48-Hour Spider
Roleplaying Log: 48-Hour Spider
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Carolus brings Ghost Spider (mostly) up to date with the Worthington-Blaire murder-suicide, and learns that her universe's version of the Twilight Zone was much cooler than his.

Other Characters Referenced: Warren Worthington, Alison Blaire, Danielle Moonstar
IC Date: October 23, 2019
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 27 Oct 2019 17:30
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

CAROLUS SINCLAIR

Hey.
11:38 P.M.

I need to talk to you. It's kind of urgent.
Sorry about how the last mission went, by the way.
My life seems dedicated to shifting from a soft PG-13 to a hard R lately.
11:39 P.M.

Full disclosure, that means my life has turned into falling down an escalator of murders.
11:40 P.M.

I'm out in the middle of nowhere so it'll take a while to get back into town.
11:41 P.M.

Got any meeting preferences? Or should this wait for another time?
11:42 P.M.

***

GHOST SPIDER (who is probably Spooky and the a ghost emoji followed by a spider emoji on Carolus' phone)

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
:cold_sweat:
:grimacing:
11:47pm

well my life is already a web of disaster
11:49pm

please don't invite me to your extremely murder prone mansion though
get an alibi too
in fact just start making them all over
11:50pm

***

CAROLUS SINCLAIR

I'm working on it.
I didn't think it was entirely necessary until today.
I'm almost certainly being watched by now btw.
That's part of the urgency and problem.
11:50 P.M.

I'd rather offer the particulars in person.
With the phone off.
And the battery pulled.
11:51 P.M.

Meeting place. Indoor or outdoor?
Little chilly out but I'm used to it.
Not sure I'm feeling it but I'm used to it.
Mansion isn't suited for this anyway.
Besides, the murders didn't happen there.
11:52 P.M.

That place gets attacked regularly enough but
It's still a risky target, you know?
11:53 P.M.

***

SPOOKY :ghost: :spider:

I've been thinking about that
I think I came to a conclusion
If I want total privacy, leave all my electronics webbed to the side of a building, that I pick entirely randomly, and still someone hears my clandestine conversation then Tony Stark, or the Kingpin, or SHIELD or whatever weird psychic invisible creepotron following me for it deserves it.
11:54pm

it's just not worth my time to worry that much.
11:55pm

I found this sandwich shop with a new scaffolding going up on the building across the street. It's partially enclosed, should be good for sandwiches.
11:58pm

***

CAROLUS SINCLAIR

Ah, yes.
The coveted convenient construction work.
Alright, I'll be there ASAP. Probably 10 or 20.
I think I'm going to fly the rest of the way after the train stops.
I am too on the nose as midnight train dwellers go.
And my people don't need me.
12:00 A.M.

It's eighteen minutes later that Carolus materializes along the street, and another five passes where he's occupied in the sandwich shop. The characteristic buzz of his wings precipitates his arrival on the designated scaffolding, immediately after which he deposits his satchel and huddles down low, all four hands wrapped firmly around a large insulated cup that is clearly full of hot soup.

He has a slightly rumpled appearance, a little beyond what would be expected from a midlengthed flight, and has a vaguely wigged-out appearance that offers the impression he didn't really sleep.

"So, that person I told you about a while back, that I thought I'd make a fool of myself in front of." He begins unprompted, taking a sip of his soup and continuing, "Warren Worthington. Those wings that we recovered fragments of the other night were his. The next morning he allegedly shot his girlfriend and then shot himself. Nobody who really knew him believes it. Bodies disappeared in the middle of a convenient electrical disturbance that took out all the security of the facility where they were being held."

***

A splat of webbing bolds the blue, tarped corner of a large semi-finished scaffolding square. Two walls have been put up, and there's a rudimentary floor of cold wooden planks held together with plastic tie-binding.

