Dreams of a Sleeping Threat
Roleplaying Log: Dreams of a Sleeping Threat
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Gwen, Carolus, and Warren get together to discuss possibilities about the local incarnation of Apocalypse.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: April 16, 2020
IC Location: X-Base
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 16 Apr 2020 22:33
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* OOC Time: Wed Apr 15 20:13:06 2020 *

* * *

The X-Base, Adirondack Mountains
Evening

It's been some months now since Warren Worthington's retrieval from a dismal alternate timeline devastated by a massive race war. Many problems have been left to rest— probably in no small part because everyone needs some time to recharge. But a couple of days back, Carolus Sinclair seemed to get a bug about it.

He contacted Warren, set up a talk-business time and place. In this case, someplace actually secure.

It's a good two hour haul from Manhattan to the base. By the time they arrive, Carolus produces a puck-shaped communicator device with a prominent X on it to check in and tell Warren, "… It's been a bit of a trip. I know it's for safety reasons, but I really do miss this place just being in our basement. I am, pardon the slang, hangry. So I'm going to make something, then hit the war room to talk. If you want waffles, speak up now."

As it happens, there wasn't really a need to speak up. Carolus spends altogether too little time doling out waffles in the war room, simultaneously laying out a mix-and-match tea set that was probably collected for the base from a bunch of thrift stores.

This kind of place is always an eclectic patchwork of all the weirdos who have to live here sometimes.

"So—" Carolus begins, almost off-handedly as he sits down — on a stool, not a chair, "Do we have any sort of… action plan in the works pertaining to the dimensional fortress sleeping… ssssomewhere?"

* * *

Many problems have been laid to rest, including Cameron Hodge. Also, Carolus Sinclair getting a 'bug' about anything is hilarious. Ha! Lepidopteran puns! IT'S WORDPLAY!

"Put that jar of preserves on mine." Gwendolyne 'Ghost "Calorie Fiend" Spider' Stacy orders, a finger raised as if ordering from a bar.

IN THE WAR ROOM

Gwen 'Raccoon "Goshdarned Punk" Spider' Stacy rests her feet on another chair, sprawled across the two seats in her continuing insistence to never use a chair seriously when she can help it. It's definitely a look, with her hood's corners poolig around one shoulder. "I mean, in this case, can't we just…" She produces the seat cushion from the chair her feet is on with her ankles, taking it on either end and fluffing the cushion once with a soft mouth 'ker-chic!'. "Just smother the sleeping apocalypse with a big X-Pillow and be done with it. This is one of those Kill Blue Hitler moments, I'm not falling for 'this time we can talk it out'. That's always the losing move in Kill Hitler questions."

* * *

Warren spends a lot of time at the base now, despite its considerable distance from the school and the city, and his duties in both those locales. In the months since their return from that terrible alternate dimension, he has not spoken much about why it is he's been spending so much more time at the base… though it wouldn't exactly be hard to guess. He came back significantly changed, and foremost in his mind — now and forever — is the matter of control. Self-control, primarily.

He isn't wholly alone in his head anymore, and the urgings which circulate behind his eyes are the sort which demand a constant vigilance against any lapses of… restraint.

When the missive from Carolus came, Warren wasn't necessarily surprised to receive it, though the message did inspire some vague guilt. The first thing Carolus might notice when the communicator switch to transmit Warren's response is the sound of explosions somewhere in the background of wherever the winged mutant currently is. It's hard to tell amidst all the clamor, but there might be screaming too.

"There were ups and downs to it being in the basement," is Warren's dry reply. "Give me thirty, and I'll be up." There is no mention of any need for waffles.

Exactly thirty minutes on the mark, the door to the war room hisses open to admit Warren, still a little damp-looking from a presumed shower, though mercifully he's wearing all his clothes this time. He's wearing his normal look, though there's a certain telling stiffness to his feathers which betrays their apparent downy look.

"How granular of one are you talking?" is Warren's answer, having come in on the tail end of the query. "We have a goal, and a few sparse leads. Assuming things here are as they were there. Apocalypse didn't have all that many heart to hearts with me, but he enjoyed boasting enough to talk about a few things which I remember."

* * *

"If you like." Carolus seems to have acclimated to Gwen's instinct to Eat All The Things.

