In the Interest of Negative Selection

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HumansFirst

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Edited By HumansFirst

Los Angeles, California - 5:55pm

"G'night Sherry! Take care!"

"Good night Sher! Tell Lilly not to party too hard!"

"Good night guys! If the boss calls just let her know where I'll be!"

"Hollywood Bowl, right? Should we tell her to send flowers?"

"You guys are crazy! I'm ouuuuut!"

The twenty-something blonde skipped down the marble steps two at a time, finally releasing her hair from the tight bun she'd had it confined to for the day's lab work. As her hair collapsed to her shoulders in a cascade of golden light, catching the last remaining flashes of a setting sun, she smiled her best grin over to Lucas, the security guard who she knew was secretly crushing super hard on her. "Night Luke! I'm off to the most hardcore high school graduation party this coast will ever know!" Confused and befuddled, he only managed to mumble something about "having a good time" before he awkwardly scanned his ID card to let her out of the building. As she walked away, she pulled her compact from her purse and watched as Lucas cradled his face in his hands, beet red from embarrassment. She grinned her trademark grin and walked out.

She skipped to her car, cradling the thin white box against her chest. Inside, wrapped in a deep blue ribbon carrying the logo of the Alaric Foundation's East Los Angeles Biochemical Labs, was their lab-born miracle, the cure for unwelcome mutation. Her mind wandered off to how Lilly might react when she knew she didn't have to put up with the painful spines that adorned her body every morning, wouldn't have to take clippers all over her body just to shear them down to little buds that wouldn't poke through her clothes or stab her friends when she hugged them, how she would react when she realized that she'd be going to college a new person—No! going to college as herselfagain.

Sherry hugged the box tighter to herself, her free hand clearing the tears budding up in her eyes, the ones fogging up her glasses.

Maybe that was why she didn't notice him. The man in the coat too large and too heavy for the last remaining days of summer, the one without a car, or keys, going nowhere in particular. Or it could have been the daydreams she'd been indulging in, imagining a better life for her little sister, one far away from the girls who'd tormented her for the past year.

But in the end the "why" did not matter. As soon as she withdrew the remote from her purse, unlocked the doors to the ladybug patterned 2009 Volkswagen Beetle, she heard him. The *SCHLINK* of claws emerging from tightly drawn skin. A wild man, a beast, a wild dog looming over her, opening her rear passenger door, forcing her in, covering her mouth when she tried to scream. Still she cradled that little white box to herself, keeping it far from him when, if she had only thought a bit more clearly, she might have opened it, used its contents.

She might have lived.

Metal claws tore into her flesh, painting the worn interior of her Beetle a grisly red. She cried, but not for long. There was little joy for even him in torturing one he held no ire to. He ended her suffering quick, but the body would not suffer as little as she.

A message, writ in blood and spelled succinctly, decorated the inside of her car.

THERE IS NO DISEASE

THERE IS NO CURE

Diaz then prepared himself, knowing the body would soon be found, knowing the security tapes would show them exactly what had happened, and exactly who had done it.

He pushed the ridge of his nose to the left an extra sixteenth of an inch, sharpened the edges of his cheekbones, exaggerated them. All steps toward perfecting the facade before he showed his face to the world.

"Hope ya like yer newfound fame, pal."

He smiled a wry grin, one he made sure they caught in full, before leaving the garage and exiting onto the street. A street he knew would carry none of the surveillance equipment he had exploited moments before. An empty street. Here he withdrew the bloody latex back into himself, withdrawing another sheet of differently colored material, restructured himself into a new person, a wholly different person, before carrying on down the road.

Gotta strike while tha iron's hot, right? Well, 's about ta get a whole lot hotter.

He chortled to himself, a squelching squeak escaping before he could muster the right tone, the right voice. It was strange, trying to be human again.

Dover City, Delaware - 9:18pm

"So it's done, then."

"'s right boss. One 'er ya more prominent muties too. Notoriously violent. Shouldn' surprise nobody that he'd slice up tha lil lady."

"Very good, Diaz. As always, your 'bonus' will be waiting for you when you get back. I believe you've earned yourself some time off, Diaz. Go ahead, take a personal day or two. Find your girlfriend if you like. I'll call if we need you."