In the sheltered area is Ghost Spider, sitting crosslegged with a power cable running from a lower floor plugged into a little space heater pointed at the girl's right hip. Before her, on a white towel, is a canvas bag with two sandwiches and a tall cup of coffee in a thermos that still steams and wisps out of the top.

Her head pops up as Carolus slides into her space, eyes curious and wide - not specifically 'alerted'.

Her spider sense hadn't gone off, so whoever had come across her had to have been safe.

"How does that even work? That couldn't have been suicide. I don't believe it. School full of empaths and telekinetics and people who're bulletproof, and some guy manages to use a popgun to take down someone else before offing himself? Those kinds of murder-suicides don't just happen in real life - they just factually can't happen at Xavier's. And not for two people who'd obviously have a lot of time out in the open."

Gwen rolls up the bottom few inches of her mask up her neck and chin, before letting it bunch up over her nose in a bridge across her cheeks. She rummages in the canvas bag for a sandwich, upwrapping it with sure fingers. "And then they disappear before anyone gets a chance to inspect anything."

With a tremendous MONCH, she bites into toasted bread and crispy lettuce, chewing loudly twice before continuing with a still-full mouth. "Yeah that's not real. Maybe it's lucky those wings didn't get burnt - now you can do that magic sympathetic thing on them, to find your man. All this botched stuff just leaves a pattern to follow."

***

"This didn't take place at the school. In fact—" Carolus hesitates, wings buzzling lightly. He withdraws his upper left hand from his cup, running his fingers through his hair, "In fact, we weren't certain that Warren would return to the school at all. He is — was, an extremely wealthy person. Lots of personal properties, lots of places to retreat to if he wanted. His wings were… not his only mutation, but they were his primary mutation. The things that, to himself and I suppose to onlookers, were what made him a mutant."

"His wings were amputated under circumstances that are retrospectively suspicious. I do not think New York Presbyterian as a whole stepped out of line, but the current evidence is that the gunk in Warren's wings was some sort of targeted agent introduced specifically to prevent his wings from mending."

"The Doctor," he continues, "was extremely insistent on disposing of the wings as quickly as possible. So I think either he knew something in advance or he realized what was going on and didn't want to be found responsible for it. He's been a physician to the Worthingtons for some time, I understand."

"To address /your/ speculation," he raises his head a little to look properly into the luminescent eyemarks on Gwen's mask, "Warren was in a bad enough way that I could have believed suicide from him closer to the amputation. But he was getting better as far back as two weeks ago, and we had made plans to meet again in the near future. He was also distressed at the pressure he was putting on Alison."

"It doesn't take an empath to know that if Warren Worthington was going to kill himself, he'd probably do it by taking one last flight, and he certainly wouldn't take Alison out with him. The firearm that was used to do it was his own, but it was… a small, concealed carry weapon with an associated permit."

"Neither Angel or Dazzler were bulletproof," he continues, "but 'a person with a handgun' should not have been a match for them. And yet, the whole affair was clean enough that it could be made to look like a murder-suicide. Additionally… the only way that agent could've been introduced unobtrusively is if somebody Warren and everyone around him trusted implicitly did it, and their actions were simply not subject to scrutiny at all."

"… And yes. There is a trail to follow. But—"

Carolus leans into the hand that had just been combing through his hair, "But this has become a matter of revenge for at least one of my seniors, the enemy /certainly/ will be prepared to find a way to hurt other people around Warren if they come sniffing, and this whole mess is borderline politically ruinous for mutants as-is."

***

Gwen listens, turning the words over in her head. Fitting them together. Like a large puzzle, she was trying to start with the edges and fill them in to get an idea of the scope of the picture.

"So to summarize, you believe one or more actors is targeting Warren Worthington, and people close to him, for…"

Another loud crunch, accompanied by the soft crinkle of sandwich wrapping paper, and Gwen chews anew with large, forceful bites as she works on her pile of toasted bread, meat, and cheese with the pace of someone who hasn't eaten most of the day.

