They Were The First
Roleplaying Log: They Were The First
IC Details

Carol finds out that Warren has returned from the grave baring troubling new secrets.

Other Characters Referenced: Thor, Iron Man, Rocket
IC Date: January 20, 2020
IC Location: Worthington Tower, NYC
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 23 Jan 2020 02:09
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

What astonishing times Carol Danvers lives in.
For the past few weeks Carol has been mostly out of contact with Earth due to important space projects with NASA. This is to say, she's been mostly working on the Moon for several days.
Having become the equivalent of a UHaul for an entire alphabet soup of aeronautical agencies from civilian to military, she had dragged a specially designed 'trailer' to the Lunar mare from Earth for a pittance of the cost it would have taken without a superhuman pack mule.
With lightspeed delayed instructions from Earth, she had unpacked instrumentation and equipment alike. Setting up an array of telescopes, sensors and remote-controlled equipment across a rocky outpost with perpendicular visibility to the Earth. A location chosen for ample solar exposure for energy panels yet shade enough to not fry the more vulnerable equipment.
To say she is living the dream of being a Super Astronaut is an understatement. At times like these, she's starting to feel that her 'demotion' out of the spotlight hasn't been all bad. She might be banished out of view these days compared to her earlier celebrity years.. But at least now she feels like she can get work done with unimpeachable integrity.
Registration might have nearly ruined her reputation, but at least here she can still serve mankind and do the things she loves.

By the time Carol returned to Earth and spent many hours debriefing her operations, she's now relaxing in her half-unattended apartment. She begged Jess to check on Chewie every so often for her while she was out. Not that the Flerken needs too much oversight.
.. Too much..
Carol only had to get Chewie to spit out just one parked car. That's not too bad for him.

Lounging in her civilian outfit on her God awful couch, she was thumbing through newspaper articles on her phone over the last week or two. No massacres in NYC recently.. That's a step in the right direction.
'..rren Worthington and Alison Blaire, thought to be dead, have resurfaced ali..'
Carol's heart catches in her chest. Immediately thumbing back to the Daily Bugle article, sitting up straight so fast Chewie is thrown from her shoulder with a feline yowl of outrage.


Minutes later, Captain Marvel is streaking over the New York City evening skyline. Wording the most hasty excuse to flight controllers as she bee-lines for the Worthington Tower amid the Manhattan skyline.

Life at Worthington Industries has settled down again, inasmuch as it can be said to settle down after the man whose family name happens to be on the side of the tower mysteriously returned to life. Or, well, returned from 'being framed.' That's the story Warren told the press when he was pushed to tell one, and he told it with conviction, because frankly ninety percent of what he was saying was true.

He was set up by his best friend and his own family (again). They did attempt to kill him and smear his name in order to get control of the family and all its wealth. His best friend did do all this out of a deep and abiding hatred for the metahuman, and for… more personal reasons. And they do have a whole bunch of evidence to back all those assertions up. The collaboration between Warren's family and Cameron Hodge. The funds flowing towards the hate group known as the Right.

The 'lies,' if there can be said to be any, are in what he does not tell the press. No one needs to know all that happened in between his framing and his return, and 'large amounts of money' has a great way of silencing inquiries.

By this time the news has stopped running the story as something novel, instead merely dredging it back up occasionally so some talking heads can pick it apart again 'in the context of the current raging registration debate' or similar. But it still runs often enough for a certain someone to notice. That someone is not spotted by anyone within Worthington Tower itself, as she approaches — she moves too fast for the average half-asleep office worker — and it's not like Worthington Tower has, say, extraterrestrial defense systems or anything. So there's not really any response to her arrival.

None except that from Warren himself, who does happen to be extraordinary, and who has eyes that catch things from miles off. His sole reaction, however, is to frown, to reach over and hit the 'unlock' for the skylight, and then to go back to concluding his call. Stuck behind his desk on the phone, he looks… honestly, much the same as Carol left him… except his wings are back, and they kind of reflect light in a strange way when held at the right angle.

In this moment, Carol damns the tabloids and full speed ahead. She wears her full Captain Marvel uniform to the highest levels of the tower. She could fly in civilian clothes but her glowing contrails of her faster atmospheric speeds gives her away very quickly. There may be a number of meta humans who soar about NYC but not that many. In her Kree salvaged uniform there is little issue with Registration paperwork and identification which could hamper her. Her starburst emblem is as much a badge as those New York's finest wear.
Such a rendezvous might be considered scandalous by some, especially for half of the mutant power couple of Warrison.. But Carol isn't considering that.

Warren is alive.
If she was more of a SHIELD intelligence agent she would know to be skeptical. This could easily be a ploy to try and reveal Warren's killers. Sadly, if this was a police (or even X-Men) ambush, then Danvers is flying right into it. She goes with her gut, and her gut held out for the faintest glimmer of hope that Angel was not dead.