"Y'know it ain't like that boss. She's a friend's--"

"I don't care what she is Diaz. She's a failure, and failures don't interest me. Just keep your phone on."

He hung up, irritated by his executioner's uncharacteristic devotion to pursuing his useless acquaintance. Annoyed, he motioned for Mitchell to approach. His associate slunk down to meet him, still wary of the bandaged and bloody hand he waved him over with.

"Wait a few days, let the reports come in, and then schedule an appointment with the Alaric Foundation. I want to meet this Elsa Beremud, offer her my condolences on this most recent tragedy. Maybe make her see reason with regards to this cure of hers."

"I'll get on it right away, Don."

"Oh, and Herric? Send her a fruit basket. Something tasteful." He propped his elbows against the desk, cracking his knuckles against his palm, hiding a grin behind his hands. Events were finally moving in the right direction. With any luck at all it wouldn't be long before tensions finally came to a head, with humanity emerging victorious atop the piled bodies of their enemies.

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#1  Edited By HumansFirst

Gleaming white floors, clinical in nature. The smell of sterile air and unbridled ambition. The Alaric Foundation's head office.

In contrast, Donovan Glost's signature burgundy jacket, tight-fitting black jeans and freshly polished alligator skin boots gave off the exact opposite impression. Here was something unkempt and wild, instinctual and ignorant entering a sanctified place of knowledge and discovery.

But it brought all eyes to rest on him, and that was exactly what he wanted. He sauntered up to the front desk, bypassing a young woman holding a child in her arms. Customer or visitor, researcher or scientist, it didn't much matter. She was not the woman he'd come to see, and she was not he. This made her utterly unimportant.

She huffed and was about to speak when a large, meaty palm was quietly clapped on her shoulder. The weight of it nearly doubled her over, and when she looked up to the towering mass of a man that stood above her, she turned her eyes forward once more, careful not to look too intently at the receptionist or the flamboyantly dressed man who had usurped her place in line.

Glost grinned, turning to the secretary rather smugly as he spoke.

"Hello there! My, you are simply beautiful. I assume you're the famous Elsa Beremud I've heard so much about?"

(canned laughter from both parties)

"No? How silly of me. My name is Donovan Glost, I believe I have a meeting with her in, oh..." He glanced down at the Vacheron Constantin adorning his wrist, the elegant timepiece obviously worn to incite envy, or at the very least to redress the issue of his taste in fashion. "..seven minutes. I just figured I would check in here, see if she's available? I know business with a woman of her import often runs late. Everything tends to move slower when the fate of humanity is on the line."

It was meant to be a joke, but it was not delivered as such. His mind was already far away, turning over the various possible outcomes to this most momentous meeting, the most beneficial of which might see him walking away with the solution to humanity's most persistent infection. He became lost in the possibilities. When finally he snapped back to reality, it was to the concerned questions of the Alaric receptionist.

"No, no. Don't call her. These sorts of things mustn't be rushed." He nodded to the girl and smiled his devilish grin, dismissing any further concerns.

He could wait. After all, this could be the beginning of the endgame, and with stakes as high as they were patience could only serve him well.

@beremud

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Los Angeles, California - 5:55pm

Keep it up I dare ya (lol)
Keep it up I dare ya (lol)
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@humansfirst:

Things were moving swiftly towards the endgame.

That, however, was no excuse for growing overconfident, the Beremud scion mused, for it also meant the stakes were getting higher. Already a staffer had been targeted, something that had shocked most of her employees but come as no surprise to Elsa. She doubted that it would be the last attack. Once the last few pieces were in position, she would need to move quickly, to prevent the interference from complicating matters unnecessarily.

Her thought were then interrupted by the CCTV feed front the front lobby, and the arrival of a visitor who clearly meant to make his presence felt. A bemused smile danced briefly across her lips as she watched her obviously flustered receptionist flounder for a few moments, before coming to the staffer's rescue by buzzing the visitor in with the push of a single button.

Swiveling her executive seat to face her now opened office doors, she leaned her elbows on her expansive mahogany desk and awaited the visitor's arrival with an impassive expression. Someone like him could be here for any number of reasons: seeking a favor, making an offer, delivering a threat...it would be interesting see which way this went.