"What reason? Have you ruled out a spite murder? There doesn't seem to be any reason for two of these things to be connected."

Gwen shrugs. "Why does the doctor botching this have anything to do with the 'murder-suicide'?"

A thoughtful look narrows her lensed eyes, furrowed down with a falsely accented brow. "It could be… insurance, for the 'suicide'. But you just said: he's not bulletproof. So, do you have proof they're connected? Because otherwise you've got two different situatons. Once you have someone, with proof, in custody, then you can think about revenge, isn't that right? It's a murder. It shouldn't matter if it was two mutants: it needs to be solved, and justice needs to happen. You work with that Agent of SHIELD, right? You gotta do this one right, or…"

Gwen hard-stops her thought, turning her head and eyes away to glance into her heater's chugging cone of warmth. "… Well. It's like you said. People are afraid of Achilles and Paris. If you take things into your own hands, you're saying you're either better than society… or worse."

"Also, if you're worried about me getting involved… Well, shoulda thought of that before you dragged me into another set of murders."

Her smile, visible and speckled with crumbs about her lips, is one of a bright sort of sarcasm. "But that's a bridge we've already commuted across."

***

"The 'why' is a difficult question. Warren was a public figure, one of the most public mutants in the world. There are plenty of people who would target him for that reason alone. Father Death, for instance. Gun-to-my-head assessment though…" Carolus takes another sip of his soup and reclines against the side of the scaffolding, squeezing his eyes shut, "It feels awfully personal. Not a suicide, but specifically a murder-suicide, taking somebody with him who probably didn't want to go. Nice and public. Something to smear his memory with along with getting rid of him."

"As for the Doctor," he opens his eyes and fixates on Gwen's mask again, "it's simply another piece of things going extremely oddly all at once, and he has a long-term connection to the family that would facilitate the unobtrusiveness required for certain elements of my own hypothesis. Dazzler being held up at the airport when the decision to amputate was made, during the surgery itself. A /rushed/ disposal of the wings immediately after the surgery. It could be benign, but it might not be. My current task is to go question him. Technically, your current task also, if you're still aboard."

"Now, proof about any of this yet, no. Particularly since the bodies disappeared. That's the next step."

Heaving a great sigh, he sets his cup aside and drags his hands up and down his face, "I'd have thought I was grasping at straws if others didn't come to the same conclusions I did independently. And, unfortunately, the agent of SHIELD is the one whose attitude presently concerns me. I think she will come around by the time it matters. I trust her. But I don't know, and I need to know for this. It can't be left to chance."

"We need to be Hector," he says, "not Achilles."

Carolus meets Gwen's smile with a dry, humorless one in return. He could fake it credibly, if he wanted to. But he's tired and doesn't want to put the effort into being sincerely insincere. He doesn't mind being run down in front of this person.

"If you want out, Ghost Spider, now's the time. You didn't sign up for this, and it's not helping you get home." He says.

***

"It could have been coincidental. Could have." Gwen reasons, but her smile dims out. It's not really a smiling topic - and putting on a brave face for Carolus rapidly seemed to be not exactly what he needed at the time. "Thought Experiment: I'm a murderer who wants to cripple the X-Men. I arrive at where Warren lives. I take his gun, and murder him with it - without a struggle. While sleeping, or in the tub, or whatever."

Gwen raises a finger. "That'd be cleaner. Harder to question. Which is why it's so weird to me that Dazzler got shot too. It doesn't add up. There's pieces here, but not a whole picture. Not a whole puzzle. Dazzler, though, didn't have to be shot first, did she? If you add more people to the situation, the order they're shot in becomes fuzzy. What if she came running — heard a 'bang!' — and then got caught in some trap, or power?"

Gwen brings an empty balled fist up to rap her knuckles against the side of her head in an exaggerated 'thinking' gesture. "But when you start thinking with powers, everything goes whacko. It makes me feel like a litigator, or an investigator in a Midnight Zone episode: what if someone really did have the very specific power of making people suicidally depressed? What if someone really did have the power to just totally reformat a crime scene? What if… You see where I'm going with that?"