IN THE WAR ROOM

Carolus makes a small noise of what might be discontent. It's not a disagreement, exactly, though. He replies to Ghost Spider, "In this particular case I agree with your stance on this, but I think that actually locating him and getting at him before he is able to respond is more of a problem than the philosophical difficulties of murdering a genocidal mutant supremacist."

He's halfway through his waffles when Warren shows up. Carolus pushes a piece around the end of his fork as he considers the question, "I suppose I am uncertain. I am uncertain where, exactly, we are on this matter. That is the purpose of this meeting. I had thought we had a relatively good idea of where his base would be resting in this universe."

"I am also concerned with the possibility that he will become active on his own for reasons that I think are self-evident. On top of that…" He spears the bit of waffle on the end of his fork, "That fortress of his has the potential to cause some power dynamics problems even once he's gone. I think we all remember what happened with the Chitauri technology— or rather, is still happening."

* * *

Gwen is a good way through rolling up her mask to the tip of her nose, and is well through jamming an entire waffle into her face, the corners of her mouth lightly sludged with purple preserves. She mumbles through a 'well yeah' at Carolus' consideration that the problem is not smotherig Blue Hitler, but that trying would most likely involve Blue Hitler throwing hands.

Warren walks in then. With lens-circles wide and surprised, and the snap-turn of her head to the door as he opened, Ghost Spider gives off the very specific energy of a wild animal caught rummaging around in the garbage.

<Darn it, spider sense! *Now* you fail to alert me to social danger? Picking a place to eat, you've got an opinion, avoiding shame, dead silence???>

Swallowing hard enough to produce an audible gulp, Gwen grabs a conference room clear highball of water filled from a pitcher and takes two long swigs of that H-2-O. "What'd he brag about?" Gwen asks leadingly, lettig her feet drop to the floor before sliding them under herself to sit crosslegged in her own single chair, the pillow being transferred back with a bunt toss.

"I didn't have a chitauri invasion in my world, but that was the source of that weird death ray those dudes in panel vans had, right? Seem pretty out-there. How'd Apocalypse get his mitts on a giant super death fortress of the stuff? You'd think we could see usable flying death fortress if it was on Earth."

* * *

"An idea," is Warren's laconic answer. Warren being laconic is, in and of itself, an alarming way to see him be, but it's been a lot more frequent after their return when he wasn't 'putting on the usual face for the crowds.' More often than not, now, his default is silence, and those glimpses of his cavalier former self seem to involve effort.

He glances at the waffles, but displays no apparent interest in them. Another oddity given his caloric needs, but then again perhaps not; carbs were never really his thing. His gaze travels to the right and takes in Gwen, a moment later. It catches her in the middle of totally raccooning an entire jam-covered waffle into her face.

Warren, having max levels in social grace, pretends like he doesn't see it and completes his turn to regard the viewscreens, after. His wings twitch to a tighter fold at his back with a slight steely click of metal against metal. "The idea's based, however," he continues, "on where he spoke of originating. Near Aqaba, which still exists in modern-day Jordan. He was born there, lived there… and left there, all before the Assyrians ever saw that land."

The viewscreen responds to his voice, pulling up a map, focusing in on Jordan. Aqaba, specifically, a port city in the country's southern reaches. "That's no guarantee he would be there, of course, but… he had a thing for the place. His followers were called Clan Akkaba. Before he woke up and rallied them all, they were… normal people, living in society. Embedded, like ticks… waiting for the right time to summon him back."

His wings twitch, more insistently. Warren's expression twitches too.

A moment later, he seems to shake off whatever impulse was chewing on his mind. "Well," he says, "that was the kind of stuff he bragged about. His rise out of the dust of Aqaba. Being a god to countless civilizations over the millennia. His philosophies of survival of the fittest. His mastery of the Celestial Ship — though, he never told me how he came to possess it. His duties to see the world won by the strongest hands that reached out to take it. And so on."

He leans over, a little heavily, bracing both hands against the edge of the table. His blond hair shadows across his face. "I don't know where we are on the matter other than find and destroy," he admits. "It's a simple mission statement, compared to some other the other things which have and will face us. In the intervening time, I had…" His wings twitch, the feathers grinding their edges briefly against one another in some restless tic. "…some things I needed to be sure of, before I potentially went anywhere near him again."