Carol flies right up to the glass of the mighty skyscraper window, pressing her palms to the surface to peer through the tinted material. The sound of the opening skylight above is barely audible above the winds at such altitude, but she catches it. Her gloved hands 'walk' on the glass a few feet before she darts upwards. Leaping in a slow arc before diving through the opening and into the familiar high office she did not think she'd return to again.
"Warren!" She announces the moment her boots hit the carpet, wide steel eyes staring at the man at the desk. Packing a variety of emotions from shock, surprise, accusation, and confusion in one word as she quickly walk the remaining distance.

There is no evidence of a trap, whether by the mundane authorities or by more… vigilante forces. Either everyone considers what happened to be a rather open-and-shut case by now, or Warren simply doesn't worry about these things like he used to. Hard to say.

What is certain is that Carol is allowed in unimpeded.

Warren hangs up his call and rises behind his desk, in tandem with Carol dropping to the floor and heading in his direction. It does not look like a defensive movement so much as like one of the simple courtesies Warren always showed: ingrained gestures of basic etiquette that stick with him even now. "Nice to see you too," he says, his voice dry. He tilts his head towards the seating. "I'd be offended how long it took you, if I didn't surmise that you were off-planet."

He steps around and out from behind his desk. His wings sheathe tightly at his back with a harder-edged rustling than before. They look like feathers; they don't quite sound one hundred percent like feathers.

"'How' is a complicated question," he admits. "The basics of it were released in press conferences already. You've really been incommunicado, haven't you?"

By the time Warren rises from his seat and she gets within three steps of the desk does Carol remember propriety. Her knee-jerk reaction is to hug the man but the dry reply stops her cold. There is a brief sputter as she's caught unable to answer, the urge to proclaim the obvious and try to say something witty tripping over each other.
Sure. Angels come back from death all the time. No biggie. How are you?

"Aaah.." Her jaw caught, her attention briefly caught by the glint of his feathery wings. Is he using some kind of feather glitter? Some kind of resurrection side effect? How DO Mutants work anyway?
In something of a rush, she just blurts out, "I've been on the Moon for the last week or twoHOW are you not dead?!" One thought instantly transforming into another as she leans of the desk, "Did you fake your death to catch that asshole? Alison too? Both of you??"
That would be the most sensible answer, by Carol's calculation. The fact that he states his miracle has been detailed somewhat by a press release goes unheeded. She has been caught without doing her homework but isn't about to bring it up on her holographic HUD now. Not when the living, breathing man himself is before her.

Perhaps Warren purposefully spoke with such dryness to forestall the hug. He's not quite so much for the physical contact as he used to be, and he's got a lot of experience in eyeballing when a woman is going to try to get cozy in some form.

Of course, the reason he's not as up for physical contact as he used to be is not something that is a major concern when it comes to Carol 'Indestructible' Danvers, but still. There's a lot Warren still doesn't know about himself, and he's erring on the side of just staying aloof as much as possible until he gets his shit worked out. So to speak.

But — HOW is he not dead? Carol repeats. Warren regards her for a long few moments, his blue eyes a lot more remote than they used to be. His entire demeanor is — different, than before. All the playfulness is absent, and in its place only the staid sort of grimness of someone who has done things of which they are not… proud.

"Our deaths were faked, in a way," he eventually answers. It sounds like just the preamble to a longer answer.

He seems to mentally weigh two conflicting desires in his mind for a long few moments more, before he says, "We've been able to deal with one another on the level before. Maybe we can again. If I were to say something, who would you have to tell?"

There is a slow chill crawling up her spine as she watches and listens to Warren.
Something is wrong.
Carol is not the most insightful human when it comes to discerning behavior but she can feel a soft but present aversion. For a business executive being aloof is nothing new and Warren certainly did have his moments.. But now? There is a coldness here that she didn't experience with the man before. Perhaps this only due to the contrast of just how warm and a subtle flirt he was before.. But there is no welcome here.
Clearly offput, Carol arights from the desk, straightening as her astonished expression slowly transforms into a deeper confusion.
"In a way??" She repeats the qualification with bafflement.
And then he speaks of being 'on the level'. Her jaw clicks shut at that statement and now she deeply regrets flying in wearing her Captain Marvel uniform.
With the cold shower of his icey demeanor, the reality of her mistake asserts itself.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

"I.. Understand you can't tell me everything.." A gloved hand moves to massage her neck and very pointedly indicating a golden button looking mark at her lapel. The very one that controls her SHIELD monitoring equipment on her suit.
"I've been out of town .. very out of town. I saw the article the Bugle ran and I dropped everything and came here.." She has the awkward stance of a woman who had a bucket of water thrown over her head and is sobering as fast as she can, "I just.. I just wanted to say I am extremely glad to see you Warren. It broke my heart to hear what happened to you.. Your.. ah.." Gesturing briskly to behind his shoulders, ".. I'm glad your wings healed and you're alright. I know what that's like.. Losing flight. I know how much it.. And when I heard how you died I thought.. Ah.." Slowly stepping backwards, rambling more than creating full sentences. Her own thoughts on the public face of Warren's saga running verbally without grace, caught so completely flat footed on this matter.