Helplessly shrugging, Gwen points at Carolus. "You need to find your edge pieces, Carolus. Get some surety in your life. Investigations are one of the few things that thrive on negative data. Getting a 'no' can be helpful - more helpful than getting a yes, sometimes. Did Warren's place have a security system? Did that get knocked out too?"

Gwen's rapping fist comes down, as she extends fingers - counting off in time with her words. "One: You need to know if Warren's hand did the shooting. Two: You need to figure out if there was anyone else at the house that night. Three: You obviously need to find the bodies. Four: You need to start tugging at the Doctor's snarl. Five: …"

Gwen sighs, her shoulders dropping with her exhalation. "You need to eat, sleep, and recharge. Seriously. And this is coming from me! I can ask some people about helping out - well, one person. I think, for you, it may be time to call Doctor Strange. For all sorts of reasons. Maybe he can rule out some things - and right now, ruling out things is important. It helps you focus."

"When someone gets shot, your first instinct is vengeance. Trust me, I get it. As for me…"

Gwen clicks her tongue. "Mannnnnnnn, your timing sucks. 'Hey, I know you just fought metal candle zombies, do you want out?' nope, immediately more murder. It doesn't matter if I'm in or out, I'm in, because I was there. That's how being party to a crime works. I can tell Red Robin or Starfire that I've gotten involved in like eight murders and may already have enemies, and they'll probably go 'oh, ok, how can we help'. You know?"

"We're all idiots in masks. We have to help. Well—"

She lifts a lazy pointer finger at Carolus. "Actually you're just the idiot part. A double idiot, because you're letting yourself get so run down over this. This is the time where you need all your energy and focus. I can't tell you the number of times my dad said stuff like that."

***

"I have an entire folder of little things that could have been a coincidence but, in light of what happened, probably aren't. But yes. It could have been coincidental." Carolus cedes, with a light buzz of wings moving against the railing.

He drums two sets of fingers against the boards making up the platform's floor while considering the picture Gwen is trying to paint. After a while, he says, "In terms of danger both to somebody with a gun and in ability to slip loose of a trap, Dazzler was the more dangerous of the two. Her ability involved the manipulation of light, and you're a smart person so I'm going to let you extrapolate that out."

"Warren was more vulnerable. He had a mild healing factor and his physique was impressive but within human ranges for the most part. His wings would've made him an escape risk if he still had them. We have some of the crime scene information and are planning to go visit it later, but based on what we have right now and using the parameters of their capabilities as a compass…"

"If you're asking /me/ how I would pull this off, I'd get rid of Dazzler first."

He lifts his soup cup and takes a long, long draw out of it. By the time he's done, Carolus seems to have pulled himself together a little better. His tone picks up, "It's Twilight Zone in this universe. Twilight Zone. There are psychics strong enough to make somebody kill themselves, but to be perfectly frank most of them that I'm aware of are or were allies of the Institute. Which isn't to say it's not possible, but the who's who of psychic juggernauts has a lot of intersection with Institute student and faculty rosters."

"As for the crime scene," he says, "we're going to get a look at that later. My sight is different, so I'm hoping they missed something based on a human-centric perception system."

Another sip, then, "Don't know. Wouldn't be surprised. Not sure if it got knocked out or not if it exists. I'll ask about that, or look into it when we visit the scene."

"Working on the self-care bit, though." Carolus shakes his three-quarters drained soup cup, "Just didn't sleep well after the metal wax people. Actually if you want to help with that, come crash at my place tonight. I'm going to be jumping at shadows and unfamiliar scents if I'm by myself, which I know is funny coming from a guy who could use a car as a club, but if they can take Warren and Alison they can definitely take me. Whoever 'they' is."

