks away with the katana, shifting her grip and at least feeling out the balance. She never lets the point sink to the floor, in her defense, and she gives a few little swishes here and there. "I'd offer for this to be a fair fight, but that requires you both being blindfolded and inebriated. So do bear in mind that fact." She looks at her own reflection in the sword's dull sheen, and then back up to Logan.

"Or else remember I don't heal anywhere near as fast as you. Have at?"

*

Rogue has arrived.

*

Jennifer has left.

*

Fortunately, for Rogue and Magneto, they are dulled blades.

Magneto is also testing his sword, but his manner in doing so is crude. It might even seem funny, considering the almost regal manner in which he's carried himself lately, how he bounces the sword in his hand once or twice, then switches it from one hand to the other. The sword moves a bit unnaturally, as if being pulled to and stuck against his palm when it's tossed.

He shoots Rogue a brief scowl, assuming for a moment that is what she was giggling at. "Trust me, Scarlett," he tells her, "by forcing myself not to use my abilities, I will not be of much use." After all, the magnetokinesis has become like a second nature to him. He looks to the left and motions that way, causing the third and final sphere to go sailing across the room, where it suddenly drops to the floor when the magnetic field is released.

Symbolic.

Erik looks toward Logan with a grin. "Show us what you know."

About one hour later…

Magneto finally collapses on the floor, under the dulled point of Logan's blade. "That's it, you have me." Fortunately, he hasn't taken too much of a beating, considering the armor, but there are bruises upon his face and his chest is heaving.

*

Logan took it relatively easy on them, in part out of deference to their lack of training and in part because it's dangerous for him to go full tilt. Once he gets in real combat, once he starts to get his blood up, he becomes a dangerous creature, friend or foe. He's had more than one sparring session and up with him splitting someone open and he doesn' tneed for that to happen here.

He grins at Magneto and nods, "What about you, kid, you had enough?" he says to Rogue, wiping his mouth the back of his hand, unable entirely to keep the thrill out of his voice. He may be trying to be a better man, but he still loves a good scrap.

*

The only grace the gods see fit to give Scarlett upon the occasion of being put through her paces: the bruises barely show. She can take a fairly good licking without any welts or pink blossoms turning a dangerous shade of lilac, for all her cream skin should easily mark. Nothing stops the pain, however, or the discomfort of having to deal with the defensive pace. Never fast enough, when she blocks, cuts, and parties. Finally when she lets some of her rigid discipline drop, things change a little. She at least withstands the blade flying at her face for an additional quarter second! Death will not visit her on this day. "Note to self, do not threaten any knights or samurai marching through the street yet." Good plan for anyone.

She sags against the wall, dropping into a lotus position. Sore, yes, flagging, no. "Don't tempt me. Else I might start the aerial engagements, and we would be at a disadvantage." When in doubt, stay on the ceiling and throw rocks.

*

"Where on Earth did you learn to do that?" Erik asks, clearly impressed by Logan's skill with the blade. He rises to his feet, running a hand through messed up hair.

A look to Rogue, and he smirks at her remark on aerial engagements. "I found it most difficult not engaging my mutant ability," he admits to both. Then again, should be become proficient with a blade on his own, imagine what he could do with magnetism thrown into the mix.

"This actually echoes one of the training strategies I've developed," Erik explains. "One against two, with one having the advantage. Perhaps, tomorrow, we can… switch up the pairing."

*

Logan looks at Erik levelly for a moment, "Japan," he says. "I had a few different teachers. Dead ones," he says. "I dunno if they'd claim me - I'm just an amateur compared t'them. But I been in a thousand thousand fights in my life an' ain't nothin' tops experience, I think," he says.

He points at Rogue, "And yeah, both of you know powers change the game. Part of what makes the human fear us, of course. We got unfair advantages - they can't ever learn to do what we do. Although I bet some of 'em are workin' on tryin'."

*

"True. The trouble comes when I'm juggling the unfamiliar." Scarlett opens and shuts her hand, working out a tough bit of tension that knots her muscles. She utters a faint sigh when her knuckles pop, and a good shake restores circulation about as well as one could expect. "Nothing beats experience or skill. Albeit obtaining it is the problem. Do we have something to be pointed at, or are we anticipating trouble from any direction?"

Her shoulder is rubbed afterwards, and she continues to stretch out her limbs, the blade laid flat over her toes as she leans over, bent double, to force her muscles to stretch out.

*

Erik listens carefully, even goes so far as to squint his eyes toward Logan. The thought crosses his mind… does he even age? With a healing factor like that… Still, talk of humans trying to find ways of matching mutant powers has his expression darkening.

"I haven't yet met a mutant who could match Hiroshima," he remarks quietly.

To Scarlett he looks. "Look at Sacramento," he tells her. "We are anticipating. Attilan is on the verge of civil war, and… there's no telling what will happen with Asgard."

*

Logan considers Erik's words about the bomb. He saw the effects of that all too closely. "Doesn't mean they don't exist. Time o' signs an' wonders, bub," he says. To Scarlett, he considers, "Well, call me crazy, but people wipin' out entire mutant neighborhoods seems like the sort of thing we oughtta point ourselves at. Just reactin' isn't gonna do us much good. We gotta find who the bad players are an' bring 'em to justice," he says.

"Not to get all Dragnet on yer ass. But if you can just murder mutants an' ain't nobody ever does a damn thing about it, then that's the definition of gettin' away with murder," he says.

*

The complicated thing is, Erik's idea of justice is likely not exactly what Scarlett or Logan have in mind; which is precisely why he used kid gloves out west.

Deep inside, he had other plans. Not necessarily plans to kill, but to make them suffer. Destroying bridges and power stations, collapsing water towers… turning the entire city into a wasteland, like the humans did to Sacramento's mutant town.

Erik's chest rises and falls slowly, his heart rate steadying. He doesn't say a word; instead, the armor begins removing itself from his uniform, and within moments, exists as two compact metal spheres hovering over his left shoulder.

Once That's done, he looks Logan's way. "What would you have done, Logan?" he asks, without snark. "About Sacramento." A legitimate question.

*

Logan looks for a long moment at Magneto, "I wouldn't have given the girl away," he says. "I don't give a damn about the law. She lost everything and we don't know where the people wanted her and her family dead got to? Seems to me like she just got discarded. Wouldn't sit right in my gut," he says.

"Honestly, I ain't sure, 'cause of the scale. Wanna say I'd hunt 'em down one by one and teach 'em the fear o' God. Wouldn't be the first time I done that sort o' thing. Was it just folks goin' nuts? Or did someone organize it, call the shot? Cause that fucker…if there is such a thing…that one I'd stick like a festival hog an' not stop cuttin' until I had me a sammich," he says.

*

Erik doesn't sway, or break eye contact. He's not convinced that Logan is right, but that is surely Charles' influence; before his return to the X-Men, he's been on a quest to find his mother's murderer.

Would have ended with similar lethality.

"Well," he says darkly, unable to completely conceal the vigilante tendency deep within. "For what it's worth, it didn't sit well with me, either."

Reaching out with his hand, the third sphere is suddenly yanked away from where it rests on the floor. It zips across the room and connects with his palm, where it sticks like a magnet. "Tomorrow," he says, looking between Scarlett and Logan. "Again."

Then, he turns, cloak swirling behind him as he makes for the door.

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