It is certainly not unusual for a business executive — especially one as high-powered as Warren Worthington — to be extremely good at keeping aloof, and holding his cards close to the chest. But what Warren is currently expressing is something a little different from that studied, smooth-faced calm which all public figures have to master. There's something remote about him that seems to leave him a thousand miles away in a different sort of way. Like something alien was put into him, and is looking out through his familiar blue eyes.

Something that has little interest in the playful, flirtatious niceties that he indulged before.

Yet as he regards her — realizing her mistake, backpedaling slightly, and stumbling over her words as she tries to reorient herself — something of the old Warren seems to finally struggle to the surface. A flicker of empathy, maybe even remorse, for receiving someone who was transparently just glad to see him with so much contained, reserved caution and — well — suspicion.

"I'm sorry, Carol," he says, in an abrupt switch. His expression does — twitch, briefly, like he's seizing the reins on his own mood and yanking it around by force — but he does get his demeanor back around into something more familiar eventually. He even smiles. "You've come all this way to see me, and I'm keeping you standing here. My only excuse is that I'm … tired, from everything that's happened."

His eyes move, pointedly, to the monitoring equipment of her suit. He blinks up at her in a wordless 'well, can you do something about it?'

"I really appreciate that," he says, to her being glad to see him and to hear that he's back, recovered — that Alison is too. He sounds sincere, too. "I'd… resigned to living life without my wings, but I'm glad they pulled through to rejuvenate at the eleventh hour. That's the thing about mutants, I suppose… even we don't always know how far our powers can stretch until they're really tested." Lies. So many lies — but he tells them without a hitch. "It's terrible the kind of story they spread about how we were 'killed,' but… sad to say, I'm no longer surprised at what lengths some of my family will go to. I'm just glad the truth is out now."

He gestures to the sectional. "Have a seat? Or if you're busy, perhaps we can arrange to sit down and catch up somewhere a little more fun than 'my office.'" It's an obvious opening.

As Warren apologizes, Carol's suspicion eases a bit. What he says is completely understandable. 'Hell' is a reasonable description of what he must have been through..
..And this is before Carol knows the truth.

"No. No I.." Slowly getting a handle on her running mouth. The depth of her mistake is plain. She should not have just flew straight at Worthington Tower without a plan. Without rehearsing what to say, without considering the possibilities. She had no game plan and ultimately is reduced to spinning her wheels pointlessly beyond the most superficial platitudes.
But that is Carol in a nutshell. Diving straight at problems headlong, trusting herself to figure it out when she gets there. This, however, is slightly more complicated than she imagined.
She accepts his story without question. It all makes sense after all, even if she didn't worry that SHIELD would overhear this conversation over her 'turned off' recording devices she would have bought this story. She saw herself the incredible miracles Warren's mutant blood was able to accomplish, why can't it ultimately regrow his wings and pull him through an assassination attempt?
All of this could be believed. But those eyes.. Those eyes reflect an abyss she herself has only seen twice in her life - and not once with this much chilling composure. Something is terribly wrong.. But Captain Marvel cannot hear it.

"I understand. You.. You need more time I'm sure. I.. I should have called first. Yes.. Yes another time I think. I've only recently gotten back myself.. I have a lot to catch up on. We'll.. We'll meet somewhere. Soon."
She flinches and her eyes roll upwards at her own words, a hand over her neck. @#$% that sounded stupid AND suspicious. She is not meant to be a spy.

Carol is trying to recover, but Warren seems oddly in control. He does have, perhaps, more experience with lying and sneaking around under the radar, though, after his upbringing — after being with the X-Men, secretive vigilante group, so long.

"Soon?" Warren says, his voice arch. "Why wait? Life has been grim enough for me lately. I'm ready to start spoiling myself again. Why don't you meet me in, let's say, an hour. At the last place we got together. I liked it."

Of course, the last place they got together wasn't any sort of fancy lounge or four-star restaurant, and Carol would know that. She picked the place, after all; a remote island somewhere in the vicinity of the Dominican Republic.

How exactly Warren proposes to get himself out there within an hour is an open question — his capabilities are recorded, and supersonic flight isn't one — but the look on his face doesn't seem worried at all. It even looks a little amused, like he's entertaining himself with the idea of throwing off any potential listeners even more. None of them will think to look outside a two-hundred mile radius.

A pause.