He rifles around in his bag, unpacking a sandwich — some kind of melt — and taking a bite out of it. Carolus gestures with the once-bitten sandwich, "Tony Stark's my first stop for outside help. He and Warren were friends, I think. Internally I'm looking to hook… a bunch of people you don't know in. Er, maybe you've heard of Wolverine? I'm hoping to get ahold of Magik and see if she can do the sympathetic folk magic, but we'll see."

On the subject of vengeance, Carolus makes a distinctly sour face and droops a little, antennae and all. He replies, "Yes. Of course it does. And I am sure they will think I am quite cold for trying to stave it off. It's not that I don't feel the same way, if we are speaking personally. But all analogies aside, mutants are in a bad place. As far as the public is concerned, a mutant who was a major public figure just offed his girlfriend in a grotesque murder-suicide because he became 'merely human'."

"We were already in a bad place, before. Registration, and all. But this story — and it is a story, to the world around us — could define how mutants are perceived for a whole generation. If we find out who is responsible and just /kill them/…" He draws his auxiliary arms in against himself, "Many of the fears that surround us will be fundamentally validated."

Carolus looks at the boards beneath him, frowning. Slowly, he says, "I think… that we could use somebody like Red Robin. Perhaps Starfire, also."

But all further thoughts on the subject vanish immediately under Gwen's assertion of idiocy. He looks up, antennae raised, blinking rapidly. After a moment of silent, sheepish assent, Carolus smiles wearily.

"I am aware of the hazards of flying while sleepy, Spooky. It is not intentional, and I am trying. But I appreciate the fussing all the same." He answers, amusedly.

***

"Twilight Zone sounds way more lame." Gwen non-sequiturs after having lapsed into silence while Carolus volleys back explanations on his musings - and the situation. It's hard, but not impossible, to follow the subtle narrowing of magenta-ringed lenses as more details place themselves in the puzzle taking shape in Ghost Spider's head.

"That's a really odd way to ask a girl out, you know. Is there a thing with moths inviting spiders? Because…" Gwen's crumb-strewn smile returns, though more faded than before. The situation isn't one for pleasant grins anyway, "I'll totally raid your fridge and crash your couch though. You should work on feeling your 'moth sense' more. Don't you have one? An Antenna Awareness?"

"No? Just me? Okay." She crumples the wrapper to her sandwich. "As long as your bathroom door has a lock on it, I can grab my everything-bag if you want me to stay over for a few nights."

She balls up the rest of her foodstuffs in the to-go bag she had grabbed, standing up with a slow bounce. Gwen brings her fists into the small of her back and cranes backwards, stretching out her back before returning to a casual, relaxed shoulder slouch. "But you kinda made it weird there, Atlas. The weird smells?"

"Pretty sure I smell like anxiety and whatever another universe that hasn't been wiped out by New York's funk smells like." She shrugs. "I won't say that this situation is one that's letting me go to sleep easily either, but I think that Starfire had the right idea when I talked to her about it. Some people may have to die because they're so dangerous, or the crime they committed so high, there can be any number of reasons, but that doesn't mean they're good reasons. You can weigh the pros and cons and all the facts and come to the totally rational conclusion that that person no longer acting is the highest good to society - even the highest good to you - but that doesn't make it right."

"I'll talk to Red Robin, if I can. Maybe he'll have some ideas on how to track down the murderer. And tonight, we can watch…"

"Yeah, let's watch Demolition Man. Something fun and brainless to give me some local content."

And take their minds off the godawful elevator of murders they're both tumbling down.

***

"Yeah, well, as long as they both have William Shatner and John Lithgow freaking out at a gremlin on the wing of a plane, I think all is well in both universes." Carolus replies, almost on auto-pilot. He seems to appreciate the opportunity to lean into a little bit of levity just now. He half-expects her to tell him that it was Leonard Nimoy and Alan Rickman instead, though. There's a part of him that would be extremely okay with that.