* * *

Carolus catches the widening of Ghost Spider's lenses, starts to say something, and then visibly stops when Warren is polite enough to ignore it. One of his wings twitches lightly, a small tug making itself evident at the corner of his lips. He nods affirmatively in reply to her question about the Death Ray Racists, "That is correct. In summary, there was a large-scale invasion of New York by aliens that resulted in the public outing of some superheroes, and mutants in particular. We had to fight in sufficient numbers that it was impossible to keep laying low. We /won/, and as a consequence of that a whole lot of alien tech was just left lying around."

"A great deal of it is in grey and black market circulation. I /think/ most of it ended up with Stark Industries, though. But it doesn't take a lot to make a problem."

His attention turns towards the viewscreens as Warren pulls up a location. Carolus's antennae droop a little as he considers it, his expression perturbed. He shakes his head, "Anyplace populated is not a good place for that thing to emerge. It was so large…"

"We might find some leads by investigating fringe religious groups in the area." He offers, half-heartedly.

His gaze re-focuses on Warren, concern tinting his expression.

"Whether or not this one could command what was embedded in your body. How are you doing in that regard?" He asks.

* * *

Gwen, in the middle of another sip of water as she's forgiven for being A_POOR in her eating habits, hears a line that obliterates all other thought processes.

"You got a bunch of alien supertech and you gave it to Tony Stark?!" She spits. Her waffles are lightly misted with expectorated water.

* * *

"Aqaba is populated," muses Warren. "But the land to the east of it is all empty desert and mountain. It might yet be out there, instead of right near the city. Apocalypse left that region a long, long time ago, before it looked anything like it did now."

A pause. "Or," he admits, "it might be somewhere under the Gulf of Aqaba. It would not be the first time I've seen a horrible mothership pop out from underwater."

The X-Men get up to weird stuff.

Speaking of weird, Warren's attention flicks to Gwen — his feathers puffing like a startled bird's — when she splutters her shock about Tony Stark. Once he processes the nature of the question, Warren — laughs, letting his lifted hackles smooth back down. "He's not AS full of bad ideas as people make him out to be," Warren says, though whether this is true or the rose-tinted glasses of best friendship is unclear. "There's much worse hands that dangerous tech could be in. At least you know he's not going to try to take over the world with it."

…on … purpose.

As to leads on Clan Akkaba? "We might," Warren says. "And that was a vector I planned on pursuing. There might be others too, less obvious. I… didn't talk to his followers, much — certainly not about personal things. But I would overhear some of the things they would say. Not all of them were… you know… blatant religious cultists, in their lives. They lived superficially normal lives. Other than the secret meetings to try to make sacrifices to revive their god." He lifts his wings in a shrug. "Many of them, if not all, were Apocalypse's descendants. They went to every corner of the world."

That last question, though — that's obviously the hardest. Warren's wings press flat against his back, tight together, in clear body language of anxiety, even though his expression stays calm as ever. "Uh," he says. "Better than I was. I spend a lot of time in the Danger Room. I can mostly go back and forth in a controlled way." He straightens back up. "It might not mean much if this Apocalypse can override me because of what was put in me. I guess there's only one way to solve that problem, though."

He shakes his head. "I might be able to remember a few names. See if they have counterparts here."

* * *

Gwen continues in her normal, irreverent sidebar fashion, but this time in a half-impressed, half-'post-worry relief' cocktail of tone.

"Hey. You called him Apocalypse. Not… Genesis, or anything else. Is that the result of your 'figuring things out'?"

"If it is, good job."

She finds a napkin to begin wiping the table. "I-… I know that?"

"Ssssure. I, uh, Know That. Sure."

An awkward laugh follows Warren's more honest one. "The Stark in my dimension is… I told you before, didn't I? He's like an evil capitalist coffee baron. The face of evil is a goatee on a cup."

* * *

"I think so. I might be mistaken about that, but he /is/ one of the premier figures in technological developments of all kinds." Carolus tilts his head towards Gwen, "I suppose it probably did get doled out to more than one contractor. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that Hammer Industries had their hands in that particular cookie jar."

"That shouldn't comfort you, if you're wondering."