"Sure." Carol replies. Abruptness her remaining recourse as smoothness is now out the window. Her eyes question him but she does not vocalize it. "Sure that sounds great. One hour.. Yeah. Okay." Mentally doing the math on flying back to Boston, changing and flying all the way to the Carribean. She can manage it, but even for someone who can literally fly to the moon and back in a reasonable amount of time that's not a trivial feat.
She remembers that the X-Men did have access to significantly advanced technology, back when she had higher to SHIELD intel. Perhaps Warren has access to their better toys even for personal business? Maybe..
She supposes she'll find out.
With a final quizzical look she rises up back through the open skylight she arrived from, "..See you there.." Her voice trails. Hovering above the exit for a moment before darting up and off into the clear night sky above.

The hour passes.

The island a few miles out from Santo Domingo is largely unchanged from the last time Warren and Carol spoke on it, with the exception that the ornery bird is no longer there. Perhaps winged off for better places, which don't have superpowered assholes stopping by on the regular. Assuredly, Danvers will get there before Worthington, but surely Warren won't be far behind, right?

He was the one who set 'an hour' as the time. Why would he if he couldn't meet it?

As the hour arrives, just as before, Warren comes winging out from the main island, looking as nondescript and feathery as ever. Not shown is the part of the flight that was New York down to the Dominican Republic, which he flew in a decidedly different form at a decidedly higher speed, and from which he needed the thirty minutes he had to spare to 're-assert some self control over himself' — unless Carol decided to try to spy on the manner of his arrival.

Either way, he makes good on his proposal to meet. It is dangerous for — both of them, really, but there seems to be some pressing question on his mind which he feels worth the risk to ask.

Carol is burning with curiosity to know how Warren is going to pull this off. As a billionaire with extremely rich and technologically advanced friends, she easily believes he can pull this off somehow. He does know Stark doesn't he? Maybe some kind of personal Repulsor tech shuttlecraft? Worthington Industries - or was it Enterprises? She forgets now - getting into the aerospace industry with something extraordinarily cutting edge?
As a fighter jockey she finds herself excited to find out. But.. she's ashamed to know an unfortunate amount of time is taken at her apartment just deciding what to wear. She doesn't dare look up what the weather is like down in Santo Domingo for fear of her browser history being read. Chewie just watches her with bemused, tail waving intensity as half of her wardrobe is thrown from her room in a frenzy. With a groan of despair she selects an ugly christmas sweatshirt Jess bought her as a gag gift three years ago and ripped denim jeans back when that was trendy. Thank God her Kree-spliced body hasn't changed even slightly over the years so her older clothes still fit.

As such, Carol is actually a few minutes late. There's only so fast she can go - even at low pressure of the high atmosphere - before her mundane clothing would burn off her body from reentry air compression. She also has to fly to the island at a low altitude when she gets close lest military radar from local countries detect her as an incoming supersonic missile.

She has long learned that hypersonic transport around the world can get complicated.. Even if it is incredibly, incredibly fun.

As such she arrives at roughly the same time Warren does. Darting in from a perpendicular vector as his own. She looks to him as her old sneakers touch down on the sandy beach once more. The evening sky gleaming in stars with the splash of the milky way galaxy high over head. Completely different from the light-drowned New York sky where only the brightest stars in the universe can pierce the street's glare.
While she's always happy to see Warren in full flight - ever glorious as he is - she's a bit disappointed that he didn't touch down with what amazing plane he had to take.
"Damn Warren.. Where did you get a plane that fast?" Perhaps the most mundane of questions she could ask of him.. But she is indulgent when it comes to artifice of higher, further, faster.

Stark is a good guess. The two are well-known for being thick as thieves and for amplifying bad situations whenever the two of them get into a room together. But even so, an hour's notice is a bit short to call Tony Stark, isn't it? The man has a busy calendar, after all.

Perhaps it is a personal endeavor, within his own company. Worthington Industries is a diversified corporation, but one of its biggest focuses is avionics. Might they have pushed into aerospace technologies proper?

The answer is not readily available from the first few minutes of their rendezvous. He arrives in full flight, certainly, but his strong wings still cleave the air in disappointingly mundane, mechanical fashion, the man touching down with no more fanfare than the slow flurry of wings that would accompany a particularly oversized bird.

He gives her a quick look-over, once they both land. The sun has just gone down, but there's still enough light for him to see quickly if she's wearing anything untoward. After a moment, he seems satisfied that she isn't, other than —

"I should have given you a little more time," he says, a little apologetic, because of course only being severely rushed would bring her to wear a shirt like that.

He falls silent, however, as she asks about where he got a plane that fast. He considers her again, weighing her status with SHIELD against her past acts to help him; weighing the dangers of saying too much to her, against his need to know some answers to certain questions. "That's part of what I have to ask you," he eventually decides.

His wings slowly unsheathe properly, showing themselves in full — and with the sound they make, like several thousand swords being pulled against one another, there really is no word for it other than 'unsheathe.' There isn't any mistaking the array of gleaming blades at his back for organic feathers right now. There's something about his color which seems washed out, too, but that might just be the starlight.