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#5 Rosso  Online

Goddammit, Diaz, you're freakin' dead when I see you!

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Showtime.

He rose, tossing his jacket open and swaggering into the office of Elsa Beremud, the genetic alchemist charged with humanity's holy grail.

"Ah, Ms. Beremud! A pleasure to finally meet you!" He smiled broadly, striding over and offering his hand, one soft and smooth, without the scars or callouses of a hard lived life. "I'm sure you know me. Donovan Glost, head of the Humans First Foundation. I think you and I may be suffering from similar problems." He sank into the seat opposite of her, invited or not, holding his golden-white hair aloft, revealing a series of stitches that drifted from his forehead to higher up on his skull, the result of retaliation against his own public address. "I don't think either of our most recent messages were received very kindly by the mutant community."

He shifted, tossing the hair he'd grasped behind his shoulder, tucking another few strands behind his ear. He did not think himself unattractive (though the injury did him no favors), and if she were swayed, even subconsciously, by his looks it was worth the effort. He would take every edge possible.

"When I heard about the retaliation against the Alaric Foundation, the blood paid for a single word, I was at a loss. We've entered a world where one cannot express themselves for fear of censure, and now that censure takes the form of unchecked violence? Of bloodshed? Surely you can see that these people, these unstable, over-powerful individuals, cannot be held in check by normal means. But they can be checked by the means you have access to."

He leaned in closer, lowering his voice in an attempt to sound more sincere, more empathetic.

"I escaped with my life intact, but that girl in Los Angeles wasn't so lucky, and from what I've heard she isn't the first person he's attacked. Such a man is unreasonable and unpredictable. Power in the hands of a man like that is bound to be used to selfish ends, to tragic ends. Surely you can see the value of your cure used to make a man like that less dangerous."

He leaned back again, anticipating resistance from a woman that had already announced her intentions with regard to her cure.

"Society already condones the act of locking away a man indefinitely once he has proven himself a danger to others, and in some states even death is condoned as a means to deal with the particularly deadly, particularly remorseless. Would it not be more merciful, more practical, to simply strip away the potential for increased carnage in such violent men? Would it not be worth exploring the possibility that perhaps this cure could function best for those in which we find an impossible attraction to mass carnage and an inherent capacity for it?"

"Wouldn't it have been worth it to save that young woman from this murderer who, for years, has gone virtually unopposed? This man the law finds itself incapable of opposing?"

He leaned back, folding his legs over themselves as he shook his head, attempting to appear distraught by the death he'd described and society's inaction regarding it. In reality he was simply hoping that she was still listening after his long-winded monologue, and that some part of it might have spoken to her.

@beremud

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No Caption Provided

@rosso: Hey, you and Gambler were the ones throwing ideas out into the public sphere with your interviews. I just ran with what y'all said and took it to the next natural step.

Murder.

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Rosso

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#8 Rosso  Online

@humansfirst: Hey! I didn't even do an interview! And I didn't tell you to go kill innocent people!

Dammit, now my sense of a desire for the prospect of the exacting of righteous vengeance is triggered...

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@rosso: Sounds like a personal problem to me. =P

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#10 Rosso  Online

@humansfirst: Yes, I am very much bringing a personal problem directly to you.

Just as soon as someone IC catches wind of your nefarious deeds...

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HumansFirst

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@xerxes__: Not sure if you're referencing me or the mod lol

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#13 Rosso  Online

Me neither, honest.y >_>

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I was tagged. I read.

If I kill Alpha Dog this all ends. Right?
If I kill Alpha Dog this all ends. Right?

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#16  Edited By Xerxes__

@humansfirst: you are the voice of reason from Xerxes perspective. I should have used a caption for the gif

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@humansfirst:

Well, this one certainly doesn't beat around the bush.

Although, to be fair, Elsa found the candor more than a little refreshing; she was half-afraid that this was going to be one of those "establishing" meeting where pleasantries were exchanged and plans were made for some further insipid interaction at some future point and time that might actually have a snowball's chance in hell of accomplishing something. Still, it simply wasn't her style to give things away, so she provided an almost perfect counterpoint to his bombastic presence, accepting the proffered handshake and then listening in silence as he unleashed his diatribe.