His attention swings back to Warren. A measured bleeding of tension occurs at the notion that the ship might not be beneath anyplace populated /today/. Carolus nods, and replies, "Then it may be worthwhile to inquire into a map of nearby archaeological or historical sites, also. Though I suppose that his Clan might have erased any /unwanted/ references to his mythology by now."

"Does he /require/ sacrifices to awaken? Is that a part of his abilities?" He asks.

On the subject of Warren's own condition, Carolus nods lightly. "I trust," he says, "that you will have a firm enough grasp on where you need to be when it becomes relevant, whenever that might be. I'm glad to hear that you're making progress, though."

* * *

"I don't like anything involving the name 'Hammer Industries' and I got a headache like sucking exhaust fumes straight from the tailpipe imagining what the worst someone could do with a bunch of alien invader technology, so, I'm not comforted, thanks for asking." Ghost Spider nonsequiters.

"And, look, anyone who 'needs sacrifices to awaken' skips a lot of steps for me. That means to even exist, people need to die. I…"

Gwen's expression falls, her lenses narrowing and drooping with her shoulders. "… I'm not sure how I feel about making up my mind so quickly about a life, but even for me this one's kind of cut and dry. It's not someone who made mistakes, it's not something that's misunderstood: It's just a big blue ball of evil."

"I still don't really feel great about making that decision, though."

A white-gloved hand moves to chase some jam around the plate with the side of a finger that she pops into her mouth to suck on thoughtfully.

* * *

You called him Apocalypse, Gwen notices.

Warren smiles. It is not the beautiful, magazine-cover smile he used to flash, to match with his mass-market angelic imagery. It's something a little more true to his nature as it is now, to go with that new form which is also so much more true to an angel's actual job description.

"Yeah," he says, that hard-edged expression disappearing again. "It's a result of putting that voice in my head in its place. Of being sure what he is to me now. I'll only ever call him what he is."

His wings flick, restless. "Distance helped."

He only gentles to talk of Tony. "Yeah, I think you mentioned the Starkbucks thing." He snorts a laugh. "Other Tony isn't up on the creativity, is he? Oh well."

His aspect gentles further, when it seems apparent Carolus is relieved at the possibly the ship might be somewhere remote. "Map might be a good start," he says. "And even if the unwanted history has been wiped away, there's still generations of cultists who must know something about where to go for the pilgrimages." He shrugs. "As for the sacrifice — "

He grimaces. "I don't know if it's really necessary? Or if it's just cultists being cultists, and trying whatever to get their lord to wake up. I never did get a clear bead on that. I did get the impression that it succeeded once, though whether it was because of the blood or coincidence, I don't know. Apocalypse never said one way or another. You don't get to godlike status without wearing a little air of mystery."

Warren quiets, however, as Gwen ruminates on how if someone needs others to die in order to live, that makes things… cut and dry. "I don't like it either," he says, and seems to mean it. "I don't… every time I even think about taking a life, that voice in my head gets twice as loud, and it's like I'm back to square one to get Death to shut up."

He scrubs a hand across his face. "But…"

* * *

"There's a reason it's called the 'ultimate price'." Gwen adds airily.

"But we'll clear that bridge when we come to it. Maybe we can get Doctor Strange to throw Apocalypse into the No-No dimension after we break his spaceship and not have to get too intense about the trolley problem."

* * *

"Are you really going to…" Carolus begins, observing Gwen touching jam with a white glove, but before he's finished she's already scooped the jam up. He observes her in silence for a moment, then, "I forget on occasion that that suit takes care of itself. I suppose it would need to, in white."

"Well," he returns to Warren, "I suppose there's no arguing that he /is/ an Apocalypse." It's also a useful distinguisher. The "other" Warren might start calling him Genesis again, if he should return, and that would be enough to tip them off that something was amiss.

"I should say that you don't /keep/ god-like status without an air of mystery. If he had divulged more to you, then this would be over considerably quicker. In fact…" Carolus folds both sets of hands on the table in front of him, "Since they are all multidimensional, it is probably in their best interests to keep their slaves deep in the dark. There are weaknesses to plucking subordinates from one of the many possible iterationsof enemies that exists throughout all of creation."