"I'm going to… trust you won't write me up for this," he begins, "because I think this is a little beyond provincial concerns." He is quiet a moment after, before he asks, "You… know a lot about things from space, don't you?" His bladed wings drape to either side of himself. There's a faint note of strain in his voice.

There's something off about his wings. Carol can't put her finger on it but they.. Just don't seem to move quite right. Staring at them as she is, they seem perfectly functional. Soaring with the lazy grace of any landing bird with ocean updrafts but.. Maybe she'll think of it later.
Carol grouses, tugging at the edge of her too-large ugly assortment of green and red sweater loosely flapping in the carribean evening breeze. Rudolph with sunglasses, ".. Look. My wardrobe is long suffered, okay? I'm not the kind with a walk-in closet worth of crap."
Her best attempt at incognito aside, she offers yet another quizzical look as he actually turns the question right around on her. "Huh?" She finally asks, no longer feeling a need to watch her words as closely now that they're as far off the books as they can be and still be on terra firma.
She takes a few steps closer .. And then one significant step back as those wings -unsheath-. The otherworldly sounds of a hundred drawn swords in a choir of metal catches her off-guard.
"Jesus H Christ." Taking the Lord's name in vain, Carol regains her slow forward momentum as she approaches him with a far more cautious gait. Her eyes switching quickly from wing to wing, taking this revelation in. Once within arm's reach, she holds out a hand with fingers extended in the direction of his shoulder, "Cybernetic wings? They're -beautiful-. Who..?" Clearly in awe of the craftsmanship of so many interlocking and intricate edges and parts. Only as her eyes connect with his does she begin to catch the real meaning of his question. Space.
This is not Earth technology. Stark is good but even he can't machine something quite this.. life-like.
Considering what little she knows of the X-Men's resources AND the avian motif of the cybernetic implants she takes a slow stab, ".. The Shi'ar?" Something of an educated guess.

Warren finds it somewhere in himself to smile faintly at Carol's grousing. "I didn't figure you for that kind, no," he says. "I could change that, of course, and most women I've been with do say I have good taste. But I suppose that would be bribery."

Especially given what he's about to show her — and what he's going to risk in so doing.

When he does show her, it is all at once, like the ripping-off of a band-aid. He seems to accept her initial recoil, the shock and subsequent curiosity — though a weary look comes and goes in his eyes — but her close approach seems to make him visibly nervous. He lets her come close anyway, lets her reach to touch, but he seems about to jump clear at any moment. Perhaps for reasons more related to fear of harming her than fear of her harming him; when she's close enough to notice such things, it is readily-apparent that the edges of each feather are brutally sharp. There hasn't been much recorded as capable of harming Carol Danvers, but it doesn't seem like Warren cares to experiment with the boundaries.

"I don't know if you would call them cybernetic," he says. "They're… organic, in a way. Techno-organic, I heard it called. But there's a lot I just don't know for certain." His expression twitches again, his hands tensing, as with an apparent force of effort he controls the wings back to their normal, nondescript state. The blades gentle back into apparent feathers, so seamlessly as to merit the 'organic' part of the label. "I do know this is not the Shi'ar. We… know Shi'ar technology."

He hesitates, before he says, "Have you heard of something called the Celestials?"

She would say something flip about Warren's offer to improve her wardrobe, if it wasn't for the fact that this bladed revelation has completely blown her away.
She does take note of Warren's disquiet and pulls her hand back slowly. Carol fears preciously little, especially when it comes to herself. Some of it is the bold confidence in her impossible constitution but also the fact that Danvers is extremely daring. When it comes to challenges, she does not shy away.
Meeting a billionaire half a continent away in an hour for example.

"Techno-organic.." Carol repeats. Watching the blades return to a feathered illusion with some intensity. "Incredible." She breathes.
Her attention returns to him properly as he admits that this isn't a thing of the Shi'ar.

"Celestials?" Carol shakes her head, "I can't say I-"

"-Celestial Site 53 is a promising location. Artifacts acquired show the local wildlife has been altered in accordance to Precursor series forty through fifty. Starforce protocols for Celestial contact in effect for satellite facilities and monitoring stations."
Carol explains this plainly to Warren as if her words were spliced in from a completely different conversation. Her apologetic expression seems to say doesn't know anything.. Even as her alien conversation continues, "Scheduled Terrigenesis for C-53 natives continues apace-I'll see if I can ask around though. I.. don't have the SHIELD access I used to but I might be able to dig something up."
She shakes her head with a side-frown, "I feel like I should.. Remember something about it. It sounds.. Really impor-Artifaction of paramount importance. Accusation of local Deviant population is advised. Reference Celestial Site Accusation Archive fifteen through twenty two."

It's Warren's turn to recoil slightly, his blue eyes wary and bladed wings flared like a startled bird, as Carol suddenly starts to talk nonsense. Blue flickers, too, along the line of his throat; he struggles a moment, before getting it back under control.

His attention turns back fully to the nonsense, after that. …Except it's not wholly nonsense.

