The Machine
Roleplaying Log: The Machine
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Emma and Tessa strategize over the White Queen's "updated" psychic amplifier.

Other Characters Referenced: Sebastian Shaw
IC Date: November 29, 2019
IC Location: The Hellfire Club Mansion, Upstate New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 30 Nov 2019 09:47
Rating & Warnings: G
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The hour is late, but that means very little at the Hellfire Club's mansion on its generous estate lot in upstate New York.

Sebastian Shaw has been here for several days, debauching as one does when one is the Black King in his own domain. He withdrew for his own private amusements an hour ago ago, disappearing into the townhouse's upper floors. Selene is slinking around somewhere, certainly, although most would be hard pressed to be able to give a definitive location.

These things conspire together to mean that the basement, off limits to members of the general membership who have been given invitations for the weekend, has been completely devoid of distractions.

Which is for the best, because it is occupied by one Emma Frost who has been very particularly tetchy and impatient for weeks.

She sits now in a rare moment of mismatched personas, in corset and boots and cape… but with her reading glasses very much in place as she sits on a stool, hunched over a table, and looks over - for the hundredth time - a yellowing set of pages and compares it against the jumbled mass of metal and wires in a three foot cube that was once her prized Mutivac.

It's presently a very expensive paperweight.


The basement has been off limits to those who come from outside. To members… but not to staff.

And if Tessa is anything here in the Hellfire Club, she is most certainly staff.

Having engaged in one treachery quite recently, Tessa has been the model of service and facilitation… not that this is a great shift from her usual habits, certainly not enough to draw poor notice from Shaw, whose blind spots she has adroitly hidden herself in. Selene may have noticed, but Selene has many things on her mind, and many people yet to eat other than Tessa herself.

But sometimes you get a direct instruction.

Descending thus into the basement, Tessa steps quietly. "Madame," she says, to announce her presence.

Tessa is wearing a black leather corset that is cinched up to moderate tightness and black yoga tights, along with surprisingly reasonable flats. (The kind you buy for 19 dollars at Duane Reade for emergencies.) Her chignon is in mild disarray. She looks tired *and* has on eyeshadow, but her posture remains firm. She is holding a picnic hamper - the narrow, deep kind that probably has wine in it - over one shoulder, fingers curled around the handle.

"The White King inquires as to your progress, as he is most desirous of your presence," she then says, and if there is a weary level of irony in this — well, yeah, it's totally there. Her eyes flick to Multivac afterwards. "I am to facilitate you, apparently. How proceeds the repairs?"


While Tessa's approach is caught somewhere in back of the telepath's brain, it's not until she other woman speaks that it really registers. Furthermore, it's not until she finishes speaking that Emma deigns to make any indication at all that she'd heard the approach.

The papers in Emma's hand hit the table with a loud 'thwap', and her pale blue eyes turn towards poor Tessa with pure, unadulterated irritation as manicured fingers rip the glasses off of her face. "You can tell Mister Shaw that I'll be finished when I'm finished," she snaps. "His poking and prying isn't making this go any faster." Unspoken is her observation that it just puts her in an even fouler mood that even the flute of asti beside her can't begin to lift.


Tessa doesn't flinch.

Inwardly, Tessa's lip curls, at least the lip of her heart. The momentary rankling of dudgeon at inefficiency and the half-sublimated emotional cues that she has cultivated, almost as a byproduct, are in the psychic equivalent of a deep vault. Yet she feels them anyway, however faintly.

But they do not reach her actual, physical face. "I will be pleased to do so," Tessa states. She turns her hand around to set down the picnic basket, which clanks, suggestive of contents other than gourmet food.

"But I have been bidden not to show my face again, upon pain of pain, until there is progress. Such a command will last at least six hours, perhaps as many as forty-eight. I am at your disposal, my lady." Her eyes flick towards Multivac to try and spot out visible problems, external though they may be.


The papers that were once in Emma's hands, schematics and diagrams some years old, fan out but are kept together at the corner by one valiant staple with the start of rust at its edge.

Tessa might see, of course, the repaired power supply where an X-Man shot at it and severed it, and clip of two other bullets beside that miraculously damaged little beyond the steel casing.

But the machine is not just out of alignment with what is presented on those pages. It has been altered to the point of new pieces and wire mappings. Circuits have been reborn in configurations with but one known consequence - the suppression of her telepathic ability. All of these things, Emma has - on a notepad nearby - begun to capture.

"I'm still trying to sort out what those barbaric chimpanzees changed. I fixed the power supply, but powering the thing on is clearly not in my best interest. Shaw wants it fixed, but just simply restoring it seems… short-sighted."


Tessa considers the bullet hole in the power supply. She feels empathy with this as well. Her head cants slightly, and she is silent as Emma expresses both frustration and concepts both.

"I see," she states. "Documentation of unauthorized changes is important lest you have unusual results… particularly important for a case such as this…" The trailing off of a sentence is something that has happened very rarely.