"Taking all of that into account," he continues, drumming one set of fingers against the table, "I suppose that the answer to all of these questions must be fairly fragmented on purpose. /Was/ there anyone that Apocalypse seemed to view as an actual confidante?"

In response to Gwen's suggestion, Carolus makes a sour face, "I think that sort of man would probably conquer his environment in a case like that. Those sorts of dimensions are double-edged swords in that way."

* * *

"Yeah, I'll pass on the Apoca-No-No Dimension, it was bad enough when we were there without him, and he was bad enough without dark dimension juju." Gwen snorts, nodding along with her humors returned quickly.

"I know if I got thrown in there, if I couldn't get out, I'd *definitely* be trying to get even. And I'm just the Infinite, and Only, Ghost Spider."

Napkining off her jam finger, she wears a goofy smile. "Sorry, it kind of grew on me. Go ahead and critique my stupid line if you want."

* * *

Warren half-smiles at Gwen's airy conclusion on the matter. "If I could get Doctor Strange to regularly solve my problems for me, that would be…" He hesitates. 'Great' isn't really the word. "…Expedient?" There, that's close enough.

He inclines his head a little, however, at Carolus's remarks. "Yeah, that's true enough. Whatever you're doing, never tell the underlings too much." He looks bleak. "You don't even need to fight an extradimensional warlord with delusions of godhood for that. I learned that just growing up in corporate."

Warren finally seems to shed enough of his restlessness to take a seat. A backless one, like Carolus's.

"Yeah," he ultimately says. "All that's true enough. The problem is that all I know is based off an iteration of a universe which isn't ours. It might be similar here. It might not. It was an advantage to pick me, in some ways — it is easier to keep someone who doesn't even come from your universe in the dark — but…"

His wingtip taps against the floor in thought. It rings, metallic.

His blue eyes turn back to Carolus at that last question. "There was… one," he says, after a long pause for recollection. "I don't really know what they talked about, but he was always with Apocalypse. His closest servant. Made all the proclamations and all that. He was like a man, but made out of stone. His name was Ozymandias, but he was as mysterious about where he came from as Apocalypse was."

He shakes his head. "Bizarre stuff."

* * *

"I do not think that Doctor Strange's solutions are costless enough to desire them on a regular basis." Carolus says, grimly. He leans back a little ways, giving a little shudder that causes his wings to vibrate energetically for a moment, "That dimension was bad enough. The…"

He casts an apologetic look towards Warren, "… The consumption of another person's soul however, was uncomfortable in ways that I cannot begin to describe. To say nothing of the danger that was involved. I suppose it probably wasn't much better on the other end of things."

"Your line's a bit dramatic," He asides to Gwen, "but it isn't stupid. And it /would/ appear as if we are infinite, after a fashion."

It might be similar here. It might not.

"A universe that isn't too drastically removed from his own would be the more practical place to scout. Based on what we understand from Doctor Strange, stability of inter-universe travel has some things to do with how probable an outcome is. If the outcome is too improbable relative to yourself, or too probable relative to yourself, ability to interact is curtailed."

"I don't know if that applies with the things Apocalypse was working with," he continues, "but the easiest way to find candidates would be to isolate a universe that relates well enough to yours that you could look for the 'other version' of a person. While we were there, they mentioned I was one of the first to die during the incident that sparked it all. A consequence of registration in that timeline."

"It's dangerous to assume things are identical, of course. But if it's too disparate then we have nothing to work with."

"Ozymandias, though… 'If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.' I wonder if there's a connection." Carolus muses aloud.

Taking a deep breath, Carolus looks Warren in the eye and smiles, "Thank you for entertaining all of this. And although things aren't the way they are, I'm glad to see the progress you've made. You seem more comfortable in your own skin. Is there anything I can do to help? You, /or/ Alison."

* * *

I do not think that Doctor Strange's solutions are costless enough to desire them on a regular basis…

They're, uh," Warren says, with the awkwardness of experience, "definitely not. And I'm sorry you wound up tanking one of his… 'solutions' on my behalf. They're not usually pleasant. I think the old man enjoys picking the least pleasant thing, honestly. It's like his brand."

Warren sobers distinctly, however, as Carolus speaks on on the matter of universes, and the similarities and differences between them — marking out his own fate in the other universe as an example. "I didn't realize," he says. Just another of the details that got lost, in the chaos of everything, it seems. "The version of me in that universe died early too. Same deal, I think."

