2019-07-29 - Miss Brant joins the Cause


Betty seeks Erik out to assist with the plight in Mutant Town

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Jul 29 03:47:34 2019
Location: Derelict building in Mutant Town

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The 'Angel' was right. She had made a promise and she meant to make good on her word. Parts of the city needed help, more so than others, and this section was one of those such areas on top of that dire list. The DZ, Mutant Town - it all needed aid. Brant needed more to write that was useful to others, opened eyes: a pro-Punisher article, pro-Mutant and anti-registration article…time to get more gas for the bus.

She'd heard a head figure of the mutants was seen here. She'd followed reports, sightings, prior events and situations that said mutant headed. He had to be here, or at least she hoped so.

Her red heels click and crunch across debris, her head is up, warm eyes searching, following addresses and street signs. She smiles when looked to, even waves in silent greeting. Finally, she arrives. Looking at her notes, then up, then down again. Check, double-check. Sighing, she lifts her hand and knocks on a door.

Before Betty was a large steel door, set into a steel frame. The building that it allowed entrance into was a tall, cracked thing, just on the usable side of condemned, perhaps inhabitting that space because of the area in which it was found. Maybe mutants wouldn't die if it collapsed. Regardless, the blood on the ground would garner less ink on the page than if the building was anywhere else in the city. Even with some friendly writers like Betty, this was the state of things overall.

There is silence in the wake of Betty's knock, at least for a while. Finally, from within the door comes the scrape of metal against metal - a deadbolt being slid back. The release on the door clicks gently, and then the door swings slowly open. Whether it rests crookedly, the building is settled unevenly, or some other force pulled on the door, cannot be said. But there was no one there to physically open the door.

Inside is a large room. The building had been a warehouse in its previous life. Now, with its steel beams exposed, the place had been hollowed out but repairs were clearly underway. Concrete had been patched here and there. New wiring and piping was strung along the skeleton of the building. In the midst of the building in its rejuvenation was a man wearing dusty jeans and a t-shirt. He was shrugging a button down plaid workshirt over top of it. Steady, piercing blue eyes studied Betty from that famous - infamous in most circles - face. "I suspect you may have the wrong address, young lady," the man offers, his accent tinged faintly with an eastern European origin.

"Maybe," she exhales gently, her eyes wide and floating across the building until they settle on the presence of the man inside. "I hope not. Um, I'm sorry if I'm disturbing you, sir. M-my name's Betty Brant and I was looking to speak with Mr. Erik Lehnsherr." She's careful with the name, hinting at its origin and making sure to stress syllables when required. Her own attire was less hard work and more casual - a loose blouse for the heat outside, denim capris with rips here and there from the wash, but those heels were scuffed and well loved, though a vibrant red none the less. Lucky pumps, perhaps.

"I-I was hoping to speak with him in regards to Mutant Town and its reconstruction. I have a few connections and I'd like to try and push some funding this way. I'm sorry if I have the wrong location. If you know Mr. Lehnsherr, perhaps I can leave my number with you to give to him?"

"I do my own dirty work," he advises, reaching behind him to draw a handkerchief from his back pocket. He rubs off both hands on it as he walks forward, workboots falling lightly with each step on the bare, concrete floor. He offers a small smile, his air friendly and hospitable enough. "That includes dealing with women professing connections and ultruistic intentions." He tucks his handkerchief away, and now that he is close enough, she can likely see the light beads of perspiration, the signs of physical work having been done recently.

"I am Erik Lehnsherr," he offers, coming to a stop about arms' reach from Betty. "Why do you wish to see me about reconstruction in Mutant Town?" he asks lightly. "Certainly there are various philanthropic bodies that could put your money to good use."

This was him. She had thought, but here he stood, face to face with such a humbling gaze. She searches his face quickly, taking in every detail she can manage. She notices the sweat, the work being done here. Blinking, she digs into her side bag and pulls out a bottle of water. Offering it out, she returns his greeting and question with a smooth, calm smile. "It's nice to meet you, Mr. Lehnsherr. An honor, really. I've followed a number of your accomplishments. If, I um…well, if I sound like I'm blowing smoke too much, I promise that's not my intention."

