The Limited Run
Roleplaying Log: The Limited Run
IC Details

Sebastian Shaw and Tessa talk about a new set of learnings… and a new opportunity. Suffice it to say, the Black King is back to working his own angle.

Other Characters Referenced: Selene, Emma Frost
IC Date: December 30, 2019
IC Location: Hellfire Club, Upstate NY
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 18 Feb 2020 07:16
Rating & Warnings: PG
Scene Soundtrack: None
NPC & GM Credits: Sebastian Shaw by Ursa.
Associated Plots

In the wee hours of Christmas morning, Tessa and Emma Frost were working in the basement of a Hellfire Club estate upstate.

Sebastian Shaw waited.

They worked through the holiday, and for most of the next day, unraveling a man.

And Shaw waited.

He sent things for his pets, sustenance and threats. Tessa was to remain, to ensure the job got done. To prick the telepath’s pride just enough to keep her going.

And, ultimately, Frost delivered what was asked of her. Only then did the illustrious Black King deign to let them truly rest and then hire a small private chopper to take Emma home.

But Tessa’s work was still in front of her.

Because Shaw wanted more.

He needed to know. He needed to know what they did that could contain, even for only stretches at a time, the formidable powers of his White Queen.

That was the agreement that he’d made with Tessa. He would afford her the time she needed to pick apart every piece of information that Jim Frankowski had at his disposal of the changes to the psychic amplifier. And then she was to deliver that information to him, schematics and theories for improvement, all tied up with a pretty little bow.

Frankowski didn’t have all of it. Someone he never met offered helpful notes along the way. A new sort of science.

But it’s just enough that Tessa is able to fill in most of the gaps that Frankowski—and therefore, even Frost—couldn’t.

He gave her a couple of days, but the time has come for her to deliver. He summons his assistant up to a small parlour where Selene hangs at the corner, looking altogether ominous as is her wont, while she stands there.

The King wants more.

The King does not just want more: he wants it *all*. He wants every throbbing juicy bit wrung out of Frankowski; wrung out of that machine; wrung out, Tessa is sure, of Emma Frost, if such could be accomplished, but out of her fruit, her Multivac, if it cannot.

And Tessa's job was to evoke that succulence, to draw it to its fever pitch, and then to collect it.

Tessa is, historically, very good at her job.

Tessa did need to sleep, and sleep she did: Six hours in a soundproofed room, followed by a review and collation process, a large if bland meal, and another six hours of restorative sleep. Tessa had been looking just a smidge haggard by the time that she was done in expressing herself to Frankowski in a number of ways, some of which would be quite costly in other contexts, and others of which would be quite valuable to AVOID.

"Good evening," Tessa says as she enters the presence of the White King. Her gaze tracks towards Selene, and over her, but does not rest on her profoundly.

Tessa is in her proper uniform, because that is what you must do when you are in this space, and indeed everything has been cleaned up - she even had her hair trimmed and dressed, making the chignon extra glossy. The rest means the makeup accents her face into the realm of the gently hyper-real in its crispness and precision, rather than concealing fault.

In her left hand, Tessa bears - a USB drive.

She does not turn her back on Shaw, or Selene, but she does turn her side as she approaches the panelled cabinet that conceals the presentation material. "My findings have been documented at great length in physical copies, which I shall provide at your command, my king; what I have prepared is an executive summary, for the fine details of Frost's innovations in psychotronic organization, to say nothing of the influence of Frankowski and other key players, are of little direct import."

She makes her voice sound throaty as she speaks. She is flirting with the technology.

"I say 'psychotronic' as a temporary word, borrowed from the abortive Soviet research in the matter," Tessa purrs. "The proper name is doubtless to be found in the practice of science. However, telepathy is not a magical phenomenon, but is connected to the progression and development of demi-quantum thought waves, projected by the living brain - or, once developed and properly understood… by an artificial source."

"On your way, my queen."

There is everything in Shaw's tone that is just as much command as warning. He doesn't want her in the room, and he doesn't want a fight about it.

And he waits until she departs, his eyes shrewdly watching her exit, before turning his full attention to his assistant. He won't be able to keep things from Selene forever, and he knows it. But he will have enough time to come to his own feelings on things.

As Tessa prepares the room, he rests his elbows on the arms of the chair, leans back and sinks in, and knits his fingers. The lower half of his face is lost behind the steeple of them. He doesn't say anything at all as he wraps his mind around Tessa's prologue, his eyes narrowing slightly in thought. And then he offers the most unhelpful of additions. A single, solitary, contemplative grunt.

Tessa remains silent as Selene departs. She waits for the door to shut after her, and two seconds after, before continuing. She begins the presentation, as she goes.

