Sign The Dotted Line
Roleplaying Log: Sign The Dotted Line
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Jean Grey touches base with Carolus, then takes him to explore a potential lead.

Other Characters Referenced: Warren Worthington, Alison Blaire, Domino, Moonstar, Cameron Hodge, Magik
IC Date: October 31, 2019
IC Location: Xavier Institute
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 01 Nov 2019 04:23
Rating & Warnings: PG
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* * *

Once more, Carolus Sinclair has made himself available at Xavier's Institute to discuss the matter of Warren Worthington and Alison Blaire's supposed deaths. He's taken over a conference room in the faculty areas, where he can be found sitting on a stool at the head of the table.

A slim laptop is open on the table in front of him, along with a few different manilla folders. Most of them actually don't seem to have anything to do with the ongoing case if inspected, although one appears to be a case file scratchpad with a quickly scribbled timeline and a few other personal note details in it.

A plate full of croissants sits at the center of the table, and a couple of pitchers of water and glasses are present also. The lights are dimmed and the curtains are drawn, but the room isn't so dark that it looks like it's unused. A bin full of glass bottles is shoved mostly-inconspiciously beneath the table next to Carolus.

* * *

"I need to know what happened."

A flittering series of stimuli preceded the loud, obvious one: air currents stirred around fine hairs as if by magic; floral soap and coconut-kissed shampoo and days of grime strobe back and forth across the border between imaginary and real; clipped breaths pop through the room like phantom sighs.

"Warren's assistant doesn't know anything. Warren's board is clean. Their bodies are gone; their family's of no help."

Carolus has more senses, finer senses than what Jean Grey's used to sliding beyond. Glitches would be difficult to avoid even if some portion of her psyche wasn't preoccupied with death.

"Obviously, he didn't do it," she continues, dressed in black slacks with a loose green blouse, "not really. So I need to know what you know; I need to know where to start with making this right."

For a woman who arrived at the Institute promptly after the news hit, then went on to spend the next week or so locked in a room, she's looking remarkably refreshed.

* * *

Familiar smells combine with keen collection of atmospheric data to draw Carolus's eyes towards the door before Jean appears in it. He knows what to expect of anybody coming to talk to him by now. It's either a grieving question, or a how-do-I-help for those who are a little more detached and professional. Jean, of course, could only be among the grieving.

"I'm going to start with the finish because it'll quash some of the anxiety I assume you're experiencing," He flips his laptop shut and sits up straight on his stool, wings twitching and buzzing lightly as he does so, "Warren and Alison aren't dead. Moonstar tried to find their souls to ask who had killed them and they just weren't around."

He rests his auxiliary arms against his knees and crosses his primary arms over his chest, "With that in mind, I will start at the beginning from my perspective. About three weeks ago I had a chat with Warren after the amputation, and after he'd had a little more time to process it. His assistant Kiff provided me with a folder listing a number of unsettling coincidences that suggested some sort of conspiracy against Warren."

"The night before Warren and Alison 'died'," he continues, "Moonstar, Ghost Spider, and I tracked down the company that was supposed to be responsible for disposing of his wings. A techno-organic virus originating from the remains of Warren's wings had fried all of the electrical equipment there, and turned the employees into waxy blobs of techno-organic mass that were easily dispatched."

"Immediately after the 'murder-suicide', Moonstar and I discussed the matter, agreed that it was simply an elaborate murder, and continued on. Analysis of the material from the wings suggested that it was designed specifically to disrupt Warren's biology and prevent his wings from mending. Very /targeted/, very subtle. Furthermore, having already decided that it was a murder framed as something else, we hypothesized that somebody Warren and Alison would not have expected to hurt them turned on them very abruptly."

"We checked out the crime scene," he continues, "and discovered that it had been cleaned up — extremely professionally, only somebody with unusual senses would've been able to pick it out, and even then only barely — and that the police hadn't taken it particularly seriously. Daredevil, who was also investigating parallel to us, told us that Alison had been drugged with ketamine at the time."

"Daredevil also observed that Cameron Hodge's interactions with the police were far too calm for somebody whose best friend had gone out in such a gruesome way."

He pauses for a moment to reach across for a glass of water, taking a sip before he carries on, "So I take Ghost Spider, and we go to shake down Warren's Doctor. He was responsible for the sudden and firm insistence on the disposal of the wings. Sure enough he was hiding something, but before I could press him some smiley-faced Purifiers showed up and tried to assassinate him. He thought they were there to help him and tried to sic them on me. Ghost Spider and I managed to get him out, and we've got him at a safe house for the moment, but I've left the interrogating to others."

"The current plan," Carolus says, "is to have Magik use what's left of Warren's wings to find where he's gotten off to. Cameron Hodge is our primary suspect, and Doctor Stuart was probably an accomplice. I asked Domino and Magik to look in on Cecilia and Hunter in the meanwhile, but I haven't heard back from them yet."

* * *

Warren and Alison aren't dead.