Shielding children. Everywhere he goes, it seems, that winds up his fate. It's the 'afterwards' which seems to vary from world to world.

As for Ozymandias? "No idea," Warren says. "It could be the name is be coincidental. Or it could be that it's him, but the story we know of Ozymandias isn't what really happened. I guess we'll find out."

He ruffles his feathers restlessly. "Anyway, I think it's best to start from an assumption the universes are similar enough. We can reconcile any differences we encounter along the way. There's a few names I recall which we can look into. A trip out to Jordan might not be amiss either — eventually. I know Dani's eager to go."

His sharp, aquiline eyes gentle, however, to Carolus's sincere words. "No thanks is ever needed," he says. "I'm here and able to make this progress because you all came for Alison and me. We're not where we were, but… we're finding some new normal."

Is there anything I can do to help?

Warren is briefly silent, thinking. "You see things clearly, Carolus," he finally answers his voice slow. "You saw the person I used to be clearly, too. And if I ever stray too far from that person…"

His blond head lowers. "I hope that you will continue to tell me."

* * *

"That rings a little too true for me. But even for wizard miracles at premium prices…"

Gwen can't help but exhale slowly, shaking her head at the memories for the time. Curls of blond poking from the back of the rolled up mask take a quick wisking of white-gloved fingers to be brought to heel.

"… And I still managed to overpay. Well, a memory for another day. I got a cool pendant out of it, which will go in my secrets closet and never ever be let out. Juuuust as soon as I get a closet I think won't explode in - well, you know."

She jazzhands from her cross-legged seat. "Mask weirdness."

Saying so in the presence of Warren Worthington is a bit of an understatement as to scale, but that's just Ghost Spider's way.

"Ozymandias… Do you think it's a mask name, a title, or real? If it's a rock person, maybe they're the head of the cult - or someone from the time of the wayback? I'm no archaeologist, but maybe looking into that will help? Or not, I'm sure searching up 'evil rock ozymandias' will get you a metal band."

"By the way 'Dark Rock Ozymandias' is the name of my death metal band."

* * *

Carolus makes an aggravated noise in response to the explanation of other-Warren's death. He says, "I would suggest that you begin taking measures to separate yourself from the current registration system, but given that your business is based out of New York and isn't of sufficiently small scope that you can just uproot and move across the river… well. I don't know what to suggest."

"It sounds cowardly, I suppose," he continues, "but I started the process as soon as we returned. Something about new Purist activity made me feel a little threatened by current events."

A trip out to Jordan might not be amiss either — eventually. I know Dani's eager to go.

"To inquire into this matter, or because Jordan is an interesting place? Or a bit of both, perhaps? Aqaba looks like a nice place to visit to me, all ancient sumerian super mutants aside." Carolus remarks, tapping on the monitors, "Though I probably would have selected Egypt if it were purely recreational."

"Not necessary, perhaps— but thanks cost little to give." He answers, "Though they may not be necessary, forgive me if I don't forget my courtesies. They are a habit." Briefly, it occurs to him to add that he knows he's picking at difficulties— but the thought comes and goes like a whisper. Warren didn't appreciate being coddled before. It's different now, but it's best to keep things much as they were.

An amused breath of air leaves the moth man soon after. Carolus inclines his head a little, "I will try. But as you have just said, you're seeking a new normal, and a healthy new normal is what I need to be looking out for. I do not think you are straying right now, but I hope that you will be able to relax more than you seem to be able to right now. Insofar as the avian relaxes, anyway."

To Gwen, he says, "I think that those were the normal prices. With, perhaps, a little shock and awe. I do not think that he expected me to accept what he was offering so readily. Even so, I am appreciative of his frankness— as you know. I'm sorry you had to pay, too, though."

"You should probably keep the pendant at hand, though."

"… And no, searching 'evil rock ozymandias' would probably get you search results pertaining to Santo Vaccaro. Alias is Rockslide. I like the Ozymandias angle, though. It's probably the most culturally firm lead we have, so I'll see if we can't compile a list of pertinent locations from that."

Cocking an antennae at a deliberately odd angle that probably communicates amusement, he adds, "I'm sure that 'Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!' will be easily worked into the lyrics of your album."