The more he listens, the more Warren's expression of confusion and shock turns to one of merely confusion — and then alarm. His feathers hackle as he leans forward and listens intently. Intently enough that Carol might start to sense something amiss.

"You do realize you're… talking alien lingo, right?" he eventually ventures. "If you don't consciously know anything about the Celestials, you sure as hell know something subconsciously."

A pause. "You don't have the SHIELD access you used to," he repeats, his eyes contemplative. "Still?"

As Warren's luck would have it, his masquerade is upheld as Carol is distracted, pacing with sneakers kicking up carribean sands as she muses back and forth. However, as Warren is leaning in with an intensely scrutinizing look she pauses and turns her head to look to him, "Huh? What?" Pausing her train of thought to consider before shaking her head in off-handed dismissal, "What are you talking about? I was just saying that I don't think I remember any specifics but I think I've heard legends. SHIELD files mention that-Eternal Garrison interfered with operations in northern continent, insurrection of native test subjects for-Alien civilizations have come to Earth over the millenia. I mean.. Thor being the most obvious one. Most of these civilizations had been called all kinds of things by the humans that witnessed them. 'Celestial' is-Key to the expansion of the Star Empire."

It would be a word salad episode if it wasn't so.. Focused. And Carol seems to have no idea just how far afield her conversation is going, looking to Warren like he was the strange one not making sense.

She pauses then to consider another tact, "How did you have those wings installed? Where are the facilities? I.. Understand why you wouldn't have much faith in SHIELD these days but it isn't the only organization I'm in contact with. Hell. I'd be fairly surprised if Stark hasn't already cased the place."

In regards to the SHIELD access, Carol sighs, turning back in full to Warren, "I'm bad optics. The fact that I wasn't thrown out of SHIELD for.. What I did.. Has people on both sides of the aisle riled. It's better I stay out of the spotlight.. For everyone."

Warren's frown deepens as Carol looks at him like he's the one with three heads. Privately, he just tries to file as much of what she said into his memory. His bladed wings stay spread and open, their organic metal reflecting the starlight, uncertain and wary."…All right," he says, though he really doesn't sound convinced. "I mean, there's other stuff spliced into what you're saying, and it's not related to the rest of what you're saying, and you should probably get that checked out, but…"

If she doesn't, Warren can get it checked out for her. That's also fine.

He shakes his head, eventually. "Legends is a start, anyway, I guess. So is SHIELD. I don't pretend to think that our knowledge bases have total overlap. They may know something we don't. Keep it locked up in their secret databases and warehouses…" His head turns towards Carol, tilted slightly; combined with his spread wings and his narrow-eyed regard, the gesture makes him look quite birdlike for a moment. "If you have other contacts, maybe they'd know something."

Her question where they were installed, though? He hesitates. His gaze averts, off over the dark ocean. "It was another dimension," he says, with the matter-of-factness of someone who has been through so much weird shit that dimensional nonsense isn't weird anymore. "But like enough to this one that I'm sure there are analogues somewhere here. A mutant there had come in contact with a 'Celestial ship.' He used the technology on it to put this… into me."

He looks back at Carol. "I am… trusting you with discretion about this," he says carefully. "Because I need to know more… and I think you have a personal interest in knowing this, also."

As for the last, about bad optics, about being out of the spotlight? "Out of the spotlight's not bad," he eventually says. "More freedom to do what's actually important. Absent the politics, the posturing, the ineffectual pandering." His feathers bristle, their edges gleaming. Warren looks and sounds like he sure has some Personal Feelings about ditching the politics and the gladhanding and just doing What Has to be Done.

Carol does not completely dismiss Warren's warning, her brow furrows as she looks to the sands. Fists on her hips as she mentally goes over everything she just said, lips soundlessly working through words. She can't recall any slurring or stuttering. Maybe she mispronounced something? Her old Bostonian accent rearing its ugly head maybe? Too much time spent in her homeland? She shakes her head after a moment, "I'll? Try to speak more clearly. Sorry.."
Clearly something she said offended him though. Probably the matter with SHIELD. If Registration wasn't enough.. The whole Terrigen matter likely has every Mutant on Earth-

-Experimentation of C-53 natives halted. Evacuate facilities-

-distrustful of her institution at best. Maybe they deserve it.

Though her musings stop dead as he finally reveals..
"Dimension? Another.. Dimension?" Carol's eyes widen and she offers a low whistle. She's been in the business long enough to not dismiss this possibility completely offhandedly. Just walking around in Doctor Strange's mansion disabused her of any notion that the universe has to make sense. Though, the revelation blows any insight she thinks she has out of the water. She spreads her arms as she slowly shakes her head, "Warren. That throws a hell of a monkey wrench into this. I hear you when you say it was 'close to our world' but.. There may be analogues but it may not be exactly the same. Hell, in that universe the Kree and Skrull might have been at peace for-J293 stands Accused of Skrull infiltration. Justice rendered on-millenia or something equally impossible here. It's.."