"I appreciate the sympathies," she finally responded, with a practiced nod of the head, "although this is not the first time this individual has targeted my organization; we suspect that he is behind attacks on MRF installations in both France and Prague. But where are my manners? Would you care for a drink?" She waved her hand vaguely in the direction of a small side table that hosted both a coffee-maker and small decanter of brandy.

"So, Mr. Glost," she continued. "I presume you are a strong proponent of gun control, as well?"

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#18  Edited By HumansFirst

He listened intently, disappointed that the disguise Diaz had utilized had proved less than shocking. Still, at least it lent itself to plausibility.

When the offer for drinks came, he was less than enthused, but hid his distaste behind his usual unfaltering grin. He rose and poured himself some coffee, spiking it with enough sugar and cream to entirely overpower the natural bitterness of the beverage itself (a flavor he despised). He tipped an extra glass to offer her a drink as well, acquiescing to her wishes either way.

When her last question came, it was one that he'd heard before, most often asked pointedly and with the intent to discredit his stance. He simply sipped from the syrupy mug of coffee and collapsed into the seat before her, invited or not. He crossed his legs, sliding the mug down with a spin on her desk.

"You know, I am asked that question quite frequently, and everyone always seems shocked when I say that I am not." He twirled a lock of his platinum hair around his index finger, absently surveying the walls of the office as he spoke. "Many assume I would be, what with my stance on metahumans and mutants, on the dangers they pose, but that's exactly why I am not an advocate for gun control." Now he met her eyes again, arrogant bemusement alive in him. "I mean, if your neighbor is capable of leveling a city block with a flick of his wrist, wouldn't you want some way to defend yourself against that kind of power? You can't rely on the police in that situation. By the time you think to call them, your home would be cinders, your spouse a stain against the wall, and your children ashes in the wind. A man has to defend himself and those dear to him somehow."

He sipped again, leaving the half empty cup on the desk as he leaned back in his chair and stretched.

"Now, if we were to remove metahumans from the equation, then certainly. Gun control would be a priority. But that's not the reality we live in. Well, not today, anyhow. If we could remove the most dangerous metas from circulation, I suppose I might have very different priorities. But what about you, Ms. Beremud? What are your opinions on the regulation of the dangerous, of the deadly?"

@beremud

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@humansfirst:

Elsa declined his offer of a drink with a polite shake of her golden head. She leaned back comfortably as he answered her question, tipping his hand (or at least, what he wanted her to think was his hand), politically. He spoke with the ease of a veteran diplomat, the confidence of a seasoned salesman, and the steel of an almost fanatical conviction towards his principles.

"As far as I'm concerned, Mr. Glost," she answered, with a readiness that conveyed her own practiced considerations, "regulation of any kind is treating the symptoms, not the disease. While my father ran this foundation, I had ample opportunity to simply sit in the background and observe all manner of humanity, and I have come to the very definite conclusion is that what makes someone dangerous is what goes on up here," she tapped the side of her own head with one finger, "not unusual abilities or weapons. Dead is dead, regardless of whether a killer uses telekinesis, firearms, or his bare hands."

She leaned forward, forearms crossed as her elbows rested on the surface of her desk. "I, for one, am not shocked by your answer, because I've heard it before. What you are implying is not regulation of the dangerous; just a shift in power from one group of the dangerous to another. No, it is my opinion that each individual should have the ability to choose. Those who do not wish the means to inflict harm should not be required to possess it, and you protect this group not by some futile efforts to disarm the dangerous, but rather by ensuring that a force exists that is capable of defending them."

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@beremud:

Succinct, but to the point. He could admire her stubborn adherence to principle.

Yes, he could, but he wouldn't.

"Well. I see we have a rather fundamental disagreement on our hands. Yes, dangerous is dangerous, and the will to kill is something possessed by diseased men and women of all ilks, but scale is the issue here. A man with his bare hands can kill perhaps a quarter dozen, a gunman tens, and a mutant? Well, one can scarcely imagine the carnage a man like Superion, Thee Champion, or Samson Starr could inflict before someone stopped him." He hooked his fingers into the mug's handle, idly tipping it to and fro on the mahogany desk as he spoke, intentionally moving it away from the coaster there.