Jean's nostrils flare and the news stokes a flash-fire across the crown of her head. Once it's snuffed, saucer-wide eyes start to shrink towards bemusement and her head starts to tilt. She starts to open her mouth, but pressing into a tight line and listening wins out. There's a story coming; she can *feel* it.

Her arms have folded tightly across her chest by the time that story turns towards scraping clues from a damningly clean crime scene. She stops looking him in the eye by the time the Purifiers - the Purifiers, who already tried to steal his wings through far more barbaric means - enter the tale.

Flames bloom and fade all across her body like radiant mayflies as the plan is laid out. Her tongue presses the roof of her mouth firmly—

Burning emeralds snap towards Carolus' eyes, and "Have you used Cerebro already?" bursts out as soon as Domino and Magik are mentioned.

After a beat, she starts to add, "Could you have— " in a quieter voice, then quickly shakes her head and lifts a hand. "No— sorry. Did you, or no?"

The question's been burning a hole in her mind since the story started, so now that it's out, she helps herself to a few deep, shaking breaths—

— and then she turns, shifting purposeful steps towards the door. "Tell me more about Doctor Stuart," she continues, lifting a hand to beckon towards him. "Where is he? Where is Cameron Hodge, for that matter? Has he gone to ground somehow, or is he still out in the open? I want to talk to both of them." She slows, then, but only because she's also turning to face the table.

"I understand that Stuart's the easier one here, but I'm guessing you've got something in mind for Hodge already, yeah?" she allows with an arching brow.

* * *

Carolus breaks eye contact when the fires appear. He doesn't look or feel alarmed— there's a quality of fascination to it, but it's more instinctual than conscious, and it doesn't seem to rob him of his ability to engage in the conversation.

"They were very unpleasant, yes. Chitauri power armor and everything. They might not be literal Purifiers, but they had the same M.O. Wanted to take my wings as trophies, actually." He clarifies, before restoring eye contact himself.

"We have not, to my knowledge, used Cerebro. I don't know that I'm even capable of it. I doubt it. /I/ haven't hastened to rope any of our telepaths in because…" He drums his auxiliary right hand's fingers against his knee, "The presumed enemy knows us a little too well, and this all went too well for them up until very recently. I'm concerned that the /less/ experienced and powerful telepaths would be at serious risk of falling into… I don't know, some sort of psychic trap maybe. There's no guarantee that's not a hazard for you, either, but you could probably handle it."

"Doctor Stuart is at…" He rattles off a safehouse address, "As for Hodge, I have no idea. After the scuffle at Doctor Stuart's it's possible that he's alert that he might have been made. I would otherwise expect him to be engaging in business-as-usual at Worthington Industries."

"We haven't formalized any plans surrounding Hodge. I think we want to track down Warren and Alison first, since they'll be able to decisively identify who tried to do them in. Hodge is a very strong suspect but we haven't been able to nail him down decisively yet."

"Even if we had," he says, "if he's connected to this latest Purifiers offshoot he's going to be a lot more dangerous to subdue than I'd advise one person try to tackle. /Stuart/ on the other hand admitted that he had done what 'they' wanted, so I'm sure he has something of use to tell somebody who's better at extracting information than I am."

"Er…" He climbs off of his stool to stand alongside the conference table, "Sorry, how should I address you?"

* * *

She slows,

and slows,

and stops. Little by little, her eyes slide towards the ground.

Roughly one still panel later:

"Let's go with Jean," she quietly decides.

Following another thoughtful beat, she turns to resume walking. "If he's engaging in business-as-usual, then his security options are gonna to be limited, right?" she begins. Her pace is measured even though she's looking where she's going, to give Carolus time to catch up. "He's got to go places— he can't be under lockdown 24/7. The only problem is: he doesn't necessarily have to have all that much security; broad daylight and public opinion are not on our side…"

Two ribbons of fire unfurl from her back, only to shatter into fading embers as they start to straighten out, and all the while she rubs the back of her neck and chews on her bottom lip.

"Okay…" she breathes out.

"The Purifiers have - it could be 'had', but let's assume not - at least one set of three telepaths in their ranks, so if this group of high-tech racists has any connection with, or is that other group of high-tech racists, then — yeah, anti-psychic measures are a strong possibility. And then there's the alien technology… I couldn't find anything psionically off about the crime scene, but that doesn't mean it isn't an option once it's time to start poking at influential brains.

"Not that that's going to stop me, but: you were right to worry."

Jean's arms fall open, and as soon as they do her hands get jammed into her pockets. If Carolus seems to be catching up, her steps start to quicken; if not, it's just a matter of time before they do anyway.

She has a date in the Adirondacks, after all.

"As for Hodge, I— what if we could isolate him, somewhere? In transit, at a function— preferably at night… … we'd need his schedule, somehow, but…"

Jean spends a few seconds thinking about the logistics, then she briefly freezes.

"What about you?" she asks with a glance over her shoulder. "What should I call you, Person Who I'm About To Take To The Mountains?"

* * *

"Jean." Carolus repeats, nodding.