She pauses as he urges what personal stakes he has with this matter and she sympathizes. Taking a fearless step closer as she continues in a gentler tone, "Any information we can get on alien civilizations I am all for. Especially if they've been in contact with Earth. We just need more to go on than a name. If you have schematics of the 'ship' you're talking about. Even a picture. Any symbols or insignia. Maybe if we can get a material sample of your wings we can have people test it. But.. Keeping it on the downlow is.." She grits her teeth, ".. Gotta say most of the top people in those fields are awful famous or an alphabet agency watches them closely.

As Warren regains that edge in his tone as he speaks of politics, Carol quiets. She watches him and she can tell the game has changed for him. Everything thats happened.. Its no longer a theoretical thing that happens to other mutants. Hodge put the dagger in deep. She can only guess how much of a betrayal that had to have been and thats just from skimming headlines. Rather than speak out, maybe its better to just give him time rather than inflame him further.

That throws a hell of a monkey wrench into this.

"You're telling me," he says, his wings finally folding back in with a hiss of edged organic steel. "The mutant we met there may not even exist here. But we have to look, regardless. And quietly. I do not want a panic over something that may not even exist in our reality."

But as Carol steps forward, empathizes that they need all the data on any sort of alien civilization that has contacted Earth — and opines that they need more than just a name, Warren sighs out a breath, his wings draping against the sand. He knew this would come. "I hesitate to give out samples," he says bluntly. "At least right now. The process by which I got these wings…" The intimation of agony and dehumanization echoes in the brief silence after he stops talking. "I'm afraid of being… reminded of it, too soon. I can't promise I can control the response. Not yet."

Her caution on the notoriety of her contacts, however, brings him to frown. "I don't think it would be only my decision how much farther to go. There might be some give there, that the others are willing to consider. But I would want to circle back. Ask."

He looks up at her. "That other dimension… it showed a world where registration went too far, escalated insanely from a few bad elections and a few terrible incidents, and my kind was wiped out. Maybe ours will go the same way. Maybe ours won't. What will determine that is how we handle it. It is not so simple as 'registration' or 'no registration' anymore."

Carol can't help but watch those wings slide back into place with hypnotic mechanical precision. Its like watching intricate clockwork with wheels within wheels.. Or in this case blades within blades. It finally begins to dawn on her that perhaps these implants are a lot more dangerous than simple 'replacements' which leads to new avenues of questioning.
These questions become yet more urgent as Warren denies her request for a sample.. But not for the reason she expected. Once more she puzzles, quietly asking, "You.. didn't ask for these wings?"
It didn't occur to her that these replacements were forced upon an unwilling subject. She knew of Warren being crippled. She regrets that she.. Never quite found time to at least visit. Or at least write. Especially since she knows so well how crushing it is to lose the sky.
People who've never flown have no idea what that's like.. But she does. In her darkest moments she would have turned to any solution, any at all, to regain that ability. That Warren went as far as another dimension to an alien ship to gain replacements does not surprise her.
She would have done the same thing gladly.

But that hollowness behind his eyes. The abyss she glimpsed. Something went wrong in that Other Earth, she's beginning to realize. Far more wrong than she could guess.. And then he describes it.
The nightmare scenario. The thing that she would not even allow herself to consider. Not of The United States. Not of any nation with thinking, loving beings in it. There would always be outliers, those who take things too far.
The Brotherhood's attacks on the Triskelion. It ultimately drove her to do things she.. Never thought she would do. But this?

"Warren wait." She holds up her hands in a plea for consideration, "What you saw is not this Earth. Not this time. A lot of very good people tirelessly work night and day to prevent that situation. We have good people handling this now.. I can tell something terrible must have happened to you. You deserve to rest and heal from whatever that was."

Warren certainly seemed leery of people getting close to — or touching — his wings. Perhaps less because he feared damage being done to them, and more because he feared the damage they could do to others.

He doesn't say anything about it explicitly, though. There's a lot he doesn't say explicitly, but also a lot that can be read between the lines. Her slow realization, her question that he didn't ask for the wings —

Warren is quiet. His wings tremor slightly, without him appearing to notice, in the vague shivering of a traumatized bird.

"I don't… know," he says, and the answer is honest. "I didn't ask for wings like this. But when I was offered them, it was when I was not in a position to say no."

He is briefly silent again. Then, with a brutal simplicity, he unknowingly verbalizes her thoughts: "But I don't regret flying again. People who never have just don't — get it. The best I could explain it was to tell people to picture having to crawl for the rest of their lives."

But as he moves on to speak of registration — of the outcome he saw in that other universe — his demeanor hardens again. Enough that Carol interjects to try to moderate the coldness in his eyes. "A lot of good people do," he says. "A lot of good people may not be enough, by themselves, when they're countered by a lot of bad people." He sighs. "I'm not talking about… drastic measures, Carol. I'm not ready to abandon everything I was taught, by the man who practically raised me. But I have to consider what happened in that other universe to make everything go wrong."