"Well, yes, I suppose. But in the end, it's my money. I want to offer it where I can to what matters to me."

He offers a polite smile and lifts a hand to ward away the offer of water. His brow knits slightly, well-worn lines creasing on his forehead. There is no great reaction to her revelation of donating her own money, save for a slight quirking of one brow. A flicker of interest, if nothing else. "I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage, Miss…?" He leaves the title hanging, begging for her to complete the sentence and identify herself.

Brant cants her head at the refusal of water. Shrugging gently, she moves to put the bottle back in her bag only to walk over to a slump of rubble and putting the bottle there. He could have it later. "Brant." She reminds him, having given her name previously. "Betty Brant. I'm, well, trust me. No disadvantage I promise. I don't really have stories about myself out there, none very great anyway." Something ticks in her, that twitch of maternal care. "I'm sorry, are you sure you don't want some water? Something else, maybe? It's pretty hot and you look like you're working hard."

"Oh yes, Miss Brant. You mentioned," he apologizes lightly, acknowledging the lapse in memory before fluidly moving on. He watches her move to the side, to leave some water there before he focuses more fully on the woman. "Don't worry yourself, my dear, I will take some water when I have enough need," he tells her before returning to a point she made earlier. "You said you have followed some of my accomplishments. You don't seem to be a fellow mutant - am I wrong in that assumption? And if not, I wonder what cause I have given you to feel admiration."

"I'm a fan of the underdog, Mr. Lehnsherr. The…ones that do good because it's the right thing to do, not just because they get something out of it. It's not labled by a new car or some big of gold by their name in a listing. A new suit, new desk, new standing. It's done because that's what needs to be done for the good of other people." There a pause at the question, causing her to give a shrug. "I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure I'm not, if I had a power maybe it was meeting the right people at the right time. I'm…not sure if that's a power, though."

Clearing her throat, she moves to stand with him, giving him personal space even as she keeps her eyes set upon his features. "I wanted to help. I wanted to perhaps write a story about you, maybe hold an interview if you'd prefer? I don't want to be a bother but I do wish to aid you in some way." Her lips part then close once more, some thought passing without a voice.

He listens attentively, watching the woman down his nose slightly as he considers her, eyes narrowed thoughtfully, weighing every word. Finally, he notes, "Most homo sapiens - members of the media particularly - would disagree that I had done good. Some, maybe, but much ill too. Even some mutants would say I have the blood of too many humans on my hand to be considered good. But you… it's interesting." He hmphs softly, pensively, before he begins anew. "You are welcome to write your story, if you wish. I will even share my designs here, if you like. There are no secrets. You are also welcome to share your fortune, although on both counts, you may be causing yourself needless harm. I do not lack for funds and writing an article in praise of me may be dangerous for your career. Doubtless you've sacrificed and endured to get where you are, Miss Brant. It would not do to tarnish your standing unless you have need to."

"Blood happens. Sad to say, but sometimes it happens in this world more often than not. Sometimes, you can't stop it from happening. Maybe someday, sure…but not as things are now. Not yet. Sometimes you have to take control of what you're able to and then push in the direction you want to go."

Swallowing, she shifts in her stance, allowing more pressure on one foot instead of the other. "I share some views you have. I've never been one to hold my tongue, either. I, well, I use to write under another name, but even now I don't do that anymore. I speak my truth." Talking of sacrifice causes her face to soften, a somber smile resting on her ruby lips. "People will love me or hate me. I'm use to it. If this is done to help those that need it, let the mud fly." Swallowing, she motions around the building. "Do you, would you like some help in here?"

Erik nods slowly to her talk of 'blood happens'. He offers a small, wry smile at that. "An unfortunate truth. Though I still think I was not wrong to do as I did… in the face of registration, of Sentinels, I felt humans had declared war on mutantkind. And yet… it is regretable when some lives are lost." His smile strengthens by a measure and he adds, "There is no cause for fear now. Your government has ceased its efforts, at least with the bulk of its machinery. I do not feel you are any enemy to the cause." He turns to the side, one hand lifting toward the water bottle she had lain aside and the other extending in invitation to her, to come stand alongside him. The plastic water bottle flies smoothly to his outstretched hand without agency; she, of course, has her choice. "I will explain what I will do here, and you can decide if I am worthy of your help or praise," he offers.