"The Purifiers who showed up just sort of materialized in the air, according to Ghost Spider. So, strictly speaking, I'm not sure it's true that he can't have some extremely robust security while simultaneously not having extremely robust security. Their iconography is a little different, too— you have my permission to pull the image from my mind if you like, I'd rather more of us knew exactly what to expect going forward rather than merely what I can quickly describe. All of that happened on the twenty seventh." Carolus quickly amends, rapidly and efficiently scooping his sprawl up off of the table, snagging a bag off of a nearby chair and putting everything away. It's a wonder how much you can get done with two extra hands.

Once he's caught up, he resumes speaking, "Kiff might be able to help with Hodge's schedule, if he hasn't already been secreted away to safehouse. Might be able to, even so. We think he's probably going to end up a target though, so it wouldn't surprise me if Danielle has already had him quietly relocated."

"Non-operationally, you may call me Carolus. Operationally, Atlas is my codename." He answers, genially. No 'nice to meet you' is added, because he's found it disingenuous to attach that to /any/ of these conversations surrounding Warren and Alison's attempted murder.

* * *

"That's a… … all those bigots in power armor showing up at his command— that wouldn't do him in favors in the public eye either, would it? But…"

Smiling faces and space-forged metal flash through both of their minds.

"Maybe just waiting for him to lock himself down would be the best way to handle this, but I guess that we can see what his schedule says, and go from there."

She's headed for the nearest way outside; once she reaches grass, she'll wait with a hand slightly held towards Carolus. "If Kiff hasn't been relocated, then he probably oughtta be, ASAP; I don't want any bodies, if we can help it," she continues along the way.

Eventually:

"You're a flier; high speeds don't bother you, right?"

The air around her's magenta, as if it always was— as if it's the most natural thing in the world for a woman to radiate rosy light. Vivid red waves ripple out behind her like smoke wafting on telekinetic currents.

"How long have you been here, Carolus?"

* * *

"There are ways around being visibly associated with those people. He could frame it as a random attack, for instance. Or even as his own kidnapping by unrelated parties. Given how much sneakiness has gone on with Warren, I'm not inclined to think of any possibilities as too paranoid." Carolus says, not dismissively but certainly with a strong helping of /concern/.

They reach the grounds, and Carolus seems to realize what's going on. His antennae twitch gently, "I'm sure that Danielle is on top of the Kiff situation. But I do not know. Our communication has been face-to-face as much as possible, since we can't be certain that Hodge doesn't have a way to spy on our regular communications for the moment. Hence the er, evasiveness in the memos. It's easier to secure a room than a whole network."

In regards to flight, he explains, "My physiology is superhuman across the board. I can't reach speeds that significantly stress my frame, but exactly what my limits are I couldn't tell you."

Carolus shuts his eyes when the lights start turning up, "… I hope you'll pardon me. Lights like these are nice to observe in leisure, but I don't feel like trying to process them right now if I'm not going to be doing the flying."

Clearing his throat, he folds both sets of hands together and answers, "I was enrolled at the Institute in 2012, and I was a participant in the invasion in 2015. I graduated in 2017. I did not handle the invasion particularly well, and so I recused myself from active heroing for the most part after the invasion."

A tinge of guilt dances in the back of his mind for that.

"I resumed active duty last month, and I am pleased to tell you that my experience can be summarized as falling down an escalator of murders." He concludes, in a deliberately faux-cheery tone.

* * *

"We used to greet new students by telling them we hoped they survived the experience," Jean murmurs as her corona stretches to embrace Carolus.

Well. Most of them did; Scott was generally not so inclined, and it took Jean some time to get into the spirit of the game.

"But it stopped being funny a long time ago. 'An escalator of murders' kind of is the experience, only whoever built it is also a virulent racist."

Once they leave the ground, it doesn't take long before they're hurtling through the sky at 100mph and counting; she's feeling very motivated. The radiant field acts as a buffer between them and the turbulent forces building as Jean fires them towards the Adirondacks.

"There's no shame in stepping back from it," she offers, "especially after what you must've gone through. Costume or not, as long as you lived the best life you could, as well as you could, you did right by your teachers."

* * *

"I do not recall that. But I was rather distressed at the time." Carolus admits, raising both sets of arms ever-so-slightly and allowing both antennae and wings to twitch, "I went to sleep one night two-armed and two-legged, and was cut from my cocoon midway through my transfiguration. It was… unpleasant, and so was awakening once I had re-cocooned myself and finished growing my new appendages."

"It was a weird month."

He smiles in sincere amusement in reaction to Jean picking up 'escalator of murders', "Yes. I… was not expecting an ordinary life when I decided to get involved again, but I had hoped that I would not step directly off of a cliff. It hasn't been all bad. Reconnecting is nice. Meeting Ghost Spider was… bizarre, but I am satisfied with how that has gone."

"This feels /really/ strange, by the way. Nice speed, though."

On the subject of his absence, the moth man shrugs animatedly, "It is… something that I have complicated feelings about. But when Warren registered, I thought that I ought to as well. And that being the case, it seemed like the time to give it all another go."

"All macabre humor aside though," he admits, "it is hard not to think that perhaps signing on the dotted line just made us future martyrs."

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