Tessa puts a finger to her chin. "Shaw hungers for what Mutivac can do," she states. "It is a need. I concur with your assessment. He will have to bear the frustration. This is an excellent opportunity to execute upgrades and feature refinements…"

"May I?" Tessa says, reaching for the schematics.

Her other hand flips the lid of the hamper with the twist of one finger. She reaches in to draw out - well at the *top*, evidently, were a range of common computer repair tools, several advanced multimeters, grounding wrist straps, et cetera.


Emma's eyes narrow, the response all at once protective of something that she very fiercely regards as hers, and the pricking of her pride is intense.

She built this - with every thought, learning, and technique she stole to inform her hands and choices. She stole those thoughts and built something new from them—dreams well beyond the man from whom she stole them. She bent them to her will and limitless aspiration.

The fact that Shaw would dare to presume any right to it—although his predilection for such overreaches is hardly something new—grates that is all at once deeply personal and offensive to Frost in ways that she would never give voice. The thought of Tessa's changes is less so, but altogether unwelcome in the wake of the former offense. But still, the blonde only allows any expression of these things with but a beat of silence that follows before she unfurls her empty hand towards the pages. "Of course," she replies with a cultured musicality and a chilly subtext.


Tessa immediately picks up the documentation and begins examining it.

This is where one might in some cases expect a general remark on its quality, a statement - perhaps a compliment to pour oil on troubled waters.

Tessa does not do that.

Given how she is moving through the pages - occasionally referring back several ways - she is, at least, probably not committing it to memory. Is she? (At least it is the old version.)

"The furniture would block… ah; yes, I see. A cardioid pattern in the antenna… there will be few targets three kilometers beneath New York City. Thus, we avoid filtering the deep subterranea…"

Then she sets the diagrams down, not looking up to Emma immediately. "Other than repairing the gunshot damage, I can make no remarks. If you were to make waveguide apertures you would see a range increase, but having un-heterodyned coverage of Hawaii is likely not worth the risk of damage from flooding, et cetera." To herself, Tessa silently curses, not for the first time, the frequency of the HFC's incidents with water damage to electrical systems.

"My hands and eyes are at your disposal, madame," she concludes. Tessa's eyes lift. Her left hand rests on her hip.

"I understand your frustrations," Tessa then *actually* concludes, but as an afterthought. Probably an afterthought.


While Tessa studies the plans at hand, Emma sets her glasses on the table, takes up the flute of asti and takes a long sip from it. She shuffles and arranges her mantle to wrap herself fully in its warm folds to fight the basement’s chill. Once she nestles in, burrowing her chin into its fur collar, she looks for a moment akin to a snowy owl with four steel legs.

She closes her fatigued eyes and lets them rest. She’s been staring at pages for hours with enlightenment far from her.

The verdict from Tessa comes, and the blonde cracks one eye open to listen. The words are English, certainly, and a dialect of it that makes more sense to Frost than it might others. But it’s been a long while since she’s needed to play technician, and so what she understands is not nearly enough to get her any closer to the solutions she needs.

Maybe it’s then that Emma notices at last the marks or Tessa’s long hours today in service to the cabal’s unyielding leader. Maybe is stirred to sympathy, if not mercy.

But then she is just promised assistance. She exhales angrily through her nose and closes once more her draconic eye, summoning patience to her.

“This would all be a lot easier if I’d just had access to my abilities when—”

She stops short.

“Tessa, among those that they took into custody from Kenai… Was a Jim Frankowski was among them?”


Tessa waits, scenically. If it wasn't for the microscopic motions of her breath she would seem a statue. It is a habit. She is somewhat more animated around Shaw, but perhaps that is his standing orders.

A question is given to her.

Tessa's eyes saccade momentarily. She looks down at the ground for half a second, then up and over to Emma. "No," she states. "No man of that name."

Her eyebrows have raised slightly.


Emma’s lips immediately curl upwards in a sneer.

“Good.”

She pushes herself to her feet, and she sets her glasses atop the old pages. Her features disappear behind her curtains of softly curled blonde hair and her figure disappears beneath the generous folds of her cape.

“You will need to manage Mister Shaw. And continue the updated schematic for this…” A hand gestures vaguely at the machine, her tone dripping with disgust. “That.

She exhales angrily, and then turns to go. “Tell him that I’ll be back.”


Tessa’s own lip curls - but not so much up as to the side. Is it the ghost of a smile? A reaction to the new assignment? Blink and you’d miss it. She says, immediately and with her usual and wonted grace, “Of course,” and then she says -

“No ETR?”

But she is not asking. The question is rhetorical.

The glimpse vanishes, replaced with the impassivity of manicured and trained perfection. Why did she show that glimpse? She’ll never tell. It could very well just be fatigue.

“I shall manage. I wish you good fortune, madame.”

Her eyes rest on the machine, though she does not approach until she is alone.

Perhaps she does not trust herself not to grin.

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