His gaze averts from hers. "Because it was bad, there. And what happened to me there…" His expression blanks out. "I'd rather it not repeat here."

The tremor in those wings give Carol the tell she was looking for, "It's okay, it's okay.." She gently speaks, voice only barely carrying over the Carribean evening breeze, "You don't have to tell me." She finally starts to realize just how hard this conversation has to be for him. It wasn't enough the man had to suffer the horror of flightlessness.. But then be made to suffer three fold to regain it.

"I lost my powers once, Warren. For a few years they were gone. Not being able to fly.. I crawled into a bottle and almost didn't crawl out again if it wasn't for my friends and SHIELD. I know what that's like."
Its the cliffs notes version. The pain is a long-faded memory now, she has long since recovered from it. But in Warren's eyes she can still see the rawness of it. Only a few months? That's hardly enough time to grieve.. And then something impossible happened to make it worse.. She can't even imagine.

As he then walks back from the precipice and speaks against 'drastic measures' Carol relaxes, visibly so. If the Worthington estate put even more financial pressure into breaking the system, a system already under incredible pressure by terrorists foreign and domestic. To say nothing of fracturing the X-Men themselves..
She finally dares to reach out and try to touch his arm. A light gesture of reassurance, "It's okay Warren. You don't have to say any more. Just get me some details I can work with and I can start doing research on these Celestials. After all-"

"-They were the First. The Devourer will be the Last."
Her expression remains sympathetic and soft as she tries to comfort him so.

Warren is quiet, in the wake of Carol's reassurances — and her subsequent admission of having also known what it is to lose the sky. He doesn't seem terribly responsive to her expressed gentleness — probably part and parcel of his general aversion to seeming weak — but neither is he particularly rejecting it.

He's not rejecting the teachings passed down from Charles Xavier, either — not completely. He's taken a few significant steps away from it, granted, but one thing he can promise is the continued avoidance of 'drastic measures.' Whatever that means, for someone like him. Perhaps an avoidance of wielding the two most powerful assets he has with too much impunity. With the force of his wealth alone he could cause problems for any system he threw himself again; with the X-Men on top of that, turned into some kind of… mutant death squad?

Things could get out of hand, really quickly.

"We're not going to be the Brotherhood," he says quietly, perhaps aware she needs reassurance too. He doesn't reject her touch to his arm. "I don't want… violence, killing in the streets, instigation. I've… I was made to do enough of that."

And yet, they can't just sit back and hope for the good graces of the few. Not anymore.

At her final words, Warren gives her another strange look, but he seems to have discerned the futility of trying to alert her to her strange moments of 'speaking in tongues.' "…Yeah. I'll see what I can dig up. I appreciate the… discretion. If we need to eventually talk to more people, take more risks… we can talk about that. Later."

His words of 'violence' and what ominous suggestions that he was a part of it earn her morbid curiosity but she no longer prys. Warren has reopened his wounds for her enough and she is content to let sleeping dragons lie. For now.
"Yes. Later." Carol nods with some enthusiasm, hazarding an encouraging smile as she steps away. The fact that he's given his word that the X-Men are not on a path towards the Brotherhood's militancy is way more than she expected to hear from this meeting.. Though what she has heard is troubling indeed. She's already wracking her mind for who she can speak with that might have some information.. Someone with off-world experience.

Ugh. She's going to have to talk to Rocket isn't she?

She looks then to Santo Domingo. The lights of the city gleaming in the Carribean night distantly. She has an urge to fly with Warren but.. No. They need to leave in different directions. Maybe another time.

She then rises into the air slowly, "I'll be in touch. Take care, Warren." Inclining her head to him as she begins to drift away towards the sky in a slow parabolic arc, defying gravity completely.

They are not on their way to the Brotherhood's militancy. But they may be on their way to something else. Something more cloak and dagger than the X-Men, with all their notions of pacifistic 'hope for the best of human nature,' ever were in the past.

It is a time when pragmatism seems to be needed much more than blind faith. Surely a sentiment SHIELD is familiar with…

"We'll talk again," is his sole answer, as he rises himself, his wings unsheathing again with a whisper of steel. "Thank you for meeting me out here, and keeping my secrets." With that, it would seem he feels they are even. Carol's secret spiriting-away of 'Suzie Dobson,' in trade for the revelation of what really happened to Warren while he was thought dead.

He watches as she drifts away, defying gravity. His own takeoff, as he turns and opens his wings to depart in the opposite direction, is much more obedient to the basic laws of physics — at first — the avian mutant leaving the sand by the pure strength of his beating wings. But as he gains some altitude and leaves the island behind, his pinions draw back, narrow and fix into the same manner of a variable-sweep fighter raking its wings back for speed.

He is gone in the next moment in a crack of speed, finally wordlessly answering her earlier question.

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