* * *

"Something about *beam cannons* made *me* feel 'a little threatened by current events', Carolus, I don't think it's cowardly to avoid blacktop melting racist death lasers." Gwen observes, a plain 'no shit, dude' casualness to her tone.

"'Ye Mighty' is track three. I'm already halfway done with the drumline."

* * *

"Yeah," Warren says to Carolus's talk of divorcing himself from registration, a troubled look flickering across his eyes. "I've thought about trying to pull back, but it's… difficult, at my profile. That's fine, though. A lot has changed, but not the fact that it's probably better people aim at me, than at others who are less able to take the hits."

Leaving out the fact that Warren did take hits — and they killed him. He got better, so it was fine.

He flicks a wing in an absent gesture. "At any rate, I'm not taking no precautions," he says. "I think I was still operating at a certain level of… naivete, before. Even after everything I've seen since I started doing this. It will be time for more pragmatism in how we defend ourselves. I'll keep up the public face, but there'll be… a lot more going on behind the curtain." He leans forward, intent that Carolus internalize this part: "And it's not cowardice to take those precautions. As I've been told repeatedly over the course of my life — " he smiles ruefully, " — bravery is fine, but you don't accomplish much when you are dead."

He leans back, after, thoughtful, on talk of trips — for business, or perhaps pleasure. "Bit of both, I suppose. "Egypt is also on the list, now that you mention it. He spoke a lot about posing as a god in Egypt also. We should canvass most of the area in that region, to be honest. Where he originated in the other dimension might not be exactly where he originated here."

His head tilts forward a bit, then, as Carolus says he doesn't think there is any straying — now. "Good," he says. "God, I am trying, but there is no roadmap for the world we have found ourselves in." He exhales a breath. "I'll try the relaxing thing, though — when I can afford to." Once he's sure relaxation won't mean a blackout into a murderous rage.

He thinks he's there. But he also knows that his current stability of mind rests upon a few certain truths, which could at any point suddenly change.

But as the younger duo slide into their interchange, Warren glances at Gwen, a little mutedly curious, when she speaks offhandedly of 'overpaying.' He doesn't pry, however. Especially when the topic turns to metal bands with Ozymandias in their names.

"I'm certain you can find a lot of them, honestly," he says. "Alison might even know some of them."

* * *

"My perspective of threatening situations is a bit warped. Alien invasion, and all that." Carolus replies to Gwen. He raises both left hands in a mollifying gesture towards the both of them, though, and adds, "But you are both, of course, correct to say that it isn't cowardice to take measures. I suppose that I simply have mixed feelings. I do not think registration is wholly without merits. The support that it provides to masks who /are/ cooperating is…"

"Well, as I said. I do not think registration is wholly without merits."

"But I don't think it is better for people to be aiming at you, Warren. Even if we are speaking purely pragmatically, a high-profile symbolic target being harm has a great deal of impact on down the chain." He adds, offering the older man a mildly concerned glance.

Regarding the possibility of reaching a state of relaxation, Carolus stands from his seat and brings his wings up into a 'ready' state, bringing his right hands up to point at his face, "There is an exercise you can do that will help, physically anyway. First, you need to deliberately tense yourself. You start at your head, and then you begin working your way down. So for instance, you would clench your jaw— grit your teeth."

"You repeat the process, tense yourself to experience exactly what that tension feels like in a conscious way, and then release that tension." Carolus goes through the motion of beating his wings at a slow pace, like somebody working through a knot in their shoulders. Again, he smiles, "Personally, I think the exercise is a little more fun if you have wings. Anyway… give it a try when you're feeling particularly 'strong'. It's a common tool of therapy."

"I'll see what Alison has to say about a list of locations. I've been meaning to check in on her anyway. In the meantime… if Egypt is a POI itself, that has some advantages. Comparing Apocalypse to their deities might help."

Picking up his plate, he makes for the door. Carolus nods at Warren, "For now though, I need to clean up and Ghost Spider and I need to decide whether or not the trip back is worth it at this hour. Thank you again, and it was good talking to you. I'll have a comm on me, so if there's anything you'd like picked up for /this/ place before we're out of here, let me know."

Waving with his free hands, Carolus exits the war room, humming faintly to himself as he goes.

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