"I wish I could tell you I'm sorry for that happening. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm…I hated that happening." Brant being Anti-Registration was no secret to anyone who read her articles or comments regarding it. As he moves, she follows after, accepting his offer to stand by his side for the moment. When the bottle moves, she stalls, eyes rounding out with a glimmer of wonder.

"I want to be an ally," she explains, taking a moment to straighten the strap of her side bag against her torso. "I'm listening, sir."

Erik looks down to Betty, considering her beneath his pensively furrowed brow once more at her apology. Finally, with a nod, he seems to acknowledge this contrition - perhaps on behalf of humans overall, lightening that load by an iota, or else just absolving her from the taint of that history. As she falls into step beside him, his hand alights on her shoulder, steering he along through the cavernous space.

"There are plenty of places that exist to offer a place to sleep for mutants down on their luck, or ones who cannot make a go of it in human society. There are places to feed them, to teach them skills humans consider to be marketable. These places offer some benefit, to be sure, but this is from the perspective of an outsider. From someone who looks down at a mutant and says, 'pitiful creature, it needs our hand-outs, it needs to change to belong'. It reeks of the white man's burden. What I will offer is empowerment, internally." He glances down to Betty once more, taking stock of her reaction before going on.

Betty freezes in step, tensing under the man's hand. It wasn't fear, that much was clear in her eyes. Perhaps it was something else? Nerves to be sure, a hint of pink brushing atop her cheeks. She walks, keeping stride with him, her heels clicking steadily, echoing without the void of the open space. She listens, attentive, she walks and turns her head toward his seeking eyes.

"I think such offers may not, nor should not, be seen as a handout. I understand the feeling behind that, though. Perhaps, in kind, they can be seen as honest aid. Everyone needs help now and then in their lives, human or mutant alike." Though, she nods. "But I also understand the comfort of getting a helping hand at home, from someone or someones that will actually understand you on a deeper level."

"They are well-intentioned, certainly, but they come from the outside. From humans, by and large, or those who adhere to the way humans have set up their society. I intend to rally the strength of the mutant community internally. Here, like nowhere else, mutants do not hide and live in isolation. Here, we can set up our own community values. We can take those first steps toward governing our own affairs, as a group, even if we have to exist within the city structure, the state, the country. We can muster our strength to better protect ourselves and better seek opportunities ourselves. All peaceful and, when there is a critical mass of us, I should think this a bad neighbourhood for any authoritarian regime that would oppress us again."

Erik is a passionate speaker and a gifted orator. He has a way of driving his point home and attracting followers. Obviously, Betty is not his usual audience, but he puts his charisma to good use in explaining in broad strokes his mission for whatever he has planned here.

"Maybe, hmm…I can write a piece promoting this. I also think with some aid, funded inside, it'd make others feel better about it? I hope you don't see all of us as a slight against mutant-kind. For true peace, we have to trust one another as best we can. Baby steps if need be, but baby steps." A pause, she considers, "Perhaps working toward represenation on a goverment level for mutants, too. Someone to help push bills and making sure rights are respected, issues are heard and understood. You're citizens, too, what you can do shouldn't matter. Humans, demi-gods, mutants, gods, supers - we're all citizens here. Beings." She offers in return, still moving as he does so, offering him her ear. "You know change takes time, though. There will always be that sliver, that splinter in peace that sticks out and pricks everyone else. I-I hope you don't hold everyone resposible for that splinter. People fear what they do not understand. I can try helping others to understand."

"The aid… well. It may be possible, although I would need some time to think on that. I would not want this whole effort to create a voice and unity for mutants to be beholden to those outside of our community. Perhaps aid for certain initiatives… something to think about. Fortunately, it is nothing for me to go and pull precious metals from the ground and to sell them off. Funding is not really an issue for me." Erik offers that mixture of guardedness and candour, once more looking over at the woman at his side.