He rubs absent-mindedly at an eye and exhales sharply at Gwen's comment and question, "I would very much prefer it if dating was what was on my mind right now. Instead I'm one of the people helping head the X-Men, which is all sorts of bizarre. There was a time when I'd have been really excited about that."

Letting his hand fall to his cheek and resting his head against it, he gives a twitch of his antennae, "These are a combination of olfactory and spatial awareness. I cover up pretty good, but all of the really fine fuzzy hair on me—" He indicates the scarf-like ring around his neck, "Are also setae. I sort of feel a lot of air pressure and current stuff that helps me fly. Now, that does mean that creeping up on me while I'm aware is almost impossible but I'm not much more aware than anybody else is when I'm asleep."

Carolus's eyes droop. He raises his auxiliary left hand with three fingers extended, "I have a guest room, I'm not a creep who makes bathroom privacy impossible for guests, aaaand I don't drink soda with corn in it. Make it a weekend bag at minimum to be on the safe side."

He looks confused for a moment, clearly trying to walk back through what he'd said and identify what was so strange. Then, with a look of /extremely/ slowly dawning understanding, he says, "My sense of smell is extremely strong. A regular moth can identify another moth by scent from around seven miles away. You can probably extrapolate my sensitivity from there."

"It's… more complicated than the crime itself, or the correct punitive measures to take against it. In principle, Warren and Alison's murderer certainly deserves to die." Carolus says, wrapping up his partially-eaten sandwich and putting it away, "But we can talk about it more later. I don't want to keep thinking about them dead right now, and I'm just going to wake up to a whole boatload more of that as-is."

He nods an affirmative to the subject of Red Robin, and begins putting things away— quite obviously intending to get out of here. Carolus does perk up a little at the mention of Demolition Man.

"I'm probably going to pass out in the middle of it. But yeah. Okay."

***
"Oh, you've got that can-never-hit-a-fly-without-a-swatter senses." Gwen nods. "Cool. Mine's always got this feeling, through everything, that there's not just danger, but a right way to deal with it. That makes the feeling go away, or feel better, or even just zapping the base of my skull and telling me whatever it is that the sense wants me to do."

"I mean, for someone with a danger sense that good, Atlas, you'd think I'd be running away from fights and danger, right? But no. It always feels like that's where I'm supposed to be. Where I'm meant to be."

Gwen wipes her mouth with the middle of her arm, fingers curled away - it becomes obvious that for someone who uses their hands to traverse NEW YORK CITY that maybe they got used to not touching their mouth, nose, or eyes after, super spider-immune-system or not. With a hook of thumbs against forefingers, she pulls down the lip of her mask.

"It's why I think I got sent here for a purpose. If I was supposed to say no to you, I'd feel it. So in that case, let's do a weekend. But no, it was Leonard Nimoy. His breakout, after Star Trek. Loved that series, but I only ever caught a few episodes."

Perhaps it truly is the Strictly Superior Universe that Gwen hails from.

***

"Mutant powers are almost never that convenient," Carolus explains, "we hit puberty and then wham, along with all the rest of the stuff we have to deal with suddenly we're strong enough to throw a car, or fire eye lasers, or suck the life force out of people and eat their memories. The idea of self-guiding powers sounds positively luxurious."

He brushes off his shirt and wipes his mouth as he stands up, shouldering his bag.

"Well," he says, "whatever the reason for it, I appreciate your presence and cooperation both, Spooky."

Raising both right hands, he says, "Swing safe. See you in a bit. I need to tidy up—"

He actually doesn't.

"— And you need to collect your belongings, I assume. My place is just down the road from the park we met at not long ago. I'll text you the address and leave the balcony open."

He shakes his head, "Twilight Zone with Leonard Nimoy instead of William Shatner. But Clown World. /Clown World/. I can't even imagine what lynchpin events lead to these differences."

Then he steps off the scaffolding, the buzz of his wings following immediately after.

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