"And granted, the three I've mentioned have been that force you spoke of at some point in their lives, the ones meant to 'defend' those incapable of defending themselves. But just as Thee Champion abandoned the world, and Samson Starr seems to chase profit rather than principle, there is no guarantee that these protectors will remain protectors. There is no guarantee that the monsters that haunt the world will not emerge with their own villainous visions of these would-be gods. And what means does a mere man have to fight against gods and demons?"

He brought his hands together, fingertips touching in a loose pyramid before her before he scattered them aside and splayed them out, a representation of the world's most anticlimactic vanishing act.

"None. He has none. Your serum, if it can be distributed to law enforcement, if it can be dispersed by air, if it can be loaded into needles that pierce stone skin and inhuman physiology, could be essential to securing American streets from the kind of superhuman criminals and terrorists that plague them. Imagine being able to make mortal a man like Satar, who has successfully evaded capture and death, only to terrify the world anew after every attempt on his life. Imagine being able to bring to earth beings like Nemesis, who held an entire city captive, or Ada Guillaume, who, for all the efforts of STRIKE, LAW, and multiple heroes, remains at large largely because of her unique talent for manipulation. Or did you not hear about her latest escape, the one where she managed to convince an entire hospital full of people to massacre one another for a simple distraction?"

The thoughts came at a hurried pace then, one after another they swelled together in a maelstrom of discontent that began to creep into his voice.

"And as for your earlier parallel to gun control, we already don't allow murderers to buy weapons, so why should we allow mutant terrorists and murderers to retain these far more devastating ones? I am not asking you to consider the unregulated propagation of a weaponized 'cure', but the judicious use of such a substance against those who have proven unworthy of their power."

He leaned his elbow heavily against the chair's armrest, his chin resting on the knuckles of his left hand. His shoulders sagged slightly as he came down from his tirade, his eyes lost some of their fire. He let the passion drain from his posture, the fervor of the proselytizer fade from his words.

Instead he simply brought the mug to his lips with his right hand, pausing to take a sip before he spoke again.

"But I'm wasting my time, aren't I? Your mind is made up, and woe to the one who would curtail the might of murderers."

And the bitterness returned, regardless of the small mountain of sugar still swaying in the bottom of his cup.

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#Loredrop

#Extinction

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Love the Thee Champ references.

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@mason_grayl: Thanks. It's the best I could do with the considerable gaps in my CV history knowledge.

The price of frequent, overlong hiatuses I guess lol

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#24  Edited By Beremud

@humansfirst:

His passion was impressive. Impressive, and judging by the state of most of the world's current political systems, doubtlessly effective. Of course, there was always the possibility that it was all showmanship, but in some ways being able to summon that level of personal fire while not truly caring about the issue at hand was even more respectable.

The woman known as Elsa Beremud, however, was not a creature inclined to be swayed by passion. She simply couldn't afford to be, given her work and what was at stake in it, and the somewhat bitter irony was that she was not at liberty to share this understanding with anyone else. Not that she would have chosen Glost to be the recipient of that knowledge, of course; she somehow doubted she'd have any better luck swaying him than he had her.

"You make some interesting points," she conceded, leaning back and countering his intense argument with her own almost clinical detachment, "but have you truly thought them through? You are arguing for taking steps against individuals who, by your own admission, protect you, simply because one day they may turn on you? How many people on this planet own dogs, Mr. Glost? How many let them sleep in their beds, and play with their children? And how many of these people would be able to survive if their canine companion suddenly decided it was time to become a wolf again and lunge for the throat? The use of nuclear weapons is probably one of the swiftest ways a nation can ensure its own retributive destruction, and yet how many nations still maintain them? You're letting fear override your ambition. Whether by natural evolution or scientific accident, humanity is being given an entirely new level of power; you should be thinking of how best to put it to use. I am sure that, somewhere back in the mists of prehistory, some primitive humans diligently tried to stamp out the first fires that their comrades started, and the fact that they were ultimately unsuccessful is why we are not having this conversation in some dingy cave as we gnaw on raw meat."