He adds, however, "As for government representation… I expect this area will be gerrymandered out of any representation at the state or federal level. An ambassador of sorts to those levels of government… certainly, if the community desires it." He glances back toward Betty and assures her, "Don't read my distrust of government as a distrust of humans overall. I think you have nearly as much to be distrustful of, about your own government, as I do. And sure, there will always be those who hate us and fear us… but that's true of any group, really. So long as there are differences to exploit and reinforce, those feelings are not going away."

Betty nods, allowing herself to fall silent for a time. So far, she doesn't seem upset or disagreeing with anything the older man proposes. At length, she looks his way. "How do you want my help?" The question is simple, but heavy. "I know you said I could write a story, but perhaps the interview would do better. It will allow you to speak out for your people, give some volume to your issues you want others to know about." Pausing now, she turns to face him directly. "How else can I help you? I know I'm not, well, much of anything. I'm just human, but I'll help however I can with what I have."

He turns to face her more directly. Those sharp blue eyes lock onto hers and it is as though he seeks to read her thoughts with the scrutiny of that gaze. "If you think an interview would be helpful, I will give you your interview," he tells her. "And do not sell yourself short, Miss Brant. You are a gifted writer with a large audience. Perhaps it is with someone such as yourself that ties can begin to be forged." He uncaps the water she gave him then, pausing with the bottle in hand as that studious gaze rests unerringly on her. "Maybe that is how you can help. But tell me this… you are eager. What motivates you? Did you come to help the downtrodden? To seek some form of absolution? Or is it my approval you seek?"

Silent, she lets her thoughts gather before answering him. There's a shrinking of her shoulders under his gaze, that pink returning to her features before she straightens her spine and allows a breath to pass through her lips. "My mom." She answers. "Jonah." She continues. "Eddie. Lucas. Wade…Fenris, Astryd, Sif, Kori…Frank, Kate, Logan, Heavensent…" Her lips part and then close as she continues to consider her reasons. "I'm not asking for anything. I can stand behind my print and scream at the top of my lungs about what I'm for, what I'm against, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter unless I'm doing something about it."

"I don't require your approval, but I appreciate it. I'd rather have your respect someday, friendship even. We don't have much time on the earth and I've learned lately that even that time isn't promised. It's fleeting. It's time I do more, as much as I can, where I can."

Erik Lehnsherr listens to the recitation of names with stoical reserve, giving no sense of familiarity or ignorance. It is an admirable poker face. His eyes shift subtly as he takes in the nuances of her expression, while she explains her motivation. Finally he nods once, seemingly accepting her explanation. "All right, Betty," he says, lapsing comfortably into use of her first name after she made plain her desire for friendship. "Perhaps you have ties to the city. Building inspectors, maybe. Maybe there's someone you can call to help… ease the way for this site to be approved again. I think I will brand it a community centre, but of course one with more ambitious ideals. Perhaps there is a way to even have this sort of government blessing you spoke of, without giving up any of our autonomy. Perhaps you can investigate that for me? For the citizens of Mutant Town?"

Huffs and shakes her head. "I'm sorry for rambling. They just all spilled out." She explains, a light frown on her lips. It's her name that calls her back to the here and now. It's a hint, a brief display of some weakness in her. Blinking, she finds his face, centers, and straightens. She nods. "I do," she agrees, indeed having her fingers in a few pies around the city. Good press can do that now and then. "Yes," she agrees, a smile curling her lips gently. "I'll look into that for you. I'll, if I may leave my number with you, I'll think of some questions for you to answer for the interview as well." A pause, she holds out her hand in his direction. "Thank you, for allowing me to do this."

Erik gives a forgiving smile, if forgiveness is his to grant. His smile warms slightly as she confirms knowing people in the city. "Good," he answers. "And yes, I will take your number. Whenever your questions are done, I will be pleased to answer them. You could be a good friend to our cause, Betty, and am I happy to have met you. I'm looking forward to working with you." He then extends his own long-fingered hand and gives hers a shake, with a finality often reserved for newly-forged alliances.

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