"These thought waves could be seen as a side effect of the cognitive process, or of neurological activity," Tessa continues, as a slide of the human brain appears. "Indeed it is quite likely that the origin of the phenomenon is in the ability to address multiple parts of one's own consciousness at once; in other words, telepathy is made possible due to one's brain speaking to itself."

"A conventional baseline human cannot communicate in this method, however, with any sort of reliability. The hearsay rumors of occasional psychic intuitions or moments of communion, or of meditative and religious individuals achieving telepathic communication, are likely the equivalent of freakish radio wave phenomenon - briefly receiving a German station on your receiver in New Zealand."

"However," and now a different brain diagram comes up, "the mutant brain *can* engage in this process… and, by analogy to the same process that allows cellular telephony, can enable it indirectly in others. The stronger signal created by the mutant brain is able to transmit to the other, and the same sense can detect these much weaker signals. In this unified theory, we explain mind-reading, mental probing, telepathic insight, and a number of other so called 'esper phenomenona'."

Tessa pauses, with the whisper of a sardonic smile on her lips. "But we should get on with it."

"Granted that it is possible, though extremely difficult and energy-intensive, to produce an artificial mental signal - as opposed to a passive receiver, which is far simpler - the insight of Frankowski et alia in producing antitelepathic equipment was comparable to that of a noise cancelling headset. When Frost produced signal Y," a conjectural graph, "the machine developed signal negative-Y, propagating in the same space. The end effect was that no transmission could be developed, and thus, her abilities were neutralized. One would expect that such a device would have negative long-term effects for cognition in its immediate environment, but, of course, Miss Frost's cognition was not a concern for her captors."

Shaw's lips, unseen, curl into a deep frown, and his dark eyes seem as though they would bore holes in the screen display for how intensely they stare at the information upon it. He lets the information Tessa shares sink in, and he marinates his thoughts in it.

It's not really an unfamiliar silence to Tessa. And she would know better than most to not interrupt it.

Eventually, there's another grunt. "No, I suppose not." His hands drop, then, to return to his lap and he now sets those coal-like eyes upon the comely shape of his assistant. "And did you see any evidence of such an impairment while you were working with Miss Frost?"

Tessa waits, in this pregnant pause.

"She seemed tired," Tessa says. "Under strain. Psychologically I expect her current state is harried. The interrogation of the captive was successful, but it did lack a certain relish previously present. I believe the captivity expressed significant strain upon her; it would be difficult at a first approximation to separate organic injury to the telepathic component of the brain to the trauma of the encounter, and of captivity."

"The two may even be one and the same… We do not, as yet, have parallel brains with which to perform A/B tests."

"I suppose we don't."

That's not a no, Sebastian thinks darkly to himself. He picks up the snifter of brandy on the occasional table beside him and lifts it to his lips as he processes that bit of news, too. "We'll need to keep an eye on her, then."

He sips, deeply, afterwards. "I'll let Selene know. Now, about the machine, itself…" He'd made Tessa promise one thing in exchange for keeping the thing operational for study: that it would indeed be studied. "Do you have what would would need to replicate it?"

"The materials necessary would be simple to procure," Tessa says crisply. "There are some rare-earth components I would seek to obtain through a cut-out to avoid communicating our interest, but this adds delay only. I will place the order immediately if you so command."

Tessa is silent for a moment. "Mechanically speaking, I can produce a superior version. It is possible Frost has software-enabled features that I am unaware of; however, these can be rapidly developed and matched."

"Get the prototype functional," he tells her, Shaw's eyes now glittering with wicked strategy. "We can source through my Hong Kong branch." He drinks deeply of his cup, and he finishes the measure with a satisfied hiss with his lips pressed against bared teeth.

And then he sets it down anew, only to push his enormous bulk up into a stand. His velvet frock coat hangs nearby, but for right now he is comfortable in his frilled white shirt, vest, and cravat.

He goes to the fire so that he can set a meaty hand down upon the mantle and stare at the fire while he gets his thoughts in order. "Once we've got the working prototype and the materials sourced, then I'll have them walk it the rest of the way to production."

"Understood," Tessa says crisply.

She turns her head to watch Shaw as he rises. He steps forwards. She watches the motion, the subtle ballet of bulk and mass. The motion beneath that masculine skin. She remains still, but the tension in her body redistributes.

"Mass production?" Tessa asks. "Or a limited run?"

Shaw doesn't answer Tessa right away, choosing to instead to continue to lean, to watch the fire and swirl distractedly from the snifter that hangs from his fingers.

After another long moment, he brings the snifter up to his nose to smell the difference a little heat from the fire makes. "A limited run," he says at last, his voice a low rumble. "We'll see where the final price point sits."

Ah, the delicate balance for this particular exercise between one's own interests and desires.

"I imagine the limited scale will be enough, but we'll make certain of it. …Well done, Tessa, my dear."

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