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@beremud:

Glost listened, considered, fumed, and fumed again. Frustration was finally giving way to enmity, and as much as he respected the heiress to the Beremud's intellectual and economic fortune, her detached hypocrisy was beginning to grow irritating.

"I am sure that some who were formerly human currently hold that same strength, that 'new level of power' as you put it, that others can exploit for the progress of humanity..." He smiled, speaking through his clenched teeth. "But they are not us. It is not humanity who holds this power. And yes, I understand that the Neanderthals that stomped at those fires so futilely likely mated into the genetic mess floating around in our blood today, but I for one do not want to become a historical footnote. That's what people seem to misunderstand. We are being replaced,Ms. Beremud, and if we do nothing then Homo Sapiens as we know them will become extinct, and I for one see that as a tragedy. I think this is the point we will never meet eye to eye on. Humanity is where it is today because of the fragility of its body. Our lack of claws is the reason why we made them from the tools around us. Give us claws and that progress has no need to continue. I realize that to an educated woman like you this must seem heresy, but man has dealt with stronger, faster, and more efficient predators before. They have pushed him to his place of prominence. Even now, men like Arthur Mark, Marcques Nurdstrum, and Damon Ford strive to push humanity into contention with the gifts of gods. That is the defiant nature of humanity that would be lost when mutation sets in, and the pursuit of technology as an equalizer becomes unnecessary."

He set down the mug at the impressive mahogany desk's corner edge, aware that what he presented was not strictly true, but it was something he believed regardless.

"Now, that considered, I do not wish to abolish metahumanism. It is, as I said, beneficial for humanity to have something to challenge himself against. A predator that he keeps close, in true competition with himself, for the purpose of his own advancement."

He rose, refilling his coffee and dumping another small mound of sugar into the mug before balancing it precariously on her desk once more.

"Going back to your analogy however, if a dog were to bite, it should be put down. If a murderer were to be caught, his weapon would be robbed of him at the very least, and he would be, in many places, put down in the same manner as that dog. What I am advocating for here is a process which would allow for mankind, not those who have abandoned that title, to serve justice to those that cannot be punished currently. I am not 'stamping out the flame', I am securing the rest of us from arson. I am not asking you to euthanize our protectors, but to make decrepit the instigators of violence and slaughter, and yet the idea still seems outlandish to you."

He leaned forward, hands flat on her desk as he peered into the cold blue of her eyes, careful not to break the stare.

"So tell me, Elsa Beremud, if I were to propose we use this cure on convicted mutant criminals, ones who present a high risk to the general public, who are likely to escape, would you refuse the sale of your cure to spare these killers? Or would you allow justice to finally move forward against those who have proven immune to it?"

His fingers brushed against the ceramic mug, his mind still alight with the hope of possibility, but more attuned to the dark of disappointment. His mind swirled with visions of a possible future slipping through his grasp as he spoke.

But it's not gone yet. Baby steps. First the murderers (and there are plenty), then the rapists, then the thieves. On and on, until the work is complete.

But until then, baby steps.

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#26  Edited By Beremud

@humansfirst:

As she listened to Glost's increasingly fiery tirade, she had to fight the urge to smile. Not that she found his rhetoric or his passion ridiculous; in fact, it was quite the contrary, as the man's ability to articulately rail was truly a sight to behold. This was a man who had clearly cultivated his passion, and wielded it as deftly as an Olympic fencer would their foil. No, it was simply that she couldn't help but be amused by the utter irony of his attempt to appeal to her on the basis of shared humanity. Still, it was reassuring that he was not the only one capable of presenting a masterfully-crafted facade.

"Well, Mr. Glost," she responded, punctuating her words with the closest to a genuine smile that she ever presented to demonstrate her own lack of ill-will, "I daresay we view humanity as a whole through two very different lenses. As much as I'd like to continue down this philosophical path, I feel that our conversation has drifted off course, and unnecessarily so. I presume that you have done what my own legal team has and considered that, regardless of how you or I feel about the ethical issues around what you are asking, there are legal considerations that are much less subjective. Going back to your analogy of disarming a murderer...taking a gun from a violent criminal is one matter, as that gun is not a part of his physiology. What we do not do, as a society, is chop the hands off a strangler, as I believe that falls under 'cruel and unusual punishment.' Before you put any further energy into convincing me that this needs to be done, I think there is another audience you would have to win over, first."

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HumansFirst

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#27  Edited By HumansFirst

@beremud:

A thin smile of his own stretched across Donovan's features as he nodded in time with her statements, trying to actually listen to her through the muddled fog of his own frustration. By the end of it he his index finger cradled his chin and his thumb stroked along his jawline, cementing his mouth shut as she finished speaking.

A simply superb non-answer, an excellent deflection, and a flawless delay of the issue. The girl belongs in D.C.

He had been hoping to find an ideological ally in the girl, but instead found only the usual red tape he was accustomed to. Still, she provided an avenue to action at least. That was more than could be said for those on Capitol Hill.

"You may be right, Ms. Beremud. Our perceptions of mankind do seem irreconcilably different, along with many of our views." He began to untense his shoulders, rolling them one at a time as he spoke, stretching his neck and relaxing his posture. "And I suppose I aught to sort through the legal red tape first. I was just enthusiastic about meeting with you, so I suppose I glossed over the proper order of things." He rested his elbows on her desk, leaning forward once more. "I do hope you'll forgive me if I seemed confrontational, or unduly passionate. Its a consequence of my profession, I assure you. Monologues and fiery speech have become second-nature, I'm embarrassed to admit." He shrugged, letting his questionable comportment fall away from thought.

"As for your counter-points, what can I say? We don't see the same world, so what is cruel to you is... justifiable, let's say, to me." When he looked up there came a glint of danger, of satisfaction, in his eye. The smile he delivered broadened into something sinisterly cruel and unsympathetic, but increasingly genuine all the same. "So while it may be cruel, I do not believe it unusual. We do still kill as a society, after all. Is stripping someone of their powers any more cruel than ending their lives by injection, electric chair, or firing squad? Is it not more merciful than that final alternative?" He waved off the answer immediately. "But as I said that matters little. We've met, exchanged ideals, and I can honestly say that you've been nothing but pleasant, even when I did not merit such pleasantries. So if you'll excuse me, I must schedule meetings with the 'other audience' you spoke of. It's been a pleasure and an honor, Elsa Beremud."

He extended his hand to her, fully expecting a cordial parting, and then turned away, his fingers "accidentally" brushing against the precariously balanced mug of coffee perched at the corner of her desk, knocking it from its place and allowing it to tumble to the carpeted floors below. He made a half-hearted attempt at catching it, cursing himself aloud as it fell. "Ach! Curse my clumsiness!" He bent over, retrieving the mug and placing it securely on the coffee island once more. "I am so sorry! Please, allow me to reimburse you for whatever it takes to clean out the carpeting. Replace it if you want. Again I do so apologize." He waved a final time, sheepish and ashamed, before passing through the doorway back to reception, whereupon he straightened his back, removed his tie, and stuffed it haphazardly into the right pocket of his slacks.

Keep your principles, bitch. I'll have what I want regardless.

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Beremud

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@humansfirst:

A well-crafted performance, indeed.

She listened politely, as she had from the start, all the while fighting back laughter over the sheer irony of their conversation. Neither of them were quite what they wanted the world to think they were, but where Glost used his facade as a means of mockery, a taunt, a clear expression of "I am playing your game, so you can't touch me, by your own rules," Elsa was something else, entirely. Anyone who paid attention would see that her overtures of benign altruism masked a desire for power, but this too was a facade. Her ambitions were far deeper than that.

Cruelty? She'd seen cruelty, the likes of which few humans, meta or otherwise, could fathom in their most feverish nightmares. She let the smallest of smiles slip, using the cover of graciously dismissing the little "accident" Glost had as he went to leave. "No need to trouble yourself over that," she replied, waving her hand vaguely in the direction of the spreading stain. "I have staff that can clean up far worse messes than that. Good luck in your endeavor, Mr. Glost. I'll be following your efforts with great interest."

After he departed, she sat in her office for a span, idly watching the coffee seep into the carpet. Soon enough, she mused, the ground of this world will soak up a stain that nothing will ever be able to cleanse.